After driving all day, and then setting up camp somewhere, it’s actually very easy to just sit. This nomadic life can be quite tiring and so a bit of a sit is a good thing. The problem for some is that this is where they stop. That is with the exception of when they move their chairs and gather around in a big circle, sit some more and eat and drink. This is called happy hour, or hours in most cases, and the caravan community are specialists at it. On non driving days, they really get resting down to a fine art and sit some more. The whole day is a procession of sitting, eating and drinking.
I remember one fellow complaining to me that he had to walk 200 metres when they stopped sitting for a bit and went to visit a National Park. He blamed the National Park officer who suggested that this horrendous life threatening undertaking might be a nice thing to do. The whining continued all evening to anyone who would listen. He then proceeded to hop in his car and drive the fifty metres up to the park office to pay for another night, so he could sit some more the following day.
As opposed to this, Karyn and I try to keep as active as possible when we travel. It is sometimes difficult to achieve as sitting can become contagious. To assist, we take along our toys. – The push bikes for exploring, the kayaks for venturing down the rivers and coastal waters, and the yoga mats and rubber tubes for stretching and strength work. I even try to go for a run when time permits. We are a bit of an oddity. This trip we have been joined by our mate Ridgy, and so far the bikes have been given a good workout with a decent ride most days. However, the kayaks are a different story, and apart from a few outings, have remained a little neglected on the roof of our car. Getting access to suitable water to paddle in has been the problem.
To rectify this, we decided to head for the Eildon Dam and stay in a caravan Park on the pondage. We assumed that we would be camped by the water and have the pondage and the whole dam to play in. It just so happens that the three days we picked coincided with a long weekend. The whole of the Victorian speed boat community had descended on Eildon Dam and most were staying in OUR caravan park. There is just something about speed boat people that is different.
After checking in, Karyn drove the car and van through the boom gated entrance and waited for me to explain to our friends, Peter and Loris where our camp sites were. I had the only map. One of our speed boating friends in a very hot low slung car towing a very hot low slung phallic symbol, didn’t wish to wait. So he keyed in the boom gate code and the boom gate went up. He couldn’t move, so he turned his attention to me and started to sling abuse. I tried to explain, but soon recognised the futility of the discussion and headed for the safety of our car and we went on our way. He followed, but didn’t quite make it. The boom gate came down on his car. More abuse flowed and this time, his children joined in. How nice.
We were not allowed to paddle in the pondage. – Too cold, too shallow and a $3000 fine. So we headed for the boat ramp on the dam to try our luck. – Too crowded with speed boats, jet skis, trailers, cars and boat people all in a hurry to grab their piece of water. No room for a few kayaks, so we quit. Very early the next morning, before our fast friends were awake, we managed to launch without interference, have a paddle for an hour or so, and return safely before the days churning began.
When the weekend was over, they vanished as quickly as they had arrived. Peace at last. Though, one group left a parting message. They decided to empty a whole pile of glass beer bottles down into the dump point. Now, for the uninitiated, the dump point is the location where the contents of caravan toilets are deposited and flushed away. It is like a giant toilet bowl with a lid. It is not a rubbish bin and it is very clearly marked. The park manager said that he would like to give them the benefit of the doubt and they just made an honest mistake. That is why he is a caravan park manager and I am not. I suspect however that it may have been our not so friendly rev head who wanted to leave an impression similar to the one that the boom gate left on his pride and joy.
Eventually it was time for us to move as well. It was also time to head north and commence our homeward journey. We travelled through a very dry part of the Murray/Darling River basin and were soon confronted with more opposing forces. At times it seems that the debate between the irrigators, conservationists, and governments at all levels, in relation to the future of the Murray River is as intractable as the Israel/Palestine debacle. I don’t have the answer, but what was puzzling was the sight of massive dairy farms only surviving through irrigation, when there are large parts of the country, with lots of rain, lovely pastures and yet pock marked with abandoned family run dairy farms. Something is definitely wrong.
Further on in our journey we entered the most beautiful Bylong Valley, just South West of Newcastle. – Lots of lovely farms, abundant pastures and contented animals and vineyards. And then there were the signs on the side of the road.
FOOD BOWL, NOT COAL HOLE
Opposing forces were at it again. Coal seam gas and coal mining companies were dipping their toes, or in this case, their drilling equipment and excavators into the lovely Bylong Valley. The Everest size ugliness of the existing remnants of a lifetime of coal extraction was gobsmacking. It went on for miles. And now they want to keep doing it in the Bylong Valley. There is an inquiry going on in NSW currently. It is about the possible shortcomings in the process of granting mining licences to big business and the back pocket take on the side. Numerous former and current State Labor politicians have been caught with their pants down and the Libs are having a party.
Thankfully we kept moving and have found ourselves camped beside a river in the pretty little community of Gloucester on the edge of the World Heritage listed Barrington Tops National Park. It is a wonderful little town surrounded by dairy farms and locally owned businesses. IGA and Foodworks are the small supermarkets that provide the community with their groceries. As we cycled through this idyllic location we came across a building site on the edge of town. It was massive. Karyn said it looked a bit like Woolworths. And it was.
Well actually there is just one more thing. When we visited the Barrington Tops National Park, we noticed signs about the commencement of hunting in the park. The NSW’S government, in its wisdom, has bowed to the gun lobby and will be allowing the shooters to run rampant in their National Parks. Not everyone is happy. As a precaution however, they have now advised that their own employees, the National Parks Officers, should wear bright coloured clothing so that they can be seen better.
Now isn’t that nice and considerate?