Friday, 13 February 2015

The One Day Tour - Day 3

A peaceful, warm night with a shower of rain about 2:00am.

I had, by chance, been awake for about five minutes when I heard it coming across the gorge. There was no wind, just the sound of fat drops approaching. For the first few minutes, individual drops plinked and plonked on the aluminium roof, each one making its suicide drop from the heavens to sound their dissatisfaction at not finding a mixture of leaf litter and soft earth to welcome them. The rattling continued for sometime before the drops joined forces into a steady and more uniform sound, not so much exploring for a way in but more a corporate message of rain song which melded into the background and sent me back down into sleep.

It's a long way from wet weather nights when the kids were younger and our roof was canvas. Twenty years ago, my 2am's were often spent dressed in rain gear, tensioning ropes and driving pegs to secure tarps. Sue would often join me in order to shine a torch beam on peg heads, or so the theory goes. Too often, my swing had the mallet head slipping off peg edges as the light holder became distracted and searched tree tops for drenched possums: all the while the eldest reassured me from inside the tent that water was still getting in. I cursed then but I look back with a warmth that was not evident when the events were fresh and the water dripping down my back. 

We were greeted by a morning fresh with wet earth smells. The bush seemed happy.

Bob Dylan appeared first on the iPod random play, an omen too fortuitous to ignore as we slowly made our way east on the Oxley Highway. Coming back into range, our phones chirped incoming messages which had been queued and waiting for some sign of our life. Sue read of our daughter's love of her mother's smile and was touched by her bragging about us. Meanwhile, our solicitor left a message of approval of my voicemail greeting and assured us of our latest legal needs being above board and dealt with.

 Yarrowitch crept by without me telling the Glen Druitt story, perhaps for the first time ... another day perhaps.

In just two days, our pace has been notably slower. Where once we might have covered a 1000kms, we were meandering toward two hundred this morning.

We stopped at Gingers Creek for a cuppa and to listen in on an unexpected exchange between two bikers, whose ilk love this stretch of the Oxley for its lay over bends and caravan obstacles. Over coffee, the rep for Dulux and the self-employed plumber were arguing the relative merits of the MCA verses the NSW Art Gallery.

Less than twenty kilometres later, we were turning into Mount Seaview Resort, a place we had always wanted to stay but had bypassed on the road to somewhere else. If such spots were not to be explored on this trip, then when?

It's a short but steep road into Mount Seaview, oddly named as it sits in a very narrow valley. Clearly, one of the surrounding mountains can observe the Pacific Ocean, although which one is as much conjecture as whether it's name be fact. We crawled to the base of the descent, making full use of the Forester's X-mode capacity, it's four wheels sensing any loss of traction and controlling the rate of descent to a walking pace despite a loaded vehicle and a van behind. Most impressive! The first turn took us to the reception area for the resort and the wrong destination. That was a few kilometres further along a narrow and very rough track which skirts the Hastings River. Up in these reaches, it looks like a healthy creek but the locals will soon tell you "it provides water for 70 000 mate!" should you question its right to river status.

... it only got rougher from here
The camping ground doesn't make an immediate impact of favour. The buildings are old and tired and despite being neatly mowed, there didn't seem to be much to speak of. The owner appeared a few minutes after us, in an old but undoubtedly reliable Brumby ute. She wasn't a lady I would like to cross, so I didn't. She assured us the new caretaker would probably arrive during the evening. Good help is hard to find. Apparently people aren't prepared to live a long way from everywhere and be paid an unreasonable wage as well. Go figure. Until then, she put us in charge of the campground.

As it turned out, time was needed to garnish the value of this little camping ground down the end of a rough track beside the Hastings River. Our concern was that we were already in our 50's.

The sad looking besser brick men's toilets were actually very clean and tidy but the fifty years since being built had taken its toll. Patches dominated the original that was left. The old hot water system was identical to the one which my Dad and I used to climb into the roof to patch in the 1960's. Actually he mixed the araldite and I held the tools but the effort here was to further establish the age rather than be dogmatic about the facts. Each time the pressure pump cut in, the hot water cut out.

By contrast, the ladies were 1980's red brick, tiled and maintained with those touches that would appeal, even to women well versed in rusticity. Clever ploy to make the ladies loos up to scratch and let the men rough it: both genders satisfied.

The grounds were well maintained and the grassed area was thick and lush. The were a number of gates in the barbed wire fence which kept the rounded stones of the floodplain from invading the grass. Gravity played its part to. Once they were crossed, the Hastings ran past quickly through a series of rapids and deeper pools. Along with the bird calls broaching the peace and quiet, here was the attraction of the place.

Back at the campsite, we investigated the camp kitchen which was "closed for a special event". The nature of the event was not obvious. Perhaps it was Freaky Friday? The Bunkhouse was, not surprisingly, full of bunks and bare light bulbs. Schools bring secondary students here for a rustic experience but there would be a treasure chest for geography students.

Later in the afternoon, we donned our swimmers for a delightful dip. Not long after entering the water, an Azure Kingfisher came to watch and then dart into the water for insects. A family of Fairy Wrens visited, skimming across the surface just centimetres above the water. To say it was pleasant would be to master understatement.

We had been excited at the chance to observe a platypus, encouraged earlier by the owner but despite a quiet 40 minutes on the riverbank, there was no sign of the elusive creature. Just our luck to turn up on its day off.

The day ended with a reasonable red, pasta and some old episodes of Conversations which remained on Sue's iPhone ... that was until the rain came. This was serious, coastal stuff, which thumps down out of the sky seeking revenge for when it was ocean making little progress against rocky headlands. Suddenly, just fifteen happy paragraphs after bragging of our weather security, a persistent drip over the bed threatened to turn into a continuous stream. Out I went to tarp and tie, proving that muscle memory has no sunset clause. Once I changed clothes, the rest of the night was dry.

I dreamed of sunrise and staying on the highway next time.

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