Waltz My Matilda Over Pt. 16

18 Sep

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I didn’t know it but I was 3 days away from home. I figured 2 days would suffice in Katoomba, then the nations Capital, Canberra, for a overnight pit stop, stopping somewhere in Victoria for the night before Melbourne bound and home. But the trip took its last unexpected detour. That to come.

I remember leaving the Hunter Valley early Friday morning, 3 hours of driving ahead, before I was in Katoomba. It’s a small town that plays host to thousands of tourists who come for the view of the Blue Mountains. If there’s a photo to be taken in all of Australia, this would rank at the top, or thereabouts. It is a little over an hour from Sydney, which meant my drive there would take me back through Sydney and out again. I retraced my steps briefly, resurfacing on the Pacific Highway for one last stretch of nostalgic road, all the whiles playing the Queens of The Stone Age discography. Damn it’s good driving music.

Slowly approaching Katoomba I randomly turned left at the sign for ” Wentworth Falls”. I figured I’d be doing this anyway, checked in to the hostel or not. I had limited time to see it all! It was here I had my first glimpse of those majestic Blue Mountains.

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This was as good a view as you could wish for. The weather was absolutely perfect, despite being high up, I, at one stage, hiking topless. The tracks around here were breathtaking, sheer cliff faces, overlooking deathly plummets into the green canopy below. The path would carve under the cliffs and waterfalls and arrive at Wentworth Falls themselves, you walking across them and around for a magical photograph. I remember briefly seeing Ollie, my mate from Fraser, that Island experience feeling like years before. After 2 hours here, I’d drive back out and up to the hostel, which came highly recommended.

And it was very cool. Flying Fox is as homely as you can get, great kitchen, backyard, and lounge area, where the fire burns, the guitars are played and everyone’s gadgets get switched off every night. Great for socialising and staying warm.

I’d quickly put my stuff down, change up and stroll to town. Oh how wonderful the hills were (NOT). Note to self. Don’t do this drunk. They were steep as FUCK. But the path lead to something truly spectacular. The Three Sisters.

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This was yet more amazing scenery from my country. Everyone seemed to know it too, the cliffs crowded with slow walking tourists. But as I always do, I walked away from the pack, hugging the cliff and enjoying views for myself. Then the slow hike home, buying groceries, beer and cigarettes. I was set for the weekend!

The next day was more of the same. Hiking. I picked up a hiking guide, flicked to any page and said “Yep, that’ll do!”.

I chose the Grand Canyon walk. Not quite the American one but I’d dare say almost as stunning. A three hour round trip, it had the works: A steep climb down through a rainforest, moss and ferns lining the path, plateauing at the bottom, winding through dried out gums and bushes until one was in a river gorge that had no bottom. I wondered whether a body or two had been thrown down over the years. It’d be hard to find.

The hike out nearly killed me, but the view at the other end was to die for anyway!

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So it was nearly lunch and I’d had enough hiking for one day, so I went to the pub and drank and ate, feeling very content.

Over the past week or so I’d been in discourse with Janet, whom readers may remember from Noosa. She added my friend Dave on Facebook, in turn adding me. We’d been talking and joking, me saying I’d bought her a ring and planned a wedding. As it happens, she was in Sydney for the weekend before heading home on the Tuesday. I suggested she come visit the Blue Mountains before she was homeward bound. She was due to arrive Saturday night!

Our rendezvous was awkward at first. Exchanging pleasantries and talking about the journeys we’d had. It was dark when she arrived, the sight seeing having to be done the next day. Thank god she suggested going to the pub, to break up that awkwardness.

We had a great night amongst locals, laughing and chatting and warming ourselves with many a cider. I think by this stage we were comfy with each other.

The next day I more or less backtracked all of the places I’d visited on the previous two, showing her the Grand Canyon, Wentworth Falls and the Three Sisters. By the end of the day, we were both very much worn out and she had to slowly head to the train station, back to Sydney. Her flight was early the next day.

It was at this stage I knew it had happened again. Inevitably it had to happen. I had to fall for someone, whilst travelling, whom lived on the opposite side of the planet. I’d gone nearly to the end without romance, which was fine. Because the goodbyes fucking sucked. And sometimes you wish the hellos never occurred.

So having a few ciders together, me checked out with no plans, she needing to head to Sydney I made a half joke, not sure of the intention:

I should just drive you to Sydney ey….”

Yep, you should!”

Hmmmmmm

Fuck it why not! “

So booking a room at her hostel, I was now heading to Sydney, to spend one more night with Janet, intending to see her off in style. Which we did.

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We got super drunk, danced, went to bed late and got up far too early.

And here it was. The goodbye. Definitely hard. Hard as any I’d done. I think only the fact I had to think about what was next on my agenda helped me not get overwhelmed. Goodbye. For now.

Sitting in the hostel cafe getting breakfast ( it was only 7.30 am), the dude working there asked my days plans. I didn’t think about it too long.

I think I’m going to drive to Melbourne!”

He was a little stunned. I was going to drive home. Home?! Melbourne, was 10 hours away.

My travelling energy had all but wound up. The end of Janet’s journey coincided with mine. I didn’t want another night wondering about bedding, food and the cold. And the “you only live once” side of me wanted to do that drive in one day. So with a full tank of fuel I ploughed on home.

It wasn’t hard. There were times I’d slap myself awake, but I was driven to get home. There were emotional moments, songs reminding me of the last few days with Janet, the last few weeks since Fraser, and the journey itself. For this one had come full circle. Almost.

I pulled into my aunts’s about 5.30 pm. It was here, some three months prior, after that day hiking, I’d decided to do this trip. And her place was on the route home. I expressed this to her.

So you’ve come full circle then!

Indeed!

Home was another 40 minutes. After 10 straight hours, 40 minutes was like a second. And after that extended second, I was home, just in time for mama’s cooking. My bed was never greeted so kindly that night. And I was smiling till I drifted into an undisturbed sleep.

( Me and Ruby just after walking in the door)

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