It’s not been the relaxing sort of summer we are generally used to, has it? Not so much sand, surf and sun as smoke, fire and sirens.
As I’m writing this, in NSW over a hundred fires are still burning, and today, the total area burnt across Australia is now a mind-boggling 10.7 million hectares. (Fun fact, that’s the equivalent of more than 8.5 million cricket grounds, Prime Minister. In case that’s somehow motivating.)
Photo Credit: Mark Hocking @calyptorhynchus IG
On New Year’s Eve, fire broke out on Evans Lookout Road, threatening the National Park and the Grand Canyon. Choppers dropped water, and the DC10 pink-bombed retardant next to the Kinie-Ger fire trail. It was really full on.
Sadly, this fire destroyed our neighbours’ property, and here on the Rough Track, it was a really close call.
Thanks to the expertise and dedication of the good people from NSW Fire and Emergency, NSW National Parks and the RFS, our very special place has been protected.
We feel very, very grateful.
Mostly for us, this summer has been about preparing the property in case of fire and endlessly checking the Fires Near Me app, the Guardian and the ABC and some handy and generous local social media posts.
We had to cancel bookings for a time there, amidst extreme and catastrophic conditions.
Now we’ve had some cooler days, some mists and even a bit of rain. This morning I heard a wallaby bashing through the scrub. The lyrebird is back, and so are the gang-gangs, and loads of wee finches and fantails feasting on the insects that have hatched in the moisture.
Things here now feel so much gentler.
It's time to reboot.
The Black Summer bushfires got within 100 metres of the Rough Track. We feel incredibly lucky that the land we live on, our house, studio, and the cabins are all still here to be enjoyed, but throughout the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area there's a confronting legacy - the devastation of our precious forests and bushland, and the many wonderful native animals that live in them.
To support the recovery of habitat, we are donating 5% of every accommodation fee to the Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife.
The Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife - FNPW - supports conservation of habitat and species, and funds scientifically-based conservation projects and the dedicated volunteer wildlife rescuers and carers, who are saving and rehabilitating animals injured on the roads or in the bushfires.
When you stay with us, you are pitching in to support the good work they do.
Book a break in the Blueys
It feels good to have reopened Rough Track Cabins and finally be hosting our first guests for the year. (Cheers, Wendy and Colin!)
We are up and running again, and hoping you might come up for some down time. Maybe you can finally book that holiday you had to cancel because of the mega fires? Come up and support us and other local businesses affected by the fires. We'd so appreciate your support.
If you'd like to book one (or both) of our handsome ironstone cabins, you can check available dates right here, or you can call us to have a chat about date possibilities.
What's going on with the National Park?
Evans Lookout, Govetts Leap Lookout and the magnificent Grand Canyon Track have all reopened. You can take a look at the damage and the bush recovery in a lot of plaves, including the Fairfax Track and the Braeside fire trail.
The Grose Valley is still closed in the aftermath of the fires while Parks assess the damage and make the area safe again.
Click on the box below to check for the latest updates on what parts of the park are open.
There's loads of good tucker in the upper mountains. We especially love the Megalong Tearooms, Anonymous, Fumo, Arjuna's Indian, 8 things, and Plantbased Wholefoods. Come up with your #emptyesky and stock up at Black Cockatoo Bakery, Blackheath Deli, the Veggie Patch and Logan Brae's Apple Shed.
Maybe it's because of the fires that we are seeing so many unusual birds right now? These Glossy Black Cockatoos love the casuarina trees down at Evans Lookout. I spotted some crested Shrike Tits yesterday and I've never seen them here before.
Photo Credit: Mark Hocking @calyptorhynchus IG
Spend a bit
The Blue Mountains is a playground for lovers of old treasures. Enjoy the many cool vintage and antiques shops, including those in the Victory Theatre at Blackheath. We've also got great bookshops and plenty of artisan craftiness.
Blackheath Pool is your classic regional public pool, open every day this summer.
For a more private experience, book Cabin Two to have an outdoor bath with a view of the bush. It's especially lovely in the mist.
Head to the galleries. We love Platform and Lost Bear and, of course, our regional gallery, the Cultural Centre. And if you'd like to make some art yourself, enrol in one of Julie's Imperfect Workshops to be held right here in the Rough Track Workshop.
Make a plan
Untangle the shambles in your head and work out how you'd like 2020 to be different for you. Use our School of Life Career Crisis cards to refocus your ambitions. Our tradition is that every January, our friends choose a word to live by throughout the year, and Julie prints them all on a banner for us. This year Julie is offering this service to others. Come up and choose your words, people, to guide you over 2020.
Some Thank Yous
We are beside ourselves grateful that our place is still here. Watching the Gospers Mountain megafire and the Ruined Castle fire spreading over the map towards us was truly spooky. Our heartfelt thanks to the good people who helped us prepare the property, and to the back burners and those who were here to defend her, if it came to that.
And thanks too to Ian and Sue Olsen, who built the Rough Track house and cabins so well. Ian designed everything with fire very much in mind, and both the firey pros and volunteers were impressed with how well set up the place is for defence.
And finally, thanks to our guests for your patience, your well-wishes and offers of assistance, and for keeping on coming to stay.
You people are the best. Thank you.
Julie Paterson and Manda Kaye
Rough Track Cabins
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF COUNTRY
We acknowledge the Gundungurra and the Darug people, the Traditional Owners of the land where we live and work.
We recognise their continuing connection to land, water and community.
We pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging.