One year ago, I was about to begin my last trip to Australia, before settling back home in France. During the final month I spent in the country, I went to many places that I hadn’t visited before like Jervis Bay for example, 200km South of Sydney. You probably all know now that Australia is facing terrible bushfires since a few weeks, especially in the South-East of the country. Seeing this is breaking my heart, and that’s why I decided to write this article: I want to think about Australia in a positive way instead of being sad, I want to talk about the fantastic moments I lived there not so long ago, and I want to remember how good it was to be in Jervis Bay, where the sand is whiter than anywhere else in the world.
📷 For more pictures have a look at my gallery of photos of the South Coast of New South Wales.
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I hesitated for a while before publishing this article. Can I really share memories of carefree and beautiful moments of my travels in Australia while the country is facing what might be the worst tragedy of its history? I eventually decided to do it, if only as a tribute to this country I love, and to express the hope that its beauty and its fabulous biodiversity will survive without too many scars.
I don’t know the exact situation of the area around Jervis Bay. I don’t know if this region has been spared from the bushfires so far, if it has been partially damaged, or if everything has been destroyed. To be honest, I don’t want to know. I already know that millions of hectares of land have burnt, that a huge part of the country has been completely devasted, that many people and millions of animals have lost their lives. I know that this is one of the greatest ecological disasters of our time… until the next one. I don’t want to see pictures of the places I visited after they went up in flames, I don’t want to see images of injured animals; I don’t want that because I already feel extremely sad and completely heart-broken when I think about this horrible situation.
What I want to do instead is reminding me how beautiful I found Jervis Bay and its surroundings when I went there in February 2019, how gorgeous the road from the Blue Mountains was and how much I loved driving on it, especially in the forest between Moss Vale and Kangaroo Valley. And that view over the Fitzroy Falls… Imagining that this unique nature might have been reduced to ashes is pure torture for me.
I don’t know why I waited until my very last week in Australia to finally visit Jervis Bay, with only one full day to spend there. If I had come earlier, I would have stayed much longer for sure. What brought me to the area was reading somewhere that Hyams Beach (the most famous beach in Jervis Bay) had the whitest sand in the world: this title was even officially awarded by the Guinness Book of Records! I haven’t seen every single beach around the world, but what I can definitely say is that the sand was indeed very white, and that Hyams Beach and all the other beaches here were extraordinarily beautiful.
The entire peninsula at the southernmost extremity of the bay is part of a National Park (called the Booderee National Park), which I found absolutely amazing. The landscape was gorgeous: a lovely forest next to the ocean, with hiking trails and more fantastic beaches. But the best thing were the birds: dozens of parrots were flying everywhere around me. I had never seen so many at the same time before! Observing them was fascinating: there was the King Parrot, with a red body and green wings; the Crimson Rosella, red head, red, blue and black wings and blue tail; and the multicouloured Rainbow Lorikeet, probably the most elegant with its blue head, red beak, yellow, red and orange body, and bright-green wings. None of them seemed afraid of me, and I was able to approach them close enough to take the following pictures.
I could have stayed hours watching them… which to be honest is pretty much what I did. My intention was to snorkel in the pristine water of Jervis Bay (I had been told that the beach called Green Patch was a great place for this activity), but I almost didn’t swim at all, fascinated by the parrots. I also bumped into a few kangaroos and saw a different kind of bird: a kookaburra. These birds are an icon of Australia: their call sounds like a human laugh and a monkey scream at the same time. Sleeping in the wild in my campervan and hearing them “laugh” in the trees around me is something that I will never forget. This kookaburra wasn’t shy at all either, and I was able to approach him so close that I could almost touch him. He was staring at me looking very curious the whole time, which made me weirdly feel like there was some kind of connection between us.
I would have loved to stay longer, but I had to leave before the end of the afternoon: driving here in the dark is very dangerous because of kangaroos, and there’s a great danger of accidentally hitting one. I keep fantastic memories of that day, and I can only hope today that the amazing fauna and flora of Booderee National Park has not been too much impacted by these devastating bushfires. All my thoughts are going to the people of Jervis Bay and of Australia!
Is there something you and I can do against these bushfires? Donate money might help the firefighters and contribute to save what can still be saved, but if we really want to avoid this kind of tragedy to happen again in the future, we don’t have a choice: we must change our lifestyle. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of climate change sceptics today, and some of them are among the most powerful people in the world. But they are wrong: global warming IS a thing, and these bushfires are one of its consequences. I’m not saying that out of nowhere: I’m just repeating what scientists and meteorologists have been predicting since many years now. So yes, if we all change some of our habits and try to live in a more environment-friendly and sustainable way, we can all contribute to change things, and hopefully in a positive way.