It was primarily my passion for birds and gardens that prompted my move from Sydney to the beautiful Blue Mountains of New South Wales. As a writer, I also wanted a place of peace and inspiration.
The birds here are truly amazing. I don’t mind sharing my flowers with them, which is just as well.
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’
Sulphur crested cockatoo showing off!!
Our house is surrounded by trees, both Australian natives and exotics.
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;
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.
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.
Blackheath Railway StationThat station poster reminds me that I should add a pic of our giant rhododendrons. 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