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April is traditionally a month of family trips for us and this month has been no different, starting with 5 days camping then a long weekend in the ‘Snowy’ Mountains and most recently a long weekend in the Blue Mountains. April is the month when we celebrate the birthdays of both of our children and for me this year it also included a short trip to the Middle East.
We booked a cabin in Black Heath, having fond memories of a trip there pre-children. The autumn leaves were beautiful at this time of year and we were fortunate that the temperatures were quite mild. We enjoyed staying in a quiet neighbourhood and only a short walk from town. On Friday night we walked into town to explore and decided to eat at Vesta Restaurant. The food was delicious, ethical and locally sourced, the wait staff were friendly and helpful and they made a table available for us by an outdoor heater in the back courtyard because they were fully booked indoors. I can definitely recommend this restaurant!
On Saturday morning it was the 100th anniversary of the battle of Gallipoli (ANZAC day) so we knew that businesses would be closed and that we wouldn’t be able to get a coffee and start the day slowly. Instead we walked down Govett’s Leap Road to the National Parks Visitor’s Centre. The centre has some good facilities with flush toilets and soap at the hand basins. There is also a ‘discovery’ centre with information about the geological history of the Blue Mountains and the flora and fauna, including stuffed animals that are endemic to the area.The staff were not particularly knowledgeable nor friendly but perhaps they didn’t like working on ANZAC day…
We took the short and meandering walk to Govett’s Leap lookout rather than walk directly there by the road. It is a delightful trail that passes through beautiful bushland. It was not obvious that we were near an amazing canyon as we slowly walked through the heath and low forest. We saw a nice looking, slim and quite short (about 60cm long) coppery coloured snake with a pale yellow underside. I think that it was likely a Highland Copperhead snake, which is quite venomous but this one was motionless and looked like it was trying to warm up. A man with his daughter pointed it out to us. We are quite a noisy family with our boisterous 6 year old son and our 8 year old daughter who suffered from chronic ear infections. When the man saw us approaching he took pains to point out the snake to us and then deliver a short lecture in a pedantic tone. I struggled to accept his attitude that we are oblivious and would know nothing about nature. I doubt that he’s spent more time in the bush than I have!
We enjoyed the view from Govett’s Leap before setting off to walk to Pulpit Rock. We were surrounded at the lookout by Russian families, enjoying the views and wrangling their toddlers. We all looked in surprise when an old military plane emerged above the escarpment on the other side of the canyon and flew directly overhead. As we embarked down the hill to the track we encountered two women hikers who told us that the track was very wet. Already we were stepping over puddles and leaping from one side of the track to the other to keep our shoes dry so we didn’t think much of their comments, especially considering how dry and clean their shoes looked.
The wildflowers were beautiful and we all greatly enjoyed the walk as it climbed and dropped, hugging the escarpment and often passing close to the edges of cliffs.
I carried our children one at a time across the creek crossing, just managing to balance on a loose rock and keep my shoes dry.
Often we had lovely vistas of waterfalls and across the beautiful gorge.
The sandstone is beautiful and we enjoyed attempting to teach our children a little bit about geology, minerals, rock types, weathering and erosion as we walked along.
The Blue Mountains are very dynamic in terms of weather and as the day progressed we went from bright blue skies to showers of light rain and we enjoyed watching the shadows of the clouds play with the landscape.
We stopped at Pulpit Rock for some snacks and enjoyed the view. I found it a bit challenging climbing down the steep and narrow stairs onto the small rock but felt that it was important not to show my fear to our children.
To be continued…