Every city has a heart.
A place where the pulse of the people beats.
When you are away you miss it. And when you are home, you take it for granted.
For me, since I was a little girl, it’s been Cataract Gorge.
Growing up on the Trevallyn side of this magnificent expanse, my mind is full of beautiful memories of walking the dog with my brother and long summers jumping off the rocks and swimming with friends.
At the end of each day, you would make the journey back home up all the hills. Usually at a very quick pace because you had stayed much longer than you were allowed.
Now, decades later, I am raising my own children and again, the Gorge is our backyard.
My own childhood memories of this place are now being added to through the eyes of my own kids.
It seems far more developed now with a fence around the pool and life guards on duty.
A new playground will soon replace the basic swing set and slide. And that fancy café and its coffee is a real favourite.
While I can’t remember tourists of all nationalities in early years, there are now hundreds of them enjoying what we have every day of the year.
What I love the most is watching my children play on everything but the play equipment.
They choose to scurry through the scrub looking for wildlife and building forts with sticks
They walk on anything that isn’t actually a designated pathway. Huge boulders are far more exciting to climb all over at full speed.
And why take the stairs when you can clamber up the “mountains”, their description of the hills.
This is a place where I have shared wonderful moments with my family when we have allowed our imaginations to run wild as we discover little hideouts.
It’s also where over my lifetime I have sat at times of great sadness when I needed that great expanse to embrace me, the water running over the rocks somehow bringing me a sense of peace.
It’s a place where I have sat as an adult missing my dad, who’s long passed away. But it’s the same place where as a teenager I lay in the sunshine dreaming of what life might hold.
For me, this is the heart of my city.
On my last visit, only a few days ago, my nine-year-old son made me sit with him under a tree waiting for a wallaby to come and visit us. We waited for quite a long time.
But in that moment, he turned to me and said he felt good inside when he was here.
It seems like this is the heart of my son’s city as well.