The Secret Life of Melanie O.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Weekend away
Mount TomahDan and I came to the conclusion last week that we needed a weekend away. What with having to euthanise our cat, renters who are never in time with the rent - resulting in us not being on time with some of our bills, and our current landlord who thinks that everyone is out to get him and then put his house up for sale (which means we have to move soon,) the world just seemed a bit out of control. This doesn't even take into account job and family stresses. It was obvious to us, though, that it was time to get the hell out of Dodge - even if just for the weekend.

Dan knows that I love being in the mountains. The mountains refresh me. I don't know why that is, but whenever I go to the mountains, I am instantly energised. I can accomplish twice as much and sleep twice as well as when I am in Sydney. Like Rip Van Winkle, I seem to wake up after being asleep for twenty years, and there's so much that I want to see and do!

So, we drove up towards
Mount Tomah and stopped in Bilpin for an apple treat. Bilpin is reknowned throughout New South Wales for its apple orchards. It seems like it's been forever since I've enjoyed "home made" apple pie, so we indulged in some as we made our way to our final destination of the day, Clarence.

Clarence really isn't much except for an old coal railroad, now a tourist attraction, affectionately Zig Zag Railroadcalled the
Zig Zag Railway, which is really what it is. Back in the days when Lithgow was a mining town, coal was shuttled down the mountainside from Clarence, but the mountain being as steep as it is, couldn't support a straight or even curved track, so some genius decided to shuttle it down in stages, and the line is a zigzag. The is means that after each section of the zigzag is completed, the old steam engine of the train has to be switched to the other end of the train for the next section (a switch-back). Dan, being the train afficionado that he is, was invited to sit in the driver's compartment on one of these switches. He was in heaven, while I wandered around, foolishly, wondering what had happened to my husband. I should have known! You can take the man out of the train, but you can't take the train out of the man.

So, we rode down and back up the side of the mountain, in freezing weather (it's still summer here, but the
Blue Mountains defy any predetermined weather patterns,) and had a blast. Dan, of course, spent an inderterminate amount of time talking to the drivers and maintenance workers, which has made him all the more determined to get recertified as a train driver, himself.

We spent the night in a rural town named Marrangaroo (kind of rhymes with kangaroo) at a fabulous motel that was really more like a Bed and Breakfast with 35 bedrooms. That night, we ate in their little bistro where you could order a steak and throw it on the barbie, (or they'd cook it for you.) The next morning, we had breakfast delivered to us in our room. But the best part of it for me, was the soft mountain water!

You have to understand, Sydney's water is full of calcium and lime, and it's murder on your hair, especially if your hair is bleached, like mine is. Mountain water is soft water and I think I heard my hair weeping with joy after I got out of the shower. I didn't wash it again for a few days afterwards to enjoy the afterglow.

Orient CaveThe next day, we made our way to
Jenolan Caves, and booked a tour through the Orient Cave. It was magical. I felt like a little cave gnome, climbing my way up and down stairs, through chambers and past pools of water. It was truly like another world in there. Dan has never seen anything like it, and was completely mesmerized. We spent a few hours at Jenolan Caves and then decided to take the leisurely way back to Sydney. It was a sad moment, having to leave the mountains.

We knew we were back in Sydney again when the traffic became just awful with aggressive drivers, drivers who just don't know basic road rules, and Dan and I getting more irritable. Some people want to win the lottery so that they can buy "stuff" and travel the world. I want to win it so that I can move up to the mountains and not worry about the fact that there aren't too many jobs there. That would be my idea of heaven. You know, when you think about it, minibreaks can be a dangerous thing: Dan wants to go back to train driving school, and I want to be in the mountains. A weekend away can change your life.
posted by Melanie O. at 8:09 AM -
  • At 5:44 AM, Blogger chimera said…

    sounds like a great weekend. sometimes that's all you need to recharge your batteries and get a different perspective on things.

  • At 6:46 PM, Blogger LivinginOz said…

    chimera - so true.

    (P.S. thinking of you today and wishing you the best.)

  • At 1:39 PM, Anonymous Donald said…

    Wow, sounds like a great weekend!
    I share Dan's love of steam trains and that railroad would be my first stop if I ever get down under. I need a change of scenery myself!

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About Me
Name: Melanie O.
Home: Durham, North Carolina, United States
About Me: Female, American health and beauty-conscious professional who has rekindled a childhood love of dolls.
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