Monthly Archives: November 2012

Hill End and a tale of seduction …

You can keep your

airbrushed,

botoxed,

Jamie Durie’d

insti-beautiful

version of the world.

patina hill end

Don’t be fooled. That’s not beauty … not real beauty.

broken window in old house hill end

Real beauty runs much deeper than that.

old fire place in ruined house

It comes from within.

view from inside through old windows

It is imperfection…

rendered wall with stones

An invitation.

interior doors of ruined house

A colourful past.

patch of render on interior wall of ruined house

It is a torn petticoat.

old paper hanging from ruined ceiling

A chance encounter.

A secret.

A glimpse.

patina on window sill

A possibility.

old door

She seduces artists.

Without even trying.

She is beauty.

At every turn.

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Are we as we seem?

During the week I had to drive to Sydney and I caught a candid interview with Major General (retired) John Cantwell who served in the first Gulf War in 1991, in Iraq in 2006 and as commander of all Australian forces in Afghanistan.

For the past 20 years, John has fought his own battle with post-traumatic stress syndrome.

He and his wife kept it to themselves.

They thought they could get through it together.

pink frosted glass

Driving through the desert of Kuwait in 1991, he saw a human hand reaching up through the sand.

yellow frosted glass

That fleeting moment (among many others) comes back to haunt him.

frosted glass with screen door behind

This week, comedian Mike Nanya recorded an ugly, racist scene on a bus in Melbourne (warning – it’s disgusting and so is the language)

green frosted glass

And I can’t get it out of my head.

frosted glass

To be more specific there’s one bit I can’t get out of my head. It’s the look on the little boy’s face as he’s following his father – foul-mouthed and full of hatred – off the bus. Is this his view of the world? Will this become normal to him?

frosted glass

It’s highly unlikely that he will ever see this but if he were mine, I would say, you can be different … you can be your own person … you can be a gentle man, a good man.

blue frosted glass

If you see him, will you tell him that not all the world is like this.

And if you know someone suffering from conflict, wherever it might be, whatever ‘side’ they find themselves on, this is the link to John Cantwell’s book. I haven’t read it but he came across as a decent man.

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Getting lucky when you least expect it …

Remember this from June?

The I've Never Been to but Soon Will Challenge Map

I drew it up in response to a realisation that I’d lived in the central west of NSW for nearly 25 years and yet there were some iconic places that I’d never visited. Here’s the original story if you want to play catch up.

Bit by bit I’m trying to get out and see these places.

Abercrombie House was a no-brainer. I did that in the first week. It’s 3 minutes from Bathurst.

Kanangra Walls? I’m leaving that till last. I hate heights, just the thought of them sets my stomach churning and they’re not going anywhere so they can wait. Surely the photos do it justice? Apparently not. So looking forward to that one.

The Bridle Track? Well it’s had its difficulties too because there’s been a landslide in one of the trickiest stretches of the road and Council has closed it to traffic but today we thought we’d take a drive and see what we could see. We watched The Way a few weeks ago and got all fired up, thinking wouldn’t it be amazing to do it, to walk the Camino de Santiago from France to Spain, all 800kms of it but after an initial rush of blood to the head and a friend telling us later that much of it now runs beside a motorway, we shelved that idea and thought we could do something local. And shorter. Significantly shorter. And cheaper. So let’s just say we’re in discussions with our artist friend Harrie about turning it into a painting trip with pack horses and the full shebang. Far more likely is that it will turn into a Sunday drive with lunch at the Hill End pub but it’s fun thinking about it.

That’s a long winded way of saying that Steve and I did a reconnaissance trip out there today.

Strap yourselves in. I get car sick so I’m driving.

Warning sign at the start of the Bridle Track

Here is my interpretation of this sign.

No guard rail + steep edges + steep inclines + falling rocks = one thing.

Heights.

Fabulous.

I know how you feel little mate …

Tortoise on the road all tucked up

The Track itself is old…well, old by Aussie standards. Gold was discovered in Hill End in the 1850s so I’m assuming the Bridle Track was built around that time – correct me if I’m wrong – and yes, that’s a hunk a hunk of burning gold … The Beyers and Holtermann Specimen – the world’s largest single mass of gold.

Crowd gathered around the Beyers Holtermann specimen

After about 30 kms of tar, the road really does become a track, a dirt track that winds along beside the Macquarie River and four stunning camping spots for another 10-15 kms.

Beautiful view of the Macquarie River

And it’s in those last few kms that she turns nasty.

Cliff looming overhead ... very unstable

Real nasty.

I wouldn’t like to drive it after rain. There were about five or six rocks littered along the way ranging from the size of a bread box to the bonnet of a car. The cliffs look so unstable. Very shaley country.

Anyway we made it through OK and came to the road block at the base of Monaghan’s Bluff. Steve took one look at the hill climb and said “You’re kidding?”

There was nothing for it. I said, “If you climb it with me, you might get lucky.”

He was off.

Setting a pace a sherpa would be proud of.

The circle marks the landslide.

Monaghan's Bluff with the landslide circled

Up top, I was hugging the cliff face, figuring it was better to be taken out quickly by a falling rock than face an ugly tumble down below.

Looking down the steep drop to the Macquarie River

Looking back from the landslide, the road is closed just a bit further down from the “x” on the photo, so this gives you a sense of the walk. It continues over the hill but that wasn’t part of our deal.

Looking back from the landslide to where the road is closed

At this point the camera ran out of battery. Such pros!

The landslide at Monaghan's Bluff on the Bridle Track

So there was nothing for it but to walk home.

With a little detour to explore the river.

And as my son Darcy would ask at the end of a story with a weak ending…

“So did you find $5?”

And you might ask.

“Did the earth move?”

And I would say,

“Thankfully not” ;)

Let’s just say it was a win win situation.

Close up of the landslide on the Bridle Track

 

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Photo of The Beyers and Holtermann Specimen courtesy of this website.

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