On Sunday, despite forecasts of rain, wind and elephants falling from the sky, we headed up to Blackheath in the Blue Mountains.
After a quick lunch and some confusion with the tourist information centre’s map (which included non-existent streets… in fact upon closer inspection the map had been drawn from memory by someone whose sole experience of Blackheath was several years ago, at night, in the middle of a week long bender) we cruised up five kilometres of dirt track and spots of bitumen to Perry’s Lookdown.
From Perry’s Lockdown, we had good access to hikes into the valley, to Anvil Rock and Pulpit Rock. We parked near the lookdown and wandered down the track towards the valley for our first proper look at the mountains;
The view did not disappoint! Note how hazy the mountains are from our position. I guess they don’t call them the Blue Mountains for nothing!
That view again, the Picture of the Day (71);
These photos, taken from Anvil Rock, cover the east, south, north and northwest respectively of what is an incredible panorama;
Ryan at Perry’s Lookdown;
From Perry’s, it is a brisk yet difficult five hour return trip down to the valley floor and back. The cliffs at Anvil Rock are said to be 250 metres high, and they seemed about equal with Perry’s. The span of the valley is incredible. The change in trees where water sleets down the cliffs faces to join the river. The broken rock, the new faces orange and yellow and the old black. The terraced sandstone, overpopulated with gums, looking almost like jungle spilling in slow motion into the valley. An incredible, mesmerising, powerful place. And not one that it would be at all easy to traverse.
Of course, little guys like this Mountain Dragon (Amphiboiurus diemensis) aren’t bothered by heights, nor, apparently, having their picture taken;
Isn’t he gorgeous? We saw another one a little further on, with very different colouration but the same pattern of markings;
Anvil Rock especially was beautiful to approach, looking almost coastal in its short hills, bright green vegetation and pale exposed rock;
These lovely red flowers the most stunning amongst the rare local flora;
As the threat of rain grew, we made our way from Anvil Rock to the Eroded Cave, just a short way down a winding track. Here, at least, we thought we might have some protection, until the pale sandstone walls rose above the trees, and we happened upon this enormous beauty;
Look at that fault line right down the middle of it! The different patterns of erosion turning the stone to an almost bone texture. Like a pancake stack made of whale bones. Here’s Ryan for a little size comparison;
and further back;
I’m not a rock hound by any means (although the fact that half the Earth’s crust is currently positioned on my windowsill is no evidence of that ^^), but these rocks are incredible. They’re just wild. The layers and the age, the liquid appearance, that I could brush my hand along a sheltered shelf and come back with my fingers coated in fine white sand like sugar grains; living erosion. And these fantastic formations!
That we think of rocks as permanent is such a short-sighted belief. They live and melt and grow and disappear, and as they release their particles we have soil, be it sandy or clay or silt, we have a place for the microbes and the protozoa, for the earthworms, for the grass and flowers and trees, we have a place for life. Rocks are our foundations and our water courses, rocks are our ancient castles and the bricks for our mansions. We didn’t stop living in caves; we cut the caves into pieces and rearranged them.
Where there are living rocks, there is the potential for life. And sometimes, where there is Ryan, there has been Ryan before, carving his name into the soft sandstone;
Oh Cave Ryan. When will you evolve?
We left Eroded Cave and had a very quick trot the 1.3km back to Perry’s Lookdown and the car, chased by the wind and rain. A 250 metre cliff isn’t exactly the most comforting place to be in heavy wind!
Blackheath: worth the adventure. Bring your own map!