Friday, 26 November 2010

Moving on Slowly

Our exploration of the Great Divide continued as we headed south and west. Jenolan caves were explored on a misty dank afternoon but provided some impressive walks and caverns. We spent the night in Kanangra Boyd NP and woke to a sunny day ideal for our walk out to the spectacular Kanangra Walls where Sarah posed for pictures in a dramatic location before we walked a few hours out over the plateau with extensive views across miles of wilderness.

Yerranderie a former silver mining town was reached via 30 miles of dirt track and proved to be a fascinating historical relic with old houses, mine shafts and machinery all slowly dispappearing in to the bush. Owned for 5o years by a remarkable old lady the future seems uncertain as she has no direct heirs and is in her late 80's. For now though it made for a memorable place to spend a couple of days and appreciate how isolated the few people who still live there are - the most direct link with civilisation being a rough airstrip cut in to the bush and kept in trim by roos and wallabies.

Wombeyan caves provided more good walks and a clean and peaceful Parks camping area before we headed to Goulburn for food, fuel, gas and laundry topped off by lunch out to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary. Later that evening we arrived at Bungonia NP set in an area of karst and riddled with sport caves. Walks on the surface linked up to give us a good day out followed the next day by the descent in to Slot Gorge a narrow defile that seemed impenetrable when viewed from above. In fact the route lay through a jumble of house sized boulders worn smooth by water that rewarded us with a swimming pool at the far end before the long hot climb out.

We are now in great comfort at Trevor and Anne's (a couple we met in Gloucester Tops) house with an invite to a Christmas do this evening - fancy dress is ? optional so our thinking caps are on. Sarah rides a week tomorrow after which we will explore the mountains of Victoria before heading for Tasmania in early January. We are adjusting to the heat and humidity, enjoying the very diverse bird and wild life and accommodating the huge distances in to our plans for 2011.


Links as usual to photos and SPOT










Thursday, 18 November 2010

Out and Back

The Warrumbungles provided a couple of excellent walks around the ridges left by an old volcano and ascending the remnants of lava domes with the distant views of the outback plains encouraging us to head that way.

A full day's drive brought us to the remarkable www.willieretreatmacquariemarshes.com.au miles from anywhere run by a remarkable couple ably assisted by a friend from Sydney who provide a lovely campsite on the edge of the marshes which provide significant and varied bird habitats. The area was looking unusually gren and verdant after the breaking of a 10 year drought and we spent a hot and humid evening listening to the nocturnal birdsong. Unfortunately heavy rain was forecast and as the access roads soon turn to mud we left early the next morning.
Hill End was a remarkable place to spend a couple of nights as it used to be a substantial gold mining town but now has only around 100 residents, many old buildings and masses of history.
In a similar vein (ha ha) the old oil shale mining town of Newnes provided a memorable two nights camping beneath the lofty plateaux of the Wollemi National Park with a fascinating walk to explore the old industrial ruins, a long chat with the enthusiastic owner of the unfortunately dry hotel and an evening climb up the Pipeline Track to a viewpoint a thousand feet above the valley floor.
Today we set off early to follow the Glow Worm Tunnel walk that follows the former railway which with luck and a lot of effort will one day be a cycle track. This gave us time to visit a family friend in Katoomba who last saw me almost 50 years ago - sadly similar hair and rotund even then apparently!
We are now at Lake Lyell prior to heading down to Jenolan caves and the Kanagra Boyd NP both of which should return us to the wilds.
At some stage I will have to remove the splash guard from the rear brake disc as it is rattling - the other was removed in NZ not 3 months ago, otherwise we are in good shape despite some long stretches of unmade road and various fords and rough sections. Pics here and SPOT here.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Re : United

After my month or so of exploring solo Sarah arrived safely at Sydney despite the Airbust problems - SAL's checks only delayed her flights by 2 hours although they later withdrew all 380's.
We headed to Bent's Basin NP so she could enjoy a relaxing day to recover followed by a day of socialising at our friends in Sydney who produced a royal feast from the barbie.
Later that evening we headed to Munmorah where I had spent my first night and enjoyed the peace, quiet and a walk on the beach.
Monday saw us stop briefly in Newcastle for shopping before we climbed up in to the Gloucester Tops, part of the Barrington Tops NP where after 6 fords we reached an excellent secluded campsite. We settled in with Sarah still a bit tired and enjoyed the sounds and sights of the luxuriant rainforest. Schnapper was cooked over the barbie and 3 Scots lads in an old van arrived later on to cook a tin of beans and a pot noodle over same with less than satisfactory results.
Up on the Tops we enjoyed a couple of walks before thunderstorms moved in - once they abated I did a quick oil and filter change on the van before we returned to the camping area to enjoy a very sociable evening with a couple from south of Wollongong who have just started exploring Oz in a demountable unit based on a ute - invitations to stay sometime were extended and accepted.
Moving on we drove through rolling hills to climb up to the Barrington Tops and an empty camping area at around 1500m. A good walk ensued but ended up with another thunderstorm - later radio reports advised of a severe weather warning for the area but back at the van we were soon warm and cosy with Sarah absorbed in her excellent Kindle.
We have now moved on to the Warrumbungles which promise a good walk following the volcanic ridges with a clear day forecast. My copy of The Times has downloaded to the rather amazing Kindle and internet access is possible as there is a comms mast on a nearby top which is probably the highest point for several thousand miles to the west and a few hundred in any other direction!

Photo link here and SPOT progress page here - any help messages were merely tests!


Wednesday, 3 November 2010

High and Wild

The high country of the New England Tablelands has provided a memorable week of panoramic views, good walks, quiet camping areas and a taste of civilisation on Saturday as I spent my first night in a proper camp site to get laundry done, take advantage of hook up and hot showers and visit the extensive and enjoyable Armidale Farmer's market.

Continuing along the Waterfall Way and staying at various camping areas gave me a chance to meet some fellow travellers including a couple from Perth on their 5th circuit.
The wildlife continues to amaze me and a good guide to the birdlife should allow me to identify some of the many to be seen across the various habitats.
NSW's drought breaking rain in recent months has made the various waterfalls even more impressive with Dangars and Tia particularly memorable.
My drift back to Sydney to collect Sarah is a day ahead of schedule as I dropped down from the wilds of the Werrikimbee NP as there seemed to be an abnormal noise from the front brakes. Following a strip down nearer a town it turned out to be just slightly loose wheel nuts probably as a result of the many miles of rough track I have covered. Last nights camping area was truly memorable for its location, silence and the howling of dingoes in the not too distant woods.
With time to spare I intend to return to Myall Lakes in the hope of enjoying a dip before calling in at Newcastle for various items en route to Sydney.
As well as pictures here there is also a link to our SPOT shared page that tracks our movements here