This year was different, with Christmas falling on a Sunday and also being coincident with the start of the school holidays, a lot of people were out of town for Christmas weekend.
Instead of being downcast we took this as an opportunity to have some quality time to ourselves. Saturday saw us up bright and early to get fresh salad, bread and seafood, in fact we managed to get ourselves a lobster. Served with brown bread, asparagus and salad, and a decent bottle of champagne, that was Christmas Eve sorted.
For Christmas day we’d originally planned on a picnic in the bush, but the weather was against us, threatening rain and storms, so plan B.
We cooked a brace of poussin on Saturday afternoon. Originally we’d planned to take them out on a picnic, with salads, but no. Instead we drove out to Yankee Hat in Namadgi national park and walked over to the aboriginal rock shelter.
While it had been raining the road was dry, the sky blue and a warm 29C, and we were the only vehicle in the car park. Off we went, across the grassland and over the bridge through the swampy bit, making sure we clapped our hands and sang to scare off any snakes lurking in the grass. We must have sounded like a pair of demented escapees from an evangelical Christmas service.
As we started climbing up through the the last wooded bit, the sky darkened, the birds ceased to sing, and the ‘roos started huddling under trees. A storm was coming.
At the shelter we took pictures of the rock art, undisturbed by any other visitors, and ate a fairly spartan lunch of oatcakes, cheese and bananas. All the time the sky grew darker and thunder rumbled around. We debated hunkering down at the rock shelter until the storm passed, especially as we’d stupidly left our waterproofs in the car, but in the end we decided to make a dash for it.
Two thirds of the way back while we were crossing an open bit it began to rain, slowly, big splashy drops like one dollar coins. However we made it to a clump of trees and rocks without incident and took shelter in the lee of a couple of big rocks that kept eighty per cent of the rain off us. After ten or so minutes the storm moved off further down the valley without really hitting us and we made a dash for the car.
On the way back it was clear how lucky we’d been – on the way in the fords on the road had been deeper than usual but nothing special. On the way back they were much the same, which we mistakenly took as a good omen, but the road had turned to porridge in a couple of places meaning that the descent down one slope was more a controlled slide than anything else, water was running over the road in half a dozen places which had been dry. In a four wheel drive we were safe enough, but in an ordinary car it could have been challenging.
Once back on the sealed road things were good enough but further down the mountain there had been hail and it was still piled thickly at the roadside, making the bush look as if there had been a snowfall.
Further down the hill, heading towards Tharwa we caught the storm up. By this stage the hail had stopped and all we had to contend with was heavy lashing rain.
Home, showers, fruitcake and tea, followed by Christmas dinner and blobbing out with a movie adaption of Noel Coward’s Easy Virtue on the the ABC , while listening to the rain patter down completed our day. Unplanned, relaxed and fun, exactly as Christmas should be.