Saturday 2nd to Sunday 3rd May, 2015
To those that couldn’t make the
weekend due to road closures, creek flooding and general mayhem in South
East Queensland – you didn’t miss a thing. The road in was muddy, slippery,
steep and strewn with debris. The long grass of the campsite made it near
impossible to find a giraffe let alone walk outside of a camper or van. The
creek rose to a dangerously high level with 50 foot tidal surges in every
set of waves. There was no phone or internet connection which made the down
time so miserable that we took to counting raindrops falling from the eaves.
Rain, wind, snow, sleet and hail would
have made a picnic in Antarctica at the height of winter seem like an
enjoyable outing. Poor lighting and visibility together with high humidity
and dampness made any chance of photography a nightmare so cameras remained
within their carry bags and phones within their pockets. Having a picture
meant the use of wax paper and crayons.
Folks, you made the right decision to
stay at home and as we huddled together in the damp confines of Matts annex
for warmth, we envied you being at home with electricity with heaters and
televisions and iPads and computers and phones and chargers.
Don’t read on, it’ll only compound our
misery, stay happy and stop reading here, have comfort with the thought of
our miserable weekend at camp.
Geez we had a great time, it rained
just a little on Thursday and Friday – Neil’s rain gauge measured 20mm on
Friday morning and 77mm on Saturday morning, but the front blew through by
midnight Friday and we woke to sunshine and cloudless skies. It was a hoot.
So Neil and Paul arrived on Thursday
morning and promptly started the setup. Matt & Wendy and Lindsay & Robyn met
up at Fernvale where we downed a bakery pie and coffee then headed up the
Brisbane Valley via Esk, Toogoolawah and Moore and up the range to
Blackbutt. The road was damp and no sign of the torrent to come. The dirt
forestry road into the Benarkin State Forest was a little rocky but overall
good condition. The last couple of kilometres were a bit steep with tight
curves but no troubles for anyone.
The rain started to drizzle so the
four groups quickly set up the world’s second largest tarp over Matt and
Wendy’s camper trailer so they had a little bit of additional space out of
the rain. Lucky Neil was on hand to gently remove a huge black spider
(possibly an Amazonian Bird Eating Tarantula) which was causing the
arachnophobia to come out in some of those under the awning.
The rain continued overnight and
started to pick up the pace on Friday morning. Matt drove half way back to
the main road to obtain phone reception and check to see if anyone else had
tried to contact him. There had been plenty of group chat overnight about
the pending storm front and a couple of people decided to pull the pin due
to some early road closures in the south east and an illness within another
group. An update from the campsite to all gave the OK to for an arrival from
the camp end however the logging trucks had resumed and to watch for them
whilst on the forestry roads.
Rick and Carol arrived early on Friday
and quickly set up an additional annexe over the fire pit so we could enjoy
some warmth and company during the evening. I think most people went to bed
early on Friday to escape the increasing downpours and blustery conditions.
It was about 13 degrees at 8pm and we all certainly had some degree of
thermal attire on.
Kevin arrived late on Friday afternoon
and although he was enthusiastic about the 30 second tent living up to its
name, it really was a full hour or three before he had the tent, tarps, car
and awnings up to give him some protection. It was said that it should be
named 30 second and 3 beers tent. That vehicle really did look like a black
swan with its wings outstretched ready to take off, even the bonnet was
raised to resemble it ‘honking’ with delight at the first flight.
Saturday morning the clouds had blown
away and it was full sunshine. Intermittent rain fell throughout the day but
overall it was wonderful. By late afternoon we were in stubbies and thongs
sitting round the fire enjoying each other’s company and a freshly baked
Sunday morning Rob and Dianne arrived
early and reported that they couldn’t get to the site any earlier due to
flooded creeks and roadways closer to home. They also reported that Alan and
Kathie had travelled as far as Caboolture but saw the bakery was closed so
turned around and went back home (no, again road closures got the better of
Rod, Rachel, Eliza and Jediah arrived
shortly after that for a day visit. We all sat around and caught up with the
happenings of the last couple days and calamities that had occurred with
flooding and accidents. We also chatted all things camper trailer, just to
ensure that we met the Group Owners policy of at least one camper trailer
related conversation per camp.
So the day visitors departed, Kevin
packed up his nuclear fallout shelter and saddled the black swan for return
flight to the Gold Coast, the remaining long termers settled in for the last
evening of fun and frivolity.
The compliance officer from National
Parks showed up on Monday morning and had a quick chat with us, informing
that there are plenty of Deer within the park and it’s not unusual to see
hundreds of them on the hill across the creek. He commented on the long
grass and stated he’d wanted to mow it twice over the past week but due to
camper’s onsite, it wasn’t possible. He also gave some indigenous knowledge
of the area which was very interesting.
Overall it was a great camp (unless
you stopped at Report No 1 – then it was fully abysmal), the location was
great and certainly we’d return there again in the coming years. No sign of
the Koala or Goanna from our last visit.
On the way out we had a quick detour
to the Emu Creek Campsite and day visit site which has been reopened after
the bridge was replaced after the 2011 flooding. If you consider camping in
that part of the world, it’s certainly worth checking out either of the
campsites in Benarkin State Forest.
Finally, I want to personally thank
not only those that attended, but to Rob for setting up the webpage and
links to assist us all in attending. My part of the organisation is meek in
comparison to the time and effort that Rob put in with updating the upcoming
events page, and I am very grateful for his time and effort.