Open Eyes

June 25, 2010 at 6:29 am (Uncategorized)

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.



  1. kate4samh said,

    So beautiful Di !

    • doctordi said,

      And it really is, Kate. You know me, a city girl through and through, but the Blue Mountains do so turn a girl’s head.

      • kate4samh said,

        I’m sure it is sis, but I meant your writing 🙂 !

  2. Pete said,

    Love that description. You’re reminding me to slow down a bit and take in my surroundings. That area sounds gorgeous (I’m guessing North of Sydney along the coast).

    • doctordi said,

      Funny you should say that, Pete, as I originally called the post ‘Open Your Eyes,’ but then thought that might sound a bit arrogant. It’s northwest of Sydney, actually – only two hours away, but from here you can’t even imagine the ocean, let alone see it. I’ll see if I can’t find a link with a photo for you.

      • doctordi said,

        Pete, here’s a link, but talk about photos not doing a place justice…

        You know what? That hyperlink on the blog to Echoes is a better idea – the Echoes main page runs a slideshow of photos that shows how gorgeous it all is, although it doesn’t capture the scale.

      • Pete said,

        Thanks! Clicked on some of the links and those cliffs remind me a lot of God’s Window here in Mpumalanga. Breathtaking. L and I were just saying we want to go to Aus sometime.

      • doctordi said,

        Yes, from what I’ve heard there are some real similarities between the two countries, except you’ve got SAFARIS and that takes the cake!! There’s still so much of Australia I’m yet to see myself…Uluru, for instance. And the Great Barrier Reef.

  3. Grad said,

    Your description was so beautiful it made me all teary-eyed and farklempty. If your manuscript is written as well we have something really wonderful to look forward to.

  4. doctordi said,

    Aw, Graddikins, I honestly don’t know where to look when you say these lovely things – I really do live in mortal terror of letting you down, you know, of this manuscript one day seeing the light of day only for you to be disappointed by it. Oh, the tight, sick knot of anxiety that twists in my guts!!!!

  5. Lilian Nattel said,

    When I was in my mid-teens, my friends and I sometimes took turns walking around with closed eyes and being led by the other friend, noticing smells, sounds and textures. But I much prefer it as a game that can be over. All the senses are precious, aren’t they?

    • doctordi said,

      What a great game, Lilian… it strikes me as a very good exercise for children in terms of developing sensory perception – and it’s a huge trust exercise too, isn’t it? Yes, I obsessed about my senses for the rest of the day, really just tried to take the time to appreciate how fortunate I am to have them all in such good working order.

  6. plumbean said,

    witches leap? three sisters? echo point? those are fantastic names.

    • doctordi said,

      They are, Priya, I agree. Witches Leap was very cool, because there’s a huge naturally formed face visible in the rock behind the waterfall. ‘Leap’ originates from the Welsh word for waterfall, and I love that because one can’t help imagining leaping from the top.

  7. litlove said,

    Wow, what a stunning place (I clicked on the photos) and a gorgeous description, Di, of the richness of human perception.

  8. doctordi said,

    Yeah, it’s amazing, LL, truly breathtaking. And I’m so grateful for the senses – they are the unsung heroes of a full life.

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