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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 Lord Watchdog.
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 Lord Watchdog.
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 Lord Watchdog.
Posted in the Camps section. Comments: 0 ·

Time Away

Hill End, NSW - almost the last camp for 2023

A couple of weeks ago I was thinking of one last camp for 2023 and decided in haste to book two nights at the Village Ground at Hill End for last weekend. Things changed and it looked like there'd be no more camps for this year but at the last minute I decided that I would do one quick night there, just to be able to say there was one last camp for 2023.

Being a one-nighter and being on my own for this one, it was always going to be a super light camp. Swag, gazebo, the little 8 litre fridge, table, chair and a pillow and blanket, along with one change of clothes was all that came with me on this one. I do not normally camp that light but this one had to be quick.

After leaving work for the day on Friday, I headed home, packed the car and headed west, via the Bridge, Western Distributor, M4 (including the new Rozelle Interchange) and then from there I headed along the Great Western Highway. There was a quick stop at Blackheath for a hamburger and chips - the takeaway there is always good and those familiar with Blackheath will know the shop I am talking about.

That was tea out of the road and from there I drove to Bathurst and stopped in at Bunnings to buy some firewood and kerosene. Normally on a longer camp I will take the chainsaw and just collect firewood but again, this was a quick, light camp and buying wood was just better on this occasion.

I got to Hill End by about 21:00 but not before confronting more kangaroos than I have ever seen on a trip out that way. Big, medium and small - they were all there. There was also a wild pig and this is the first time I've had one dart across the road on me in more than 40 years of camping. A photo of the little turd is below.

The wildlife appears to be taking full advantage of the thick growth out that way. El Nino is yet to hit hard and the vegetation is almost out of control. The Government needs to do something about it before it dries out and becomes another bushfire hazard. There was a serious bushfire out that way only about a year ago and all the vegetation has regrown already.

Upon arrival, camp was set up. Gazebo first, then the swag. I normally only use the swag in the hotter weather and couple it with the gazebo just to keep the rain off, allowing me to sleep all night with one of the storm flaps left open.

I then lit a fire and sat by that whilst starting my preparations for this article and watching the wrestling for an hour or so. I am a big fan of wrestling's golden age - the mid-1980s.

Following this, it was bed time and a good, cool and peaceful night was had.

Saturday morning broke and it was time to get up and break down the camp and head to the pie shop in Mudgee for breakfast.

I must say that at no time should anyone start their day without a complete breakfast, consisting of protein, iron, fresh fruit, cereals and dairy for energy and vitality. A good example of this is in the photo below.

After brekky, it was time to hit the road back to Sydney. The car is going well and a recent change of ignition leads is giving me fuel economy I haven't had for a long time. The old girl is 21 years old in March and now has 478,000km on the clock.

Sadly, unless a miracle happens, this is the last camp for 2023. Merry Christmas to everyone and I will be back in 2024 with plenty of camps happening across the state and also interstate.

Written at 20:42 on 17 December 2023 by Lord Watchdog.
Posted in the Camps section. Comments: 0 ·

Time Away

The Outback Camp - the largest camp for 2023

I have returned from one of the most relaxing and rewarding camps that I have been on in a long time. A journey totalling 3,096km on a round trip of the state's west was undertaken over eight days and involved two motel stops along the way before meeting up with another camp veteran, Dave, to continue with the rest of the trip using tents and swags at each stop.

Friday, 10th November:-

My boss politely suggested that leaving work at midday would be a good idea and I couldn't help but agree. The car was packed the night before, ready to shoot for Sydney's mighty WestConnex underground road network and the M4 Motorway for the first leg of the journey. The first stop was the fish and chips shop in the Blue Mountains hamlet of Blackheath for an early tea. Then I drove to Mudgee for an overnight stop at the Federal Hotel. The hotel dates from the late 1800s and facilities are basic but there is a pub downstairs where meals and drinks can be purchased and the rooms are clean and equipped with air conditioning and a big telly.

Saturday, 11th November:-

Just after sunrise on Saturday morning, I packed and left the hotel and headed to the car waiting out the front. I headed to the Mudgee Bakery for brekky and soon found myself eating well for the long journey that awaited.

Curry pies, sausage rolls and appropriate desserts would be a theme for this holiday. Off I went and this would become the longest leg of the journey, some 1,031km along the Mitchell and Barrier Highways.

Lunch was at Cobar, the last town before the long and isolated stretches of the Barrier Highway. I arrived at Broken Hill at around 14:30 and checked in to the Hilltop Motel - as the name suggests this motel is on the top of one of the highest parts of Broken Hill, with views out to the North West from the room I had booked. The room was clean and tidy and equipped with air conditioning and a spa bath, plus the usual shower and toilet. There is also a restaurant on site called Bettina's, with a wide range of food on the menu. On this night I wanted something a bit more basic so I headed for the local milk bar for a hamburger and chips on the advice of the bloke at the Ampol roadhouse.

Later that afternoon I met up with Dave and organised the drive south for the following morning before getting a well deserved eight hours of sleep.

Sunday, 12th November:-

On Sunday morning, we packed and left the motel and then made our way to Menindee, a journey of about 155km. There was a bit of a lack of planning for this one, as there are so many camping options, we decided to set up the first camp on the banks of Australia's third-longest river, the Darling River. We spent two very peaceful nights on Crown land near the town of Menindee and managed to take some drone footage of the surrounding area before some eagles decided to take a bit more notice of the invasion of what they perceived as their airspace. We managed to co-exist with the birds without either the birds or drones getting too close to each other for comfort. Wild birds generally do not tolerate man-made objects - something we kept in mind whilst airborne.

The camping area is free and is well maintained by the local council. The only annoyance - and in this region there will be many places where they are encountered - was some electric pumps at riverside which are used for irrigation. The pump closest to us operated at random times, suggesting that it fed a storage tank, which in turn fed the farm's sprinklers. Whilst the latest El Nino has appeared to have arrived, there is no suggestion of a pending drought - yet. The river is flowing freely and the giant Menindee lakes are full of water.

Monday, 13th November:-

Whilst on the Menindee leg of the camp, we visited the Kinchega Woolshed which is maintained by the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service. Much of the original woolshed and neighbouring shearers quarters remain on the site along with a slaughterhouse, general store and water tanks. Some of the equipment used back in the day when this was a working facility also remain and all relics are on display. How the pioneers managed to get all this equipment from Great Britain to an area more than 1,000km from Sydney is anyone's guess but due to the isolation, and the heat, it would have been back-breaking work for all involved. It would have also been dangerous work - considering this place is right inside the home range of some of the world's deadliest snakes, the Inland Taipan, Eastern Brown and King Brown and back in the mid-1800s there were no medical treatments for bites.

On a very fortunate note, at no time on this camp did either of us confront any snake. We are in to snake season and all snakes will be out of their burrows at times in search of food so it is amazing that we missed all of them. We didn't even see any roadside which makes me wonder if the eagles have been feasting on them - there were lots of eagles for the whole trip.

Tuesday, 14th November:-

On Tuesday we broke camp and headed for Mungo National Park for a night. The road, was mostly red sand, as can be seen in the photo below.

Along the way we stopped at the small village of Pooncarie for a quick home-made lunch. Unlike some of the other breakfasts and lunches shown here, this one was healthy - sandwiches with nutritional fillings. The photo below shows the vehicles on the bank of the Darling River at the local camping area. It seemed quite peaceful but we hadn't planned on staying there and if we did we may have changed our minds as there was a fairly strong smell of blood-n-bone in the air, a commonly used fertiliser in rural areas.

Fortunately the corrugations weren't too bad and both vehicles survived the trip. The humidity was almost zero and thus the heat was tolerable. When we stopped close to the location in the photo below, we were paid a visit by one of the local farmers. My drone (just outside the NP limits) must have made her and her three border collies curious.

Due to a seemingly un-necessary park fire ban we had to resort to other measures to keep the mozzies away. I guess that the park fire bans in this region have come about due to some people being irresponsible with their fires. It is a shame that the actions of a few spoil things for the majority who do the right thing. As there is long grass in the Mungo campground, there is a danger that a large fire could ignite, but again, only if people aren't doing the right thing. The ground is well maintained with good distances between the fireplaces provided and the longer grass.

The ground also has bins, toilets and walking paths. There is a water tank and sheltered picnic seating at each camp site and all facilities are well maintained. The overnight stay here was suggested by Dave, as it is apparently a good place for photography - which we both indulged in. In fact, the new title image for this website is the sunset at Mungo National Park.

On the subject of sunsets, here's another shot. Along with another photo showing a close-up of the terrain at China Wall.

Wednesday, 15th November:-

We break camp from Mungo and head to Hay in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area for a couple of nights. The camping ground was okay from a few standpoints but was a bit too open and there were no showers, just flushing toilets, which was fine as both Dave and I have camp showers, complete with gas hot water on tap. As a side note, both of us are well set up and our camps are usually two self-contained camp facilities in one, as there are times when we are camping alone or with others. So there is a lot of duplication rather than there being a case of "you bring this and I'll bring that". A lot of people camp this way these days, so if something breaks, it is then easy to share resources. It also ensures that things do not get forgotten.

On the first night in Hay's free camping area, just on the bank of the Murrumbidgee River, we couldn't help notice through the night that a fair few truck drivers fail to read signs and respect the rights of people who are trying to sleep by running their exhaust brakes whilst cruising through town. Hay's main street is a part of Highway 20 - the Sturt Highway - which allows road trains so hearing an exhaust brake from one of these monsters for several minutes as it moves through town can be quite annoying and what's more, if the correct gear is chosen, there is no need for the exhaust brake under those circumstances.

Apart from that, I didn't mind the campground, though Dave had some reservations about it and declared it a oncer. We didn't have trouble finding some firewood and as fires were allowed, a campfire was part of our arsenal to keep flies and mozzies away as much as possible.

Thursday, 16th November:-

On Thursday, we did a day trip to Griffith. We ate lunch at one of the pubs on the main street - the Hotel Victoria. This pub has a good restaurant and Dave had a giant hamburger (think twice the size of a Hungry Jacks whopper) and getting tired of red meat, I had the fish and chips.

We could not help but notice the Italian connection to the town with many businesses having Italian names. After a few hours spent in Griffith we headed back to Hay for the second night.

A redundant windmill appearing through the heatwaves shows what life here was like back when this area was first settled - hard, dry and at times lonely.

Friday, 17th November:-

On Friday, we ate breakfast and spent a few minutes planning where to spend the last night. As I had picked the Hay camping ground it was Dave's turn and we ended up heading back to an old haunt, Tumut, which is in the Snowy Mountains. The spot we stay at is quite good and situated on Crown land about five km out of town. When I say "good" I mean it is an idyllic spot just on the bank of the Tumut River, downstream from the Blowering Dam - one of the hydro-electric dams in the iconic Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Scheme. The water was flowing quite strongly down the Tumut River, indicating that the power station was in full swing. The closure of the coal-fired Liddell Power Station earlier this year is putting a lot of pressure on remaining baseload facilities and on the way home from the camp, heading up the Hume Highway I couldn't help notice three wind farms sitting idle because there was no wind blowing to move the windmills. Without getting too political on this issue, it is clear that we seem to be heading in the wrong direction on the subject of electricity generation.

Back to the camp at Tumut, last time we stayed there, a neighbouring camp consisted of roughly ten tents, all linked with tarp shelters and pop-up gazebos and the family patriarch decided that it was necessary to run a generator until 23:00hrs - clearly a quite anti-social activity. We did not experience that this time and all campers were well behaved and there was a lot of tranquillity there for the night.

The unfortunate side to camping here is that only caravans and motorhomes are permitted. Tents and swags are generally not a part of the deal and we have been spoken to by the local ranger for breaking that rule but as it was a one-night camp and we had plans on breaking camp early we felt that we could get away with another stay. This camp ground has no toilets, showers or water but as mentioned before, we have these things with us.

Saturday, 18th November:-

On Saturday morning I ate a small breakfast and then we broke camp and headed for the pie shop in Tumut for a more formal breakfast before ending the camp with the trip back to Sydney.

377km up the Hume Highway and Hume Motorway made a safe trip home which included avoiding the Highway Patrolman who was set up on the median near the split level bridges near the Nattai River. We both arrived home safely after completing a trip of more than 3,000km, trying our best to avoid everything from rabbits to emus.

In conclusion, a photo of my odometer - showing just over 476,000km, proving that old Holdens never die. Whilst the factories, like many regional woolsheds are long gone, the Holden Lion will live forever.

Some photos have been added to this article today and over the next day or two there will be more to come.

Written at 20:58 on 19 November 2023 by Lord Watchdog.
Posted in the Camps section. Comments: 0 ·

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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

Hill End, NSW - almost the last camp for 2023

A couple of weeks ago I was thinking of one last camp for 2023 and decided in haste to book two nigh... More

The Outback Camp - the largest camp for 2023

I have returned from one of the most relaxing and rewarding camps that I have been on in a long time... More


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