So there is a running gag over here that if it doesn’t rain on the Easter long weekend then it mustn’t be Easter. To keep in step with tradition, showers were forecast for late Friday through Saturday and then heavy rain periods on Sunday and Monday*.
Believe it or not, but I don’t much mind camping in the wet. We have a kick-arse tent and hello, did I mention I have four sons, the idea of mooching around in drizzle doesn’t much bother them. Well, most of them.
Anyway, it did rain on and off over the first few days (Friday – get there, set up, drink wine; Saturday – drive an hour to Goulburn to buy everything we forgot including a GAS BOTTLE and GAS and Easter eggs and chocolate for me and maybe some more chocolate and oh yeah perhaps some food for the next few days; Sunday – first (and traumatic due to poor planning on our part) cave tour and general hanging around) but the main impact it had on us was not being able to sit around a camp fire.
But then on Monday a bit of cabin fever set in and oh yeah, MY PERIOD ARRIVED. Awesome. At least the insatiable appetite for chocolate could be explained.
So we decided to do this round-trip bush walk which took in an old quarry site and a waterfall. It was 4kms all up and we figured that was what we’d been doing going to school and back each day all term so it should be no problem whatsoever.
I stuffed some snacks in the bottom of the baby carrier, made everyone carry a drink bottle, Chef got the camera gear organised (including the tripod! Cue classy artistic shots!) and we set off.
There was some very light drizzle – more like that moist misty air than anything else when we set off. Certainly not enough to make us not go. Although part of me was thinking, ‘I wonder if this is a good idea’.
It took us a little while to be sure we were on the right track.
Let me just leave that statement with you for a little while.
Yeah. One of the things we loved most about Wombeyan was how hokey it was. But the part of the hokey that included basically no signage was a little irritating. A few days later we were talking with one of the rangers and he was telling us about this 9km walk he did one day. I asked him if there was a booklet or a brochure with different walks you could do starting from the caves area and with an excitable, ‘no!’. Awesome.
So we’re heading up what we think is the track which could also be a fire trail but the one sign we saw (back in the middle of the campsite with an arrow pointing in this vague direction) had us thinking ‘this must be it’.
Then that wet air became rain. Not heavy rain, but rain all the same.
Jasper had insisted on wearing shorts – partly because Felix was and partly because we hadn’t moved into ‘big’ (i.e. long legged) pants at home yet because it wasn’t cool enough. So yeah, we’d set out for a bushwalk, in the rain, with our little scarecrow child wearing shorty shorts. Awesome.
Early on we did score some points with the kids with some kangaroos on the opposite hillside. There’s a merino sheep in that picture somewhere too but I could have already been hallucinating. Grover, while the youngest, is an absolute lump of a kid and carrying him on my back was kinda making me dizzy and faintly nauseaus.
But I do love me some Australian bush and it was looking quite romatic in the what was now quite heavy rain.
And well, I am very partial to a rocky outcrop
By now we were basically committed to this walk. We were up a significant hill and the whole thought of what we’d do if we had to go back was enough to keep us going forward.
The boys were enjoying it. Chef and I started to – silently – have our concerns. Then we came to a blockage on the track. And by a blockage I mean a very large multi-trunked felled tree. There were five main branches/trunks and it was basically when I started thinking of that family who had broken down in the snow somewhere in the US – and the husband had gone for help and she fed her small children on breastmilk. I was thinking how much it would take for me to breastfeed an almost nine and an eleven year old when I realised I wasn’t breast feeding anyone and hey, I’d packed Space Food Sticks! And bananas!
Anyway, with Grover on my back I managed to scrap under two of the branches and very ungracefully scale the rest. Then it was me and Chef getting Jasper over and under, then Oscar (OI) and then coming to the fork in the trail.
OH HELL YEAH.
Except it wasn’t really a fork, it was more a range of possibilities.
Felix who was now having an AWESOME time went off down the first way and I – because I’m like that – followed. We came to what looked like a very old dam wall. Here’s an excellent photo of it for you. If you squint you can see it up there.
That was the moment when I thought ‘is this it? is this the effing waterfall? because if this is the effing waterfall I’m really pissed off now.’
But Chef – the man of reason – had recognised the other trail was the correct one and was heading off in that direction. Except part of the track had fallen away/was too slippery due to the now torrential rain/wasn’t really part of the track but in the blinding rain seemed to be so it was quite a procedure getting me, Jasper and Oscar down it.
By this time Jasper was all, ‘I’m fweeezing. This is a bit daygerwouse for me. I’m fweezing,’ and so on and so forth.
Oscar was getting anxious.
Felix was having a blast.
Grover was fine except for when I had to lean forward/back/up/down.
And Chef said, ‘well, if we don’t have to call the SES it’ll be a good walk’.
At that point we came to the base of what was quite obviously ‘the waterfall’. Of course, taking in the decade long drought in the area and ignoring the downfall we were currently experiencing, it was really just a rockfall. Here we cracked out the snacks – space food sticks, bananas, mandarins. We were sort of protected in the gully and were remarkably in good spirits. We agreed that a photo was in order because there was no way we had schlepped that effing tripod with us without using it. It only took two shots and I do believe, apart from me looking slightly crazed and Oscar holding back tears as Felix has just shoved him and he’d fallen over a tree root and Grover looking scared and Jasper looking like an icicle, it’s quite a good shot of the fam.
By now we’d be walking for well over two hours. Of course in thinking about distance we had forgotten to consider the topography. To school and back is 4 kms but it is on a footpath and is flat. Yeah. Idiots.
Anyway, we trudged our way out and were spurred on by the promise of hot showers.
Then we got back to the tent. One of the ropes that the little fellas insisted on ‘twanging’ had given way in the rain so the awning had fallen down in one corner, thus creating – OH THE IRONY – a waterfall into the middle section of the tent.
So for another 10 minutes everyone was left shivering outside in the rain while Chef and I – on hands and knees – mopped it out and assessed the damage. Blessedly my predisposition to plastic crates has kept all our food dry and the bag with all our jackets, scarves etc was in the far corner and the water had not yet reached it. Score.
So that, my friends, was the day we went bushwalking.
*It maybe would have helped had I known this forecast before the events that followed.