New South Wales

Werrikimbe National Park, NSW

Shortly after leaving Armidale we chanced upon a sign to the grave of Nat Buchanan who died at the age of 72 in 1901. Like we did, you are probably wondering who Nat Buchanan is, but we discovered that after arriving in Australia from Ireland in 1837, he went on to create an unrivalled reputation droving cattle. The plaque next to the grave explained all his feats and having visited some of the areas he was droving we could well appreciate the achievement.

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Apsley Falls, Oxley Wild Rivers NP

Apsley Falls, Oxley Wild Rivers NP

Driving further along the road in the Northern Tablelands another sign triggered me to turn off to the Apsley Falls. I had read about these and also was keen to see what the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park had to offer. Two sets of falls plunge some 60m into the precipitous Apsley gorge and a series of lookouts offer some amazing vantage points to watch. The water levels were low and the river disappears beneath rubble at one point re-emerging around the next bend in the gorge.

Mooraback camp is a quiet oasis that lies in Werrikimbe National Park, and adjacent to the Oxley River National Park. Classified as a Gondwanaland forest, it is the remnant of forest from the supercontinent of the same name that split into the continents that we know today. The homestead was handed over to the National Parks in 1975 and is now critical habitat to a number of endangered plants and animals, including the River Hastings mouse. This rodent was believed extinct for over 100 years until rediscovered here in the 1980s.

Reaching an altitude of up to 1200m on the drive up it was quiet a refreshing change, from the mid 30 degrees of the previous day, as temperatures dropped to a brisk 16 degrees.

Driving into the clouds we were regularly sprinkled with fine drizzle. On arrival we had choice of the 5 sites, all recently mowed luscious green patches dispersed amongst the trees. A fire-pit and supply of wood offered us probably the last opportunity to have a campfire on this adventure. As daylight vanished and everyone else disappeared into bed the forest suddenly lit up with tiny flashing lights, and for 30 minutes a display of fire flies flitted gracefully between the trees in the forest in pursuit of one another. Hannah was still awake and came to watch this magical finale to our trip with me.

From the camp there are two easy walks, one takes you through a number of habitats in the forest behind. This 15 minute walk showcased many local birds, crimson and eastern rosellas, white-eared honeyeaters, golden whistlers, rufous fantails, red-browed finches, fairy-wrens, silver-eyes, and treecreepers.

The second walk is a 5km walk that takes you around the headwaters of the Hastings river that runs towards Port Macquarie, where it finally meets the Pacific Ocean. The streams and pools abound with platypus and Xavier and I were fortunate to see a number of them in the late afternoon.

The hillsides up in this NSW alpine region abound with colour at the moment and we had fun spotting many different spring flowers, including a few different orchids. When the clouds finally cleared and the sun emerged this place was a truly tranquil gem and worth driving the additional kilometres from the main road to visit.

One last night, and time for a final episode of the “bushman’s TV”. Each episode lasts as long as your wood supply, and though often similar, are equally riveting for young and old with every viewing. The last of the kid’s houses built from firewood were sacrificed, another display from the fire flies and it was time to farewell this remote spot.

Categories: 4WD, Adventure, Animal Action, australia, Australian Outback, Big Lap, Discover Australia, Explore Australia, Journey Narrative, Kids Travel, National Park, New South Wales, NSW, Offroad, Photography, Photos, Road trip, Travel, Travel Adventure | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Yadboro flats

Driving on from Pigeon House mountain we stopped at Yadboro flats by the Clyde river. The road had just been graded so everything was covered in dust. After the exhausting climb in the heat cooling off in the river was the best end to the day. Next morning we were up at 6am looking for wombats and found one scrambling around the river bank 50m from the camp. Then we found an ornate satin bower bird building it’s display bower, intricately decorated with blue objects and yellow flowers. A great place that we could have stayed longer at.

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Categories: Animal Action, Australian Outback, Journey Narrative, Location, NSW, Photography, Travel, Travel Adventure | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Booderee Wildlife

Possums arrived in droves last night to the campsite, with the sole purpose of raiding any foodstuff that might have been left in reach. Tell-tale footprints on the stove and tables showed the action didn’t stop after we went to bed.

This morning we had many more visitors, wallabies and kangaroos.

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Categories: Animal Action, Australian Outback, Journey Narrative, National Park, NSW, Travel, Travel Adventure | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Birds and Booderee Botanic Gardens

Just a couple of our avian visitors, many more of whom we encountered today in the verdant botanic gardens. One of the favourite spots was the mossy path through the forest gully pictured below.

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Categories: Animal Action, Journey Narrative, Location, National Park, New South Wales, NSW, Travel, Travel Adventure | Tags: | Leave a comment

Booderee National Park

Jervis Bay is beautiful! The birdlife at Green Patch was fantastic. In a couple of days we have seen variegated fairy-wrens, endangered eastern bristlebirds hopping through the dense bush, ospreys, sea eagles, king parrots, eastern rosellas, wood ducks and much more. There are swamp wallabies, kangaroos and echidnas around too, some even tame enough to pat. At the derelict lighthouse we found a snakeskin (brown snake!) almost 2m long.

We played a variation of Pooh Sticks with pumice pebbles we found on the beach – Pooh Stones.

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Categories: Animal Action, Beach, Camper Trailer, Journey Narrative, Location, National Park, New South Wales, NSW, Travel, Travel Adventure | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

New Tyres (Falken Wild Peak AWD)

Today I got the new tyres for the car. We’re going to give Falken Wild Peak tyres a go. Five new 17 inch 265/70 tyres and a wheel alignment. We’ll see how they perform over the months to come. The tread is supposed to be quieter on bitumen, better at dispelling water, and very different from Coopers or BF Goodrich. Let’s hope they are as good off-road as they are made out to be.

WildPeaks  WildPeakTread

Categories: Car, Location, NSW, Tyres | Tags: , | 1 Comment

The Car set-up

Ok a couple of pictures of the car with new suspension lift, the pre-filter snorkel fitted, awning and cage fitted, together with the trusty old pod with a little added security. The awning is excellent – an Aldi special, really easy to put up (not so easy to install though). Next major thing is to change the wheels – going for Falken 17inch Wild Peaks, hopefully they are up to the challenge. Then an Anderson plug installation is required and we’re almost ready to go.

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Coffee processing continues

Ok between getting Snorkels fitted and suspension lifts on the car the very manual coffee processing continues. This week the beans were fermented, dried and finally, with the help of the kids, de-husked, leaving me with green beans ready for the final stages of roasting and drinking.

The final roasting proved challenging as I rushed the process using wok over too high a heat, resulting in partially roasted beans shown below. Initial grinds produced an orange powder that from previous experience is too bitter. After re-heating over a lower flame and constant stirring the resultant grind was much better. The roasting reaction is endothermic initially, but once the first “cracking” (like popcorn) commences the process rapidly becomes exothermic, giving off smoke. As soon as the second cracking commences I transfer the beans into a metal bowl on ice to rapidly cool and stop the reaction before the beans burn.

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Categories: Garden, Location, NSW | Tags: | 1 Comment

Before we go …. harvest the coffee crop

Still plenty to do at home – like harvesting the coffee crop. With lots of seedlings growing up there is only one bush that fruits and given the low volume of crop everything is manual at this stage.

Pick the cherries as the red colour starts to darken. Squeeze each cherry to remove two very slimy beans. The outer case goes straight back into the compost whilst the beans are fermented in water for a few days to remove the slimy coating. No need to add anything as a natural enzyme in the fruit helps the process. This step is not essential but certainly helps the handling process. Once removed from the fermentation dry the beans naturally. Depending upon the weather this may take a few days.

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Fifty Toes start stretching!

The map has been dusted off and stuck to the wall. The individually labelled post-it stickers are out of the drawer and slowly being added as we get recommendations or read of some beautiful place that must be visited. Even the kids have started participating.

We’re preparing for the “big trip”, a marathon, rather than a sprint, to see as much as we can of the beautiful country that is Australia. Novices off-road but we plan to get off the bitumen whenever we can. Lots of reading has already been done and still plenty to do. The pile of gear is adding to the checklist and already we’re wondering where everything is going to go.

Two months out and the focus is on the vehicle and how to escape the house.

Categories: Journey Narrative, Location, NSW | Tags: | Leave a comment

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