Newspaper article The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Australia)

On Top of the Volcano; One Thought Prevails as You Scale Mt Etna: Will She Erupt?

Newspaper article The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Australia)

On Top of the Volcano; One Thought Prevails as You Scale Mt Etna: Will She Erupt?

Article excerpt

TRAVEL

with Ann Rickard

MT ETNA has recently erupted after a two-year sleep, spewing fiery blasts of molten lava into the sky in a spectacular fireworks display only Mother Nature could provide. You may have seen the dramatic visuals on the news.

Mt Etna, the most active volcano in Europe and one of the largest and most restless in the world, slumbers peacefully between her violent eruptions.

She deserves to rest, she's been performing for thousands of years, and today locals in the villages beneath Etna live surprisingly relaxed lives considering they could be splattered with hot liquefied lava without a great deal of notice.

I am guessing the locals are at ease with Mt Etna looming over them because of the tourism money it brings to their modest and quiet villages.

On our visit to Mt Etna several years ago the volcano was at peace, sitting jet black and unnervingly formidable against the skyline in Sicily's east coast.

Even though she was motionless and silent, there was still a flirtatious sense of danger about being at the base of such an unpredictable beast. We were able to climb Mt Etna with a tour group. Quite the feat seeing as it is 40km in diameter at the base, and 3500 metres tall with four open summit craters and 300 side craters.

Our guide, an attractive young Sicilian man with a sexy accent, gave us these Mt Etna statistics as we crunched up the stark black mountain looking up to great peaks and over cosmic valleys of bright blackness.

The hard lava beneath our boots did not leave marks despite its coal-like appearance.

Our group had been given hiking sticks and we formed a long single line as we marched, making us look lonely but professional against the starkness of the black mountain.

Our guide stopped at small clumps of green bushes and yellow wildflowers growing healthily out of the black stones and we all lost ourselves to the feeling of power and awe of the volcano. …

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