Falling for Fitzroy

28 February 2021 / Story: Mark Mansell; Photos: Anda Clayton, Anne Zattera, Bob Downing, Mark Mansell

Now that I’m semi-retired, well, only work when I feel like keeping my hand in, the opportunity to attend a few mid week runs has become a long wished for reality. So as close scrutiny of the MX-5 South Coast section coming events revealed, a run to Fitzroy Falls for a picnic lunch. Yes, count me in for that one please. So as the 25th day of February slowly crept closer and closer, so did the preparations on my little car get closer to becoming clean and presentable after the last outing in the rain.

 These are my reflections on what was an eventful day with good people, good, no, excellent scenery and some mildly testing driving conditions and twisty roads.

 We met up at the Truck turning bay just off the Princes Highway on BTU Road, South Nowra. Actually, Graeme and Anne and Myself were the last ones to get there.

 Before setting out from home the weather was fine and sunny. So, the top went down. The sunscreen was in the passenger side door and sun glasses were the order of the day. There was still the nagging possibility however that there could be a bit of rain about, possibly as the day moved on. It’s funny how we say that. It should actually be stated “as the earth rotated on its axis about the sun”. Anyway, I digress. There were some clouds building in the south west. But I said I was going and going on this run I was. Previously I had arranged to meet Graeme and Anne at the United Service Station at Tomerong at 9-30. As I was sitting there waiting for them the overcast sky was growing worse by the minute. So, I put the top back up. A prudent move as things got a bit more and more overcast very quickly. The natural culmination being of course the inevitable wet stuff that falls from the sky under the influence of gravity.

So here we all were, gathered at the entrance to BTU Road, some in club colours and some not. There were nine of us, being our illustrious Club Conveners, Brian and Anda Clayton, Graeme and Anne, Bob and Linda, Bill and Jan and myself. This number would grow to ten all together because we met Tony at the morning tea stop. More later.

 At about 10:00ish we set off. Before leaving Brian said that we might lose contact with each other as we proceeded through Nowra, so we would re-group a couple of kilometres into Bolong Road. This was an excellent plan as we did indeed get very split up with traffic lights and the somewhat impoverished road conditions imposed by the construction of the new bridge. We regrouped and proceeded along Bolong Rd, running along the Northern side of the Shoalhaven River. This is when the rain started to get a bit heavier. We went past the turn off to Shoalhaven Heads, but turned left to find our morning tea spot, “The Three Pots Café” at Coolangatta. This is where we met the aforementioned Tony patiently awaiting our arrival. We practised good Covid safety and followed all the rules with QR codes on our phones and hand sanitizer. Brian had already pre booked a reservation and it wasn’t long before the ten of us were ensconced around a very large table. In what seemed like no time we had all placed our orders and were served. I can recommend this place to anyone. I had some scones with jam and cream and it was delicious. No subject was beyond discussion. The ageing process; the loss of Australia’s manufacturing Industry and how disgustingly shameful that was; Hearing loss; Why men die earlier than women on average. Thank goodness for freedom of speech. As we departed the Cafe, again we did the correct Covid procedures in booking out etc and it was still raining in a most annoying way as we walked to our little vehicles. You remember those hot summer nights when the mosquitoes would keep buzzing around. The rain was like that.

 We departed feeling somewhat refreshed with something in our tummies, and feeling more together as a group now that we had agreed on so many facets of Australian life.  

 Our Intrepid leader led us back onto Bolong road and heading North we ran along through the bushy parts with the Tasman sea on our right, through Gerroa, and Gerringong, where we re-connected with the Princes Highway and up the steep hill into the famous Kiama bends. Taking the Kiama turnoff we turned into we headed up Saddleback Mountain Road and out to Jamberoo. There was a lot of gear changing as we worked our way through some twisty and steep hilly sections approaching Barren Grounds. Tony and I compared notes later as we were discussing the slippery conditions. My new Nexen tyres and wheel alignment have proven to be an excellent investment. Proceeding through Robertson, our illustrious leader turned left onto Pearsons Lane, then Myra Vale Rd. The Fitzroy Falls Reservoir was clearly visible on our right and I knew that we were now on the last lap. Turning right onto Moss Vale Rd. (Nowra Rd.) and then right again into the Fitzroy Falls parking area.

The eagles had landed.

With all the recent rain the Falls were in full swing. Naturally we all gathered at the main lookout to see what is one of the most breath-taking sights I have ever seen. I think we were all very impressed. Just as we got there the skies cleared and the sun was shining which illuminated the wet sandstone cliff faces magnificently as if they had been varnished. I don’t care if you are a creationist or an evolutionist or even believe in nothing, the view from this lookout is truly incredible. This view makes one feel miniscule in this vast universe. The trees below look like broccoli and the water flowing over the edge seems relentless. Looking above and realising that we are travelling through space at thousands of miles per hour underpins the fact that YOU, the observer, are simply nothing more than a passenger on this small planet as it continuously falls towards the sun in its orbit through what is, in reality but inconceivably the vacuum of space.  

 We did some group photos and watched the water accelerate under the influence of gravity until it reached its mach number at which point it disperses into turbulent flow. You could see as far as the human eye could detect.

Then we were started to feel hungry again. We all sat at the tables and chairs under a huge and very strongly constructed canopy and consumed our several picnic lunches and naturally more talking took place, until it was time to go. On my way home I was thinking how today turned out all for the better. Great bunch of lovely people, really good company. Excellent and courteous driving was practiced by everyone and we all kept strictly to the speed limits. At stop signs we all stopped. We all practiced good driving manners in providing plenty of time for indicating. Yes, it was a great day.