However, we found a delicious lunch at the nearby Magpie Cafe.
We then walked through the village of Berrima admiring all the old cottages and small galleries. Berrima is located on the traditional land of the Gundungurra People.
We have read about the German Internment Camp that located at the river: The internees’ constructions during their enforced stay during World War I was built along the Wingecarribee River. Berrima was the only camp that not to confine the more than 300 internees within the camp perimeter. The internees were merchant naval captains, senior officers, the senior executives from German shipping companies with offices in Australia, and a small number of prisoners-of-war from the German light cruiser SMS Emden. The had times when they could leave the camp and were free to shop in the village. The men from larger companies were on half-pay—forwarded from Germany throughout the war. The men were used to confined shipboard life and a disciplined routine. As they were not required to work they put their energy into recreational pursuits—the River was their playground.
On Sunday morning, I tried to photograph at 4 am the Galactic Centre and the Orionids, a meteor shower that marks the second occasion the Earth encounters the stream of debris left behind by Halley’s comet each year. Neither worked out very well due to the strong moon and the light clouds.
After breakfast in Moss Vale,...
During the walk, we saw literally a hundred or more entrants to wombat burrow systems. As they are mostly nocturnal, we saw no wombat. They eat grass and herbs and their teeth grow continuously throughout their lives.
I took a picture of a Red-and-black spider.
In the evening, we had dinner at the Porterhouse Bistro in Moss Vale. On Monday, we did a 3-hour bush walk in Box Vale admiring the Hawkesbury sandstone formation as the paths are cut through the stone.
The Box Vale Walking Track follows the formation of a historic railway line and through a tunnel 84m long. One of the displays showed a picture of a “Saddle Tank” locomotive emerging from the tunnel—it had been built in Leeds, UK, in 1862 and imported to Australia by John Whitton who is recognised as the father of the NSW Railways.
The surrounding terrain is steep and rocky—often with little topsoil that can be used by the wombats to build their burrows. We read that the vegetation is classified as dry sclerophyll forest—most of it was burnt during the December 2019 bush fires that raged through the area. Most trees show new growth and the ground is mostly green now. Since the removal of the railroad line, late last century natural regeneration has occurred along the embankments.
We saw a lot of birds—apparently, they flew away during the fires and are now back, unlike snakes and spiders.
Afterwards, we drove to Berrima for a lovely lunch at the PepperGreen Estate for which we had reservations this time. On Tuesday after checking out at the Briars Country Lodge & Inn in Burradoo, we first visited had a delicious breakfast at the nearby Magpie Cafe in Berrima.
In the early afternoon, we made it to our second hotel, the Blue Wren, Pines Postoral Cottages. We stayed in a cottage with 4.5-metre high window overlooking the pastures. "A spiral staircase leads to a mezzanine level with king-size bed (with electric blanket). When the sun rises, waking up in Blue Wren is magic! An extra luxury is the private cedar-lined sauna. This is a dry Scandinavian sauna, ideal for relaxing in the late afternoon.”
I flew my drone around the property as the cows did not seem to care. On Wednesday, we woke up dense fog and rain, so we spent a very quiet day with reading and some gallery browsing in Mittagong and Moss Vale. On Thursday, the rain made us postpone our visit to the Fitzroy Falls to our next trip into the Southern Highlands.
Here some video impressions of the trip:
More picture here.
In February 2020, we rented a boat to explore the Hawkesbury River. The 8-ton Resort 35 boat with 3 cabins provided plenty of space for our family but was hard to steer as it had only a small Diesel engine that limited the speed to 8 knots. The speed limitation permitted us to drive the boat without a boating license.
But, we were not permitted to approach a wharf and had to use a mooring for the night. The dingy (tender) that came with the boat gave us access to the shore. The boat was equipped with two hot showers (one indoor and one outdoor), a microwave, a cooktop, a gas BBQ, two toilets, chart plotter, depth measurement, two bedrooms and an additional 4 bunk beds.
We drove two hours to Refuge Bay where we went to shore to stand under the waterfall that comes from high above the mountain. Then, we drove another hour to Smiths Creek where we moored at a spot where there were only two other boats.
Alexandra caught three fish for dinner—part of the dinner as they were really small.
We used the dingy to drive into the shallow areas of the Creek. Except for the occasional airplane, we could only hear nature sounds during our dinner. During the night a bad thunderstorm rocked the boat quite a bit—shaking as in the wake of another boat or on the ocean. But all was holding up—just the outside parts of the boat, like all the chairs and benches, were drained in the morning.
During the 2019-2020 holiday break, we went to Fiji, a common tourist destination for Australians. We took a 6 am flight to the South Pacific country which is an archipelago of more than 300 islands. The Republic of Fiji is an island country in Melanesia, part of Oceania in the South Pacific Ocean about 2,000 km northeast of New Zealand's North Island. We arrived in Nadi on the main island, Viti Levu. We then flew further to Savusavu, located on the smaller island of Vanua Levu.
We were greeted with a tropical fruit drink on our arrival and brought to our beach villa.
We ended the day with dinner, enjoying the delicious food and the beautiful sunset view.
In the morning of our second day, after a nice breakfast overlooking the ocean, we were driven to a waterfall by one of the guides.
We first had to buy a Kava plant, also known by its Fijian name yaqona, as an offering for the local villagers allowing us to visit their waterfall. The waterfall was only a 5 min walk, enough at the blazing heat, away from the parking spot. On our way, we passed what could count as a small vegetable farm with Kava plants, bananas, pineapples, wild chilly, wild ginger and even some sugar cane.
Here the flower of wild ginger.
We were swimming in the small lagoon underneath the fall and observed the many spiders and birds around the waterhole.
Shortly before lunch, we drove back, stopping at a beautiful scenic overview.
For lunch, we enjoyed rice paper rolls and a glass of wine. In the afternoon, I took pictures of insects around the villa.
When stepping on the paths, we had to watch out for not crushing the thousands of hermit crabs (Coenobita rugosus) that crawled around the property and near the beach. I took pictures and a time-lapse video of them.
They did not like to be held in a hand and vigorously attack my fingers.
Before dinner, I discovered a small jumping spider in our bathroom that I caught and then photographed on a napkin and then on a leaf.
Dinner during sunset was excellent with a concluding barbecued pineapple as a dessert.
After dinner, Sophia and I, equipped with a strong LED panel and a flashlight, continued on hunting animals in the dark. We saw large Golden Orb spiders, a Huntsman spider, mating stick insects, small lizards, a mouse, huge hermit crabs, fruit bats and many mosquitoes on our skin.
The next morning, Sophia and I explored the beach and coral area uncovered by the low tide. We saw many sea cucumbers, an amazing amount of crabs and of course countless small fish. We also disturbed three sea snakes or eels that quickly slithered away from us. We poked the little sea stars until their body including tentacles retreated into their coral niches.
After a good lunch and a short nap, we went to Split Rock for a snorkelling trip. The 30-minute drive brought us to an area from where we started to snorkel from the beach. While we saw a lot of bleached corals near the shore, the actual split rock was colonised by hundreds of colourful fish and corals. We took some picture and video with the new GoPro Hero Black 8.
In the evening, we packed our belongings for the next morning’s boat-snorkel trip. While at dinner, we learned that a cyclone was threatening to hit Fiji on the 29th of December.
On December 25th, we started early in the morning with a 6:45 am departure for the boat tour. We drove 40 min to the Jean-Michel Cousteau, son of the famous ocean explorer Jacque Cousteau. We took a bumpy 50-minute boat ride to the Namena Marine Reserve of Fiji where we snorkelled in very choppy waters. It is "known to be one of the best diving spots in all of Fiji, this exclusive site is home to many endemic and rare species. Surrounding the tiny island of Namenalala, the approximately 70 square kilometre Namena Marine Reserve was established in 1997, stretching between the two main Fijian islands of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu.”
We saw bigger fish than the day before and also a small white-tipped reef shark (1.2 metres long) and a turtle. As the waves were too large for good snorkelling, we went to a more secluded place far away from the big waves. Unfortunately, the corals were all bleached there and only few fish and colourful corals remained.
We returned to our lodge by lunch and used the time after lunch to re-book Return flights to 27th of December. In the afternoon, I took pictures of a jumping spider that was very jumpy.
On our way to the dinner, we saw many fruitbats landing on trees in the resort. The size of these Fijian flying foxes (Mirimiri acrodonta) was not unlike the ones we see each evening in Sydney.
Before dinner, the local church group performed Christmas songs in the resort dining area.
Afterwards, we had a lovely dinner at sunset.
The next morning, after a delicious breakfast, we enjoyed another walk on the low tide beach. We saw many small colourful fish and dark sea cucumbers. We also discovered near the villa a huge Golden Orb Spider and her egg sacks.
In the afternoon, we were driven to a “river” that connects a lagoon lake with the ocean. The approaching high tide supported our sea kayaking towards the lake. The stream, as well as the lake, were surrounded by Mangroves. We learned that the area around our resort and this lake (650 acres) was owned by Paul Savasi.
A stop on a hilltop on our way back allowed us to see the largest bay in Fiji.
After a shower, we had our last dinner in a cave—a special table facing the ocean on one side a meter above high tide and embedded in rocks carved out during ages. The staff had decorated the cave with fresh flowers.
Early breakfast on the next morning ended our trip on Fiji—the first rain that we experienced on the island foreshadowed the incoming cyclone.
Here more pictures.