Today, I went up to the Blue Mountains with mum and pops. For those who don’t know, this is a mountainous (duh), naturey region a short drive outside Sydney, complete with rolling fields and mist-wreathed rainforest. It’s usually a few degrees colder than the city due to the whole altitude thing, which made it refreshingly cool today. Admittedly, today’s weather wasn’t perfect for an outing of this sort – the sky was mostly grey and there were occasional showers of rain. But then, the Blue Mountains is just one of those places that looks good no matter what the weather’s like.
We’d decided to go visit the Jenolan Caves, a group of beautiful natural caves deep in the Blue Mountains region. It was quite amazing to be inside an actual bona fide cave, with dripping stalactites and glittery crystal sheets and all the rest. But what I enjoyed most was driving there and back again, looking out the car window at the green fields and forests. Growing up in Sweden and Norway, I was never far from nature. Even when we were living in Oslo, there was a big forest virtually on our doorstep. I knew that I’d been missing that closeness here in Sydney (which, to be fair, does have a good bit of greenery, though not the sort of wildness that I’ve grown up with), but it was only when I was sitting there looking out at all that wonderful verdure that I realized just how much I’d been missing it. It made me feel instantly at peace with the world.
Perhaps the best experience of the day, however, was had just outside the caves. There’s a big, man-made lake up there, which they use to generate hydro-electric power. It’s a very pretty lake, if you ignore the huge concrete dam at one end of it, so we were standing around looking at it for a while, waiting for a guided tour of one of the caves to start. As I was looking at the water, I saw an animal pop its head up and start to swim about near the surface, and I was all like, “Hey, they don’t have beavers in – PLATYPUS! PLATYPUS! IT’S A PLATYPUS!!!” For that one moment, I was transformed into an excited five-year-old boy, jumping up and down and pointing, with a huge grin plastered across my face. And that, my friends, is the story of how I got to see a wild platypus.*
*I know I said it was a man-made lake. It totally still counts.