After the shenanigans of the past month, all of which has left me drained and exhausted, a girlfriend and I escaped for the weekend. We’d spent a weekend at the beginning of the year at a welcoming bed and breakfast home beautifully set into the bush yet with sea views as far as the eye could stretch.
The hospitality and surroundings were perfect to help two tired, worn down souls unwind. As far from city noises and rush as we were, it was not quiet. Rosellas, kookaburras, lorrikeets, magpie larks, carrawongs, and magpies noisily went about their day with loud enthusiasm and joy. It was nature’s sounds albeit with the volume turned up, which, unlike man’s noise, is soothing and restful.
This morning we walked to the end of North Arm Cove where 400 people live. It is a mix of young families who had left cities to enjoy the slow paced lifestyle of the Cove; retreating retirees who sought the peace and solitude of bush and ocean; and weekenders who owned vast holiday homes in this cozy corner of New South Wales.
We were stopped frequently by residents tending their gardens, walking dogs or local motorists enquiring whether we needed assistance. All very courteous and pleasant reminding us that taking time to stop and talk and notice one’s surroundings is soul-nurturing, and often forgotten in the mundane work/home routine. Someone with a small dog sitting in the passenger seat stopped to ask whether we had we lost a dog? Did we know who’s dog it might be? The driver was anxious to reunite dog and owner although the runaway looked to be immensely enjoying the ride and attention.
Is this not the cutest gypsy-caravan? Waiting patiently to be hooked to a horse and taken on holiday was this rustic one-person ‘caravan’ made from corrugated iron, recycled windows and door. Perched on land seemingly belonging to no one yet not far from an equally rough picnic shelter and water tank, dog’s water bowl, and wooden table and plastic chair on which lay a newspaper. Our imaginations ran through a number of possible story lines for the gypsy-caravan and neither of us would have been surprised if a gypsy had materialised from nowhere.
We ventured into the bush, thick with eucalypts and the usual wondrous assortment of self-sewn native trees, shrubs and wild flowers. We are taken by surprise then when Ii the middle of this forested area we came across a garden. An organised, terraced garden in the midst of bushland. This garden interrupted the natural sweep of surrounding terrain. A large area had been cleared, terraced and formally planted with rhododendrons, willow saplings, norfolk pines, banksias, bottle brush, giant lilies, a magnolia tree and an array of shade-loving natives. In the midst of the garden lay a large concrete frog pond painted sky blue.
As we snapped photos from the track, a middle-aged man ambled down for a chat. He and his mother had purchased the land five years previously only to discover after the contracts had been exchanged that they were not permitted to build on the property. Mother and son had been coming to their property on weekends to tend the already established garden and push further into their block to extend the garden.
While we admired their effort and will to find a way to enjoy their land it was contrary to all the endeavours of Landcare and Greening Australia. With numerous other conservation services who work tirelessly to conserve flora and combat problems these two organisations repair the damage to natural bushland such as soil erosion and salination, which have occurred as a result of large scale clearing.
An hour and a half later we were sitting on the back verandah enjoying a well-earned cup of tea as our eyes found the horizon.