Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Cloudy seas

There was a full moon yesterday.



Words to walk with:
From The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes
"The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees,
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
And the highwayman came riding—
Riding—riding—
The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door."

Monday, 30 July 2007

Snowflakes

Snowflake flowers cheer gloomy days with their delicate dance in lawns and old garden beds.

Photo: Snowflakes in my garden (Not a native plant)

Words to walk with:
From Fear No More The Heat o’ The Sun by William Shakespeare
"Fear no more the heat o' the sun,
Nor the furious winter's rages;
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
Home art gone, and ta'en thy wages;
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust."

Sunday, 29 July 2007

A blissful Sunday afternoon

My definition of bliss -- a cold winter's day sitting by a log fire with an interesting book and a block of good dark chocolate. What's yours?


Words to walk with:
From Now Winter Nights Enlarge by Thomas Campion (1617)
"Now winter nights enlarge
The number of their hours,
And clouds their storms discharge
Upon the airy towers.
Let now the chimneys blaze,
And cups o’erflow with wine;
Let well-tuned words amaze
With harmony divine.
Now yellow waxen lights
Shall wait on honey love,
While youthful revels, masques, and courtly sights
Sleep’s leaden spells remove.?

Saturday, 28 July 2007

Frosty mornings

A veil of mist mutes the distances, crisp white blankets the grass -- my world has gone monocrhome.



Words to walk with:
82 by Emily Dickinson
"There’s a certain slant of light,
On winter afternoons,
That oppresses, like the weight
Of cathedral tunes.

Heavenly hurt it gives us;
We can find no scar,
But internal difference
Where the meanings are.

None may teach it anything,
’T is the seal, despair,—
An imperial afflictionS
ent us of the air.

When it comes, the landscape listens,
Shadows hold their breath;
When it goes, ’t is like the distance
On the look of death."

Friday, 27 July 2007

Cold Nights

Dark velvet sky strewn with ice crystal stars and washed with cool white moonlight.


From Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost
“The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Winter joy

Winter joy -- wearing a warm coat, snug, and safe from the wild winds.


From Thoughts in Winter by Dorothy Hewett
“cold days in the mountains
sleet falls the wind unhooks
the creeper from the wall”

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Winter

We are now deep into Winter. Clear skies, icy winds, bare trees, frosty mornings -- lovely.

Photo: Birch Trees, Town Centre, Katoomba

Words to walk with:
From Birches by Robert Frost
"When I see birches bend to left and right
Across the line of straighter darker trees,
I like to think some boy's been swinging them.
But swinging doesn't bend them down to stay.
Ice-storms do that. Often you must have seen them
Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning
After a rain. They click upon themselves
As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored
As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel."

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Self expression

I am ending the sequence on murals with this grafitti painted on a boarded up house in Lawson. It amuses me.


I guess we all do our own thing, mine is blogging and poetry. I hope to return to including poetry tomorrow, I've been rather busy lately.


Monday, 23 July 2007

Graffiti

The youth of the mountains, depicted in yesterday's skater mural, do plenty of their own art in the form of graffiti -- not all of it defacing property.

Photo: Grafitti art, Mid Mountains Youth Centre

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Skaters

Skate boarding is a popular sport for many of the youth in the mountains. I really like this mural on a railway building in Lawson that captures the exhuberence of the sport. This is just a small part of this long mural.

Photo: Mural, Lawson

Saturday, 21 July 2007

After the flower is gone.

The Jenny Kee mural of yesterday had the leaves and flower heads of banksia's in the illustration. It reminded me of this one I took earlier in the year at Mount Boyce. That's the thing about Banksia's flowers they are interesting throughout the lifecycle. And even though I have shown banksias several times already in the blog each variety is a little different.

Photo: Banksia, Mount Boyce

Friday, 20 July 2007

Victory Theatre

Photo: Mural by Jenny Kee, Blackheath

This colourful mural on the outside of Victory Theatre in Blackheath was designed by artist Jenny Kee and painted by members of the local community. It illustrates the plants, birds and animals of the Blue Mountains, many of which you have already been introduced to in this blog.

The Victory Theatre, an old picture theatre, has a great collection of antique shops and a good cafe. Worth a visit if you are in Blackheath.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Zuster landscape

As a follow on from yesterday’s mural. Here is one of my photographs showing the type of landscape Reinis Zuster so beautifully captured in his work.

Photo: Blue Mountains cliff face

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

An artist's work

On the other side Katoomba Street there is another mural that I admire. This one is a tribute to Blue Mountains artist Reinis Zuster with a representation of his painting “Mountain Bolders”. I love Zuster’s work for the way it interprets our beautiful environment.

If you are visiting the Blue Mountains, make sure you go to the Conservation Hut at Wentworth Falls. It is more than a nice place for a meal with a view, there are two large Zuster paintings for you to enjoy.


Photo: Mural of Reinis Zuster’s “Mountain Bolders”, Katoomba

Words to walk with:
In an Artist's Studio by Christina Rossetti
"One face looks out from all his canvases,
One selfsame figure sits or walks or leans:
We found her hidden just behind those screens,
That mirror gave back all her loveliness.
A queen in opal or in ruby dress,
A nameless girl in freshest summer-green,
A saint, an angel --every canvas means
The same one meaning, neither more nor less.
He feeds upon her face by day and night,
And she with true kind eyes looks back on him,
Fair as the moon and joyful as the light:
Not wan with waiting, not with sorrow dim;
Not as she is, but was when hope shone bright;
Not as she is, but as she fills his dream."

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Past and present

Please click in the link to view a Harry Phillips photograph of Frederica Falls from the Blue Mountains City Library Local Studies Collection.

Now compare it to my photograph below. Quite apart from the obvious reduced water flow and silting caused by development in the area, Phillips was a master of managing composition, light and people to bring dreams to life.


Photo: Frederica Falls, Lawson
Words to walk with:
The person in Phillips photograph reminds me of a shepherd holding a crook.
From The Passionate Shepherd to His Love by Christopher Marlowe
"Come live with me and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove
That valleys, groves, hills, and fields
Woods or steepy mountain yields

And we will sit upon the rocks,
Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks
By shallow rivers to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals. "

Monday, 16 July 2007

Harry Phillips

A mural painted on a building in Katoomba Street reproduces a photograph of Bridal Veil falls by Harry Phillips. Phillips, who lived and worked in Katoomba from 1908 to 1922, is famous for his souvenir albums of Blue Mountains tourist attractions and other historic photographs of the region.

He had a knack for capturing the romance of the environment, not just nature itself. Tomorrow I will show you an example of his work as compared to one of my shots of the same location.

Photo: Portion of mural celebrating Harry Phillips photography, Katoomba
Artist: Michael Lynn, 2001

Words to walk with:
From the blurb for a 1999 film The Blue Mountains of Harry Phillips
“Using his still camera, Harry Philips served the clouds at the open air church of the Blue Mountains for 40 years at the beginning of the century. Nature provided all the answers for this unique visual poet in his life long quest for spiritual transcendence.”

Sunday, 15 July 2007

At the end of the day

At the end of the day weary commuters return from the noisy city, glad to count down stations to home as black night begins to swallow the day.

Photo: Mural of 3801 train, Springwood Railway Station
by Vern Treweeke, 2001

Next week I will show you some more of my favourite murals from around the mountains.

Words to walk with:
The Night Express by William Hurd Hillyer
“There's a light at last in the sable mist, and it hangs like a rising star
On the border-line 'twixt earth and sky, where the rails run straight and far;
And deeply sounds from hill to hill, in mighty monotone,
A distant voice—a hoarse, wild note with savage warning blown.
'Tis the night express, and well 't is named, for behold! from out the night
It comes and darkly adown the rails it looms to the startled sight—
Larger, nearer, nearer yet—till at last there's a clang and roar,
A wave of heat, and a gleam of red from a closing furnace door;
Then the crash and shriek of the rushing train—and our hearts beat fast and high
When sudden and swift through the shadowy mist the night express goes by!”

Saturday, 14 July 2007

Cloudy crimson

The sun rises red, a pretty sight as the train hurtles towards the city, leaving the beautiful bush a mere memory behind.


Photo: Sunrise from train, Falconbridge

Words to walk with:
From The Australian Sunrise by James Lister Cuthbertson
“Then the fiery Scorpion vanished, the magpie’s note was heard,
And the wind in the sheoak wavered and the honeysuckles stirred;
The airy golden vapour rose from the river breast,
The kingfisher came darting out of his crannied nest,
And the bulrushes and reed-beds put off their sallow grey
And burnt with cloudy crimson at the dawning of the day.”

Friday, 13 July 2007

From a railway carriage

In the early morning dark, bleary-eyed daily commuters, heavily scarfed against the biting cold, huddle on the railway platforms waiting to board the fast express to the city.

Photo: A painted station whistling by

Words to walk with:
From a Railway Carriage by Robert Louis Stevenson
“Faster than fairies, faster than witches,
Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches;
And charging along like troops in a battle
All through the meadows the horses and cattle:
All of the sights of the hill and the plain
Fly as thick as driving rain;
And ever again, in the wink of an eye,
Painted stations whistle by.”

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Travelling in style

Back in the steam era, traveling the line was an experience. Even today the Blue Mountains carriages, being furnished for longer distances, are more comfortable than those that cover the regular suburban circuits.


Photo: Historic rail carriages, Mount Victoria

Words to walk with:
From Skimbleshanks: The Railway Cat by T.S. Eliot
“Oh it's very pleasant when you have found your little den
With your name written up on the door.
And the berth is very neat with a newly folded sheet
And there's not a speck of dust on the floor.
There is every sort of light - you can make it dark or bright;
There's a button that you turn to make a breeze.
There's a funny little basin you're supposed to wash your face in
And a crank to shut the window if you sneeze.
Then the guard looks in politely and will ask you very brightly'
Do you like your morning tea weak or strong?'
But Skimble's just behind him and was ready to remind him,
For Skimble won't let anything go wrong.”

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

3801

The 3801 is a historic steam locomotive that has been lovingly restored to enable young and old to enjoy the romance of billowing white steam, the clack-clack of wheels on the rails and the smell of burning coal in the air.

Diesel trains began to replace steam from the 1950s with the very last steam trains removed from active service on New South Wales rail lines in the 1970s.



Words to walk with:
From Night Ride by Kenneth Slessor
“The dark train shakes and plunges;
bells cry out, the night-ride starts again.
Soon I shall look out into nothing but blackness,
pale, windy fields, the old roar and knock of the rails
melts in dull fury. Pull down the blind. Sleep. Sleep
Nothing but grey, rushing rivers of bush outside.
Gaslight and milk-cans. Of Rapptown I recall nothing else.”

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

The golden age of steam

In July 1867 a railway line was opened running from Penrith (at the foot of the Blue Mountains) and terminated at Wentworth Falls (then called Weatherboard) about half way up.

The first railway stations were near popular inns and quickly became the places where mountain townships grew. With the railway being so central to our towns and their history, it seems a perfect time warp when the 3801 steam train takes a tour along the line. The toot of the steam whistle in the distance is sure to draw us out of our houses to watch and wave as it passes through or to join the photographers chasing it up the line.



Photo: 3801 steam train at Blackheath


Words to walk with:
From the lyrics of the song 3801 written in 1987 by Ray King and Ron Russell
You can listen to the song at the unionsong.com website.



“In the golden age of steam
There lived a beauty queen
Roamin' around the countryside
She was a driver's dream.
Workin' days and workin' nights
Up before the sun
They all tried hard to get aboard
Thirty-eight o one.

The queen of all the fleet
The railway's pride and joy
To ride upon the footplate
Was the dream of every boy.
As she went roarin' by
on another express run
Everyone would turn their heads for
Thirty-eight o one.

Ah thirty-eight o one
You stood the test
you're still the best
You just keep rollin' on. "





Monday, 9 July 2007

Scary ride

The name Scenic Railway suggests to me, and most people I know, a gentle steam train ride through pretty rainforest. It comes as a shock to the unwary to find it hurtles down an unbelievably steep incline – more like a roller coaster than something suited to your geriatric aunt. It does travel through some rainforest but most people are too busy gasping and gaping towards the light at the end of the tunnel to care.

Photo: From Scenic Railway, Katoomba

However, gentle steam trains do have a big part to play in Blue Mountains history as do the fast electric trains on our life today. I will start the story of the passenger railway tomorrow.

Sunday, 8 July 2007

Scenic Railway

The Scenic Railway is said to be the steepest railway in the world with a 52 degree incline. Take a close look at the photo below. You will see the very steep rail lines and the car near the top.

Photo: Scenic Railway, Katoomba

The railway was constructed in the late 1800s to carry coal and shale out of the valley. It became a tourist attraction as early as the 1930s. The historic photograph from 1900 at infobluemountains.net.au shows the railway as it was when used for coal mining and without the vegetation around it, so gives a great view of how steep it really is.


Words to walk with:
From the Scenic World website
“Ride the steepest incline Railway in the world down to a lush and hidden valley. The 415m descent will lead you through a cliff side tunnel into ancient rainforest.”

Saturday, 7 July 2007

The bottom of Furber Steps

Furber Steps descends 400 metres by lots and lots and lots of steps – many of these were hewn from the cliff in the early 1900s. See the interesting historic photo at infobluemountains.net.au.

You may be wondering why I have been so cheery about all these stairs. The answer is because this is a rare case where there is a lift back to the top via the Scenic Railway.

Photo: View over rainforest canopy at
Scenic Railway station near the bottomof Furber Steps.

Words to walk with:
From Proverbs 16 in the Holy Bible New International Version
“In his heart a man plans his course,
but the LORD determines his steps.”

Friday, 6 July 2007

Half Way

Halfway down the Furber Steps, massive cliff walls enclose the scene making everything else seem small.

Photo: Cable Car from Furber Steps.

See the post on 16 June for a view of the cable car from the top of the cliff. From here the huge vertical cliffs even make the Three Sisters in the distance seem tiny.



Words to walk with:
From Halfway Down by A.A. Milne
“Halfway down the stairs
Is a stair where I sit.
There isn't any other stair
Quite like it.
I'm not at the bottom,
I'm not at the top;
So this is the stair
Where I always stop.

Halfway up the stairs
Isn't up and isn't down.
It isn't in the nursery,
It isn't in the town.
And all kinds of funny thoughts
Go running round my head:
"It isn't really anywhere!
It's somewhere else instead!"

Thursday, 5 July 2007

Going down

Continuing the descent down Furber Steps, nature’s music is the waters of Witches Leap Creek burbling on to Veras Grotto and the rush of water over Katoomba Falls.

From here you get a different perspective of the falls to the one I showed on 19 June. I just love how walking different paths turns up new ways of seeing the same thing.

Photo: Katoomba Falls from Furber Steps

Words to walk with:
From The Birthright by Eiluned Lewis,
“We who were born
In country places,
Far from cities
And shifting faces,
We have a birthright
No man can sell,
And a secret joy
No man can tell …

Pride of trees,
Swiftness of streams,
Magic of frost
Have shaped our dreams:
No baser vision
Their spirit fills
Who walk by right
On the naked hills.”

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Witches Leap

From Reid’s Plateau at the Katoomba end of the Prince Henry Cliff walk (which I did a couple of weeks ago) the Furber Steps lead deep into the valley through rich rainforest.

On this walk I discovered there are more witches in Katoomba than the ones that walk the streets during the Winter Magic festival. Not far down the Furber Steps there is a lovely waterfall called Witches Leap. The name suggests to me a place where fledgling witches practise flying on broomsticks but apparently “leap” is a Scottish dialect word meaning waterfall.

Photo: Near witches leap

Words to walk with:
This is how the long story of Harry at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry began in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
“Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. They were the last people you’d expect to be involved in anything strange or mysterious, because they just didn’t hold with such nonsense.”

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Thornbills at play


Back in March I identified Thornbills during my walks but could not get a picture. With the leaves gone I am having some success with capturing these tiny birds but they are still give me grief with their fidgeting.

Words to walk with:
From The Making of Birds by Katherine Tynan
God make him birds in a pleasant humour;
Tired of planets and suns was He.
He said: “I will add a glory to summer,
Gifts for my creatures banished from Me!”

The dear Lord God of His glories weary –
Christ our Lord had the heart of a boy –
Made him birds in a moment of merry,
Bad them soar and sing for His joy.

Monday, 2 July 2007

Possum

Each night marauding possums emerge from their daytime hollows. They clump and thump on the roof, hiss and spit at each other, and scare visitors by walking heavily on the verandah like malicious intruders.

Photo: Brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula)

I am pleased with this rare case of me getting a photograph of a native animal! It helps that the leaves are no longer on the tree.

Words to walk with:
From Widower in the Country by Les Murray
“Last night I thought I dreamt - but when I woke
The screaming was only a possum skiing down
The iron roof on little moonlit claws.”

Sunday, 1 July 2007

Wattlebird

At last, I’ve managed to get a good photo of a wattlebird. Its name has nothing to do with the wattle flowers I showed the other day. They are called wattlebirds because of the red wattle at their ears.


Photo: Wattle Bird

Words to walk with:
From Field Guide to the Birds of Australia by Simpson and Day
Red Wattlebird Anthochaera carunculata
Grey-brown bird, white streaks. Crown blackish; silvery-white face. Dark pink pendulous wattle at ear. Dark red iris. Belly yellow. Legs pink. Voice raucous ‘tobacco box’, ‘chokk’