The road is beautiful and the cell reception is bad. Just the way I like it.

Living close to the seaside we tend to start taking the white sandy blessings for granted. Whenever the realisation kicks in it is always a good idea to head in a land to refresh the mind and experience the beauty of the high country as well.

While in South Africa we took more than just the ocean for granted. Living in Helderberg we had the mountains as well. Soon enough it becomes a common sight and you forget how blessed you really are. When we moved to London I soon realised as much and for the first 4 months I was a sorry wreck and if she could answer I would write long love letters to Gordons Bay to please forgive my adultery. But she couldn’t and I bet she wouldn’t.

A few years down the line, Australia here we come! We settled in the Mornington Peninsula, about 50km outside of Melbourne. Absolutely beautiful. I still longed for mountains though. Like a protected father, the Helderberg always watched over us. It takes getting used to it not being there anymore.

For a moment I didn’t think Australia had much in terms of mountains until we made our first trip to Lake Eildon. But it really sank in the second time around. When we drove up to Marysville. We took it slow this time and stopped for lunch on our way up the mountain pass. Wow, Australia has mountains! Covered in the thick rain forest like something out of an Amazon movie. Like most things in Australia, It’s a unique kind of beauty.

I only ever knew the low protea fynbos of Cape Town, the flowery hills of Namaqualand, and later Great Karoo fynbos. So I was amazed to see trees, more than 30 meters tall, growing as far as the eye can see. I would encourage everyone to at least try and visit Down Under at least once in your lifetime. It is hard to believe we are only starting to scratch the surface of this great country.

Driving into Marysville I was taken out of time and place for a second and teleported back to a dentist appointment I had when I was 8 years old. The dentist had this huge painting in the reception area of Switzerland. A little town, situated in a valley, snuggled in between acres and acres of trees.

For those who watched the news 10 years ago, you would know that Marysville has a history. A great fire ripped through here a decade ago, killing a lot of trees, wildlife…and people. But driving into the town you would not be able to tell. They have rebuilt and life is seemingly normal. Lest they forget they have a museum to remind people and show newcomers what happened that day.

The details of the tragedy are very hard to put into words. Looking at the high trees from the bench where I am sitting now, I can just imagine how a perfect paradise like this can suddenly turn into a scorching hell. With no escape. Nowhere to run to. Staying close to the water, or seeking the ironic shelter of a wide open space. Not knowing where your friends or family are. Not knowing where your children are. Witnesses from that day said as they left the town, they could see the burnt bodies still in the cars next to the road. People screaming in the distance as they discovered what remained of their loved ones.

Yet they are broken, they have not given up. Nature did what it does best after a fire and it blossomed. And God did what He does best and He healed those affected. They are probably still healing.

Baring all that in mind it takes some heavy lifting to shift my mind back to the beauty right next to me. The soft sound of the running stream. The birds and crickets joining into what is natures choir. The excitement and gratefulness of what might be in store today.

With a soft whisper, I thank God for this blessing and I ask Him to please keep my children safe.

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