TUESDAY 19 JANUARY STANTHORPE
This morning, got ourselves organized for a day trip out into the Sundown National Park – to the northern section. Went south on the New England Highway. Refuelled at Severnlea – 63cpl. At Ballandean turned west.
The Sundown Road eventually turned into an unsealed track. We went through a sort of an entrance gate. The book I was using said this was a demanding 4WD track, and for once, we agree! It was very rocky and almost all either up or down. There were some pretty big rocks to go over or around, in places. The signage could be better, but maybe that is part of the challenge?
We drove to Burrows Waterhole – 16kms from the entrance gate. It took us nearly two and a half hours to get there. We did not take any wrong turns, so we averaged under 8 kmh!
There was one other set of people at Burrows Waterhole – a young couple with two children, in a Disco. He had not done much 4WD-ing and was glad to see us, he said, because it meant someone would be coming behind him on the way out, if he came to grief! They had camped at the southern end of the park, so it was a long drive round to get here, and they felt that the effort of the track in had not been worth it.
We tended to agree. It was pretty enough, but basically just a river and waterhole. I guess it is wilderness, although the history of the area featured grazing and some mining, so it is hardly unspoiled. But it was an experience, going in there, I suppose.
We lunched at the Waterhole, by the Severn River.
It was harder to find our way out again, as there were several tracks around the camp area, heading out. We took one that turned out to be going to Rats Castle and didn’t realize it until we’d gone down a nasty loose rock slope. It was tricky getting back up that slope again – John had the Truck in the wrong gear and we stalled and slid back a bit. But managed it, in low range and crawled back to the top.
Even back on the correct track a couple of the other slopes were harder going up than they had been going down. There is a lesson in there, somewhere?
We detoured off the main track – deliberately this time – to visit Red Rock Gorge. This was only a 1.7km deviation and was not too hard. We had to walk a little way to the lookout over Red Rock Gorge and Falls. These were dry, but obviously could have quite a decent flow over them at times. It was quite rugged and dramatic and worth the visit.
There was a pretty little former dam, near the carpark, with lots of tadpoles in, which was good to see – as long as they were not cane toad tadpoles!
We took one more wrong turn on the way out, but realized quickly and were able to back up with no dramas. We met another 4WD vehicle coming into the Park. By now it was 4pm. He seemed to have plans to go to the Severn River, and back out again, today! We told him to go to Red Rock Gorge only – and hope he took our advice.
We reached the gate at 4.30pm. The return trip had taken us nearly three hours! I found that being moved and jolted around inside Truck all the time, is really tiring. Worse than driving – at least John has the steering wheel to hold on to. The road was hard on the tyres, due to the sharp rocks. We ran over a big stick that broke and thumped into the side of Truck – there is a new little “ding” there now. Overall, we thought Truck did the trip well.
We drove 114kms today.
I made fried rice for tea.
We talked for a while with the young couple (with two children) in the van next to us. They too had a Disco – petrol and gas duel fuel, which they were now having trouble running on petrol, for some reason. Since gas can be hard to obtain, out of the cities, this is an issue for them. They are being nomadic for anything up to six years. He is currently fruit picking here – has a job for wages, until May. He has a farming background.
Each day here, so far, has been slightly warmer. It reached 29 degrees today. It felt quite hot, out at Sundown. It would not be a pleasant drive, out there, if it got much hotter. It is not quite as chilly at night, but we still need the doona.