Saturday, January 21, 2012

Warby-Ovens National Park--Bush Camping

Phillip Island was the furthest point in our trip before it was time to head home.  Because we took the coastal route down, we wanted to take the inland route home.  Not only was it more direct, but we also wanted to see as much as we could of Victoria as we could before heading back to New South Wales.  After leaving Phillip Island we drove about 4 hours inland and set up camp at the no-cost (score!) Wenhams campground in Warby Ovens National Park.
I use the term 'campground' loosely--while there was a pit toilet, picnic tables, and barbecue pit, it seemed very isolated.  The area was just deemed a national park in 2009 and didn't appear to be used very often.
the boys prepping a fire
stick collector extraordinaire
Kenyon wanted to see if kangaroo poop burned well (note: it did!).  
Kenyon holding his prized fuel, kangaroo poop

Sam is always down for getting in touch with his faux-Native American (or in this case, Aboriginal) roots; he was in his element here.  I, on the other hand, am learning more and more that I get energy from being around others.  I didn't mind the rustic nature of the campsite, but I would have preferred to have a few more people around.  It was certainly a contrast between the social vibe of the caravan park and the stark emptiness of this land.

As dusk neared, we did have a few visitors....

I had also read that this area is home to the endangered Turquoise Parrot.  Soon after we arrived, we spotted a few flying from one tree to another. I'm not particularly interested in birds, but these were gorgeous.

There was no water here; we had stopped to fill our large water container at a well water area used for livestock, so I boiled many pots of water along with cooking dinner.  Sam and I differed on how long to boil it; he said 30 minutes and I said 5.  I boiled it for 5 and crossed my fingers that none of us would contract some horrible water-borne bacteria.
kangaroo burgers and salad for dinner
For the first time on our trip, we sat by the campfire and made s'mores.  They don't seem to sell graham crackers in this country, so we brought out the closest approximation along with Cadbury's Dark Bubbly chocolate bar and happily roasted marshmallows.
Alex perfecting his slow roast method with my s'more in the foreground
Nighttime brought out a spectacular display of stars.  I don't feel very far away from home here, but when I look up at the sky and see the Orion constellation upside down, it suddenly puts into perspective that we really are on the whole opposite side of the earth.  We had a wonderful evening looking at the stars, pointing out constellations and satellites, and talking about how there's so much we don't yet know about space and the likelihood of extraterrestrial life.  Alex declared that he wanted to be an 'astromoner'.

After such an enjoyable time as a family and staying up until 10pm, you'd think we all would have slept great in our tent without a rain fly so the stars were visible.  Everyone fell asleep, and the isolation really got to me.  I wasn't afraid of animals, but I couldn't shake the idea of some crazy person coming in the middle of the night and hurting us.  I've had this feeling before, back before I had kids and I slept in the cabins up at Sam's dad's property in northern California all by myself for the first time while Sam was in San Francisco.

The hours passed and I lay there awake, listening for the sound of a car engine or the crackling of twigs.  I knew where our car keys were, and calculated how difficult it would be to grab everyone and run into the car when the crazy person appeared.

Just by typing this out, it is abundantly clear who the crazy person is.

At some point, I took my phone out of the tent pocket to see how much more of this nightmarish torture I had  left to endure and realized I had cell phone service.  Now, I have not had cell phone service for the vast majority of this trip--apparently, the company I randomly chose upon arrival here, Vodafone, has terrible range.  And here I was, in the middle of nowhere, miraculously with a connection to the outside world.  Thank you, universe, for providing.  Technology is a wondrous thing; I laid in a tent in the middle of the night in rural Australia with sleeping Kenyon's hand draped across my chest and typed real-time conversations back and forth with a friend and my mom.  I felt much better after that, and went on to get a few hours' sleep.

In the morning, Sam took a brief walk down a trail and sat down on a log to write his father a letter.  He heard a grunting and looked up to see a large goanna swiftly making its way down the tree right above him.
He shouted some expletives, and the goanna stopped in its tracks and stayed there for 20 minutes.
can you see him up there, where the branch juts out?
I persuaded Sam to break the 'stay two nights at every campsite' rule again for the second time this trip.  There wasn't a whole lot to do there, and after such a rough night I was really starting to lose my patience with the whole camping thing.  He felt like his Warby-Ovens camping experience was complete after his goanna encounter (thank you, goanna!).

1 comment:

  1. Annie - I did a cross-country trip with a couple of girlfriends right after college graduation - and my grandmother, upon hearing our planned route, and knowing (what I didn't) that there was a serial killer at-large in CA, delivered a wooden bat to me for safety. Her house was the first stop on out trip (in TN) and she had gone to Dollywood and paid to have the wooden bat engraved with my name. She said that if anyone ever dared enter our tent at night, I was to leave my name (in cursive, and backwards) on the intruder's forehead. Fortunately we never had to use it, but we slept more comfortably with it in reach. I can't get a lovingly engraved bat to you, but maybe you could bring a stick in the tent each night?