Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Rain, Rocks and Aboriginal Art

It’s raining and it has been all day. The sky is grey and damp and to make it worse it is cold. How did this happen? I came to Oz for the better weather. At least it is 2010 and I can put on my woolly jumper and fluffy slippers and sit in front of the heater.

I am still in Mudgee, three hours from Sydney and between the two are the beautiful Blue Mountains. There are some marvellous Rocky Outcrops in the Blue Mountains and some beautiful views over the great canyon like chasms. There is also an exquisite collection of cathedral like caves about an hour from Katoomba. These caves are one of Australia’s biggest tour attractions and house a thriving industry. Each cave costs at least $20 to visit and there are day tours of underground caves that cost $200, but even for the cheapskate like me it is worth a visit. Earlier this year, I explored the surrounding ponds and walkways and marvelled at the road that runs through a natural cave like tunnel under the mountain. It is an unusual feature of the attraction, and quite breath-taking.

Last week I found out that Mudgee has some lovely features of its own and went exploring with my partner. About thirty minutes out of town there is a huge curved wall of damp and striated rock called The Drip and nearby another rock wall of Aboriginal art called “Hands on Rock”.

The walk to The Drip is one of the prettiest I have ever seen. It follows the channel made by a small river over many years. The rocks are stunning all along the way and in several spots it seems like huge blocks have been hewn from the rock by giants and thrown down in a fit of temper. There are amazing patterns rippled through the rock and one wall is deeply pockmarked like a giant Swiss cheese. We wondered if it is where small crustaceans were buried in ancient times leaving a softer spot that dissolved over the centuries.

The drip itself is a long curved wall of rock and damp with a green tinge from the some sort of moss. There is greenish water in ponds at the base but friends tell us then when it has been raining, the pools get much larger and more beautiful.

It takes a while for the GPS to kick in, but when it does we find the small round container hidden on top of a nearby rock that we came to find. I love finding these little treasures. It feels like I am in on a secret. Although many thousands of them are placed across Australia, most people are totally unaware that they even exist and walk right on by. Looking for them is also a marvellous excuse to visit these wonderful areas. I wouldn’t even have known about these beautiful formations if I wasn’t hunting for geocaches.

The walk into the Hands on Rock is shorter and although it is only a few kilometres away the scenery is very different. As we arrive I glimpse a large grey kangaroo and a marvellous formation of rocks like a collection of castle turrets. The path wanders through a bush area full of those marvellous straggly looking trees with crooked limbs and woody undergrowth. It had a silent sort of sombre feel and I am deeply affected. Apparently the dry and tangled bush here is, much as it would have been when the original artists lived here.

The pictures were made by the Wiradjuri people by spraying a mixture of ochre and liquid over their hands as a record of their visit. It is not known how long ago this artwork was made but it is very old. Barriers have been erected to keep people back but I wonder whether it will be enough to protect it. The Maori rock carving I saw in New Zealand had little neon graffiti marks in amongst the art.

On the way home we find Frog Rock. This is a feature I have wanted to see since I arrived in Mudgee as it is a well known landmark. It turns out I have passed it several times without realising it was there. It was just on dusk when we arrived so the photo does not do it justice but it does look a bit like a frog if you squint your eyes… and if you have a good imagination. I put the photo together with another unusual rock formation we have christened Hippo Rock.

I am amazed by the wonderful features tucked away in the Australian bush and the small unobtrusive signs that point the way. Phil has lived in Australia all his life and says that there are many places as beautiful.

It is my lifes goal to see as many as I can.

To see my Unique Mudgee T-Shirt that you can buy online, check out my Australia Blue Store Here

Buy yourself a Mudgee Rocks T-Shirt Today

T-shirt available at the Australia Blue Store

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