There are many reasons to visit Australia, and one of them without a doubt is to see kangaroo on a beach. Well where else?
After spending a couple of days roaming around the most boring city in the world ( - and the award goes to... drum roll - Canberra) we jumped on a bus to Batemans Bay to spend a few days camping on Pebbly Beach. Like just about any place in Australia it's not easy to get to unless you have a car. Firstly we were planning to hitchhike, however, we had to stock up on food and pic up a goon bag and trying to hitch a ride while carrying your grocery shopping is to say the list awkward. So we settled for hiring a taxi which only cost us 20 AUD for a 20 km ride.
Pebbly Beach is located within Murramarang National Park, however, there are no permits or any restrictions applied. As I understand you can't wild camp, but that is about it. You have to pay camping fee of 10 AUD per person per night. For that you get a generous patch for your tent, normally complete with a bench and a barbecue set, clean toilet and shower, use of gas barbecue, and even firewood nicely delivered from a local lumber-mill. To me camping infrastructure in Australia is beyond amazing. Being Ukrainian imagining anything that well developed and that well maintained without costing you the world is next to impossible. Back in the old country we tend to leave scorched earth everywhere where we camp, in the best case scenario the garbage is burned or buried. Well, kudos to ozzies!
Check this out, these guys are not shy...
In addition to the kangaroos there is also an ample population of comodo dragons and possums. Possums freaked us out more than once. On one occasion we woke up in the middle of the night because it sounded like someone was having a party next to our tent. Then we saw a possum munching away our carrots while holding them with his human-like hands. He did look very human.
It's an amazing place where kangaroos feel like sheep in Wales. They are very friendly and will surely come and sneak around your tent. Although they are still wild animals and I wouldn't risk petting them, same stands for comodo dragons.
The beach itself is OK but nothing to write home about. Just like most of the places in South Australia a lot depends on the wind, waves and currents can get very violent. That's me running for my life.
To break up our day we decided to go for a 2 hour hike towards Clear point and than to a mini-cape a couple of miles further on. There is a map of local hikes at Pebbly so you could plan a few short ones for the time of day when it's ether too hot or too windy to laze on the beach.
It was nice 3 days and a good opportunity to experience Australian wilderness while still have usual amenities of civilization. We managed to hitch a ride back to Batemans Bay with an English expat. The guy was a keen bushwalker (that's a hiker in English) and only saw a snake twice over the past 20 years. That really put our minds at ease for the next chapter - Blue Mountains
The plan - to walk from Katoomba to Tarros Ladders than to Kanangaroo Clearing and double-back to Dunphy's camping area. Very easy hike which would let us to enjoy the beauty of the Blue Mountains without much strain. Or was it?
We went to one of Sydney's sports superstores and made the following investments: 2 - sleeping mats @ $5 each, 2 - sleeping bags @ $20 each, 1 superior quality tent @ $20 (please don't rain!!!). We bought a large plastic sack, moved all of our non-essential stuff and left it in Elephant Hostel in Sydney. I recommend the place, they have a bar with $3 beers!
We woke up early and grabbed a train to Katoomba from Sydney Central. Katoomba is within Sydney's transport network hence you can use same pre-payed travel card to get there for under $6.
We stocked up on Aldi's finest beans, muesli, snickers, potatoes, boiled eggs and 2 liters of water each we set off on this adventure.
The first day you walk on a nice leveled fire trail, we made a couple of detours to Castle Head view point.
We met a guy who was there for a day walk with his kid, and he told us that water situation wasn't great. But we were planning to go down in the wooded area hence we were going to be ok.
We found a little trickle on a side of the road, I have topped up one of the bottles and we went onward to our camping spot. A couple of kilometers before our designated campsite there was supposed to be a creek which unfortunately happen to dry out. There was another one on the map, but it was below a steep cliff and hidden in a canopy so we have decided to move on.
What a view! I have realized we had only 2,5 litters of water to share. This was OK for the night, but when day breaks and sun goes up you start to sweat water by pint. I actually found 3 bottles of water stashed in the camp. But they were dated 3 years earlier, how long can water stay safe in a plastic bottle for? Of course its possible that bottles were reused, but you hardly ever reuse bottle more than once, and probably straight after the first use. I've decided we shouldn't risk chemical poisoning and left them alone.
And this is what we woken up to!
Next morning we were going to walk to Kanangaroo Clearing some 10km away. A really easy day. We found the trail by the info sign behind the camp and quickly reached Tarros Lader.
Good job I bought a synthetic rope a couple of weeks ago!
Climbing Tarros Lader with a backpack on your back could be a quite dangerous endeavor.
From there we hiked towards Mount Mouin. By the time we reached the hill we realized 2 things: 1-there is no water anywhere near and we are down to one litter to share. We only managed to save that much by rationing and you could seriously feel dehydration. 2-there was no trail. I mean it was on my GPS but not in the real life.
We have bushwhacked along imaginary trail, climbing over loose rocks, bushes and watching out for snakes. I remember Dovile asking "how long till the trail head" me saying "600 meters", than her asking the same thing again half an hour later and me answering "600 meters", as if we were walking backwards! Not it was only hard work to fight your way through the bush, we were also burning a lot of water. Personally I was mentally prepared to do Bear Grylls and drink my pee. I thought that would make for a great facebook video too:-)
Than after covering slightly more than a kilometer in 2 hours we have reached Mount Warrigal. We found some compressed ground at the foot of the hill, which could have been remains of a trail, or just wishful thinking?
Mount Warrigal is a square rock which you can traverse on the left side. There is some shelter from sun and or miracle ...... a small drop by drop trickle of water. I don't have a picture, but here is a video of Dovile collecting water (don't mind my commentary):
By using sardines tin, a mug, bottle caps, sweaty hut and a hanky we have managed to collect just under a liter in about an hour. Great success!
At this point it was clear that with a speed of 1 km/h there was no way we were going to reach Kanangaroo Clearing, so we decided to get to Mobbs Swamp which was marked on a map as a campsite and tomorrow reverse back to civilization.
The liter we have collected did us little good, we drunk it in an instant and were still feeling dehydrated. Hence the Bear Grylls thoughts came back.
Then by some miracle we found a trail, it's only a couple of kilometers to Mobbs Swamp, and on a trail we can make it in no time. And the place is called Mobbs Swamp so there must be water! Oh some local fauna blocking the trail...
We stayed on a trail for about 7 minutes, than it turned into proper mangrove. A waist-deep grass with god only knows what beneath. And yeh, I am afraid of snakes, there I said it! Normally I would strike me pole on the rocks and trees when I walk in a snake territory so they can get out of the way, but now I'm a waist deep.... oh just keep on bushwhacking...
At about 6 pm we reached Mobbs Swamp site just to find out that Mobbs Swamp was well a swamp.
Well, that was literally it, a meter long half-meter wide swamp, full of worms and what not unsavory... We have deliberated for about an hour. Should we drink the swamp water or should we ration the last 0.5 litter we have and walk tomorrow back to civilization dry. We had to take into account that we were hugely dehydrated, that the walk to Dunphy's camping could be much longer than we anticipated and that we can minimize the risk by doing all of the below (Here I have even narrated a little video on how we dealt with the situation):
In case my video was too shite. We have tried charcoal filtering the water (gave up right away, too slow), than boiling it and than putting 4 times the dose of chlorine tablets so it smells like swimming pool!
Than a two caps turned up. An Aussie and and his Irish mate, they asked us if there was water as they were running short. I said "sure here it is, seems alright I drunk it", they looked at the swamp and said fuck that! We still have a liter each and should make it back. They were only on an overnight trip. They came from Dunphy's camping area via Knights Deck trail which they said was completely overgrown and very difficult to navigate and fight through, so a word of warning to all brave souls out there.
We stayed up until 10 pm going through process of boiling the water in a one cup that we had than cooling it off in a Hainz beans can until it's cold enough to be put in a bottle and than chlorinated. We also filled up our 5 litter water-proof bag.
I have never ever ever ever ever ever tasted water that good!
I hate to abandon my plan, but this time we really bit more than we could chew and we definitely got more adventure than we bargained for. So we decided that it's time to go back to civilization to Dunphy's camping area. Was a pretty strait trail, but look at this baby!
Shortly we reached Black Horse Ridge. Lookout, there is a trail, but it's far too easy to lose, if you have a map on you phone or a GPS gadget, keep checking it.
Shortly after we got to, or heaven Breakfast Creek! Water - clean water...
There we had our first encounter with Kangaroo, and shortly after we reached Dunphy's camping area.
A well equipped place with a barbecue, fire places, water catcher. We boilled some pot noodles and carried on to the next camp site just an hour down the road.
Generally uneventful day, you have to walk quite a lot along the road and than you join the "Six Foot Track". You have to walk up the steps closer to Katoomba, and than we picked a place on a cliff just minutes away from the motorable road.
A final look over the Blue Mountains.... P.S. Please comment on this blog if you liked it, this will be superbly helpful!!!!! Thanks!