It’s 6pm and I fire the ritual words into the group chat: ‘Anyone want to sunset?’
‘Leaving now. Pick you up in five.’
And so we drive up the mountains, towards whichever west-facing rock, ledge or lookout stands out on that particular evening. To watch the sunset.
This Blue Mountains tradition spans year groups, friend groups, seasons and days of the week. Throughout high school, from the moment I got my license, it’s been a constant in my life. It is defined by its spontaneity and rewarded by the bonding experience of watching the sunset above the boundless mountains, valley and bush.
In the winter, beanies and blankets accompany us to the lookouts; in summer, cold beers and ciders. We talk about everything from the colours of the sunset to the future of world politics, the HSC, what we’re going to do when we finally ‘grow up’. Sometimes we don’t talk at all.
Sunset can be code for “I need to talk about my problems”. It can be an excuse to meet up with people you saw a few hours ago, but like enough to hang out with all night. For me, it’s a way to explore the place I grew up in, to spend time in nature despite the ten assignments I’ve yet to hand in.
There’s something relaxing and hypnotic about watching the sunset from beginning to end, immersing yourself in it. We arrive under the quiet of daylight, but within ten minutes the sky is alive with colour.
Some days we choose Flat Rock, some days Mt Hay. Sublime Point, Martin’s Lookout, ‘Faulco’ Point, ‘Glenny’ Gorge.
Flat Rock is my go-to lookout. Officially named ‘Lincoln’s Rock’, it has expansive views of the Jamison Valley, which changes colour as the sunset progresses. The rock itself is beautiful, and there’s plenty of bush around it to explore. If you’re driving west up the mountains to get there, you’ll be able to watch the whole show.
Martin’s Lookout, in my home town of Springwood, is my lookout of choice when it’s already late in the evening and I don’t have enough time to drive to Wentworth Falls or Katoomba. The view, overlooking the Sassafras Gully, is spectacular. There are symbolic peculiarities about it too, like the Christian cross across the gully that never fails to remind me that, as beautiful as these lookouts are, they can also be deadly.
Sublime Point doesn’t really need an explainer—it’s in the name. You can see the Kings’ Tableland, the Three Sisters (without the busloads of tourists) and Mt. Solitary from here. While there’s pretty well-kept ‘official’ lookouts and walkways here, my best memories of watching the sunsets are scooting down the dodgy dirt paths and rubble on the side of the mountain and sitting inside the crevice of a rock face. It’s secluded, and apart from the wind blowing through the trees, dead quiet.