This week

By Vita Forest

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Picnic lunch atop Du Faurs Rocks at Mt Wilson, Blue Mountains

This week I have been

WRITING Mobile Tales 9: in which Christabel learns a disturbing fact about whales

READING

  • Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta
  • The Last Painting of Sara De Vos by Dominic Smith

WATCHING Big Little Lies

VISITING the Blue Mountains with Vastra and Saskia where we did some

WALKING to

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Magical pool at the base of Minehaha Falls, Katoomba, Blue Mountains

  • Minnehaha Falls in Katoomba
  • around the clifftops of Leura
  • around the shops of Leura…

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  • around Mt Wilson through shady ferns and by bright wattle blooming amongst blackened trees

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Cathedral of Ferns, Mt Wilson, Blue Mountains

LISTENING to

  • Whipbirds and
  • Bell birds and
  • Crimson Rosellas and
  • screeching cockatoos breaking the monumental stillness of the silence at Du Faurs Rocks, Mt Wilson

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Oh and saw this currawong at Du Faurs Rocks, Mt Wilson

PICNICKING

  • on a clifftop in Leura
  • on a clifftop at Du Faurs Rocks at Mt Wilson

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RELAXING in the winter sunshine with a cuppa and our books

 

 

Walk to One Tree Hill Lookout in Numbers

By Vita Forest

  • 20km drive to Hall from Fleur’s home.
  • 5.4km walk to the lookout each way.
  • Maximum of 9 degrees Celsius, but colder with the wind at the top.
  • 2 walkers –  Fleur and Vita.
  • 2 mountain bikes working their way down the steep undulating section at the beginning of the track, making us stand to the side.
  • 1 rusty-roofed shed seen from the track.

  • 1 stile to climb over.
  • 1 heavy gate to open and lock again so the cows wouldn’t get out.
  • 15 large propellers on the windfarm on the horizon (past Lake George near Bugendore).
  • 3 crimson rosellas swinging on a the lighter twigs of a gum tree.
  • 2 young men walking to the soundtrack of the music blaring from their phone (they were very friendly though).
  • 2 young women who assured us we were “nearly there”.

  • 4 cattle grids to cross.
  • 2 jumpers peeled off along the way (we got hot!)
  • 20 kangaroos high on a hill, silently watching us and leaping away again when they saw they had been spotted.
  • 3 cows on the hill.

  • 1 stop at the bottom of the final climb where the following was observed:
    • sheep
    • cows
    • kangaroos (the world was suddenly full of animals that we hadn’t noticed until we paused).
  • 2 bananas consumed before the final climb, their skins folded up and carefully placed back inside the lunchbox.
  • 1 boy who was being the cheer squad for his mother climbing up the steep steps to the top of the lookout “Come on!  Two minutes to go!  Nearly there!” (Personally, I would have told him to leave me alone…)
  • 100 – the number underneath “Canberra” at the final lookout.  Obviously built as part of Canberra’s centenary.

  • 1 state and
  • 1 territory seen from the lookout.
  • More than 1 tree seen from One Tree Hill Lookout.  Which was the one?

  • Many flocks of fairy wrens scuttling in the undergrowth, alighting momentarily on logs and branches and balancing on the wire that stretched between fence posts marking the boundary between the track and “Private Property”.
  • 1 lone kangaroo crashing through the trees and disappearing into the bush again.
  • 1 instance of rain on the way back – made us walk a little faster.

  • 3 hours return with a couple of stops for food and many for photo opportunities.
  • 4 tired legs.
  • 2 burgers inhaled after the walk at a very late lunch.  Perhaps the best meal ever!

This week

By Vita Forest

The Grounds of Alexandria


This week I have been

WRITING Mobile Tales 8: in which Christabel becomes aware of an unusual weather system

READING 

  • SuperFudge by Judy Blume
  • Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay (strange combination of books hey? Both good reads!)

SKETCHING and WANDERING and SIPPING coffee at The Grounds of Alexandria 


VISITING 

  • The dentist!
  • The AGNSW in NAIDOC week and seeing the exhibition Sentient Lands


  • South Curl Curl with Betty
  • Canberra to see Fleur

WALKING 

  • Along the headlands of Curl Curl with Betty.
  • With Saskia and Rowdy for a couple of night-time debriefs.
  • To One Tree Hill Lookout near Canberra with Fleur.

SEEING kangaroos, fairy wrens, crimson rosellas, galahs (amongst the native fauna) and cows and sheep (amongst the non-native).

CHATTING to my kids on the other side of the world.

This week

By Vita Forest

Fig tree on the way to Bush Bank Steam Mill, Kiama


This week I have been

READING

  • reports!
  • and Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow (nearly finished)

WRITING

VISITING

  • Vivid in Sydney
  • Gerroa with Sui-Sui and Alessandro and

REVISITING

Bombo headland

  • Bombo Headland
  • Kiama

Dry stone walls, Kiama

  • Gerringong (for a mighty fine burger – thanks Betty and Bob for the tip!)
  • Minnamurra Rainforest and

Suspension bridge at Minnamurra Rainforest

    DISCOVERING a new place in Kiama (my children were most surprised such a place exists)  – the ruin of the Bush Bank Steam Mill

    Bush Bank Steam Mill ruin

    SEEING lots of wildlife including

    • two lots of whales off the coast!  (From Gerringong and Bombo)
    • Fairy wrens at Bombo

    Jenny wren at Bombo Beach

    • Lyrebirds at Minnamurra Rainforest
    • Cows at Kiama (maybe not so wild)

    Cows with a view, Kiama

    • Wattlebirds, lorrikeets, king parrots, rosellas and more

    EATING lots of delicious cooking at the holiday home in Gerroa

    RELAXING after some very busy times at school

    Drowned World

    By Vita Forest

    In our own worlds

    Looking at the hidden worlds in the water 

    In the pools left by the sea.

    Balancing, bending, picking, choosing, rubbing rocks through finger tips

    Standing in a field of shells

    Speckling sand

    Shards of glass rubbed smooth by the sea

    The helmet of a crab 

    The tail of a lobster

    Beads of seaweed 

    Chunks of golden sponge

    Hefted lightly in my hand.

    Pockets percussive with clattering collections

    Watching monumental molluscs move

    Millimetre by millimetre

    Twisting paths over black boulders 

    Water winking in the indents of rocks

    Reflecting the sky, the clouds, the light, the face peering down to the flash of opalescence deep down amongst the dark 


    A row of molluscs huddled in a crevice

    Warrigal greens sprawling over black stones 

    Balls of raindrops rolling on the leaves of nasturtiums 

    Looking back at the rearing hill with its indents of cow hoofs and the chatter of hidden birds


    Through eyes, through camera lenses, through words shouted into the wind and the muttered impressions in my mind

    Saving them, holding them til I reach pen and paper, like a handful of sea-smooth stones.

    This week

    By Vita Forest

    Clifftop walk at South Curl Curl


    This week I have been

    WRITING

    READING About Grace by Anthony Doerr (Man oh man, I nearly stopped reading and skim-read the last part.  The main character really irritated me…)

    VISITING

    • a cafe by the river with some teaching buddies.
    • the Northern Beaches for a walk and then a swim in the pool at South Curl Curl.  I enjoyed it, the kids not so much…

    North Curl Curl

    • the harbour for a picnic afternoon tea with Lucy.
    • Lane Cove River Park for a walk with Briony and my parents.
    • Barangaroo for some sketching and where I was

    LISTENING to Alice Chance’s Aurora Eora in The Cutaway – a sublime soundtrack which turned the empty space into a cathedral.

    Barangaroo


    WATCHING Hidden Figures with my friend Diana.

    Not even the beginning

    By Vita Forest

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    “You mean this isn’t even part of the walk?” face sweaty, voice grim.

    “That’s right.”

    I walked on.  We would not turn back, not now, no way.

    But now it was THE walk, not a walk from the station, not the walk down the hill but THE walk.  See – the dreaming poles marked it.  It was not the end of the beginning, or the beginning of the end but it was the beginning.  There was mutinous muttering from Max and Lucy, Fleur whispered she could take them back.  But no!  We were going to do this walk and we were going to enjoy it…

    The kids took off their shoes to wade through the water at Werri Lagoon and did not put them on again on the other side.  They stalked on grimly in barefeet.  And I thought why not? And pulled my shoes off again too.  The grass was soft and buoyant and the wind from the sea felt good on my bare skin.  We stepped along up the hill, away from the beach, away from the shrieks of the swimmers and the drone of the cars and into the silence.

    The complaints stopped as we climbed the bare grassy slopes that hid the town and the road.  The kids fell silent and felt the breeze, saw the blue water sinking back from the black rocks, saw the green hills rising away into the distance along the coast and the wildflowers buzzing with butterflies and crickets.  All you could hear was the booming breath of the sea, rising and falling and the hundreds of birds hidden in the undergrowth.

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    “Is this The Shire?” they asked, but we didn’t come across any hobbits.


    Further on, pelicans flapped by lazily in formation, so close you could hear the air against their wings.  I stopped and stared up at the hill rising to the west and even though it was “just grass” every blade was alive in the wind, not a solid monolithic mound but a writhing, dancing collection of stems, each one clutching a fist full of rattling, plump seeds.

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    Later we went off the track into a stand of remnant rainforest – the rainforest that used to run all the way down to the sea.  We sat enclosed in the shady room fretted with tree trunks and ate fruit.  I climbed down deeper and found a circular cairn built around the sinuous roots of a tree that was totally enclosed by the scrubby foliage around it.  Cradled inside it like a snow dome.  Someone else had visited too.

    I had promised them cows and we saw some, staring and edgy at Max’s frenzied hooting.  We were disturbed to see an anxious calf on the wrong side of the fence.  We wondered how it had got out and how it would get back?  Barbed wire was strung tight across the top of the fence and the gate we eventually passed was locked.  There was also wild fennel, identified by rubbing its lacy leaves between finger and thumb and inhaling deeply.  Aniseed.


    We peeled eggs under a tree at lunchtime and looked back across the path heading south.  And after lunch we came to the stile, THE stile and I told them the story of how, years ago, I had looked at this stile, every day, every time we came down to the beach, the stile in the distance on the headland, near the dry stone walls.  How I’d watch walkers climb over it and hike along the headland, coming from who knew where?  How I stood rooted on the sand, small children at my feet.  Them.  And I had wondered – what had those people seen?  Where had they come from?  With their backpacks on their backs, while I watched, anchored to the beach.  Now I knew.  They were us.  Ten years later but there we were, walking out of the wild.  Walking north along the track.  It was us all that time.

    We stopped again at Easts Beach, Lucy tumbling and dancing on the sand and falling into the splits.  Max watching critically and remarking, “When she laughs, her bum shakes.”

    And it did.

    Max and Lucy swam in the surf (Neptune’s son). I made do with a paddle and Fleur with a siesta under the tight shade of a juvenile pine.

    Walking on, I watched a bare-chested man saunter past the “No dogs on the beach” sign carrying two black Chihuahuas, one tucked under each armpit.  He carried them into the water where they bobbed serenely, safe in his arms.

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    Can you see the Chihuahuas?

    I guess they were never on the beach.

    At the end we found we were all sunburnt despite hats, sunglasses and slathered sunscreen.  There were red stripes where we had been absentminded with the lotion.  And my toes… well they appreciated the cool dip at sundown in the rock pool at Blow Hole Point.

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    And Fleur said that she doesn’t know if she would do it again.

    But she’s glad she did it once.