Susi and Austin's

Travelling the Rivers and

Canals of Europe



Sunday 7 November 2021 6:38 AM

Leaving the Blue Mountains via Lithgow and the Capertee Valley we took a small detour to Portland to see the Silo-art on the old Portland Cement Works. Austin reminisced about his time as a brickie’s labourer when building the family home with his dad at Kens Road, Belrose, using Portland cement. In past decades, the whole area, from the mountains up to Mudgee, used to supply Sydney builders with cement. The men on the art work are former workers of the cement works and were still alive when painted in 2018. Sadly many miners of the shale mines who inhaled the fine dust did not enjoy longevity. We were glad that the old coal and shale mines are no longer operational, but worrying about our government’s decisions regarding coal mines.

As we entered the little township of Rylstone the placards of yesterdays protest were still in place. This area is so stunningly beautiful that it would be a crime to turn it into a mine! 

Just north-east of Rylstone and down a small dirt road is the Ferntree Gully Reserve. We were welcomed by the humming of thousands of bees and the aroma of eucalypt, peppermint trees and a yet unidentified plant with oily, soft, fragrant leaves. 

As we descended into the gully through limestone rock formations, we stepped into a fairyland of ferns, fern trees, vivid green rocks and fallen tree trunks covered in moss. The winding path of the narrow gully led to ever new magical places. Even the hundred plus steps back to the top didn’t dampen our enthusiasm. 

We spent the night on the local, very quaint campground, a grassy site with electricity, water and toilets - all arranged over the phone via the local council. As the air in our caravan seemed full of offensive greenhouse gas, I considered wearing my mask indoors again and mixing some seaweed into Austin’s dinner, which I heard is helpful.

In the morning we took a stroll through the historic center of town and then left for nearby Mudgee. The grapes were calling!

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