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Australia 2012: Day 7 – Southern Highlands

Yesterday, after an early start about 7:30, Steve’s parents picked me up to drive to the farm, the country property owned by several of the family in the Southern Highlands. Steve’s aunt and uncle, Lynda and John, were following in a separate vehicle. We drove out of Sydney, then took a highway south, where the countryside eventually started to look more rural, more like Ontario if you don’t count the gum trees and wattle. We stopped for breakfast in a small town, eating outside as it was warm and sunny. It’s about a two-hour drive, minus stops, and just before we arrived I caught a glimpse of kangaroos taking it easy under a tree in a farm field.
At the farm, we pulled up to the barn (called the shed, but much bigger than that, made of metal with a cement floor and a loft area). The four horses saw us coming and trotted over to the fence for a greeting. Ann and Neil got busy right away taking care of the horses, while John, Lynda and I drove across the road to another set of fenced fields for a look around. When we got out for a walk, we saw a kangaroo with joey in pouch across a small creek on the hill and soon after a small herd of deer running across the ridge opposite where we were standing.
Lynda and I took another walk later back on the barn side of the road, and then one more time just before we left. Lots of wombat holes and scat, but no sign of the nocturnal wombats. I can see why Claire loves the place; the bush is as close to our woods as I’ve seen here, and it’s full of birds. We saw black cockatoos, rosellas, and lots of others. I saw another half dozen or so kangaroos on the drive home, just grazing in the fields.
Lunch was an Australian specialty prepared by Lynda – a camp oven meal. She put lots of veg and pieces of boneless lamb, all sprinkled with oil, into a large cast iron pot with a flat lid and John placed it into hot coals in the fire pit outside the barn and piled coals on top. In less than an hour, it was tender and aromatic – delicious!
On our trip home, Neil took a scenic route, so I saw plenty of different countryside than before, lush dairy farms, much greener than at their farm, forests of ghostly gum trees, and towering pines along the roadside. Just before 7, we reached the Robertson Pie Shop. Ann was delighted to get there in time, so I would have the experience of their pies. We ate our scrumptious warm savory pies right there on a picnic bench, surrounded by fog, up on a mountain (Aussie mountain, not alpine). The drive down the mountain, through Macquarie Pass National Park, was spectacular. The fog cleared about halfway down and the road took dozens of sharp turns to wind down to the lower level. The forest is more tropical here, very tall, dense and dark with tree ferns here and there.
I got home well after dark, but couldn’t resist the sweet Robertson pie Ann insisted I take: loganberry!

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