We are on the road by 0745 and on the highway by 0749. Destination: Gordon Country. The day promises to hot, sticky and possibly stormy. After looking at several potential campsites on Google Maps, we’ve decided on one area in particular which we’ll check out first – of which I’ve been calling “The Ems” due to the Gordon Country map markings. If not The Ems, there are a few others that we are keen to try out. With google map printout in hand, we are on our way past
Ipswich and down the Cunningham Highway.
We do a quick stop at BP Aratula and are heading up the range in no time. They are still doing some road works, so we need to slow down for these, which in turn over heats the auto on the Hilux much to Glenn’s dismay. Guess he’ll have to fix that soon enough.
Once over the Gap, we are heading down the beautiful farming valley towards our turn off at Gladfield. From here it’s a 10k jaunt to another turn which will take us down the very prettyWe are on location and heading down the track to our campsite for four days by 0945. This particular track has been closed off each time we’ve been here, so we’ve never been able to have a gander. Luckily for us the gate is wide open so we proceed slowly, checking out campsites from the car as we go and crossing the creek once more.
and ultimately to our destination, roughly another 21k’s. Goomburra Valley
We can see why they ask that you stop and walk when things are wet. The road has seen some vehicles during a wet time and it’s a slushy mess that’s dried somewhat now, but the evidence of vehicle damage is clear.
By 1015 we’ve picked out site, set up and cursing the flies which are particularly sticky today. They are only little cattle flies, but there are quite a few of them. It’s rather warm but we get ourselves familiar with our site and the surrounding area, after which we have lunch. By 1215 it’s looking rather stormy and we are rather sweaty. There is a deep pond in front of our campsite. The creek is running but slowly and sometimes underground. I head in slowly as the water is freezing. Not so my little water loving pup – she swims around enjoying the water no matter them temperature. I enter up past my knees and suddenly get bitten by something in the water. I see it through the water. It’s long, fat and coloured like a stripy lizard. I don’t hang around for much longer, trying desperately to remove it from my leg and exit in a somewhat lady like manner – which just doesn’t happen. I’m not sure if my screams dislodged it or my frantic slapping at where it is, but it’s gone by the time I exit. I name it The Swamp Monster and vow not to return to the water this day. The wound bleeds and once it stops I note the large chunk now missing from my body – okay so it’s not huge but it feels like it should be. Glenn suggests moving around a bit next time. Thanks Darling.We head back into the timbered areas around our camp on a mission to gather some fire wood. We have a fire pit (well stone circle really) beside our camp, so Glenn has happily declared that the OzPig will remain in the ute for this trip. So we need to booster our supplies. Gordon Country is littered with fallen timber (and cow pats) and advertises Free Fire Wood, but on the condition that you gather it yourself. There would be ample if we had a chainsaw with us, but since we only have an axe, we find stuff that is easily cut with it. Glenn has bought along his angle grinder to sharpen it, but can’t find the grinding wheel. Maybe the Swamp Monster has it?
As we head back to camp with arm loads of wood, we can hear thunder, so looks like we might get some rain after all – it’s still only 1412. I suggest that we put up some walls and cover the fridge box as well just in case it gets a bit windy and comes from that direction. Saves moving all the stuff we’ve put up there. So out come both end walls and the tarp we put over the bed when we pack up. Glenn also takes this opportunity to get out the porta loo. As we are completely alone, we aren’t going to bother with the ensuite this trip. Both walls go up and we peg them out from the poles at both ends to give us a bit more room. This is where we store some wood. If it’s going to rain, at least we’ll have some dry stuff.
By the time this is done it’s starting to rain. Not heavy, but constant. It’s still only 1447 on day one. As we sit under the awning listening to the rain, we wonder if it’s just a small storm or a larger one. Around 1520 we notice it’s starting to hail. Great! At first it’s about pea sized, but it slowly gets larger and larger until it’s just smaller than a marble. The hail isn’t uniform in size, they are actually rather flat, but it thankfully doesn’t get any larger.
By 1640 we have a fire going and are starting to think about dinner. The storm having passed on and the hail all melted, it seems like a good thing to do. We can still hear thunder, but no more clouds in the direction the first storm came from. In fact, the sky is getting blacker and blacker in the direction it’s gone. It’s heading north-east towards Gatton and Glen Rock Regional park.
Dinner tonight will be a beef stew. I’ve already prepared the meat at home, so brown it and some onion, adding the vegies when required. I’m also preparing a new meal side dish tonight … a yohgurt based bread that you fry on the BBQ plate and sop up the stew gravy with. It’s very simple to make with only 4 ingredients and has had rave reviews, so worth giving it a try.By 1730, the flat cakes are made and we are just waiting on the stew. We spend the rest of the evening sitting by the fire.
Throughout the day, we’ve both seen and heard cows with lots of calves about as well.
Awake at 0645 and eating breakfast and doing the dishes ½ an hour later. We spend another hour bird watching, as we try to determine just how many types of birds are currently in the area. We’ve heard Kookaburra’s and cockatoo’s (both black and white), but we can see Currawongs, Bower birds, Finches, Wrens, Magpies, Rosella’s and it’s not just the odd one of each species, but heaps of them. I try to snap off photos of them through the trip, but can’t get every species alas.
Around 0900 we decide we need more fire wood and set about getting some while it’s still fairly cool. We wander behind our camp, across the creek from camp, downstream from camp, upstream from camp and find ourselves a good stash of fire wood. If we had a chainsaw, we’d probably be doing better, but ground foraging is working well so far.
Today we are going to try, once again, to pay our fees at the office. We consult the map about 0945 and make a plan. Glenn wishes to see the dam we didn’t make it to last time we were in this campground and I’d like to see some of the other campsites down towards the Forest Retreat. By 1000 we are in the car and heading to the office, although once again no-one is in attendance, so we get the tour underway. First stop, that dam.
We head through Bullhole camp, cross the creek, open the gate and drive.
Once we get to where the felled tree was last time, Glenn has been slipping and sliding (brought back memories of our downhill slide last trip), so we decided to park it where we’ve stopped and walk the rest of the way. According to google, it shouldn’t be too far. In fact it’s only about 1/2k further, but up a hill we’d never have driven … even in shoes it’s a bit on the dodgy side. Once at the dam, we note the horses hanging about and leash the dogs. I call to Telashi to “come here” as she’s swimming, and both her and the horses head my way. What well trained horses! We end up with all of those in the area within patting distance of me, so that’s what I do … give them a pat. They aren’t nervous of the dogs (cattle collection with dogs will do that) at all and seem to wonder why they’ve been called over. After a few pats each, we turn tail and head back to the car.On coming closer we realise why the wheels were slipping and sliding … we don’t seem to have wheels, just muddy covered round things under the vehicle. We retrace our steps and head back to the creek crossing. I laughed as we attempted to clean the tyres … poor people downstream will be coping our dirty water shortly.
Once back on the main road, we head along Innverramsay Road to the National Park gates.
We do a U-turn and head back into the cabin area and beyond.
Coming to a section in the trees, we stop the ute and continue on foot. Not that you couldn’t have driven it, just that we aren’t sure how wet it will be as this next section is the catchment for the dam beside us.
Had to have a bit of a laugh as a cow, in its hurry to leave us behind, lost its footing, rolled down the hill and then had some trouble gaining its feet once more, which was funny for us, but that cow hit the deck hard. Still makes me chuckle picturing it’s 4 legs flailing in the air. The closer we got to it, the more it flailed. The plan being to set it right if it couldn’t itself … but it does.
We head over to another section of this campground and find more litter … I’m finding it’s an issue this trip as well. People just don’t get the gist of “Take It In … Take It Out” do they? Lazy, thoughtless, irresponsible sods.
We check the creek here and then head back to camp for lunch. As we are cleaning up lunch we hear a car engine, which is obviously campers searching for a suitable site. They make a pass, return, pass again … I’m guessing they have sussed a good site for themselves and decided to head back to it. We catch a glimpse of their vehicle twinkling in the sun along the creek.
Day 2 - Glenn has bought along his angle grinder to sharpen the axe, but still can’t find the grinding wheel.
We laze around for an hour or so and decide to light the fire early. We are cooking roast chook tonight so need some good coals and we’d like to eat before dark. Always a good idea to get some water on the boil for showers or dishes as well.
Roughly 1645 we head another vehicle. They come down where we walked originally yesterday and park up at the very first campfire. It turns out to be 2 vehicles – one with a camper and one with a tent. They settle in quickly and quietly and we don’t give them another thought.
We sit with the fire going well until dinner is ready, then spend the rest of the evening in front of its wavering glow. I get out the Opera House trap and see what we can get in the creek. Two of the below and five rather large tadpoles. We return everything to the water as we've already had dinner.
Next morning we are out of bed early again. Why is it that one doesn’t need an alarm clock when on camp, but does when home? So, breakfast and dishes are done by 0815 then it’s back to relaxing once more which is so very difficult. Birds abound again and I try to get some more great photos.
Our neighbours go for a bit of a drive.
For the next hour or so, we throw the ball or Frisbee and interact with the dogs. We’ve been doing this in the “relaxing” periods since we arrived.Around 0945 we go for a drive up to the National Park access from our campsite. It’s about a 2k drive from our camp and through a neighbouring property, where a sign gives you some rules to follow like Don’t leave the road. The cows from around our campsite have migrated to the end of the road, where we must turn around. Alas, there is nothing at the end to see but a locked gate unfortunately. As we get back underway to our camp and stop at an old cabin and have a bit of a look at both it and the creek in front of it. There is a beautiful old wood stove inside the cabin … it’s pretty much the only thing inside. All along one side of the track is the very old makings from years ago … rusty drums / fencing and the likes. I can picture a bustling community of days gone by, where timber getting is the job of the day. Where drays are pulled by large bullock teams and men work hard, meals are cooked over a fire pit, where damper and billy tea are the best thing for smoko.
We are back at camp by 1030 and amusing the dogs remains our only chore for the next few hours. Once again, we do lunch and drinks and follow that with a fair bit of nothing much. Gotta love that!At 1230 another vehicle drives in and parks near our camp. It carries the magnetic “stickers” of Gordon Country, so I believe we’ll have to pay our fees for this trip now. Ray gets me to fill in a form about our stay, has a bit of chat with Glenn whilst I do so, takes my wad of cash and heads off on his fee collecting mission. Glenn tells me that this section is normally camp free, but seems this weekend it’s more like Queen Street in Brisbane City according to Ray. Isn’t that just typical?
Day 3 - Glenn has bought along his angle grinder to sharpen the axe, but still can’t find the grinding wheel.
Once again we get the fire going early. The plan is to use the remaining fire wood we’ve collected if possible, just because we can.
We do pretty much bugger all for the rest of the afternoon – which includes a dip in the creek, a wander along the creek, throwing of the ball, stoking of the fire and dinner preparations. Dinner is done by 1715 and there isn’t much else to do after that.
Today we must go. But before we do, we have many hours to fill. Once again we are out of bed early, had breakfast and done the dishes before 0800.
Our neighbours are off early, both of them gone by 0900, leaving us once again all on our own. Oh the bliss of it all. We decide to inspect the first neighbours campsite, as we couldn’t really see if from the road yesterday and we are intrigued to see if it’s better than what we have already (which is going to be rather hard in my opinion).
We slowly wander in that general direction. The creek is dry in parts, flowing in others and there are also randomly located pools – some much deeper than others. Wild raspberries are growing profusely along its banks in sections and the local birds are taking advantage of this with abandon. Some of the creek banks are high, some are lower. Most have cow trail access points here and there. We see some olden day debris buried here and there. Once we arrive at this site, we note the overhanging gums and think they may have been able to find somewhere less dangerous but it served them well for two nights. They don’t have much creek in front of them, but it is flowing and you can hear it at least – we can’t as we have a pond that flows underground and appears still – it’s not though …
Heading back to camp, we notice more cows are passing by. In their wake is a family of Fairy Wrens, so I try to capture a photo of the male. They are so beautifully coloured and the girls are so plain.
Ever so slowly we start our pack up procedures, with a vast amount of rest and relaxation in between times. Glenn says we must be on the road by 1300, so that gives us something to work towards. As we do this packing we find the grinding wheel and Glenn resharpens the axe before putting it all away - Yay!
Walls come down, timber items get packed, tables get wiped, dishes put away, chairs folded, bed made, clothing stashed, and it’s time for a slow leisurely lunch, before everything gets packed away for good.
Once that’s done, we are on the road home (alas) 10 minutes early and are on our way back down the valley’s, down the range and back home.
What a pity there is such thing as work. I could have stayed out there in the boonies for many more days and nights. But it’s back to the suburban chores for us. Washing done by nightfall.18.6AH
Trip Kilometres: 380Trip Duration: 96 hours