Sunday, 27 March 2011

Not so sweet ensuite!



Yep, it was a breeze to set up - and then created gales of hilarity when each of us tried to fold it away again! It is a shame we didn't film the comedy of errors over those 30 minutes or so of repeated frustration!

I have since found very straight-forward instructions on YouTube, demonstrating the correct (and quick) method of pack-up.  It's not nearly as funny though!


If you take a moment to view the movie on YouTube, you can read various appreciative comments. Against some of those anecdotes, it seems we didn't do as badly as we thought. More than one poster had given up and strapped the non-folded (but presumably flattened) ensuite to the car/trailer for transporting home!

Popcorn pouches


















I'm not sure how I first discovered the instructions but at some stage I found the following "How to make campfire popcorn" article - and knew we had to try it!

http://www.ehow.com/how_2330579_make-campfire-popcorn.html

As you can see it was a lot of fun and better still, it worked!

Breakfast chef!

Actually, Vaughan didn't do any real cheffing but he did/does like cutting holes for the eggs!

The bread slices become edible egg rings, when all are cooked on the hotplate - with the crispy circle "hats" being rather coveted.

"Australian Bush Cooking" calls these "mud pirates eggs" and describes a slightly different method, where the bread is buttered on both sides prior to cooking. We might try that one time - if we remember!

Vaughan and I made some of these "eggs in bread" at home just recently using a star cutter for the holes, which was super-snazzy!

Water on tap

Most places we stay require us to bring water. The clear, collapsible water containers were an eBay purchase and are quite effective though they do tend to roll off the table occasionally!

This trip was the first time we had trialled tying them into the blue boxes for stability during use, which seemed to work well.

Usually we pack the ladder and platform away when we have finished unloading but we were a bit slower to do so this time - and therefore discovered the setup makes quite a handy bench, at just the right height for the water containers!

Fire-gazing


















Sitting around the camp fire is always pleasant, though at this campground there were a few added attractions. Small, fat wrens lived in the thick crops of "farmer's friends" just beyond the cleared area. They would hop along the cable barrier at times, before flitting off again quickly.

Of an evening a rattish thing would dash along the cable. The light was too dim (and he or she was too quick) for proper identification. (Something went through our dishes when we were in bed one night but we didn't manage to spot the culprit - rattish or otherwise)!

When one tired of gazing at the fire or the little birds there was always the rocky escarpment to look up to!

Saturday, 26 March 2011

You fat turkey!

The usual camping area was closed for renovation but Nick, Vaughan and I walked over in the afternoon to check it out - with a view to staying on another occasion.  Two of the fattest scrub turkeys greeted us! They obviously do very well when the campground is open and were keen to see if we had any food on offer!

Joseph's Coat - Moth!


After considerable looking, it seems this is the (very nifty!) caterpillar of the Joseph's Coat Moth:-

http://lepidoptera.butterflyhouse.com.au/agar/agricol.html

though I definitely didn't see any of the adult moths.  (There were actually many butterflies in the area but I didn't manage to take any pics of them).

Ferry fun!

We needed to head out after our bushwalk - to vote in the NSW State Election.

The closest polling booth was at Wiseman's Ferry school, so we enjoyed several ferry rides during the day!

Wombat burrow!

The (closed) track was so over-grown that it was difficult making headway.  Erin was already on her way back to camp when we gave up on finding the geocache and headed after her - just as well as she was a little lost at that point, though did find a wombat burrow!

We spotted several wombat burrows over the weekend.  Erin and Nick saw a wombat one night when they had gone out spotlighting.  Vaughan was asleep by that stage but they came to get me and I caught a glimpse of him/her back in his/her burrow!

Myrtle Rust


















It wasn't till we returned from our (unsuccessful) geocaching bushwalk that we noticed the sign declaring the track closed due to threat of spreading "Myrtle Rust".  Oops!

The sign didn't offer much information about Myrtle Rust and I was curious, so googled once home again:-

http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/biosecurity/plant/myrtle-rust

(As an aside:  when you click on the left-hand pic, you can just see wombat poo on the top step)!

For your info


The information boards (in the middle of the hoons' would-be racing track!) gave some history of the park and indicated the various animals we spot:-

http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/NationalParks/parkCamping.aspx?id=N0010

Of course, one of the main reasons for choosing the Mill Creek camping area above a couple of other choices (within similar distance to home) was the chance of seeing wombats!

The loo!


















Non-flush loos can be a bit challenging at times. By far the cleanest/nicest we have encountered so far were those in the Kwiambal National Park but they used a different waste management system to other parks/forests we have visited.

View of the loo from our campsite (left)
Front view of the loo (right)

Sweet ensuite

The pop-up ensuite was purchased just prior to this weekend trip, particularly with Erin in mind.  It was one of the first things that Vaughan and I had set up after Nick left the previous afternoon - which should give an indication as to how easily it is erected.  (Packing it away again is a another story, set for a later post)!

The hanging black plastic bag holds 20 litres of water.  In ideal weather, the water is solar-heated by laying the bag in the sun for several hours.  We had bought the bag for our Kwiambal trip in January 2010 but only used it a few times there - and not since.

Given the lack of sunshine on this occasion (and Erin's keeness for a shower sooner rather than later), Nick and I used a billy of water from the fire to mix with other cold water.

Erin later reported the water temperature was too hot but she "managed"!

The morning after

Vaughan was keen to read as soon as we woke!
It had rained just before dinner-time, so our second gazebo was erected quickly to provide shelter for Erin's tent (which leaks considerably in wet weather).

The rain wasn't the only excitement of the evening.  Much later, when we were tucked into bed and just about settled for the night, the nearby picnic area was visited by a group of hoons doing high-speed laps of the access road.  Although we were quite a safe distance away, it sounded as if they were be driving through the tent at any moment.

Our neighbours, much keener than us (and somewhat buoyed by liquid courage) walked over to whoop and call from the bushes.  It took a couple of visits but thankfully the hoons eventually hooned off.

The station-wagon in the background belonged to some of our neighbours - a young couple who were mountain-biking in the area.  Their tent was a similar size to Erin's and though I had expected them to think our camp was somewhat over-the-top, they confessed while chatting that they were a bit envious of our more elaborate setup! 

Friday, 25 March 2011

What's in the box with the dots?!

Ant-icipation

We spotted this huge ant, easily 5cm long, on a tree near our campsite.  He/she was a very pretty iridescent green.

At this stage I don't have an insect identification guide and in any case it seems Australia is home to 1275 described species and subspecies of ants - so they would probably require a whole book to themselves!

The CSIRO has a website dedicated to ant information:-

http://anic.ento.csiro.au/ants/



As detailed as the CSIRO "Ant Down Under" site is, I have yet to identify the ant in the pic. Have a look at the "Identification" area and see what I mean!

The other site I refer to from time to time is OzAnimals.com but they have considerably less detail regarding ants, so I can't see my fellow there either!

http://www.ozanimals.com/wildlife/Insect/Ants.html

Getting INTO the unpacking!

Nick and I worked quickly to set up as much of our main tent as possible before he departed for the 150km round trip to collect Erin.

Vaughan and I then set up various other bits - in between sipping tea/milo and nibbling rice crackers!

We had actually achieved quite a lot by the time Erin and Nick returned, which surprised them (and us)!

Run of the Mill (Creek)?!

The Mill Creek campground in the Dharug National Park (near Wiseman's Ferry) is about 110km south of home. 

Nick, Vaughan and I all enjoyed the drive down - winding our way beside the river for the latter part of the trip.

At the time of booking our stay we had been advised the usual camping area was under renovation but we could stay in the group camping area instead - and that ours would be the only booking. We therefore (erroneously) assumed we would have the place to ourselves.

We arrived a little after 2:00pm.  Nick and I were both disappointed (and somewhat stressed) to find there were other campers already set up, with more driving in soon after us.  We didn't have a lot of time to indulge in disappointment though - Erin was working at Calga Springs and Nick needed to leave by 3:30pm in order to drive the 75km back North to collect her at 5:00pm.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Tent stomping


















I initially washed Erin's tent fly in the washing machine (on a gentle cycle) but it still smelled quite mouldy, so further attention was needed. Vaughan was very happy to assist with a more vigorous cleaning method!

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Tent washing

We weren't really sure how to wash a tent, so waited till a sunny day - and improvised! While everything was flat on the grass we swept (and/or scrubbed) over the surface with soapy water, then set the tent up to do the same with the floors.

Once all surfaces had been substantially washed, we hosed thoroughly. The next step was to mop the excess water from the floors and then leave the tent in the sun to dry. Our method seemed to work fine and the tent definitely smelled so much nicer afterward!