The last week or so of the school term (3) we were blessed with awesome weather. 27 degree days, mild evenings, perfect weather for camping. This only served to get us even more excited about getting away with a couple of other families for the October long weekend.
However, the holidays arrived, and winter returned. The original plan of heading to Myall Lakes National Park was reconsidered as the threat of a developing ‘east coast low’ loomed. We figured the best way to avoid this scenario was to head west, so started to search for somewhere within about 3ish hours of Sydney that would get us as far away from the ‘east coast’ as possible.
A number of possible destinations were considered before we settled on a free council camp just outside Sofala. Grant and Lou (and 2 kids) would travel up with us on Friday morning, while Dave and Kate (and 4 kids) would join us early Saturday morning. The weather forecast indicated we might still get some showers on Saturday, however the rest of the weekend should be fine.
We arrived at about 11am on Friday morning after an unscheduled detour into Bathurst to pick up some essential supplies. There were only a couple of other small groups there, which made our choice of campsite all the more difficult, as we had so many spaces to choose from! Before long the Burgers (Grant and Lou) had their tent erected, the camper was set up, and we enjoyed a nice fine afternoon.
The campsite itself was fantastic. There was a drop toilet on site, and the rubbish bins were emptied 10 mins after we arrived – they even left another bag for us in case the bin filled. You could hear the Turon river cascading by and there was plenty of space for the kids to play.
It got pretty cold overnight – I got up at about 3am and the thermometer said it was only 1 degree and everything was covered with frost. Then, at about 5am, the rain started. Steady, constant rain that was to be with us for the whole day. It was only about 6 degrees when we eventually dragged ourselves out of bed, and it struggled to better that for the entire day. The campsite steadily became more and more waterlogged as we did our best to stay dry while waiting for Dave, Kate and the kids to arrive.
Finally they did arrive, and we all pitched in to help them get set up in a short break between showers. The girls and most of the kids went into Sofala to check out the markets in the afternoon, while the boys helped Dave get the awning set up in the continuing rain.
We spent the rest of the afternoon trying to prevent the kids from getting TOO wet and muddy, whilst somehow Burgs managed to cook a magnificent lamb butterfly on the fire (yep – even with all the rain he managed to keep the fire going!) and we had some lovely Turkish style lamb kebabs with hommus and salad for dinner, all huddled together to stay dry under Dave and Kate’s awning.
During the night the rain eased, and eventually stopped. The cloud cover meant that it wasn’t quite as cold as the previous night, and we all had a really good sleep.
The plan for Sunday was to head into Hill End, (after a huge cooked breakfast!) and do the tourist thing. Grant decided to stay at the campsite with the kids, while the rest of us packed into cars and headed into Hill End. The history here is quite remarkable, and many of the original buildings are still standing.
The kids enjoyed some time on Sunday evening riding bikes around the campsite and playing hopscotch. Some chilli con carne / nachos was enjoyed around the fire for dinner as we warmed up both our insides and outsides at the same time.
Another cold night followed, however the morning sun on Monday quickly thawed us all out. It was unfortunate that everyone else had to pack up and leave today (we still had one more night) as the weather was the best it had been all weekend. A leisurely morning and pack away saw us on our own by 1:30pm. We all went for a walk / ride and did some investigating around the rest of the campsite before coming back and having a (much needed) warm shower.
The kids were in bed relatively early so Rach and I could do a little tidying up before having a jaffle for dinner with some of the left over chilli con carne. Another cold night meant we were early to bed again to keep warm. Tonight the bed was warm to get into thanks to the sun on the tent during the day warming it up – was like having an electric blanket on!
Another perfect morning on Tuesday had us thawing out with the sun and dry canvas to pack away. We didn’t rush too much and it was 12 by the time we finally rolled out of the campsite. A leisurely drive home had us in the driveway at 4pm, all unpacked and kids bathed by 5pm.
Ella’s highlights were playing with her friends JJ, Libby, and Little Rach. Lucas was just happy to be out again in the “pampar!”
4 more nights added to the tally now sees our total reach 36.