This December was my first visit back to Bermagui and the south coast since last summer’s bushfires. My mid-north coast had suffered too, I knew the strain of daily fire alerts, evacuations, smoke instead of air, skies that were only shades of brown, and the sound of sirens and helicopters. But down here it seemed even more dramatic, with more villages severely impacted—nobody could ever forget those Mallacoota beach images—and the drive down the highway showed how vast the fires’ spread had been. I was overwhelmed with sadness for the terror and loss of the creatures… and the people.
I came partly to revisit The Crossing near Bermagui, to write an article for The Owner Builder magazine. I knew it had escaped the Badja Road fire and would not be quite so depressing. In fact, it proved the opposite, as Annette Turner told me the story of The Crossing, how their dream of a place for young people to learn hands-on about living sustainably became reality, and how she and her husband, Dean, found the perfect place here almost 25 years ago. Annette also acknowledged local support from Bega Valley Shire Council, IMB, groups like Probus, long-term donors such as the late Neilma Gantner, and too many individuals to name.
As Annette related instances of luck and generosity, I felt this place a worthy magnet for such ‘serendipity’, of great community and social benefit for our youth. For the leaders and shapers of our future, it symbolises the renewal needed in this bleak time of climate change and COVID.
So I was buoyed by the optimism and positive, ongoing action in the camps and courses, and the chance for adults, too, to stay in a living permaculture system through their unique Airbnb setup.
The Crossing is an integral part of this community, as shown by the Badja Fire Edge Road Gatherings held there, and the resulting Facebook page from those discussions and learnings. Their website now also has information on fire-retardant design.
The Crossing gives me hope.