Wednesday, 31 January 2007

Are the Blue Mountains blue?

The Blue Mountains were not always my home. My mother came from Victoria in the cooler south of Australia and Dad came from Queensland in the subtropical north where I lived as a child. This was the source of good natured rivalry between my parents and the reason why every few years we made the 2000km journey to Melbourne.

On the long trip south, as the plains gave way to mountains, Mum always announced, “The hills are getting bluer.”

I doubted this claim because from home we could see the Bunya Mountains on the horizon and they always looked blue to me. “Is she only making it up?” I asked Dad.

“No, they are bluer,” he said. “Perhaps it is because they’re higher.” I was surprised at his concession to something being more splendid in the south and knew they must truly be bluer than at home.

View of Grose Valley from Govetts Leap


So on my Dad’s good authority they are blue. The word from wikipedia is that the bluish tinge is caused by the release of volatile oils from the eucalypt forests carpeting the hills and valleys and that most forested mountains in Australia take on a similar hue.

Words to Walk With:
"South of my days' circle, part of my blood's country,
rises that tableland, high delicate outline
of bony slopes wincing under the winter,
low trees, blue-leaved and olive, outcropping granite-
clean, lean, hungry country."
From South of My Days by Judith Wright

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