Tag Archive | Sydney

Hornsby garden

Mr S and I like to go for a walk in new places. One weekend at the end of April (I wrote it them but forgot to post) I remembered somewhere I’ve been meaning to go a decade: Lisgar Gardens. Full of camellias. Lush with trees and ferns. Building on it started one hundred years ago. 

I especially love the steps leading into a garden. So evocative. And what about the tree growing from a rock. It looks as though it is melting over a rock.

The garden is on several levels, falling down a deep slope. Along the path, among the boulders and trees, were lamp posts. Mr S said we were entering Narnia. Too scary!!!

We ventured beyond the garden boundaries, down the steep valley to the creek below. The track was really not a track. “Should we walk here?” I asked Mr S. 

“Looks like leech territory to me,” he replied.

Yes I squealed. Rightly so as it turned out. Four, yes FOUR, leeches I found in one shoe.  Blerk!!!

“Leech Hollow”, Mr S named it. (The valley, not my shoe.)

Up we went, back along the track, returning to he civilised garden. 

A beautiful public garden. Well worth a visit. Next time we will bring a thermos of tea. And we will be back in camellia season.  

A Sunday drive 

We took an American relo to Katoomba. It’s been many a year since I visited the Three Sisters and walked up and down Katoomba’s main drag. 
My God! The crowds! Masses and masses of tourists!!!  Go away already. 

No. I’m not a tourist. I’m a… Well I’m not a local but almost. I’ve been coming here since forever. I lived for a while at the base of the mountains in Dag City. I have had friends who lived in the mountains, and still have. As a teenager, we’d make the trek up on a Saturday night for something to do. I’ve done many short walks around the Blue Mountains. 

But I have not been up to Katoomba for so long. A couple of weekends ago I visited a friend in Leura, which is one stop down the mountain towards Sydney. We called in a couple of antique shops but didn’t go into Leura. 

Still, even the crowds cannot take away from the majesty of the Blue Mountains. 

Panoramic view

And I can see why they come. It’s awe inspiring. 

Three Sisters and a cousin

Honeymoon Bridge into cave under Three Sisters

The street art was eye catching. 

I love this one. A 1940s truck driving into the present. Reminds me of the student who asked what it was like living when everything was black and white – if the footage and photos are in black and white, real life must have been. 

Unfortunately the food was meh. I should have gone the soup. The ricotta vegetable slice was tiny and the accompanying slice of bread blah and the salad just a little pile of leaves. Yes, I should have had the soup. When it’s 7°C and there’s still snow on a roof and on a yard, go the soup. 

I think we may have to spend a week up here, exploring and walking and snooping around the shops. 

I even think I may have to work on Mr S. I think I could retire around Leura or Wentworth Falls. It’s the bushfires that scare him.  

Long weekend. 

Happy birthday, Queen. Thanks for the day off. 

Mr S has enjoyed watching the pomp and ceremonies in London on his computer. 

I’ve been otherwise engaged. 

On Saturday I continued my STC subscription and saw Arthur Miller’s All My Sons. Brilliant production. So glad I got to see Robyn Nevin – she was ill and theperformance  cancelled when I went to see her in Suddenly Last Summer. 

John Howard’s (not our ex-Prime Minister) performance was powerful. 

Great costumes. Not sure about the American accents, though. 

The day was a sparkler. Look at the diamonds glistening on the harbour. 

Yesterday I mooched around, wrote a witty post but lost it, read the paper, watched Poirot. 

Today I am off the the Hunter valley. No it is not holidays yet. I have a conference there. Supplies for tonight are packed. Bubbles and nibbles. Strange I know, to take wine to the Hunter but we won’t have time to shop nor visit wineries. 

Unconscious Mindfulness 

Many months ago I was driving to work and passed this absolutely amazing tree on a street where the traffic is very slow as we all wait through several changes of lights to get onto a main thoroughfare. The shrub was in flower with these huge, pendulous, drooping flower spikes. 

The whole shrub was covered. The beauty of it struck me. I had to share with someone who would appreciate it. I called my walking buddy. (Don’t worry. I have hands free in my car.) 

“I am looking at this amazingly beautiful shrub on the side of the road. We need to walk to it this afternoon and see it. I have never seen it in flower before.”

To her credit, my friend does not blink at unexpected phone calls from me about a plant, or any matter. Not does she roll her eyes at my random thoughts, expressed loud. 

So in the hot, steaming afternoon of a Sweltering Sydney Summer, we trudged up to the plant. 

I was still impressed. My friend less so. She has one in her garden. 

To give you the scale of the tree, here is my friend standing by the tree. 

Turns out they are commonly used for street planting in Brisbane, being tropical loving plants. They are becoming increasingly common in Sydney. Buckinghamia celsissima. But this one, being such a wonderful specimen,  had never put on such a display previously. If it had, I would have noticed it. 

I can’t wait until next year. Hope it flowers as spectacularly. 

Sunday in the Blue Mountains

Just back from a most gorgeous day. 

A friend picked me up in her convertible and we escaped the haze from the back burning that is taking place across Sydney. 

The air was crisp and sweet and clear. 

We stopped by a couple of antique shops on the way up to a friend’s weekender. 

A house among the trees. And birds. 

On the back verandah for drinks and nibbles, watched by kookaburras who wait any dropped morsels. 

Inside for a fabulous feast of pumpkin soup, mushroom strudel and salad. And then dessert! Oh, dessert. Choices. If only I had room for more than two. I’ll start with Persian orange almond cake. The sticky date with double serve of butterscotch sauce. 

A quick sing through of happy birthday to me, off to watch the hosts feeding the birds, while admiring the bush, especially the mountain devil, flowering at different stages. 

All too soon we had to join the other Sunday drivers on the road back down to Sydney. 

Back to the haze from back burning which you can see, sitting like a brown smudge low on the horizon. 

Captain Cook says, “Ta da.”

Walking through the city to attend a meeting on a bright, warm autumn morning, I see that even Captain Cook was revelling in the sunshine. 

Standing on his plinth in Hyde Park, looking towards the harbour, he raises his arm and looks as if, with a flourish of his hand, he is saying, “Ta da, here it is. I give you, the best harbour in the world.”

Imagine a man from a village in Yorkshire sailing around the world into the relatively unknown? How brave! How awesome!

My friend called on me to take some mindful photos of this beautiful day. It was in reaction to news I had to share with her that I am old. How you say?

Last night I watched a female comedian, Judith Lucy, who said getting old happens overnight, when people start calling you ma’am, instead of miss. And first thing this morning, walking past a hotel in the city, the concierge said, “Good morning, ma’am. Have a lovely day.”

Arghhh! I’m a ma’am. I’m old. Judith Lucy was right. 

So let’s be mindful and focus on the positive. I am a naturally mindful person. When all this mindfulness malarkey appeared from everywhere to assist happiness, I thought it strange. What? You’re telling me people don’t notice the unusual leaf? The way the light plays on the footpath? Don’t look for the tweeting bird hidden in the shrubbery? Don’t see and hear what’s around them?

How strange to have to consciously make yourself notice things. 

But in the interest of helping others see the beauty of the morning, here’s some more shots. (Are you a mindful person? Do you see it as part of your path to happiness?)

Palm trees in Hyde Park

St Mary’s Cathedral with fountain in Hyde Park

St James station with spires of St Mary’s shooting to the sky

 Return to Refuge Rock

I just had to take Mr S to yesterday’s find. I wanted to look for evidence of mortar shelling and its shrapnel in the rock and find the natural arch.

The path in is wide as it is used to service the electricity towers and by the Rural Fire Service. (For overseas readers, although I live in the suburbs, the Rural Fire Service, a largely volunteer service, deals with bush fires. The Fire Brigade deals with other fires.)

As soon as we got to the rock, we found evidence of artillery. A website said General MacArthur trained troops here. I went to the public library to look in local history books but couldn’t find any records. Something for further research. 

After you see one, you see the signs everywhere. 

So to our next target: the natural arch.  

The rock is huge so we wandered around the top of the edges, peering down the sides of the rock. At some edges it is a 15 metre drop. For those who’ve not been in Australian bush, it’s not easy walking among the vegetation, so it’s not a case of scrambling down and walking around the edge of the rock. There’s crevices, slopes, dense growth blocking your way, holes. All manner of sticks and rocks set to trip and scratch you. And snakes and spiders could be hiding anywhere.

A big crevice. Can’t jump over it.

A big crevice. Can’t jump over it.


Banskias abound


Back burning on the other side of the ridge. But still no natural arch. 

We followed some tracks which seemed to lead somewhere. Up hill and down dale, past more crevices, and attempts by young geologists/vandals to lever a balanced rock. (Come on if Year 9 Science taught you anything, it’s you need a bigger fulcrum and a stronger lever.)

We reached a very high cliff, preceded by deep crevices in the rocks, leaving large rectangular blocks of stone, looking all the world as the tops of trains waiting in a shunting yard.

Mr S, as the intrepid scout, found a way down. Walking down the slope of a crevice, careful as the leaf litter was deep and slippery. Really it was just a gentle ramp. 

Through the dense shrub to…

The arch. At the base of a 15 metre drop. 

Mr S found what he believed was a short cut back. Let me tell you. I failed on my first attempt. Photos don’t give you depth. And height. The crevice was long, high and narrow. What if we got to the top and were on the wrong side of another crevice?

I let him go first and check it out. Mr S is very slim. Even he had to turn sideways. 

I followed and then, making a U turn, walked up the crevice I walked down. Schimple. 

We were in the bush for about an hour and twenty minutes. Just right. A great adventure for a Sunday afternoon. 

I will return with my walking buddy. But we will take delicate lady steps and head straight for the natural arch.


Bush in the suburbs 

One of the things I like about my part of Sydney is the bushland that surrounds us.  

Walking off a suburban street and into bushland, you feel miles from suburban living, from the press of people, from the torment of traffic. 

Today my walking buddy called to ask to explore a new track. Refuge Rock. Only a short drive from my home, tucked away in a neighbouring suburb I never have any inclination to visit. Why would you go to look at housing in new estates? 

There are no signs to this hidden gem though the track is wide and clear, being used by rural firies and to service the electricity towers. 

Initial arrival is underwhelming. Is this it? as you reach the start of a sandstone outcrop. 

But the rock doesn’t stop. One massive slab with different colours and patterns and weathering and cracks and fissures. 

Smokey horizon from Rural Fire Service backburning

Tesselation in foreground, person on top showing how high the rock goes

Erosion under the rock

Long afternoon shadows

Run-off from moss forms a little erosion stream

On return, I did my usual Google of the place. Seems there are mortar impact craters from WWII artillery training. And there’s a natural arch to find. 

I’m going back tomorrow to find these. 

Hedge of banksia in flower in foreground.