Walks and Thoughts

of Michael Simes

An old Man's Tale:



West Vale

Clay House


Cragg Vale



Pecket Well

Luddenden Dean

Jerusalem Farm

Catherine Slack

Stone Chair

It's Just Like Home:

Hong Kong





Marlborough Sounds


Milford Sound



Blue Mountains

Northern Beaches


A City Of Revolution:




Notre Dame

Discovering Australia

Travelling Round New South Wales Sightseeing and Exploring

Blue Mountains

My dad would have been 83 today. It’s a long time to miss.

Watched inauguration parade with hope and aspiration tangible. Teddy Kennedy collapses and ambulanced to hospital. JFK was the epitome of youthful expectations till he brought us Vietnam. What would Martin Luther think? He was our comrade in arms.

There’s so much optimism and not yet in the midst of global meltdown. There’s a space to fill.

It’s the 60th birthday of Murphy’s Law – if you drop a slice of toast it will always land on buttered side. It’s the anniversary of West Indian immigrants on the Empire Windrush. Bevan opened the NHS. It’s the traumatic birth of the state of Israel.

There’s a thirst for community. In San Sebastian they’re promoting social cooperatives, a social silicon valley to create jobs and equitable wealth. Companies comes from the Latin to share bread. “Life has already solved the challenges that we’re trying to solve”.

Morris dancing is still around the world. Cherished and derided in its decline. Now mocked and accused of racism giving credence to old adage, “you should try everything once except Morris dancing and incest”.

Bought our three day pass for the Blue Mountains, includes trains and buses. After an hour of suburbia we enter bush on edge of deep rooted gorges. Line blasted out of the rocks. Blue mountains the place to cure vertigo. The iron horse ploughs on leaving wilderness forestation to their makers. Air conditioned gliding on upper deck gets you to Katoomba in less than two hours. It becomes the jungle forever. There’s isolated houses with corrugated roofs but no people.

Sydney Morning Herald has souvenir edition on Obama. We will see his mettle walking with bible, god’s grace with him saluting the market for generating wealth and freedom. Forgiveness will come in reeling in the warmongers.

Beware of empty bottles, take water everywhere. Caution against water intoxification. My friend’s life consists of standing at the pedestal urinating and sucking from basin tap. He washed his life away.

Katoomba a special spiritual place for aborigines, and for us. Fascinating walks to circumnavigate and scenic cable cars to ride.

We stay at Windradyne boutique B & B with awe inspiring views of Echo Point and Three Sisters. A Christmas present from John, Bob and Cath with full cooked breakfast, art deco bathroom and four-poster. You exchange shoes for cellophaned white slippers. Explorer bus introduces you to all the sites on a recycling conveyor.

Duke and Duchess of York were here in 1927. Same year my grandfather died and had his family sponsored by the royal couple. Would have been a touching human interest story of deserted and bereaved orphans. Her most gracious was at the lookout in 1954.

This land is the mother of its people’s spirits. Land which sustains heritage. It’s a short walk to Three Sisters. Blue mountain temperatures can be 8°C lower than Sydney. Weather can change rapidly and become dangerously cold. If you sit they’d blanket you. All the guesthouses list log fires.

Midges a constant nuisance and menace obsessively seeking any orifice. Purchased heavy duty Bushman to repel but remain resistant. Now we know why Aussies dress in wide brims and corks.

Beautiful sunset in mountains changes shades and colours. White cockatoos don’t like flies. Watched sunset at Echo Point with gathering observers. It’s just like Grand Canyon with eucalyptus. Pestering insects force us inside to witness vestiges of sundown from our suite. Remnants catch the last purple haze.

A proper Greek meal at Cypriot restaurant in Katoomba. Swallowed with retsina, the ruin of many a poor boy. Aged sunsetters join our party after their vigil.

I’m ruining my skin with block, deet, soother, detergents, sun, air conditioning and sweaty glaze. There’s no alternative to greasy blackheads.

In the four-poster curtains and windows clasped tight against intruders.

Morning run along bush tracks. Sunrise with shimmering shades of red and blue spreading across the mountains. Deserted at Echo Point apart from tripods and cameras emerging at 6:00am to capture dawn.

Joined with communal breakfast by couples from Figi and Melbourne. Discourse shared about bridge climbs and respective educational systems.

Walk down into valley of Blue mountains treading vertiginous steps with care. Humidity of a high count. There’s the world’s steepest funicular railway launched to the resounding tune of Indiana Jones. The cable car across the gorge can be joined with one from valley bottom. In the bowels there’s a Welsh pony and mining museum.

Discovered and photographed the Yorks royal look-out. They would have got down on sedans and a dozen native bearers. Shared a bench with woman on her way back to England after twelve months in New Zealand. Children not settled in school so returning to Essex. Son has Asperger’s. “Do you know what that is?” He’s on bad boy tokens. Shame that tired institutional regimes creep into the home. Seemed a nice boy. At his age I was controlled “on report” and earned twenty-one canings each day for the five years of my secondary education. It can’t have done me any harm. It shaped a revolutionary Marxist. We all shared and quenched the cool mountain spring water.

A friendly welcome from the greeter at the RSL serviceman’s club. Not sure if I qualify. Temporary membership and set meal for $24 is good value. Ate at the side of an artillery gun served by Korean waitresses.

We had a look at Laura. Carolyn says “It’s just like Hebden Bridge”. Tried a bit of meditation today. Left me drawing in deep breaths as breathing became too shallow for comfort.

Discussion at breakfast table about Aborigine land rights while downing pancakes and maple syrup. Our friends scare us with tales of man eating spiders, snakes and giant ants which clamp on. Reassurance that they are frightened of us and will make way in the bush.

Respect due to road builders not forgotten in memorial sculpture in local reserve. Convict labour who pioneered road building in Blue Mountains. Now you get boutique hotels for tourists.

Walked from Laura Falls to Echo Point. Started with searing back pain from yesterday with knee jarring, back stomping descent of thousands of steps. All this and back strengthening exercises take their toll. Primeval jungle provides cover but still too steamy for challenging trek.

Back at Echo Point encounter Brian Blessed in Aborigine drag entertaining tourists and playing with his didgeridoo aiming for a haunting echo back across Jamieson Valley. I’ve grown to feel fond of Chinese women who look at you, complicit in their impish joy.

Rio’s Copacabana described as whorehouse, haunt of sex tourists, drug traffickers and paedophiles. Beach is polluted with stench of sewage. Natives are building an odour control system replacing foul human waste with fragrance of eucalyptus and jasmine. The scent could come from here.

Recession has shifted to slump, laissez-faire to state intervention. Gaza gone from open prison to mass graveyard. There’s one black man in White House and one in three black men in prison. Class fluidity has been in retreat for many years.

Back to Sydney Central on train. Air conditioning protects against draining heat. Temperature much higher than average. Take-away Chinese consumed in our apartment. Carolyn is exhausted.