The Blue Mountains Winter Magic Festival is held each year around the winter solstice, and is a community event that brings artists, musicians, drummers, dancers and the wider community together.
The sense of fun amongst people who were gathering for the parade was fantastic, with singers, drummers and a samba group all creating as much noise as possible. The effort people had put into their costumes was tremendous, and I was particularly struck by the drum corp, who managed to keep in character and drum out the beat for everyone to march to.
Autumn has slowly pushed aside summer. The temperatures are dropping, along with the leaves.
We took a trip up to the Blue Mountains National Gardens at Mount Tomah, which along with the native trees, hosts pockets of European and North American flora. There is something reassuringly familiar about seeing conkers on the ground, and I have flashbacks to my childhood.
When I was a little older than my son, my brother and I would collect conkers, pierce them with a skewer, and thread a length of string through their core, creating an instrument of playground competition. These were great battles when you were seven years of age, which would be settled with one competitor’s dreams ending shattered on the floor, along with his weapon. Your status was entwined with the fate of your conker. Did you have a lowly ‘oner’, or had you vanquished your classmates and reached the heady heights of a ‘fiver’, or more?
These delights await my son, but for now he is content to climb trees.
The smell of smoke had long subsided, and we took a trip into the forest to see what effect the back-burning of ground litter had had.
There’s something beautiful about the red dust that our vehicle kicks up, as we go deeper and deeper into the forest. Nowhere in the UK has earth this vibrant colour.
We pass fire trails as we reach forks in the track. “Left or right?” I ask our son. “Left, we’ve never been there”, he says. And so, we end up at Mount Portal, looking out over the Nepean river, Sydney in the distance.
We are heading into autumn, and the light is low, casting long shadows through the forest. The ground is burnt, covered in a layer of ash, and the smell of smoke is still noticeable. Here and there, green shoots are rising out of the ground. The forest is renewed, and life is taking hold again.