Following the Big Wet - 2011 Trip – Part 2: Canberra to Goobang National Park

Saturday, Oct 01, 2011 at 14:37

Member - John and Val

On big trips we plan for an easy first day to allow everything to shake down, and oversights and packing deficiencies to become evident. So the Weddin Mountains NP where we planned to have our first camp was not far away, along mostly sealed roads. Despite grey skies our progress north from Canberra was uneventful. It felt good to be setting out on a trip again. North of Young we found the turn-off from the Henry Lawson Way and headed for the Weddin Mountains. Two hundred km from home as we approached the park the roads were designated as Travelling Stock Reserves, and as a consequence the road verges had plenty of trees. A few wattles were just starting to come out making splashes of colour that caught the odd shaft of sunlight between the clouds.

We found the campsite, and in view of the weather and the time of year (early July), unsurprisingly no-one else was there. There was a pit toilet and a few BBQs with tables just outside the perimeter of a small parking area – enough space for maybe 6 or 8 camps. There was plenty of firewood just outside the park so we were able to enjoy a good fire while we ate a pre-prepared meal. Happily, by the time it was dark the clouds had cleared to a lovely crisp clear, but cold, night.

It was a different story in the morning as we awoke to drizzle and low cloud. We had planned to have at least a short walk in the park, but the cloud obscured any views that might be had, so we just explored in the vicinity of the camp. There were big ironbark trees in flower and lots of Cyprus. It would be good to visit this area in springtime when there would be many wildflowers including ground orchids to see.

The cloud slowly cleared as we drove north to Forbes through country looking green and lush. While we were packing up this morning we realised that Val had forgotten to bring her set of keys for the trailer, hitch pin etc. As these are the spare set we decided to get some more cut in Forbes. When John went to check that the new keys fitted the locks smoothly, he discovered that the hitch pin securing the trailer to Troopy had lost its lock and had started to work its way out. How lucky can we be to have averted a potential drama if the trailer had parted company from Troopy. We weren’t able to find a suitable replacement pin, but a helpful metal supplier came up with a suitable H/T bolt and nuts that would hold everything together very well. It was a timely reminder of that golden rule – on a trip, whenever you get out of the vehicle, walk around it and check for anything obviously wrong.

We left Forbes via some back roads that took us east to the Back Yamma State Forest where we had lunch. The wind was cold and quite strong so we tried to find a spot that gave a bit of shelter. The forest is all Cyprus pine and while we were there a couple of firewood collectors came through, doubtless gathering a stock of this excellent burning wood for the rest of winter.

We skirted east of Parkes, but close enough to see the big radio telescope above the trees, and soon we were into the central section of the Goobang National Park. Our research had told us that the Goobang National Park contains a rich variety of Aboriginal sites including ceremonial, trade, marriage and occupation camps scattered throughout the area. The area was originally named Hervey Range by John Oxley in 1817. In 1897 it was reserved as state forest because of its importance as a timber resource, and several old logging camps are still evident. The area was designated a national park in 1995.

From the Renshaw McGirr Way we turned off onto a little used track that runs north through the park, providing a pleasant, easy drive through stands of ironbark, Cyprus, red and white box and patches of white scribbly gum. The park’s previous use as a state forest could be inferred in places but there were no stunning views. However this is another park that would be good for a spring visit as there would be plenty of wildflowers. Already tiny rust coloured Grevilleas were opening, as were a few wattles. Here too the ironbarks were in full flower, and the ground beneath some trees was carpeted in blossoms where parrots had done their version of feeding by pruning.

We did not plan to do much more in the park than stay for a couple of nights, with a night in each of the two campgrounds, spending the intervening day doing the drive through the northern section of the park. But it’s always good to have a plan B, or at least a degree of flexibility. Late in the day when we came to the track leading to the southern campground we were confronted by a “Road Closed” sign, presumably due to the wet weather. It was too late to get to the northern camp, and in any case that too might have been inaccessible. So we backtracked and found a side track in the area we had just come through where we could have a reasonably comfortable night. We were out of the wind but felt that it would be unwise to have a campfire in the prevailing conditions, so it was early to bed for a good read.

Next day the weather was still damp, cold and windy, so rather than push on we decided to try to find a sheltered spot where we could wait for the weather to improve. So we went on to the northern campground, detouring through Peak Hill, turning east at Tomingley. This campground too was deserted so we were able to have our choice of sites. Although the area was quite open it seemed fairly new with gas BBQs under picnic shelters and good drop toilets – and the ubiquitous log barriers so beloved of NP managers.

The 4WD track entering the park from this direction was also closed so we went for a walk following some old tracks left over from past logging operations. The forest here was an interesting mix of ironbark, Cyprus and Casuarina, and the ironbark flowers were attracting plenty of birds.

We ended the day with a great ironbark fire that made wonderful toast over glowing coals. We heard weather reports of damaging winds further east and a forecast of further fronts to come through. At least its not raining but the clouds are very heavy.
J and V
"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
- Albert Einstein
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