Getting out of Sydney, hitting the road; four hours to the old schoolmasters’ house. Leaving behind the signs and car yards of Parramatta road, heading down the freeway, crossing the Blue Mountains. So liberating to just drive. No checking in, no waiting around, no one telling you where to go. It’s relaxing – you don’t have to do anything else. You can stop where you like- take random detours.
The deeper into the Blue Mountains the further back in time you go. The villages become older, quainter. There are more references to Australian history; a stump that has something to do with Wentworth, Blaxland and Lawson, now seemingly permanently covered in plastic garbage bags & tape. A restaurant advertising murder mystery nights in a creepy font. This is what I find fascinating about rural Australia – the more you get away from cities the more eccentricities are revealed; topiary animals, abandoned boats & cars, odd signs. A surreal edge starts to surface.
One time crossing I can’t resist jumping the fence into the abandoned Hydro Majestic. A once grand hotel on the edge of cliff- nothing much seems to be happening there now. A squat Italian colonnade guards the view out over a canyon. Today you can’t imagine anyone being allowed to approach it if not wearing a fluoro vest. A sandstone wall with castle like crenellated top borders a couple of tennis courts with stunning views. It’s the middle of the day and the light is hard and directly overhead. Peering into the interior there’s a lot of plastic 80s furniture stacked up. I hope that the eventual renovation can keep this mood of drama.
One of the highlights of the trip comes at the very end of the Blue Mountains. Through a parting in the trees your eye swoops down across a valley- it’s the country now. Sheep and paddocks and signs for crossing kangaroos. Like a 19th century landscape painting there it is: silence, nature and space.
It’s a great feeling leaving the last roundabout behind. Country music blasting -now its 100 km an hour. Trees close over the road, dappled light filters down. I’ve become very interested in country letterboxes & have started photographing them- I want to build up a collection. No trip to Bunning’s for a little neat box – these are big and wild and made out of old milk canisters, kegs, plastic containers – what ever’s around. I love their individuality.