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Published: November 7th 2006
meet the family pt.3
emmy and roy outside their house in glenbrook
Honk, Honk “ Jesus Christ can you believe the way some people drive around here?!” We were thinking the same thing as our bus driver sped through the packed streets of Sydney on the way to the airport. His task it seemed was not driving us safely to our destination but was ‘driving without due care and attention’ as the police report would surely state. We were thankful to him though as our bus had failed to arrive in Newcastle and he arranged for us to board his bus that would drop us off at Sydney’s domestic terminal, on his way to refuel. After removing the headrests off the seat in front from our mouths, we met our last set of relatives to visit, Emmy and Roy, climbed into their leather clad Subaru and at a more leisurely pace headed towards the Blue Mountains and their house in Glenbrook. This meeting of family relations was to be different from the two previous due to the fact that Dave had actually met these people on a number of occasions, so there was no initial “I wonder if that’s them?” scenario.
Glenbrook states itself to be ‘ the gateway to the Blue Mountains’
and after turning 360 degrees to try and get a glimpse of the peaks in the distance, the land looks totally flat. The climb is so gradual from downtown Sydney you are unaware of the altitude and the fact that you have to drive a further 40km to reach them. After a lunch of homemade pumpkin soup, and one of the finest steak dinners this side of the billabong, bedtime was calling and after a shower in our private en suite we both agreed it was going to be difficult to get rid of us. Maybe just maybe we wouldn’t leave at all. After our best nights sleep since Adelaide and in awe of the fact that we were neither in a tent nor in a room with 8 other people, the day was spent in Glenbrook, admiring the casual village lifestyle. Late afternoon was spent watching the AFL grand final at Emmy and Roy’s son Steve and his wife Pam’s house. We spent the evening in the company of Steve and Pam and after exploring their well stocked wine cellar got stuck into some excellent red wine and cheese. Later in the evening the full extent of Steve’s coffee
making skills was realized as he served amaretto coffees topped with ice cream. This was quickly followed by Bulleit bourbon and a nip of single malt whiskey with a kick so strong it felt more like a punch in the face. Steve and Pam were brilliant hosts and it was a real treat to be drinking quality alcohol, a far cry from the boxed wine to which we had become accustomed, served in plastic cups, that the locals affectionately refer to as ‘goon’.
Waking with a surprise lack of hangover we made our way after lunch to Steve’s sister Carols house, where she lives with her husband Jeff and two daughters Jessica and Amanda. They also have 3 Labradors, one of which is the first movie star in the family, Dan and played superman’s dog in the new movie. After learning Dan doesn’t do autographs and being served some homemade chocolate brownies, Carol took us to look around the grounds. Lucy, at the sight of seeing her first harmless huntsman spider refused to go further than the fence, but Dave, Carol and Jeff walked to the end over rocks and bush that opens up to a 200ft drop to the
emmy, pam, steve, dave and roy
at steve and pam's house, steve's shirt spontaneously combusts
canyon below. The house is nestled in an idyllic spot and looks out over a forest of gum trees, and with flocks of cockatoos flying past, it really is the sort of place you can admire for hours. Unfortunately we didn’t get to meet Amanda as she was away for the weekend, but Lucy did meet the family rabbit that would have become her traveling mascot, if only she had bigger pockets.
Bank Holiday Monday was spent with Pam who kindly gave up her day off to show us around the beaches of south Sydney. After a drink next to the famous Doyles fish and chip restaurant, we went to ‘ The Gap’, a cliff top lookout point more famous for its high rate of attempted and achieved suicides than its views, and witnessed some idiots fishing right on the edge of the sandstone ledges. Easy way to become a statistic. We drove through the packed beaches of Bondi and Tamarama, also known as glamourama where bronzed beutes come to pose and soak up the sun. We stopped for a walk around Coogee Beach where Pam used to live, and got to eat a late fish and chip lunch at
steve takes us on a magical mystery tour of his wine cellar
After a few days of luxury we decided to spend a few nights up in Katoomba to take some walks and explore the Blue Mountains. Roy drove us there, stopping on the way at Wentworth Falls and Blackheath, and took us to Echo Point lookout, that is packed all year round with bus loads of tourists who stop to take photos of three protruding rock formations, The Three Sisters. Our first full day was spent on a 10-12km walk with newfound friend and fellow brit Lyndsey from Northern Ireland. We started the walk by descending the most hairaising staircase in the world that hugs the cliff all the way to the bottom. We came across people walking up the 841 steps, most of which looked as though they were much closer to death than getting to the top. We walked the track on the forest floor stopping for lunch by a stream, and relished in the peace and quiet of the deserted forest trails that the bussed-in tours seldom venture to. Tour bus hell delivered a million Japanese tourists from the sky as we arrived at the base of the scenic railway just in time to get caught in
the middle of several incomprehendable guided tours. The railway claims to be the steepest in the world, and the 52-degree accent brought much blue language and those in earshot must have thought Lyndsey was speaking in tongues, as the words “ Its ok, keep going, keep going, oh Jesus” were repeated over and over. An hour cliff top walk took us back to Echo Point and our long day was rewarded that night with a feast of Dominos Pizza washed down with a box of Australia’s finest goon.
The village of Laura was on the agenda for the next day and we took a cliff top track that winds past Laura Falls and leads up to the start of the village. The center is full of old style shops and boutiques and a highlight was being able to buy ‘nerds’ and ‘snowballs’ from the vintage sweet shop in one of the arcades.
We said farewell to Lyndsey and all the other people we met in Katoomba, were picked up by Emmy and Roy and taken back to their 5 star resort in Glenbrook. We stayed a further four days and in this time managed to see wild kangaroos complete with
joeys in their pouches in Euroka Clearing and took in the sight of regular visits from king parrots and kookaburrers feeding in the back garden. We were also taken for a day of sight seeing in Sydney where we took in the harbour markets, views of the Opera House and ‘ The Old Coat Hanger’ as well as admiring many items that we couldn’t afford in David Jones.
Our last day spent with Emmy and Roy was a delight to the taste buds as we were treated to a run at the ‘buffet’ lunch in the Marriott Hotel. The word ‘buffet’ conjures thoughts of cheese and pineapple on a stick, cold pizza slices and crap sandwiches. The Marriott however had other ideas, and without a sausage roll in sight Dave and Lucy found themselves digging into a feast of smoked salmon, king prawns, oysters, homemade soup, avocado, beef curry, roast lamb, Thai chicken and more desserts than you could shake a stick at, followed by cheese and biscuits. The wine buffet washed down each course as dressed modestly in hiking shoes and flip flops we looked at each other and smiled, “ bet we’re the first backpackers this hotel has
We said goodbye to Emmy and Roy on the Sydney harbour quay side, thanking them another ten times for all they had done for us and silently hoping we didn’t have to say goodbye at all. We made our way back to our hostel in the infamous Kings Cross and spent the remainder of our time in Sydney bumping into more oddballs than we’ve ever seen before and taking a trip on the ferry over to Manly beach, missing the intended surfing competition.
From our first roast dinner in six months in Arundal, to driving on the worlds largest sand island, admiring the breathtaking Whitsunday’s, swimming with turtles on the Great Barrier Reef, wine tasting in the Barossa Valley in Adelaide, freezing our butts off in Melbourne and Canberra, nearly becoming homeless in Newcastle and getting blisters in the Blue Mountains, we had only seen a small part of the enormous country. Oh well, we’ll just have to come back in a few years and see the rest of it.
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