It was primarily  my passion for birds and gardens that prompted my move from Sydney to the beautiful Blue Mountains.  As a writer, I also wanted a place of peace and inspiration.

The Gums, Blackheath
The Gums, Blackheath
Leaves,KookaDeCamellia 016

The birds here are truly amazing. I don’t mind sharing my flowers with them, which is just as well.

Crimson rosella
The crimson rosella nibbling native correa.

Adult male bowerbird
The glossy Satin Bowerbird stealing lithodora flowers.

Some prefer worms, and watch from the nearest twig  whenever I start digging. Below is  Butter Ball, the Eastern Robin, also  known as ‘The Dawn Harpist’

Eastern yellow robin

So sweet!,Sulphur crested cockatoo showing off!!

Sulphur crested cockatoo showing off!!

King Parrot
Acrobatic King Parrot.

Our house is surrounded by trees, both Australian natives and exotics.

Silvereye in the Japanese Maple.
Bee on grouncover grevillea
A ground cover grevillea

Mind you, there were other factors in our choice of Blackheath…..some with a touch of humour.

Perhaps because crime is relatively rare in the Upper Blue Mountains, victims of even minor incidents tend to react with amusing  outrage. Soon after we moved  here the local Blue Mountains Gazette  published a letter from a woman which began: ‘Would the sick bastard who stole my wheelie bin please return it!’   I knew then that I had come to the right place!

More recently The Gazette highlighted the case of a stolen trailer. It was old and decrepit but  its owner  Rick expressed the ethos of  The Mountains perfectly when he said: ‘…there is a fundamental cultural issue at stake here. You might be able to justify nicking potted plants from a  person’s porch or even stealing another man’s car, but it is the epitome of unacceptable self-interest to steal another bloke’s trailer.’  

The classified advertisements  section of the paper  is also well  worth reading. The following, is the most unique example I have ever seen. Perhaps the  reason the crime rate is low here  is because many residents took advantage of the  following gold ring offer;

Pure gold (15) rings to ward off evil and be blessed. Selling for $220 each. Worth $1000’s. If anyone interested in any furniture that they would like to pick up, $20-30. Pool fence $120 and dismantling of pool. Anything else that takes the fancy. Also wanting a large dog for free if possible. Hopefully a husky. Please drop off. Yellow Rock. Also electrical items.  Oh my hat!

We are a fairly ‘arty’  little society and the Gazette is generous in promoting the  work of residents. When my Book The Water Doctor’s Daughters was published I was interviewed at length and photographed in the grounds of the  art deco Carrington Hotel.   Unfortunately, when the article appeared I was unable to recognize either myself or my book. Even people I knew well began to look at me strangely.

I guess some people might actually label us as bohemian, but it’s our visitors who foster this reputation.  As I write, the Gazette is advertising this event;

Gazette 001

The Belgravia forms part of the recently restored Hydro Majestic Hotel, just down the road.


Fortunately,  in small communities such as our mountain villages, villains  run a high risk of detection.  After a  break-in at a local  jeweller’s shop the offenders were apprehended  almost immediately. Witnesses recognized one of them as having waited on their table at a nearby restaurant  an hour earlier!

We are simple folk here. There is a story of a Blackheathen who visited a restaurant in Sydney and was told by his wife;   ‘For heavens sake Jim, don’t just order spaghetti bolognese’.   When the waiter arrived Jim did his best to pronounce the last dish on the menu;

‘I’ll have the… Pagi..oni please’

‘Sorry sir, that says page one.’

But I digress.  So gentle and non-combative are the residents of Blackheath that when our swimming complex was under threat of closure there was no marching or  shouting involved in the protest  No, no…locals simply put their bathers on and stood  in sad silence  beside the empty pool.

Of course visitors should not be lulled in a false sense of security; there is  a nasty element among us.  Bush-walkers are often crept up on by thieves with  the skill of Fagin trained pickpockets. They will  silently relieve you of your most precious possession… your blood! And don’t bother reporting your loss as you will simply  be told that  you should have  taken precautions. Spraying  insect repellent  around the top of your socks  is the best deterrent for leeches.   I always spray some on my head, in case of an assault from  above.

On a  more serious note,  the steep  cliffs and almost bottomless  gorges of the Blue Mountains  make the area a popular place for  outsiders to dispose of  bodies.  The  author Kylie Tennant once called  Blackheath the murder capital of Australia.  When she moved to her home ‘Cliff View’ at nearby Shipley she was not really  surprised to discover  that an evil smell in the garden was not from a septic tank, but from the corpse of a murdered woman on a nearby fire trail.

Right now I am very suspicious about a fold-down caravan that  has been   abandoned in  a nearby laneway for many weeks . It looks decidedly sinister.  However,  in the past my calls to council about removing rubbish or  fallen trees have met with little success .  I may be better off  calling triple O and telling the police I can smell something  unpleasant emanating  from it.

What's in Here??
Good grief, what’s in Here??

The train trip to Sydney takes about two hours. If you are old like me you can pop down for the day at the huge cost of $2.50 return.

I love this evening view of the village taken from outside the station by local photographer Peter Said.


And here is the station;

Blackheath Railway Station

That huge mural  advertising the annual Rhododendron Festival reminds me that I should add a pic of our giant trees. They were planted in Memorial Park in the early 1920’s to remember local men who gave their lives in WWI.

Here is another story about my village of  BLACKHEATH

  1. Do not approach the caravan, Pauline! It looks like the opening scene to a horror movie! … the smell doesn’t bode well either.

    Gotta love small towns though! (not least of all for their combined sense of security and trouble.) Love the vibe of this post.

  2. Thanks Holly, I am torn between fear, horror and a researcher’s innate curiosity. Perhaps someone very short is actually living in the van! I might leave a thermos of coffee outside and see if it disappears. Would be hard to resist a warm drink in this chilly weather.

  3. Beautiful autumnal picture Pauline – and I love the humour of this posting. I also live in a small town and have often wanted to write about what happens, but would probably have to move first (or soon afterwards). Maybe we should trade stories!

  4. Hi Elizbeth. Yes, lots of funny things have happened since we moved here..well they are funny in retrospect!

    Hope I won’t end up as a witness in a murder trial! I’m feeling a bit worried now about not reporting the van.

  5. We’ve phoned the Council about the mysterious caravan. Still waiting to see what (if anything) happens … as the weeks go by.

  6. Well, thank you neighbour Paul. We could organize a protest if nothing happens. Everyone could meet in the village then march to the van waving Agatha Christie murder mysteries. As two of Agatha’s greatest fans you and I could lead the way!

  7. I wait with bated breath for the further tales of the caravan.

  8. Pauline

    Hi Diane

    I really think Paul and my partner Rob should go up there with a couple of crow bars and break in!

  9. I bet if you ‘stole’ the caravan you would soon get a reaction!


  10. That’s an idea Christine. We could head for sunny Queensland. But what if there really is a body in it? I’d have to dispose of it… and risk prosecution as an accessory after the fact!

  11. Hah! Pauline! I love your plan to send the men-folk into the caravan-of-doom! OH DEAR!

  12. Ha ha..On second thoughts Holly I’ll get Rob to finish building our new house first, then send him forth with the crowbar & a large can-

  13. The caravan still has a number plate! I wonder if I can look up the registered owner? Was foraging for kindling there yesterday when the door opened on what I thought was an empty parked car. Almost dropped my sticks. It was a man who said he parks there to have lunch sometimes because it’s quiet. Hmm…not sure that I believe him. I hurried home like a scared rabbit.

  14. Blackheath seems like a beautiful place to live. I also live in a small town with a low crime rate. We have a lot of nice neighbors.

  15. Pauline

    Hi Hank,

    Yes, we have never once regretted our move from Sydney, much as I love to visit the ‘big smoke’. Despite my jokes, we feel very fortunate to live here. Our neighbours keep an eye on our place when we are away and there is a real sense of community…not to mention the wonderful birdlife and spectacular scenery. An inspirational home for a writer!

  16. Pauline, You live in a lovely area. I enjoyed the blog so much and had a bit of a laugh. The whole blog was food to a hungry, homesick Australian. Only Aussies can call it how it is. No beating around the bush. I find people in USA are so polite and a little reserved. It takes a long time to get to know them and vice versa as we aren’t on the same wavelength. Our humor(Aussies) is definitely outside the box.

    • I think our humour is more like the Brits, Heather; though they are far more reserved of course. A lot of English people live up here as they like the English climate and ‘proper’ seasons. If you search for Blackheath on my home page you will find some more local stories. Thanks for your interest!

  17. Definitely looks as if a body could be in there!

  18. Oh you are a crack-up Pauline. I loved that…very clever and humourous! I will remember all this when I next venture to the Blue Mountains! Could be a few years, but by then that van will be sorted I am sure….hahha

    • Pauline

      Tee hee…thanks for taking the trouble to leave a message, Bev. I hope you will visit me when you come up. Will make sure my garden is body free!

  19. Hi Pauline,

    Have just been to Buscot today and found Eaton Hastings Church. Googled info and found you had written about Florence Campbell.
    Read through your site.

    • Pauline

      Thanks so much for taking the trouble to leave a message, Marion. I do hope you enjoyed your visit to Buscot. I was fascinated by Florence’s story, and the whole Thames Path journey.

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