Last week we planned to travel down to our friends' property on the Far South Coast of NSW. It's a beautiful spot right on the coast with two beaches on the property and not far from the little town I grew up in.
The trip down was uneventful. Six hours of driving but the kids and dog were great and we made it there. This is the first time we've taken the dog here, under strict instructions to keep her under control to protect wildlife and stock on the farm.
Foxie loved running around on the beaches, hanging out. She really got settled in.
It's such a stunning spot. Our happy place.
Then on day 1.5, Tuesday, one of the kids spotted smoke on the horizon. This was a weird day for weather in early October: 33 degrees with a very hot wind. Earlier in the day we'd been at one of the beaches glad to be wearing wetsuits in the ice cold water, then the wind changed and we were blasted with a wind that felt like it was an open oven. Bad news for fires.
Popping down to the beach where we can get (slow) mobile reception, it looked like there was a fire up the road. Growing fast.
It was decided we'd head to the house on the farm with its satelite internet, television and power so we could keep an eye on it. We packed our dinner and planned to settle down to ride it out.
As we drove around the corner to the house, the alarm sound came on ABC South East with the news that for those up the road from us, Cuttagee and Barraga Bay, it was now too late to leave with the massive fire front bearing down on them. So we decided instead of waiting it out in the house we'd bug out to Tathra.
As we left the fire got scarier and scarier looking in the distance. With this kind of weather—especially that hot, dry wind—fires can move with insane speed and this one was evidently a big one.
We got to Tathra and it turned out in just a few hours the fire burnt through 5,000 hectares of bush and was wildly out of control. Bugging out was definitely the right move. We would have been safe and even if the worst had happened we could have popped down to the beach and been okay, but the stress of that would've been immense.
We spent a couple of nights down at a caravan park in Tathra. Had to get some emergency prescriptions for medication we'd left behind, bought some cheap clothes since we only had what we'd left wearing. We didn't even have our wallets: not something you need on a farm. Thankfully mobile payments!
This is going to be a rough Summer in Australia. After two days of huge rains, there's a lot of plant growth and we're going into an El Nino cycle which means low rainfall, high temperatures.
Lesson: always have a plan for a bug out bag and the moment anything looks iffy with what you need for a few days. Just shove it all in a pile ready to grab and go. Leaving was definitely the right decision.
We haven't had much luck with holidays this year. Our Bali holiday earlier this year saw us all get Bali Belly and spend much of the trip feeling miserable. We might have to plan a very low key holiday to get some actual downtime! This truncated holiday didn't feel particularly restful.