It is amazing. Only a handful of weeks ago the landscape was baking under a furnace sun. Unending 43 Celcius days that sucked away all vestige of green, withering the flora and parching the fauna.
And then the fires came and burnt it all black through and through.
But driving Ripley down the Monaro Highway, we were riding rolling hills of green felt. The storms that finally killed the fires have, it seems, dumped a palate of greasy green oils. Dark and light with streaks of Autumn yellows and whites.
A little further south, past Bombala, even the worst affected forests are beginning to self resuscitate. Charcoal trees as far back as you can see are now frizzled here and there with clumps of green new growth. Some are too far gone (and there are many teams of roadworkers removing dead trees overhanging the roads) but most are splitting open new shoots.
Even so, it is clear that the forest floor has been decimated. Everywhere we can see way back through what is usually blocked by dense foliage. All the scrub and plants of the lower ecosystems have been broiled away leaving bare soil and black-burnt rocks.
Apart from crows we did not see much wildlife. At one point we passed a large dead lizard that had been hit by a car or a truck. Kelly remarked how sad that this fellow had survived the hellstorm fires only to be taken out by an inattentive driver as he went about his business.
Tonight we are staying the Cann River Caravan Park (map), a popular free overnight stay just out of the town. The park is populated with all forms of travellers. From huge motorhomes with slideout living rooms and trailers full of boys toys, to a couple our age who had sold everything, they own to travel Australia (indefinitely!) on their two solar-charged electric bikes. Their few essential possession towed behind on two small bike trailers.
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