Today the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge paid a visit to the Blue Mountains region, which is located just outside Sydney. Last year, the area was devastated by a fire which killed two people and destroyed 198 homes.
The Royal couple arrived in the area to meet some of those affected by the fires and lunch with firefighters who helped fight the inferno. When there, William and Catherine met Miranda Hansen, a widow who lost the home she had built with her husband on Buena Vista Road. This particular road saw 40 of its homes destroyed in the blaze. When speaking of her meeting with the Royals, Hansen commented: “The Prince just said that they were very sorry that I lost my house. It was built by my husband and I – we actually built it brick by brick. He said that when my house is rebuilt they are going to come back for a cup of tea with me. Isn’t that lovely? They are really lovely people”.
When the fires broke out, the response from other states to help fight these fires was unbelievable. Firefighters from Tasmania, Queensland, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory provided additional tankers and firefighters to battle the blaze. Around 2,000 firefighters were in the area on rotation. Help was also provided by a variety of volunteer emergency agencies, including the Red Cross and the Salvation Army.
The Duke and Duchess also got the chance to meet the Winmalee girl guides and planted a native gum tree while the girls watched on. The couple then posed for photographs and went inside to meet a number of schoolgirls, police, firefighters and politicians.
The next stop on the tour of the Blue Mountains was Echo Point, where the iconic three sisters rock formations are. This spot has had its fair share of royal visitors in the past. In 1927, while undertaking a tour on behalf of King George V, the then Duke and Duchess of York (who later became King George VI and Queen Elizabeth) were driven to the Point to enjoy the view of the site. Her Majesty The Queen and Prince Philip also made the trip to the Point in 1954 while on their tour of the Commonwealth following The Queen’s coronation.
While at Echo Point, William and Catherine met with a group of young girls who had been picked from the crowds by the couple’s protection officers. The couple posed for photos and were introduced to three Aboriginal elders, representing the Indigenous landowners of Echo Point. They presented the couple with a possum cloak for Prince George and a kangaroo skin cloak for themselves.
Whilst taking in the spectacular view the Duke said: “It’s a great place for a picnic”. The couple then watched an abseiling demonstration from the cliff face, with Prince William standing just inches from the 100 metre drop from the cliff face so to get a better look.