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Beat the heat

6 February 2017

Seeking relief in the Clarence Valley

Don’t know about you, but I’ve pretty much had it with this heat. It seems that ever since Chrissy we’ve just cooked, week in week out.

Not that my complaint is particular to the region, but ... well … you know you’ve settled into a place when you start to whinge.

Our rustic home - purchased in the middle of a temperate autumn - has turned out to be a real hot box. (You don’t think to ask the vendor about insulation when you’re enraptured by high ceilings and glimpses of lake through the gums.) A note of advice for young players: when looking for a home to purchase, words like ‘rustic’ ‘quaint’ and ‘charming’ are red flags.

Ah well, cry me a river. We adore our oven-like house and will find the coin one day to insulate the daylights out of the bugger.

It’s remarkable, though, what this heat will do when combined with some of those rain events we had in the last fortnight. Talk about growth! A few good soaks and the landscape transformed from brown and tinder dry to a lush riot of green. The sugar cane’s gone berserk, too: One week you could easily see clear across the fields of young plants as you drove home from work, the next week the cane has formed a towering wall so dense and impenetrable it’d bring a tear of joy to a certain President ‘s eye.

Speaking of heat, we chose the hottest day of the century last week to cram five colleagues into a single SUV and spend a day sussing out the checkpoints of the Clarence Canoe and Kayak Trail. There was no canoeing or kayaking for us as we had to cover a lot of territory – though we did manage the odd quick swim.

Did you know The Clarence Valley has the longest whitewater trail in Australia?

Did you know The Clarence Valley has the longest whitewater trail in Australia? The trail comprises of eight sections, ranging from mellow to experienced-only rapids. It’s 195 Kilometres long, and winds through gorges and landscapes so beautiful you often find yourself just standing there and saying a soft ‘wow’.

It’s hard not to feel a thrill of pride and gratitude. To think: this is our valley! (please put ‘this is our valley!’ in italics.) And realise we live somewhere as beautiful and exotic as anywhere on the planet.

There were some sublime moments of escaping the heat that day: Swimming at The Junction and the Nymboida River Campground; walking in forest shade under a cooling canopy, and the icy cold glasses of Lemon Lime Bitters at a classic riverside pub at day’s end.

My favourite moment of escaping the heat was late afternoon at Copmanhurst, which marks the end of the Canoe and Kayak Trail. As we were conducting an impromptu logistical meeting on the riverbank, cars arrived and occupants spilled out: Mums, dads, brothers, sisters, friends, couples and dogs. Floaties were attached to toddlers, sunscreen was applied to impatient children, lilos were tucked under arms and everyone made their way into the water. It was clearly Copmanhurst’s summer after-work ritual.

Another ritual unfolded at exactly the same time 200 metres downriver. A farmer opened a gate and a few dozen cows gambolled down to the water. The track looked steep but that didn’t stop them from running, literally leaping with excitement at the prospect of getting in the water, where they stood side by side, shoulder deep, and drank in the cool.

The heat may be oppressive, but surely Autumn is around the corner, and in the meantime we have our glorious waterways to give relief to man and beast.

Fresh Eyes - Gra Murdoch

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