It’s my last full day at Varuna; I’m heading back to Sydney tomorrow. The time has flown by, and there’s never enough, although of course I am counting the hours until I see Llewie again. Yesterday disappeared into the ugly maw of Australian politics, so it turned out to be the perfect day for Darkling Deb to drive up from Sydney to have lunch with us, since Darkling JB and I were finding it impossible to concentrate on anything but the drama unfolding in Canberra. We splurged on lunch at Echoes, a boutique hotel jutting right over Echo Point, the best spot from which to drink in the spectacular panorama, actually visible for the first time all week.
It’s only once you’ve seen the Blue Mountains on a clear day that you can appreciate the sight of a total white-out – on Tuesday, standing at the Echo Point lookout, I couldn’t see anything – not one single thing – spread out before me but a never-ending dense white fog – very impressive in its own way, though hardly what the tourists pour out of buses to see. By Wednesday, the iconic Three Sisters had fought their way out of this invisible cloak; the fog had settled down below these towering rock formations, still spreading as far as the eye could see, but now as a vast river of cloud, snaking its way around the ranges looking as wide and eternal as life itself. It looked purposeful in a way human beings rarely do.
Today I visited Witches Leap and the Cliff View on a long walk before starting work, and it was only when I paused at the latter to read the sign at the lookout that I realised the signs around the national park are translated not into Chinese or Japanese or Spanish or French, but Braille. I reached out my hand and ran my fingers across the raised dots that I can’t read, and all at once I very nearly started crying. Imagine not being able to see this, I thought. Imagine standing here on the edge of this extraordinary vista and not being able to see it. I closed my eyes: birdsong. Immediately I heard birdsong, and it cheered me immeasurably. A brute gust of wind raced up the face of the mountain to greet me, streaking round my skull before carrying on past me. I heard too the grinding of the Skyway carriage being borne across the chasm by cables. Below – to my right and left – I heard waterfalls. People arrived noisily behind me. I opened my eyes and stepped away from the sign, and began feeding again on the privilege of sight, gorging myself on the awesome grandeur of the ranges spread before me, feeling as though I would never be able to leave.