CAMPSITE # 25 - Jindabyne

Going to a ski resort during summer is really quite strange. Everything is purpose built for the snow and feels rather backwards when it’s not cold. We did a quick stop in Thredbo in the morning just to have a look around and plan our big adventure up that gigantic mountain.
Kind of felt like a shanty village but there was still a surprising amount of people there considering how closed up it was.
Once we had booked & planned our climb we ventured down to the town at the bottom, a base for all of the ski resorts – Jindabyne. Back in 2004, I came down to Perisher Valley to work a snow season in a hotel down there. So, in my youth ;) , I became rather familiar with Jindabyne – well at least all of the pubs & party houses. I certainly saw it from a more mature and level headed perspective this time round. Speaking of mature...

Tom & I decided to hire a tinny (British Translation – can of beer but in this situation a small aluminium boat) for a few hours. At just 15horsepower, this baby wasn’t going anywhere very quickly AND after possessing a boating license for over ten years I thought I could finally put it to good use. But no, the boat lacked so much power that you didn’t even need a license to operate it.  We weren’t there for the power. We were there to... well I don’t really know – hoon (or not so hoon) around in this boat and see Jindabyne from the outside looking in I suppose. Tom took his fishing rod but lost interest pretty quickly once I broke out the illegal beers that I’d smuggled aboard.

We had taken the GPS out on the boat with us. This GPS tracks every movement that you make with a fine blue line according to your position.  So, us being the big kids that were we... standing at the helm, we thought it would be a laugh to get a little artistic on our GPS map.

The place we had hired the boats from was actually a Big4 Caravan Park. Big4 is a group of Caravan Parks around Australia that have to meet a certain ‘standard’ in order to be able to be apart of the Big4 chain. Their gardens always have to be impeccably presented, they must have good facilities that are well maintained and it just needs to be a little more fine tuned than most other caravan parks. Just to humour ourselves, when we were returning the keys – I enquired about the cost of an unpowered tent site. Over the last 7 weeks, we have paid for unpowered sites at Caravan Parks varying from $10 - $23 per night. Sometimes we’ve splurged and paid for a powered site which normally costs between $18 - $26 a night. After she tried to sell us an unpowered site in a crappy position for $30 a night, Tom now calls them Big Forkout but I prefer to call them Big Forking expensive!!! Honestly, does it really matter if they haven’t trimmed their hedges this week or perfumed the reception area or hand weeded the driveway. Just give me a good patch of grass in a nice spot... and I’ll keep my ten bucks.

We ventured over to the other side of the lake, in a much more convenient location too I might add, and set up camp at the Lake Jindabyne Caravan Park – overlooking the lake for $23 but unfortunately though no grassy patch – nothing worse than damn prickles smothering your campsite. I know from when I was there last that everything during Ski season is ridiculously expensive – accommodation, tourist attractions, food & beer. We were so amazed at how much even Jindabyne must have just grown accustomed to getting away with charging disgustingly high prices during winter that they think they can in summer as well. For instance – Kosciuzsko National Park is $16 per car per day during summer & $27 per car per day during winter whereas the rest of NSW National Parks is a flat rate of $7. Our last diesel price we paid in Tumut was $1.23 per litre... Jindabyne’s cheapest was $1.39!! A carton of Toohey’s New 30pack cans is normally between $35 - $40 but no Jindabyne’s was $50. I mean come on! What a rort. Don’t get me wrong, you have to go and see the place mainly for its close proximity to the Snowys but gees you wouldn’t want to stay there any longer than you had to.

As the sun went down, it was time for our brains and bodies to switch off in preparation for the big day the following day. We had very little idea of what lay ahead for our big climb up Kosciuszko. Tom couldn’t contain his excitement but I was a little more weary... this is the SUMMIT of Australia. Could I really be fit enough to reach the top? And if I couldn’t, Tom would be so disappointed. Only time would tell...
Tommy found a blue tongued friend... 

Poor guy had leaped over the fence and was stuck on the highway side...

CAMPSITE # 24 - Geehi's Campground - Kosciuszko National Park

From Tumut, we headed straight for Kosciusko National Park. Our first stop, Yarrangobilly Caves where Tom was absolutely in his element. Here, they have discovered in total 364 limestone caves. Once we arrived, we booked ourselves in for a tour of one of the caves. We had an hour to kill before the tour so we headed off to the "Thermal Pool".

Quite a strange little setup, this thermal pool was actually built by prisoners of the nearby Cooma prison back in the 1960's and just looks your everyday backyard pool. But not when you look at the bottom of the pool! As it's a thermal pool, 100,000 litres of water flow out of the rock wall every hour making the water itself very high in minerals & salts but also encouraging a crap load of algae & plant life on the base of the pool. The water temperature stands at 27degrees all year round so on a 28 degree day like it was - we weren't able to appreciate it's warmth however I can imagine during the winter times it would be absolutely divine. 

Our tour was a tour of the "Jersey Cave". Jersey Cave is noted for its rare displays of black and grey flowstone, coloured by ash from ancient bushfires. The path length is 185 metres and includes 217 steps.

When led to the cave, you're sort of led along a path along the cliff side featuring beautiful gorges running below. The gate we were led into is quite unassuming, as if it was just plain Old Man Joe's undercover bomb shelter. It was certainly no run of the mill huge tourist attraction, it was more like being taken into a shed to see someone's car collection. 
Once the guide turned the lights on, the steps plummeted down through (in Tom's words) plain, boring limestone covered in algae. The first few metres were quite unimpressive, as if you were just in a hole in a ground. And then, once the steps wound down further... the second cavern was getting better with a slight wow factor but it certainly wasn't overwhelming. But then, the third flight of stairs, once we poked our heads through ... wow!! It was absolutely incredible. Parts of the cave were like an absolute wonderland featuring delicately created stalactites (the sharp pointy ones coming from the ceiling downwards) & stalagmites (the deposits growing upwards to meet with the stalactites). They had names for all of the different formations - like the wedding cake, Cleopatra's needle, the piano organs and the crystal garden. At times, I was expecting Pixies to flutter around my head whistling sweet tunes in my ears and then we would all break into a song and dance as if it was something out of Alice in Wonderland. We took dozens upon dozens of photos...

Indiana Simpson & his shivalinga

The Crystal Garden...

Busterd! Sneaking a chocie :(

Afterwards the ranger was kind enough to take us to the Bowerbird's Bower. I think Tom nearly wet his pants...

Tumut Pond Dam... Pond.. yeah right!

 A lovely winter hut with a huge fireplace

We had considered scooting all of the way to Thredbo but we didn’t really account for Alpine driving along the way. Sloooow and winding & bloody exhausting! (even as a passenger!) Even though parts of the road are really tight, you have to be thankful for all of that snow fall during winter as the roads were absolutely perfect – not a pothole in sight! I suppose they’d have to be when you’re driving on ice.

One really eerie part was along the Alpine Way driving right through the thick of where the firestorm annihilated it back in 2003... they stood like giant matchsticks everywhere you looked... reminded me of what would be a summer scene out of The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe. Apparently, the seedlings in the trees will help rejuvenate the area but if another fire hits the area again within the next 20 years, the seedlings will no longer be able to reproduce for another growth spurt to come through.
We reached the highest point so far – 1580 metres elevated from sea level but something tells me we’ll smash that record & more sometime over the next few days.

We gave up on route to Thredbo and pulled up camp alongside the creek at a lovely spot called Geehi’s Flat... absolutely riddled with mountain kangaroos and black rabbits.. hungry anybody? ;)

Having a little box...

CAMPSITE # 23 - Butts back in Tumut

It was back to Tumut we go. As much as we hate feeling like we’re travelling backwards, our little power adaptor thingo for the laptop would be ready to be collected the next day and we had spotted a lovely caravan park in town upon our last visit.

Tumut Caravan Park, while a little on the pricey side ($26 per night for a powered site) was set amongst a lot of natural greenery, really well manicured lawns and right on the river. And riddled with Grey Nomads! It’s quite funny as we continue along how all of the Grey Nomads seem to be so taken by Tom. They’re always keen to stop and have a chat to him about the weather, his fishing, where we’re travelling next & querying what part of Sweden he’s from... the two flags on the back windows next to our surnames – one obviously being the Aussie flag and the other being Tom’s English Flag – the St George’s flag. God it’s embarrassing how many Aussies have no idea what flag that is and somehow their colour blindness takes over and they swap the red & white for blue & yellow and assume he’s Swedish.

Grey Nomads are funny creatures. I’ve found you have three main types –

Grey Nomad Type #1 – Snore by day, Snore by night.
In their retro caravans, snug in their little habit, they rarely come out to soak in the atmosphere, cook dinner in their in-caravan microwaves and are snoring away by 8pm.

Grey Nomad Type # 2 – The booze hounds
A bottle or three each night, the two of them could talk up a storm, with each other or their neighbours or even the resident gardener, every single night providing they have wineglass & cheese platters in hand. Everything is an absolute adventure and they’ve hit their 60’s and decided “right love, it’s time to get amongst it and live a little”.

Grey Nomad Type # 3 – The plotters
They just plot along at their own little pace not really bothered by anyone else, just keep to themselves. These are usually the ones with the bloody noisy dogs.

Regardless of which group they fall under, they all seem to have a really lovely nature. The unspoken camping code is really shining through in all of the people we meet at our sites. An ideal camper, who always abides by the code -

• Always greets others with a genuine hello and a light conversation
• Doesn’t slam their doors late at night or clang their dishes around early in the morning
• Doesn’t camp on top of you even if it’s the next best spot
• Generously passes on their leftover firewood / milk / fresh food / drinking water if no longer required
• Ready & willing to assist in mechanical dramas, even if they have no idea

Before this trip, I’d never really escaped the ‘daily grind’ and stepped away from life as a city slicker. People in the city don’t give a damn about anybody else they don’t know. They’re too busy living their fast paced lives and don’t seem to stop to appreciate the smaller things. I’m not saying yay for every countryman and boo for every city slicker, it’s more about the fact that in the country things are just at a different pace and if you say hello to a random in the street, majority of them will gladly give you a genuine hello in return. Why do we get like that in the city? I guess, if we stopped to greet every passerby we’d never actually get to where we’re going.

All in all, Tumut was a lovely town with nice & polite people. However, by the end of our overnight stay at the caravan park, we were pretty ready to move on and head towards our next adventure, Kosciuszko National Park . Tom’s determined to climb Mt Kosciuszko... god help me!!!




CAMPSITE # 22 - Jounama Creek

Some say it’s rare to spot an Echidna in the wild, in that case- we must have some seriously keen eyes (helps when they’re crossing the road in front!)
I managed to get some great footage of it on video.  We’ve setup a YouTube account and will upload some of our favourite videos for you to have a look at – starting with A VIDEO OF AN ECHIDNA IN THE WILD.

(See along the right hand side column as we update more videos along the way). 

Our day at Tumut was spent – finding an excuse to enjoy some lagers on tap at the local. Our excuse? They had a powerpoint and said they were happy for us to use it and given that we still hadn’t sorted out our inverter on the laptop situation – we were happy to oblige.
Note : when purchasing inverters – don’t fall into the same trap we did and make sure you get one with a “secure soundwave” otherwise, when you go to plug in your laptop, the laptop will sense it’s not secure and won’t charge it’s battery ***grrrr*** We’ve since been told that that you can get a power adaptor specifically for laptop batteries to cigarette lighter. We’ve ordered one in at Tumut and it’ll take a few days to arrive so a great excuse to stick around for a while.

Next on the list in Tumut was a BIG SHOP. Something which I’m pretty sure Tom’s been dreading for the last few weeks. I’ve written up a bit of a debrief on our groceries & budgeting for it. Something which a few of you may not find so interesting but hopefully it’ll help one or two avid campers out there. ***See bottom of the blog.

Located just 35km south of Tumut is Jounama Creek Camping Ground, NSW. And it is certainly not to be missed, truly is a lovely spot. We were told that there was once a flying fox installed over the creek which had been flinging reckless teenagers for over 40 years. The recent influx of rain left the flying fox as just a loose piece of steel wire and a rather hefty scar on the base of the tree.

The creek itself was flowing with the clearest & cleanest water I’d ever seen in a creek. Certainly made life easy to top up water supplies and was handy for rinsing the laundry (yes, greenies we use eco friendly laundry detergent!!!)...

One of the four gloriously sunny days we were there, a man parked his ute next to us. He got out, reached for his binoculars and disappeared on a walk up the track and into the bushes. Tom, being his inquisitive self, was just dying to know what the man was doing and what exactly he was going to watch. He thought about following him up the track but later decided that it could be easily misconstrued. A couple of hours later, the man returned. He climb back into his ute and drove away.
The next gloriously sunny day, the same man returned in his ute and parked up next to us. Only this time, he hadn’t returned with a pair of binoculars he had returned with a camera. “Well”, says Tom “if he’s come back to capture whatever he’s found... it must be good!” And off Tom went, keeping a stalkerish distance behind the curious man. Once I had finished busying myself washing the dishes, tidying the cabin, hand washing all of the linen and the towels and all the clothes, Tom still hadn’t returned. After no shorter than 3 hours later, Tom returned with a rather disgruntled look on his face. I asked after his walk, if he found the man and what he found on his adventure. Tom looked at me with a sad little look on his face “Yes I found the man”. AND?? What was he looking for? “Well his was a strange little man and I didn’t much want to talk to him for very long”. Why not? What was he looking for? “Nothing really, he was a Geologist”. Enough said. :)
Early morning day two...

Tommy about to tackle the rapids...

We're getting very good at self timing the photos...

But it can get pretty exhausting!

Some wildflowers.. taken during Tom's stalking attempt

Tom busy cooking lunch.. leftovers!! :)

I like to try and make sure that we tick two boxes with the groceries – life longevity and healthiness. A lot of the time, with the food, it’s about trial and error. I finally feel like we’re in the swing of it all.

Here are a few little tricks that I like to try & use –
Only buy fresh what you absolutely need. Particularly if you only plan to do a grocery shop every two weeks or so, by day 12 you’d be eating some pretty rotten stuff.
Try and stick to the vegies that have a long life and generally taste like crap in a can. i.e. garlic, onions, potatoes & sweet potatoes.
Storage is always a concern (particularly when you live as jam packed as we do!!). Smaller vegies are much easier to manoeuvre around all of the other groceries & heaps easier to pack. While tinned vegies are never as good as the real thing, I guess they’re better than nothing at all (right mum??). One key is to only buy the size tin that you would use for each meal – while buying in bulk may save you 20c in the long run, you then have to worry about storing & refrigerating it until you use it again.
I’ve found great tinned vegies are – tomatoes, carrots, peas, corn & mushrooms. All great to have on hand for a variety of meals. A great all in one can that you can get is peas, carrots & corn – really good to bung into any number of stews, pastas, casseroles and or just steamed.
Canned tomatoes are an absolute must. Very handy for a pasta sauce, soups & stews.
Coconut cream in a can is really handy if you want to cook more of a creamy based meal or even curries (right Soph?? :) )
Together we spent $18.90 on vegies – both fresh & tinned and that should last us from now up until about Christmas.
Now this one can often break the bank, especially if you find yourself running out often and having to buy one offs here & there. Before we left, I invested in a food vacuum sealer, bought it off ebay for roughly $100 with 80 bags included. Just make sure you get a bundle of bags when you buy it cause the resale cost of the bags is quite high. The vacuum sealer itself is no longer than 30cm long and 8cm high – so very easy to slip down a forgotten about hole. We portion out the meat by each meal servings and vacuum seal them separately. Rather than 5 days of life we get up to 5 weeks!! Plus- you can buy it all in bulk saving you loads in the long run. Our meat supplies purchased should again last up until Christmas and were a total of $29.50.
Busy making some herb & garlic crumbed meatballs...

When Tom & I first sat down to do our budget, back in the early planning stages, we estimated that we would spend $150 per week on groceries. Thankfully, it’s nowhere near that amount. At this stage, with meat and vegies included, we’re lucky to reach $70 a week... leaving us loads more in the drinking fund which is always a winner...

CAMPSITE # 21 - Charlie's back in action!!!

Yes, they're the worlds goofiest smiles on both of our faces ...
...but we didn’t care – we were (and still are and still will be for weeks to come) absolutely ecstatic to have Charlie Troopcarrier back in action.

JB’s Auto Electrical & Mechanical Services in Yass were absolutely amazing!! I think we shook Peter’s hand about 4 times each just out of sheer relief and praise for such a great job he had done. And to top it off, the price fell in the lower end of the quote than the higher... which doesn’t happen often but feels damn good when it does.
We returned Hope, and didn’t look back. We don’t need Hope anymore, we have Charlie – the real deal!! We decided we needed to start afresh with Charlie, a clean slate to work on. So we drove him up to the car wash and gave him a good wax job, belly rubbing and some tender lovin’ care. Which in reality he didn’t actually deserve but like I said – clean slate.
Driving back in Charlie along the 50km road that we drove into Yass in Hope the day prior felt completely different. We had the windows right down, Mumford & Sons blaring on the stereo on such a glorious day with not a cloud in the sky.

Four weeks ago, when we were at the free campsite just outside of Dubbo, we met some grey nomads that said to us if we’re ever near the town of Wee Jasper, we should definitely stay at Billy Grace’s Camping Reserve. They said they loved the site – even after 6 years on the road it still stood as one of their favourites. How could we not go there?
So we arrived at a site overflowing with green grass, gum trees and Amy friendly facilities (hot showers). We nestled Charlie right up next to the river bank and sat him down for a rather stern conversation. I told Tom we needed to talk to him like parents whose 16 year old had just returned home after having run away for a week. Charlie now fully understands his requirements from here on in and has promised that he will be on his absolute best behaviour.

After we took care of the legalities, we were then free to spend the rest of the afternoon enjoying the sunshine and relaxing.
Today, Tom panned for gold – the geologist has spoken – there is no gold in this creek. Tom disappeared on a one hour long adventure and returned with two worms, a tree sap that’s about to turn into a rock that is apparently great for cranking any fire and half a dozen tea light candles foolishly left behind by a previous camper. Tom caught another fish, the same type as the last three – the pest that you’re not supposed to throw back. LOL

Today, Amy tore her once jeans into jean shorts. Amy lay in the sun for hours working on her tan. Amy cooked dinner.

All in all, a very tough life we live (now that we have the Troopie back of course). Over the next week, we plan to slowly make our way to Kosciusko National Park where we plan on reinacting The Man From Snowy River... Amy & Tom style.

We had climb into the cabin of the Troopie before the sun had fully disappeared. We were both so excited to return to the sleeping comfort & warmth that we’d been deprived of for what felt like eternity. And it was the best night’s sleep we’d had in at least... 10 sleeps ;)

I’m a big believer in what goes around comes around. Pass on a good deed to somebody else and it will be return onto you.
When we were leaving Yass, there was a nice Japanese couple camped next to us who were staying in town for fruit picking. One of the backs of their chairs was broken. After purchasing two brand spanking new Coleman’s Comfy Camping Chairs, we just so happened to have one of the old ones spare. When we were leaving, the couple had left for work hours beforehand... we left our spare chair sitting at their campsite with a little note from their neighbours. Good deed given by us – check.

Upon leaving the Billy’s Grace Reserve site, money bags Tom only had a $50 note for the honesty box of $15. He practically tackled the ranger when he drove past and explained to him our predicament. The ranger confirmed we’d only stayed one night and said he couldn’t be bothered going back inside to get the change so “It’s on me”. Good deed returned to us – check.

We have since agree that while Billy Grace’s Campsite doesn’t in anyway rival that of Pebbly Beach, it has been awarded Campsite # 2 of the entire trip thanks to its peaceful surroundings and glorious outdoor setting.
Having now been on the road for just short of 6 weeks, I feel it’s important to reflect on what we’ve learnt so far. Trips like these are generally once in a lifetime opportunities and we plan to embrace every second of it.

What I don’t miss about being on the road?
  •                Worrying about all the smaller things – bills, work, meeting deadlines, what people think of you
  •                 Working 5-6 days a week leaving you with very little time to play
  •                 Surprisingly I don’t (yet) miss sleeping in a proper bed that is of course when we have Charlie in action
  •                 Spending way too much $$$ on eating out & take away

What I do miss when on the road?
  • Knowing when my next hot shower will be
  •  Having a washing machine on hand that you can just bung it all in and don’t have to insert coins
  • Having friends over to join us for drinkie poos around the campfire
  • Not seeing my two adorable nephews grow from gorgeous little babies to mischievous little toddlers
  • Being able to shower without thongs (British translation – I don’t shower in my G-String, just my flip flops) on!!!

What have I learnt about myself while on the road?
  • I love cooking, I don’t care if it’s gourmet dinners or campfire meals or baking – I’m loving it!
  • I’m really enjoying writing. I know it’s just a blog but I’ve never done anything like this before – I think the longest I’ve ever keep a diary was for 3 days... it’ll be gold for us in a few years time to read back on it all
  • I’ve learnt that I used to worry about those smaller things in life – way too much!
  • Most importantly, I’ve learnt that living life and family & friends is far more important than becoming ‘somebody’ that you think you’re expected to be. Afterall, you don’t live to work, you work to live.

What do I love about being on the road?
  • I love it when Charlie works the way he should!!!
  • I love the excitement of not knowing where we’ll be 24hrs / 1 week / 1 month from now
  • I love feeling so free – it’s healthy on the soul
  • And this one’s cheesy I know, but I love sharing such a great adventure with Tom and I look forward to creating all of these cool memories that we’ll reflect on for years to come.       

It was never easy for us to just pack up and quit the jobs that we were already enjoying.. but I guess sometimes you’ve just gotta bite bullet – set a goal and stick to it. No regrets from the two of us that’s for sure!!

CAMPSITE # 20 - Back at Yass

We woke from Woods Reserve... the coldest nights sleep yet. That'd be due to the fact that we don't actually have a mattress in the tent and are just sleeping straight on the tarp so no insulation... bloody freezing. By 5am we were so sick of being so blooming cold that we went back to the dreaded car... please God let Charlie be ready sooner rather than later.
We took a detour to check out a few places, cause we felt like we just drove straight to the campsite the day before without experiencing the journey along the way. We saw...

Gibraltar Falls, ACT - just a 2mins drive from our campsite

Mt Stromlo Observatory.
Together with the Siding Spring Observatory in Coonabaraban, Mt Stromlo is Australian National University's research school of Astronomy and Astrology.

Mt Stromlo was damaged by the January 2003 firestorm. It completed destructed its telescopes, this one has stood since the 1920's

The scientists asked me to help them tell the time...

On route to Yass... we saw our very first Echidna of the trip!! And by saw I mean, almost ran over.

We arrived at Yass feeling rather anxious to find out how Charlie was travelling. So we arrived at the mechanics to check in with them. He was working on him at the very point. The new gasket had come in, he had the old one to show us..

Tom just couldn't help himself and had to take some pics of our beast of an engine...

The good news is CHARLIE IS GOING TO BE OK!!! We thought we were going to be able to get him back later that afternoon but it was a longer job than we expected so we will be able to collect Charlie in the morning. Turns out, the original gasket would have been on there since brand new and had just rusted through causing it to blow out. We won't believe it until we see it but from everything we were told yesterday, Charlie's surgery has been a success and he is just going through post op as we speak. 


We didn't mind (hopefully) one last nights sleep in the tent...