Wed 3 June – As the crow flies, Yarrangobilly was quite close to our camp site. Unfortunately, we had to follow the roads, so went via Tumut, past the Blowering Dam and up into the Snowy Mountain highlands. As you can see, what I thought would be a quick morning trip became a day trip, but quite fascinating.
The caves are quite an old NSW tourist attraction. There are over 400 caves in the cliffs of which 5 have tours (for the non caver). Apparently, cavers are obsessed with finding new caves and 3-4 new caves are claimed each year, but are rarely counted. Apparently you need to fit more than your head in a hole to call the hole a new cave.
The cave we visited is called the Jersey cave, so named as a part of a funding proposal to the governor, the Earl of Jersey, of NSW at the time it was opened.
The cave is found at the top of a deep gorge, with other caves down the cliff. Like other caves, it was formed by dissolving limestone leaving calcium carbonate deposits at different speeds. The colours form from other chemicals. The white is the pure calcium carbonate, the red is stained by iron oxide, and the black is ash sucked into the cave during a bush fire.
The tour took over an hour although we did not go very far – I think we only did eight chambers – but there was so much in each, and so many different shapes formed from small variations in the process.
On the return home, we ran into some of the local bird life.
Tue 2 June – We have finally left Canberra and have reached Tumut. Carmel was left behind because she had not finished her work. (Have you ever missed out because you didn’t get your homework finished?) We passed through Gundagai so had to visit the Dog on the Tucker box. Unfortunately, there were people about so Ash did not want to pose in front of a tourist attraction. Pip is always happy to be in a picture though!
We left the dual carriageway at Gundagai and took a country road to Tumut. This was a bit of a novelty for Ash. He took his eyes of his iPhone and actually looked at the terrain. When we were winding down some hillsides he actually began to give me some driving advice. It is amazing what a caravan, a single lane road and a hillside will do. Perhaps we need to do the Andes next!
We found the camp site at Thomas Boyd Track head without too much trouble. It is at the crossing point of the Hume and Hovell Walking Track and the road to Googandra. The camp was deserted – it was the first day of winter, so I am not surprised. The sun had already set behind the hills – we were in a steep valley, so we had to make camp quickly. We had the site set up in 30 minutes (I forwent the annex) and raced around collecting the firewood along the river banks. We found plenty of kindling, but needed to drag two whole dead saplings to our fire pit. Despite the damp wood, the scout skills my parents loving foisted on me (wasn’t it really about getting rid of me for a few weekends a year) came to the fore, and we had a good fire going. Alex learned that a camp fire was a bit different from the gas fire in the TV room at home – you have to get up every 5 minutes and feed it!
The first order of the day was damper. I have a lot of experience making damper as a teen, all of it a failure. Somehow, this time it was perfect. Perhaps it was the baking soda and extra virgin olive oil I added. (You can take the boy out of Sydney, but you cannot take Sydney out of the boy!) I made the amount for a large scone and a couple of pieces to wrap around sticks. The fire was a good one – not flaring too much because the wood was damp, so the stick cooking was only slightly burned, but fluffy and steamy in the middle.
Once we had a bed of coals, the steak and sausages went on in a gridiron. (It is actually a “net iron” these days, more suitable to the explanation of chess than American Football.) Despite cooking quite quickly, it was well cooked – the steak was even a bit pink inside if our LED hurricane lamp was anything to do by. (The good old days of primus lamps with delicate mantles is long gone! I suppose my grandfather’s generation thought the same with the passing of the suicidal kerosene lamp.) So we feasted on bush tucker for dinner. Note the lack of veggies (as if I had just done a Cash Out). The truth was that by that point my fingers were numb, and I did not want to fiddle with knives and carrots. Tomorrow night I will have the veggies prepared ahead of time.