Monday, 8 June 2015

Day 1 - Morning Session

We left from home at 7:30 am with butterflies in Del’s stomach, nervousness clearly visible on his face as he had to drive in an unknown place without Alvi or Don around to instruct him. However, after about an hour at the wheel, he was his usual self again, as if he was driving in India. Through the entire trip, Del could never stop expressing his delight over the driving conditions in Australia, beginning from the infrastructure, the planning of rest zones on the highway, clear signage and ending on the disciplined driving!

We took the Hume Highway and Via Picton headed towards the Thirlmere lakes; the roads took us through the Thirlmere Lakes National Park.

Our first stop was the Werri Berri Picnic area beside the Thirlmere Lakes. Although, the area is known for some good bird sightings, we were out of luck and managed to spot only the Scrub Wren. However, the view of the lake with the reflection of the trees in the water was simply mesmerising and completely made up for the lack of birds at the time. In the shallow waters, the river bed was clearly visible with a school of tiny fish swimming along.

Lakes generally survive only for a few million years before they get filled with sediment, however, the Thirlmere Lakes is about fifteen million years old and is grouped along with some of the oldest lakes of the world. It was rather delightful to have experienced such geographical history and beauty, both at the same place!

With nothing much to do, we headed for the Nattai State Conservation Area via the Barkers Lodge Road to the Burragorang Lookout. This was where we spotted the Crimson Rosella and the Gang Gang cockatoo.
Crimson Rosella 
Gang Gang Cockatoo

The Burragorang Lookout overlooks the Wollondilly River which meanders through a mountainous landscape creating a picture perfect shot. It lies over a private coal mine from where coal was exported; the mine was closed in 1991. Had it not been for the plaque which read that the area was a coal mine, it would be hard to tell.

The area has been beautifully restored and conserved. It made our hearts hopeful for our own state, Goa, given the kind of painful destruction of the environment that has taken place because of the unregulated mining activity. It will be fitting to state here that the kind of red craters that is seen on the landscape of Goa as compared to the green and refreshing landscape of Thailand that one sees during the plane’s descent is very disturbing. It is simply beyond my comprehension as to how greed of a few people can lead to such kind of massive destruction of the much needed Natural resources and Environment which belong to all.

This lookout too had a picnic area – tables and benches, gas fired barbecues and toilets (also called a “dunny”- an Australian slang for outdoor toilets).

We enjoyed our lunch in the same serene surroundings, delighted at having the birds at such close quarters with a lovely landscape of the river and mountains in the background.

The Thirlmere Lake and the Burragorang Lookout formed part of the Wollondilly Discovery Trail.


P.S. On our drive, we drove through some picturesque and historic towns like The Oaks, Picton and Thirlmere. Words, cannot do justice to the ambiance, character or mood of the place and it is best that I do not attempt to do that on this blog. -Delson

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