"The discovery and re-discovery of the Blue Mountains gives us a chance to tell one of the great stories of humankind: A story of learning to see. In these mountains we can tell the story of coming to terms with the oldest, most varied and most fragile ecology on earth.
The Blue Mountains wilderness is a unique and exquisitely beautiful part of the world, protected until recently from the encroachment of modern industrial society by its thousand meter cliffs - but so very much more delicate than we have ever understood that it is hard to feel any confidence that it can survive much longer. Too many of the species of animal and plant that are indigenous to the area already carry the suffix "rare and endangered". It borders on a city of four million people but is so little known that only in October 1994, an explorer found himself standing in a grove of "dinosaur trees" that, until that moment, were believed to have been extinct for more than twenty million years.
The earth here is so ancient that it is drained of almost all nutrients. Plants and animals have evolved an extraordinary economy. The Koala is arguably the most 'economical' animal on earth, managing to grow to a considerable size on relatively small quantities of leaves with almost no nutritional value at all: But the same is true in varying degrees for nearly all of the plants and animals of Australia. Each one has had to evolve to fit its own tiny ecological niche making for an extraordinary number of species but also making each species extremely vulnerable to change. To survive in this place even man the most adaptable of all species, had to evolve a way of living that was exceptionally unobtrusive.
Agriculture wouldn't work here. The climate was always dominated by the EI Nino effect making rainfall completely unpredictable - and the poor, ancient soil would blow away if it was disturbed. The aborigines (who developed intensive agriculture in New Guinea tens of thousands of years ago) learned in Australia to live lightly. They built a whole world view, a whole society, on an enduring but delicate foundation of respect for the earth.
The place is inconceivably ancient. Even by the standards of geological time Australia has been in a coma. When the Grand Canyon was three inches deep these valleys looked pretty much as they do now. The infinitely patient process that forms them creates magical places - the beautiful and dangerous waterfalls and canyons of the Blue Mountains. The cliffs and canyons are truly spectacular and offer mind blowing, but non destructive recreation to jaded city folks. For the film we will create the ultimate canyoning experience - seamlessly merging the best of the best for a trip that, in real life, would take weeks and very probably kill you.
The cloud filled valleys of the 'blue labyrinth' are perfect for the floating aerial shots that are a favorite of audiences for giant screen films. People love the sensation of flying the and aerial shots are probably the best way to give the audience a real sense of the geomorphology of this vast area.
The section that is "World Heritage" listed is the size of Belgium. And there is even room for some humor: Old black and white footage of hilariously overblown re-enactments of the 'first' crossing - with whites in black make-up attacking the intrepid sons of Albion. Bus tourists will get a kick out of seeing the old open charabancs bouncing along the dirt road to Jenolan and from the wonderful Frank Hurley film from the early thirties featuring crocodiles of enthusiastic bush walkers in plus fours yodeling as they march through the bush.
The elaborate European gardens of Mount Wilson offer a perfect visual metaphor for the cultural baggage our white ancestors unthinkingly bought to this utterly different continent. The gardens are beautiful in their way but they are almost clumsy by comparison with the elegant micro gardens of the Pagoda country; formal and regimented compared with the rampant creativity of old rain forest - and for all their varicolored blossoms almost monoculture by comparison with the incredible range of species to be found in these mountains.
We can tell the story of the Blue Gum Forest - a forest cathedral that still exists because in the '30s a party of bush walkers led by Miles Duriphy happened to arrive just as an intrepid pioneer was about to start clearing the giant trees to make way for an (inevitably doomed) almond orchard. The walkers bought the land from the novice farmer and it was to form the nucleus of the whole National Park.
And finally the audience will have the incredible privilege of being taken to see the Wollemi pines. There is nothing else remotely like them on earth. They are huge - 120ft tall - and they look like no other living tree. The nearest approximation is that they look like pine trees with palm fronds replacing the branches and the leaves on the fronds radiating out in four directions instead of two.ĘThe trunk appears to be coated in Coco Pops. Very weird looking indeed. There is just this one stand of about forty trees in the known universe. Discovering them was as likely as finding a live dinosaur wandering through the bush. Their exact location is absolutely secret and the film crew has agreed to be blindfolded for the trip to the location. Clearly everyone would support any measures that were necessary to protect these trees. Their loss would be a catastrophe. But so is the loss of any species. Every loss makes the world and irrecoverably poorer place. But for now this extraordinary environment with its unique plants and wild life is still here: The web is torn but much of it survives. We have a chance of protecting it from any further loss. We have learned to see it - and that gives us a great deal to celebrate."
- From Katoomba Edge Cinema