- Mt Tambourine. Deb and I walked the Witches Falls Circuit through the vertical rainforest and hung over the lookout platform, staring at the great hexagonal columns gradually detaching themselves from the mountain, and at the slight waterfall which fell and fell and never seemed to stop falling, and the endless trees. We saw hollow trunks and massive whorled cavernous shells of trees, and on the way back lyrebirds crossed our path. I’ve never been bushwalking in a skirt before, but it did make me feel very Isabella Bird, and was quite comfortable and airy.
- Mt Kosciuszko. Very high, very clear, very beautiful. On the mountain, everything is grey-green and pure and cold and fantastical rock formations and clear pools shape and reflect the sky. From the skilift, while the other subeditor’s brother threatened to rock it, the world was distant and perfect and the grass far below was blonde and soft and restless. I hadn’t planned this trip and was only warned a week out that I would be going with my sister to “the highest mountain on the lowest and flattest continent”. I want to go back and be quiet somewhere up near the summit and keep trying to capture the peculiar blue of the hills and clarity of the air. Coincidentally, it was where my parents had spent their honeymoon on the same weekend 29 years before.
- Mt Coot-tha. We had our Good Friday breakfast in a new location – orange juice, barbequed bacon and eggs, hot cross buns crunchy from being toasted in the oils on the barbeque, pancakes with lemon and sugar, or with chocolate eggs wrapped in them and melted. While the various fires were being lit, a few of us ran up the hill which was green and lawn-like and sparkling, and spelled Emily! with our shadows near the top (because there were six of us and she had the shortest name).
- Hatton Vale. We have horses in the back half of my parents’ yard now, and a labyrinth of butterfly-leaved bushes at the front. I sat out on a blanket with a shady hat and drew both and ate dark Lindt chocolate.
- The road to Dalby. I went out for Aimee’s birthday – halfway to what used to be home. I hadn’t forgotten how beautiful the country on that side of the range was, but it has been too long since I’ve seen it. Out past Oakey and the upturned bowl of Gowrie Mountain, the world levels out. The sky is a great blue dish, plumed on one side, and the world is so flat it seems tiny under that immense sky. The highway straightens and becomes blue, the trees and powerlines march away, the grass is tawny and the sorghum russet-red and when the sun sets the world turns gold and candy-pink and scarlet. It is so soon like home, and there is a claustrophobic feeling attendant on returning through Toowoomba and sinking down the range into the little, gnarly, pocketed, miniature landscapes of the valley, which are dim and beautiful and every changing like a little world in a fairy tale. But not so vacantly majestic, nor so nearly home.
Five Beautiful Places: or, what I’ve been doing with my weekends.