Day 36 - Bretti Reserve to Dumaresq Dam
We were given a very special early morning wake up call from an orchestra of the feathered variety today! It’s hard to identify all of the birds, the smaller ones are so quick but there were the normal Magpies and Crows although it has to be said their calls in Australia are nice when blended with others. Then there were the Lorikeets and Moorhens, the "laughing" Kookaburras and at least one Pied Butcherbird! Bill gave us the heads up on the Butcherbird, we knew it wasn’t a Magpie and didn’t think it was a Kookaburra but were still none the wiser. Anyway, it was deafening at times in a lovely way! Darryl shot off for a catch up with Bill who was again tending to the fire he'd lit to cook up breakfast and warm up Shirley’s slippers!
There are no shower facilities (it’s too chilly for the solar shower) so it’s a strip wash at the kitchen sink listening to the bird version of ‘breakfast radio'! Bretti Reserve has captured our imagination and now that the sun is shining we’re getting a glimpse at its true beauty.
of Bill and Shirley’s family showing up this coming weekend, the reserve will be transformed from this quiet, tranquil haven into a terrific spot for a party! There's going to be 14 vans by the time everyone has arrived and not everyone normally travels here via the road network. Bill shows us the alternative route across to the reserve which is the other side of the the Little Manning River, crossable when the water isn't quite so high via a concrete driveway! One of his daughters only lives 2kms from Bretti but had to make the much longer all aorund the roads trip (200km!!) to get here this weekend as the crossing is impassable with the water this high.
We’re fascinated by some of the ‘mod cons’ the couple have, the gas cylinder ‘cooker’, the secret recipe for damper (we’re going to give it a try soon!), the various resources for water conservation. It goes on and on! They’ve done the tour around Oz twice before in their car and caravan but it's not always plain sailing. There have been times where Shirley's had to exclaim to Bill to pull over because all she can see is smoke bellowing
from the brakes with the van so full of all their useful bits and bobs! It's quite sad when we come to eventually bid them farewell bit we hope the weekend family get-together goes really well.
Back on the road we make the steep climb, the majorly steep climb which kept us in 2nd gear for ages and ages, up to the peak of Gloucestershire. We’re now heading for another night of free camping at Dumaresq Dam Recreation Area (Camps 5 ref 157 NSW). The description is fairly similar to that given for Bretti although this has the added expectation of ‘2km dirt road’!
We reach the town of Walcha for a fuel stop, we’ve done well but the steep endless climb up from the reserve was tough work for the car and the driver! We filled up on coffee and diesel then headed onward. Through the towns of Uralla and then Armidale we reach the now bitumen road to the recreation area! There’s one van just setting up and a couple arrive not long after us but we all pitch a fair distance apart giving each other plenty of room. There’s so much space here there’s no
need to crowd people. We have a quick scout around and find a covered BBQ area with an inside fire place protected from the wind with a great view across the dam! Something we can use later!
We're in need of a few supplies so head back to Armidale. It’s a funny place with its huge University and College buildings right next door to one another and then an oldie worldy look about the town. Like most towns we've come across so far, the oldie worldy look is just for the outside, Armidale has a smart new shopping complex hidden away in its inner sanctum!
With the shopping completed we happen upon a locksmith so chance our arm to see if they can remove the padlock from the car’s spare wheel! The lad struggles but having spent 4 years studying the craft he wins through eventually! Bless him, he doesn’t even charge us for the removal of the stubborn, 20 year lock so we purchase a new one, give him a nice thank you for his time and effort then head back to camp.
We’re straight on the starting blocks in the hunt for wood and meet
fellow campers in the forest doing just the same! The clock’s ticking as it’s past 4pm so the light will fade soon. We start a fire in the pit near our camp but then find the inside fire pit is burning fantastically from the day trippers earlier so we move across to the free electric BBQs and the cover from the wind! It’s a very quiet night again but it’s quite cold.
Despite the Camps 5 book saying the site has Telstra coverage, we struggle with the signal again and drive Anna round the twist when she rings us and the phone cuts out 3 times during the initial part of the conversation! “I’ll phone you in a couple of days when you’re somewhere sensible” was the answer phone message! I guess that means we'll be speaking again when we're closer to Brisbane!
We put our 'lights' out early again after the laptops battery flattens following just one episode of Friends! Darn! We’ll be on power tomorrow though so all will be good!
Dar & Sar
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