Familiar landscapes

At the moment we are heading back to Canberra after a long weekend hanging out at Coff’s Harbour.  The purpose of the trip was to check out the region to see if we like it as a possible future home.

In many ways this part of the country reminds me of South East Queensland, albeit from another time – before it got so over developed. The vegetation is lush and green, after many summer floods. There is so much ground water that some trees have just fallen over. The ground unable to hold the roots. We noticed that at least five big trees had keeled over at the Sawtell Golf Club.

The hills surrounding Coff’s are partially covered by trees and flanked by banana plantations, creating a beautiful,  textured, undulating horizon line. The ocean views are equally spectacular,  with little islands dotting the coastline.  What surprised me though was how suburban the area is, and it looks like there is still a lot of development to come.

We were particularly taken by Sawtell, with it’s wonderful beaches and main street lined with majestic,  old fig trees. It is a lovely place.

What has been sort of strange about this journey is realising how much I will miss the Canberra landscape when we leave. Although I am still unsettled there after eleven years, I have grown to love the golden hills dotted with boulders, reminiscent of many iconic Australian landscape paintings. I know that I will also miss the beauty of the changing seasons,  the crisp, clear days and the clean, fresh air.

As we drive along the highway,  I have noticed many farm fences tangled with flood debris, causing me to ponder on the different environmental challenges of this region. Floods and cyclones have always been a part of my understanding of the environment,  it is just part of growing up in tropical and sub-tropical climates. When the Canberra bushfires hit in January 2003, I was truly frightened, as a flood or a cyclone tends to build, do its damage and then leave. That’s it, game over. With a bushfire, it can lurk for weeks before hitting,  sometimes joining other fires to intensify,  causing more carnage. Just when you think its gone,  back it comes with a sting in its tail. Scary.

Today is the 100th birthday of the city of Canberra and we are not there to celebrate.  On one level I am glad, as I am already over the centennial hype. On another level,  it would have been nice to mingle at the many events around town.

Instead, I am afforded the luxury of having time to think about future possibilities as the Pacific Highway leads us back to our home in the alpine foothills. It has been a wonderful adventure and I look forward to seeing more of this lush, green region of coastal NSW.

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