Saturday, 30 June 2007

Blue Fly

While I am on the topic of close-ups, here is one I took in the herb garden at Mount Tomah Botanic Gardens.

Photo: Fly on herb flower, Mt Tomah

Words to walk with:
The Fly by William Blake
“Little Fly
Thy summers play,
My thoughtless hand
Has brush'd away.

Am not I
A fly like thee?
Or art not thou
A man like me?

For I dance
And drink and sing
Till some blind hand
Shall brush my wing.

If thought is life
And strength and breath;
And the want
of thought is death;

Then am I
A happy fly,
If I live,
Or if I die.”

Friday, 29 June 2007

Wattle up close

One of the fascinating things of macro photography is the detail that is normally not noticed. Each fluffy wattle flower is tied with a tiny yellow bow.

Photo: Wattle up close

Words to walk with:
From Wattle and Myrtle by James Lister Cuthbertson
"Gold of the tangled wilderness of wattle,
Break in the lone green hollows of the hills,
Flame on the iron headlands of the ocean,
Gleam on the margin of the hurrying rills.

Come with thy saffron diadem and scatter
Odours of Araby that haunt the air,
Queen of our woodland, rival of the roses,
Spring in the yellow tresses of thy hair."

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Wattle

Australia’s national flower is wattle. There are many different types. Native Plants of the Blue Mountains by Baker and Corringham lists 19 in the mountains. Various varieties flower throughout the year but perhaps the most welcome are the golden blooms of Acacia terminalis that cheer cold winter days.

Photo: Wattle (Acacia terminalis)

Words to walk with:
From Waratah and Wattle by Henry Lawson
“Australia! Australia! so fair to behold
While the blue sky is arching above;
The stranger should never have need to be told,
That the Wattle-bloom means that her heart is of gold”

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Dusk

I hugged my coat around me and waited a little longer. The fierce red faded leaving the clouds grey against a backdrop of pink sky as the lights from houses on Kings Tableland began to glimmer.

Night was approaching so I walked to my car. Flocks of Cockatoos squawked in the pine trees and flashed white against the darkening sky where early stars glinted like ice crystals.

Photo: Dusk, Jameson Valley

Words to walk with:
From On Australian Hills by Ada Cambridge
“Oh to be there to-night!
To see that rose of sunset flame and fade
On ghostly mountain height,
The soft dusk gathering each leaf and blade
From the departing light,
Each tree-fern feather of the wildwood glade.”

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Sunset

At the top, I tarried at the lookout to watch the sun paint the gathering clouds.

Photo: Sunset over the Jameson Valley, Wentworth Falls

Words to walk with:
From Colour by Dorothea Mackellar
“Great saffron sunset clouds, and larkspur mountains
And fenceless miles of plain
And hillsides golden-green in the unearthly
Clear shining after rain”

Monday, 25 June 2007

Sinking Sun

On the Undercliff track there were tantilising glimpses of the late afternoon sun glowing on the eastern rock faces and the rush of white water flowing over Wentworth Falls. I scurried back to the top as I didn’t want to be caught out in the dark. Nights are closing in very early now with the shortest day of the year this weekend.

Photo: Cliff in early evening, Wentworth Falls

Words to walk with:
From Wentworth Falls at Evening by Mark O’Connor
“Droplets in the late sun,
a shower of silver coin
into the dark valley.”

Sunday, 24 June 2007

Undercliff

I took a brisk late afternoon walk along the Undercliff Track at Wentworth Falls. The air was cold, underfoot was slippery, and water drip, dripped from above which it does even in dry times.


Photo: Undercliff track, Wentworth Falls


Words to walk with:
From The Bush by James Lister Cutherbertson
“Give us from dawn to dark
Blue of Australian skies,
Let there be none to mark
Wither our pathway lies …
These are the haunts we love,
Glad with enchanted hours,
Bright as the heavens above,
Fresh as the wild bush flowers.”

Saturday, 23 June 2007

Winter Magic


The streets of Katoomba today were alive with witches, wizards, elves, fairies and all manner of interesting people. It was the annual Winter Magic festival, celebrating the winter solstice. The sun shone brightly and the air was chill. A perfect winter's day.


Words to walk with:
Soliloquy from Hamlet by William Shakespeare
"Tis now the very witching time of night,
When churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out
Contagion to this world: now could I drink hot blood
And do such bitter business as the day
Would quake to look on."


Friday, 22 June 2007

Wet web

There has been snow in the upper mountains. I missed it. It was just cold and wet here in Lawson so I didn't know it was happening until I saw the evening news on TV. Snow only falls very occasionally and usually doesn't last on the ground for more than half a day.

Photo: Spider’s web on damp day Katoomba

Words to walk with:
From Mist by Mark O’Connor
"The bush path is a tunnel into mist,
Where every spider’s web is seen
Flagged out with silver bouys."

Thursday, 21 June 2007

More views on rain

I have just checked the catchment website. Some of the small dams have filled up but the big one, Warragamba hasn’t gone up even 1% in the past month! Remember my photos of Warragamba dam back in March it is still as empty as it was then.

[Update: New figures posted on the website today show that Warragamba dam went up 9% this week. The water falling in the catchment has reached the dam at last. Sydney's overall water storage is now at 50% which is wonderful though the vast majority of farming country is still drought declared as most of the rain has been at the coast.]

Photo: Xavier was here

Words to walk with:
A traditional children’s nursery rhyme
“Rain rain go away,
Come again another day.
Little Johnny wants to play;
Rain, rain, go to Spain,
Never show your face again!”

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

It’s still raining

Walking is a bit difficult at the moment because the big rains are continuing to fall.


Photo: More inside looking outside


Words to walk with:
From Said Hanrahan by John O’Brien – a classic bush poem.
"If we don't get three inches, man,
Or four to break this drought,
We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
"Before the year is out."

In God's good time down came the rain;
And all the afternoon
On iron roof and window-pane
It drummed a homely tune.

And through the night it pattered still,
And lightsome, gladsome elves
On dripping spout and window-sill
Kept talking to themselves.

It pelted, pelted all day long,
A-singing at its work,
Till every heart took up the song
Way out to Back-o'-Bourke.

And every creek a banker ran,
And dams filled overtop;
"We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
"If this rain doesn't stop."

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

The walk ends

The Prince Henry Cliff Walk ends at Katoomba Falls. I’ve finished it!

Photo: Katoomba Falls
Words to walk with:
At the end of journey from
The Passionate Man’s Pilgrimage by Sir Walter Ralegh
"From thence to heavens's bribeless hall,
Where no corrupted voices brawl ;
No conscience molten into gold,
No forged accuser bought or sold,
No cause deferred, nor vain-spent journey ;
For there Christ is the King's Attorney,
Who pleads for all without degrees,
And he hath angels, but no fees.
And when the grand twelve-million jury
Of our sins, with direful fury,
'Gainst our souls black verdicts give,
Christ pleads his death, and then we live"

Monday, 18 June 2007

The ones that got away

Photo: Black Cockatoos, Katoomba

This photograph is a reminder of the many birds that got away from me on the Prince Henry Cliff Walk. Lyrebirds called deep in the valley. Wattlebirds spluttered coughs above. Drunken pips came from Eastern Spinebills sipping on banksia flowers. Tiny thornbills flitted across the path and bounced around the bushes. Rosellas chattered and flashed from tree to tree. Two galahs squabbled over a dead branch. Melodious singing lead me to a Golden Whistler (a new bird for me). And music blaring from a walker’s radio was an unexpected and unwelcome intrusion.

Words to walk with:
From Country Veranda by John Tranter
“where a parrot scribbles a crooked scrawl of crayon
and off stage a crow
laments his loneliness

and six neat magpies, relaxed but quite soon
off to a General Meeting
stroll, chortle and yarn.”

Sunday, 17 June 2007

Orphan Rock

The walk takes in a fine view of Orphan Rock, you can also see the Ruined Castle rock formation on the top of the hill in the mid-distance.

Photo: Orphan Rock, Katoomba

A 12 year-old relative visited us this week. He felt let down when he discovered the Three Sisters were “a pile of old rocks”. At the very least he expected the sisters to have faces like Mount Rushmore. So by his evaluation, I guess Orphan Rock is another disappointing pile of stone.

Words to walk with:
From Monoliths by Mark O’Connor
“The wind’s chisel gives them age,Incising blank foreheads.”

Saturday, 16 June 2007

Skyway

The track passes under the wires for the Skyway cable car. Looks scary doesn’t it. It spans 500 metres above a 300 metre drop so is certainly enough to take your breath away. But the tamely named Scenic Railway usually gives visitors a bigger fright. I will go there one day soon and show you why.

Photo: Skyway cable car, Katoomba

Words to walk with:
From Katoomba Cable Car by Mark O’Connor
“You swing by gossamer, out on air.”

Friday, 15 June 2007

Dillwynia

I knew tea-tree, banksia and sheoaks but I have never heard of Dillwynia. I kept an eye out for any plant that might be the one and snapped away with my camera. I would verify it when I got home.

I thought it would be the shrub with lovely long tubular pink flowers but that was the winter flowering Styphelia tubiflora (names like that make me giggle). Dillwynia turned out to be the common old yellow pea flower often called Eggs and Bacon or sometimes Parrot Pea – I’m going to call it Dillwynia from now on because I like the way the word rolls off my tongue.

Photo: Dillwynia Retorta

Words to walk with:
Dillwynia,
dillwynia,
dillwynia ….

Thursday, 14 June 2007

Tea-Tree

The path at the Katoomba end of Prince Henry Cliff Walk is surfaced for easy strolling and there are signs telling us what to look out for. It said we would see tea-tree, heath banksia, sheoaks and dillwynia.

The name tea-tree derives from early settlers soaking the leaves in boiling water to make a tea substitute.

Photo: Moth on Tea Tree

Words to walk with:
From The Tea-Tree and The Lyrebird by Roland Robinson

“ … I eased my load
against a rock and found the tea-tree flowering
out of the dark wet bush, and drew its spray
of close-starred blossom over me with showering
of cold rain on my face”

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Rock shapes 3

The part of the Prince Henry Cliff Walk left for me to complete is from Lady Darley Lookout near Echo Point through to Katoomba Falls.

In the sunshine Lady Darley Lookout is just another rocky viewing platform with big views across the Jameson valley. Draped in filmy fog, it’s an intimate world of mystery and allure.

Photo: From Lady Darley Lookout, Katoomba
on a foggy day

Words to walk with:
From In a Cloud by Mark O’Connor
“For three days we have lived inside a cloud,
watching fog squeeze itself into droplets.
sometimes it lowered and lifted around us,
white heights and dull grey
And once wispy white-blue.”

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Rock Shapes 2

The track from Bridal Veil falls leads to Fossil Rock, a windy promontory weathered into wild stone animal shapes.

Photo: Fossil Rock, Leura



This completes the Leura end of the Prince Henry Cliff walk. I will go the unfinished Katoomba end tomorrow.

Words to walk with:
From The Tyger by William Blake
“Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare sieze the fire?”

Monday, 11 June 2007

After the rain

The sun is shining again and I thought it was a good opportunity to go back to Bridal Veil falls and see what it looks like with more water flowing. It was not as easy as I expected, the track was slippery and eroded. Trees, bowed down by the weight of water, have fallen across the path.



Photo: Bridal Veil Falls after rain


You can compare this to the view on 5 June. For an idea of scale, look closely towards the top right of the picture you will see two tiny people standing near the top of the falls.


Words to walk with:
From The Tumult Ends by Roland Robinson
"Swooping, with folded wings, he goes
over the far tree-tops for those
mountains of the clouds, and where
the storms let down their purple hair."

Sunday, 10 June 2007

Of drought and ...

Yesterday the downpour continued. At the coast there have been big floods and heavy seas. Here we were high but not dry. The water catchment will welcome the run-off.

Photo: More outside from inside

Words to walk with:
From My Country by Dorothea Mackellar . This poem is one of the most widely known in Australia.
“I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of rugged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror –
The wide brown land for me!”

Saturday, 9 June 2007

It’s raining, it’s pouring

We are having wild wet weather. Wind is swooshing through the pines, the wind chimes have jangled themselves into silence, rain is rattling on the roof and battering at the windows. I am warm inside watching the rivulets run.

Photo: Outside from inside

Words to walk with:
A traditional children’s nursery rhyme
“It's raining, it's pouring;
The old man is snoring.
He went to bed,
and bumped his head
And he couldn't get up in the morning.”

Friday, 8 June 2007

Rock shapes 1

Photo: Rock, Prince Henry Cliff Walk


I love the great rocks that loom and overhang the track and those at my feet, worn smooth by wind and water.


Words to walk with:
From Rock of Ages a traditional Christian hymn written in 1763 by A.M Toplady
"Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy riven side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure;
Save from wrath and make me pure …

While I draw this fleeting breath,
When my eyelids close in death,
When I soar to worlds unknown,
See Thee on Thy judgement throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee. "

Thursday, 7 June 2007

Leura Cascades

The Prince Henry Cliff walk leads to Leura Cascades, a pretty walk lined with tree ferns beside cheerfully gurgling water that drops through a series of cascades before leaping over the cliff at Bridal Veil Falls.

Photo: Leura Cascades

Words to walk with:
From The Waterfall by Henry Vaughan
“ As this loud brook's incessant fall
In streaming rings restagnates all,
Which reach by course the bank, and then
Are no more seen : just so pass men.
O my invisible estate,
My glorious liberty, still late !
Thou art the channel my soul seeks,
Not this with cataracts and creeks.”

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Grass Trees

The grass tree is a distinct Australian plant found squatting under forest trees or clinging to rock ledges. The first to show shoots after fire, its tall cream flower becomes a long lasting brown spike.

Photo: Grass Tree (Xanthorrhoea media)
at Bridal Veil Lookout

Words to walk with:
From Field Notes from Mount Bakewell by John Kinsella
“Quartz outcrops packed in soil,
crumbling with sheep trails and frantic climbs,
sheoak, York gum, jam tree,
xanthorrhoea lean back to correct
the incline, against the vertical”

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Bridal Veil Falls

I guess there is not enough water flowing over the falls at the moment to get the bridal veil effect.

Photo: Bridal Veil Falls, Leura

Words to walk with:
From Wentworth Falls by Mark O’Connor
“The wet ledge in the changing wind
steers away an errant
slow water-veil of white
to the forest below.”

Monday, 4 June 2007

Filling in the gaps

The Prince Henry Cliff walk is a long walk from Katoomba Falls to Gordon Falls, Leura. In March I walked from the Gordon Falls end. And last month, most of the middle part. I’ve decided to fill in the gaps this week.


Photo: Bridal Veil Lookout, Leura

I started at Bridal Veil lookout. I’ve discovered there are two lookouts, one on each side of the gap where the Bridal Veil waterfall tumbles.

Sunday, 3 June 2007

Winter’s sweet perfume

Fragrant jonquils are in flower, brightening the looming darkness and drab of winter.

Photo: Jonquils, my garden
(not a native plant)

Words to walk with:
From A Contemplation Upon Flowers by Henry King
“You do obey your months and times, but I
Would have it ever Spring:
My fate would know no Winter, never die,
Nor think of such a thing.
O that I could my bed of earth but view
And smile, and look as cheerfully as you!”

Saturday, 2 June 2007

Change

It officially changed to winter yesterday, and I’ve got some sweeping to do!


Photo: Sweeping time, my garden.

Pied Beauty by Gerard Manley Hopkins.
“Glory be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swíft, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dím;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.”

Friday, 1 June 2007

Home to bed

The sun sunk lower. Fire tortured trees became silhouettes. With the daytime moon turning silver it was time to take the rough ride home to bed.

Evening, Mount Hay

Words to walk with:
From To the Evening Star by William Blake
“Thou fair-hair'd angel of the evening,
Now, whilst the sun rests on the mountains, light
Thy bright torch of love; thy radiant crown
Put on, and smile upon our evening bed!”