Our Easter weekend camping trip to Hill end, about a five hour drive from home, began in the usual way.
We arrived just after lunchtime, the campsite was almost full, and were greeted by a friendly bunch, already set up sitting in their circle waving merrily at us as we began the familiar “scout for the best spot to set up” routine.
I waved back, muttering behind a forced smile “Yeah, yeah….that’s right, sit back now and watch the antics begin.”
Which of course it did because my husband decided to take off up an unknown track, past the main campground (we’re too good to be down there among the lowly hoards) and promptly discovered that it was a dead end.
We were now stuck, unable to turn around with the camper trailer behind us.
How embarrassing! First thing and already we’re making a spectacle of ourselves!
He instructed me to get out and navigate him back, between tree’s , avoiding the drop off to one side….
I don’t know why he does this to me!
I have no idea what it takes to reverse a car and a camper trailer which does funny things when you turn the car one way – the trailer goes the other and besides that I’m not very spatially aware so I freak out when things are like a metre away and….oh hell, I am the WORST person to ask to navigate a reversing 4 wheel drive and trailer!
So the swearing begins….the car is revving loudly, the whole campsite is watching (gleefully) and I am becoming frazzled and highly annoyed at my husband who doesn’t even get out to LOOK where he needs to go for himself!
So after about ten minutes of this humiliation we finally get out of there and go back to where we were “supposed to be!” to find a spot.
Nothing is big enough. They have planted little tree’s everywhere and we can’t fit…..The area where camper trailers go are full.
Eventually I direct my husband to a spot waaaay over the other side, away from everyone, but it’s not really a proper allocated “spot”.
So what…it will do!
Only thing is, there’s a big log in the way so I have to do the whole “navigation” thing again…..And so the swearing and cursing begins again, in earnest.
It all became too much, and this is the first time I’ve done this, but I simply turned and walked away.
“I’m not dealing with this.” I thought.
So off I marched, down the road to the amenities block, to escape.
When I got back my husband had managed to back the camper up…..right on top of a colony of ants nests.
Not only that but we were right on top of a bunch of grassy tufts which meant that putting up our annex and setting the chairs and tables up outside the tent door was out of the question.
(click on the pics to see them full size.)
I instructed everyone to avoid stepping on the ants nests and to keep the tent door zipped up at ALL times!
By the way, that troll doll tied to the tailgate of our camper was picked up on the Tanami track years ago. Nothing out there but termite mounds. He used to have bright orange hair, but the weather and elements have turned him somewhat grotesque looking, but still….we keep him as a momento.
We got organised, made a fire ring and the kids collected kindling when the fourteen year old son (suffering from computer withdrawal) decided he needed to take a nap because getting up at 5 am that morning is way too exhausting.
Off he went into the tent and we just pottered around, had a cuppa, relaxed…. took pictures around the campsite.
I love these tree’s. Very iconic in the Aussie bush – Scribbly gums. The larvae of a moth gets under the bark and makes these zig zaggy lines….Looks as though someone has taken a pen and …scribbled on the bark.
After about an hour and a half my son got up from his afternoon nap, but I noticed he was wearing a new set of clothes and I wondered why.
He stumbled out of the tent, came and sat by the fire ring and said “Why didn’t you put the fire on last night?”
Took us a moment or two to realise it, but he was disoriented and thought he’d woken up and it was the next MORNING already.
Well, we all had a good laugh over that. Time flies when you’re having fun.
But to make matters worse, after he’d been up for a while he got tired again and decided to go take another nap.
(Boy, this is working out well. Take the teenagers camping and suddenly they develop narcolepsy.)
So we decided that next time he woke we’d pretend it WAS the next day.
My husband yelled at him to get up…
“What do want for breakfast….weetbix or eggs?”
“Weetbix.” came the muffled answer from the tent.
For the second time he stumbled out thinking that once again it is the next morning (It’s still light) and we were all stifling fits of laughter, which finally we could not contain.
“What…so I guess the day hasn’t ended yet?” he said.
Poor kid. The agony of disappointment, twice!
He kept himself amused most of the weekend by constructing piles of rocks in the dirt and then rolling (or throwing) smaller rocks at them to knock the piles down.
I love how camping makes kids BE kids! My daughter, who is unusual to say the least collected wallaby poo and amused herself by creating some “nature art”.
We called this….”Pleased poop.”
Hill end came about due to the great gold rush of NSW and was a bustling noisy town full of hope (Gold fever) in 1850.
It’s now a Gold mining ghost town, one of the few places where some of the history has been preserved. Thanks to the National parks and Wildlife organisation, Hill end still has quite a bit of its original quaint charm.
In a few weeks time as you drive down the main street these tree’s will be beautiful in all their Autumn glory.
Many of the original buildings still stand today, which is interesting to look at and imagine what life must have been like.
Simple, dusty and chaotic with the sound of the crushers and stampers going all day and night as they smashed the rock to extract the gold.
I read on a sign that the residents found it unnerving if the stampers stopped working and found it difficult to sleep in the unusual silence.
An old residents hut.
Hill end Church.
We went on a guided ghost tour on the Saturday night where we were taken through the old hospital, which has been turned into a museum, by torchlight. Eerie place at night. You could definitely “feel stuff” and the guide who was a fourth generation Hill end resident herself had some great stories to tell. As a child her and a friend had gone into the then dilapidated hospital, overgrown by blackberry bushes, and had seen a ball of light appear in front of them, which then took on the shape of an old woman with long white hair. Yikes! They got out of there REAL quick!
The tour guide reckoned the chair in this picture (slightly over in front of the doors) had been moved out from the wall. Quite often, she said, chairs would either be heard moving or they would be discovered in the middle of the hallways. I didn’t see the chair against the wall to begin with, so who knows…
Hill end Hospital by day. Not nearly as creepy as it is in the dark.
We were also taken through another notoriously haunted house, which was very cool, perfectly preserved – we all had to put on surgical booties to protect the carpets and old linoleum floors. Although this place too was creepy by night it was nowhere near as spooky as the inside of the hospital.
As we went to leave the sitting room in this house, a door suddenly began to close in front of me…WEIRD! Some rooms were freezing cold while others were not.
It certainly was a creepy old house.
Residents say that the ghost of the woman who lived there can sometimes be seen sitting on the top veranda as she was a bit of a sticky beak, and had a distaste for those who indulged in alcohol, so would watch as people came home from the hotel up the street.
View of Craigmoor house by day.
I got up one morning, bleary eyed – literally (suffering from terrible dry eyes at the moment.) scrabbled in my bag for my sunglasses and walked outside only to have the kids and hubby begin laughing at me. “What? Is it my hair?” I was thinking….camping always gives us girls such attractive morning hair.
Took me a few seconds to realise, meanwhile two other campers had walked past and seen me looking like an idiot….
Ok….so I’m so blind first thing in the morning that I don’t even notice when my sunglasses have lost an eye piece!
The reason why we chose Hill end as a camping destination was because the weather closer to home was predicted to turn nasty with a lot of rain. This is NOT the kind of sky you want to see when you’re sleeping under canvas…but I do love an ominously dark sky. How cool is this! Not one bit of colour alteration either…..This is exactly how the sky looked!
As luck had it though, the weather held out, only a bit of light rain on Sunday morning which allowed us to continue our outdoorsy adventures.
Hubby impulsively took us all on a walk into the bush at one point. I like to be prepared, have plenty of water on us “just in case” so I was a bit anxious about this sudden trek off into the unknown, especially because the ghost tour guide had warned us of the presence of a feral pig in the area and wild dogs. More nerve wracking for me though was the awareness, after a while, that we were surrounded by watchful kangaroo’s.
Oh you think “skippy” is this friendly bouncing little cute roo? Well! Kangaroo’s have another side altogether I can tell YOU! And they have a nasty growl, like dogs!
We have been CHASED in the past, through the bush by a big muscular , very intimidating male kangaroo. It was a MOST frightening experience and I think the only thing that stopped this roo from a full on attack was the fact that I turned and began screaming like a banshee throwing my limbs about wildly, jumping up and down and the animal got such a fright that he just didn’t know WHAT to do, allowing us time to run back to the campground and seek refuge.
See if you can spot these roo’s, looking very relaxed, but still watchful.
It was kind of spooky in the bush there…Can’t describe it. Maybe it was just the feeling of being watched… The kids and hubby disappeared ahead of me…
….when suddenly I realised things were biting me….inside my jeans, biting me!
Screaming I threw everything down, including the camera and began wrenching down my pants , frantically trying to get the ANTS….out of my PANTS! I’m not talking little itty bitty picnic ants either….these were big angry ants!
They were in my pants, in my socks, my shoes….! and nobody came to my aid, they just stood there LAUGHING at me!
I was NOT happy!
These damn huge ant mounds were everywhere and here we were walking right through them!
It made me even more paranoid about all the ants back at the campsite, which I swear were all gathering round ME as we sat by the campfire that night!
Unfortunately my video camera, my beloved favourite camera DIED on me this trip. I’m so upset….loved the manual features on it…So all I had was the stills camera.
I love the look of certain things….Lone dead tree’s being one of them. My daughter took this picture.
Rustic old ramshackle houses/buildings also pique my interest so I took these…
This one below just looks like a little old witch is busy inside boiling something in her cauldron….
We came upon a peaceful isolated camp spot next to the Turon River. Beautiful. I think we’ll keep that in mind for next time.
And how’s this for a view. Imagine checking your mailbox and looking over at this?
And on that note, I’ll leave you with one more image….one I’ll never forget anyway, especially since I became rather intimate with these little buggers….IN MY PANTS!