Recently I stayed in a rustic cabin by a billabong where Nefertiti rose serene from the water and Dusky Moorhens kept a respectful distance, trailing ripples as they trawled for food, and creating delightful reflections.
At The Old Brush reserve near Cessnock, NSW, acres of mown native grass surround eight billabongs and countless picnic spots and fireplaces with wood stacked ready. In secret and mossy spots in the forest or in sundrenched clearings, you come across statues or civilised garden seats.
Kangaroos laze in security by Grecian columns; semi-naked ladies swoon by equally ‘palely loitering’ Blue Gums; a multitude of birds other than waterbirds are attracted to the water – such as a flock of White-headed Pigeons.
Metres away from the bottom accommodation cabin, I saw a Bower Bird’s display bower, with its collection of blue objects, including plastic pegs!
The reserve is owned by Robert and Gail Bignell, and they share its beauty with the public. Robert is a professional photographer and has his Rainforest Studio there.
Visitors are welcome to picnic, camp, or rent a cabin, and Robert keeps kilometres of paths mown or clear for easy bushwalking through the stunning bushland beyond the valley floor ‘garden’ of his 40 hectares — with access to the adjoining Conservation Area. City and overseas visitors love it!
Juxtaposition of the civilised and the wild creates an unusual extended garden where people can access natural bushland of varying types in safe and signposted walks.
I was there to soak up some more of its peaceful pleasures than I’d had the chance to do before — because I’m going to nominate this wonderful place for an environmental and community award.