Later on after writing yesterday’s piece, we jumped on the train into the city to pick up a hire car at King’s Cross, hurray for the train, cos when we got in the car we were stuck in the peak hour Friday traffic and watched as our little Cherry car and all the other bombmobiles contributed their efforts to the smog, now hanging a hundred foot above all the city like the Turin Shroud, white and ghostly.
It was an hour before we made the open road, north of the city, on our way to Newcastle, a couple of hours away under normal conditions but three for today. Once you leave the city behind the beautiful landscape of bush takes over completely, hiding other roads and train lines from sight, the trees grow in only a couple of inches of soil and up to enormous heights. The freeway has cut through large long chunks of rock and you can see the strata as you flash by and at the top of the ridge gums balance precariously, seemingly rootless. They even grow out of crooks and crannies out of the sheer side of the cutting. The road is divided by a wall of rock a few feet high, left as a safety barrier against the totally fuckin’ insane drivers here, there’s a dickhead every other mile or so.*
Either side of the road valleys dip and plunge out of sight, completely grey/green with trees, all liable to go up in smoke in the blink of an eye. As you approach the Hawkesbury River you slowly descend to the bridge which suddenly appears, shot out from the rocks onto the bridge and a magnificent view overwhelms on either side of the road, flying along about twenty feet above the water level, over and up and on through the mountains til things level off and become more plains like, with ocassional views into the distance, farms visible on the horizon and home made billboards nailed to trees ‘hubcaps 5km`, five k’s brings you through a tiny outpost with a couple of houses, one of which presumably sells hubcaps.
Forward, forward, as the sun descends slowly to our left, that side of the sky still fiery, the other side in pitch, the clouds above, still visible to the sun, glow in a nuclear red haze reminiscent of dreams, we sit and wonder and awe, keeping one eye on the road of course!
Up and into Newcastle, to the university, which is set in the most beautiful grounds you’re ever likely to see a learning establishment set, buildings dotted around in the bush land, the place is huge but hardly any is visible because of the trees and the landscaping, we eventually find the building we are looking for after the mozzies have a feeding frenzy on our blood.
We’re here for an art exhibition which includes an old friend of Broni’s work, he’s also an old flame, so I feel a bit funny about it but not so bad that I couldn’t be friendly but you can imagine I viewed him in a slightly different way and as it turns out he’s a pleasant unassuming character, but of course what the hell did you expect, very polite and friendly and proudly showing off his nine week old son, his girlfriend, also an old pal of Broni’s, is just as friendly and I start to relax and from the chitter chatter it seems like this area would be a preferable place to live and there’s a possibility of Broni getting work here as she has an interview on Tuesday for one of the hospitals here.
So, things are going well and we head into the town after studying the weird and wonderful sculptures on display and find ourselves a beautiful Vietnamese restaurant which still deigns to feed us at ten thirty at night.
The drive back to Sydney is uneventful and we’re relieved to be in sight of our bed at half one am. Big emotional day it’s been.
But hark the birds are singing and we’re up again, this time with more adventure in mind, to head out west to the start of the Blue Mountains to Warrimoo (I’m used to the unusual places names now, they don’t make me laugh any more, most of them being aboriginal in origin, they have a peculiar authenticity) to go and visit my cousin Jan, who I’ve only spoken to a couple of times to on the phone since getting here, so I’m discovering a new strain of the family, her gran was my gran’s sister.
24th Mar 2021 – Of course, eventually I became one of those dickheads too – fully assimilated.