My mother emailed me whilst I was in the Blue Mountains to let me know that my cousin from New Zealand was living in Rozelle, Sydney. It turns out we had watched the New Year’s Eve firework display around 500 metres from each other! I got in touch, told them about my project and got invited to stay with them which was really special for me due to the family connection. They’d visited Ireland 17 years ago and met me when I was 15 years old. Darryl says he remembered me kicking around a football on my grandmother’s lawn. I remember the story of him and his now wife Caroline who met briefly and although the lived five hours from each other in New Zealand, flew regularly to see each other for over a year and kept their flame burning until their jobs allowed them to live in the same place in New Zealand. That was in New Zealand many years ago..now they are happily settled, including being Australian citizens, in beautiful Rozelle on Sydney Bay, with two gorgeous daughters Melissa, 5 years old and Piper 5 1/2 weeks (above, in Darryl’s devoted arms). The posts following this one show highlights of their life, over 7 days in Inner West Sydney. They say you can chose your friends but not your relations…well I’d happily chose The Drown family and I’m glad they are my relations!
I often wondered why the Blue Mountains are called the Blue Mountains. Many people I’ve asked didn’t know. I suppose I could have looked it up on Wikipedia but that would be a little to easy. Whilst with my Blue Mountains family I asked them one day as I looked put over the blue mist. They explained that it’s the vapour which rises from the Eucalyptus tree which makes the air blue. I have to say, it was much more special to and memorable to find it out this way!
Whilst I was at Clarence Dam, Tahleya, her boyfriend David and a few more friends arrived to have a swim. I had chat with them and they told me they’d come up from the suburbs of Sydney, almost a two hour drive. They come here often to climb and swim. I asked Tahleya about her family background and she explained that she is half Maori. I was very intrigued to make a portrait of her as I’m interested in the cultural make up of the people I meet as I travel. I hope to explore Maori culture when I cross the ocean to travel New Zealand in the next month or so.
It has to be said that on a continent as immense and fierce as Australia, people here are pretty tough…well the folk who are out near nature anyway, although urban environments bring their own challenges. Travelling the world is a certainly one way to face some of your fears..learning from other cultures as you travel. You hope to return stronger, smarter and freer. With a name like Gavin Freeborn…this particularly resonates with me! I’m learning to be more free every day…are you?