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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 Brad.


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