WHERE ARE WE NOW
Continued up Tableland Way turned left at Black Springs (were going to stop here but although a nice over nighter no water or walks to keep us busy) then on to Burraga Dam. Down a rough clay track, which would be awful in the wet, to the camping area plenty of choices to set up but not many flat spots. Scored a good site right by the water and had a perfect afternoon kayaking (just me) then going for a long evening walk along the track which looped round. A few others here to chat to but big enough that it was like our own private area. Left in the morning driving through the almost ghost town of Burraga which was where the first tin & copper in Australia was found before WWI, found out later the stack from the smelter is still here.
As usual we took the back roads through Mt David and the forestry area of Dog Rocks and yup the road was really very rocky but worth it for the lovely scenery. Arrived in Oberon at lunchtime so enjoyed this down by the unusual granite strewn lake, very windy but this didn’t deter the locals from putting in their kayaks and rowing around in their tinnys (no motor boats permitted). A stop at the friendly info centre and a quick look round town (would be good to house sit round this area) before heading to our overnighter at Flat Rock. This is a very popular spot for the locals being nearly midway between Lithgow and Bathurst, a lovely river tumbling over granite rocks perfect for a paddle/swim then lying on the solar heated rocks – ah bliss.
Found when leaving the next morning we could ford the river just past the campsite and take a back road which twisted and turned alternating between crossing the river and then the railway line with some interesting bridges, some had us concerned that they may not hold but good fun all the same. Passed through Tarana then by Lake & Dam Lyell, there are some beautiful properties here with very large flash houses – well it is less than 2 hours to Sydney.
At Lithgow we went on the atrocious road (didn’t seem like it had seen any attention since being built during the post war depression) to Hassan Wall, great views here and also at Bracey Lookout back over the city, clearly an old industrial town squeezed between the hills. Drove past the old Zigzag Railway to Clarence Station this used to be a tourist stop but now fallen into disrepair however we looked round and went down the 300 meter tunnel which was pretty cool in more ways than one. Carried on up the rough track stopping to look at the old sawmill heading to the glow worm tunnel but Rob decided this track just wasn’t worth the 40 plus kilometres each way so did a left turn at the first junction heading back to town. On the way out we saw the awesome sand and ironstone rock structures known as Lost City and then found a perfect flat spot where we could stop overnight with the most brilliant views.
Woke to water dripping off the awning and when looking out we were enclosed in mist so heavy that even the table under the awning was wet. The birds were loving it many tiny ones including lots of fantails, no pictures seeing as my camera is still malfunctioning when cold grrrrrr.
Drove down into Lithgow stopping for a look around the remains of the blast furnace used when the iron industry was centred here then continued north stopping at Pearson Lookout for amazing views over the 2nd largest canyon in the world yes wider than the Grand Canyon but not as deep. We entered the canyon turning off at Capertee to the almost abandoned town of Glen Davis, there is now only a few people here after being a town of 2500 when the shale mine was in production of petrol and other raw products.
WHERE ARE WE NOW
Prior to leaving Kosciusko National Park we looked at the Tumut 3 Power Station unfortunately the visitors centre is now closed but we could look at the 6 pipes and huge dam and wall up close. Drove along the side of waterways and dams including the large Blowering Dam, with lots of people free camping on the shores, to Tumut. This was the largest town we’ve been in since Bairnsdale nearly a month ago, here we had the choice of Coles and Woolworths both much cheaper than IGA in the smaller towns.
Leaving Tumut we head to Wee Jasper (many people had mentioned coming through here so we couldn’t resist this place with such a cute name). Discovered the reserves at Wee Jasper are $12 a head so instead found a lovely spot on the Bombowlee Creek just 17 km from Tumut. Logging not far up the road and the trucks were busy going by from pre dawn to dusk, interesting to watch and we are used to different noises so not intrusive. Continued on the variable roads to Wee Jasper (tiny township just a store & school since the pub recently burnt down) great scenic drive with natural bush and plenty of pine plantations.
After Wee Jasper it changed to beautiful rolling hills a few rocky areas lots of sheep and some cattle and alpaca. We crossed the Murrumbidgee River on the great 90 year old bridge remembering back to when we’d seen this great river enter the Murray. We had our biggest driving day for ages about 170km but so pretty eventually stopping at Gundaroo (we even had to detour to here due to a planned road being private access and then a 5 ton limit on a bridge).
Gundaroo is a very old town with many buildings now heritage listed dating back to the 1840’s including the pub where we had a nice evening just a short walk from the town reserve where we camped (donation required but so lovely to have a long hot shower).
Took more back roads passing through Collect crossed the Federal Highway over the hills to Taralgo then north to Goulburn loving the back roads not seeing many vehicles and definitely no travellers. Goulburn had a nice feel to it plenty of old buildings, being it is the oldest inland city in Australia, so we did a historic walk checking them out and absorbing the history. Spent a while in the Anglican Cathedral admiring the stonework, the lead light windows and noting that there are still some plain glass windows we guessed waiting for more donations. Found the best butcher ever opposite Woolworths and bought up large and can already vouch for the flavour and quality of the meat.
Took the Tablelands Way north to Abercrombie National Park where we stayed at Bummaroo Ford Campground, plenty of water in the river which may be due to the recent heavy rains and one in a hundred year flooding that had recently hit Canberra. Now we’re back in NSW we could throw in the Opera House Yabbie net and got a good feed when pulling it in the next morning, gave these to the 2 families camped next to us to enjoy.
WHERE ARE WE NOW
Our first overnight in Kosciusko was at the bottom of the Talbingo Reservoir, not a lot happening here, a couple of boats in, a couple of other campers and a few ducks, ah this is what we love about camping.
Continuing on Elliot Way we stop at a Baileys Bridge, one of many that were used during the completion of the Snowy Scheme, first developed during the war made in sections light enough that it took no more than 6 men to carry and could be installed very quickly as a situation demanded. Next stop was at Tumut Tunnel where we could see the tunnel going many metres underground. Then it was on to Cabramurra the highest town in Australia originally created during the Hydro scheme and now with all matching buildings including homes for those on shifts. Great views from the lookout here and a pretty good coffee at the information etc centre.
We then took the gravel Kings Cross Rd past Selwyn Mountain Resort although there isn’t any accomodation here there is a chairlift and skiing opportunities in the winter. Turning left on to B72 we came to our camp for the next 2 nights at 3 Mile Dam. Dam was originally built in the gold mining days back in 1882 and then later used when a camp was set up here for the Snowy Scheme. A great place to stay right by the dam suitable for kayaking, but we didn’t, and a few walks here which we did, including crossing the dam up to a lookout then decided to follow an old trail (with a bit of bush bashing) back to the road with a very steep walk back to camp.
Continuing east we stopped at New Chum Hill to look at the Battery Stamp and a few other gold mine related relics just about to leave when a ute and caravan pull in, what a wonderful surprise it was Lynn & Noel that we’d last seen in Mt Augustus. Like us they are on the final weeks of travel so much to catch up on we chatted for ages unfortunately with Noel’s heart condition they are unable to stay at altitude so were only in the park for the day.
Next we stopped and explored Kiandra the old gold mining then skiing town, this was the first ski resort in Australia and the trench and ski run are still clear to see. An informative walking trail with just a few buildings still remaining. We talked to a local couple here who were riding through on their very nice new Harley trike and they could remember when some of the buildings were still in use.
North through the beautiful subalpine regions to Long Plain Road we passed by the first few camping areas before traversing the undulating windy rutted gravel road to the last camp, Blue Waterhole, where we had the choice of a few walks. On the way along the fire trail we explored the Coolamine Homestead which has been really well restored using much of the original timber, apart from the old buildings the most interesting thing here was that there was over 175 years of history recorded.
We stayed 2 nights at Blue Waterhole a great if somewhat chilly site getting down to 3 overnight with very cold winds but perfect walking weather during the day. Our first walk was through the gorge to Cooleman Falls which meant 7 river crossings, cold water and mid thigh in a couple of places. I took the option of removing my boots each time although on the return I left my boots off where there were shorter tracks between the crossings. Rob just left his shoes on which was much kinder on his feet. There was also some steep rock scrambling on the sides of the gorge, great fun and so glad we are both still reasonably fit. The waterfall was well worth the walk we saw plenty of skinks, a blue tongue lizard and 2 Red Bellied Black Snakes.
The next day we did the 7km Nichols Gorge walk which included both the Cooleman and Murray Caves, we could get well inside both caves although the Murray was much deeper at 200meters we didn’t venture so far as it was tighter and very wet. Much of the walk was through open subalpine plains where we saw a wild dog and plenty of brumbies.
After driving back through the plains we had a short visit to the Yarrangobilly Caves area, we didn’t enter any of the caves here but could have paid a fee to either self guide or do a tour. We did however have a lovely swim in the thermal pool, not super hot at just 27 degrees but great for tired bodies and good to feel really clean again.
Stopped for the night alongside the fresh fast flowing Jounama Creek just opposite the town of Talbingo.