Last week I went away with friends to a beautiful spot called Gypsy Point near Mallacoota. For once no tents were involved, but rather the luxury of a bungalow with beds and a great barbecue area where we cooked our dinners. We drove down on the Friday morning, indulging in a steak and mushroom pie at the bakery in Nimmitabel and arrived at around mid-afternoon in Gypsy Point. We unpacked the car, including many bottles of wine, and settled in on the terrace to enjoy the surrounding and wait for our other friend to arrive from Melbourne. Life was good, particularly when we uncorked/unscrewed a bottle of wine and pondered the bird life around us. I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me, but there really were seven sea eagles circling above the trees on the other side of the river. They were too far away to photograph, but I was mesmerised by seeing that number of birds together. Dinner was lamb chops and steaks and sausages, generously lubricated by many bottles of wine and consumed outside in front of a woodfire in the company of good friends. Bliss.
The next day the weather was not brilliant and a bit cool, but after a cooked breakfast we decided to set out for a short bushwalk. Well, it was supposed to be a short one, as in 6 kilometres. The reality was that it was close to 11 kilometres and it took us about 2 hours. Still, it was a good outing and we felt we had deserved our (late) lunch and yet another bottle of wine. The plan had been all day that we would do some canoeing and by 4pm we realised that if we did not get ourselves moving away from the dining table, there would be no time for paddling the next day. So off we went, at first a bit wobbly, irregular in our paddling and prone to veering across the river like a drunken sailor, but eventually we worked it out and held a nice constant course. It was beautiful and peaceful, particularly with the deepening light of the late afternoon. The river meanders through the bush, in places very shallow, and harbours much bird and fish life. On our return some of us were able to see stingrays feasting on schools of fish. Suitably our dinner also consisted of fish and seafood, although in our case barbecued, and indeed consumed with yet another bottle or two of vino.
Cruelly, the next morning dawned bright blue and sunny, without even the hint of a breeze, and that was the day we had to leave again. I was sorely tempted to stay another night, but alas, no chance. So after a nice breakfast, we all set off to our respective homes again. Our Canberra posse decided to take a different route back, along the coast and eventually it was decided that it would be good to drive up to Cobargo and drive through Wadbilliga National Park back to Cooma. Great idea in theory, the practice was a little different. We had noticed that the unsealed road at one point would turn into a ‘track’ for a couple of kilometres, but before we even got there the road was pretty bad already and at one point we had to stop the car and sure enough one of the tyres was flat. But it wasn’t just flat; it was gone, blown to bits. I’ve never quite seen a tyre like it. In any case, we had to unload the car, pull out the spare and change the tyres. All that done we continued on our way, all three of us with some inner nervousness, not verbalised to one another until we had made it out of the National Park. If another one would blow, we had no spare tyres left and would face a long walk to civilisation.
After a picnic near the Wadbilliga River we continued on the bit that was marked as ‘track’ on the map and it certainly wasn’t good. You really needed a 4WD for this bit, which fortunately we had, and we drove carefully, quietly hoping nothing else would go wrong. Eventually we came through it, but not before the final obstacle, which was crossing the Tuross River. Not deep, but hard to assess sometimes whether there are any deep holes in the crossing or big rocks, but we went through without a hitch and soon found ourselves on sealed roads again, quite a wonderful experience after all that bumping around. The trip was certainly worth it though, to have a look at the National Park. It looked really beautiful, but clearly not easy to get to. From Cooma it was just another hour and a bit before we made it back to the ‘berra and back to another working week.