After the fire

Burnt out pine plantations near Laurel Hill, New South Wales, Australia.

The bushfires which affected Australia this summer made headlines around the world. While the immediate danger is over, hundreds of communities are now facing a lengthy recovery.  Some people have lost homes, others have had their farms razed and in the fire nearest to where Adam, Paul and I live, entire pine plantations have been burnt, which will make things tough for the local timber industry.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when so many areas are hurting, but one of the easiest ways to help is to go and visit these communities.  So, earlier this month that’s exactly what we did…

Tumbarumba is a little over an hour’s drive east from Wagga Wagga, nestled into the foothills of Australia’s Snowy Mountains.  While the amazing effort of volunteer firefighters saved the town, the surrounding countryside was badly burnt in the massive Dunns Road fire.

We started off at Nest, a café / bookshop / cinema, just off the main street.  It’s been a favourite pit-stop of mine for many years, and I was keen to show it off to Adam.  We ordered a grazing platter full of locally produced cheese, meats and nuts.  It was lovely and light, just filling enough to satisfy. The café was buzzing, and it was really nice to just linger over our lunch people watching, while trying to stop Paul from grabbing food off our plates!

Nest cafe in Tumbarumba, New South Wales, Australia.

Grazing platter from the Nest cafe in Tumbarumba, New South Wales, Australia.

We took a wander around town, popping into a local nursery and an antique shop for a poke around but couldn’t quite find anything that needed to come home with us.

Our route home took us right through the fire ground.  It was really quite shocking to see so much burnt out land.  It was almost as if a faux autumn had descended – bare trees all around with crisp orange and brown leaves scattered all about.

Burnt out bushland near Laurel Hill, New South Wales, Australia.

The region’s famous Sugar Pine Walk, where Adam and I had a beautiful snowy day out a few years ago, was also unfortunately burnt. The road to the grove of trees was still closed when we drove by, but very near was an area we could stop and look out over the Bago State Forest. No matter what direction you looked, the trees were burnt.

The fire affected Bago State Forest near Laurel Hill, New South Wales, Australia.

Our final stop was at the cellar door of a local cider producer (if you’re a fan of still, dry English type ciders I recommend giving the “Kunama” cider a go).  Chief cider maker Tony recounted his experience with the fire which was humbling to hear, and we left with a case of drinks, making Adam very happy indeed.

Despite the obvious devastation there were already shoots of green emerging from the blackened countryside. It was really quite amazing to see the landscape regenerating. There’s been a little bit of rain in the area since we visited, which has also helped… but I’m sure there will be some ecosystems that take longer to recover than others.

Burnt out bushland near Laurel Hill, New South Wales, Australia.

If you live near a fire affected community, I really encourage you to go and visit. Spending just a few dollars will help these towns and they’re going to need to a bit of a boost for many more months to come. Regional Australia is pretty resilient, but even the toughest of us need some assistance every now and again.

Have a wonderful week.

M. x

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