In late December 2019, South Coast residents endured one of the worst bushfires in Australia’s history with hundreds of homes and businesses lost.
From black and grey to green and luscious: Sue from The Bower at Broulee shares their story of revival.
The Bower at Broulee
One business that was particularly hit hard was The Bower at Broulee. Mark and Sue Berry’s 100 acre property was badly burned, and the couple lost their family home and all of their possessions. All 5 bowers were severely damaged, and their vintage aluminium caravan was reduced to a puddle.
“We opened in 1998 and in 22 years we’ve never experienced anything like what happened with the fires,” says Sue. “On that day, we evacuated all our guests and then stayed to do what we could. We weren’t able to save the house but the fire brigade helped us put out spot fires on the decks of the bowers so we were able to save them. All the windows were smashed, the decks were burned, and the carpets were ruined so they’ve had to be fully restored.
“We were very fortunate that my brother has a holiday house down the road so we moved in there. Hopefully we can rebuild the house in the future, but so far we’ve just focussed on getting the bowers back up and running.”
Mark and Sue officially re-opened on the October long weekend, and are already booking up into December with everyone in Sydney and Canberra keen to get away.
A remarkable regeneration
Sue says the regeneration of the landscape has been remarkable and is something guests really enjoy being able to see.
“It’s incredible how the bush is coming back to life, and the recent rains have really helped. The way trees regenerate is fascinating to watch. When they’re burned they are starved of oxygen so they shoot branches and leaves out from the middle of the trunk to get oxygen back in. As the tree recovers and the crown starts flowering, the side branches fall off. It’s such a rare sight to see and from a landscape of black and grey it’s now green and luscious.
“We’re so grateful to Eurobodalla Shire Council who donated lots of nesting boxes so wildlife could return and have somewhere safe to be. We were lucky to have arborists visiting and they helped us put them around the property. Since then we’ve seen so much of the bird life come back, and I’ve also seen some echidnas and found our water dragon. Unfortunately lots of wallabies didn’t make it though, so we haven’t seen too many of them.”
A community working together
The sign of a great community is how people treat each other when the chips are down, and you’d be hard pressed to find a better example of community spirit than the South Coast.
From sharing homes to delivering food, donating money, and rallying together to lend a hand anywhere they could, Eurobodalla residents and people who consider the South Coast their second home went all out to help with recovery after the bushfires.
“Community support has been absolutely wonderful,” says Sue. “All the locals have helped each other, and invested a lot in setting up feed and water stations for wildlife.
“Even some of our guests set up a GoFundMe page to help us raise money for seedlings and other resources we needed which was so kind.
“We’re very grateful to everyone, especially Belinda and Dean who run the Mossy Café and have done so much for the community after the fires. We’re very fortunate that this is such a lovely community to live in.”
To experience the bowers for yourself simply head to The Bower at Broulee and book online.
During your stay, be sure to check out everything beautiful Broulee has to offer – with Broulee Beach less than 1km away and experiences such as learn to surf and kayaking on offer all year round. You can also walk across to Broulee Island to swim in the bays, explore rock pools, and stroll through the nature reserve.
As well as the Mossy Café on Pacific Street, there are many local cafes and restaurants featuring delicious local produce, such as The Rivermouth on Sunpatch Parade and Smokey Dans on George Bass Drive.
For a full list of places to stay and see in Broulee and surrounds, go to Explore Eurobodalla.