Fragments from the Australia Diaries 2000 (part 13) - Blue Mountains


So, here's the story of my fall down a cliff face and trip (yet again) to hospital…

On Sunday in the Blue Mountains, Sharon awoke first (which is pretty much a reason to fall down in itself) and we walked to Katoomba's main street for brekkie, lovely! Then we hopped in a cab (we like to keep an epicurean lifestyle where we can) and headed to the steepest railway in the world. It was a buzz, very short, but you literally have to use every muscle in your body to keep in the caged carriage.

The Olympic Flame was going through the town so we decided to hang around the main street with my brother and his mates and catch a glimpse. So we waited, and waited, and waited, eventually this old codger comes wobbling along with this matchstick effort and that was the flame. To be fair that was my impatience talking, I was actually pretty impressed, I got all caught up in the emotion of the moment and was quite moved. Sharon and Lian were well unimpressed. Lian thought the flame was being carried by Val Doonican (take it away Val)!!! Sharon (who takes her photography seriously) was trying to get some mad action shot and got the back of his head instead.

The lads were all heading home and we were booked into our abseiling in a few hours so we decided to go into one of the parks (the Blue Mountains is full of them). All steep hills with trees and rocks etc. 

We thought we had no choice but to walk down the incline. I put my foot on it and said it was soft clay and we shouldn’t go down. Stupidly, I started off down the cliff face. Almost immediately I was out of control, I was flying down and terror set in as I knew I was completely at the mercy of momentum. I tripped over a stone and went bouncing head over heels all the way down, crashing off rocks, apparently I was airborne at one stage. Lian said it was very Indiana Jones!!

It was probably one of the most frightening experiences of my life, nature had me in its clutches and it was kicking the hell out of me. I could see my bag and water bottle go flying in different directions and I had no control at all as I bounced at speed down the mountain side (ookkayyy, some may argue it wasn't an actual 'mountain' but if it was a hill it was a hill carrying the fake ID of a mountain!). I could have very easily broken my neck. 

When I evvvventually crash landed, I could hear Lian calling "don’t move, don’t move". To which I automatically sat bolt upright. The girls had found a stairs and were on their way down. I was completely winded and couldn’t breathe, which totally freaked me out. I went into a panic and shock set in, I was gasping for breaths, crying and shaking uncontrollably.

The girls were fantastic, they were really calm and kept telling me I was fine and where did it hurt and could I move everything. If the tables had been turned I would have been useless, I'd probably be screaming in their flickering eyes "I think you're dead, do you want me to phone anybody". I heard them whispering behind me, it turns out I had cracked my head and there was blood splashed on my clothes and matted in my hair. They put pressure on it and kept talking to me. I never lost consciousness, thank God.

I was pretty badly shaken up and had a ferocious pain in my chest but I could walk and was intact. We went back to the hostel where the girls covered me in ice packs and cleaned me up (a bit). I foolishly insisted I would still go abseiling (which had been easily arranged at our hostel the day before).

At the pick-up point the skinny organizer guy tried to persuade us to buy some opals that he kept in his pocket. We told him a million times that we had no money and but he wouldn’t give up. I mean, as Lian put it, we've come from a hostel, one of us looks like the other two beat her up, do we really strike you as the kind of people who can afford to buy precious jewels!

Our abseiling instructor, Big Grizzly Adams, arrived. There were just the 3 of us on the course because everyone else had the presence of mind to stay in bed. It was fine, I had some trust issues with nature from my rough embrace with it earlier that day so didn't really relax into it. I just did it a few times and then panicked (I was afraid I would crack my head a second time and die – dramaqueen). The girls did it for longer with bigger drops, Sharon is a complete adrenaline junkie and loved it. Lian seemed to think it was fine but wouldn’t rush to do it again. If you're looking for something exhilarating and outdoorsy to do in the Blue Mountains abseiling is not a bad idea and doesn't cost the earth. 

After the train ride back to Sydney, the girls insisted I pop along to the hospital. All very embarrassing second time in a few weeks. We only had to wait about an hour cos I’m with the frequent flyers program there. Ah no, bashes on the ole head are somewhat of a priority apparently. I was prodded and pulled and x-rayed out of my mind, I must have had at least 12 x-rays, then my doctor brought other doctors in for consultations. I think my x-rays had thrown up something, but surely a bump on the head is a bump on the head, don't need the cast of General Hospital to have a goo. When I was asked to take off my jumper half a forest fell out, twigs, branches, you name it. The doctor said he hoped I hadn’t ruined a national park! (the cheek).

I have swelling around my collarbone so they thought at first that I had broken it, then dislocated it, they finally decided that I had damaged the tissue around it. It is all enlarged, to the unobservant I just look like a fat-necked fool, but to those of you who like to spend your hours gazing at my fine swan like neck you can see the swell.

They kept me in for observation for a few hours. Gave me a card that said something along the lines of "Hello, if I'm unconscious or not making sense, I hit my head recently, please bring me to a hospital". Best card I ever got, everyone should carry one. That was about the height of it, I took two days off work, I’m fine now, just still battered and bruised and lovin’ those painkillers. My hair is a bit of a state though, it hurts to wash it so I just give it this really feeble attempt. Medusa has nothin on me.

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