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Bindo Creek or Millionth Acre? The choice was easy

We managed to dodge the rain with this one - a short camp but quite productive and enjoyable. Dave and I teamed up to spend a night at the Millionth Acre Campground on Jenolan Caves Road at the turn off to the central western town of Oberon. During winter, Oberon is arguably the coldest place in the Blue Mountains, being around 1,300 metres above sea level and has a reputation for being touched by snow first when snow does hit.

We got fortunate and there didn't end up being rain or snow this weekend and the weather ended up being quite sunny. On Saturday, we were actually still deciding on where to pitch the tents and we shortlisted a place where my car ultimately could not go. An attempt to get down to a place called Bindo Creek the week before proved fruitless due to the rough track and I wasn't about to repeat what happened on the last camp, where a serious bog resulted in some minor underbelly damage, which I still need to get repaired.

The day was getting on a bit and it was time to get the camp set up for the night and then do a hunt for firewood. Outside the border of the Kanangra-Boyd National Park I did find a good supply near the famous Six Foot Track - a 42km hiking track that runs from Katoomba to the Jenolan Caves. I cut up enough to get us through what was ultimately a cold night then headed back to camp.

Millionth Acre Campground - Oberon, NSW - 27/04/24
Millionth Acre Campground - Oberon, NSW - 27/04/24

It was thence time for tea and I cooked up a hamburger with egg and bacon - and believe me, we ate so much that afternoon that I was glad I only cooked one. After the evening meal was done, it was time to sit by the newly lit fire and sip on a few glasses of port. Dave broke open a few craft beers left over from a previous camp at Adaminaby - purchased in nearby Tumut.

As can be seen in the second photo, Dave has purchased a new LED light bar for his camp, mounted on the side door of his canopy, it provides no shortage of much needed light. The trusty outrigger light fittings that I have been using for a year or two also provide enough light and the battery banks in both vehicles are well up to the task of going all night if needed.

The next morning we did have a sleep in and by around 08:30 it was time for brekky and then the task of breaking camp came by. The amount of dew that fell through the night meant that the tents needed drying with towels. The pack ended up being a deliberately slow one. Following this, about ten minutes in the sun meant that everything was dry enough to pack away. We then headed back to Bindo Creek for the afternoon. Dave got his fishing gear out whilst I put the drone in the air and gave the Canon 5D a bit of a workout.

Rosellas at Bindo Creek - Oberon, NSW - 27/04/24
Bindo Creek - Oberon, NSW - 27/04/24

The day trip to Bindo Creek was quite intentional, mainly to assist us with avoiding the need to spend time in traffic that forms on the Great Western Highway at the end of school holiday breaks. We managed to time things reasonably well and by the time we got back to Blackheath, where we purchased tea, the traffic was gone. A 15 minute stop in the rest area at the eastern end of Blackheath to eat our grub was followed by the trip back to Sydney, and there it was, another camp done and dusted.

Written at 20:58 on 6 May 2024 by Brad.
Posted in the Camps section. Comments: 0 ·

Time Away

Lake Wallace and Dunns Swamp

A two-ground camp has been in the planning for a couple of weeks and last Friday it was time to get it happening. Dave and I once again packed our vehicles and headed west, this time with the plan on staying at a free camping area on Jenolan Caves Road, Hartley for a night, then heading to Dunns Swamp on Saturday. The turn of events, followed by a swift change of plans, meant that the first night would be spent at nearby Lack Wallace, in the shadows of the mighty Mt Piper Power Station and the Old Wallerawang Power Station. Lake Wallace supplies cooling water for both stations, which means it is affected by algal blooms at times. There is a sign at the lake's shoreline stating to what level the algae is concentrated in the water. The lake is used by boaters and anglers looking for trout, european perch or bass.

Lake Wallace at Wallerawang, NSW - 13/04/24

Above is a photo of the lake, taken on Saturday morning, with the cooling tower from the Old Wallerwang Power Station in the background. This station no longer operates but is in a state of decay and partial demolition.

Lake Wallace at Wallerawang, NSW - 13/04/24

Here's one of the Lake Wallace camp. My car is looking somewhat scrunched up, but that is just me being too close with the 8-15mm lens I was using at the time.

We didn't race to break camp, as it was only the first night but ended up being out of the Lake Wallace ground by about 10:30. As there was a bakery in nearby Portland, we headed there to try out the fare. I had a curry pie, sausage roll, lemon meringue and apple turnover because I was absolutely starving from the recovery job carried out the night before.

Pies and cakes in Portland, NSW - 14/04/24

On that subject, as said previously, the first night was supposed to be spent at a small unposted camping area close to the Hartley historical site. On approach to the ground, I took the wrong track and as it was dark I didn't see a fairly deep hole in the track and I got myself bogged. I borrowed one of Dave's MaxTrax to see if this would assist however the car's belly was on an adjacent hump, which ultimately required a flat tow of around 5 metres. Dave's Hilux did the job admirably and that saved the night for both of us. Due to the need to work on freeing my car, our tea, purchased at the Blackheath hamburger shop, was stone cold and we only ate half our meals before disposing of the remainder once finally in camp at the lake.

The humble and evergreen Holden Commodore is a fantastic car, being sold to the Australian public in 6 and 8 cylinder form between 1978 and 2017 and there is bags of room inside. They just don't do the really rough tracks well due to a lack of clearance and ultimately, more care should have been taken. The good news is that there is no damage to the car and all was well with the motoring side of things for the rest of the weekend.

The first photo has been lit up a bit to highlight the nature of the bog. The track was pretty much just river sand and there was no support at all under the wheel. The second photo shows the hole left, taken the next day. The photo does the hole little justice and is deeper than it looks there.

Embarrassing but that's how it is - Hartley, NSW - 13/04/24
Embarrassing but that's how it is - Hartley, NSW - 13/04/24

After finishing our meal we headed to what will be a future campsite for us down the track. The place is called Woolshed Flat and lies alongside the Turon River near Capertee. When we arrived, no-one was around so we explored a bit and got the drones out for a quick flight.

Once that was done, we headed for Dunns Swamp to set up camp for the second night. The ground is fine, save for some noisy campers but everyone had observed quiet time by 22:00hrs so all was well. We managed to light a fire, which created the correct atmosphere between tea time and bed time. The camping spaces we hired were extremely small, being more suited to a smaller car and smaller tent but we both made our gear fit in reasonably well. Dave is calling Dunns a 'oncer' but I am going to head back in the early spring and put a kayak on the water and see how big that lake is.

Embarrassing but that's how it is - Hartley, NSW - 15/04/24

As is sometimes said, the most important meal of the day is brekky. I didn't disappoint either, with a semi-mixed grille on the menu with bacon, eggs, sausages, onions and some hot potato chips. This went down well, needless to say.

Pies and cakes in Portland, NSW - 15/04/24

We slowly packed our camps and headed into the nearby town of Kandos, a place once known for cement mining and manufacturing, to dispose of our rubbish and get a drink out of our fridges before heading on another explore near Portland. This would be followed by lunch at the Portland milk bar and then a rather slow trip home, due to the number of people on the road that could be classified as idiots.

It goes without saying that the coronavirus lockdowns of a few years ago have meant that a lot of people have forgotten how to drive correctly and their selfish attitudes mean that habits like hogging the overtaking lane and being completely oblivious to the long line of traffic behind them has become far more commonplace. It is also a sad fact that the road toll has increased across all states and territories in the same period - again due to selfishness and inattentiveness. It's time that the highway patrol did something about it. There is no excuse for cruising in an overtaking lane at 20km/h below the posted speed limit.

Apart from that fiasco and getting bogged, it was a great weekend and even now I am thinking about the next camp and where it may be.

Written at 20:51 on 16 April 2024 by Brad.
Posted in the Camps section. Comments: 0 ·

Time Away

Camping in the Snowy Mountains

It was time to return to the Snowy Mountains for a three nighter. I'd originally planned to stay there the week but happenings at work got in the road and this cut me back to only two weekdays off. These things happen sometimes in my line of work - that's life. I once again teamed up with Dave to share the burden of things like collecting firewood and just having someone to talk to when by the fire at night, which beats listening to the crickets chirping.

On this occasion I was far better organised than for the previous trip to Hill End and I made perfectly sure that everything I needed was packed the night before. Very early on Saturday Morning I was up - think 04:45 or thereabouts - and I packed the last few things such as toiletries, camera gear, drone and laptop and then I was underway just after 05:00. I drove over the Bridge and hit the Rozelle Interchange before heading down the M8, then the M5 before merging on to the M31 Hume Motorway for the trip south. This early in the morning, all these roads are great to travel on and there is not much traffic and most of what traffic there was was travelling eastbound, towards town.

Because Dave was yet to leave home, I spent a couple of hours stuffing around in Goulburn. A stop at Woolies to get my grocery shop out of the road, then to BCF to buy a single gas burner and then to the servo to top up the petrol tank and then off to Trappers pie shop to wait for Dave to catch up to me, then came pies, sausage rolls and, of course, dessert.

Trappers Bakery at Goulburn, NSW - 16/03/24

From there we headed to the next stop which was Tumut, in the heart of the Snowy Mountains. Tumut became big when the hydro-electric scheme was being built - sharing the load of an extra 100,000 people, who worked on the massive project involving the construction of sixteen dams and eight hydro-electric power stations plus more than 220km of tunnels to permit used water to be pumped back into the dams at a later time for re-use in the power stations. As an aside, there is a project underway now to build an extra underground power station that will add 2,000MW of generation to the existing 4,073MW Scheme.

It was agreed that the first night would be at the campground at Jounama Creek. It was a fairly peaceful night only broken by the need for me to get out of bed in the middle of the night for a wee. This ground only has unpowered sites (which is fine because we have our own power supplies on board) and drop-bog dunnies. There are no camping fees, just a $6.00 booking fee on the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service website. Advance bookings are required at all NPWS camping areas. Evasion can lead to a $550.00 fine so it is best just to cough up the sixer. The fee is peanuts anyway for what is gained which is peace and tranquility.

Jounama Creek, NSW - 16/03/24

Jounama Creek, NSW - 16/03/24

Sunday came and a hot breakfast of two bacon and egg sandwiches was enjoyed and then camp was broken down for the trip to the next spot - the Denison campground near Adaminaby, higher up in the mountains. On the way there we decided to head into Adaminaby for petrol, diesel and other supplies before heading for the campground. Again, Denison only has unpowered sites and drop-bogs so the fee is again only the $6.00 booking fee.

Trappers Bakery at Goulburn, NSW - 17/03/24

The area is jointly managed by the NPWS and Snowy Hydro as the campground lies on the shore of the largest water body in the Snowy Scheme, Eucembene Dam (pronounced you-kem-been), which holds nine times the water of Sydney Harbour.

Adaminaby, NSW - 18/03/24

Adaminaby, NSW - 18/03/24

We set up camp just in time for the heavens to open up and it rained on and off for the rest of the day. We did manage to get some time to hit the shore of the dam. Dave brought his fishing rod and I took my camera gear down to take some photos. I narrowly missed the tiger snake that greeted Dave on approach to the water and even though the snake left us alone and slithered away by the time I arrived it was a timely reminder of what lurks right throughout most of the Great Divide. Tiger snakes are not aggressive and would prefer to leave an area where humans are rather than stand their ground and attack but they are the world's fifth deadliest land snake and it doesn't pay to corner them or antagonise them, as they will then prepare to fight their way out. Tiger snakes do not go into hibernation as early as other snakes do which is why they are often encountered in the mountain ranges of the eastern states during the colder weather.

Unfortunately it rained pretty solid after tea and we didn't get an opportunity to sit by a fire. Whilst it would have been easy enough to get a fire going, it'd be fairly pointless as we had no shelter to keep us dry under those circumstances. So we spent the rest of the evening in our tents before turning in for the night. I woke up the following morning after enjoying a well deserved sleep in and treated myself to a healthy breakfast of cereal and a drink of orange juice. We then headed to Cooma for a day trip and after some shopping at the local camping store (I bought a couple of flannelette shirts) we headed to one of the local pie shops for some lunch. Following that we returned to the campground and Dave went to try his luck with the fishing rod whilst I went on a scrounge for some firewood.

Finding firewood legally is not easy and it is banned in the NPWS jurisdiction so I had to drive for a while to collect what we needed. We had plenty of large logs collected for the night at Jounama so all I needed was some medium ones to let the flames rip and get the bigger ones burning better. Whilst on this road trip I stopped at a recently restored cottage in the middle of the former Kiandra Goldfields. I have to be honest and say that I didn't know there were a goldfields precinct in the Snowy Mountains but there sure was and the cottage in question was built from basalt rocks, a tribute to the area's volcanic history.

The area's first payable gold was discovered in Kiandra in 1859, by local settlers. A year or so later, the local population was estimated at around 10,000 people. Mining would last another forty years with the largest nugget believed to be 9kg. The total yield for the Kiandra Goldfields was 48 tonnes, or $51bn worth at today's spot price (if my maths and conversions of troy ounces to kg are all correct and they may not be). This amount is quite a lot, considering that the Commonwealth Government's own gold reserve amounts to around 80 tonnes. With so many people looking for gold, there just had to be a police station and a court house and in 1890 a permanent structure, pictured below, was constructed for this purpose. When the miners decided they'd had enough and left the fields to resume their normal lives, the building was sold to a privateer who used it as a chalet. The last resident of Kiandra left in 1974 and many of the remaining buildings were destroyed either by the NSW Government (for what reason we don't know) and the 2020 bushfires claiming most of what was left.

Adaminaby, NSW - 18/03/24

In recent times the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service restored the police station and today it stands almost alone as a testament to the way things were built in the 19th century but it is coupled with a sad reminder that government-sponsored vandalism is unfortunately also a part of our history.

Back to the camping, we headed back to the camp to cook tea for the final night. Beef rissoles with mash, peas and corn were a most welcome fare, followed by an ice cream - bugger the esky, people - always take a dual zone camp fridge! We then sat by the fire until around 22:30 when bed time came about. A quiet night's sleep was had and after another quality sleep in, we were up by 09:00 to make breakfast before breaking camp. Dave would spend another night at Jounama before heading home but I had to leave for home as work beckoned. Another successful camp was unfortunately over but aside from the rain, it was good to get away again.

Adaminaby, NSW - 18/03/24

I am not yet sure where the next camp will be or how long it'll go for but you can rest assured of one thing - there will be another camp.

Written at 22:11 on 27 March 2024 by Brad.
Posted in the Camps section. Comments: 0 ·

Time Away

It's 2024 and time to camp again!

The first camp of 2024 saw me heading back to Hill End for a night. This time I broke with tradition and headed for the seldom used Glendora campground, which I last used something like 15 years ago.

The main problem with this ground is that most of the unpowered sites lie under huge gum trees and it needs to be remembered that in hot, dry weather, gum trees have a habit of dropping branches. These become known as widowmakers, for obvious reasons. The timber from Australian eucalyptus trees is amongst the hardest there is and if a branch falls on someone, it's gunna hurt!

I decided to hang the expense and book a powered site. Guaranteed level ground and no limbs from trees likely to fall on me. There were far fewer ants too. I am not sure of the breed but they look like efficient attackers so I let them be.

I set up a quick camp for one night after calling in at Mudgee for breakfast - it was the usual fare.

Hill End, NSW - 24/02/24

Once in camp, up went a 3.6 x 3.6m gazebo and my swag, plus a few tables to help with kitchen duties. Then I grabbed a drink and sat down to ponder on the firewood situation.

Hill End, NSW - 24/02/24

Hill End, NSW - 24/02/24

I am one of those campers who simply cannot camp without a fire. There has to be one. In summer, they keep the flies and mozzies away. In winter, they provide warmth. So unless there is a fire ban in force (in which case I try to avoid camping) I always light a fire before dark.

Dark came by at around 20:30. About an hour prior to that I cooked tea and did the washing up. The cooking was done on a new single-burner stove called the Spider. It folds away into quite a small package and is perfect for quick camps. I cooked spagetti with bacon and onions on toast and had that down me pretty quick.

Hill End, NSW - 24/02/24

After washing up, I settled down to a few episodes of the wrestling by the fire for the rest of the night. I am a fan of the old school wrestling from the mid-1980s. Great wrestling from the era before the egomaniacs took over.

At about 23:00 it was time for bed. To be honest I didn't sleep that well. I am not sure why, as I was tired enough to just sleep all night. I generally don't like sleeping in swags because I find them claustrophobic. Mine is a big double job and it is pretty much the bare minimum of what I will tolerate. I never use one in winter because once all the bedding is added, there's little room for me and I like to be able to move without touching anything and having a panic attack.

Morning broke and up I got so brekky could be cooked. Two bacon and egg sandwiches had me fuelled up for the break of camp. Then it was time to pack. Everything was in the back of the car in about 40 minutes which is pretty quick for a bloke who does like to bring some luxuries along.

I will try and make the next camp at Coorongooba, which is near Glen Davis. It'll be a two-nighter. If I don't end up doing that there will be a three-nighter coming up down in the Snowy Mountains in the third week of March.

Written at 21:04 on 3 March 2024 by Brad.
Posted in the Camps section. Comments: 0 ·

Time Away

Hill End, NSW - definitely and positively, the last camp for 2023

I was successfully tempted to throw in one last getaway for this year and managed to slip out of town on Friday, 29th December for yet another night at Hill End. I even managed to book the same campsite as the last time and got there just before dark so I could collect some firewood from the usual site near Green Valley Creek. My main motivation for this exercise was that the Coronavirus was circling my household - time to get out whilst the going was good! I licked a negative RAT and hit the road.

Again, only the basics came along with me, as this camp was just one night. Tea was a quick affair and decided at the last minute - two serves of Oriental two minute noodles with a can of sweet corn thrown in for a bit of texture. I didn't even bother with washing up and put the saucepan in a shopping bag for cleaning in the dishwasher at home, whilst a plastic fork and paper plate allowed consumption of the meal, with those thrown in the fire once they were no longer useful.

There was rain on this camp but more of a drizzle than a storm. I always worry when the clouds are dark at Hill End because this area does know how to turn on some serious bad weather when it wants to. Many years ago, I was on a camp here with Dave from Shintara and recall the mini tornado which screamed through and all but destroyed my half of the camp, which we pitched on 'the hill' on that occasion. My shelter was wrecked and the tent fly torn off. The fly was reattached to the tent after I ran after it for a hundred metres or so but the shelter was a tip job.

On this occasion the wind didn't pick up and following a peaceful evening by the fire, bed time was also quiet and event-free.

Morning broke and I got up at about 06:15, hung a leak and then broke camp and headed to Mudgee for a man's Christmas breakfast, followed by the trip back home.

Happy New Year everyone. Let's hope there's lots of camps in 2024! Smile

Written at 17:03 on 31 December 2023 by Brad.
Posted in the Camps section. Comments: 0 ·

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Bindo Creek or Millionth Acre? The choice was easy

We managed to dodge the rain with this one - a short camp but quite productive and enjoyable. Dave a... More

Lake Wallace and Dunns Swamp

A two-ground camp has been in the planning for a couple of weeks and last Friday it was time to get ... More

Camping in the Snowy Mountains

It was time to return to the Snowy Mountains for a three nighter. I'd originally planned to stay the... More

It's 2024 and time to camp again!

The first camp of 2024 saw me heading back to Hill End for a night. This time I broke with tradition... More

Hill End, NSW - definitely and positively, the last camp for 2023

I was successfully tempted to throw in one last getaway for this year and managed to slip out of tow... More


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