Family portraits - Hayley, Ben, Izzy, Arthur and Lucy

Family portraits. I first met Hayley when I was twenty-two. I had recently moved to the Blue Mountains or the Bluey's as most people call the place, because I loved the outdoors and I was fanatical about rock climbing. I didn't really know what I was going to do with my life, but I knew in the short-term I wanted to climb and to meet like-minded people. Moving to the Bluey's seemed like the logical thing to do.

I met Hayley through some of my new mutual friends. Three months after arriving in the Bluey's, Hayley, myself and another woman - Cara - decided to rent a house together in Katoomba.

Our house was this big old style guest house. High ceilings, wide corridors and great rooms. It was a wonderful house in summer and it always seemed to be filled with friends and friends of friends passing through on their travels. We had a lot of laughs and good times in that house.

I met Izzy two-weeks after she was born. I was the first person to hold Izzy other than medical staff and family members. I remember holding Izzy and looking down at this little bundle and being amazed at how small she was. Hayley took a polaroid of me holding Izzy and for years it was on a noticeboard at her place. A couple of years' back I asked Hayley if she still had it, but alas it is no more.

I can't really remember when I met Ben, which I find odd given how strong our friendship is. We've had some great adventures together, climbing some of the more obscure multi-pitch rock routes in the Grose Valley and ticking off a host of slot canyons. Like a lot of people in the Blue Mountains, Ben was always up for an adventure.

I met Arthur when he was about two-years old. Like most kids that age, he wasn't so sure of a complete stranger. Fast forward a couple of years and we are now good buddies. Even more so, after I gave him a lego set for his birthday.

It's been eighteen years since I moved into that house with Hayley. Though I've been criss-crossing the globe for the last decade, I always make a point of having a layover in Sydney every 18-months or so, and heading to the Bluey's for a week. Hayley and Ben are like family now and whenever the opportunity arises, we take some family portraits for the family album.

That opportunity presented itself last October, when we woke to falling snow.

Thomas

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