My room in Katoomba
I heard of this event from a fellow travbuddy and I was curious to find out more about it. Basically, the Winter Magic Festival is a celebration of the winter solstice, just as we in the UK celebrate it around Stonehenge, over here the Australians celebrate it in Katoomba with a cool parade and plenty of entertainment. However, whilst in the UK the solstice represents the beginning of spring, here it is the start of winter and it’s cold… oh yes it’s sooooo cold!! I never imagined that it could be this cold in Australia, and to think that I wasn’t going to bring a jacket.
Katoomba is also a great base for visiting the Blue Mountains and take up some serious hiking.
So I pulled out my WWOOF book and combined three events in one, the festival, long walks in the Blue Mountains and hopefully another good wwoofing experience.
Me and the Three Sisters
My hosts had a small bungalow close to town centre on a street parallel to Katoomba Street. A great location, 20 minutes walk from Echo Point, where the famous rock formation called the Three Sisters can be viewed. It was just a couple this time, Josie and Tony, no kids but two lovely dogs, Jasper and Bella (like my car!). The house was… let’s say ‘in phase of modernisation’ and the next major task, where I made my self useful, was to insulate the pitched ceiling and fix corrugated steel panels in place. Both hosts were incredibly busy people, she worked in Sydney and he looked after a café in Katoomba, so most days I was left in the house with the dogs to get on with my 4 hours work, then I could do what I wanted.
The Three Sisters on a overcast day
A dinner to be Remembered
On night Josie was expecting to come home late so she asked me to cook for them. I was happy to prepare my mean Bolognese sauce and when she asked me what ingredients I needed I made a list. I must mention here that both of them are very good cooks, they introduced me t Slow Cooking, so I really wanted to impress them with a memorable Italian dish. Next morning she had gone through her fridge and left some ingredients out for me, amongst the lot there was a large tub of mince meat. I though she fancied a vegetarian meal, from last night’s conversation, and the tub was so big, but I decided to use just half of it anyways. I bought a few extra things and I started cooking at 6ish.
Half way though, I tasted my sauce and it wasn’t very nice, the mince was full of small bits of bone and didn’t taste right. I was annoyed, because I thought they had bough the cheapest mince they could find and it was spoiling my great sauce. Half hour later they both came home, Josie looks in the fridge, turns to her husband and says ‘Hey Tony, where’s the rest of the mince for the dogs?’ Oh NO!! I can’t believe it, I’ve just gone and cooked a spag-bog with dog meat! This will certainly be a memorable Italian dish for them! Ha Ha, still, we all sat down and eat a plate full, the dogs loved it :-)
Jamison Valley from Echo Point lookout, Katoomba
In my spare time, I didn’t do as much walking as I planned to mainly because the weather was overcast and it rained most days. Strangely, on the day of the Festival the sun was out and it didn’t rain a drop, that’s the magic of the solstice, right! I got up early and joined a Samba percussions workshop by legendary Tom the Pom.
It was simply great, Tom taught us a rhythm and three breaks, and then we joined the parade and played for an audience of 40000 spectators, ok maybe not that many. Unfortunately, because I joined the parade, I didn’t get to see it! But I couldn’t take photos in any case because my third Casio stopped working!! Not another one! It must be a curse, I really looked after this one, maybe the sound vibrations from the large drum I was plying broke the camera? I don’t know, luckily for me the insurance from the shop in Brisbane does cover the repairs, but I won’t see it for 4 to 6 weeks, bugger.
The rest of the day was excellent, there were loads of live music performances form local band and various event organised by the locals. It was very much like the MardiGrass in Nimbin but without the pot!
A few bits of info: If you have a laptop you can get wifi in the Carrington Hotel for $10, and you can use it all day for as long as you stay in Katoomba (I used it for 10 days).
Also there’s a fantastic diner on the corner of Katoomba street and Waratah street. It’s run by a community called The Twelve Tribes, the food is simply amazing and it’s very cheap, possible the best diner I’ve ever tried in the world! Beware though, it’s a spiritual community and the staffs are a bit weird :-)
It was certainly worth come here, the Blue Mountains are impressive and the festival was good fun, bring a coat though, it’s absolutely freezing.