At Christmas I visited the town where I grew up, in the Blue Mountains (west of Sydney). I hadn’t been back there in 10+ years. I climbed down a freak’n mountain! (Enjoy the photos!) Recently I discovered an old school assignment, which gives perfect insight into what the Blue Mountains means to me. As you can see I have been into fairies for a long time!
In my home town Katoomba, on top of a cliff, I am but a child. At the bottom of the cliff, on the rainforest floor, I am transformed. The Scenic Railway carriage that rides vertically down the mountain is a magical vessel traveling through the veil between the worlds. When my ride has cleared the dark tunnel through the rocks, I emerge into the sunlight feeling freer and more magical than before.
The world up there is about primary school, homework, and teachers, but down here it is my world where I am the Fairy Queen of the Blue Mountains. Down here is my playground, where I swing on vines like Tarzan; it is my music hall, where I listen to the symphony of hundreds of species of birds; it is my art gallery, where I admire the unusually shaped rocks that have been carved out by the wind and running water; and it is my mystery school, where I learn the ancient esoteric wisdoms and the magickal arts, that are whispered to me on the wind.
Lyrebirds pick at the leaves in the damp earth. Sunshine filters through the treetops high above me. The air here is the freshest you will find anywhere in New South Wales, and perhaps even Australia. Away from the tourist tracks, there are no other people here- it’s just me, the trees, the bush animals, and the fairies. Moss covered rocks line a clear pool where water gushes from a crack in the wall above it. This is my magickal fairy well. Whoever drinks of these waters shall enjoy eternal life. My fairy friends dart around me; they are dancing on the surface of the water and jumping amidst the green stones. A freshwater yabby crawls across the bottom of the pool. The fairies scatter away so they don’t get eaten.
I leave the area that the tourists know about and walk alone into the wilderness. I’m not afraid of getting lost. This is my home. This is my blood. I feel safe here. I could curl up and go to sleep on a rock amongst the ferns and the birds, who are my friends, would alert me of any danger.
There is an old mine-shaft, guarded by thick iron bars. At one time, during the shale-mining era, this entrance led to a tunnel that ran deep underneath this mountain and exited into the Megalong Valley. My dad said there were glow worms inside. He saw them when he came here to play as a boy, before the bars were put here in the 70’s. My dad even crawled inside here and signed his name on an old metal coal skip that he found. I wonder if it’s still there, and if he saw the underground fairy kingdom that some say lies beneath this mountain.
Every now and then, while playing down here, I’d find another piece of history. Metal cables lie half buried in the earth, which have been here since the days of the original aerial ropeway, called “The Flying Fox”, in 1885. I find pieces of the metal cable that snapped, when the whole thing came crashing down to earth here over one hundred years ago. Nearby lies an old metal skip that has not moved since the day it fell from the sky. It’s still full to the brim with coal. I wonder why, in all this time, no one has tried to retrieve this mess, which is scattered throughout the entire valley. Then I remember that I’m in the middle of the rainforest, far away from human civilisation. Mum would freak if she realised how far I’d come, alone.
Nearby, back on the tourist track, is the base of the Great Landslide. Looking upward to the top of the cliff makes me dizzy it’s so high. I’m surrounded by boulders the size of houses. Standing here makes me a little nervous as there is still a minor split in the earth far above me; however my dad proclaimed it safe enough the day he stepped over the deep split then jumped up and down on the protruding rock like he was daring it to fall. You’d think that someone who grew up around cliffs wouldn’t be afraid of heights, but not me. I was so petrified; I closed my eyes until he returned safely to solid land. There hasn’t been a major rock fall here since the 1930’s, but I can’t help thinking that the evil bush wizards might see this as an opportunity to rid this land of its beloved fairy queen. Afraid, I hurry through the rubble- laden path, and emerge to where the path is clear, triumphant again that I have evaded the curse of the evil rock wizard.
Nearby is my own private mining station where, alongside my minion of elves and dwarves, I dig for stones and fossils. These magickal rocks are characterised by the imprint of fossilised leaves. I will later carry the best of these specimens back home with me to the top of the cliff, back to the normal realm, and use them as part of the spells and magickal potions that I like to mix up in my backyard. I’d then write the results of these spells, things like “I made the wind change direction”, into my handmade magickal spell book, written in the invisible ink of lemon juice. This made much more sense to me than pointless activities like watching television.
When playtime was over in my mystical kingdom on the forest floor, I’d take my latest fossil finds and any other treasures I found, like brightly coloured bird feathers, and ride back up the side of the cliff, and out through the magickal cave.
At the top there are people bustling all around the tourist centre. Happy families taking photographs and buying souvenirs. I say goodbye to my aunt who works at the ticket booth, then head towards my home, which is on the highest hill on top of the cliff.
The tourists think they know the Blue Mountains after buying a map and going for a bushwalk along the designated tracks. But they have no idea what is really down there, or of my secret playing spots. If they did, then I, the Fairy Queen of the Blue Mountains, would have an awful lot of human refugees in my kingdom.