For many years we have attended "official" Australia Day events. This year we were ready for a change from the same old, same old. so had a think about what we would like to do.
Mick came up with the idea of heading to Lithgow, visiting the Blast Furnace and having lunch at a cafe hidden in a wildlife sanctuary. It all sounded great, except when I phoned to book, the cafe was closed for Australia Day. Good on them for taking a day off to enjoy our special day, but sad for us.......another time.
We still headed down to Lithgow, a town about 40 minutes from us, that we drive past or through and very rarely stop at. As a kid I spent many holidays at Grandma's farm, just out of Lithgow, but we only ventured into town to do the shopping, not play the tourist.
Our first port of call was Hassan's Walls Lookout. I remember having visited here once, but I was so little that I have absolutely no recollection of it.
We drove out a winding, narrow dirt road for quite a few kms, and it became apparent that the valleys were full of fog. I laughed! It was about 11am on a summer's day and you couldn't see any view whatsoever. Well, we were nearly there so may as well keep going.
Apparently we were to see a wide vista of the valleys and distant hills.
What we did see was the silhouette of the stunning pergoda rock formations.
A boardwalk had been built to the main viewing point only a few years ago. It certainly made the access easy.
As we weren't distracted by the view, we enjoyed the mountain heathland vegetation. The plant at the front was particularly beautiful. It appeared to be some sort of casurina. I wouldn't mind one of those in my garden.
The vertical leaves(??) needles(??) were really striking and the colours ranged from bright green to a deep russett.
Mick found some interesting rainbow coloured leave on one shrub.
Interesting seed pods. A tea tree I think.
If you look carefully in the second photo from the top, you can see a little mesh fence in a hole in a rock. You can go through the hole and look back up at the main look out.
Rather a stunning cliff underneath.
Apparently there is aboriginal art in the area but the locations aren't publicised. The sign says you may just stumble upon it. I don't think this "art" is aboriginal, although it certainly is colourful.
Of course the mountain goat had to climb onto the top of the rock....Notice something in the above photo? A bit of blue sky!! While we had been roaming around the fog finally started to clear.
I saw the prettiest butterfly and it even sat still long enough to take its portrait.
We went back to the main look out and there was a group of visitors enjoying the view. Three of them were all dressed up for Australia Day. They looked so good.
Somewhere down there is Grandma's.
It was interesting getting our bearings now that the fog was lifting. That is the road works at the 40 Bends. There is a rock formation you see on the top of the cliffs as you drive along there that Mum taught us was known as "King George's Head". It doesn't seem to be standing out as much these days. I learnt two things. "King Georges's Head is at Hassens Walls and the reason it doesn't stand out as much is that the top has toppled off, as you can see in the above photo.
We had been pottering about for over an hour so it was time to move on if we were to see anything else.
As we walked back to the car we came across a cute little skink.
He was also happy to do a photo shoot. Such cute spots.
And more gorgeous butterflies, being very photogenic this time. I had no idea what they were so had to do a little research. They are "Sword Grass Browns". You can read a little about them here.
Next stop, according to the sign posts was "Bracey Lookout", named after the founder of the local department store. On the way we came across a couple of fellows out for a ride. There were also quite a few cyclists, runners and walkers on the quiet roads.
This time the view was overlooking the town.
You couldn't spend a nicer Australia Day than being in the Australian bush, but we were a bit wary.
We had to keep our eyes peeled for those "Big, Bad Banksia Men". They were Mick's fear.
I was a bit more worried that the "Nargun" may be lurking somewhere.
We kept on our way and all was well. We followed the track further and ended up popping out at the top of Brown's Gap in the Vale of Clydd.
After all that fresh air it was time to find a cafe for lunch. One with crocheted bunting should do the trick.
We had a little wait for our meals, as many cafes were closed, but when it arrived it was delicious. My Slovinian Beef and Mushroom pie was quite different to the usual meat pie, but oh, so tasty.
A quick walk up and down the street revealed a couple of quirky art installations.
This one was only put up last year.
So clever and bright.
Further down we came across "Secret Lane" with little paintings.
I know there are others further down the long Main Street, but this is all we found this time.
Time to hop back in the car and keep exploring, but I think that is enough for one sitting.