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Ashby, NSW

S 29°26'17" E 153°11'43"

Mon 24 - Tue 25 Jul 2000

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Monday 24th

We had promised to visit Les and Val Kerr on our way to Brisbane so we headed for Ashby. Charlie had said that the road to Grafton through Nymboida was now sealed all the way so we chose that route.

The advice was a little premature. While the road through Ebor is now sealed, the 13 km (8 miles) through the Clouds Creek State Forest is still a pretty rough gravel road.

As we drove down the valley, a huge Wedge-tailed Eagle flew majestically across the road at windscreen height and no more than 10 metres (30 ft) in front of us. What a spectacular sighting.

We finally arrived at Ashby at sunset (5 pm) and were entertained to afternoon tea and to dinner. Our contribution was a bottle of 1997 Chapel Hill Shiraz which was very nice.

We settled in snugly on the lawn outside the workshop and promised to stay another day.

Tuesday 25th

Les and Val took us on a picnic to a place called Victoria Park near Woodburn. It is a small piece of rainforest which was reserved in 1890 and is still in its original condition. Some adjoining land which had been cleared has been incorporated and is regenerating naturally.

The park also has a nice grassy picnic area and carpark (cost $5.50 inc GST!).

We walked slowly and quietly round the loop track though the rainforest seeing and hearing many birds including Wampoo Pigeons, Whipbirds, and Noisy Pittas, a new species for me.

Val was really excited by the profusion of birds we saw.

We took a side path to see the largest Strangler Fig in the forest which is so old that it is now obviously in decline and is being parasited by new, young Strangler Figs.

The path takes you into the regeneration area and it is fascinating to see how much less diverse it is compared with the original rainforest. The concept of age monoculture comes to mind and it is clear that it will be hundreds rather than tens of years before the regeneration is complete. So much for the timber industry that regeneration works well enough to allow the clear-felling of old growth forest.

We stepped out of the park into an adjoining farm to get a view of the sea and, as we were returning, Val noticed a big, beautiful Carpet Python in the tree we had walked under. This is really the first time I have seen a snake in its natural environment and I was most impressed.

On the way back to Ashby I discovered that I had been communing with nature much more closely than I had imagined. A leech had been feeding from my thigh for a considerable time and was now, not one or two mm in diameter, but eight or nine!!.

We had dinner at The Spice Rack in Yamba which we had visited on our previous stay in Ashby. The restaurant was not open to the public but was doing a special ladies Night Dinner for the Rotary club and we joined in.

The couple who help out in the restaurant are both teachers who met Nick, the owner, through his children. The lady had had some problems helping the Indian migrant children in her classes and had devised a plan with Nick to spend three months in India living in his village and learning something of the language and customs of the people. She now uses her knowledge of their background to better relate to her pupils and to help the other children understand the differences in their backgrounds.

She entertained the Rotarians with a description of life in the village by way of describing the cooking of an indian meal. Nick also did his party piece for them dressing up in traditional clothes and putting on an eight metre (27 ft) turban.

We returned to Ashby for coffee, port and conversation.

Altogether a very pleasant day.

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Created by Robin Chalmers on 24.07.2000 and last revised 29.07.2000