Last day in Australia. I was up at dawn and walked across town, photographing everything in an effort to somehow hang onto it. Then I headed to Circular Quay, to the spot where all the day-tour buses gather, for my visit to the Blue Mountains. The area was crowded and the buses were filling rapidly, which was to be expected, but it made me wonder whether this was going to make any quiet communing with nature possible. Still, I was headed for the mountains, so I was happy.
One bus filled, and I was among the first on the follow-up bus, which meant I got a great seat—window near the front. This made the drive out of the city and up into the mountains a delight. I’ve posted so often about these mountains (Sept. 20, 2010, Oct. 23, 2011, Nov. 21, 2011, and Nov. 30, 2011) that I’ll spare you the rhapsodizing and detailed descriptions here, but suffice it to say I was enjoying the fragrant crowds of eucalyptus trees and sheer cliffs of the range.
The mandatory stop at a wildlife sanctuary offered joy in the form of wombats, wallabies, kangaroos, brolgas, cockatoos, penguins, and other Aussie classics. I never tire of these creatures, so I was pleased to have them filling my eyes again. Then it was off to Katoomba, to stop at the spot I’d visited previously, perhaps to hike, definitely to see the Three Sisters rock formation. It had begun to drizzle lightly, but the scenery was still wonderful. Sadly, however, things at Katoomba had become more touristy. The little restaurant and shop at the site had been built up considerably, and one wing was packed with video games, and all the machines were in use. I was pretty stunned that people would come to a place of stunning beauty like this and stay indoors playing video games, but clearly nature wasn’t the draw for them that it was for me.
I wandered outside, hood up against the light mist, and strolled the short distance to the edge of the cliff. As I had seen on my previous visit, there were numerous parrots gathered nearby, especially king parrots and crimson rosellas, lured by a few well-stocked feeders. I was happy to note that, with everyone packed into the restaurant or occupied with the video games, communing with nature was actually pretty easy.
We’d been released for a couple of hours, so I began to hike through the damp foliage. It was quiet and peaceful and exactly what I needed. When I finally made my way over to the Three Sisters rock formation, there were breaks in the clouds, and I was treated to the remarkable sight of a rainbow arching over the three rock pinnacles. I was delighted beyond words. It seemed the perfect climax to the trip—a moment of quiet serenity and remarkable beauty. Tonight, I’ll pack. Tomorrow, I’ll leave. But at this moment, I could simply relish this perfect cap to a wonderful trip. I felt grateful and blessed.