So my husband and I seized the moment and snuck off to the Blue Mountains for a couple of days. They are about an hour and a half west of Sydney and a bit of a tourist destination, but I'd never been, so the perfect distance for a little mini break. Unfortunately it coincided with a major cold front sweeping up the country and bringing the coldest and most miserable weather for a couple of years. But, because we were in the mountains, it was kind of awesome, because it SNOWED!!! And yes, I know that is not such a big deal in most of the world, but I have only actually been in falling snow a handful of times in my life, and I thought it was just the coolest thing ever. It didn't sit on the ground but it was just so pretty.
We stayed in some swish guest cottages in lovely grounds in one of the small towns, and to arrive in flurries of snowflakes to an open fire was really quite special. But my god it was freezing. We think we are used to cold in Canberra but this was a whole different level of cold. We found a nearby pub with an open fire for a drink and then warm restaurants for dinner, and in the days we explored the scenery. There are a lot of photos of me looking like a tubby eskimo - this is the Three Sisters look out in Katoomba.
The Blue Mountains are strange - they don't look very high (and aren't in reality, only 1100 metres at the highest point) but they were impassable from Sydney for many decades after European settlement because of the cliffs and chasms. We went to a place that explained it all with diagrams but I've forgotten already, something about receding seas and tilting plates. So it means lots and lots of spectacular lookouts.
At least this one had a safety rail. Many didn't - so lots of photos of me looking like a tubby frightened eskimo who refuses to go near the edge. We intended to go on a few proper bush walks but the weather was pretty dodgy and the tracks were very slushy, so we didn't. Yes, you may question our commitment.
Sydney tourists have been coming to the Blue Mountains since the train went in in the 1870s ... so lots of restaurants, and art galleries, and cafes, and places to buy artisanal soap - and of course the odd patchwork shop! I bought a few metres for the stash from the lovely shop in Blackheath. And today we drove back a different way through the mountains and inland to home. There was snow by the side of the road and it was so windy and cold; but it doesn't matter when it's just the two of us and we can stop for coffee whenever we like, and poke around some random antique centre, or just keep driving! A wonderful practice run for retirement, which I think is going to be awesome.