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I feel like it’s forever again since I wrote anything on here. I posted a few photos of my weekend away in my post Weekly Photo Challenge: Escape.  I thought I’d expand on the weekend a bit more.  I am coming to the end of my photography course but am planning on going straight back to do Diploma of photography as long as I can get into it.  Life has been crazy, between school work, housework, friendships and lots of other commitments so just to add a bit more “to do” things on my list, I organised to go out with some TAFE friends to Mt Wilson for the weekend. 

Mount Wilson is an exquisite little surprise package.  It is situated about 100 km’s west of Sydney and about 14 kms out of Bell. You drive up the Bells Line of Road and turn off to the township.  The area on the way is typical Australia really.  Lots of gum trees, rugged cliffs, roads that seem to go on forever and the occasional flock of cockatoos flying overhead.  You are always on the lookout for stray wildlife on the road.  When you turn off to Mount Wilson, you drive through a bit more of the same territory before you suddenly drive into tree ferns and a more rainforest type growth.  A bit further along the road you drive into the most beautiful little English style village  that seems like it was just popped down there.. a bit like Brigadoon. 

If you are looking for a weekend away with a night life and lots of coffee shops and restaurants, it is not for you.  However, if you are looking for a beautiful serene weekend away with lots of nature walks, autumn leaves (in autumn of course), old buildings, beautiful gardens and a complete step back in time where you can forget the world, you need to go there .. right now!  It is glorious there, especially in Autumn.  The leaves are starting to all fall now so the colors will soon be gone but it is still an amazing place to visit. 

We stayed at The Study Centre which is the old Mount Wilson school.  It is a small building, with a combined lounge dining area, kitchen and two bedrooms, one which sleeps 4, the other 2, all in bunks.  The kitchen is fully equipped (even with the necessary wine glasses).  There is also the school house next door which is available for hire too.  I didn’t go inside there so can’t describe the layout there.  In the building where we stayed, the toilets (3 of them) and shower (just 1), were outside on the verandah but only a short undercover walk so that wasn’t a big deal.  It is no 5 star hotel but if what you are looking for is a self contained, warm, place to lay your head inbetween nature walks and relaxation, then this is perfect for small groups. 

Some will disagree with the ‘WARM’ description but the heater is great and warms the place up fairly quickly.  I   turned it off at night though so it was chilly in the morning, but first up puts it back on and in no time it’s warm again.  Mount Wilson though can be very cold so rug up well.  You have to supply your own linen and towels, food of course and try not to forget anything as there is no shop out there.  On weekends the Post House can make you a cup of coffee and sells home baked scones etc but it really is a bring your own everything kind of place.  If you forget something…. consider it off the menu for the weekend unless you feel like a fair drive.  Now for the really good news…. This place is only $265 for 2 nights.. so if you get 6 people to stay it works out to be under $45 per person for the stay. 

That is less than $23 a night per person.. Where do you find fully self contained, private accommodation for that sort of price?  I repeat, it is not 5 star.. In fact it is quite basic but it is clean, serviceable and well equipped.  The school house next door is a bit dearer but has indoor bathrooms and I think it has 3 bedrooms but it is still really reasonable too.  There are other places to stay if you want something a bit more upmarket.  Have a look on the Mount Wilson website for other accommodation as well as contact details for Margaret, who manages the Study Centre.  Accommodation Links

We planned on going out this weekend as we wanted to have a look around the Turkish Bath Museum which is only open once a month though not all year round.  Yesterday was the last opening until Spring.  We lucked it in as there was also an exhibition on the Australian author who won the Nobel Literary Prize, Patrick White.  The Turkish Bath Museum is a beautiful old building, built around 1885 and was, as the name suggests, a Turkish Bath but is now partly restored and serves as a museum.  The stained glass window were made in the United Kingdom around 1880 and are just magnificent.  The baths were built by Richard Wynne to try to restore the health of his ailing wife Mary Ann.  He had an interest in natural therapies and this was obviously a labour of love.  The property was the first to be established in the Mount Wilson area.  It’s worth having a read about this property and you can also see when the opening times are.. You can find the details here.

We also took advantage of some of the glorious walks around the area and took a drive out to the tiny little village of Mount Irvine.  The first day we took a walk out to Du Faurs Rocks Lookout.  It was an easy walk and well worth the effort.  We went back out the same day, cameras and tripods in hand to try to catch a sunset.   We thought that because it was such a quiet little town, we’d have the lookout to ourselves.  Boy were we  wrong.  We packed a few glasses and a bottle of champagne along with our camera equipment and settled in to shoot the horizon when the time came.  So did another 20 or so people, minus the champers.  They were all quite envious of our forethought though. 

Let me tell you, it was freezing out there, on the side of a mountain, wind blowing through us, waiting for the sunset but we rallied on regardless.  When the other tourists started to turn up, we were all a bit annoyed I think but it very soon became a place of laughter and camaraderie.  Quite a few different nationalities all gathered to see the same sunset and talked and joked and generally had a great time.  It really did leave me with a warm fuzzy feeling.  I told one of the girls about a trip I’m doing soon during the Vivid Festival in Sydney so I hope she’ll be on the same boat as me and we can meet up again. 

Unfortunately, someone forgot to invite the colors of sunset so they stayed away out of protest.  It was still spectacular.  The yellows and whites of the sky were so much more subtle than the pinks, purples and reds we are so used to admiring but were beautiful in their own gentle way.   Once the sun started to sink and we realised that the colors weren’t going to get any brighter, all our new tourist friends had left so we started the walk back up the rough dirt track to our school building.  About halfway there, we turned back and saw a beautiful orange skyline.. Sigh.. The colors decided to have a party without us.. but it was too cold to walk back so we headed back to the heater and a few wines.

The next day we were going to take the Waterfall circular walk but unfortunately there had been a landslide so you couldn’t walk the whole way round. Still we did the walk to the waterfalls and came back the same way. Let me tell you, I felt every one of my 51 years on the walk there and felt double that on the way back lol. It was steep but the magical scenery was worth the trek.  Walking down the track to the waterfall, we were surrounded by huge trees, massive ferns and all sorts of growth that you don’t very often see.  Different types of fungi grew all over the place.   The waterfall itself (the one we saw anyway) was only small but the tranquility made up for the lack of water. 

While I was looking for a few of the links to put on here for you, I realised that Mt Wilson/ Mt Irvine have a photographic and art exhibition on later in the year which I think I may just enter.  All proceeds go to the Rural Fire Service and as you can imagine, in such isolated, bush locations, the RFS is integral to life and safety.  They do an amazing job in NSW as do all the other volunteer fire authorities in other states of Australia.  Not only are they there to stop fires but here in the Blue Mountains they do an enormous amount of rescues.  So if you’re thinking of a visit later in the year, maybe have a look to see if that weekend might suit you.  The facebook page is Mt Wilson & Mt Irvine Photography & Art Exhibition and I’m sure they’d appreciate you heading over there and liking them.  Even better, if you’d like to buy one of my photos that I intend exhibiting, I’ll even sign it for you lol.  I’m very passionate about supporting our local fire brigades.  My son Stuart was a member while he lived up here.

All in all we had a fantastic weekend.  We laughed so much, my body is still aching from it.  Of course the walking and steps probably add to that pain but the laughter, serenity and beauty of the weekend will be what I remember over the pain.  I haven’t made a lot of friends since I shifted to NSW 5 years ago as I’ve been working on “me”.  A cliched and oft trotted out saying I know, but true all the same.  The people I went away with I have only met earlier this year through the photography course I’m attending and what a magnificent bunch of people they are.  Thank you Kirsty, Barb, Christina and Sev for making it such a fun weekend but remember, “what happens in the school yard, stays in the school yard”. 

I really hope if you can make it out to Mt Wilson and Mt Irvine sometimes, you will.  It really is an amazing place.  No matter how many words I write, I can’t possibly describe the beauty so I’ll leave you with some more photos.  I hope you enjoy them..

Happy Travels… Livvy 🙂