The Empty Esky Tour, Day 21 – Colac Colac

Day 21 Thursday 12/3/20 Towong Flat to Colac Colac, warm

We wake to another bright clear morning. The river has dropped a little overnight but it is still muddy and brown.

We stop at the Corryong dump point which is located in the saleyards and discover that Coles (supermarkets) Online send a truck here regularly. The locals meet it to pick up their orders. It is an alternative to shopping in the IGA in town and probably easier for those with outlying properties.

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View of the burnt ranges from the Corryong Saleyards

The friendly and lovely park manager at Colac Colac (pronounced…wait for it….Clack Clack) gives us 4 parks together and lets us park in a square. Or in caravan speak ‘circle the wagons’. Feeling somewhat laid back and spoilt for choice none of us understand the layout she’s explaining so we all just nod politely. It takes us a long time to setup. Perhaps the long drive just did us in, after all it was a whopping 19kms.

 Woody and I have stayed in this park before and we’re thankful that it has survived the fires. Properties on either side of the park were lost but the European trees here would have helped as they don’t give off flammable oils like the eucalypts do. The park itself is in a grassy garden like setting of several hectares with grand specimen trees. We’re told that the fire raced down the range behind then stopped at tiny Nariel Creek on the park’s back border. What stopped it? One or all of three factors, most importantly a sudden wind change, the creek and the European trees. The creek is still running dirty with ash and fire remnants. Many houses in Corryong were lost but we’re told that a number burnt down after the fires had been controlled, victims of smouldering embers.

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Colac Colac Caravan Park, Vic
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Tiny Nariel Creek behind the Colac Colac Caravan Park.

We take a drive out to Cudgewa, 6kms away, an area that was also hit hard. Firstly, a word of explanation. Tiny farming community of Cudgewa which most Australians hadn’t heard of until these fires has always held a place in our hearts. Many years ago when Woody and I were very much younger we had a mate with a farm in Cudgewa North and several times a year a group of us would race up here on a Friday night, a four and half hour drive, for a weekend of partying and old country music. As we passed through town the Cudgewa publican would ring Alan with “Al, your city mates are on the way.” Nowadays we’re much older and our mate has long since passed away but the memories of good times remain.

To see Cudgewa now is heartbreaking, many houses and sheds have been lost. Once again farms look green but, it is only from fast growing weeds. Deliveries of hay are piled up at the gates to feed stock. The main roads have been repaired but secondary roads show signs of having melted. Freshly felled burnt timber is piled beside the roads. New fences are springing up rapidly as Blaze Aid volunteers work their wonder. Like so many in the district Alan’s old house has gone.

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The burnt range and bushland, fences burnt. Yet one tree remains unscathed. Cudgewa North, Vic
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The gums sprout furiously to aid their recovery.
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Hills burnt bare at Cudgewa, Vic
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To the left of the driveway, only a chimney remains of Alan’s old house.

Summary

Accom $28.50 (stay 4 pay 3 deal)

Utilities: power, water, showers, toilets

Fuel: $0

Towing Kms: 19kms

11 thoughts on “The Empty Esky Tour, Day 21 – Colac Colac

    1. There were so many that I refused to photograph but that one meant so much to us. Those nights laughing and singing with mates and clutching coffees on the verandah nursing hangovers. Still mornings with the mountains reflected in the dams.

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  1. I have been sickened over the loss of land and wildlife in your beautiful country. Now we have the Corona virus to contend with. I pray you people down there are being spared from it. I’m 79 years old now, hard to believe all the changes that have taken place in my time. I just finished a book about my ancestors, I owe everything I have to them. Thinking of you people often, stay well, be happy.

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