Saturday, January 10, 2015


In the city it's all been a bit of a whirl. Gorgeous summery beachy swimmy weather with some exciting thunderstorms and heavy downpours enough to keep the parks and gardens happy.

We escaped to the Blue Mountains for a birthday dinner at The Carrington in Katoomba.

They aren't mountains. You are at 1000 metres atop a massive sandstone plateau peering down into fractures dense with eucalypts; great scars of the battle between the half fish half reptile Dreamtime creatures Mirigan and Garangatch.

But they are blue, these not really mountains. The colour varies with the time of day, the light and the humidity and at best the whole vista will shimmer in an ever-increasing-the-further-you-look smokey blue haze. It's the oils from the gums in the air, scattering the ultraviolet radiation.

A landmark right at the railway station, The Carrington (1883) has scrubbed up well, if perhaps veering towards over coloured, retaining much charm and modernised where it matters most - the bathrooms, the huge flat screen TV for starters. And absolutely the most genuinely pleasant staff.

Early the next morning we headed off down the main street, past a mishmash of old houses, hotels and motels, and joined a smattering of tourists at Echo Point, the great look-out over the Jamison Valley. I couldn't go the edge as a child, and still can't. If you didn't know what the Three Sisters are, now you do.

A little further west along the highway, at Medlow Bath, just finished (and all but inaccessible and therefore unfriendly) after a massive big bucks reno is the hotel of our long past family holidays, The Hydro Majestic, perched on the edge of the Megalong Valley which though less dramatic than its Katoomba fellow, is impressive in its immediacy.

First impressions count, and first impressions of The Hydro (as it was known and always will be) were not good - a hideous tourist restaurant building of staggeringly poor ascetic and insensitivity plonked there waiting for buses and hordes.

The renovated hotel adjoined, but for the life of us we couldn't find the (or even an) entrance. It all looked handsome but cold, even a bit forbidding.

We eventually snuck into the only door we could find that opened, past the resident only sign, and found ourselves in a breakfast room which could have been in Tokyo or Hamburg. Super smart and self conscious black and white furnishings and an uncomfortable feeling that despite lots of everything there was an emptiness.

But the big windows were still there, and the valley there to be glimpsed, as ever. Magic.

Around the back between the Belgravia (the once posh wing) and the tennis courts, the old stone steps leading down to the valley walks were reassuringly still there.


David said...

Treasured memories of Katoomba: not so much the walks below the Three Sisters (everyone does it, would like to get further away) but the theatre/dining club where we saw a performance of The Summer of the Seventeenth Doll with a superb lead actor (stage manager, also actor in his own right, stepping in with a script for indisposed No. 1).

I'll also never forget the redheaded lady alone at a table waving to invisible friends.

wanderer said...

The eccentrics and Bohemians have mostly been edged out I hear by rising property prices etc. Lucky you catching the great play in such particular circumstances.