Sunday, 7 May 2017

Rob and Cait go...boating ?


"I saw a boat today"

"OK".  What a random thing for the lovely Cait to say.  A week later...

"It's still there"

"What is ?"

"The boat"

"What kind of boat is it ?"

"I don't know.  It has a canape" 

A what ?

"You know.  One of those thingys for the sun"

Oh, a canopy.

"So why do you keep telling me about this boat?"

"I think we should buy it"

Well knock me down with a feather.

Unbeknownst to many, I have a long association with boats.  I spent my childhood around them, in them, being towed behind them.  I love boats.  I also spent my childhood around blokes cursing them, fixing them, trying to start them, taking them off to be repaired, constantly working on them, getting towed back after they broke down again, cracking the shits about them.  So as much as I love them, they are money pits.  My Dad had a friend who is a millionaire.  He owned a boat repair business.  End of story.  So when the lovely Cait announced her wonderful idea, I was a little excited, and a little scared.  However, we did drive to look at it, and one glimpse at her happy little face I knew that boat was ours.  She was already thinking over names for it.  Deal done. 

As I don't have time to mess with details, Cait organised the purchase, the registration...etc.  It was going to be all her baby.  The previous owners brought it around a week later, somehow reversed it down our scary driveway, signed the paper work, then drove away.  Leaving Cait the proud owner of a boat.  Welcome to your new owner "Elvis".

Of course they had to bring it around, as we didn't have a tow bar.  Cait organised this during the week, and close to $1000 later, we had a tow bar.  Let the burning of the cash begin.

Oh wait.  The trailer has a flat tyre.  Quick, get some more money from my wallet for the bonfire.

I spent a week tinkering around getting the engine started.  It hadn't been used for a while, and sitting outside languishing in the weather had not helped.  Each evening I would give the rope a few tugs (pull start engine) working fuel through the engine.  I began noticing a misty gaze in Cait's eyes as I tugged away.  Obviously she thought I knew what I was doing and was admiring my manliness.  "Will is start soon?" she asked.  "Yeah, soon" I nonchalantly replied, hiding my nervous worry that I could smell my credit card melting somewhere.  However, after a week of nervous tugging, Saturday afternoon there was a sudden roar of the mighty 25hp Johnson outboard motor roaring back into life.  There was also a London fog of oily smoke, but we didn't care.  Rob and Cait were going boating.

Sunday morning I fired up the beast again just to make sure it wasn't a fluke.  It roared into life, and life was good.  Cait meanwhile organised the all important picnic hamper that had to be just right to celebrate this momentous occasion.  Then lathered in sunblock, off we went.

Now was the moment of truth.  I had never ever reversed a trailer before.  For men, it is a test of manhood, a rite of passage, and my time had come.  With years of advice roaring in my head, hands clenched tight enough to crack walnuts wrapped around the steering wheel, dripping with nervous sweat, I nervously wibble wobbled our little boat down the ramp.  After endless corrections, repeated restarts, I somehow managed to get down the ramp.  I was a man at last.  I drove off to park the trailer, walking back to the boat ramp delirious with happiness.  The engine fired up first go, and off we went. Cait needed reassurance that we weren't going to crash into other boats.  She was picking out specks in the distance and asking "are they coming towards us?"  Technically, yes, but I was trying to explain that they were five minutes away, and we were going to be fine.  I handed the boat over to Cap'n Caiti for a while, and she putt putted along proud as punch, but still worried about all those other boats.

Captain Caiti
After a while Jerusalem Bay came into sight, so we turned in and found a spot to anchor.  A lovely long relaxing picnic ensued, and we were in heaven. Eventually though, it was time to fire up the engine and head home.

tug - bbbb - silence.  tug - bbbb - silence. tug - bbbb - silence.  

"Is everything OK" asked Cait.  "Yeah, it'll be fine"

But after an hour and a half of tug - bbbb - silence the motor still wouldn't start, I had chunks of skin missing from my hands, and the only thing running full throttle were my stress levels.  Cait had 1 tiny bar of reception on her phone, which allowed a google search of services.  Eventually we contacted Maritime Rescue, and waited patiently.  I warned Cait that it was going to be a large vessel, but she was still surprised when a miniature warship with a large "POLICE" on the side approached us.  Nervously Cait asked "will you be in trouble because you don't have a license?"

Technically no license is required if you run under 10 knots, so no, I wasn't in any trouble.  However I couldn't resist saying "but it's not my boat, it's yours.  You're the one in trouble".  Well didn't that joke go down a treat.  After calming her down and reassuring her all was well, the boys came alongside, roped us up, and towed us home.  Champions.

Back at Appletree Bay, the Police launch managed to crunch our windscreen to add to the fun of the the day.  We tied up, and I hustled off to get the car.  At this time, every man and his dog, and his kids, and all his mates were at the ramp.  As I jumped in the car and began heading to the ramp, an horrendous grinding, dragging noise began emanating from behind.  I was so incredibly stressed by this point that I just kept driving.  Just want boat out go home.  Soon non verbal with stress.  Even brain shut down soon.  Must get home. Want beer.

Trying to reverse, I soon discovered that I couldn't see the tiny trailer until it was way out of line.  With the ramp packed, I had no way to straighten, and needed to go forward and start again, to repeat the whole frustrating process.  As usual, after five minutes left alone Cait knew everyone's name and life story.  She worded me up on the wife hater alongside me, shouting abuse at his wife.  Cait then proceeded to kindly offer me advice about reversing that old mate wife hater had given her.  I just wanted to cry as I desperately tried not to become a wife abuser myself.  The party got better when old mate leaned across to offer advice to me as well.  Make it stop. Make it stop.  Eventually I got enough trailer into the water to make extraction possible.  Cait pointed out the bleeding obvious that the trailer was crooked, and should I try again.  No. 

As I hooked up and began winching the boat at a jaunty 45 degrees across the boat ramp, I noticed bits hanging down off the trailer.  So that was the grinding noise.  Did I care.  Not at all.  That boat was going on that trailer and I was going home.  Eventually we drove up the ramp, and were ready to set off.  Halfway up the hill, however, the grinding noise became incredibly loud and I had to pull over.  A quick glance told me there was nothing I could fix at this point, and anyway I just needed to get home before a blood vessel burst in my head.  As we drove along, the noise became louder and louder, and I became more and more anxious.  I had visions of the entire trailer disintegrating and the boat destructing as it crashed onto the road.  Dear God, please just let us get home.

Then suddenly silence.  Cait asked "did something just fall off?".  I just mumbled "I don't care" through stressed lips. In the rearview mirrors there was no tangled mass of twisted metal so to this day I do not know what miracle occurred.

Back home, a quick glance revealed that I was still the proud owner of a tangled mess of rusty metal that was incredibly somehow hanging from the trailer. Totally over the day, I chained the lot up, then settled into an Aperol Spritz and a million beers as the sun went down on a very memorable day.  It had been so relaxing to be out on the water. Maybe I could just have a quiet stroke in my sleep.

During the week I unbolted rusty mess that wasn't at all necessary in the first place. 

Another flat tyre.  The brand new one only a week old.  Tyre guys tell Cait "wow, so unlucky, that has never happened before". Naturally.  Can't tilt boat because it is missing a tyre.  While new tyre being organised, a week of rain fills the boat.

Boat in for repairs.  "Did you know you need a new trailer ?" Yep.

Ok.  Engine running.  Tyres pumped.  Same trailer, but still working.  Let's try this again.

Boat at the ramp, boat into the water, engine kicks, off we GO !  YES !  Rob and Cait are boating.

Dear Readers, I kid you not.  Just as we were high fiving, back slapping, popping champagne, the steering disappears, boat spins to the left and begins describing large circles around the upper reaches of the mighty Hawkesbury River.  I was SO over all things nautical by now. I clambered under the steering wheel to find loose cables lying on the floor.  A steering pulley had pulled free at the rear of the boat.   I had stopped the engine, but we were floating towards a group of fishing boats, so I needed to get us out of there quickly.  The engine predictably refused to kick. Cait looked anxious.  Pretending a calm I didn't feel, I eventually managed to get the beast started, then tugging on the steering lines like Ben Hur in the chariot scene, I managed to get us headed in a safe direction, then dived back under the steering wheel where I managed to jury rig enough traction to get the steering working.  In fact, it was better than before.  Cait thought we should head to the ramp, but we were finally on the water with the engine running and I was happy to cruise along.  We passed Maritime Rescue towing a boat, which cheered us up immensely.  We did a nice lap around past Mooney Mooney, then back to the dreaded boat ramp.

The first rule of Fight Club is that you do not talk about Fight Club.  The first rule of boat ramps is that there are no rules of boat ramps.  Compounded by random cars that cross behind you, or pull up so that you can't reverse and have to move forward again, starting the whole process over.  After endless frustratingly incompetent attempts to reverse the trailer, a large bloke pops his head in the window and asks "do you want me to have a go?".  Does he really think I will just get out of my car and let a complete stranger take control ?  Of course I did.  He soon discovered that you can't see the trailer, but with a lot more skill and experience than I possess, and a bunch of mates to guide him along, he wove that trailer in nicely.  Genius.  Cait had been waiting patiently and of course by now had everyone's life stories sorted, and she introduced me to a few new friends she had made. As we winched the boat up onto the trailer, it confirmed that Cait does not have a very good grasp of boats and trailers.  We got the job done though, and as we headed home Cait filled me in on all her new boat ramp friends.

Once home, I had decided that it was possible to get the boat down our incredibly steep driveway, then wheel it into place using straps.  Brilliant in conception, and whilst the idea has merit, I am now the proud owner of a great big hole in our fence (which thankfully stopped the out of control runaway boat from disappearing into our neighbour's houses).  Number One son yelled advice out the window: "you're not Superman you know".  Obviously.  Thanks son.  We eventually got the boat safely parked, but from here on in, we leave it in the street.  I ran some fresh water through the engine, tidied "Elvis" up, and there it awaits, wrapped in a big new blue tarp ready for it's next adventure.  If you don't hear about any more adventures, it means that everything is finally sorted.

Or we have sunk.  Haven't done THAT yet.

Stay posted.



Saturday, 25 February 2017

Narrowneck - Mobbs - Dunphys (or "Its too darn hot")


The things that we do.  The things that we learn.  Maybe I should buy a set of Dr Seuss walking guides.  They could serve me well.

Oh the places you'll go !

My plan was to walk out from Katoomba, along Narrowneck.  This is a journey I have undertaken many a time as a walk, training run, and as part of The North Face 100.  Familiar territory.  As part of a long term goal to walk the Kanangra to Katoomba (K2K), my plan was to extend it out to the Wild Dog Mountains, to the Cox's River via Mobb's Soak, Mt Yellow Dog, and camp by the Cox's River at Konangaroo Clearing and do a bit of recce work.  A big day out, but doable.  Then a pleasant day river walking along the Cox, up Ironmonger Ridge, and camp at Dunphy's Camp Site (a place I love).  Then day 3, a leisurely stroll along the Megalong Valley and out via Nellie's Glen.
Narrowneck - let the journey begin

The heat had been fairly relentless up to this point, but weather reports suggested something cooler for a couple of days, which influenced my thinking.  A lovely relaxing train ride, and I began rereading 1984 - just a brilliant work.  Last walk I had grabbed "Diamonds Are Forever" which I soon realised had been the same book as I took the previous walk.  At 10.30 I set out under clear blue skies from Katoomba. It wasn't overly hot, and the Mountains were turning on one of those special days.  The air smelled amazing, and the skies were perfect blue.  As I started along Narrowneck, Boar's Head Rock looked particularly Boarish.
Boar's Head Rock

most boarish

As time passed, the day got hotter, and hotter...and hotter.  I am pretty good in the heat, but that is based on slowing my pace, rest breaks and keeping the fluids up.  I can go for hours this way.  Which was fine except that I was falling behind schedule and rapidly using up my (usually more than enough) 2L of water.  I had chucked some hydralyte sachets into my bottles and these were life savers.  I stopped at the fire tower to nibble on my trail mix.  This mix included stale indian nut mix, stale Twisties, some old rice crackers, and fresh corn chips. nommy nommy nom nom.

I descended Taro's Ladders, as usual lamenting that they were designed for taller folk, not Hobbits like me.  I thought I must be gushing sweat, but it was a simply a small shower which did nothing to reduce the heat but did kick the humidity up another notch.  Awesome.  A lovely bit of afternoon scrambling and strolling across Debert's and down to Medlow Gap.  A lovely new sign proclaimed 20km to Katoomba.  This left me with about 10km to the Cox's River.  Not normally a problem, but with water running low, and venturing into new lands (for me), I had a little rethink of my plans.  I decided to see if water was available at Mobb's Soak (supposedly always reliable).  This was 4km along the way.  If so, I would camp there and head down to the Cox tomorrow.
across to Mt Mouin and the Wild Dogs

The turn off to Mobbs is nicely sign posted (as part of the K2K walk), but the walk along to Mobbs was less defined than I had expected.  Easy enough to follow, but slower than anticipated - especially given that every leaf curl spider within cooee had set across the track.  I was clearing as best I could, but I still ended up having to pick them from my hat and glasses and off my hairy legs.  I was like a walking mini eco system.

By the time I reached Mobbs it was about 4pm.  I spent an hour scrambling up and down gullies and along creek beds, but no water (but I did find "the cave" which I had read about).  At best a few small black swampy pools teeming with insect life, and I did not have the equipment to filter and treat.  Decision time.

Pushing on, I ran the risk of running out of water and finishing up with a possible descent from Mt Yellow Dog in the dark.  I had read enough track notes to suggest this was slippery enough in the day time.  I carry a PLB which I have never had reason to use, I I didn't plan on doing it today.  Girding my loins, I sipped down half my 500mls and began retracing my steps.  At least I had already cleared the spiders which sped things up considerably.

Back at Medlow Gap I finished off the last of my water, then hoped that Breakfast Creek (another 2km away) was still flowing.  I was massively dehydrated by now.

As usual Breakfast Creek had a lovely flow.  Smaller than I had ever seen, but cool and clear.  I ripped my pack apart, dug out my milk powder and Milo, and enjoyed a lovely 500mL chocky milk.  Followed by another one.  Then I drank 500mL water.  As I walked I downed another 500mL.  2L and I was still thirsty.   Last time I had been at Dunphy's, the water tank was busted, so I was carrying 3L of water just in case.  I couldn't decide whether I would be more glad to see the water tank fixed, or whether it would be better to find it still busted and not a waste of effort to drag along with an extra 3kg of water on my back.

By now the sun was nearly gone, but it was still hot.  I limped into Dunphy's just before 8.30, and slumped myself down.  10 hours and 38km.  A few car campers were there (and lots of kangaroos), and I heard questions about "how did he get here?"  A voice was explaining that I had walked in.  It was a tour operator who had set up camp for two lovely ladies after a camping adventure, and was about to drive off.  Did I want a bottle of cold water and some ice before he left ?  Oh Yeah !

I had the 500ml bottle of deliciously cold water, then sat adding water to my cup of ice and drinking it down.  I had drunk over 3L in under 2 hours and still going strong.  I had added a sachet of Tailwind "Green Tea" to my water, and the glucose and caffeine was blowing my mind.  I sat watching stars appear overhead.  After putting up my tent, all thoughts of eating disappeared.  I just sat sipping water and crunching on my ice.  Eventually I collapsed onto my ever trusty $5 yoga mat, read for a while, then crashed.

In retrospect I needed an extra hour of sunlight, another 1L of water, and a day less hot than the surface of the sun.  But that's why we do recce walks.  Might as well make small bite size mistakes.

I woke several times in the night.  The entire camp ground was lit by the moon, and I could see and hear kangaroos munching and coughing all around me.  Quite magical.  

Eventually the moon light became sunlight, but I was in no hurry to get up.  Not hungry.  Not needing to pee yet.  Knackered.   I had a nice lie in until 7.30, then got up to brew a coffee, then another....why not make it three.  The water tank had been repaired and there was plenty of water after all.  Eventually I needed a pee.  Don't know where all those fluids had gone though.

As I sipped away, and the sun gradually cleared the trees, I heard what sounded like a koala....interesting.  The first rays of the sun arrived and said "it's going to be another hot one".

Eventually I decided to eatI had gone to so much time and effort to organise my food, I had to at least try.  Tired of 2 minute noodles every time I camp, this time I had cous cous and beans.  This had necessitated much driving the lovely Cait crazy with endless cooking questions ("no darling, cous cous and quinoa are different").  I had also been experimenting with soaking beans, and had been running endless kitchen trials.  For weeks our kitchen has had little (failed) experiments of beans in numerous small containers, which the lovely Cait has patiently endured.  Eventually I had just soaked my beans, cooked the shit out of them, and froze them.  Now I wasn't even hungry, but I ate anyway because I knew I still had a big hot day ahead of me. 

All packed up, 2L of water and about 20km to go.  I had considered a day walk to the Cox, another night camping, then heading out tomorrow, but I was trashed.  The camp ground chatter had included mutterings about storms coming through, so I was headed home.

The heat began kicking in again, so I took it super easy.  The initial walking was shady and flat, then the steep climb began and the shade disappeared.  Eventually I reached the intersection with the Six Foot Track, then end was nigh, and I could smell the barnAt Megalong Creek I grabbed water to sterilise, and kept on keeping on.  It was now a head down slog and I was treating it as a training exercise.  I still took time to stop and soak in the sights though.  Instinct kicked in along the way, and I stopped knowing a snake was nearby.  About 1.5m of tiger or brown snake was on the side of the road, happily keeping an eye on me.  I moved back watching carefully, but the moment I looked away it was gone.  Obviously camera shy.  

I began hearing giant rumbles of thunder, and clouds began massing.  Over Katoomba way it looked like they were copping a hammering, but I still had blazing sun and rising humidity.  I passed a large group of walkers who looked like they were about to have a very memorable Six Foot Track adventure.  

At the base of Nellie's Glen the rain finally arrived, and things began to cool a little.  I was already dripping with sweat, so rain was no problem.  It was a long climb, but no one was going to carry me, so it was just plod plod plod to the top.  I downed the last of my water (2.5L for the morning and still thirsty), and headed off to Katoomba.  The heaven's opened up and I got soaked.  At Katoomba station I drank myself stupid and watched as a storm of apocalyptic proportions ripped all around.  Walls of cloud swirling and tumbling, lightning leaping across the sky,  water lashing down.  What a shame I wasn't setting up camp for the night.

Safely ensconced on my train, I looked across the valleys to where I could see sheets of rain as far as the eye could see.  The trip home was delayed because of lightning strikes.  What a shame I was heading home.

As I finally boarded my train at Strathfield, the two ladies from Dunphy's were sitting across from me.  Small world.  How did I get back to Katoomba ? You walked ! Oh my !  

On that small note of being a hero, my adventure ended.  Time for a beer.  

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Six Foot Track 5&6 November 2016

Well that was fun !

This year has been a struggle in some ways.  Changing jobs has meant no more school holidays (boo hoo).  Instead of sneaking off for some much needed quiet time, it has been go go go most of the year.  As I have survived my daily train commute, I have stared longingly off towards the Blue Mountains, wishing I were there instead of rattling along off to the daily grind.  The fact it has taken so long to finish this post is an indication of life at present.  Not enough time !

A new staff member began talking about the 6 Ft Ttrack.  To make matters worse I have just finished a great read about the  6 Ft Track which had given me very itchy feet.  I have done the trip four times before and loved it every time.  I have done a two day solo 90km return trip, also a two day slog fest in searing summer heat with friends, as well as running the 6 Ft Track Marathon with hundreds.  

Eventually my wife the Lovely Cait said "go for a walk".  Love ya Babe (actually she said "you are driving me nuts talking about it.  Just  bloody do it !").  Of course track work was scheduled so my initial plans went south immediately.  Enter Cait the lovely wife.  "Take the car !".  Love ya Babe.

I decided to catch the Saturday 10.30am Trolley Tours bus to Jenolan, walk 30km to Cox's River campground, then a leisurely 15km out on the Sunday.   Easy Peasy.

Of course I spent useless hours perfecting the ultimate iPod playlist which I never used.  Not at all necessary when the bus was driven by the lovely and oh so chatty and informative Rebecca.  She narrated the entire way, making musical distraction completely unnecessary.  She kept pointing out "the gentleman at the back" who was going to be walking home (me).  I felt like a bit of a rock star.  It was great just sitting in a bus, centre of attention, watching the world go by .

At Jenolan Caves I had a last toilet stop, a big long drink to camel up (from a tap, not the toilet bowl), then shouldered pack and set off up the long uphill stretch to start the walk.

Some experienced walkers rate the 6 Ft Track lowly.  I totally understand why, but each to their own.  Yes, it does have long endless stretches where all you do is walk, but I have a fondness for long endless sections where all you do is walk.  This trip was really about clearing my head.  I had the ultimate playlist all ready to go, but as usual, once I started walking, I couldn't bear to break the silence.  I embraced it.  It was heavenly.
A nice cool breeze was whipping around.  Apparently Sydney was being hammered, but it was just an occasional chilly blast up here.  I was wandering along and working up a nice sweat.  Yet I passed so many walkers completely rugged up in multiple layers, as I wandered along in shorts and t-shirt.  Could they really be that cold ?  

After about 3 hours I arrived at the Black Range campground.  I had thought to top up the water supply, but as a nice tea coloured water came out of the rain tank, I decided to just make do with what I had, and take a little as an emergency back up.  I have tempted fate and drunk it before with no problems, but not today. Then it was time to start the Black Range.  Some folk dread the Black Range not because it is particularly hard, but because it is flattish 10.5km slog through unchanging open forest.  Very few views.  However, I love it.  As I wandered along, I appreciated that all I had to do was walk.  No navigation required.  An occasional blast of wind tried to knock me over, then it would be still again.  The skies were perfectly clear, and the occasional glimpses back towards Katoomba revealed the Hydro Majestic (possibly freshly painted) standing out blazingly white.  Walking like this clears the mind, which is precisely what I was after.
Hydro Majestic
Yes, the Black Range can be boring, but it is in some ways a fascinating stretch.  It is like a highway, and many many feet have trodden it.  Hellcat Ridge drops off to the south and connects to Kanangra Walls.  At the end is Cronje Mountain which drops to the Cox's River and up to the end of Narrowneck/ Medlow Gap and a whole world of possibilities.  Or, as I would be walking, it drops down the Mini Mini saddle and heads towards Katoomba.  It also makes other connections that interest only nerdy nerd walkers like me.  

The Black Range finally done, left turn at the pluviometer, it was time for a long slippery walk to the Cox's River.  The surface of the road was like walking on rolling marbles, and I kept embarking on long slides, hoping not to land on my butt or disappear off the trail into a gully.  A few close calls.  Saw a disgusting rolling lump of caterpillars that I tried not to slide into and land on.  It was a relief to reach Little River, have a break, drink a few litres of flowing mountain water, and play with the camera.  I tipped out my brown emergency water, and replaced it with clear water.  I had planned to fill my Nalgene water flask as well, but that was a problem as I realised that it was still at home on the chair next to my pack where I couldn't possibly forget it.  oops.  I had a small bottle, and could squeeze 1.5 into my hydration bladder, so 2L would just have to do.  
kinda gross
Little River

Little River
As I set off, the sun was beginning to fade, and kangaroos were starting to appear.  Some fled in terror long before I was anywhere near, some just popped their heads up to play peek-a-boo, and then got back to nibbling.  Some burst out of nowhere and scared the crap out of me.  I passed Alum Creek with it's new water tank and toilet.  I had thought to stay here, but I was still travelling well, and happy to wander on.  The day began to settle into a nice twilight, and it was lovely to wander along and listen to the birds start singing.  After about five hours of walking, I began doing sums in my head about when I would reach the Cox's River, and came up with the wrong number.  I was tired.  The stretch over Mini Mini was way longer than I remembered.  Way longer.  Thankfully it was cool, the evening was beautiful, and the bell birds were lovely to listen to.  I mucked around taking shadow shots wasting even more time.  I was in no hurry.
spot the 'roo
perfect for a lovely twilight stroll

I eventually reached the Cox at about 7pm, after seven hours of walking, pleasantly stuffed.  There was lots of water in the tank which I could boil, so plenty of water for cooking.  Sadly my previous tent site had been used as a fire ring, so I was forced to scout out a new spot.  As usual, the soil was rock hard and a bugger to get pegs in.  However, for the first time ever, I lay out my swag tent right perfectly first time.  I love my little swag tent friend, but after a long day, I always bugger it up and it does my head in.  My spot was also next to a bench, which was nice touch of luxury, and helps prevent losing stuff.
home sweet home with bench - luxury
coffee's ready
As the sun set, and I began mucking around with food, a couple with all the gear under the sun began cooking.  They had driven in, and they had set up a light which you could see from the moon, up under the covered area.  It naturally attracted every winged bug in the area.  I left them to their cooking and swatting and waited until they were done.  When they had finished, they kindly offered to leave the light on for me.  I thanked them, but politely declined.  Once they had gone, and they went back to their camp site with their big ass light, taking all their bugs with them and spraying and swatting furiously, I was able to cook in peace by the light of my head torch on low power and no bugs.  Occasional burst of music from the Eco Lodge nearby.  I munched happily in the dark, watched the stars and satellites pass silently overhead, then off to bed.

Having knocked over 30km yesterday, left me with 15km today, and no need to rush.  From the direction of the Eco Lodge I watched a huge 4WD (plus trailer) pass by with two men in camo gear which matched their truck.  Interesting.  I had a morning wander, thinking how nice the river looked.  Some folks had camped out on an island spot.  Very creative, and very lovely.  An idea for the future.
The Cox

The Bowtell's Swing Bridge was extra swingy this morning, and extra fun.  I wandered along passing slower walkers, and being surprised by trail runners appearing out of nowhere.  In no hurry, I was determined to locate "Toad Rock".  I wandered off trail a few times to explore various perspectives.  Artistic license may have come into play, but I think I found it.  The original sketch seems to have impossibly placed "wing rocks" which makes me suspect a bit of exaggeration. 

a bit toad like from this side

come on, it's a toad !
After this bit of buggering about, I got walking again.  All went well until I came across my worst fear - cows.  I screwed up my courage, tried to show no fear, and walked through the valley of death.  Large bovine eyes gazed upon me as I passed by silent as a ninja.  Once more I emerged unscathed, living to tell the tale. 
deadly cow creatures
home stretch
Took time out to wander about the historic Megalong Cemetery.  A lovely place to meander about.  The signs warning against camping there were totally unnecessary though.  As if.  Took time out to play with the timer on the camera.  Then it was up Nellie's Glen.  From the base of Nellie's I began encountering human wreckage dressed in Active Wear.  No hats, no sleeves, no sun protection, dying in the heat (which was really kicking in big time).  As it turned out, these were the group partying at the Eco Lodge, and were part of a outdoor adventure boot camp type group on the last stretch of their death march.  A few fitness types in camo gear were doing their best to get them to the end short of fireman carries.  At least they were out giving it a go (but I suspect that their love of the great outdoors was fading fast).  

I wandered off track to find Bonnie Doon Falls.  It is hard to imagine what this area looked like before a million tonnes of fill was dumped down here in a failed attempt to build a road down into the Megalong Valley.  Not the most spectacular falls, but who knows what they used to look like.

Then it was a blazingly hot walk back to the car, got the air con cranking, then off to Mountain High pies to purchase dinner for the family.  Another trip done.
Mission accomplished !