Barrington Tops to Braidwood December 18 - 22 2018
  We continued on Thunderbolt Way and turned west just before Gloucester.

West towards Barrington Tops National Park.

  A steady third gear climb up the hill then through a different sort of rain forest.

There are four areas of rainforest down the east coast. This is the fourth we have visited.

  We stop at Polblue Campground. Relegated to the picnic area due to tree work in the closed campground. There are few people around. We think we are ok for a night here.

We've been here a couple of times previously. But always when there are more people.

A walk around the swamp. The smell of flowers that follows us. We aren't used to that in the bush. On the far side of the swamp we took a left turn which we thought was a longer loop than just around the swamp. It came back to the main road along the gated Polblue Trail after an hour and a half or so. How quickly we become unfit, complaining about the slightest of rises to walk up.

  We can't decide if this is an orchid or something less unusual for us.
  Not much of a trail really. Nice to walk along for a change.

I haven't seen nettles for many years. Let alone been stung.

But here we are. Stung. And instant recognition.

No dock leaves to soothe the skin. Just that never forgotten tingling that stays for ages.

  We've seen a lot of tree ferns. This one stood out as the sun caught it.

Just like last time we were here we marvel at the difference in colours between forests.

  We had a bit of trouble reconciling the bird calls we heard with the parrot we saw.
  But all explained. A couple of yellow tailed black cockatoos.
  We've had the perfect afternoon. Just the right temperature, just the right amount of cloud and sun. Just the right length of walk (though we will always complain about something). Unlike previous visits here where we could only imagine the colours around the swamp as the sun set and the shadows lengthened.

We even hoped to see frogs in the creek or edge of the swamp. But alas no. Though we have no doubt we'll hear them later.

  Nobody disturbed us. We decided the picnic area was a much better spot on the edge of the swamp than in the middle of camping ground trees. Next morning Ali did some mandolin practice while I found the shorter circuit.

Past the closed campground via a bit of easy bush bashing, though more like a stroll through someone's uncut lawn.

The cherry picker was in place and chainsaws in use.

  Our nemesis of yesterday.

How could anyone mistake this sign for take either the left fork or the right fork when it obviously means don't walk along the track directly behind it.

For the record .... we did. Obvious in retrospect, hindsight is always right.

  The short circuit is about 2.8km. I took the hand held gps this time, which means I wouldn't need it.

Halfway, the truck is on the far side of the swamp.


  Just one of about 20 crimson rosellas that followed me for a while. They always remind me of years ago trying to take a pic with film camera and short lens.
  I always enjoy the drive down into the Hunter Valley towards Scone.

Somewhere, in the far distance, across the other side of the valley, is Wollemi National Park. No roads or tracks that we can find across it. Just radiating in from the edge.

We will skirt around it and head south on the west side.

  Still dropping. Through farmland that is either short of pasture due to lack of rain or over grazed. The green is perhaps from a little recent rain.
  A little bit of New England Highway we speed up for a few km. Turn west after the railway bridge in Musswellbrook.

Through the Bylong Valley. Granite hills on both sides.

  We've been thwarted in finding the campsites in Goulbourn River National Park on previous occasions. This time we found the route in from the south.

We really must pay better attention to the improved maps we have. The track passes through the park, past the campsites. Mogo Road (though its possibly Mongo as it passes "The Mongo") connects to Hulks Road. About a km north of Big River Campsite there's a ford. We'll detour on our way out, to check for future use, before heading south.

We were welcomed to the campsite by a mildly cautious wallaby.

  We've watched the clouds build. But they seem to be lifting. Around 5:30 pm.

The first thump took us by surprise. A mental image of a very large tree branch falling onto a very small truck.

But it was just a single thump. No sound of scraping as something falls off the roof to the ground.

Then another. And another. Then lots. Like someone hitting the roof with a large hammer. A bit unsettling.

Very loud in the confines of our fibreglass box. Thor is more angry than usual. No gentle peals of thunder in the distance. The flashes of lightning and cracks of thunder are so near simultaneous we can't separate them.

Large (50mm) hailstones and heavy rain.

We've never found a tectite, but we've seen them in museums. We see similarities in the squashed shape of some hailstones that have probably hit the truck and bounced off. Perhaps the result of a hard centre and a softer outer.

  The hail lasted about 5 minutes. A long 5 minutes as we imagine what damage may be occurring to truck in general and shiny new solar panels in particular. Hopefully none. Unlike home where the noise in a large space is muted we can't hear ourselves speak.

The rain continued. A downpour, reminiscent of tropical rain. The roof leak repairs have worked. The flow of water from the roof, where the gargoyles are missing, is as strong as we've seen. A significant storm.

And out came the kangaroos to feed. Its warm rain.

Its hard to photograph rain .... while wondering if we'll ever change the "photograph" to reflect the digital age.

  We aren't sure what's motivated them to feed in the rain. We suspect water on the grass is welcome. It could also be that everything else hides from rain.

Apart from an outer sogginess, which presumably is halted by thick fur, they look content.

  There are at least 9 in the pic.
  The birds waited longer before they signalled the approaching end to the rain. They misjudged a bit as there were some short follow up showers. Through which they kept singing.

We think we can spot the difference between wallabies and kangaroos. Though the colouring may just be the result of changing light.

That delicious orange light that sometimes occurs with the sun low in the sky after a thunderstorm.

  Hard to capture in the camera. The sogginess disappears almost as rapidly as it arrives. The river 30m below us, a tributary of the Bylong River, is not yet swollen but the surface puddles are no longer.

The solar panels are providing volts so are still connected. They look good. Its tomorrow to know they are intact and behaving normally.

We'll spend tomorrow here and investigate the river a bit. Then southwards on Friday, to arrive near Braidwood on Saturday via some last minute shopping (and replace the Chromecast thingo) in Goulbourn.

  After breakfast Ali set the mandolin up and I went for a walk.

I took the hand held gps, but not water. And headed down the river, towards the next campsite. About a km along the road, unknown along the river.

The river has risen, the immediate bank is impassable.

  So back up to campsite level. A quick look at a goanna. And find a way among the granite outcrops.
  Kangaroos do hide from the rain. At least the ones that braved the bees in this overhang did.
  The curves in the river are deceptive. A quick look back.
  And at some time the river has scoured the granite about 20m above its current level.
  Its about this time, after 2km, and an unidentifiable bird, I realised that temperature climbing towards 38 degrees C, no water, and a need to climb higher to navigate round another river bend, was not a good mix.

I figured I wasn't going to reach the other campsite and decided the shortest way back was best. Up a little further, with frequent rests, and over a ridge that formed a long bend in the river.

  I wasn't lost. Just becoming dehydrated and legs that didn't like carrying me.

This pic is my first glimpse of the road. Exactly where I thought it should be.

But what a very long 100m. A glimpse of what it may be like to know that its too far.

Once on the road it was downhill about 500m to the truck. No stops, but what a long way. Then a couple of litres of cordial, some sugary stuff, and a long sleep.

How easy to get a simple walk so wrong. Despite all my experience.

  Having over dramatised the hour and a half 5km walk the next challenge was a car with engine running and keys locked inside.

It was 1991 when I realised that despite, or perhaps because of, all the security stuff it was possible to lock keys inside a new Ford. This is a 2007 Holden station wagon.

I tried a few approaches, including removing trim from doors. But ultimately break the small window in the rear passenger door. Not as easy as it sounds, a half dozen hits with a hammer then lots of clearing up. The gorilla tape we purchased found use to cover the leftover edges of glass still glued to the frame and add a sheet of polythene bag to make it waterproof again.

  We finished just before the rain arrived. Nowhere near as bad as last night. No hail and just a little rain.

Then the sun and the kangaroos came out to play.

  Just a check that we are still in the Dividing Range as we head south through Rylstone.
  The beginnings of interesting rock forms. We are west  of Wollemi National Park.
  Looking across the Capertee Valley. We are intrigued at comparisons to the Grand Canyon. In our travels we've become used to "biggest", "widest", "deepest", "longest". We'll have to look further at this one.

Somewhere in the general direction, between us and Wollemi NP is "Gardens of Stone" National Park.

Just as intriguing is a large sign in Capertee showing various bird watching sites around the valley. Apparently "world class" bird watching.

  We stopped the night at Black Springs, a bit south of Oberon. And so to (near) Braidwood, for Christmas.
  The need is to create a detailed contour map of the 25 acres. Information required for planning water flows and plantings.

We tried a combination of stationary and moving gps but even with real-time kinematics we couldn't get sufficient height accuracy. So we tried the barometer in an iPhone.

Sadly after about 300m walk to the top of the rise and back the reading at the end was 2m different to the beginning.

More thought and testing required.

  So we resorted to admiring the black shouldered kite. Each time we visit its more used to us, ventures closer and is harder to disturb.
  It hovers a lot, but usually some way away. Caught it in the camera taking off into the sun.
Wollemi and Guy Fawkes River National Parks January 14 - 19 2019

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