A slow rise this morning. Coffee and croissants at the local bakery/cafe and then (as I was packing away Ripley’s long power cable) a long chat with the dude staying in the campsite next to ours.
In 30 minutes I had caught up on his life story, his ex-wifes life story and most of the town gossip (he works locally as a lifeguard).
True story: whist having breakfast, Kellys iPhone (which was sitting out on the table) lit up with an incoming message:
RE: FOLLOW UP REGARDING CHLAMYDIA & GONORRHOEA SCREENING.
This was simply a work-related email. However, we both thought it would have been pretty funny had anyone else been sitting with us at the table and screen-snooped at the header.
We were in zero hurry today. A short 50 ish minute drive north to the small town of Cobargo.
This community was strangled by drought and then decimated by a massive bushfire back in 2019 that killed two residents and leveled homes & businesses. But there was to be no recovery, only back to back years of business smothering COVID lockdowns.
Before the fire, Cobargo was a bustling tourist stop with cafes, art and craft shops and a busy main street.
I visited for a night last year and the town was obvously still grieving, although there were signs that locals were trying to rebuild.
Today is Monday, and many of the remaining retail shops are closed. The main street was empty. Large vacant lots still sit between buildings like knocked out teeth.
It feels like Cobargo is teetering at the edge of failure…..but it has not fallen yet. A handwritten sign on a store window invites us to join the locals for a town celebration in December. Retail is trying hard. A homewares shop, 2nd hand bookstore, coffee caravan, local artists exhibition.
Tonight we will be staying at a free-camp site behind the local pub. We just got back from dinner there. Kelly went for the veg & chops and I had a curried lentil burger that surprisingly I would call as one of the best pub burgers I have eaten.
Yup. It’s going to be close, but any place that can pump out a halfway decent coffee and an unexpectedly delicious veggie burger and a town fair, obviously still has hope in its heart.
If you are in the vicinity, go spend a few bucks there.