Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Barrington Tops National Park - Alpine Winter Camping in Australia

Barrington Tops National Park is in some ways quite similar to Lamington National Park, both sport high altitude rain forest with all the goodness that included .. such as Antarctic beach trees and Rufous Scrub-birds. Despite the calender revealing that Australia was just about hitting mid winter we decided to go high altitude winter camping for a bit of cold - but cozy - Queen's Birthday long weekend camping.

Lets be honest; the nights up in Barrington Tops were proper cold - we were solidly under 0°C during the nights - and the birding was pretty shabby, apart from a close encounter with 3 Wedge-tailed Eagles feeding on a dead kangaroo next to the road as we were driving in, we saw very few bird - and non of them were Rufous or Scrub.

Not having to focus our attention on the birds, we could concentrate on the landscapes, the walking and the task of trying to stay warm. It is not often that I have seen Australia this cold and quiet, it did indeed remind me of Christmas in Denmark.

But as always, when you get your lazy carcass of the sofa and get out there in the wild stuff happens - the big surprise of the weekend was an encounter with a herd of wild brumbies! I have seen wild horses up in Kakadu before, but that at a boringly safe distance of more than 100 meters across a broad river system. That encounter can in no way be compared to the joy of suddenly standing face to face with a small herd of properly wild ones :-) Fantastic to see how the leader of the pack - the large black stallion - took control as soon as they realized that they were not alone, it stood tall staring us down while allowing the rest of the herd to slowly wander off making sure that we did not follow. Great healthy strong animals - what a great sight!

Back at camp we got into survival mode - lots of cloths, hot food and hot beverages. As evident from the picture above, little G. was proud as a peacock after getting her new fuel stove firing, not even my poor choice of using kerosene - the most smelly sooty type of fuel possible (except maybe for diesel) - could remove the smile from her face :-)

The first night taught us that a bonfire was worth the effort, so out we went for firewood - needless to say that we did not exclusively go for the dry-dry selection - indeed I think the smoke from the start up of our little bonfire could be seen back home in Sydney :-D

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