We were up a few times in the night with people needing to go to the toilet, rearrange blankets and so on. It was cold, but bearable in the tent. There was a strong wind blowing all night, it sounded like heavy rain as it blew through the tops of all the gum trees – but being down in the creek gully the tent was not shaken at all, it was very protected.
In the morning the kids got up and explored the gully some more. There were lots of dry rivulets which would have been great places to find gold many years ago. Near our camp was a log which had fallen across the creek bed, so the kids spent a lot of time walking back and forth across that and made up a game about people surviving in the woods and needing to escape crocodiles and other hazards.
Tony got the fire going again and throughout the morning we had cups of tea and toast and cereal as we felt like it. Millie and I went for a walk through another part of the surrounding creek bed, and found some cool holes in the ground, lots of new trees growing up through cracks in the rocks, and old trees that had fallen as the creek beds have been eroded. Back at camp our neighbour had come over to say hi – a prospector called Barry, who told us a lot about the gold he’d found in this and other areas, a bit of the history of the area, and about how he uses the black cockatoos so help predict the weather based on how they are flying and calling. He showed us photos of some of the gold he’s found (biggest find was about 10oz) and brought over his divining rods – all the kids had a go and Caitlin in particular was able to use them really well, when she walked over some bottle lids on the ground the rods swung together, it was amazing. The kids also collected and then cleaned lots of quartz – we left most of it behind when we left though.
|Our campsite down among the trees|
|Caitlin with the divining rods|
We slowly packed up throughout the morning, it was lovely to take our time after the rush of the previous week or so. The only hurry was to make sure we got the tent down before it rained, and we managed that. I spent a fair bit of time rearranging how things were packed – it still needs a bit of work but we’ll get better at it each time I imagine.
We finally headed off (after packing for a while in the rain) at 2pm. First stop was Ararat – Tony took us to see the house where his mum grew up, and showed us other sights and houses that he remembered from visiting Ararat as a kid. We stopped to get some steamed dim sims which Tony remembered were the best he’d ever had, but the shop was closed which was quite disappointing. We called in to see Tony’s uncle and his wife – it had been a few years since we saw them and we had a lovely visit, so glad that they were home at the time we passed through (they’d been out all morning so we only just caught them). Noel was very pleased to meet all of our kids again and have a good chat to Tony.
We headed west in the rain then realised that Caitlin’s hand bag was still at Noel’s, so we went back in to town and Tone dropped me at Woolworths to get milk and something for tea, while he went and retrieved the bag. I grabbed a hot chicken as I figured it would be cold and dark by the time we arrived at the Grampians, so we ate hot chicken in the car on the way and felt warm and nourished by the time we arrived.
It rained a lot of the way to the Grampians but had stopped as we got close. There were a lot of kangaroos along the edges of the road and in the paddocks we drove past. As we drove the last 8km out to our campsite (Plantation Campground, a free campground just north of the Grampians National Park), we had to slow down several times for rock wallabies who were drinking out of puddles in the middle of the road, and were reluctant to move until we got quite close.
We arrived at the campground a bit before 6. I’d rung to check availability and the lady said there’d be plenty of room, however there were several school groups and a number of other sites in use – we found somewhere easily though. The site we selected had a wallaby nearby when we arrived, which felt like a good sign. The kids went and explored the bush while Tony and I set up – only took half an hour to get the tent up tonight.
We made hot drinks and had the rest of the chicken, then set up the annexe so that we had more shelter. It’s only the 2nd time we’ve ever done it so didn’t know how hard it would be – it wasn’t too difficult and we figured out things that we’d do differently next time so it will get easier. We got it up just in time as there was more rain – bizarrely though we could see all the stars above us when it was raining!
Millie fell asleep early and the rest of us tidied up our campsite then got in to bed around 9pm, talked for a while and gradually went to sleep.