In 1839, Charles Darwin spent two weeks on the Blue Mountains which are about 100 kilometers west of Sydney. He traveled by boat and then horseback. When he got to this view he wrote:
While walking and picnicking on the steep, step-filled bushwalks that necklace these canyons, we have found a calmness and serene beauty that was not present in vibrant Sydney. We are here “Forest Bathing” (shinrin-yoku, in Japanese) where serendipitous and ephemeral natural shapes and patterns and sounds appear before us at nearly every turn and view.
Darwin writes (1839) that kangaroos will soon be extirpated from Australia. He postulates this after a failed kangaroo hunting trip in the Megalong Valley where he learned that settlers with greyhounds were devilishly effective at killing roos. He mentions that Aboriginals kept trying to borrow these dogs.
Here, almost 200 years later, we did find kangaroos in the early morning in this verdant valley. They were in open fields, but they were very wary animals, hopping away as soon as our car door opened. So, Darwin’s forecast was wrong and Australian protections have kept this delightful and unique species alive.
Tomorrow we return to Sydney and then fly backwards across the International Dateline after a fine week driving our rental car on the wrong side of the road. We have stayed in medium-priced places (about $100 US per night) and finding them often upon the recommendation of the guests and lodge-keepers at the previous night’s spot. We will remember Australians as wonderfully open and friendly people with admirable conservation ethics which lead to protecting vast areas of land such as the lovely Blue Mountains National Park.