Time of writing: 4:33pm 9 July
Oh what a luxurious day! It started with a sleep in, followed by a short 8km walk and then more sleeping. I could just stop there and maintain the laziness but you know I won’t.
I finally got the ground cold problem sorted the other night at Palm Grove, so I made the most of the relative comfort this morning. Firstly, I put my wet weather gear and towel under my sleeping mat as extra insulation. Then I put my pack and food bags inside my tent as a barrier to stop me slipping off the insulation and mat. It worked so well that I stayed warm all night, even through the rain showers. Going to bed warm from the fire probably helped too. I don’t know why I didn’t think about using my wet weather gear as insulation sooner. I mean, I use my motorbike jacked and pants the same what when I go motorbike camping.
With just 8km to walk and rainfall pitter-pattering on my tent, I stayed snuggled up inside my sleeping bag until well after 7:30am. Even then, I had to forcibly drag myself from bed. Once up, I had a random breakfast of cinnamon beef noodle soup and hot chocolate custard before setting off after the rain had stopped.
For the first hour or so, the trail followed a ridge-top fire trail through open eucalypt and cedar forest. There were no views but plenty of birds and evidence of feral pigs and dogs (including a massacred bird). Fortunately, the authorities have set baits to kill the dogs.
At Walkers Ridge Road things got a bit confusing. The GNW signs pointed me down a single track carved by dirt bikes but my guide book said to follow the road. I decided to follow the guide book’s instructions because they made more sense (given where I was heading) than the signs. The guide book was spot on and I soon found another GNW sign only to go wrong at a large unsigned intersection. After following what I thought was the track for about 200m, I again consulted the guide and retraced my steps to try a different path. This time the book was more accurate than the map (the book has GPS-generated maps while the topographic map kit just has some lazy straight lines). After pacing 400m from the intersection, as instructed by the book, I came to another GNW sign so knew I was in the correct spot.
The trail wound downhill through rainforest to Wollombi Brook before traveling to Basin campground. The forest floor smelled earthy and moist, the rotting leaves and branches highly scented. Small mushrooms of red, pink, yellow, white and purple dotted the ground. They sprung up out of the nooks and crannies between rocks, roots and man-made steps. I imagine the people who lived here before knew exactly which were safe and delicious to eat (I left them alone).
Time of writing: 5:53pm 9 July
So the mention of food reminded me to check on my fish curry rice, which I had been cooking on the fire. It was finally ready after bubbling away for about 35 minute. It’s a dish that I concocted using the dried fish from the Asian section of my grocer. Other than the rice being impractical to cook on a gas stove (especially brown rice), this dish is fantastic. The fish are delicious when cooked up in water.
Now that I’ve finished cooking, I’ve ramped up the fire to get me warm. In doing so, I discovered that I burnt a hole in one of my socks. Fortunately, my toe wasn’t in the sock (I was drying it too close to the fire) but it’s still inconvenient because I’ll now risk foot irritation when hiking in that sock.
Basin camp is lovely. There are plenty of sites, some of a grassy slope and others on sand near the creek. While the site on the grass would be perfect, it was very soggy today while the site near the creek are drier. The grassy site has a big picnic table while the others don’t have anything to sit on. There are three big fire pits (I’m camped near one), a drop toilet and a rain water tank. The toilet even has paper in.
I spent over an hour collecting firewood, and washing myself and my clothes. Then I slept in my tent from about 1:30pm – 3:00pm. See, I told you I had a lazy day. Then I lit the fire, cooked some food and stared lazily up at the blue gums that stand in the grassy area.
Now the fire’s roaring, my washing is drying and I”m ready to stare at the flames until I go to bed.
Total: 8km hike with 18kg pack
- beef noodle soup
- hot chocolate custard
- 2 x museli bars
- fruit puree
- Organic Food bar
- 6 x Vita Wheat crackers with 2 x triangles Happy Cow cheese
- coconut curry soup
- fish curry rice
- Great North Walk index page
- Day 7: Palm Grove bush camp to Walkers Rest north of Cedar Brush Trackhead
- Day 9: Basin campsite to Barraba Trip bush camp