Thursday, February 11, 2010

Ben Boyd National Park - Australia Day Long Weekend Road Trip

Nothing really beats a road trip! It should be so much more convenient to fly, but it is not! When you choose to fly, you are much more restricted in your packing, you cannot bring gas canisters for cooking and also pillow, doona and a coles bucket of food goodness is very hard to shrink to carry-on size. When you land you have to sort out all of that stuff; gas, food and you will need a car. The car rental company will make you sign a deal that make it impossible for you to go the places you really wanted - those hidden gems at the end of the gravel roads. Another thing is price; Yes, you can get some fantastic offers flying, but remember that getting to and from the airport will cost you! Some absurd political deal must have been made here in Sydney back in the day, when a private train line was built between the city and the airport - great for Sydneysiders and tourists .. well, not really as it is insanely overpriced and the dodgy political deal made sure that any other reasonable alternative to the train line was removed, making Sydney airport near impossible to get to with something as sensible as normal bus - so cab it is!

By choosing the roads, the travel becomes a part of the holiday. There is obviously a time factor that has to be calculated in; making your way to Darwin and back is probably not the most efficient way to see the North End during a long weekend escape, for that you would need a month or two ... ;-) For exploring the south east end of NSW, however, nothing beats the track of bitumen and we decided to once again rely on the comfort of the Magna and start our long weekend road trip with a visit to Ben Boyd National Park.

We made it out of Sydney straight after work Friday afternoon and managed to make it to Cooma before we decided to let it be for the day and crash at a motel. The good effort Friday had left us with only a few hours of additional driving, so we had a great, relaxed and beautiful drive across the mountains towards the coast and Ben Boyd National Park.

We were meeting the Amoores at the Bittangabee campsite in the south part of the national park. If the drive into the park was any indicator of what we would experience during our stay there was no doubt that we were in for a blast :-) Soon after hitting the gravel roads we started seeing Lace Monitors (Varanus Varius). Great stuff! It has been a while since my last encounter with these fairly big monitors and we managed to get a few good pictures. It is surprisingly easy taking pictures of these reptiles, since they for some reason believe that they are safe as soon as they are off the ground. So as soon as you see one, stop the car and get out - there is a good chance that will make the monitor start crawling up the closest tree and you can stand in (safety?) down below and take all the pictures you will need.

The campsite was absolutely fantastic, in fact the whole thing felt a bit like a proper holiday instead of a hardcore bush bashing lean mean camping experience. There was the sweetest little sandy beach next to the campsite and Adelle had booked the absolute best spot of the entire campsite giving us 180 degree water views - it all felt a bit like holiday!

Going to a coastal national park down south during mid Australian summer is a good idea! Despite being midday and no doubt extremely hot back home in Sydney, we had a pleasant sea breeze and the effect of moving nearly 400 kilometers south was definitely noticeable.

A little wander around the campsite was very rewarding and despite being midday we managed to see all kinds of excitement. The Swamp Wallaby (Wallabia bicolor) below was nearly oblivious to our existence.

... and a close up or two of a Wonga Pigeon is always exciting. Quite a few of these good size pigeons were walking around between the tents only slightly shyer than the Wallabys. All good, the Australia day long weekend was of to a fantastic start and there was still plenty of days to go.

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