Friday, January 13, 2012

Mimosa Rocks National Park

Our loose itinerary is both a blessing and a curse—it leaves us open to see what we want after talking to people and learning more, but during this heavily-traveled school holiday, the most amazing places of course have usually been booked for at least four months.  Our first try for a new spot, Murramurrang National Park, didn’t have room for us, but luckily it’s within a weekend road trip distance because our brief glimpse of the park looked awesome.

We pressed on, covering more ground than we had originally planned, and scored the last campsite at first-come, first-serve Mimosa Rocks National Park.  This is what locals call ‘bush camping’—real camping, albeit car camping.

A firepit and access to a pit toilet is all as far as facilities go, but what beautiful surroundings—it feels like we’re in Jurassic Park…especially when one of these came meandering lazily down the path right into a campsite.
Lexie--this one's for you!
My niece Lexie wanted me to take a picture of a big lizard, so I was so excited to see this goanna.  They are huge!

Just a short time later, we spotted a little swamp wallaby.  Honestly, could the name ‘wallaby’ be any cuter?  A real live wallaby!  And we weren’t holding zoo admission tickets in our hands or anything!  It’s amazing that this whole continent exists where these really cool creatures are just running (and hopping) around; it’s like living on a whole other planet.

(A whole other planet, on a side note, that has really expensive beer—I stopped by the liquor store to buy some, and a 6-pack is $23!  I left with 2 beers ($4 each), and told Sam he better drink his entire beer, because this stuff really is liquid gold down here.)

We took the short path to the beach, but outside of the protected area of our campsite, it was quite windy and cold.  

The first night, as Sam and I were settling in for bed, Sam heard something outside.  He ventured out for a look and came back to inform me that he had seen ‘something up in the tree with a fluffy tail’.  I grabbed the camera and followed him out.
the camouflaged 'something'
The ‘something’ was not scared of my flash and started swiftly making its way down the tree towards us.  I took one more picture before making some swift motions of my own, back inside the safety of the tent.
It was some breed of possum; I’m all for nature and everything but I was suddenly eternally grateful for our nicely zipped-up tent and rainfly.  You can be into nature but enjoy a millimeter or two of distance between it, right?

Through the night, we continued to hear a ton of activity right outside our tent, including the heavy thump-thump-thump thump-thumping of a wallaby.  I'll take that any day, especially over the rats that the campsite manager said tend to be present along with the possums and other creatures.  
Jackson, fashionable even while sleeping, with his Quiksilver hat
I have been managing our campsite dinners fairly well; we’ve had a big salad with grilled chicken pieces, steak sandwiches with grilled onions, avocado and cheese…ok, Ramen noodles one night, but they can’t all be gems!  Tonight we had chicken sausages with grilled onions and cheese, and Sam recalled a camp classic from his Boy Scout camp days—campfire baked potatoes.  Between the fact that it has been a mere 34 years since his camp days and the fact that he tends to be an overbuilder, he stuck those tinfoil-wrapped potatoes as deep as he possibly could into that fire and let them bake for a solid hour.  I gave him a couple of gentle reminders about checking the potatoes, but you clearly don’t tell a former Boy Scout how to cook campfire baked potatoes. 

And from the looks of these culinary delights (below), I’ll venture a bet that he did not earn his campfire cooking badge...
the proud chef with his charred potatoes
pretty gum tree bark
On our way back to the campsite the next day after a journey into town for supplies, we got caught in a major rain-turned-hail storm.  We were driving on unsealed roads, and the hail was getting big enough that we were concerned the windshield would crack, so we pulled under the safety of a large gum tree until the storm let up.

It was still raining when we got back to the campsite, so the boys all snuggled up and enjoyed a daytime session of Sam reading The Hobbit aloud, which has usually been reserved for the bedtime story.  They love the story and Alex has especially taken to acting out various Hobbit scenarios (although it often morphs into Ewok scenarios as well).

rainy day makes for a bonus Hobbit session
Sam and I bravely stayed outside that night after the kids were in bed to see what creatures might visit us.  Our old friend the possum came back, and we got a better glimpse of him.

And just a minute later, this little bandicoot came scuttling by... 

These creatures are bold--they saw us sitting there and came right up to see what was going on.  Luckily, my bodyguard was armed with a stick so they saw he meant business, and a swift tap of the weapon on the ground was enough to send them away when they got too close.

If all goes well, my next post will be from somewhere in Croajingolong National Park, out of New South Wales and into Victoria!

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