Grandchildren, autumn colour, mountains, fresh air, lyre birds, walking tracks . . .

Grandchildren, Autumn colour, mountains,  fresh  air,  lyre birds,  walking tracks  and an Old World Guest House

How special to be invited to join the family for a few days to play again in the Blue Mountains,  all of us staying at an ‘old world’ Guest House in Katoomba and returning to  Blackheath to reminisce and remember the playground our family  enjoyed in the young years..

The Dharug and Gundungurra Peoples welcome you
to this special place and ask that
you acknowledge, respectand appreciate its story
and sacred beauty

Day 1  

The family left for Katoomba early as they were booked in for the Scenic World Experience  which included the Scenic Railway down into the Valley and a Valley walk to see the amazing interactive  sculptures,  to see the old coal mine, then up the cliff and across on the  Scenic Skyway.  It was a fun  morning for them. Edison was excited about the waterfalls, and being in the front row going down  in the train the steepest train in the world, into the valley and Darcy loved his map and kept showing us where he went. 

Michael and I took our time  and stopped for a picnic lunch at one of our nostalgic venues Wentworth Falls Fall Lookout . The air was electric, the sky so blue and each deciduous tree was turning in their perfect timing.  There was a helicopter going back and forth and a National Parks woman explained they were dropping material along tracks for maintenance and taking out rubbish. It did take away from the serenity I was wanting so much but suddenly they took a break and the silence was hypnotic Not even the Falls could be heard where we sat. 



We arrived at the Guest House . . very old world with a breakfast room, dining room, games rooms and piano and had the character of a well known jazz lounge in its younger days.  At least the many  posters  decorating the walls were nostalgic for those  heady days.

We all went then to see the Three Sisters and we walked down about 80 steps with some metal ladders and out across the bridge to the first sister. We had a great picnic in one of the original caves.  Everything was so quiet . . .  by that I mean not many people . . .they had a quiet morning at Scenic world and we had no trouble parking at the Three Sisters. We were spoilt as it was not a public holiday and  little could we predict the Easter crowds.

On face book Jessica wrote of their day

What a perfect first day of holidays in the Blue Mountains. We spent the day at Scenic World Blue Mountains. We went down the steepest railway 🚃 , walked the long track for the Sculptures in the Valley and then came back up the cableway  🚡 then we took the skyway out over the valley and stopped over Katoomba Falls before heading to The Three Sisters. We walked down to the First Sister and then back up the very steep steps. Only 80 of them 🥵 back up the top we had our picnic waiting for us in one of the caves. I loved watching the kids explore, especially Edison who climbed, jumped, poked, questioned everything he came across and was so determined to try everything. Nothing was too much for him. I don’t know where he gets his energy 



Day 2    Blackheath

We woke to a glorious day and down in the dining room to meet the family for breakfast at 8 am as our plan was to get on the road early to travel the 10 minute drive to Blackheath for the day.  (that became closer to an hour with the crazy  Easter traffic that appeared.)

Michael and I have gone to Blackheath hundreds of times and never , ever experienced a traffic jam!  on this road, so funny . We surmise people were on their way to Mudgee or Dubbo . and we heard the Bells Line of Road was closed due to landslides I think or fires or flood  or as a result of all three  . . these days you can choose the catastrophe andyou probably wont be too wrong.

How to describe the morning.

Firstly the air had a crisp tingle to it. . .we all needed our trackie top
but we felt invigorated by the tingle.
No-one can beat John Keat’s words:
Seasons of mists and mellow fruitfulness
yet I couldn’t help whispering,
leaves of russet golds and brown
and flaming fire red
tatter the emerald sky and burnish our tracks
willowing air blow gently on the trees
leaves spilling,
pitter patter down
as flaxen autumnal raindrops


In Blackheath, as pilgrims, we headed to our old home in Burton street where we had spent so many fun holidays  and like pilgrims we retrod our footsteps down Porters Pass  to Keating Rock, around to the lane to the warm Sunset rock  so tiny now which seemed to fit us all snuggled into watch the sun set.and we laughed about the quiet street  where the kids rode up and down with ice-cream bowls on their heads teasing the magpies who joined in the game swooping each time.

We chose the Fairfax Heritage walk because it was suitable for Pa to walk with the boys and we arrived at the view of Govetts Leap .


The Bridal Veil Falls  was the best I have ever seen it after the rains it flowed and pounded wildly down into the valley its spray soft lifted  by the winnowing wind sometimes caught the rays of sunlight flashing a rainbow veil. I couldn’t  catch it on film it was momentariy,  fleeting and spectacular .

To the Red Rocket park where the boys had a lot of fun and Jessica was reminded  about the many times she played there with her brothers and sisters and sometimes cousins and the near escapes they had.

Back to the Guest House and a takeaway Thai meal we shared in the recreation room while the boys watched TV and played.


Jessica wrote,

Down memory lane yesterday.
Keating Rock.
Govetts Leap.
Bridal Falls.
Memorial Park. Still the same equipment since 1964, just safer!
We had to keep a tally of how often Mum and I said “Be Careful!!!”
When I was young we were trusted down these walks on our own!

I lived to tell the tale 😂

Day 3  

A stunning autumn day  . . blue sky touches of lifting mist , falling russet and gold  leaves 
the walkways beginning to crunch but still early autumn days.

We were the baby sitters for three year old Darcy, as his older brother  Edison had begged to do the full Giant Staircase down into the Grose Valley and to walk around to the Scenic railway to ascend .  So the three of them Nath Jessica and Edison drove off after an early breakfast left their car near the Three Sisters and set off down the close to 1000 steps that Edison can now say he did. We breakfasted with Darcy and then set off for a walk to get some postcards and brochures  to make a project of the Mountain adventure  for his preschool  and to help his language. 

Great photos  of Lyre Birds . It is good to know they are surviving down in the valley.

They arrived back pretty tired but very proud they have achieved this challenging walk. 

It is a great achievement for a seven year old.  Congrats Edison. Mum and Dad did well also .

When they arrived back we set off for home and made it easily dodging the Easter traffic.

We seemed to be going in the opposite direction to most!!! Maybe that is the story of our days.

Safely home after an invigorating pre easter time.


Ungraspable a poem by Colleen Keating



it happened with the turn of tide
on a shallow sandy shoal
now it had beached dry

hot air sharp as spears
summer sun
glistening on its silver grey skin

blue spots shimmered across its flank
as it flapped intermittently
like a large bird with a broken wing

our carefree stroll along the beach
here was a life and death matter

the world was silent
only the waves measuring time
like a tolling bell

a young stingray lay before us
like a sacrificial lamb
eyes open as if pleading

using our bucket we splashed
water over its fretting skin
like cooling a fever

until it was still
then we noticed the hook
embedded in its flesh

we got down on our knees
my grandson and i
as if to reassure this creature

there was a tenderness
a hole of helplessness

a lifesaver brought a spade –
i was sorry it could not be pushed back
to sigh one last time amidst the waves

later the piled up hill of sand
was still there
Is that where he is? my grandson asked

it was time to take his little hand
and walk to the edge of the ocean
listen to its rill whoose back and forth

see its gifts of shells and spinning stones
watch the gulls whirl in the thrill of life
feel the ungraspable cycle of give and take

by Colleen Keating


A Stingray story  with Mum, Grandma ,Edison and Darcy

(Written while we were holidaying at the Dolphin House)

It happened in the dark of night
on The Entrance beach
and in the morning
it made us all so sad.

It happened at high tide
and we found it as we were rambling
along the edge of the waves
playing happily with pieces of Neptunes Necklace

and looking for all sort of shells the high tide had left behind.
It was Mum and Grandma and us two boys Edison and Darcy.

We were jumping in the waves and running up on the sand
and then we saw it
a large grey and blue blob lying helplessly on the sand
it was a large greyish stingray
beached, left behind when the tide went out


It couldn’t breath air because it doesn’t have lungs.
It has gills like fish and breathes its air through the water
Mum thought she saw it take a last gulp.
It was too heavy to push back in the sea.
It lay there before us all .
It looked so beautiful in the sunlight.

It was grey with beautiful blue marking
and sad eyes and open gills.

We all patted it and were surprised at it soft sticky skin.
and remembered the Torpedo Rays in Octanauts.

We stood helplessly by, till a lifesaver came
He turned it over and it became an even sadder story

because it had a fishing hook embedded in its blobby flesh .

We felt so mad about people who don’t look after our sea because all the sea creatures are so endangered by plastics and pollution.

Back at home we looked up fun fact about Stingrays
and it was good to learn some interesting things.


Fun Facts about Stingrays

1 They are one of the beautiful creatures of the sea as they move along in the water. 

2 They have no bones in their body – their skeleton is made up of flexible cartilage (the bendy stuff that your ears and nose are made of

3 Baby stingray are hatched from eggs that are held within the body of the mother 

4 They use a super set of electric senses to search for food. Their eyes are on the top side of their body   and their mouth and gills are found underneath so in murky water this electromagnetic sense is especially useful for searching for prey.

5 they like to live by themselves  and only come together for breeding . 

6 They protect themselves with venomous spines or barbs in their tail

7 They feed on fish clams and shrimp

8 Sadly they are now a threatened species .Overfishing, habitat loss and climate change are the major threats 


Thank you Edison for allowing me to use your drawing in this story.

Seeing the world through childrens’ eyes




Seeing the world through children’s eyes. 

When the tide recedes beyond the horizon
and the underbelly of the sea is exposed
for little adventurers, Edison and Darcy
the rock platform is a necklace of pools
shimmering like emeralds and full of treasure.

Worry of slipping and falling is not their concern
they hop from rock to rock                                                    
clamber about down on their tummies
their shining eyes
reflected in the mirrored sea.

Everything is magical and extraordinary
Come here, quick Grandma 
the crabs are humongous. 
a scuttle of creatures disappear in our shadow
making us wait quietly
pretending we’re not here
as the rocks curl with camouflaged
crustaceans creeping out
and pincers like boxing gloves
point up at us.                                                    

In their eyes there is wonder
as red anemones sway the waves
as the molluscs trail into patterns
as starfish wash up like gift
as a sting ray glides past their toes
as these curious boys
learn to be respectful of the living world

Seeing the world through children’s eyes
makes me happy to be alive
as we steal out to the edge of the sea
and look for whales
as we dig in the sand on the edge of the beach
as we allow gentle laps of waves
to fill our canals and tunnels
and moats to protect our castles
until Darcy sees more fun in jumping
on them as quick as we can  mould the sand
seeing the world through children’s eyes