Three Sisters, Mark and the Etchings (Day 146)
Meeting and chatting with people is a big part of the joy of travelling, and today, visiting the amazing Blue Mountains, we were not disappointed.
Another day with the best tour guide in town, Joanna. This time we’re driving up to the Blue Mountains. A quick photo stop to see one of Joanna’s places she lived in back in the late 80s, we then arrived in Faulconbridge to the Norman Lindsay Gallery & Museum, home of the famous Australian artist, sculpture and writer Norman Lindsay (1879-1969), which is now owned by the National Trust. When we arrived a tour was about to start with a large group of Japanese tourists. The volunteer guides, some elderly local ladies, decided between them that they would put on an additional tour especially for the 3 of us and another couple. How lovely. Zandra was our guide, she showed us the front of the house and explained that Lindsay and his mistress Rose, came across this place during a bicycle ride and fell in love with it. It wasn’t for sale, however Rose, who seemed a very strong character, persuaded the owner to sell it to them. Later Norman Lindsay got divorced from Kate, his first wife of 18 years and married Rose who become his business manager, one of his most recognizable models, and she printed most of his etchings. Onto Lindsay’s studio, Zandra shared that he was quite a controversial character, subjects of his paintings, etchings and statues were often of naked women in an erotic fantasy world. In 1940, Rose took 16 crates of his art work to USA to ensure these were protected from the war. Unfortunately the train caught fire and the crates were opened, the American officials deemed them as pornography and burnt them. His books were of a similar nature. For example Age of Consent was published in Britain in 1938, and banned in Australia until 1962. This was later made into a film starring Helen Mirren and James Mason. One book wasn’t so risqué and that was The Magic Pudding, a children’s book which is still one of Australia’s classic kids’ books still today. He sounds that he was a right character, however Zandra shared with us that one of his models came to talk at the National Trust and said that he was always extremely professional and polite, a dichotomy between his character and his imagination. We stayed there for quite some time, having our packed lunch and wandering around the grounds, where Joanna took over the tour, explaining about the native plants such as the Banksias, named after Sir Joseph Banks, which needs fire to germinate their seeds, Scribbly Gumtree which have “scribbles” on the trunk which are from the feeding larvae of the Scribbly Gum moth, and the Mountain Devil, named as the seed casings look like a little devil. She is a fount of knowledge. Driving further up the Blue Mountains along the Great Western Highway we came to Katoomba, a thriving town with lots of groovy clothes shops, antique stores and cafes. We parked up near Echo Point and Joanna kept getting us to look at the mountains to the right, manoeuvring us over to the left. “Now look” she exclaimed and there were the majestic Three Sisters, standing tall pointing to the sky at the edge of a huge bowl with a backdrop of the blue haze covering the Blue Mountains. Ah – now I understand why the Blue Mountains are included in the Lonely Planet’s Top 500. We stepped down to the first of the sisters, marvelling in the rock formation and slowing climbed back up. A young lady with her baby pinned to her chest and her daughter of about 2-3 wanted to climb down. Tim very kindly took the little girl’s hand and helped them down. I am so glad he did. The lady had driven all the way from Melbourne, 11 hours in the car to come here. When they got down to the rock, her battery died on her phone, so Tim took a lovely picture of them and emailed it to her. Time was ticking on the parking meter and time for a cuppa. We drove to Leura, a very popular place for people to retire to, It has a very nice feel to the place, reminds me of Haslemere in Surrey somehow. As we were looking for a café we could hear a load of squawking and there were 2 Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, and then 2 more. They were fighting over a fairy cake casing. What a delight to see them, however I can imagine that after a while they can be a bit of a pest. I noticed The Wayzgoose Cafe, we were just about to pop in to check they were still open and the owner, Mark Alchin, who was outside, confirmed that they were. We all walked in, placed our order and got chatting with Mark and invited him to join us. What an interesting man he is. He showed us some photos of his two Morgan cars that he owns and races. There were only about 160 of one type ever built and he is certainly passionate about them, often ordering parts from Darryl Uprichard at Racetorations Ltd. in Lincolnshire. Tim has a friend in Lincolnshire who is also into old cars. I wonder if he knows this guy. Mark had to take a phone call and afterwards admitted that he’d had a very stressful day. The council has been trying to demolish the building and he has had a battle to stop this from happening. Thousands of residents also signed a petition urging the council not to demolish it. He gave us the history of the place. The Milgate family who are descendants of the Duke of Norfolk were prominent in the early development of Leura and constructed this building in 1902-3. It is one of the oldest remaining shop buildings in the area and one of the two remaining timber shop buildings from the period. He has managed to get the building listed as a Heritage Site, however he heard today that the Council still plan to build a new Shopping Centre at the back of the property and keep the façade but they will not renew his licence. What a huge shame. I think it helped Mark to unwind and talk with us and I could see that he physical started to relax. Sometimes in life is it worth carrying on battles and arguments? Sometimes it may be time to stop, smell the roses and put life into perspective. By realising that it’s not the council or anyone else that gets us stressed, but how we are experiencing this, when we get out of our stressful thinking, we can hear our own wisdom and know what to do. Mark is off on holiday with his 2 grandchildren tomorrow, so we all hope that he can have a wonderful relaxing time with them. Such a lovely man. We drove back through the windy roads with hairpin bends via Richmond, had a quick bite to eat, chatted more and then dropped Joanna off at the station. We are so grateful that she came all the way from Adelaide to spend a couple of days with us, so lovely to catch up on her news, be guided around and have much laughter.