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Jan 03 2014

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The Southern Highlands, and hedges

HedgesThe Southern Highlands – Bowral, Mittagong, Berrima, Moss Vale. Antiques, pubs, markets. Frost, fires, country walks.

As if that’s not enough, there’s more.

I was working in the Southern Highlands in December, so I got a chance to do quite a bit of exploring. Driving along the back roads I discovered that the defining feature of the Southern Highlands is hedges. Tall hedges, short hedges, long hedges, thick hedges, hedges that surround paddocks and houses. Hedges everywhere.

Log gate & fenceIt’s not what you (or at least I) generally think of when you think “Australian country”. There’s no red dust for a start, and I can’t imagine it’s ever in drought.  I can imagine it blanketed in morning frost or snow in winter, and the fog gets thick even in summer.

It’s a very European landscape, with fenced paddocks, green grass, and many-chimneyed buildings. There’s even an old church on the corner, though the weatherboard and corrugated iro, not to mention the dunny and water takn,  make that much more Australian looking.

Australian church

Outside the fenced paddocks there are more traditional Australian landscapes of gum- or rain forest. Whenever I drove past a certain spot on the Tourist Road (yes, that’s what it’s called) I saw a flash of bright red and blue as a pair of Crimson Rosellas flew up from the road and took off for the trees. And with a beautiful sense of timing, the kookaburras started laughing as I pulled over to the side of the road to put the roof up on the car when it started raining one day.

GumsI could have, actually I did, drive for hours stopping every so often to look at the view and listen to the sounds of the countryside. Even on the backroads where houses are few and far between people were out walking their dogs, or just walking. And every one of them said hello. After a day spent dealing with parents who wanted a “perfect” Santa photo, a long drive through the country was just what I needed.

I’ve had a few girly weekends in the Southern Highlands for Day on the Green concerts in Bowral.  We’ll often stay at the Bundanoon pub, which is basic pub accommodation but the company at the bar in front of the fire after the concerts is fabulous.

Last time we were in the Highlands we stayed at a beautiful house outside Berrima which, bizarrely, and despite supplying a stove, oven and saucepans, didn’t allow cooking in the kitchen. It also had the most beautiful, and most impractical, bathroom. The showerhead over the freestanding bath in the middle of the room with no curtain around it resulted in water going all over the floor whenever you had a shower. A lack of drainage in the floor meant the bathroom flooded every time – and water ran out onto the carpet in the bedroom. But it was beautiful looking at the view of open paddocks and trees while showering!

Hedge

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