- Burnt trees on the drive up the Clyde

Visiting the Australian South Coast after the bushfires

The BMW Car Club of Canberra visits the South Coast for fish 'n' chips

On the 6th of May, 1937, as Herbert Morrison witnessed the crash of the Hindenburg he exclaimed: “Oh, the humanity.” It’s a cry from the heart when the scope of the tragedy overcomes a person's vocabulary to describe it.

As Australia burned during the summer of 2019-2020, I recalled Herbert Morrison’s famous quote. This recollection was, in part, because our very own Morrison – Scott, that is – had a Prime Ministerial response to this tragedy akin to the Hindenburg's docking procedure.

It also summed up my own helplessness while watching the disaster unfold. However, now that the floods helped the firefighters extinguish much of the fires (yes... massive floods dousing massive bushfires... only in Australia), the chance for me and others to help had come.

Rebuilding from the ashes

You see, the cry “oh, the humanity” has, within it, the seeds of optimism. It’s the glimpse of humanity helping humanity after a tragedy. While disasters cannot be undone, what can be done is picking up and rebuilding. This is where the community springs into action and contributions, big or small, are welcome.

An E92 325i ready to deploy

An E92 325i ready to deploy

It's in this capacity the BMW Car Club of Canberra organised a “Bateman’s Bay Fish and Chip” drive to put some money back into the NSW South Coast economy. It also meant I could break my diet and tuck into my favourite fare, but that’s not so important.

So, on a bright Sunday morning, a number of members met on the ACT/NSW border for the journey down the Clyde to Batemans Bay. There was a BMW X5M, an E92 325i, an E34 540i and, later, joined by 2000 7 series. My wife and I joined in our i8.

BMW Car Club Canberra... with cash and ready to deploy to the South Coast

BMW Car Club Canberra... with cash and ready to deploy to the South Coast

Driving to Batemans Bay - first stop Braidwood

I’m not sure what I expected as we drove to the Clyde. Perhaps a scorched Earth and ashen fields. I’d been both anticipated and dreaded the drive.

We stopped at the bakery at Braidwood and had mid-morning tea. Pies and sausage rolls were eaten, and I enjoyed a welcome coffee. There was activity and people shopping. The indicators were good, but what about down the coast?

Parked at Braidwood for the morning break

Parked at Braidwood for the morning break

Down the Clyde and Batemans Bay

We left Braidwood and wound down the Clyde. There were forests of burnt trees (although Pooh Corner appeared untouched) and the signs of devastation all too apparent. But the recent rains and floods meant tufts of green sprouting off black eucalyptus trunks. On the side of the road, new grass sprouted up this carried with it signs of renewal.

Down the Clyde and visible regrowth

Down the Clyde and visible regrowth

One of the best sights was the lines of cars driving in to, and out of, the Bay. The word had gotten around. People knew. Canberrans were driving to the coast and bringing with them custom for the local economy.

At Batemans Bay we had lunch at the Boat Shed and it was, as usual, excellent. For dessert my wife and I descended to the Bay Café opposite for ice cream and crepes. We chatted with the owners and the feeling was not one of dwelling on the fires, but rebuilding for the future.

Parked opposite the boat shed for fish and chips

Parked opposite the boat shed for fish and chips

Back to Canberra

We peeled off and drove back to Canberra. Again, we were part of a convoy of cars, each of whom had gone to the coast. As I waited behind a number of cars, I saw the parallel between the green leaves sprouting on dark tree trunks and the optimism of the South Coast community. Its an optimism that rebuilds communities.

It is a rebuilding we can share around the swathes of burnt towns around Australia from the terrible summer of 2019-20. A rebuilding by supporting local towns and communities in all manner of ways. In this instance, it's economic and something not limited to the BMW Car Club of Canberra.

Going down to the coast for fish 'n' chips, or a holiday, or just a coffee. It all helps.

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Comments (17)

  • I'm really glad someone has taken the time to write about the effects of the bushfires from a touring perspective.

    If those mature gum trees are completely deceased, then there might be a future problem , as the decomposing root systems could allow the hillside cuttings to loosen up, increasing the risk of rock slides.

      1 year ago
    • I don't know what it was like elsewhere, but lots of the trees along the road were sprouting small, green leaves. It could be further inland a lot worse, but what I saw looked far better than I expected

        1 year ago
    • I don't know enough about the effects of extreme bushfires on trees, but the recent fires were nasty.

      Time will telI I guess .

        1 year ago
  • Great article, Stuart. I was down there recently, having fish and chips and ice cream*. The Clyde you will have noticed is a remarkably airy drive now, though one of the first things to regenerate was Pooh's Corner.

    * Batemans Bay Ice Creamery is probably the best. Particularly if you choose Irish cream and macadamia.

      1 year ago
  • Im guessing its 'smoked fish' & chips.

      1 year ago
  • I go down there in the summer for the summer holidays in the caravan park over the river from the boat shed . It’s a beautiful town small and charming place same with whole region. 👍

      1 year ago
    • We visit the Bay a lot and the owners of the cafe opposite are friends of ours. It wasn't the easiest of drives.

      But I saw optimism. Lots of rebuilding, no denying, but also optimism

        1 year ago
  • Nice write up. I had been thinking of doing a similar write up of a jaunt in south australia through a bushfire burnout zone, but hadn’t gotten around to it yet.

      1 year ago
    • Thank you. I think it's a case of doing what you can.

      We visit the South Coast a lot, so in our case it's a matter of getting back into the swing of things.

      There's just so much of Australia affected by the fires, though. It sadly was a summer...

      Read more
        1 year ago
    • My old stomping grounds had a pretty bad burnout as well, but I just haven't had the time to get out and talk to people. Soon.

        1 year ago
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