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I had this week off work and, after a late evening with Andrew in the workshop on Monday, fixing the electrics back up and then testing and troubleshooting the plumbing until looong after dark, I set off early early on Tuesday to drop the cats off at the cattery, run a few little errands, and then to head on up the road.

It was a lovely drive: podcasts, coffee, air conditioning, and letting my mind drift. But I paused along the way to stretch my legs in a small town and wow, it was hot hot hot out there in the world. This shot of my in-car everything-info-device shows 41c degrees outside temperature at 2.36pm in Singleton, and also that I was listening to this podcast.

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I carried on, appreciative of the air con, and soon reached the rough, gravel roads on the way into Barrington Tops — a total of about 4.5 hours drive from Sydney. And that’s when the road started climbing, and the temperature suddenly dropped. Two hours later…

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Yep, it dropped more than 20 degrees in less than two hours. (For those Americanly inclined, 41c is 105F and 18c is 64F. It’s quite a difference.)

I knew Barrington Tops was/is a bit of a special place: it’s UNESCO World Heritage listed as well as protected as a National Park, and there are animal and plant species there that live only there and nowhere else in the world, which for a smallish, regional park is quite remarkable. I also knew it’s a snowy, inaccessible, high place in winter, and that the best time to visit is now, summer; I’ve read of hikers going there and shivering. So with me I carried both high expectations and plenty of warm clothes.

And it did not disappoint. There were great views…

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There were wild brumbies and an echidna…

There were fabulous walks…

There were perfect swimming and wading places in wild rivers…

My campsite was also wild, and quiet, and deserted, and perfect:

And there was some weather (you’ll need sound for the full effect of the thunder in this little recording…)

For the first two nights I had the campsite all to myself, apart from a couple of day visitors who helpfully told me of a nice walk down to Polblue falls. Then, for the third night, I moved to a different campsite so that I could drive to a couple of nice little walk trailheads along the way and see more of the park. Over four days, I took the northern road, Barrington Tops Forest Road, across the top end of the park from Moonan Flat over to Copeland, camping along the way at Horse Swamp and then at Manning River.

And it was soooo nice to have a bit of time to read, write, sleep, potter around, and just chill. This past couple of weeks has involved a lot of work (teaching and marking an intensive course) and also a lot of faff (doing things in hot weather to the van to fix the layout). So as well as all the nature and walks and stuff, I also spent a lot of time chilling out, too…

Just as importantly, the VAN and its new fitout worked wonderfully. Even though the process of redoing the layout has been a giant pain in the ass when ALL I wanted to do this past few weeks was go camping, it HAS made it into a better campervan because of the things I’ve moved around, added, and/or improved. But I’ll write more on that tomorrow, because that yawning photo has sent me off yawning in response, and looking at the time I realise it’s time for bed.

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