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    "Port Jackson sharks come into the shallows in August and September"
    Western Slopes Trip - October 2020

    After seven months of COVID, and three months after my Western NSW Trip in June and July 2020, I decided I needed another camping trip. This time I planned to do a six night trip to the western slopes of NSW, visiting places I had never been to as well as a couple I had only briefly visited a long time ago.

    I planned to take my dog Veto, so this precluded any national parks. I also decided that I would stay quite a few nights in towns and also have dinner and lunches in those towns wherever possible. As I got closer to the day to leave, a few friends expressed interest in joining me. Ray and Eda (who joined us for the last bit of the July trip) said they would come for the whole trip and Ian and Sharon who were on most of the July trip also said they would join us for the last three days. Ray and Eda were in a motorhome and Ian and Sharon in a Toyota Land Cruiser Ute.

    Day 1 – Monday 12 October 2020 – Abercrombie River Camping Area

    Weather: fine

    As I do not have really that far to travel, and also because Eda and Ray cannot leave early, I have a leisurely start. I leave at 9:05 am and travel via Menai to the M5. I have forgotten to refuel yesterday when coming home from scuba diving, so I stop at Padstow and fill up. I am only there for five minutes. I go via the M5 and M7 to the M4 and then head towards the Blue Mountains.

    At 10:25 am, I stop at the Linden Rest Area and have morning tea. It was overcast when I left home but now it is sunny. I leave at 10:45 am and head up and over the mountains. Eda and Ray were still at home when I phoned to tell them I was leaving home but as I head down the Jenolan Caves Road, I see them ahead of me. They have a shorter distance to cover and also did not stop like I did.

    At 12:20 pm we arrive in Oberon, 202 kilometres from home. It is a nice 19ºC. I get a pie for lunch and also a Chelsea bun for future morning teas. I also buy some bread. After we eat lunch, we walk around town and then at 1:35 pm we head south towards Goulburn. We have a look at a camping spot in Black Springs, not to stay there, but check it out. Not too bad. On the way we stop and cut some timber for a fire. The countryside is so green, I do not think I have seen it like this for over 10 years.

    OberonAbercrombie River
    The Malachi Theatre, OberonOur Abercrombie River campsite

    Our plan is to look at Little River Fossicking Area for the first night. There is not a really good spot to stop and it is made worse by roadworkers parking their vehicle in the track leading into the area. Ray stops on the side of the road and I head down to check it out. However, it is a very rough track and also there are only one or two very small flat areas to camp at.

    We decide to go onto Plan B which is to go to Abercrombie River Camping Area. The road down to the river is very steep and has many hairpin turns. At the bottom there is Bummaroo Ford Camping Area which is in Abercrombie River Camping Area. However, this is not where we plan to stay as I have Veto with me. Across the river and on the right hand side there is a free non-national park camping area.

    Abercrombie RiverAbercrombie River
    The Abercrombie RiverA drone shot of the Abercrombie River Camping Area looking north

    We head in an find a large, flat area right next to the river. We go a fair way in and find a nice spot. At 2:45 pm we set up camp. There is a fair bit of timber around, the reserve runs back up to the south for a long way. I start a fire at 3:30 pm as Eda has decided to cook us all a roast dinner. I go for a walk to both ends of the camping area. The river here is quite shallow, although you could certainly have a bathe in the shallow sections if it was warmer.

    At 5:00 pm we have drinks and nibblies around the fire. At 6:00 pm Eda puts the vegies on and a little later the roast beef goes into the camp oven. By 7:00 pm the roast is done, excellent! The timber we have is not fantastic for camp oven cooking, so we had to burn a lot to get any sort of coals. After dinner we have port and marshmallows as we watch the stars. We see seven satellites, there is no moon at all.

    Weather: Fine, maximum of 19ºC
    Arrived: Abercrombie River Camping AreaTime: 2:45 pm Distance: 275 kilometres

    Day 2 – Tuesday 13 October 2020 – Taralga Showground

    Weather: minimum of 2.3ºC and fine

    A very cold night, minimum of 2.3ºC> The only real ABC Radio news now is at 7:00 am as the 7:45 am news has been deleted due to budget cuts by the Liberal National Party Government. This has annoyed me a great deal as I have listened to this news for almost 50 years. I get up at 8:00 am and it is still only 6ºC.

    I have breakfast and afterwards walk to the national park camping area to use the toilets (there are three for some reason - walk takes 10 minutes). This camping area only has a small flat section, all the rest is on a slope and most is behind a fence, although one section of fence has been removed. Without this, camper trailers, rooftop tents and caravans would be limited to about 10% of the available area. Where we are camped is far superior.

    TaralgaTaralga
    The Taralga Catholic ChurchThe old Bank of New South Wales building

    We decide to stay here till after lunch, so I have morning tea, read and then have lunch. We leave at 12:50 pm. It is now a nice 23ºC. We continue south and have a look at another camping spot called Woolshed Creek. This is not too bad, but it is too far from Taralga where we want to go for dinner tonight.

    We go to the Taralga Showground which is a short distance from the centre of the town. We pick out spots and set up camp. It is 1:30 pm, we have travelled 31 kilometres. There must have been a fair bit of rain recently as the eastern side of the football ground is quite soggy, but the northern side is okay. We then walk into town and pay our fees at the general store ($17 for unpowered, a bit steep really).

    TaralgaTaralga
    The Taralga HotelSome old homes in the main street

    Back at the showground, I go and sit on a verandah overlooking another oval where there is a Bell JetRanger helicopter. Not sure what is wrong with it, but there are a half dozen people working on it. It looks like a crop duster. Eventually after a few hours it takes off and disappears. I then fly my drone to take some photographs. At 4:50 pm I have a shower (code to access the toilets) and then we have a drink at Ray and Eda's van.

    At 6:10 pm we walk to the pub, on the way I take some photos of the huge Catholic church and some other buildings, including the old Bank of New South Wales. We go to the Taralga Hotel and have a drink. We then order dinner. I have a chicken parmigiana for $22, nice, but the chips are cold. While here, Ian phones and says he and Sharon will meet us Friday afternoon. We confirm our plans for that day.

    TaralgaTaralga
    A drone shot of our campsite at the Taralga ShowgroundThe Bell Jet Ranger takes off

    While there, an SES volunteer comes in and drops off some leaflets. Apparently there is something wrong with the Taralga Dam and it is feared it will break. They are having a meeting at 7:00 pm. After this we see some Fire and Rescue trucks and SES vehicles come into town and head out towards the dam. They are going to drain a lot of the water in the dam.

    We head back to our campsite at 8:05 pm and then go to bed and I read. It is now overcast.

    Weather: Fine, maximum of 23ºC
    Arrived: Taralga ShowgroundTime: 1:30 pm Distance: 31 kilometres

    Day 3 – Wednesday 14 October 2020 – Bigga Recreation Ground

    Weather: minimum of 10.3ºC and overcast

    A quite warm night thanks to the clouds. I am awake at 6:30 am and after this I listen to the 7:00 am news and read the paper on my tablet. I get up at 8:00 am and make myself a bacon toasted sandwich for breakfast. I pack up while Eda and Ray go for a walk into town with Veto. We leave at 10:00 am.

    We stop do not see the dam that is threatened nor any vehicles, so we have no idea what happened. There was nothing on the news about it either. We arrive at Laggan at 10:30 am so I can show them the Laggan Hotel. Of course it is not open. We leave five minutes later and head to Crookwell, arriving there at 10:45 am. It is 39 km to here and again, it is very green and all the farm dams are full of water.

    LagganBinda
    The Laggan HotelThis is the camping area at Binda

    I bought some bread and then we went to a park for morning tea. While here, I look for my camera again (I could not find it at Laggan) and still cannot find it. I search everywhere without success. I then ring the Taralga Hotel and sure enough, they have it. Seems I left it on the window sill next to our table. I have no idea how I could have left it there considering I had my glass case there too.

    I head back to Taralga while Eda and Ray will head onto Bigga. I get back there at 11:40 am and leave five minutes later. I travel back via Crookwell and then onto Binda. I arrive there at 12:35 pm, distance 133 km, way more than it should have been. I realise lately that I could have cut across from Laggan and saved a lot of time and distance.

    BiggaBigga
    The view towards Bathurst at the Webster LookoutThe Bigga Recreation Area, looking towards the hotel

    I stop at the rest area opposite the general store. This has a table and toilets. I have lunch and then drive the short distance back to the camping area which is behind the tennis courts. It is quite nice, lots of grass and trees. I leave at 1:00 pm and continue towards Bathurst till I reach the Bigga turnoff. About 12 km from Bigga the road reaches 1,000 metres and here there is the Sheck Webster Lookout which has nice views to the north and north-east.

    I arrive at Bigga at 1:30 pm and find the Bigga Recreation Area easily. It is quite large, grassed with plenty of trees. Eda and Ray are temporarily parked recharging their batteries from the free power. This camping area is free for three days and after that there is a small charge. There is a good toilet and shower block and garbage bins and a few power outlets. There is even a toilet dumpsite.

    BiggaBigga
    The Olympia Cafe in the main streetInside the Olympia Cafe

    We go for a walk into town. We check that the Federal Hotel has dinner (worth checking even though I did phone last week). We walk around the small town, a nice church and a very old general store/cafe. Very original inside, make sure you have a look. We then walk to the golf course and wow, the club house is very new. Apparently they have food on Friday and Saturday. It would be nice to have a beer there as the sun sets to the west.

    BiggaBigga
    The Bigga Anglican ChurchThe Bigga Federal Hotel

    Back at the camping area, we move our vehicles to where we want to camp. Afternoon tea and more reading and then a shower. At 5:10 pm we have a drink and at 6:00 pm we walk to the pub. When we do this, I feed Veto and then put her in the rooftop tent. She likes this and goes to sleep. The pub has quite a few in it as a property out of town has finished shearing today. The locals are very friendly and we have a good chat to quite a few.

    BiggaBigga
    Me, Eda and Ray in the beer garden of the Federal Hotel The Bigga Recreation Reserve

    I post a few photos on Facebook and discover that the wife of a former work colleague is the cousin of the pub's owner! Small world. We order dinner and have another drink. The owner moves us into the dining room to eat. I have calamari, pretty good and the others are also very happy with their dinners. We end up having three drinks here and then walk back at 8:10 pm. We go to bed soon after and I read for a while.

    Weather: Fine, maximum of 20ºC
    Arrived: BiggaTime: 1:30 pm Distance: 170 kilometres

    Day 4 – Thursday 15 October 2020 – Tuena Camp Ground

    Weather: minimum of 12.3ºC and fine

    Another warm night. Veto was sick during the night, at 2:40 am she threw up over the blanket. I took her down and then cleaned the blanket. She walked around a bit, had a drink of water, and then I put her back up in the bed. She was alright after this. I listen to the radio and read the paper and then get up at 8:00 am and have breakfast. Veto has half a sausage left over from Eda's dinner. She eats it and appears okay now. It is 19ºC by the time I get up.

    TuenaTuena
    The Tuena Camping AreaThe Tuena Camping Area

    I finish reading the paper and then read more of my book. We have morning tea and then leave at 11:05 am. We backtrack along the road towards Binda and then head north towards Bathurst. We arrive at Tuena at 11:50 am, 56 km. We go to the camp ground which is just off the road and next to the cricket ground and creek. There are quite a few powered sites and many covered tables. There are toilets just up a small hill or on the other side of the cricket ground. The toilet block is half way around the cricket ground. Camping is $5 a night and $15 for a powered site. Showers are $1 for three minutes.

    We have lunch after setting up and a little later walk to the general store to pay. However, we are too early, it does not open till 2:00 pm today. We head up the road towards the cemetery but after walking quite a way we still do not see it, so we turn around. We see that there is a pedestrian suspension bridge across the creek, obviously in case cars cannot cross from the other side in a flood.

    TuenaTuena
    The derelict Tuena HotelThe pedestrian bridge at Tuena

    We go to the store and pay our camping fees. We also have an ice cream! Eda and Ray buy a few things too, including beer. Back at the campsite I read some and then Ray and I go for a walk across the creek. There is another spot here to camp but it is occupied. Probably a group of four cars could stay here, nice. At 5:00 pm we have drinks and then I cook green curry chicken to go with some cooked rice I brought from home.

    After dinner we sit around and watch the stars. We see 17 satellites and three shooting stars. It then clouds over and we go to bed at 9:30 pm. I read for 30 minutes before going to sleep.

    Weather: Fine, maximum of 23ºC
    Arrived: TuenaTime: 11:50 am Distance: 56 kilometres

    Day 5 – Friday 16 October 2020 – The Junction, Abercrombie River

    Weather: minimum of 13.3ºC and raining

    Yet another warm night. I missed the 7:00 am news waking late. There is no phone coverage here so I cannot read the paper. I get up at 8:05 am. It is raining lightly but consistently. It is very light by 9:00 am and basically then stops. I go and have a shower, the best $1 I have spent I reckon, a great shower. We leave at 9:45 am.

    It is only 11 kilometres to The Junction and we get there by 10:05 am. It is a very windy road! Wikicamps says that the site is not suitable for motorhomes, so Eda and Ray wait near the road while I check it out. It is okay and I take Ray down in my car so he can see for himself. They agree it is okay.

    Abercrombie JunctionAbercrombie Junction
    A drone shot of the Junction Camping Area. The grassy area is unsuitable for camping,
    best is under the trees at left, the river is at left edge of trees.
    Abercrombie River

    Eda wants to make some phone calls (I had some coverage on the way here but there was nowhere to stop) so they head off north and will return once she has made the calls. It has rained a little bit on the way, but not too much.

    I go in to the spot I picked out earlier but after walking around, I find a better spot for three vehicles (Ian should be arriving today). I pick a spot where there are three small individual "sites" near the memorial to "Bottles" Green. There are also some spots closer to the river. It has now stopped raining and there is blue sky around. There is also a small helicopter flying to the south-west doing crop-dusting (I think). I figure they are not going to do this if they think it is going to rain again today.

    I put up my hammock and relax in it reading my book. Eda and Ray come back and agree this is a good spot. After lunch, we go for a walk and then I read some more. A very relaxing time! I find that at the north-eastern end of the reserve there are a few huge piles of trees that have been washed down by floods. There is a track to here, so you could drive here and cut wood for a fire. Some is good gum tree but a lot is the poorer river oaks.

    Abercrombie JunctionAbercrombie Junction
    Our campsite at The JunctionIan and Sharon at the campfire

    At 3:30 pm or so, Ian and Sharon arrive. They set up near us. Later two other vehicles, a caravan and a camper-trailer, come in separately and stay down the far end. It is sunny most of the day but at times overcast. At 5:00 pm we take our chairs down to the river edge and have drinks. I spot a water dragon swimming on the other side. Ray had said he had spotted something earlier.

    We go back to the campsite and start the fire. Later I cook a huge beef eye fillet and sausages on my grill. We have more beers and watch the stars, tonight 11 satellites and 3 shooting stars, not bad considering we can only see a small section of the sky. We listen to the NRL final, Melbourne beat Canberra 30-10. We go to bed at 10:30 pm.

    Weather: Mostly fine, maximum of 26ºC
    Arrived: The Junction, Abercrombie RiverTime: 10:05 am Distance: 11 kilometres

    Day 6 – Saturday 17 October 2020 – Newbridge Sports Ground

    Weather: minimum of 14.3ºC and overcast

    I am awake before 7:00 am and get up at 8:05 am. I have breakfast and pack up. It is mostly overcast, but there is some sunny patches. We leave at 9:55 am. It is a climb out of the river from 431 metres to over 1,050 metres on the way. We arrive at Newbridge at 10:35 am, 48 km and 975 metres high.

    NewbridgeNewbridge
    The camping area at Newbridge Sports GroundA drone shot of the Newbridge Sports Ground

    The camping area is in the Newbridge Sports Ground which is on the southern side of the town. We drive in behind the buildings and find a large grassy area with some trees. There are some tables, a toilet block, kids playground, exercise setup, tennis court and a BBQ. There used to be a shed but this has been pulled down and is apparently being replaced. The camping is free, a donation is suggested but there was nowhere to put any money.

    The wind increases dramatically soon after we arrive, from the west. I check and it is over 50 km/h at Bathurst and Orange Airports. I have set up but after a while I decide I need to move as the awning is acting like a spinnaker. I find that next to a large container it is protected to a certain degree, so I move there. Much better.

    After morning tea, reading and then lunch, Ian, Sharon and I walk the short distance to town. There is the Gladstone Hotel, a craft shop, an art gallery and that is about it. There is also an old railway station. The train line is still used by freight and passenger trains, but they do not stop here. We have booked dinner for 6:30 pm earlier.

    We are back at 1:20 pm and it is still windy and mostly overcast. There is supposed to be rain today, but so far there is none on the radar. More reading, afternoon tea and a short walk with Veto fills up the afternoon. At 5:50 pm we walk to the pub after I feed Veto and put her to bed.

    NewbridgeNewbridge
    The Newbridge Gladstone HotelAn old sign on the side of the Newbridge Gladstone Hotel

    It is a nice pub, with quite a few people in it. Again, they are quite friendly, especially as I have on my Souths jumper and beanie (and Eda my Souths scarf). Souths are playing in the other final tonight, one of the reasons I have planned to be here tonight. We have a drink and then order dinner. Most of us order crumbed lamb cutlets ($24 for 2). Excellent!

    At 8:00 pm the football comes on the TV. Everyone in the pub is watching it. After a close match, Souths go down 20-16 to Penrith. The better team has won I hate to say. It has been raining since 6:30 pm, but the rain stops at the end of the game. We walk home and only get caught the last few minutes when the rain starts again. I go to bed at 10:15 pm.

    Weather: Mostly overcast, maximum of 19ºC
    Arrived: NewbridgeTime: 10:35 am Distance: 48 kilometres

    Day 7 – Sunday 18 October 2020 – Home

    Weather: minimum of 11.3ºC and overcast

    It rained till a bit after midnight I think. Again, this kept it warm. I get up at 7:10 am and have a quick breakfast. I want to leave early as later I have to go into town to catch up with my Mum who has been in hospital since July. Only one person can visit her but she is allowed out. We plan to have lunch with her for her 86th birthday (next Tuesday) in the Botanic Gardens. I leave at 8:20 am.

    I am a bit worried that it might be very busy near Bathurst as I have to go past Mount Panorama and today the Bathurst 1000 car race is on. However, I see no cars or people who look like they are going there, in fact, I see far more police cars! COVID has hit again, apparently only 4,000 are allowed in.

    I drive non-stop home, arriving at 11:35 am. I have the remarkably fuel economy of 10.1 litres/100 km. I drop Veto off and head to the train station and go into town. I catch up with my sisters and other family members and have a great time with Mum.

    Weather: Mostly fine, maximum of 22ºC
    Arrived: HomeTime: 11:35 am Distance: 247 kilometres

    Summary:
    Kilometres: 8
    Litres:
    Cost: $
    Economy: 11.7 litres/100km
    Camping cost: $37
    Other costs: three dinners, a lunch and some shopping, but similar to expenditure at home

    A really great week, I strongly recommend it to all.

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