Friday 26 January 2007
|Our camp site at Krambach|
As usual, Kelly and I were the last to arrive. We had left Sydney at 7 am and after a good run with a short stop for morning tea, arrived at Krambach at about 10 am. Unfortunately, we were having trouble finding Warren and Cheryl's property as Ray's directions (a couple of kilometres after the turn) left a little to be desired (it was about five kilometres). Anyway, a call on the UHF radio soon had Brett and then Warren directing us to the house. Already there were Ken and his son, Ray, Liz and Barbara and Brett. Ray, Liz and Barbara had come up the night before and as such had their tents already up. Ken had also set up his abode.
We arrived and found that the place is a little gem. Very nice house and a large property that extends right from the main road to the golf course. We went and looked over the whole of the property before heading off on some explorations. There are a couple of good dams and there was a lot of grass on the paddocks. There are a few kangaroos, including a small joey.
Warren and Cheryl led in the trusty Jeep "Canyonero" and after a short run back to Nabiac and north along the Pacific Highway, we headed into the forests. The tracks soon got windier and steeper. We headed through Talawahl Nature Reserve and Kiwarrak State Forest. Our aim was the communications tower on the top of Mount Talawahl.
Unfortunately there is not much of a view as there are lots of trees all around, we had lunch here and on the way back we stopped at a spot that had nice views out to the south and west back towards Krambach. From here the aim had been to try and find a way back to the road from Nabiac to Krambach but it ended at a farmer's gate. We instead went on a bit of exploring and soon found a very steep hill. This required first gear low range and when I got to the top, I found Warren stranded on a speed hump. He had the snatch strap laid out and it was as simple matter to pull him back. A bit more speed got him over the hump.
Warren had scouted out the place before and he took us to an old sawmill site where there were lots of off-cuts. We soon had the Canyonero loaded up with timber for the campfire.
|A photo of me coming up the steep hill||Ray coming up the same hill|
We headed out another way and after a very nice drive, ended up via the Southern Boundary Road and Kings Creek Road on Bucketts Way north of Krambach. We headed into town and went to the hotel for a drink (or two). A newer pub, it does not have much charm but the beers were cold.
Back at Warren's, we decided on a place to put the campfire. Kelly and I set up our new ShippShape car top tent. This is a second hand tent we purchased from the manufacturer as a Christmas present for ourselves. It has a new base and supports, new mattress, new ladder and an almost new cover. The actual tent is quite old, having been left forgotten in their factory for many years.
|A photo of our new ShippShape Car Top Tent||A shot from the rear showing the setup in the rear|
In two minutes it was erected and in three minutes we had a beer in our hands.
As Kelly and I were cooking a baked dinner, we started the fire early so we could get some good coals. Pre-dinner drinks were soon underway with lots of nibblies available.
I must have heated the camp oven a bit too much as the fat on the piece of Scotch fillet we were roasting had turned black and was smelling a bit when we first checked it after 10 minutes in the oven. No more coals were added and the oven was moved a bit to the side. This was enough to finishing the cooking and we ended up with a great meal, although one side was a bit crispy for a millimetre or two.
After dinner we all had a few more drinks till people started wandering off to bed. Kelly and I spent our first night in the ShippShape and I can report that it was very comfortable.
Saturday 27 January 2007
It was a relatively late rise for most and breakfast was eaten with no reason to rush. After brekkie, Kelly and I had to put the ShippShape away and it took us all of three minutes to do.
By the time we were ready to leave it was about 10 am and already the temperature was over 30ÂșC. Warren's plan was to head a bit further north from yesterday to a lookout which has a fire tower. This is Breakneck Lookout and is in Kiwarrak State Forest. We headed off in the same direction and took a different track that led us to the hill top. On the way Brett suffered a stake through the sidewall of his front right tyre. He used a plug to fix it and this held till he swapped tyres on Sunday morning. What a great view! We could see Seal Rocks to the south-east and Harrington to the north-east as well as lots of the country in between.
|The view from Breakneck Lookout|
The temperature was already 40ÂșC by now but we had morning tea here anyway. We headed off down towards the Pacific Highway. We went a bit north along the highway before crossing over to the eastern side. This track led through Khappinghat Nature Reserve and on to the main Taree to Old Bar Road. We headed to Old Bar and then to Saltwater National Park. This has some excellent beaches, a creek and lagoon and some of the nicest picnic areas. However, the camping is only for Aborigines approved by the local land council. A bit of a racist attitude some reckoned. We had lunch here under some trees, at least a little shelter from the 42ÂșC temperature.
We went to where one of the arms of the Manning River meets the ocean. Some of the gang went for a swim but Kelly and I had neglected to bring our swimmers. We paddled for a bit before we decided to retreat from the heat to the car's air conditioning and also to get an ice cream.
Finally, after sitting for a long time in the car with the air conditioning running, we headed off back to Krambach along the Bucketts Way. About a third of the way along we noticed black clouds to the south. Soon after the wind blew up even more (it was very strong all day from the west) and I noticed that the temperature had dropped to 37ÂșC. Looks like the southerly change had hit, but it was much earlier than forecast.
Soon there were leaves and small branches falling from the trees that lined the road. Some were large and one hit the bull bar and shattered. A minute or two later an even larger branch hit the road in front of us and Kelly's scream had to have been heard in the other vehicles. The temperature was now down to 32ÂșC and dropping. A bit further along the most awful noise started coming from the front of the Prado and I pulled over. It was not the fan belt which has slipped a little in the morning, but something related to the front axle. Nothing was visible under the car so it was not something that had got caught up.
I decided to move from the narrow road down to a side road about 200 metres away. The noise was horrendous and came over the radio when I was speaking. We soon figured out it was coming from the right front brake area and I made a guess that it was something caught in between the disc and the brake pad.
A suggestion was made to try driving up the road with the brake on and then reversing. I did this and on the second forward run it clear. What a relief!
We got back on the road and it was soon pouring rain. Really big drops that slowed us right down. This did not last long and after it was over, the temperature was 22ÂșC, a drop of about 20ÂșC in 20 minutes.
We decided that after the strength of the wind and the rain we had better check out the tents. Brett's was okay and dry, Ray and Liz's was still standing and despite having the door open, they had not got any water inside. Barbara's tent was upturned but not wet or damaged. However, Ken's tarp covering had fallen, his tent rolled over a few times and open to the rain and full of water. Luckily his son's bed roll was covered by the fallen tarp and dry. We helped Ken set up his tent again and he strung up his tent, mattress and sleeping bag to dry.
Kelly and I headed off to the pub as we wanted another cold draught beer. I think we may have been joined by a few of the others but I do not really recall that fact as I write this a few weeks later.
That night we had another great barbecue, with the rain no threat at all.
Sunday 28 January 2007
Once again, a leisurely start to the day. We have breakfast and then break camp. Barbara heads off home (since she does not have a 4WD) while the rest of us set off south from Krambach to explore the state forests between here and Bulahdelah. The first section is Manning Creek Road (which is tar) before we turn into Wang Wauk State Forest. This road is Smedleys Cutting Road.
We then take Wang Wauk Forest Way to the north and cut over to Bellbird Road and then back to Mount Grey Road. Some of this is out of the state forest. This leads us back to Possum Pie Road and we head south till Squires Road. Turning right we head west and the road changes to Cheers Road and then at a big intersection, there are five roads to chose from (one is a bit before the others). Straight ahead is Worths Creek Road.
We come to a Sams Camp. This is a camping area that is very overgrown. It would be a nice spot but it is obvious no-one has used it in a long time. This spot is on the walking track which follows the old logging railway line. It goes in both directions from here.
|Sams Camp||One of the bits of old machinery in the forest|
A bit further along we turn right into Horses Creek Road. About 3 kilometres further along the track we come to the old trestle bridge. This is at another picnic and camping spot that would be very nice except that again, it appears unused for a long time and pretty well overgrown. You could camp there but you might need to clear a bit of bush.
The bridge has now collapsed. This is a pity as it is a good example of bush craftsmanship. Old photos I have found show that it was in relatively good condition in the early 2000s.
We start to head out towards the old Pacific Highway along Wang Wauk Forest Way. We head up to the mountain top which is called Stoney Knob and go to an old fire tower that has no ladder but some of the group decide to climb anyway. The views to the north are not too bad, but nowhere as good as yesterday's lookout.
At the bottom of the hill is Shortys Camp. This was setup for when the original forest roads were being built. We stop here and have lunch. Again, a small camping area here that appears unused for quite a few years.
From here it is a few minutes run out to the highway and you exit the forest at the bottom of the notorious Bulahdelah Hill.
It is a slowish trip back to Sydney as at Hexham there is a huge traffic jam. It takes close to 50 minutes to get from the McDonalds to the south side of the Hunter River. Why? Because the lights are only giving the south bound traffic on the Pacific Highway a short green time and about three times as long green to the New England Highway which is almost deserted.
Idiots at the Roads and Traffic Authority! Can't they see that they need to adjust the timings? They even have a camera here that they can see the amount of traffic on both roads and manually adjust it. South of the Hawkesbury River we strike a bit of traffic but it is not too bad and only adds perhaps 10 minutes to the trip.
A very nice long weekend. There is a lot more to explore in the Bulahdelah area.