The woodland edging Tia Gorge is scrawny, still struggling to regrow after the fires.The top branches of most remain twiggy claws.
Yet one subzero morning those bare claws were transformed, silver-coated, sparkling like crystals as the sun hit them.
At first I was unsure what I was seeing. Frost to the treetops? On the tin roof of the one structure at the camping ground, the longdrop toilet, the melting frost did not sound like raindrops, but small hail. Then shards of ice began skidding onto the cement floor as they were loosened by the sun from their high perches.
Grwing up in a coastal hinterland valley, I had seen plenty of hard ground frosts, but not tree-high ones, so this was a new experience for me.
How lucky to be here for such an event; common for locals no doubt, but like magic for me. A wave of the wand and … filigree silver above me!
The many dead trees had other ways of making themselves beautiful, like bedecking themselves with fluffy lichen, dainty as pear blossom.
Even the now defunct epicormic tufts of shoots that had appeared from under the blackened bark after the fires were decorative. This was one tree that they did not manage to save.
And, never least, fungi! A whole colony, white to cream to amber, studded this single rough-barked elder.
Diversity and beauty in survival, despite clearly devastating bushfires, in this tablelands woodland.