Back to Civilisation
Back to civilisation once again, I already miss the peacefulness of the outdoors, no phones, internet, sirens and constant traffic to distract you from your surroundings. Being able to have your thoughts to yourself without someone else`s opinion or problems breaking your train of thought allows your mind to run wild, a cleansing of the soul.
But alas, we seem to not be able to say away from our fellow creatures far very long, an inbuilt longing for company embroided into our very existence.
Maybe it`s wanting to share our adventurers with others that leads us home, so here I am, writing this blog for all to hopefully enjoy.
Early rise on friday morning, loading the 4wd with last supplies of food and equipment, only taking the essentials. Quick goodbye to the family and it`s off down the road. Weather is great, fresh and clear.
Trying to avoid the highway, it`s the dirt country roads I am seeking, my wish being fulfilled only a short distance away. A turn to the left as the sun rises over the hills and its into the countryside, brown fields and dry creeks all around in this part of the country, the lack of rainfall taking it`s toll on both man and beast.
The mountain ranges I am chasing are still hidden from view, a couple of hours drive away. making a stop at a small country town at the foothills of the Great Dividing Range to boil the billy and have a cup of coffee near a once flowing river, at the moment only a dribble running through the sandy bed.
The Macdonald River, Bendemeer
Refreshed and keen to continue, it`s back onto the highway for an hour or so, still climbing up the mountain range. One last stop at another town for those last minute supplies and its goodbye to civilisation. Turning off the highway and back into the grazing country, the fields at this altitude a little greener, the livestock a little fatter.
New England Tablelands near Walcha
Continuing the assent, the road becomes rough, narrow and winding, the four wheel drive handling it with ease. Still climbing, the view opens before me, lush rolling hills, a spectacular view over the valley to the next plateau, higher still.
Turning left onto a farm road, past a homestead and shearing shed, the last sign of human occupation, finally arriving at the gate into the National Park. The tall timber and ferns of the undergrowth soon disguise all signs of man, the track narrows and continues it`s climb to the summit that is surrounded in mist.
Arriving at the top is a relief, time to boil the billy again, a cup of black tea this time revives my senses. A quick look around and a campsite is chosen beneeth the giant trees, home for the next two nights. Quiet surrounds me, the wildlife hiding from this intruder into their domain.
Camp set up, a minimal affair, swag on the ground, tuckerbox nearby, firewood gathered and ready for the cold nights ahead. It is still summer here, the mountain at this altitude not aware of the requirement for warmth of this human visitor.
The sun soon makes an appearance, burning off the last of the mist, the wildlife also slowly starts to return, a birdsong nearby, a lizard pokes its head from beneath a rock, life on the mountain resumes its daily struggle. The urge to communicate with my fellow humans soon takes over, antennas are erected, the radio turned on, a few calls are made, the electric wave travelling through the effemera, seeking its resonate mate far away.
A voice is heard, not one I am familiar with, but a voice all the same. I answer back, a conversation on all matter of things takes place, yes all is well, the weather is good. Another soon follows, information is shared, best wishes conveyed. One more call, another person answers, they too on a mountain top halfway across the country, a kindred spirit enjoying their surroundings in a different place and time.
Batteries running low, I sign off, connecting the solar panel, free power a gift from above. Time to explore my surroundings, grabbing the camera hoping to record the scenery and wildlife that now surrounds me, no longer fearing this intruder into their domain.
Exhausted from the journey and the lack off sleep before the trip, I lay on my swag and relax, soon drifting off. Arising refreshed, a quick meal is made, Baked Beans on toast, another cup of tea. The sun will soon disappear below the horizon, retiring for the night. Fire up the radio once more, this the the best time for signals from around the world, I put out a call, several respond.
Amateur Radio is similar to fishing, your call being the lure, the returning station the fish. Sometimes you land a big one, others not so, the enjoyment still the same. Tuning through the frequencies, hearing many different accents, fellow operators around the world enjoying each others company.
And so it goes for the next two days until the urge to experience new surroundings takes hold, pack up the camp, back in the car and off. Descending down the mountain a different way, back towards the highway, along its black surface for a short while, turning north and into the scrub again. Lush Rainforest surrounds me, different from my last location, but not too far away, it seems to be a another world.
Mummel Gulf National Park, Northern Tablelands, NSW
A quiet spot next to a bubbling stream, a cup of coffee, toast and jam. A call is heard on the radio, I answer back. The voice sounds familier, a caller from the previous day. I say hello, they ask where I am. I describe my surroundings once again. Several more stations join the conversation from across the country, weather conditions and other information is exchanged.
On the Radio using a wire antenna hung from a tree, Cotton-Bimbang NP
On my way again, looking for another campsite, exploring disused tracks, not knowing where they lead, a clearing is found near a small waterfall, perfect, if such a thing exists.
Waterfall, Werrikimbe National Park, NSW
And so it continues for the next several days, one night at Tia Falls, Oxley Wild Rivers National Park and another at Warrabah National Park near my home town for a bit of fishing, but I must make my return. Reluctantly I pack up camp for the last time, having visited many National Parks and Reserves along the Great Dividing Range, all with their own special charm, different wildlife and flora, such is the diversity of life in this country.
Tia Falls, Oxley Wild Rivers National Park
Even though I travel alone, I am never lonely. The company of the radio as well as visits from other travellers is never far away, even in this vast country of Australia. Being able to share my travels with other people is very rewarding, whether it be on the air, in person or through this electronic medium. My love of the bush and the flora and fauna drives me on, even visits to the same areas always rewards me with new memories
Flame Robin & Banksia Flower, Cotton-Bimbang National Park, Northern Tablelands, NSW
Well I’ve been home for one day, plans already hashed for the next trip, this one close to my home town, up to another summit and National Park, leaving in two days.
I hope you have enjoyed this little tale from Down Under, I hope to tell many more.
Juvenile Murray Cod, Warrabah NP. These freshwater fish grow to over 100 pounds & my kind of road