Stormy trip to Canberra and Tallong.

All last week, my wife (a senior analyst specialising in computational fluid dynamics) had to work late to get ready a tender that was due in Canberra on Friday at 2 p.m. Due to various hiccups involving upper management not being available to sign off on various documents and contracts due to vacations and various other commitments, the last courier down to Canberra was missed.

After a discussion between my wife and her boss at about 8:30 on Thursday night, it was decided that the tender was to be delivered by hand.  Both my wife and I didn’t mind being asked to take the tender down to Canberra because we are always happy for an all expenses paid, drive in the country.  The other pluses were that we could stay at my wife’s parents holiday home in Tallong on the way back and I would get to take some more photographs with my new camera.

Since it is the middle of winter here in Australia we had fairly stormy weather nearly all the way down. I kept wanting to stop and take pictures of the dramatic skies but we didn’t because we wanted to make sure the documents were delivered in time. We reached our destination, with one and a quarter hours to spare.

Just outside of Canberra is a fantastic little restaurant known as the Poacher’s Pantry, which specialises in smoked meats. To reward ourselves for our dash to Canberra we had a very delicious lunch that consisted of a smoked duck ragout as an entree and a red curry of smoked chicken for a main all cooked and presented in the style of “mod Oz” (modern Australian, which is a blend of European and Asian cooking).

After lunch, the weather, alternated between pouring rain and brief moments of light drizzle.

Since our car is continuous four-wheel-drive, I don’t really mind that much driving in the rain, but I was being constantly distracted by how dramatic the skies looked and since we’d already dropped off the tender I was able to use a bit of time to take a few photographs.

Every now and again the rain would ease off enough for me to get out of the car and take a photo

Every now and again the heavy cloud would open up to reveal little patches of an almost electric blue sky.

I only adjusted the levels in this photograph and I have not increased the saturation of the colour

About 30 Minutes Drive northeast from Canberra, the highway to Sydney passes by Lake George. Due to the weather conditions here in Australia, Lake George is quite often dry and usually just looks like a grass covered plain.

The rainy conditions turned this usually bland vista into something a little more interesting

After about another hour and a half,  just as the light was beginning to fade, we arrived at the small village of Tallong. My in-laws holiday home is 10 km down a narrow and winding dirt road, which really isn’t that big a deal in the day time, but at night, there is a very real hazard of hitting a wombat. Wombats are sometimes described as being the “bulldozers of the bush”.  Although they are not very big (about the size of a very fat corgi), they are solid muscle and gristle that will badly damage a car if you hit one.  Driving down the dirt road is always stressful at night due to the chance hitting one of those brownish-grey, gristly speed bumps, as it darts and out in front of your car.  In the past we’ve had to dodge about 6 in one night and there are always dead ones on the side of the road.

Another little known hazard here in Australia is that eucalypt trees are made up of extremely hard (much, much harder than oak) but very brittle wood and the branches are known to break off during high winds. Every year, there are a few people who are killed by falling tree limbs. It is common knowledge here, that you never camp under a tree.

By the time I got to my in-laws holiday home I was absolutely shattered. The pouring rain had made visibility especially bad and my nerves had been racked by the noise of falling branches, hitting our car. Only last year some unfortunate guy had been crushed while driving his car by a falling tree.

I cooked a dinner of rolled chicken (chicken breast and prosciutto with basil wrapped around weisswurst) and wine sauce on a bed of wilted English spinach. My mother-in-law made a delicious crumble for desert which we had with some of my homemade calvodos sorbet.

The rain poured and the wind shook the house all night but by the time morning came around, the weather had eased off and the skies were once again clear and blue.

My in-laws holiday home

The view from the guest bedroom window is spectacular.

The property backs onto a large national park

I got up early and drove the 20 km round trip to Tallong to get the weekend paper, so we could have a nice relaxing Saturday morning.

This is one of the more open parts of the dirt road

On Sunday, my wife and I helped her parents remove noxious weed (fireweed, poisonous to livestock and fast spreading) and retrieve logs for firewood from the bottom of their property.  As we would move the logs with the aid of a tractor, little Eastern Yellow Robins (Eopsaltria Australis) would appear to take advantage of the uncovered insects.

I couldn't get any closer than about 10 m

As we walked back up the hill towards the house we came across this poor old battered Swamp Wallaby (Wallabia Bicolor).

I was able to get about 20 m away from the wallaby

It had chunks of fur missing from the base of its tail and from its shoulder plus its ear was torn up. My guess is that it had been mauled by feral dogs.

6 thoughts on “Stormy trip to Canberra and Tallong.”

  1. Love this whole blog entry, start to finish. Learning new things, of course. ( Do not have a clue, however, what computational fluid dynamics is). That a drive to your in-laws house could be so treacherous. Wombats, for example. You experience things in daily real life that I’ve only experienced in books. Threatening Eucalypt tree branches? Feral dogs? Swamp Wallabys? All of these dangers amidst this breathtaking scenery. That first cloud photograph? Might have cost me the price of a new camera and another shoulder operation. Seriously, the differences between point and shoot, even good point and shoot, show up with these photographs.

    And, ok, after being “shattered” you made this meal and calvodos sorbet, too?? And,is that a Saab outside your in-laws? Kidding, kidding. Don’t reach for a sharp object.

    And, finally, in the photograph of the daylight trip to Tallong to get paper, there is a small bluish thing hugging the road in the middle of photograph. Is that a puddle of water? It looks so dry I was wondering.

  2. Pat

    Glad you liked it. A lot of those things might sound exotic to you but I can tell you that when I lived in North America, the idea that bears could coming into my tent as I camped used to freak me out. After living in a country (such as yours) that has large terrestrial carnivores, the bush here in Australia seems so mild and tame.

    My wife and I did a few comparison shots between our little cannon sureshot and the new Fuji DSLR and the difference really surprised me. It was like chalk and cheese.

    I had previously said that I’d cook the meal and my mother-in-law is not someone you’d want to disappoint or mess around. So it was, head down and bum up, at the stove!

    The bluish thing is a puddle from the storm during the night. Goes to show how dry it is here that so much water would just soak into the ground.

  3. Reading this post was an adventure for the images it evoked and the stunning visual landscapes.
    A wonderful journey.
    Beautiful photos.

  4. Brooks

    Yep, I’m really enjoying my new camera.

    Only last night I was looking at shots I took in Sapa, Vietnam last year with my little sureshot. I’ve hardly got any decent photos of the hill tribe people in the north because the that peice of crap camera I had, wouldn’t take photos as soon as I pressed the button. There was always a delay. The telephoto end of the zoom was total unsharp mush and in general the lens had way too much barrel distortion. Let’s not even talk about the blown out highlights!

    Arrrrggghh!

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