Mostly it’s pictures on a clear early autumn day.
Wollemi National Park and the Rylstone Show
It is rare for me to post about my own country but this weekend about 3 and a half hours from Sydney, was a cracker. A Christmas gift to me from one of my daughter’s families, a weekend in the bush turned out to have the added fun of the local country showday.
First the house in the country
The house was in the northern rural edge of the Wollemi National Park a vast wilderness The corner we were in boasted stunning beehive sandstone formations with myriad caves erupting through the trees. There is reputed to be Aboriginal cave art but we did not venture far in.
It was a good place for shy well camouflaged kangaroos, wombats and so many birds.
The bush offers all kinds of pleasures (besides a spa) – gathering twigs, examining moss, touching base with the stars, the sheep and the cows and finding strange bones.
We weren’t there long enough to meet the neighbours but from the look of their art, they were talented and fun.
Even in the country the craving for a morning coffee is enough to send you 15 minutes into town. The signs in this pleasant, well tended town captured me.
BUT who broke the window of the gun shop last night? AND it’s directly opposite the police station!
While the town’s “big saw” is not quite big enough to make the national icons list.
But it was Show Day in town so that afternoon we observed some of the best and most interesting of country life.
The dog show
Then it was the working dog competition – the sheep dog trails
As always at a Show, there was the arts and crafts competition. Here are a few of my favourites, mostly the winners:
Country towns are all reinventing themselves. Kandos, an old cement making town adjacent to Rylstone, is becoming known for its annual art festival. In step with that, there was also an outdoor sculpture competition at the Show. Here’s the two I voted for:
The other competition was the woodchopping.
But perhaps the best of all was the people watching……
And of course you can’t have a country show without the wheels on display.
The show might have been an unexpected highlight and delight but it is the bush, the national park, the stars that dominate this region.
No one part of Iceland can top the other experiences, but this west coast region spoke strongest to me. It is said that the tip of this peninsula sits on a ley line and this makes it one of the few genuine mystical parts of the world.
Having worked and lived for awhile at another special place, Byron Bay, I am versed in these theories of the earth’s magnetic energies manifesting in a geographic place. At the small town of Hellnar as in some other “special” places, I read there is the first Intentional Community in Iceland
Anyway whether in fact or in mind, I found that sitting alone outside the fabulous Hotel Budir near the tip of the peninsula in the late evening, sipping a G&T and gazing across the lava field towards a small church, brought the deep meditative tranquility that one experiences rarely in life.
The hotel sits within a few hundred metres of the coast where a moss covered lava field up to 8000 years old meets the ocean.
In the middle of the field is a volcano called Búða-rock and in the distance the ice- domed Snaefell Glacier stands tall.
After we left for Reykjavik a few days later we were told that in the 16th a notorious serial killer lived on this peninsula. That bloody tale was centuries away from the remarkably good gourmet meals served by the hotel.
The peninsula offers other experiences that make it special: –
the famed Snaefell glacier,
a coastal walk at through the lava field between Arnartapi to Hellnar,
and the hunt for the elusive puffin!
But before I explore these, I want to digress and give a nod to a few other stops along the way from Akureyri to Reykjavik. – specifically:
The Bjarnarhofn Shark Museum is the region’s leading producer of fermented shark meat, a traditional Icelandic dish.
The young family member who entertained us offered us the real deal after we had watched a video on the fermenting process. The Greenland shark is poisonous if eaten fresh and fermentation neutralizes the toxins.
Even fermented, it tasted poisonous!!!
I became interested in this shark and found that the species is mostly restricted to the waters of the North Atlantic Ocean and Arctic Ocean and It has the longest known lifespan of all vertebrate species (up to 392 years) is big enough to swallow a reindeer
Secondly, I mention Snorri’s pool only because it is here that my third (they come in 3’s) minor Iceland irritant occurred – first the broken tooth in Reykjavik, then Iceland Air broke a wheel off my suitcase and here at Snorri’s geothermal pool I lost my Gucci sunglasses. Serves me right for being a self-indulgent consumer.
Snorri was a 13th century poet and Lawspeaker who is responsible in this writings for preserving much of the information about Nordic pagan life. He derserves more than this passing reference.
Finally, In this living earth of Iceland there are many awesome sights along the way. The Deildartunguhver thermal spring produces 180 litres of water per second, the largest of any in the world. water temperature is 212 degrees and is used to generate electricity
Greenhouses heated from the springs produced these wonderful tomatoes.
Now, back to the main game:
The glacier is accessed by way of a snow cat. We climb up the granite until we hit the ice and then climb through the cloud line to icefields under blue skies. This glacier tops the dormant 1446 metre high volcano whose 200 metre crater Jules Verne chose as the entry point for his Journey to the Centre of the Earth.
Some have believed this to be a meeting place of extra-terrestrials. Others believe it to be one of the seven chakras (energy centres) in the world.
There is a hiking trail leading through the lava field along the coast between Arnarstapi to Hellnar. Around Arnarstapi the columnar basalt and cliff formations are stunning as the photo below of Mt Stapafell shows.
The energetic walk around the coast with the cliff formations and the squawking of birds makes me realize I have run out of adjectives so overwhelmed am I by nature. It is better to let my inadequate pictures speak for themselves.
Before we go on the puffin hunt I see this graffiti. I am a fan of good graffiti and so can’t resist photographing this in the very tiny port.
From a small harbour, we take a boat one evening in search for puffins.
Sightings are not guaranteed. Our captain takes us to a small islet covered in birds. Excited confusion ensues. Is that a puffin? Can I see a puffin? Camera click, mine included. My puffin pictures are very average
But Tim Wilson who was travelling with us took a few spectacular photos which I am pleased he lets me post here.
Besides the puffins bird life was prolific:
From the sea the landforms, the grandeur of this country its relationship to settlements look even more spectacular.
I am sad at leaving