The Southern Highlands

The Southern Highlands of New South Wales introduced me to Australia’s wildlife. I saw cockatoos in the garden, a rather large lizard crawling into a pipe, colourful parrots, a kookaburra gazing down at me from a branch as I looked up at him, and I gave some curious magpies a piece of plum. I was lucky enough to hand feed a possum and her baby who lived in the shed and even witnessed the killing of a red back spider. I also saw koalas, kangaroos and a very sleepy wombat at a wildlife park. It was like one long nature documentary.

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The Southern Highlands were enchanting, it was as if a bit of English countryside had been planted under the hot Australian sun, making everything a bit browner. We drove along the magnificent coastline and watched paragliders jumping off the cliff edge; the setting was rather dramatic, being on the edge of such a huge land mass and looking out onto the never-ending ocean.

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I was lucky enough to stay in a wonderful house, the home of a family friend. I spent a lot of time reading in the garden which sounds so simple but feels incredibly luxurious in that way that reading does when you’re on holiday. This is what I wrote during my last evening there, in between walks around the garden:

Sitting here in the corner of the garden bathed in the rays of the setting sun I am filled with a sense of sadness – I don’t want to leave. I want to stay in this peaceful sanctuary, surrounded by the trees and the birds, enjoying the warmth, the house furnished so nicely and with the feeling of being loved. There are chairs dotted around the garden – I’ve tried to sit in several of them, positioned to enjoy a different view at different times of the day. The flowers, so beautiful, remind me of the ephemeral qualities of where I am – this won’t last forever, just as the sun always sets no matter how long and bright the day. The sun lowers and the fading light intensifies everything I can see. My wine glass glints brightly, the light sparkles off the pine needles and glimmers on the cobwebs I try to ignore. The house is pale and wooden, a bungalow sitting low near the ground, it appears at one with its surroundings. The road is wide beyond the hedge, it can take you anywheare, but for now at least I’ll sit just here.

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Next stop: Brisbane

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