Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Going Down South - Day 4

It gets chilly in Moss Vale at night, even in Spring ... really chilly. We ran the fan heater all night, just to keep cosy as the temperature dipped dangerously close to 0C.

We went to bed early because of the cool night air, which only resulted in me being wide awake at 3:00am and ready to get on with the day. I eked it our until 5:30, when I could stand it  no longer and went for my shower. As a result, we were away from camp early and sitting at Fitzroy Falls at 8:30, waiting for the Ranger. Misunderstanding the information in the car park, I paid for my parking space, only to find an explanation on a board outside the office - 40m away - that would have allowed me entry without paying because we have an Annual Pass. The Ranger was helpful, thanking me for my donation.

I increased the donation not long after at the lookout above Fitzroy Falls. Not seeing the head height bar, I tipped the brim of my hat on contact, quickly rushed my hand holding coins in my pocket from its warm hidey hole, saved my hat but sent a nice gold $2 coin flipping over and over in the sun light on its way to the rocks at the bottom of the falls.

A good start but the medication must be working because all I could do was laugh!

We set out on the Western Rim Walk, which took us along the western edge of the valley which ends abruptly at Fitzroy Falls. Being the first people in the park, the bush ahead hadn't been affected by screaming kids or teenagers racing along flat out. The benefit of our early start was immediately apparent as a few hundred metres in, we chanced upon a lyrebird scratching away at the side of the track. We took photos and Sue shot video and all the while, the lyrebird ignored us and just kept right on doing as it wished.

It would be easy for the following 2kms out to have been a let down after such a great start but the plentiful supply of wild flowers in a wide variety of tones and colours of yellow and red and blue and purple, kept us constantly engaged in the experience. When we reached Twin Falls, things again leapt to a new level of wonder. The first of the falls fell from the top of the escarpment to the bottom in a series of about six waterfalls of varying width, intensities and heights. Where Fitzroy Falls is spectacular because of its massive vertical drop, this was like a wonderful construction to showcase the art and craft of nature. Walking on to the second more non-de-script of the two falls, we discovered that its beauty was hidden, rather than on open display like the other falls. We came down a set of rock stairs, with a moss wall dripping water from above and overhangs covered in lichen of white, green and red on one side and the sound of another falls on our left. After the track evened, there to our left was a short falls, enclosed in the forest and dropping maybe 15 metres onto rock and a pool which quickly went away to the edge of the escarpment. A track led us further down, squeezing between rocks and tree trunks to reveal "The Grotto", which took as under a rock overhang and into the chamber below the falls. It was breathtaking.

We returned for coffee at the cafe - as one does - where we saw ridiculous sight No.1. A well manufactured women in her late fifties walked past on her way the the falls. Not a hair was out of place, the make was checked as she waited for companions and then she strode off in her white pants and equally white top and her medium heels. Never have we seen anyone more inappropriately dressed for a bush walk.

The next stop was at Robertson, home of the Big Potato. We snapped our usual irreverent photo of a "Big Thing", somewhat supporting the locals who refer to it as the Big Poo-tato. Sue has never looked so good.

After Robertson, we travelled back to the edge of the escarpment to Carrington Falls, which drops into the creek below before falling over the escarpment further on. This was the home of Thomas Millington who grew up in Jamberoo before marrying and occupying the property at the Falls. To say he valued education is an understatement. As a late teen, he realised he could get nowhere in life without the ability to read, so he started walking the ten mile journey to the local school teacher's house after work, so she could teach him. Later, as a married man, he built a house with a room to be used as a school house and provided the teacher with her own bedroom under his roof. We had lunch here and then viewed the falls, which included Sue attracting the attention of a baby so her father could take a photo of her in her mother's arms.

From Carrington, we headed towards Kiama, via Jamberoo, on the Jamberoo Mountain Road, which had repeated warning signs that no trucks, cars with caravans or vehicles longer than 10m could use it. It was indeed steep, with the Forester stepped into low range, first gear, to crawl down them. Very cool, very exciting and also very beautiful. Ridiculous sight No.2 - after all the warnings to prevent trucks etc, on all of the steepest slopes, signs warned trucks to use low gear!

We started to have doubts about the GPS as we were making turns taking us away from the pretty road signs pointing to Kiama but Kenny again proved correct and gave us a fabulous view of Kiama as we drove in from above. We booked in earlier than usual today, in order to meet an agreed time to speak with Sam, currently touring Europe with a group of students from his school, Quirindi High. So there we were, with the beach and wind in the background in a camp kitchen in the caravan park, having a video link up with our son, talking from his accommodation in a 14th century monastery in Pisa. You just have to love technology sometimes!

Two nights here to wander about Kiama and meet the local blow holes. Rain predicted is not the worst of our dilemmas. Forgetting about the long weekend looming at the end of the week, it appears we will not get any sites on the coast on Saturday and Sunday night. We might have to head inland for the weekend to avoid the crowds.

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