Day 35 - North Narrabeen to Bretti Reserve
And we’re off! Tom Tom navigates us away from the city through the ‘back streets’ and out on to the Pacific Highway heading for Newcastle. There were no pangs of ‘oh, just another day in the blue sky on the beautiful beach hun’, the sky wasn’t particularly blue and the wind was getting stronger by the minute! It’s a shame that we can’t make the trip we’d originally planned, following the coast but it’s just not worth the risk because of the recent floods. We past tantalising water fronts at Mooney Mooney and Toronto but keep focused on the mountains ahead! And there it was a camel! Clearly something we were expecting!!
Our route must surely be one of the lesser travelled ones but it’s stunning! We come through picturesque Stroud which seems blissfully stuck in the 1930’s or maybe earlier, it’s beautiful and then we come to Gloucester where the Barrington Tops national park stands boldly as the backdrop, breathtaking. How lovely to find Stroud and Gloucester as close together here as they are back home. The weather takes a sudden turn for the worst and the mist and rain comes down
hard. The roads are winding and steep and as we travel down the descent we’re met by wooden slat bridges to cross the rivers which are fast flowing and quite high. Our destination is Bretti Reserve (Camps 5 ref 340 NSW) and the book indicates it’s a free camp site with toilets, areas of shade, picnic benches, fire pits, BBQ’s and a lovely outlook! There’s no power tonight and the toilets could be (deep breath) ‘drop toilets’. We pass the sign for Glorydale Reserve which has a similar description to Bretti but has a ‘dry access only’ road and today certainly isn’t dry! We come across another wooden slat bridge and Tom Tom tells us to turn right and that we’ve reached our destination. We peer over the brow of a steep hill and can just about see through the mist the Bretti Reserve sign. We’ve made it. We make the decision to check it out and travel down the hill, there are 4 other vehicles here; one is a camper trailer which is parked up high on a ridge and the other 3 are backed up together above the river. We decide to stay but not wishing to encroach
on anyone we park on the opposite side to the group. I run over to say a quick hello and Darryl starts the set up. It turns out that out of the 3, only the Mum and Dad are staying tonight as the others all need to go back to work but they’re leaving their caravans set up and will return for a big family get together next weekend!
Next thing to do is check out the toilet situation. We just knew from our fabulous surroundings that these were not going to be the sort with a flush and they weren’t! It’s an experience and one which Darryl, being ex army, has no problem enduring. I went and that’s all that really needs to be said other than I’m not going in there in the dark or in the heat of the day!
We set the caravan up and immediately go to gathering wood for a fire! We’ve seen that our fellow campers already have one going and there’s nothing like a good (contained) camp fire so we’re pretty determined that we’re going to have one, we just haven’t got any dry wood!! There’s plenty around but it’s pretty damp
as it’s been swept up into the trees overhead by the river when it flooded a week or so ago. We find some paper left by previous campers in the fire pit so we get our wood and we light it up! It doesn’t last long and we soon have a visit from the Dad of the family across the way. Bill offers us some firelighters and soon we’re doing much better! Darryl knows how to build a fire so that’s not a worry and soon we’ve got a really good, hot camp fire that should go for a few hours! Bill also fills us in on a bit of the local knowledge, there are three rivers at Bretti Reserve; the Barnard, the Little Manning and then subsequently the Manning River. They nicknamed the local farmer ‘the major of Bretti’ as he used to wait until all the campers were set up and then come across the river for a few beers and a yarn and for those that didn’t know any better he was perceived as the man in charge!
It’s always good to start this sort of thing early because the dark comes down so quick and it’s
not long before we’re cooking on our BBQ and sitting by the fire eating another great dinner in the flickering fire light at 5.45pm!
Our fire lasts a good while but it’s a chilly night so we have a quick look over to see if Bill and his good lady are still about but the cold must have got to them too as they’re tucked in the van having their dinner so we head off inside for the night. So what do you do when it’s only 7pm and you’ve got no power for the TV or the heating? You don your flannelette PJ’s and get the lap-top on with a few “Friends” episodes of course!!
We were due to try a Skype call to Mum and Dad Kettle tonight as Aunty Enid, Aunty Barb and Uncle Tony were all visiting. Sadly, and for the first time, we’re somewhere with no Telstra signal. We considered driving up to the top of the hill to see if there was a reception but decided not to what with the mist and the dark! Good job we didn’t as it turns out there’s no signal for 30kms in one direction and 64kms in
the other! We’ll catch up with you soon though and give our love to everyone.
Dar (fire lighter) and Sar (salad maker!)
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