After two months of Covid-19 lockdown, Australia is tentatively emerging from the devastating global pandemic and, thankfully, relatively unscathed it seems. It’s now time to leave the confines of our homes and gingerly push the boundaries of our newly bestowed freedom. We’re now allowed out and about and can even head out of town, so it was with some joy that we headed up to the Blue Mountains on Saturday morning to catch up with our dear friends in Blackheath – a gathering of no more than five of course, plus one dog and a whole load of noisy parrots.
The last time we were up here was back in mid-February, shortly after the last of the fires had been extinguished, sadly revealing the devastating blackened scars and scorched earth scenes right across this world heritage region. There were some encouraging signs of life emerging back then so we were eager to see how much had changed.
Today I can happily report that much regrowth has taken place in the past two months or so, encouraged along by near-normal rain fall. Looking out from Govett’s Leap across the deep wooded canyons that stretch uninterrupted to the horizon, it’s now a sea of green eucalyptus that reclaims the landscape. The burnt out fallen gums and charred logs are now entwined in the ‘fuzz’ of rejuvenation with splashes of vivid yellow wattle. Xanthorrhoea or what are commonly known here as ‘Black Boys’ (Grass Trees) are urgently sprouting everywhere, being as they are, one of the first opportunists following a fire. They’re quite impressive with their almost architectural slender green ‘skirts’ and, when more mature, the emergence of an enormous spear-like spike.
On Sunday morning we crossed over the railway lines to the Shipley Plateau and the Logan Brae Orchard, a 100-year-old family business set on an escarpment overlooking the Megalong Valley. What a charming place, low key and rustic with an in-season farm shop selling everything apple – crates of gorgeous Royal Galas, apple pies, apple juice, jams, jellies and chutneys. Apple heaven.
So what to do with a crate of apples? Suggestions and recipes welcome.