With fires continuing to blaze out of control and the highway at Bateman’s Bay still closed we made a decision to take to the hills. With an unhurried 7 am departure we had a delightful drive up the scenic Snowy Mountains Highway then continued on the Monaro Highway. We bypassed Canberra (not without some regret on my part) and reached Goulburn by lunchtime. As we had been unsure of how far we would travel that day we had not booked ahead and when I phoned the caravan park management in Mittagong I found they were unable to accommodate us for the required dates. Our options were limited but Allen’s glib comment ‘we’ll just drop down the hill to the coast’ was met with a stony-faced look from me as I was fairly sure it was not going to be an easy trip towing a caravan. It was most definitely not an easy trip. It was hilly, very steep in parts with very tight bends! I must admit that Allen handled the driving perfectly. I was so frazzled by the time we reached Shoalhaven that I took us to the wrong caravan park. Unfortunately the entry to this particular park is extremely steep and by then the caravan brakes had overheated so they started squealing. I squealed too while Allen calmly got us down the hill. After sorting out the confusion we retraced our steps and booked into a more convenient park with great relief.
Smoke from the fires continued to affect our days to varying degrees. Visibility was not good and bird activity seemed very quiet. We didn’t risk trying to drive inland and most National Parks in the area remain closed. Areas near the coast that we have visited are so dry that I’m sure that has also affected the bird life.
We did manage to get a couple of glimpses of NSW’s only endemic species, the Rockwarbler but unfortunately there is no photo of the bird. Other highlights included a lovely visit with a long-time friend of mine who lives just south of Wollongong and on our last day we drove to Bundanon. Arthur Boyd’s much loved Bundanon was also suffering from a lack of rain but that didn’t detract from our enjoyment. We just happened to time our arrival so that we could join a most informative and excellent guide as she took a group of us through the house, gallery and studio. Rosie’s passion and knowledge gave us a wonderful background to the history of Bundanon and Riversdale as well as the history of the Boyd family. Her talk was peppered with anecdotes which made the story of this fascinating family very easy listening.