Blue Mountains, Weekend Bliss – Part 2

Well time just gets ahead, but you know Blue Mountain experiences ought to be shared. So after a day walking from Govetts Leap to Pulpit Rock, we woke the next day knowing we would be homeward bound by lunch time. The last morning of breakfast by the roaring fire, our stuff packed and ready to go, today our aim was to walk the Grand Canyon Track to Evans Lookout. We set off, on yet another medium grade track, eyes rolling, untrusting, lets just see, we began the track. There were no other walkers about, it was still early and we began descending down the steps, and continued down the steps, and continued, still no other walkers in sight. It was quiet, it didn’t seem to be anything spectacular, just a shit load of steps! By now it was clear we were heading down to the valley and we must have descended at least 1km down, yep all good, but we know we are gonna have to get back up that 1km!

Evidence of life emerged as some very eager walkers charged past us, this giving us confidence that we were at least on the right track. We continued on and finally hit the valley and a whole new world emerged, it was absolutely spectacular, you could hear water flowing all around as it ran off the steep rock faces, the lush greenery ran along the path, creeks, springs not sure which but they were there, the water crystal clear and fresh, it really is breathtaking. Mr Revthreads felt like he’d ended up in a scene from Lord of the Rings, where as for me I felt it was very Jurassic Park, so put a bit less dramatically it was untouched and just so. We entered through a gate, what the gate was for at this stage we had no idea, but once through the gate we were just amazed even further, we could understand its name, it really was phenomenal. we’d been walking for well over an hour, we walked under waterfalls, we looked down where the sign indicated “very long drop” and it was indeed a very long drop. Then we scratched our heads, metaphorically of course, as we arrived at a warning sign. We were obviously half way if not more than, through the track and it is here that they decide to tell you that you need to check the weather before you walk this track. It went on to explain why – well flash flooding of course and then it suggested that canyoners need to be good swimmers and abseiling experience doesn’t go amiss, well, what use is it half way through the walk? Anyhoo, on we went.

We came to another gate at the opening of a cave, it then became apparent that the gates closed the path off probably during bad weather, I wasn’t over happy about the cave, and needed to just edge in to make sure it wasn’t a long cave and that it did open out again, otherwise I was off back the way I came. Drama averted we carried on and yep the ascent began, we’d go up a few steps and down again, it’s was almost like there was an intention to trick you, here we go, no not yet, kidding. I can laugh now, but I couldn’t breath at the time, I wanted to crawl, I did a burst of running and thought I might die as a consequence, the only way I could explain what was happening was that the beating of my heart was present in my head, yes my head was having it’s very own rave party courtesy of my beating heart. We thought we had reached the top, but it was just a sign pointing to more steps to Evans lookout, we made it, and Evans lookout was spectacular – definitely worth a go!

For us now it was in the car and back to the big smoke of Sydney.

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Blue Mountains, Weekend Bliss

Leaving the big smoke of Sydney behind us, we hit the highway, Blackheath bound. Following a pleasant journey, well once out of the Sydney traffic, we arrived at Jemby Rinjah Eco Lodge, our home for two nights. Nestled in the bush off Evans Lookout Road, our hut, (well it was a cabin but hut sounds far more effective and adventurous!) Anyhoo we arrived at our hut, the fire was roaring. Of course it’s important to explore your surroundings,  the hut was not huge but there are just the two of us,  our bedroom which was up on the mezzanine floor was very pleasant, it’s wall length window allowed the trees to become part of our sleeping space. The bathroom, compact but all you need, except a flush on the loo, the hut comes complete with a composting toilet, which is a wonderful thing in an eco lodge, it just seems weird not flushing. So exploring done, fire still roaring and then like magic, you hear it calling, yes it’s the cheese and wine wishing to join you for the evening.

After a pleasant evening and pleasant sleep we woke to an array of bird calls, each one singing a celebration of sunrise, the birth of a new day. The sky was blue, the air fresh and crisp, peace abounded. After a spot of breakfast it was time to don the walking boots and prepare to head off. Being the die hard walkers that we are, we of course drove to the information centre to get a map, we needed to decide which walking track to take.  The very helpful woman at the information centre suggested we do the walk to Pulpit Rock (ironic considering its my weekend off from the pulpit!), apparently it’s graded as a medium walk so should be fine. Next stop Govetts Leap to commence the walk.

We headed off, found the track and commenced with a descent, of course every step a reminder that have to get back up at the end of the walk, but hey we’re fresh and we’re motivated. The air is fresh, the greenery along the pathway is unkempt and quite overgrown, but it certainly adds to the fact that you’re in a national park. Wildflowers line the track, the green of the trees interrupted every so often with beautiful tiny white and pink flowers, the golden display of Banksia’s. The walk to Pulpit Rock took us across the top of the cliffs, the ridge. At the lookouts, you almost gasp for air as you look down and see the trees that cover the valley below, a carpet of green spread out in splendour. The sheer drops and rock faces, the layers of time visible, ledges and overhangs, trees growing from anywhere they are able to place their roots. I take photo’s but I know that no photo will ever do justice to this magnificent sight (well not an amateur with an iPhone at least.)  We walk through puddles and mud realising that the natural flow of water is journeying down to the trees down below, waterfalls gracefully hang down the sheer faces, like veils of silk and lace, they catch the suns rays, the water becoming  a rainbow spring.

The scenery really is breathtaking, its creation and nature in full glory, as you look down at the carpet of trees in the valley you can see the courses forged by the waters over probably millions of years. We watched as tiny birds weaved in and out of the trees, then we heard the majestic sound of an eagle and turned to see it soaring through the air before resting on the top of a tree.  We sat for a while at the lookout and just looked in awe at  the beauty that lay before us.  We watched as the eagle swooped and soared, then it was time to turn back.

Now on another note I have to say that one of the biggest surprises was the bloody track, seriously. The definition of medium grade track was “some steps and stairs – for people who “walk occasionally.” Now obviously after doing this “walk occasionally” means more than someone who just say walks to shops! Some of the descents and the steps where laughable, at one stage I looked at the “steps” and thought nah, I ain’t gonna get down there in one piece! This leads me to ask the question who decides what is classified as a medium grade track? what is used as a comparison? At some points I wondered whether it was a walking track or a rock climbing opportunity! It was so worth it, the scenery is breathtaking but there are moments when you wonder what the hell, I have been deceived this is not “medium!” Moaning over, I braved it, Mr Revthreads the ever trusty helping hand, and my trusty stick that I found that encouraged me along the path.

Once back we headed into Blackheath for a well earned lunch, we went to Blackheath General Store and what a wonderful veggie burger they served up, a lentil patty

topped with eggplant served on ciabatta bread with a pleasant side of fries, Mr Revthreads went the steak sandwich, apparently just as delectable as the veggie option. We explored the local area, walking down the streets that are carpeted with autumn leaves, rich red and golden amber. The streets filled with visitors taking photos. I did notice that rather than cut trees down around powerlines, the council cut a hole in the tree, yep true story looks like a meteor has smashed through the whole street of trees, looked quite bizarre. We wanted to check out a hat Hill Gallery, so we wandered down the street, my iPhone navigation suggested it was 700 metres away so we began walking, and walking and walking, but it just wasn’t to be, we’d walked significantly more than 700 metres, in fact we were pretty close to the site of our hut, so we turned back to go get the car. We had seen it the previous day but now it appears to have disappeared off the face of the earth! Mystery to be solved.

We returned to our hut, the evening was beginning to draw in, the fire was roaring once more, it was time to kick back ruminate on the adventures of the day and relax.

 

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Farewell 2016

Figured it might be a good time to write another entry, the beginning of a New Year with the acknowledgement that 2016 was a bitter sweet year indeed. Now I am not about to write it off, the year began with a beautiful wedding, watching the oldest Revthreads marry her man, this was followed with a wonderful trip to Hamilton Island with our good friends from the UK that had traveled for the Revthreads wedding event. We have had and continue to have the privilege of watching our beautiful Revthreads Grandson grow and learn new things, building a bond with him that, to be honest, I never imagined possible. I traveled to Fiji with my good friend and had a blast. But in the midst of all of this, came the biggest change and upheaval, far more of an upheaval than either of us expected and that has been Mr Revthreads relocating to Sydney followed by myself.

As I have previously shared the first few months in Sydney were dark days indeed, as we get older we forget how difficult it is to make new friends and build new networks, particularly when you have lived in the same place for a number of years and built those friendships and connections. There have been days that have felt like a dark cloud has descended upon me and the challenge to search for a break in the darkness has been long and hard, with the desperate hope that some golden light would shine through, providing the glimpse of hope that the cloud would lift, would dissipate.

Eventually I began my new placement, light breaking through, hope much more tangible, all of that said its not been a smooth run, there have been turbulent moments, but then I guess the reality is that, this is the life in ministry or indeed any role where there are different people with different expectations, so much newness.

I head into this New Year with a renewed sense of hope, as the year has come to an end there have been more light days than dark days, life is settling, somewhat, and there is a confidence that this chapter will ultimately be one of adventure, however it works out. There are joys that lay ahead, including the expected birth of the 2nd Revthreads Grandchild, a trip to the UK to visit Mr Revthreads mum – I have no doubt there will be more joys in different forms and shapes and tastes and I’m a realist, of course there will be more challenges but the dark clouds that descend always break, even if in the moment it feels like they never will.

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Bounty Island Day 3

So once more I’ve done my stroll down the beach, the horizon glowing warm amber and red, the warmth of the sun beginning to wake and ready to rise. The young men hard at work raking the coral and the seaweed that has been left on the beach over night. It’s my quiet space to look back on yesterday.

We began once more with our little routine of breakfast, then for me it was on to the little corner of the beach for a while, my dear friend went off to do some washing. Been on a small island there’s not a huge amount to do, but as I lay with the warmth of the sun gently resting on my skin I listen to the ocean gently lapping on the beach, reminding me constantly of the awe of creation, the ebb and flow of life, the rhythm of time. I lay for a while, read for a while, then as the gentle sun rays turn hotter it’s time for a dip to cool down.

My friend joins me after a couple of hours and kerfuffle commences as we decide to take out a tandem kayak again. As we head over the words run from her mouth ” we know how this is going to end? I’m going to fall in!” I remind her to stop and laughter already commences. We get the kayak, her turn to get in first. The rough sand and shales under foot put up a fight once more, she climbs in, she’s in and with the next little flow of water she’s out! Lack of gracefulness is an understatement this time, it was an almighty splash, as she rise from the water her poor knees look like that of a five year old that has gone a full round with playground bitumen. Gravel rash is definitely now an understatement, her poor knee looks positively gouged! Bloodied and sore she’s determined and she goes again, this time with success. We begin to paddle out on the ocean. The water is calm and clear, within a minute of my friend saying she can’t see any fish a whole school of sergeant major fish turn up, happily swimming around checking out the kayak. We paddle, then float, during the floating moments we’re able to get glimpses of the reef structures below, tiny fish dashing in and out. A guy snorkeling calls us over, there are two octopus below him so we dash over to check it out, I get a glimpse but that’s all. So I hand my underwater camera to the guy and ask him if he would take a couple of shots for me, kind man did just that.

We’d been on the water for about 45 minutes and the drum calls us to lunch so with trepidation we head back to shore, will she make it out of the Kayak? As we hit the beach, I dig my oar in to stabilize the kayak….she’s out and up on her feet, success. So I climb out, there’s no one around to help get the kayak on the shore, so using the water as our aid we pull the kayak as far on shore as possible. Quite proud we turn to walk for lunch, then out the corner of our eye we see said kayak floating off! Bugger, we stumble back only to be redeemed by a guy from the dive shop he calls out ” you go, I’ll get this.” Phew, that could’ve been messy!

After lunch we saw a few people parasailing, so in a snap decision I decide, why not? I’ve done it before but not from a beach start, I’ve seen them though, on the funny home video shows! So hooked up, instructions clear, the boat moves, the parachute opens, a gentle pull and I begin to rise in the air. There was an initial what the …. As I look down and think I’m just hooked on to this thing, but then exhilaration sets in, the clear ocean below just me in the air, flying without the big steel bird caging me in. It was pretty amazing. As the boat turned to begin the journey back a turtle in the waters below pops up, I’m sure she or he waved! Anyway concentration now needed, I had to watch for the instructions to get myself on landing course, arms out, now pull the left of the shoot, ok I need two hands, then I gently drift left, on course, gentle touch down, thank you very much! Amazing!

Then more lazing, until shower time, the conspiracy continues, this time we have no water. So our ritual walk to reception, which is filled with laughter and apologies, so we walk back. The maintenance man meets us and explains there had been a problem, no one had water but now all is well. We turn the tap in the shower full of hope and anticipation…no water, you have to laugh. The ritual walk commences again and the maintenance man returns, this time we’re informed we have to push the tap, he turns it off but we make him wait while we try, basically we just can’t work the taps, we get the nice young man to turn on the tap and leave it on we’ll shower immediately.

Dinner time arrives, a boatload of young volunteers arrive and the mealtime drum sounds. These young guys flock like they’ve never seen food, it was quite a spectacular sight, I’ve never seen such a scramble for food. Would there be anything left? Of course there was, but it was funny watching them.

After dinner the multitasking staff sing, the air filled with strong Fijian voices, beautiful. Then as we leave today, we along with another couple were called up with the staff as they sang us a Bounty Island farewell, quite beautiful.

Another eventful day filled with rest, relaxation, laughter and grazed knees, the sun is down, we take our glass of wine, stumbling over the challenging sand to our beachside bure for the last night, where we sit sipping our wine, listening to the ocean, recapping our day.

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Bounty Island Day 2

After my stroll along the beach in the fresh morning air I’ve arrived at the wifi spot to reflect on yesterday’s adventures.

Greeted by the sun and her glistening rays across the ocean, there’s no escape from the fact we’re in paradise. We pottered around getting our stuff together for our morning. First stop would be breakfast, then a nice little corner of the beach. Donning our swimming togs, sarongs, sunscreen and sunglasses, we were ready. As the door was pulled closed, the words rang in the sure, “have you got the key?” Well, no I didn’t so this was the morning the not so unexpected happened, we locked ourselves out and had to pop to reception and fess up! There’s spares so it’s no bother but day 1 began with us at reception for various things, a reception free day would be good, anyhoo the lovely woman seems to find us a little amusing, glad we can cheer people up!

So after breakfast we found a little corner of the beach and claimed it. The morning sun is particularly pleasant to sit in and have a read as the ocean laps the shoreline in the background. Sitting still for too long is a bit of a challenge for me, so by mid morning I thought it would be good to go for a snorkel. I popped to the hut on the beach and grabbed the gear. Now graceful was not the order of the day here, the sand is harsh on the feet with lots of coral and shale, so with much wobbling and contorting of face I managed to get my fins on and get in the water. The visibility was amazing, as soon as my face was in the water I was greeted by fish.

The coral where I was, was not that colorful, in fact beige came to mind, but that just heightened the beautiful colors of the angel fish I encountered. There were so many fish feeding in the vegetation and all went well until something bit me! At first I thought it was just sea lice but apparently I had been befriended by a microscopic jellyfish, little bugger it really hurt. Anyway I enjoyed my time with the fish!

After that lunchtime was close, the sun really heating up so of course, what you do is go kayaking. The two of us took a tandem for a little jaunt. We had much fun, a few near misses with significantly larger seafaring vessels, but fun! After about 40 mins of paddling, floating and burning we headed back! Again graceful didn’t come into it as we disembarked, I managed to get out, again the sand underfoot made it hard, then my dear friend got out, the sand underfoot getting the better of her, yep she was in and getting back up almost lead me to incontinence. But we ploughed through and headed off for lunch.

The afternoon and evening was quiet, once we had been let back into our room it was nap time.

Once awake from our slumber we decided to walk the perimeter of the island. Bounty is quite small it only took us about 40 minutes, again the ground fought us the whole way. At one point we heard what we thought was a bee colony as a deep humming came from the trees, alas we learned on the way back to our bure that it was a much less romantic generator! We thought the bee colony sounded much more exciting. then it was shower time, alas after 4 attempts of turning on taps, it was time to pop to reception, we know how much they love our visits, to inform them that once again we had no water in the shower.

Reception greeted us with “oh no” and then we all laughed, the maintenance man would meet us at the bure, which he did. He walked into the shower and turned that tap straight on! We couldn’t stop laughing or apologizing for that matter, we had tried, perhaps there was a shower conspiracy!!!! Anyhow we were able to get ready for dinner!

After dinner it was just a few drinks by the pool, overlooking the ocean before retiring from our adventures for the day, but what an amazing day it was in paradise.

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Bounty Island – Day 1

We were booked on the 9am transfer to the island so it was an early start, we had a 7:15am pick up. Denaru Marina wasn’t far and we had soon checked in and got rid of our bags. But, yes there is a but, when we checked in our ticket said 9am departure, but the nice man who’d taken our bags had said he would put us on the 8:30am boat so we get a bit of extra time. So we went for coffee and just sat taking in the warm balmy air. The boat started to board, so we just double checked, was it out transfer, not sure, so ask! The woman looked at our tickets and told us, ‘no, not yet.’ So we sat back down. At 8:26am, yes I remember clearly, because I looked at my phone for the time thinking, well we’re cutting it a bit fine for 8:30 departure, so I checked again and realized the ticket said 9am. The woman in charge of our bags took me to the 9am departure bag pile and asked if I could see my bags and, you guessed it, no, she looked at me and simply responded, ‘quick, get on the boat!’ So it was a mad dash down the pier and onto the boat.

The 35 min trip to Bounty was pretty uneventful, but definitely pretty, the ocean calm, the sky blue, the sun shining. Once at Bounty we transferred to a small boat that’d take us ashore, as we approached the staff played guitars and sang to welcome us! Fiji knows how to do welcome. 

Obviously being so early our rooms weren’t ready so we left our bags, donned our togs and found a suitable lazing spot, taking in the beauty around us. The morning passed as did the 12 o’clock promise of a room. We had lunch and then asked if our room was ready, we just wanted to put our bags away! It was ready so off we went to our beach front bure, thing is, it only had one bed and no hot water in the shower, sorry correction, no water for a shower at all! So 2 trips to reception and 3 maintenance men later all was well in the world.

We pretty much did nothing, we lazed in the sun, read a bit, had a dip in the ocean, napped a bit, that’s island life I guess, pure unadulterated bliss!

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Fiji, We’re Here

It was a long day, we headed to youngest Revthreads for our lift to the airport at 7:45am and what a day. Our flight with Fiji Airlines was pleasant, or meal provided us with the most entertainment as we proceeded to pretty much drop everything we touched; butter, buttered bread roll and sultanas, yep the decorated the floor around us. Whether we were just tired or just quite frankly couldn’t believe the mess two grown women were making, I’m not sure, but we laughed until we were close to tears. Oh then there was a guy sat behind us who seemed to think we were about to fleece him! Obviously we look the sort, he was concerned about his case then checked his wallet! One he’d established we had taken nothing, he went on to tell us he was buying an island – who knows really!

Our first night was spent at Aquarius on the Beach, a pleasant little place. Our evening was relaxed, we sat by the pool for dinner listening to some local guys playing music, of course it would’ve been rude not to partake in the Kava! After dinner and listening to singing in native Fijian, I would be lying if I didn’t say I was s little taken aback to hear them singing Country Roads, sudden flashback to being a child in the back of the car, and other moments of unexpected country roads experiences.

After dinner we wandered to the waters edge, watching the gentle ebb and flow of the ocean, the water pleasantly cool on our feet. The night air was warm and calm, but if paradise really.

I sit now at stupid o’clock in the morning, we have to be ready to leave at 7:15am for Bounty Island. I then realized, doesn’t matter if I’m up at stupid o’clock because if I need to nap I can! So it’s 5:30am, I sit sipping green tea, blogging, with cockerels cockreling and a few kcal dogs ensuring their presence is heard. Overall though, it’s pretty quiet, the air is still warm and I am preparing once more for exercising the art of doing nothing!

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