Ozzie ozzie ozzie! (Day 4)
The Walling room at Bethany Manor B&B is tastefully decorated in shades of pale green and lilac, evoking the rustic cottage gardens of Australian landscape designer, Edna Walling. A fresh white rose, petals curled to perfection, sits in a tall vase on my bedside table. The scent of it perfumes the room. I'm enveloped in a fluffy white doona (duvet? comforter? quilt?) and lying on crisp cotton sheets and I don't have to get up. Ever.
However, my grumbling belly has other plans, and I find myself sitting at in the breakfast room with a pot of tea (and a cafetiere of java for MDH), looking out into the front garden. Our host, Jill, is busy in the kitchen making up a more-than-generous breakfast - poached eggs with cracked black pepper, scrambled eggs on toast, smoked salmon with dill, fat juicy grilled sausages, buttered baby portabello mushrooms and sweet red tomatoes drizzled in olive oil, chocolate chip cookies and...MDH and I are waving our arms in protest, oh, please, stop, it's enough to feed a small army.
Bellies full to bursting, we bid farewell to lovely Jill and her husband Greg. They are kind enough to give us some advice on our trip, lending us maps and books to look at and warning us of which trails to avoid. After a leisurely waddle round the garden, we are ready to begin our scenic journey around the Blue Mountains.
The vapours released by the leaves of gum trees wraps the mountain range in a faint blue haze (hence it's name). It is this volatile essence that fuels the bushfires which plague the region every summer. This same oily mist carries with it the gloriously fresh fragance of eucalyptus. I feel as if I'm walking in an aromatherapy sauna.
Working our way along the wide trails, we are treated to grand views at every lookout point - mountains stretching away into the distance, fading into a blue sky. Overhead, tiny chirruping birds flit from tree to tree. In the distance, there is the occasional loud squawking from a passing flock of cockatoos. Striped and speckled lizards bask on rocks in the sun, scurrying away into dark holes when we approach. The gum trees creak and rustle companionably as we wander on.
We watch in wonder as a green iridescent beetle wanders too close to the ant nest and is quickly overwhelmed by a mass of angry soldiers. It somehow manages to escape and fly off, leaving the ants snapping their mandibles in fury. The frustrated ants begin a brawl amongst themselves, eventually tumbling back into the depths of the ant mound.
MDH and I find a bench to sit on, to enjoy a snack of banana cake and leftover sausages. We sit and watch, our shadows lengthening in front of us, until it is time to head back to the city.