Coddiwompling begins

29th January – 4th February 2017:

Sunday 29th: The decision to head off for a long trip of indeterminate length and destination was a sudden one. About 3 weeks ago the stars aligned making it possible for us to leave home for at least 6 months. Not long to prepare for such a long trip!

Our life for a while to come.

Our life for a while to come.

We got away from home just after lunch, only driving a short distance to Ormeau to spend a relaxing time with our friends Siggy and Heather where we solved most of the world’s problems and discussed their plans for their new home – quite an exciting concept.

Monday 30th: Next day (Happy birthday Nick), after a leisurely start we headed to Rod and Chris’s 100 acre property at Upper Orara, inland from Coffs Harbour.
We’ve decided to see if we can reach the main compass points on mainland Australia, so Byron Bay on the way couldn’t be missed.

Counting down the compass points in Australia.

Counting down the compass points in Australia.

Rod has been a friend for many, many years though it was 35 years ago we last caught up. Needless to say the afternoon and evening was spent reminiscing. A toast to good times, and a few more for the future.

Tuesday 31st

A long drive down the Pacific Highway today –  473 km from Rod and Chris’s to Bangalow Campsite in Watagans State Forest. It was a very hot day today with temps in the high 30’s – driving was the place to be! We brunched at Nambucca Heads by the river, and enjoyed a brief stopover at Karuah to pick up some oysters to enjoy with our champagne tonight. As we arrived a line of storms was passing through the area, which made us change our mind about Heaton Lookout, our original destination where rain would possibly make an already pretty bad road dangerous. The road to Bangalow is unsealed with various parts in poor condition with wash-aways and pools of water, but not too steep. The 4WD was barely tested.

Camping in the clouds. Bangalow Campground, Watagans NP

Camping in the clouds. Bangalow Campground, Watagans NP

The campsite is quite small with parking for only about half a dozen vehicles. Only in-vehicle or tent camping is possible as the grassy camping area is separated from the parking. There’s a picnic shelter with table, a gas BBQ (out of order) and the loos, and very pretty little kangaroos. It’s completely surrounded by the forest which made for an ethereal atmosphere as the clouds settled over and amongst the trees. With elevation and the passing of the storm the temperature was pleasant. We spent a peaceful night as the only campers here.

Wednesday 1st February:

After a very relaxing morning we went for a walk. Just down the road is the Gap Creek Falls day use and camping area. The walk isn’t far, maybe 5km return from our campsite, but the path down to the creek to view the falls is very steep with lots of rock hopping and scrambling over rocks that are wet and slippery. However once down the falls are beautiful – nature is the best landscape designer! We loved the plants, the rainforest setting providing a beautiful palette for the falls which feed the pool at the bottom and the shallow creek that bubbles over and around a rocky creek bed.

Gap Creek Falls. Our descent was very nearly as steep at the falls themselves.

Gap Creek Falls. Our descent was very nearly as steep at the falls themselves.

That evening we settled in for another solitary night, only to be surprised (disappointed!) by 2 camper vans arriving within about 20 minutes of each other, well after dark, and parking closely on either side of us. What is it about parking close together when the park is otherwise empty!

Thursday 2nd:

Up early and off today to Kiama to stay with cousin Lynette and Geoff. On the way we dropped in briefly to Trakka at Kuring Gai for a minor problem. As usual a delightful evening chatting, sharing news and reminiscing. Thanks Lyndie and Geoff.

Friday 3rd:

Today we meet up with Ric and Gill who we’ll be bushwalking Kosciusko with. They’re with their cousin Glen and Jen at their beach house in Bendalong. What a delightful little beachside town this is. Their home backs onto the national park and is one block off the beach – the best of both worlds.

We all lunched at St Isadores in Milton, about 20 mins south. The restaurant which is set in beautiful gardens, grows its own vegetables and fruit and has a flock of hens. The food was superb.

Glen, Ric, Jen, Gill, Steve and Denise - just finished a magnificent lunch at St Isadore's in Milton.

Glen, Ric, Jen, Gill, Steve and Denise – just finished a magnificent lunch at St Isadore’s in Milton.

Music and talking till late.

Saturday 4th:

Off to Canberra today to buy some hiking gear. We camped at Cotters Reservoir campground. The campground is on the Cotter River just near the Cotter Dam which was Canberra’s first water supply. Burley-Griffin designed it to have a wall of 90ft, however due to the cost of World War 1, when it was completed in 1915 the wall was only built to 65ft, with popular thinking that that would be adequate. Needless to say the Capital had outgrown it by the 1950s and other dams came online. A major drought prompted the authorities to increase the holding capacity of Cotter Dam and in 2013 it was reopened with a wall height of 87 metres (285ft). I wonder what Burley-Griffin would think?

Anyway we enjoyed a walk around the river to the dam spillway and back in the afternoon before settling down for the night with the hundred or so other campers here tonight.

Bridge over Cotter River. Loved the sleeping ducks.

Bridge over Cotter River. Loved the sleeping ducks.

Click HERE to view other photos from our first week of coddiwompling.

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