My original plan was to have a ‘bush camp’, a free camp at Moulamein, but when I got there just after 2.30pm it was a little too early to stop for the day, plus there was no-one else camped there. So I figured I should stay safe, keep travelling and see where I ended up. So here I am – Maude. The car stickers say “The best Piss on the Bidgee”, which of course is the Murrumbidgee – a pretty bold statement. I’m not sure that I’ll get to test their claim, but I am happy to enjoy a beer and a wine and a really delicious home-made Lasagne chips and salad in return for a free camp for the night. Winning!
Having thought for months that I was going to leave home on Friday 16th, it occurred to me only a week or so ago that there was actually nothing to stop me leaving earlier. Winter had well and truly set in the extended daytime fog that hung around Yea reminded me of that. So I finished planting my Spring bulbs, packed up the van, organised the mail and the gardener and a bit of local ‘Yea security’ and set off on Wednesday 14th instead. My intention was to head north to warmer sunny skies but with a few detours along the way.
Halls Gap in The Grampians was my first stop. How could I go on a trip and not see the lovely Josephina and Rohan at the Halls Gap Lakeside Tourist Park and spend four beautiful days there? And how blessed I feel, that only four days into my Big Lap and I have already made some lovely new friendships.
I was greeted on the day I arrived with a warm welcoming smile, a big hug and a ‘squeeeee’ from Josephina as I pulled into camp, (plus an invitation to join them for their Wednesday night Pizza and Happy Hour behind the office with the staff). The wine flowed, the pizzas were endless, the staff all so interesting to talk to and lots to catch up on with Josephina too, so I had a really lovely first night.
I had decided that on this trip back to Halls Gap I would try to hike to places I had not been to in the past. On Thursday I took a very pleasant walk/hike from the caravan park along the creek bank and behind the Brambuk Cultural Centre through forest to the other side of town and then back through town. There were steps and a bit of climbing at times and my knees kept reminding me that apparently I’m not as fit as I used to be! I walked/climbed/hiked a total of 12.5k, and by the time I arrived back at camp my feet were burning and sore. A dip in the wood-fired heated swimming pool soon had me feeling wonderful and some time spent with the pool jets on the balls of my feet helped too.
I ventured down to the fireplace in the camp kitchen for happy hour that night and met a lovely couple Tony & Justine from Horsham and over sausages in bread and a bottle of red shared, we had a really lovely evening together (with an invitation to hike with them on Saturday to The Pinnacle). I climbed The Pinnacle on my first trip with Ken to the Grampians in 2013, where he dropped me at the carpark and I managed to turn it into a 5 hour hike back to the caravan park; was I up to do it all again this time? Time would tell. My physical efforts (or the red wine) must have been doing me the world of good as I managed to sleep almost twelve hours that night.
I’d met Daz & Lyn from Sydney the previous day and they’d invited me for morning coffee at 9am Friday morning. With 12 hours of sleep I woke up with only 10 minutes to spare before ‘coffee time’. However I was glad I chose to jump out of bed and get dressed in a hurry as we had a really interesting conversation about nutrition and cancers and the importance of an alkaline diet and so much more. Fascinating stuff.
On Friday I decided to climb Chitauqua Peak and then on to Bullaces Glen. Lots of rock scrambling and steps and the climb up was really testing my painful knees but worth the effort when I got to the top. Coming down however the old bones really screamed and I began to wonder about how would I ever manage a more challenging climb? I had another pool dip and happily swam about 20 laps of breast stroke in the warm pool which revived me, so thankfully I was ready for Happy Hour again that afternoon. This time with new neighbours that had set up camp beside me. The two Phil’s and their wives Marie and Jan. Now all retired, Marie and Jan have been friends since school and had been travelling for the last week together towing a Jayco offroad caravan and Phil & Jan in an imported vintage left hand drive American motorhome. We compared lots of notes over a Gin & Tonic, then a wine and another incredible night’s sleep was enjoyed. Josephina tells me the good sleep is a ‘Grampians Thing’ and has nothing to do with the wine. So happy about that J
By Saturday I was of the opinion that I should listen to my body. Those knees had given me hell, so I elected not to do The Pinnacle climb and instead go for a lovely drive and a nice flat walk. After a browse through the local shops followed by a beautiful winding drive through the forest I took a walk along the track to Silverbank Falls. A favourite for me because this had been where I’d had my first ‘Gang Gang’ moment back in 2013. Read that again – yes Gang GANG J, (which is actually a beautiful Grey cockatoo with a pink crest that has a call that sounds something like a squeaky door). There’s a story of mine about how my Gang Gang moment happened and was a little bit like an ‘Ah-ha! moment’ at the time; I wrote about it in a blog a few years ago.
There was not a lot of water coming over the falls but it was still beautiful and the 1.6k walk in and out had me in a very ‘mindful’ moment taking in everything around me, including the incredible silence. It’s so beautifully quiet when the Tourists are not in abundance.
My lovely new friends Tony and Justine arrived back from their Pinnacle hike and told me they were shattered by it. I was glad I’d taken the easy option, and they invited me for Roast Dinner at their campsite. Tony had a rolled roast turkey on a spit over his campfire with all the trimmings. Absolutely delicious and we enjoyed a few more reds followed by a Baileys. A sensational way to end the evening.
So this morning I said my farewells to my new-found friends and to Josephina; packed up, hooked up successfully and had almost left the park, except that although my skill at getting out through the boom gate without wiping out my mirrors was good, the follow through of my caravan, was not looking so good. I was way too close to the post and the timber signage wall and no matter how I tried I could not seem to go backwards or forwards without getting deeper and deeper into the shit! Thankfully a young man at the park entrance offered me help and in the end got into the driver’s seat and ‘MAN-ouvered’ it out of its’ predicament. Phew! I was very appreciative and thankful !
The day’s drive today was delightful. I feel like I am heading more into the outback regions of NSW and even enjoyed driving along a stretch of red dirt road complete with emus on the side of the road and further along came across cattle grazing and loitering about crossing the road. As I mentioned earlier, Moulamein was just too early, and didn’t look all that inviting. So here I am in Maude, and now tucked up in my cozy bed in the caravan and Good Grief it’s only 7pm! Wine has been had. Dinner has been done. I am really pleased with myself that I have actually got pen to paper (well finger to the keyboard really) and am back writing once again.
So until next time!
Hoo Roo :)
ps! Until I get this 'blog thing' sorted you'll find all my pics on my Facebook page 'Val Morom Howard'