November 2012

The PatchWork Hospital- Blue Mountains, Part One.

by Lori Dwyer on November 27, 2012 · 11 comments

I tell my mate Auntie Mickey that I’m going urban exploring for the weekend in the mysterious, romantic, somewhat gothic Blue Mountains and she’s almost as excited as I am.

“You have to go to this hospital!” she bubbles to me, words popping iridescently over the phone, “my mum worked there when we where kids, and we’d go with dad to pick her up. The last time I drove past it was closed, and I’m sure it’s still closed. It was all overgrown, fenced off… and that was ten years ago.”

I love a tip off, a suggestion, someone’s half–memory that’s enough to start me on a search, a hunt fr humanity left behind. Auntie Mickey gives me vague directions–  and she’s actually not too far out, her navigational memory having served her well. But, in actual fact, all I had to do was type the name Auntie Mickey thought the hospital was called, along with the phrase ’Blue Mountains’, hit enter… and the Google God took care of the rest.

Urbex- Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

Early Saturday morning we leave the hotel, turn out over the highway and drive for kilometers past roadwork and a few tiny, squashed suburban–style streets. I did say ‘we’… I quite disgusted to report that Dear Brad was my companion, my obligational second warm body in case of danger, on this particular urbexing run. And I’m even more disgusted to tell you that he was actually quite good company– followed all the rules, didn’t whinge, and only once complained about my driving.

So it’s even more of a pity that he turned out to be a total dick.


If it hadn’t been for the small, white sign we drove past on the right hand curb of the road, almost tucked directly into the scrubby bush behind it, I’m sure one of us would have suggested turning back. ’You Are Now Entering Hospital Land’ says the sign. But beyond the sign, stretching as far as the crest of a hill to our right and a lush, deep green valley to our left, is… nothing. An for another good five hundred meters or so, we see ‘nothing’- save, of course, the dense, head-high scrub that anchored both sides of road, it’s bitumen gradually giving way, chunk by tiny chunk, to dirt and rock.

“Where is it…?” I ask, some kind of wonder in my voice. Who the f*ck builds a hospital all the way out here, anyway? “Have they pulled it down, do you think…?”

I’m in the middle of that sentence when we find what we’re looking for, a few hundred metres further up the road. It’s an eight foot cyclone fence, hemming and constraining overgrown gardens and trees, the peaks of white buildings glancing and peeking over the top of the foliage occasionally, as if they’re excited and unused to visitors, to cars coming along this dusty, quiet old road.

“Nope… I guess not.” answers Dear Brad. Smart arse.

Urbex- Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

Disturbingly, there’s a car parked in front of the two huge gates, which have signs saying ’Private Property, Trespassers Will Be Prosecuted!!’ in three different places, on three differently coloured plastic signs, from three different mobile security companies. Willfully ignoring those, we drive up and around the fence line to what was once, according to the totem-pole signpost, the service entry.

Evidently, it still is the service entry. The original fence– and the three or four layers of reinforcements that have been strung up against it– are bent and bowed towards the ground on the inside of the compound, making the shimmy-and-drop over the fence that much easier, it’s barbed wire an old tiger with no teeth to bite us and snag our clothes. There’s still broken ankles and a possible case of tetanus to contend with. But Dear Brad and I are obviously not the first people who’ve been here.

I drop my bag containing my camera, first aid kit, torch and more over the fence. Dear Brad laughs at me as I climb, telling me I’ll have to go over now, or leave my camera here- better not get stuck! I poke my tongue out at him and jump the five foot to the ground, daintily dusting off my jeans and tapping my foot impatiently as I wait for him to the same. (“You see, and there it is.” says my mate Kristabelle after Dear Brad proves to be a total douche. “The crutch of things. You need the bloke who will go over the fence first, and hold it down for you on the other side. Not the one who stands there going ‘Uhhhh cannot believe she just did that!‘” And she’s right, of course… most people, I’ve found, usually are.)

The more I go exploring and adventuring, the more I discover that people are, inherently, just so lazy. The slow, human-fed decay of the hospital follows the pattern of every other place I’ve crept through. There’s the main entrance, the spot where most explorers and vandals come in, is always a dump, littered with mess and graffiti and the debris and clutter of human life, debris that seems to build up particularly when those lives have come untethered from themselves.

But the further you trawl, the more footsteps you take… the lesser the damage, the lesser the evidence of such irresponsible human existence. This service entry, littered and soiled with not-caring… it makes even the buildings themselves seem tired, far more worn down than the structures at the front of the hospital, duller and greyer. While the service entry is a savannah of broken plastics and faded prints, the front of the hospital is a lush green jungle set in miniature.

Urbex- Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

The handful of outbuildings are boring and so common- I have seen all of these, all of this, before. Trees growing feral, curtains torn to shreds by the simple ravages of the weather. Doors broken down for access, windows for fun. Mattresses and old clothes, beer bottles ànd chip packets are strewn around the room like ugly, tasteless confetti. Fires have been set to ward off winter chills– remarkably, kept within the actual fireplaces. Or perhaps not so remarkably- access to a fireplace for heating is like some kind of birth rite in the Mountains.

We slink past a row of oversized roller doors, surely once used for the oversized roofs of ambulances.

“Shhh!!” Dear Brad grabs my
arm and I stop, body frozen, poised and tense, every particle of me prepared to scream in a way that only a woman with severe PTSD knows how. “There’s someone there. Look, the lights on…”

He’s right, of course– as I’ve said, I’m finding most people usually are- there is someone there. A long fluorescent bar glows above the last roller door in the line, almost indistinguishable in the daylight. But in the silence left by the absence of my own footfalls the sound of music, low and cheerful, is audible. There’s bumps and thuds, the general sound of tinkering.

I shrug. Whoever is there, I doubt they’ll be much fussed by us, two explorers just taking photos and not destroying walls. Besides, I have this bizarre feeling that whoever is in that shed wants about as much attention today as we do… none, none at all.

Urbex- Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

“Come on, then” I whisper, and we walk down the faded, grassy garden path, past the skeleton of a greenhouse, and around to the back of the mismatched row of buildings that make up the hospital proper.

Even here at the rear of the hospital is a maze, a warren of doors and walkways and paths and dead-ends. Judging by the age and placement of the hodge podge set of buildings; the hospital started out as just the one building, a large central structure that was more like a huge house than any modern hospital. From there, it’s been added to, renovated, improved and expanded in the years since it was built. The entire back of the building is disorientating, not seeming to match up with the front- or the inside rooms- at all. The floors appear to be optical illusions, uneven and confusing. It’s once we get inside I realise the floors are uneven and confusing, the warped up and down of them creating a weird feeling like sea sickness.

There’s a door leading into the back of one hospital wing, standing swung open as if its been waiting for us. It’s lock is splintered and still attached to both it’s anchor points, but only by an inch on the holding side, and that inch has swung away from the frame with the door when it was forcibly opened, quite possibly by the force of someone’s foot. Inside, we find another odd trick of the patchwork building– this door opens into a corridor that leads up the main hallway of the hospital. But that’s all the corridor serves as– an entrance, and an exit. A twenty foot long corridor that seems to span nothing, and essentially does nothing except give you that little bit further to walk on the disconcerting wooden floors.

Urbex- Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

This is a strange place. It seems to have been constructed, rooms and doorways tacked on as though they were stickers, with the builders showing absolutely no regard for the existing fabrication, each of them simply throwing doors and corridors and even whole wings and wards wherever he the urge directed him.

Step from that corridor up onto the main floor of the hospital and the building becomes, at this point, an actual hospital, by nature as well as namesake. While the outbuilding could belong to any large establishment or group housing; inside, the hallways are hospital hallways, unmistakable. Wide and flat with low–grade ramps to connect the decamped split level flooring. Flat wooden handrails run along each of the walls, and the wooden floor is made litigation-friendly with it’s durable, non slip linoleum. The walls of the hospital hallways are a not-quite-pastel pink, a shade I’m assuming the NSW government bought millions of liters of in the mid–70′s for some ridiculously cheap price. It’s the colour scheme of buildings that are still found in the further flung parts of the state, and when I was a kid they were everywhere– growing up in Australia in the 1980′s, anything funded or owned by the community, local government or other light authority was always that same slightly-too-sweet shade of pastel pink.

We roam through the empty, slightly eerie hospital hallways, stealthy and virtually silent. Dear Brad trundles on ahead as I’m adjusting the aperture on my camera, and when I look for him again, glance at the Real World before me instead of the one encased in flat glass of my camera screen… and he’s gone. That’s actually more than OK with me- while Dear Brad easily keeps up easily, he seems to make too much noise, want to move far too quickly, paying no respect to the reverence of the atmosphere, the stillness of the place we are in.

Urbex- Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

The winding hospital hallways have been stripped by time, their sterility and their distinct smell only in my mind. It seems to smell and fee slightly cleaner than other places I’ve urbexed of comparable loneliness… but that may just be all in my mind as well. Either way, these hallways are too easy to get lost in- they all look alike, and their patchwork fractures and joins make no sense. My usual reasonable sense of direction is lost, and Dear Brad is still nowhere to be found, nor heard from.

I reach the official entryway, the front hallway of the hospital, and it feels as though it’s in the wrong place- for such a sturdy, somewhat stoically designed and built uber-house, the hospital’s extensions mean it is no longer in the centre of the expanded building with it’s mutant wings tipping the scales of symmetry. At the top of the main hall, adjacent to the wood and glass front door, there is a massive memorial board, three thick slabs of marble set in a frame of thick, gleaming wood; and taller than I am, easily. Engraved into the marble slabs are the names of the hospital’s ‘Life Members’. Standing as I am, in a building left to the rot and the rain and the simple scavenging effects of time for so long now; the concept of ‘Life Members’ seems such a strange terminology, an oxymoron. Can you be a life member of a facility that has been closed for years, and left for ruins, with the property soon to be sold off to the highest bidder…? And where have all those Life Members gone… surely, the world hasn’t spun that many times that they would all have passed away already…? But then I think about that in it’s reality and it would seem sadder, somehow, if they were still here.

Urbex- Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

Back into the mains, the rolling, rising pink corridors, past ten or more nondescript, small, empty rooms. Turn a corner and the hallway opens into a massive, cold, carnivorous bathroom that would have reflected far more light than was comfortable when it was sparkling, bleached to a white so intense it shaded on blue. what appears to be a huge hot water tank is suspended from the roof in the centre of the room, the gigantium metal udder of an over-sized industrial water-cow. The
re are three or four smaller, more ’private’ bathrooms, but I get the impression that the main area was for communal bathing, and the pigeon holes cut into the one wall that half-segregates the room confirms that. The movie Girl Interrupted plays black and white against the projector screen of my mind- there’s Winona Ryder, shaving her legs in a tub that sits in the middle of a massive bathroom, lined with other baths for other patients. Whoppi Goldberg in a nurse’s smock, observing matrionously as she shaves, to ensure she doesn’t slit her wrists and bleed the water crimson-red until there’s no substance left in her and she dies.

Urbex- Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

After that interlude, everything begins to feel just a little ‘Girl, Interrupted’. I remind myself, my inner narrative speaking to me in the same tone I use to assure the Bump that dragons are ‘nonsense’– this was a hospital. Not necessarily once full of psych patients. Walking through the dark hallways I’m creeping myself out, conjuring images of electro–consulsive therapy and seizures and the smell of scorched hair and I tell myself to stop being so bloody melodramatic. But, in all truth, historical accuracy tells me that maybe I’m not being as melodramatic as I’d like to believe.

Another ward, room after empty room. The rooms are set up in funny little triangles, a bathroom in the middle of every two, curled and angled in on itself so there are no windows and no light. There’s a tiny nurse’s station, push pin holes still visible in the pink-painted cork board on the wall. Fixtures– light fittings, gas heaters, things too difficult for nonindustrial young petty vandals to steal; they remain. Everything else is gone, probably taken long ago.

I leave quietly through the unlocked front door next to that huge slab of engraved marble, latching it behind me as I exit and whispering a small silent goodbye and thank you to whatever souls may still be wandering here. Dear Brad is lulling around the front garden, which is dense and green and– once upon a twenty years ago– would have been divine in spring-time, raucous bouquets of mismatched cottage flowers splayed amongst vibrant broad green lily leaves.

It seems to be that we’re done.. there is not much more to be seen here that’s not simply a visual repeat of itself. Aesthetically, this place is about as atmospheric as urbexing gets– creepy old abandoned hospitals are few and far between. But, weirdly, there’s nothing here– it’s all dark shadows without teeth to snap with. If there was passion enough to leave some imprint of the souls that felt it in it’s wake, like a negative image painting and searing the backs of your eyelids after staring at the sun for too long; then I can’t feel it here, can’t see where it’s still glowing. It’s not a particularly unpleasant realization, knowing that this time there were no threadbare patches in the fabric of reality. It’s more just sad, but somehow lacking even the poignancy of that simple emotion.

It’s such a bizarre little place, all overgrown ugly on what once was beautiful, neglect and dissaray where there once was plump and pleasant order. A patchwork hospital snagged in time, not quite old enough to be vintage or even retro, just at varying points of stale and spoilt. And you find it tucked away, deep in a valley in what’s such an odd place for it to be. The canyons of the Blue Mountains  hinterlands, in a place no hospital has it’s business being built.

Urbex- Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

Check out the full set of photos on Flickr.



You were waiting for the bit where I set off a minor security scare. Of course. More urbexing the Mountains next week- stay tuned, jellybeans.

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It’s guest posting time on RRSAHM againthis guest post is from Gaynor Alder. The first time I met her, we compared Sydney people to Melbourne people and decided Melbourne win’s. Then Gaynor told me I look awesome without make up.
I like her.

There was a time I wanted to write this and couldn’t.

There was a time I could have written this but didn’t want to.

Now, I don’t need to write this, but I want to.

Because, every bad relationship starts with promise. And it’s this promise that has too many women cling onto destructive relationships and endure damage that takes far too long to heal.

There’s a time to stay and work it out, and then there’s a time to run a hundred miles in the other direction {even if you are in your favourite pair of heels} before it destroys you.

On our 3rd date, I travelled an hour on public transport to see him. His idea of a warm welcome to convey how excited he was to see me again, was to meet me at the door with a paint brush in his hand and head straight back to the bathroom he was painting.

My response: Are we going to be doing anything today or how about we sit on the back verandah and have a chat?

His response: Well, I’m right in the middle of this now.

What I should have said: As much as I’d love to sit here balancing on this tin of Taubmans whilst pointing out, “oh look honey, you missed a spot’, I didn’t blow dry my hair to sit here and watch paint dry. I’ll be off now. Actually, don’t think I’ll be back again anytime soon. Sorry, very busy washing my hair and all that.

Two weeks after meeting him, he told me that he thought of his best friend as his soul mate.

My response: That’s great you have such a good friendship and I really like the sound of her, but wouldn’t you want me to maybe be your soul mate?

His reaction: Well, you don’t have to be in a relationship with your soul mate you know.

What I should have said: It’s been swell hanging out with you over the past few weeks, and hey, that first date was kinda fun, but I’ll be offski now. Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll go real well with all the other ladies beating a path to your paint tin.

His soul mate’s wedding veil was hung above his bed and he had framed photos of her throughout his bedroom.

My response: Do you think it’s appropriate to have another woman’s wedding veil above your bed?

His reaction: It’s not coming down. That has special memories of dancing with her under it at her wedding and it keeps the light out the window.

What I should have said: I’m thrilled you had such a good time on the dance floor, but fucking take that down. And oh, for that 5cm by 5cm frosted window that is blinding me with the muted sunlight streaming through it from the front semi enclosed verandah – $4.99 a metre for curtain material from Spotlight.

He carried a picture of her in his wallet.

My response: It upsets me that you carry a picture of another woman in your wallet. I get that she is your ‘best friend’ but that isn’t very respectful to me. And I really don’t like the picture of those girls you have on your laptop screen saver.

His reaction: I’m not going to discuss this – the picture of her is staying in my wallet. And that picture on my laptop is art.

What I should have said: Listen up. I’m not going to let you play this mind fuckery, nor am I going to let you turn your disrespectful behaviour around on me under the guise that I’m jealous and insecure.

You either stop trying to erode my self-esteem because you feel not good enough for me and need to level the playing field, or I’ll be finding another man with a better wallet.

And as for the ‘art’ on your laptop, I call it “naked women with their tits out in a pile of tin cans”, but, hey, don’t take my word for it, I’m sure you’d get a mint for it at a Christie’s auction.

Having spent another week on my own with him working 15 hour days and coming home and heading straight to the lounge room to mix music on his decks, whilst promising we’d spend time on the weekend together, surprise, surprise, the weekend never came.

My response: Why don’t you want to spend time with me?

His reaction: I’m doing all of this for you. For us. We’ll spend time together next weekend. And how soon you forget Gaynor. What about that bottle of perfume I bought you?

What I should have said: Thanks for the bottle of perfume. Even I’m amazed at how you managed to pick one that I liked so much considering you wouldn’t even know what colour knickers I ‘m wearing on a daily basis. But I wasn’t aware that you bought it for me so you could excuse your bad behaviour for the next 6 months. I thought you bought it for me because, how novel, you loved me.

And, let’s stop with this needy bullshit. You know I’m not needy, and it’s just you projecting your intimacy issues onto me. If I wanted to spend all my time on my own, then I’d be on my own. What you’re doing is holding me hostage from being in a relationship with someone else. And you can bet your favourite record, that right now there’s someone else out there who’d fall over themselves to spend time with me.

And I don’t know what fucking time zone you’re operating in, but most people I know in relationships sit down and have a meal together more than once every six months.

Most people in relationships I know who live together don’t spend every single night alone in bed, and then have their partner return home from work and go straight to the lounge and stay awake until it’s time to go work to again and then pop another four dexamphetamines and call their girlfriend to come and iron their work shirt.

Most people in relationships I know spend at least some of the weekend together, in fact most I know can’t wait to spend time with each other.


But, hey, if you’d prefer to spend your weekends bonding with your garden rake and getting the ratio of Dynamic Lifter to water right to make sure your plants don’t die, cleaning out your shed AGAIN, or pulling everything out of the kitchen cupboards and rearranging it at 4am AGAIN, you go right ahead.

And yes, I know you have ADHD, and need to take
12 dexxies a day, but I’d be more inclined to be sympathetic if you didn’t bullshit the psychologist with what you knew he needed to hear so that you could get your drugs cheaper.

And if you didn’t also take 16 of them some days and peddle them out to your friends for cheap thrills, and then spend the last few days of every month coming down. But I guess I should be thrilled, because they’re the only few days of the month that you actually want to come anywhere near me, right?

And by the way, me sitting on the lounge whilst you mix music on the decks isn’t spending time together. Especially when talking to you over the music is seen as a disruption to your concentration.

Telling me he had his mate over on the weekend, and he’d shown him the picture of me in my new bra.

My response: How could you do that to me?

His reaction: It was great photo shopping. And for fuck’s sake, how long are you going to go on about this?

What I should have said: I’ll go on about this as long as I fucking well like. What you just did is grounds for instant dismissal. I’m sure you’ll understand that I don’t have time to call in the carpet cleaners before I pack up my belongings and get the fuck out of here.

After getting out of hospital, I asked if I could have a hug. He had taken the night off work, but I could barely find a spot on the bed to squeeze in with his work and laptop spread all over it, and his speakers had taken up residence next to his bedside.

My response: Roll over quietly to one side of the bed and stifle my tears.

His reaction: What, you want me to just lay here next to you and hold you? I just went to the shops and made you dinner, what more do you want?

What I Should Have Said: You’re an asshole.

This one is a clanger. But I’ll do my best to soften the blow. After returning home from a night out, I walked into the lounge room to discover him playing music to set the ambience, whilst his friend was getting, an ahem, from his girlfriend.

My response: Walk straight out the back door and light up a Marlboro Menthol.

His reaction: To come out the back, laugh and then tell me I was being judgmental.

What I should have said: Fuck you.

And what I did do was leave that very next day. But that of course wasn’t without many Academy Award winning bullshit displays of remorse.

I know you’re all thinking, Alder, how did you last a year? Why did you put up with all that? Why didn’t you kick him to the kerb in your Pradas? Why didn’t you leave sooner?

I agree. On all fronts. But I’m not hard on myself about it, because he got me at a time when I was vulnerable and put more PR spin on his personality than the publicist for Old Spice aftershave making it look cool by putting a man on a horse.

And then he broke me down piece by piece, until I felt worthless and powerless to leave. And of course all of these fine displays of romance were coupled with moments of being great and daily text messages telling me how much he loved me. He was good at that. Words. Promises. Hope. But words aren’t enough, even for a writer.

Now of course I can see our ‘relationship’ was one long broken promise and he was useless, and I deserved a whole lot more. But at the time, I was so broken by his neglect and mental abuse, that not even all the Kings Horses could put me back together again.

But here in lies the lesson dear readers.

No matter how strong you are, no matter how confident you are, no matter how fabulous you are, don’t think you’re immune to falling prey to a dodgy relationship.

Because it’s all too easy to look at someone else’s fine fellow and wonder what the hell such a beautiful woman is doing with such a bozo, but when you find yourself deep in the trenches of a treacherous relationship, it’s harder to leave than you think.

So, learn to spot the warning signs early on. Run sooner, than later. Don’t wait for them to prove to you that they’re as bad as you suspect they are.

But there’s something more important than all these things that I should have said to him. And they are things I should have said to myself. So Gaynor circa 2006, here I am. Sorry I wasn’t there for you back you then, but I’m here now. Promise.

And, pssst, no matter how bad it gets, everything will be okay in the end. More than okay. Mr Worships the Fucking Ground You Walk On will see to that.


Gaynor Alder is a Melbourne based writer with a penchant for vintage glamour and all things Parisian. She is the Editor-in-Chief of The Modern Women’s Survival Guide and the Teenage Girl’s Survival Guide, gallivants around the world as a Travel Writer testing the thread count of sheets and the fluffiness of hotel pillows and freelances in public relations.

She started writing The Modern Woman’s Survival Guide, after the umpteenth person told her, you know you should really write a book. Her fingers struggled daily to keep up with the thoughts that desperately wanted to become words on pages, to take centre stage in a book that she knew was going to become the new voice of womankind. Her calling, her destiny, her whatever you want to call it, Gaynor writes because she can’t not write.

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Hotel rooms are perfect for suspending reality.

I stayed in the Palais Royale hotel at Katoomba last weekend, thanks to and their Welcome Rewards program- it’s like a coffee card, but for accommodation, and the records are held electronically so you can’t just invest in your own novelty hole punch and get free coffee (not that I would do that, of course… really, who does that?). For those out of touch with their Australian geography, Katoomba sits at the top of the New South Wales Blue Mountains, a two hour drive from Sydney. You pass by Katoomba en route to Orange (and Ophir).

It’s a strange place, Katoomba, in a way you can’t quite put your finger on. It’s large, but it seems small. It’s exquisitely isolated– the Mountains roll and spread for countless miles around where the city sits on top a peak. Katoomba is connected by a string of smaller town with names like Wentworth Falls, Leura, Lawson and Lapstone; and they make small black map-dots all the way up and down the single highway linking the Mountains back to the Sydney suburbs via Penrith. These tiny hamlets are no more than ten or fifteen kilometers apart, twenty k’s at the most; each with a tiny train station, a general store, and each seemingly with their own unique draw card, their own tiny tourist attractions to lure travelers, cars loaded with kids and bags, to stop and rest, enjoy the local flavour as they go.

The Mountains were, a hundred years ago when they were first settled, a daunting, long and potentially dangerous journey; a trek that took days, not hours, clumping over cleared dirt rocks rather than eating up fresh, smooth bitumen at a hundred kilometers an hour.

But worth it, I imagine. As much then as it is now.

Katoomba boomed in the early 1900′s, an opulent township for the holidaying wealth of Sydney. It seems the majority of structures here where built at about that time, and very little has been changed since. While everything modern you need is here, somewhere, and it’s home to world-famous tourist attractions such as the Three Sisters and the terrifyingly ancient Scenic Railway (a train carriage does a sheer vertical drop down a rock cliff face); it’s as if time itself has simply meandered by most of Katoomba, not bothering to poke or prod on it’s way. Cafes with names like the Paragon, the Carington and the Niagra reamin in business and in their original art-deco decor. Buildings and brickwork are crusted with slow–growing lichen from the damp, chilled air; and its actually impossible to walk the Main Street without a good dose of daily exercise– the entire town is tiny hills, rolling footpaths and houses on built-up uneven slabs.

And the shopping is freaking awesome. There’s tiny hippy shops, a piercer and, to my delight, one shop that sells nothing but juggling supplies. I count a dozen funky cafes, all which smell divine, and there’s street buskers and a craft market early on the crisp Sunday morning. Op shops and recycled fashion outlets sell genuine vintage clothes and bags and shoes, all reasonably priced and all in gorgeous condition. It’s that isolation again. As in Paradise, material things seem to stick in this place the way people do…. it’s such a long way, back down the Mountain.

The Palais Royale, where I find myself in the king deluxe room 315, is just five hundred metres from the plethora of shops on Main Street, and, truly, just as old as most of them. It was built in the late 1890′s and it feels like old fashioned glamor and warmth, with chandeliers and big soft arm chairs in the lobby. My room’s big and old, and the bed is huge.

I find myself struggling to stay awake mid-afternoon both nights of my stay– I’m just so relaxed, it feels like an impossibility to keep my eyes open. I think the only reason I’m wide awake most of the time is that I’m running on anxious, nervous energy at a rate that I can only sustain for so long. I’m like a rug on Valium, once the pressure’s off.

I’m sprawled on the hotel’s massive bed, reading longform articles on my phone, belly full of chocolate, with bad TV (Antiques Roadshow, for those playing along at home) making comfort-noise in the background, chatting with the peeps on Twitter (as you do) and mulling over my tired relaxation when KateSaysStuff Keep Cate Busy said… well… stuff. This, in fact…

… then this…

And I felt her pain. Because there, ladybugs and jellybeans, lies the crux of it. The reason, I think, that just about every person I know who is the proud owner of one or more small children (and a lot of people without small children) are so freaking tired all the time.

Because there’s always, always, always, something else to be done. Dishes or folding or blogging or email or washing or phone calls or paying bills or more washing or feeding cats or whatever. How do you find a sense of peace, relaxation and accomplishment when your inbox is always near overflowing, when there are always at least three more things you should have done today…?

Evidently, this weekend, I found the answer.

You go to, and join the Welcome Rewards program. You check into your hotel. And, out of the 40 hours you send in the hotel, you sleep like a petrified log for 24 of them.

Then you come home, and kid-wrangle until you are on the very verge of some kind of breakdown (again). And lather, rinse, and repeat.

Thanks again to In the interest of disclosure, I
was not paid for this post, but I was more than happy to take a few free nights accommodation off their hands.

Naturally, being somewhere old and kinda creepy like Katoomba… I went urban exploring. Details, photos and tripping security alarms– coming soon.

I dare you to tell me these are not the absolute cutest pair of elves you’ve ever seen. Introducing- Santa Chop and Bumpy Claus. 
The kidlets and I- all three of us, family style- are doing the Variety Santa Fun Run this Sunday on behalf of RocketMan Media. All three of us will be dressed as Santa Claus’ (Santa Clau, perhaps? What’s the plural, anyone…?) and the Bumpy thing will probably be wearing her fairy wings.
If you could sponsor us here, I’d very much appreciate it. I cannot promise you we will complete the fun run. And I’m certainly not promising any running. I do promise to record every second of our sweating, tantrum-throwing humiliation on a video blog for you next week. So, if nothing else, you should really donate just for that…

Cheers, jellybeans. See you Monday.


ETA- I can’t believe this post was up for 30 hoursbefore someone pointed out I’d used the wrong person’s name. Despite having an image of their name embedded beneath it.

It’s OK… I promise. I won’t hate you, nor will I cry (for long!) if you point out when I do stupid things.

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