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§ 3 ~ Springwood 1

It's likely that every country with mountains have a "Blue Mountains" to boast of. 

In Australia, the terms leads you to inevitably to west of Sydney, NSW, in the Great Dividing Range. 

Although all the continent's distant hills are blue due to - as the legend goes - oil vapour from the eucalypts' leaves, only NSW's Blue Mountains own the fame. 

And that is where this story begins. For me, at least.

Travelling west from Sydney leads to a steep climb up the side of the Great Divide. The road passes through a series of mountain villages, then down the easier slopes towards the lush western plains of the state, and eventually to the arid regions beyond agriculture. 

Those small townships are prelude to the greater settlement of Katoomba, where the overly-famous Three Sisters live. The triple rock formation casts southward to multiple valleys and great rock walls. The sisters perch upon their own wall, as do far too many tourists who have transformed the historic township into somewhat of a carnival, replete with holiday season traffic jams.

Last century Katoomba was already known almost to all Australians, but more for it's health resorts and the occasional rare winter snowstorm, or as a stopover on the way to Bathurst or Jenolan Caves. 

Back down the highway towards Sydney, weather grows vaguely warmer from moist onshore coastal winds moderated by the ocean. And down this goat track of a winding incline, as it was when this story begins, was the village of Springwood. 

From the township clinging to the highway led a dusty road southward along a ridge, at the end of which sat a farmlet housing a lonely woman and her three daughters. The circumstances that placed her in this forlorn outpost are a story worth telling, and it will be told in parts as background, as the occasion allows. But for this starting point, where and when my world began, there there this poor woman was. This was not what her comfortable upbringing and swirling romance (as surely most romances are) had to promised.

The Australian author Henry Lawson wrote an evocative short story, The Drover's Wife, that relates the hardship of a woman alone with her four children. The husband is away for months herding sheep along the stock trails while she contends with the needs and safety of four children in their isolated hut, disquieted by occasional strangers and, more so, by dangerous wildlife. 

Pertinently: 

The two-roomed house is built of round timber, slabs, and stringy-bark, and floored with split slabs. Bush all round – bush with no horizon... As a girl she built the usual castles in the air; but all her girlish hopes and aspirations have long been dead.

The drover's wife lived a century earlier, but Bonnie Patricia, the young mother, felt equally bleak in what, for the times, was an isolated remote hovel. She was truly cut off the the world and from the life she had enjoyed.

When I entered the word, my sisters were aged eight, six, and three. 

 


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