Tag Archives: NSW

Stuart’s Birthday Holiday, Part 4b

Some of the rolling scenery along the fast sealed straight road taking us back into NSW.

The next town on was to be our lunch stop. Every one of these towns had the equivalent of a village green, usually toilets, covered picnic benches, uncovered picnic benches and gas fired BBQs (free of course) and the next place was no exception.

The mobile library joined us for lunch

We opted for the covered picnic benches because of an ant issue at the uncovered ones. After a slow lunch and a discussion on where next and where exactly we were aiming for, we set off again. A quick refuel later (Serenity was hungry again) and we were soon to turn off the nice straight tarmaced road onto a very windy narrow unsealed road.

We immediately noticed an environmental difference. We had tree ferns back.

I managed to record a video from my camera showing how windy the road was. At times it was not quite so reassuring to see what it was held up with. At least we knew how well gum trees don’t rot!

This was actually the good part of the road. The road is called Big Jack Mountain Road. It had an interesting start and is fine in the middle, but then it was to get considerably worse, at the exit of the valley. We didn’t actually get a photo of the bad section, both of us were concentrating on the road that much. That short section of road was down on the map as a rough track. Until now we had not driven a rough track. This was an exceptionally good reason as to why not to do one again.

After the track we hit the Prince’s Highway and headed south. Stuart wanted to visit Eden and the closest campsites are to the south. We soon got turn off and were presented with a desolate scene. The forest between the highway and the national park we were heading to was being harvested and the place was a disaster.

What hadn’t been felled was badly plastered with fine grey dust but we had had to pay for this site and had had only 1 of 2 pitches to choose from. The place was full apparently. It really wasn’t looking good and I felt ever so sorry for Stuart. Tomorrow was his birthday. I just hoped like hell that it was worth it. I kept reminding myself that the two campgrounds were in a national park so at some point the logging would stop and the dust settle literally.

On top of everything else, we couldn’t use the rooftop tent tonight either. So an old friend made a reappearance. It’s been a while since my back had been good enough to camp at all.

Stuart has had a new downmat since we last camped. He had chosen a longer wider version which dwarfed mine!

However our base was still the vehicle. We had reattached (OK, Stuart had reattached) the sun shade to the roofrack so we had shade or shelter from rain and my back really wasn’t up to sitting on the ground for any great length of time so table and chairs naturally went under the sunshade (it had started to spit a touch).

We hadn’t put used the sunshade before now so it wasn’t until we pitched it that we realised just how good a design it actually is. There are built in poles that connect down the sides to give a rigid side and after a little investigation we realised that a set of poles we had previously not found a use for with the rooftop tent and vestibule area are actually part of the sunshade designed to go diagonally holding the shade down using Velcro sewn into the roof (presumably for high winds of heavy rain because it was perfectly stable as it was).

I should mention the 6 foot high kangaroo we met on arriving at the site. Almost the moment I had the car door open, he was trying to get into the car. We guess he is used to thieving food from unsuspecting people or removing it from the hands of children (or being hand fed). He was to plague us constantly, never more than 10m from the back of Serenity the whole time we were there.

After tea we retired to the beach for a walk and found another set of toilets in the camp-site as well, which given the number of family units there and the huge number of young children using just one set of toilets, was quite useful.

Looking out at the scene
This is Saltwater Creek and the swimming area for children.

Sometimes you just have to pay attention to the close details when a certain person is claiming another section of land by scent marking it!

We obviously didn’t get very far along the beach but other than one other person, we had the place to ourselves.

Back at the tent I had cards to find, cards to write (oops) and then we settled in for a game of cribbage and an early night.

I made a silent prayer for better weather tomorrow. Before breakfast, Stuart wanted a walk along the beach to watch the sun rise. Fingers crossed.

Stuart’s Birthday Holiday, Part 4a

The overnight rain didn’t happen and we breathed a sigh of relief. We could do that track without needing to worry about faffing around with tyre pressures of rivers of mud. But first we wanted a quick explore once the 4×4 club left.

Little River Junction

Presumably the little river is somewhere else, off to the right out of immediate sight, but this was the view for a lucky few campers!

Then it was time to leave. Stuart wanted to record me driving up the ridge back to the road and it was a long climb to get back up to it. Serenity, however, took it in her stride not missing a beat. Needless to say, it is a lot steeper than the photos or videos show.

The ridges are there to divert water flow so that the track doesn’t get washed away too often. They alone are often the biggest hurdle to be taken just because of the clearance needed but we can do them in our other vehicle (the AWD SUV). This track however is best left to 4x4s. That we can confirm.

Stuart made some videos of me driving the track. Serenity has an interesting range of gears and there’s a huge difference between second and third and third and fourth. First can be bypassed very easily even in high ratio, the same is especially true in low ratio. It was to become a case of switching between 2nd and 3rd frequently or more often sitting and waiting it out in 2nd gear. There really needed to be a 2.5 gear as you will hear from the soundtrack.

Once back at the road, it was more of the same, just no passing places and a thousand for drop on the driver’s side…

Right up until a bridge. One that reminded us of a similar one we had met in Hungary only that one was floated across the river on pontoon bridges and went up and down with the height of the river.

Picture of bridge in Hungary across the River Tiza (picture from our normal)

Ok, it’s in better condition, but it’s also a lot higher. This is McKillops Bridge. I think it is across the Snowy River, yep, just confirmed that it is. Perhaps on a clear winter’s day it may look a touch better or a touch more impressive. All we saw was a bridge that would have been hell to cycle and as for crossing it in the peak season, well that would have been hell as well. There’s a large free camp-site off on the right immediately after the bridge going down to the water level where kids and adults alike bathe in warmer months.

Above is the view to the left

and to the right…

A little bit about McKillops Bridge…

The road spans the Snowy River and was built by the Country Roads Board between 1931-36. It’s the only bridge over the Snowy River for a very long way. The deck is 255 metres long and stands high above the river. Downstream are the remains of the original McKillop Bridge washed away in 1934, a day before it was due to be opened.


The road over the bridge is called McKillops Road (officially C611). It’s said to be the most hazardous & dangerous road to drive on in the country. The bridge consists of welded-steel trusses seated on tall one-piece reinforced-concrete piers, supporting an elaborate timber stockbridge superstructure. It’s the perfect spot to take a break, whether to simply enjoy the picturesque views from the bridge along the Snowy River gorge or something a little more active.


Located in the Snowy River National Park, in Victoria, Australia, the iconic McKillops Bridge is a significant engineering feat at the time. The road spans the Snowy River and was built by the Country Roads Board between 1931-36. The deck is 255 metres long and stands high above the river. The road over the bridge is called McKillops Road (officially C611). It’s said to be the most hazardous & dangerous road to drive on in the country. The bridge consists of welded-steel trusses seated on tall one-piece reinforced-concrete piers, supporting an elaborate timber stockbridge superstructure

So you get the idea. To be honest, we are just glad not to have met anyone and only lingered long enough to take a couple of photos from the bridge and to take it at a sensible pace.

Then more and more of the same until we got to a village called Deddick. Spotting a sign for toilets, coffee and a chat, we stopped. Stuart was looking like he needed two of the three minimum and there was little point in using our hot water in the flasks when we could use some from a kettle. What we had found was a community centre aimed at both the community and tourists alike providing free coffee and a chat. And it was an enjoyable chat at that. About an hour later we stayed ourselves from the armchairs and returned to the road after listening to tails about locals who would only drive the road in one direction (on the cliff face side not the edge side) or would only drive it at night (more warning about oncoming vehicles). We’ve ridden and driven worse roads but said nothing.

A little later on and we spotted this…

The sign post gave the clue this time!

Stuart wandered down with the camera to take the photos this time. I was still driving.

From there we were to head off up a road that was being used for logging. The ladies at the community coffee centre had mentioned to us that the road signs saying the logging trunks were to use channel 40, didn’t apply only to the lorries. Locals had taken to letting the lorries know when they were on that road as well, plus when you leave it. Now we have a CB radio in Serenity, but we’ve never turned it on. Time for some educated guess work. It wasn’t hard, but working out what to say was, so we tried just to listen, occasionally catching a word here or there but never any complete sentences. Understanding anything was much harder and usually entirely guess work as well.

Then there was a man sitting at a road junction with 2 horsebox trailers, a camping chair and a dog (or two). Odd but we guessed that he was waiting for someone on horseback out for a ride. Our guess turned out to be more or less accurate, but I’d envisaged a young kid on horseback on the dead-end road given where he was waiting. It turned out that he was waiting for what was around many corners later. Presumably one or two of the horses were due a rest and there was one ranch man (?) who was walking alongside a tired looking horse.

Stuart got fed up of photoing them because there were so many of them and to be honest I got fed up of having to jam my foot on the brakes constantly when one or two of the more “macho” of the herd decided to challenge Serenity, even to the point where they were already passed the front of her and doubling back to walk in front of me or even stand there challenging me to a fight! Yep twice that happened, each time it was a case of me losing sight of its head under the bonnet… Serenity has a very high up bonnet and a native blind spot at the front. Just drive at them, we’d been told. Clutch control was delicate, little more throttle, keep inching forward…

We guessed at there being several hundred (somewhere between 300-500) head of cattle being walked to winter pastures to be fattened up, mind you some of them needed it. And there were many, many men and horses usually in threes.

Just after we had cleared them we came to a wider tight hand bend and one of those logging lorries… I bailed for the edge of the road where all the loose gravel was. The lorry and two trailers were going fast and down hill on gravel… A combination not known for its ability to stop readily. I had the window down and it was quicker to flag the lorry down than it was to find the CB radio handset and let him know about the cattle. He needed to stop immediately, not by the time we had found the CB radio handset (it’s in an awkward position behind the steering wheel but also down by myleft knee and obscured by 2 levers). Luckily he got the message and there was no locking up of brakes or screeches from around the bend. We’d never heard a thing from the CB radio about him being on the road but guessed it was because of the twisting and turning, up down nature of the minor back road we were on. Though in reality it was wider than the main road we had left. Just as we got to the main road another logging truck turned off onto the road, this time other than his identity we heard the message over the radio.

The main road was tarmac, white line up the middle and before long had straightened out and became fast and boring. It was getting time for lunch.