The crazy bushfires of summer have long gone, but the traces of it are still very much present. Blackened tree trunks stretch out as far as the eye can see, and so does the ashen dirt. However, the nature is rapidly recovering itself, and more and more green grass and shoots drape over the desolation and destruction with each passing day. This is what it's like at the Clarence Dam, a small locality in the Blue Mountains not too far away from Lithgow, NSW.

The Clarence Dam.The Clarence Dam.

Pretty nice out here.Pretty nice out here.

Lots of water.Lots of water.

Lots of reflections.Lots of reflections.

Bushfires really did a number on this place, though.Bushfires really did a number on this place, though.

This is where Maisie and I finally catch up for a small time off in nature away from all the Covid craziness. Yes, by now it's pretty crazy all over the country: panic buying, campground closures, public place shutdowns, crowding restrictions – the whole shebang. Luckily, out here there's barely anyone, apart from a few weekend visitors that come and go. And despite the whole burnt-out aesthetics of the place, it's still quite beautiful in its own way.

Campfire time!Campfire time!

Regrowth has already begun.Regrowth has already begun.

Some sprouts are greener than others.Some sprouts are greener than others.

Look! A feather!Look! A feather!

The area looks both desolate and full of life.The area looks both desolate and full of life.

We spend some wonderful time together, just walking around in the bush, taking photos and visiting the nearby lookouts. The autumn is just beginning, and the days are sunny and still (by Mountains standars) quite warm. I'm even going to have enough sunlight to power my whole trailer for the next couple of weeks; however, by the end of those it's pretty evident that as a backup option, a generator is very much a necessity.

Well, at least no one else has been bothering me here, in this quiet burnt-out forest, and at least my stay here here is entirely free of charge. And when Maisie leaves and returns to Sydney, it leaves quite a bit empty place in my heart for a few days; when you spend so much time on your own, you kinda forget how much you miss hanging out with people that you really like.

Maisie is busy.Maisie is busy.

Photography ain't easy!Photography ain't easy!

Bark “licks” the tree like a fire.Bark “licks” the tree like a fire.

Young gum sprouts.Young gum sprouts.

Elbow wrinkles.Elbow wrinkles.

A clear path.A clear path.

Mushrooms!Mushrooms!

Ants!Ants!

At the Mountains.At the Mountains.

Look at those clouds!Look at those clouds!

Maisie is taking a nap.Maisie is taking a nap.

Maisie is reflecting.Maisie is reflecting.

Fake rock art.Fake rock art.

The afternoon grows late.The afternoon grows late.

Almost monochromatic.Almost monochromatic.

Life is tough.Life is tough.

But sky's the limit.But sky's the limit.

As April begins, I decide to go on with my previous plans and head off to the west of the country; been a while since I've been to Western Australia, after all! So on a very drizzly Saturday morning I pack up and take off, and finally buy myself a “genie” in Bathurst a few hours later. Self-containment for the win!

It's a long way to the South Australian border, and so I spend the night at a nice quiet rest stop near Goolgowi. However, as I resume my journey the morning after, yet another piece of unexpected news reaches my ears: the SA border is now closed off for interstate travellers, and they don't accept “camping somewhere out there” as a legitimate 14-day self-isolation place. Of course, I can still travel through SA—the current restrictions permit transit—but on the Western Australian border, which has also shut itself down, it's going to be even worse.

Somewhat upset and surprised by all these developments, I stop mid-way, near Balranald, and spend a few days there, pondering my long-term plans. Up until now, all the coronavirus madness wasn't getting too much in the way of my new lifestyle; this time, however, it's getting really uncomfortable. My travelling options are severely limited now, not only country-wide but also state-wide, what with all the campground closures. And because no one knows anything at this stage as to how long this whole bedlam is going to last, to make any kinds of plans, much less anything long-term, is extremely difficult.

Hunting for close-ups near Balranald.Hunting for close-ups near Balranald.

The chasm.The chasm.

Last light.Last light.

Eventually I set my eyes on a place near Hay, which is only a short drive away, and which I had visited this summer already. It's not an official campground, so it should still be available; it has shopping and mobile coverage; and due to all the non-essential travel restrictions, it shouldn't be too crowded either.

Will any of that be true? Let's find out, shall we. At least, without a fixed place of residence these days, all my travels are “essential”, so at least that shouldn't be of any legal concern.

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