Good rains have recently broken years of drought in outback New South Wales and Covid has changed our lives, forcing lockdowns. International travel plans have been put on hold for the foreseeable future.
Good weather forecasts for these next days is all I need to get going on a country road trip here in Australia. This also gives me the chance to give the car a long run and blow the carbon deposits out of the engine and improve the fuel consumption.
I’m sharing the driving with a good friend, Paul. We break the first leg of this country road trip for a pot of tea, hot scones, jam and cream at the famous Magpie Café in Berrima. It sets a mood. Getting out of the car, the smell of smoke from wood-burning fireplaces wafting from chimneys and birds singing is a joyous country welcome.Driving in the Canberra direction we turn-off at Lake George, and then head for the little village of Gundaroo in the Yass Valley for the first night. Here in beautiful countryside in the last days of winter, the light is softly pervasive – in the sky, the rocks, the trees. It even filters the shadows.
The colour yellow saturates the roadside with branches heavy in fluffy balls of Cootamundra wattle. It heralds the explosion of the coming spring. We see the early signs of the emerging spectrum of greens and a rush of pinks along blossoming boughs that will transform this landscape in captivating colours in the next days.
. . . Driving on through vineyards and orchards we reach the thriving regional centre and foodie paradise of Orange ‘at peak hour’. We’re spending the weekend with Andrew in his recently acquired new home. From the blooming daffodils and the white pebble formal layout at the front of the property, I get the immediate impression that his makeover of this 1875 property started with the gardens.
The inside is welcoming and warm but the whole place is still very much a ‘’work in progress. The kitchen is under restoration, and the 13-foot pressed metal ceiling in the dining room is still being patched. But, true to form, with no concern for pictures stacked against walls and boxes still to be unpacked, Andrew serves a ‘candlelight supper’ of roasted shoulder of Cowra lamb and vegetables on a properly set dining table.