Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Wadbilliga National Park & Narooma

Wadbilliga National Park & Narooma - 7th-11th Feb 2009

A long way to the next fuel!
Fuel Sign New South Wales Australia
From Wadbilliga NP

If you look at a map of this part of Australia you will notice that there is no real direct route from Jindabyne to the coast by main road. There is however is 4x4 track through the Great Dividing Range which was meant to be a good challenge offering plenty of good views. This was to be our path to the coast, we left camp at around 10.30am and travelled back along some of the road we used to get to the Snowy’s. Through Jindabyne to Cooma, from Cooma we went to Countegany where the road turns from bitumen to dirt (they have many different types of dirt roads here in Oz; Gravel, sandy, stony, rocky, mud, etc) This road would be best described as a bit rocky but mostly gravel.
We were looking for a place called the Cascades, which we had heard was a very nice spot – popular with the locals for cooling off in the hot temps. The day was pretty hot – 37C – and the plan was to go there take some pics maybe go for a swim and then head for the coast. We were following a route described in an “Australia by 4wd” book given to Carl as a birthday pressie back in 2007. It was a little hard to follow as we were doing their route backwards. One sentence at a time was the way we did it!
Needless to say we missed a turning and had to chuck a U-ey. We had gone about 8ks to far. About 4ks back the way we came, Carl said that the car sounds funny and feels a little weird – OH NO we thought. Heidi jumped out and sure enough the passenger rear tyre was as flat as a pancake! (discovered it was a nail)

Wadbiliga National Park New South Wales Australia
From Wadbilliga NP

Well we had prepared for this eventuality so we set about getting the spare on. The wheel came off easy enough considering how rusted the nuts looked! Now to get the car off the floor (easier said than done). We had purchased a Hi-lift jack, so we untied it from the roof rack and proceeded to line it up with the jacking point. It seems the nose on the jack is not long enough to reach the point, no matter how hard we tried! Plan B was the little bottle jack in the back that had been stowed away ever since we bought the car. Once I got it out it was immediately apparent this wasn’t going to work either, as all of the fluid had leaked out and it wouldn’t lift a rock let alone a 4x4!!

New tyre ready to go
Wadbiliga National Park New South Wales Australia
From Wadbilliga NP

Now we may be in a little strife! Only 2 cars had passed us in our near 2 hours on this road, what are we gonna do? Just as Carl was contemplating lifting the whole back of the car by the recovery point, a car that had already passed us came back in the other direction – turns out they had missed the turn off to the very same place that we were going! Carl flagged them down and asked the guy if he had a jack fit for lifting our wheel off the floor. The man looked a little flustered and annoyed but was very helpful. He rummaged in his very packed boot for his bottle jack. To cut a long story short we eventually got the correct point to jack from and changed the tyre over. The man and his family rushed off. We thanked them endlessly for their help and set about packing everything back into the car and tying the useless jack back to the roof rack.

Now with most of the day gone, heading to the coast was not a possibility. Sunday was meant to be 47C and we were going to have to drive in it – Great!
We headed off to the Cascades as we had read there was a nice campsite there and it was FREE!! We got there in the afternoon after 40 mins driving down a fairly rough gravel road. We were of course very nervous now as we had no spare! We set up camp and went for a swim in the cascades. The cascades are basically a few pools that pour down to one large one with a small waterfall down some smooth rocks. Kids were using it like we used to use the red slides at the Oasis in Swindon! After cooling off we went back to camp, made a salad, harassed once again by the bloody flies. Then we were in bed by 9pm!

The Cascades, Wadbiliga National Park
The Cascades Wadbiliga National Park New South Wales Australia
From Wadbilliga NP

We got up nice and early and were away by 8:30, we decided that we would still continue on the most direct route as it was a lot shorter in distance than going via the main road. The route was harder and longer than we first thought but we enjoyed it, taking it very steady. We drove through rivers, up mountains, had to open and close gates and the views were pretty damn good! The only issue was the heat – we were both just sat there sweating. The wind coming in through the windows was actually hot! I checked the temp in the car and it was nearly 47C and we were up a mountain! Jees we thought, we need to get to the coast and the sea breeze.

Wadbiliga National Park
Wadbiliga National Park New South Wales Australia
From Wadbilliga NP

After 4 hours of 4x4ing with no spare it was nice to be back on the bitumen. We pulled over for a break and put the bonnet up on OJ as we had been having fuel vaporisation issues again (not surprisingly) we were barely out of 2nd gear for 4 hrs in that heat. As we sat there drinking the last of the cold water (plenty of warm still left!) a lady pulled up in a car towing a trailer and asked if we were ok? We said that we were just letting the car cool after driving over the range. She said oh good you don’t want to be stuck out here, especially with the fires. We were like WHAT? Fires? She asked if we had seen any smoke. We told her we had not seen any and she was pleased (not that we had been looking for it). She went off saying that she was in preservation mode and was ready to pack the trailer and get out! We headed off with this news aiming for the coast as fast as poorly OJ would get us there. As soon as we got 500m up the road and over a hill we could see smoke and this just pushed us on even quicker. Whilst on our way I said to Heidi that it felt noticeably cooler in the car and outside. Sure enough the temp gauge said 40C (sweet we thought). We were heading for Narooma – one of the bigger looking places on this part of the coast. As we approached the air was getting ever cooler and I joked to Heidi “Can you get me my jumper please!” finally we stopped, smoke still pouring from behind the hill, relieved and pretty tired. We had no food since brekkie and were looking for a place to eat. We stopped in a car park and let OJ cool down whilst we jumped out to stretch. Holy Hell! We got out and felt something we had not for a loooong time – COLD!
I checked the temp again and in 1hr it had dropped 20 degrees to 26C!!! The relief was overwhelming we were so happy to see the ocean. After fish and chips in what was a comparatively biting wind! We set off in search of a place to camp and a place to replace the spare – all accomplished with ease.

Narooma campsite
Narooma New South Wales Australia
From Narooma

So here we are now in Narooma. We are both feeling a bit empty after all the terrible news of the fires. Our next port of call was going to be Victoria and Melbourne in particular, but we are going to give it time before heading any further south. Can’t stop thinking about the so many people that have been affected by the devastation and terror of the fires. It is shocking the speed of these things and how, often there is no escape. The stories in the paper bring you close to tears. This part of the blog will end here, our thoughts with all those terribly affected by one of the worst natural disasters in Australian history…



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