Sunday, 26 February 2012

Camping with kangaroos

One of our aims for this year was to see 'the real Australia' as well as the tourist hotspots. Upon receiving an invite to spend the weekend camping in the bush at Kosciuszko National Park, we quickly accepted and set about packing the car with all the relevant parafernalia. Joining us on the trip were one of our neighbours (a postman), two teachers - one from Rachel's school - and a Danish exchange student. An eclectic band indeed. Our journey to the first campsite lasted well over three hours and took in a road notorious for kangaroo deaths. None jumped out in front of us but there were lots eating by the roadside. We arrived fairly late and put our tents up in the dark. The photo below is taken during Saturday morning breakfast, with our two-man tent sheltered by the big tree.

We set off again, told: "the roads get a bit more interesting now". Never was a truer word spoken. The 'dirt track' - which seemed to go on forever - was less like the gravel driveways which take you to posh wedding receptions (come on, we've all been there) and more accurately an uneven bed of rocks which bent round sharp corners and undulated wildly. Our car (not a 4x4) survived its ordeal but its route out of the park would involve scrabbling back up the steep, loose slopes. Our bete noire loomed large.

Our chief activity was to be a 'walk' along the creek to a waterfall several kilometres away. Minutes after leaving camp we were all knee-deep in water, crossing the creek to pick up the path on the far bank. Toes tingling, shoes squelching. Repeat several times. The natural sculpture of the towering rock on either side of us was impressive, but most eyes were fixed on the floor, scanning for snakes.

We passed a sign which told us "this route involves some scrambling" and the photo below of Rachel - plus another of our party further along the path - shows exactly how steep some sections were. I was never fussed about Duke of Edinburgh at school and this won't be an excursion I look back on through rose-tinted spectacles.

As daylight began to drain away back at camp, so kangaroos began to appear all around us. They were quite happy to nibble away at the grass just a few feet from the camp fires and groups of people. That is, until these two took on the roles of David Haye and Dereck Chisora, slugging out a few rounds before the loser slunk off into the bush. During the night, we could hear the thump of kangaroos hopping around the tent. One tripped over the guy ropes.

Rain on Sunday morning accelerated our exit. Fearing the rocky inclines would become even more treacherous, we settled for a low gear and high revs to get us out. It was bliss to glide back onto tarmac - the carpet to civilisation.

I suppose we had ticked something off our list by seeing 'the real Australia' but that's not what Saturday afternoons are for, in my book. Give me football in the freezing cold: the real England.

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