Sunday, 27 December 2009

Mastering the cheffing

Although we had purchased a dual fuel stove in January 2009 (in case of an open fire ban, given our departure the next day), we are a family of fire bugs and generally prefer to cook over a wood fire.  In the early days, our cooking method was quite basic and presented a few challenges.

As you can see, the difficulty with the above set-up is that one side of the wok was incredibly hot and the other - not!!

After considerable research, we discovered the Maxi BBQ.  We gifted ourselves one for Christmas (2009).  It has been used often since - and admired by many fellow campers!

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Our terrific trailer

Finally - we won a trailer!  Nick and Vaughan left super-early (5.30am) and headed down to Sydney to collect our wonderful new eBay acquisition! When they arrived home again mid-morning, Vaughan dragged me out the front door, super-keen to show me all the trailer's features!

The previous owner was a carpenter and had purpose-built the trailer only 8 months previously.  However he worked in Sydney - and it didn't work to try and find trailer parking around the city.  His loss was very much our gain.

Although the trailer is shown here with all the various divisions, Nick soon took them out and recycled the wood for a layout better suited to camping.  He also fashioned a large trestle-style table to rest upon the trailer racks while traveling (creating a platform for additional luggage) - and a box to sit just on the towing frame (safely storing a gas bottle and water carriers).

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Undampened enthusiasm!

Playing the ever-popular "Menagerie"

It was a while after our return from "the Dubbo" before we managed a camping trip.  (Our time was taken up with house-hunting, moving and various associated missions - sadly).  Fortunately the October school holidays presented another camping opportunity, so we went back to the forest.  Although we had hoped to have a trailer for the trip we were unsuccessful on our eBay bidding, so traveled in two cars as usual. 

It rained on and off during our stay, mainly showers with some heavier stuff but spirits remained undampened and all enjoyed the time away.  There were a couple of small glitches but in the main tempers remained unfrayed.  Even better, Vaughan was unfazed by the drop loos and happily continued to wear big boy undies!  Hallelujah all round!

We didn't do much really - lots of activity centred around the fire either getting more firewood, cooking/eating or sitting around admiring our burning wood!  

As the tent awning was our only shelter, we headed inside and played games during the rainy periods.  I taught Vaughan to play "go fish" which was quite funny.  He was on a team with Nissa but hadn't got the concept of keeping his cards a secret and when he did, he hid under Nissa's jacket and would pass just his hand out so it was very much like playing with "Thing" from the Addams Family!

The wet weather highlighted a few more items for the camping wishlist - as did all the wood-chopping!  Along with a gazebo, a blockbuster/log-splitter was put on the agenda.  We made do using the tomohawk and a block of wood but on our last day Nick well and truly wedged the tomohawk into a particularly tough log - then broke a hammer trying to get it out again!

The log with wedged tomohawk returned home with us as a King Arthur style memorial to sit beside our "Fire King Chair" from a previous trip!

Monday, 6 April 2009

"the Dubbo"

There was much excitement when Erin received confirmation that her week-long work experience application for Western Plains Zoo (Dubbo) had been accepted.  (She had previously enjoyed a week at Taronga in 2008).

Nick and I both juggled leave  and Nissa was given permission to come too, even though it was school time.   We had the most brilliant holiday, out at “the Dubbo” in Vaughan-speak!

Although we briefly considered camping for the trip, it was decided given our novice status (and other factors), we were be far more comfortable in self-contained accommodation – so we had a well-deserved/highly recommended splurge.  Erin thoroughly enjoyed her zoo time: feeding otters, cheetahs (and others),  weighing meerkats and making Easter “enrichment” eggs  for  various animals! 

And yes, the rest of us thoroughly enjoyed playing tourist!

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Snakes alive!

Later identified as a Black-bellied Swamp Snake
As Nick and I were sitting beside the campfire one night (happily drinking hot chocolate, after sampling a very fine camp oven bread and butter pudding), we were visited by this juvenile snake.

Over the years there has been lots of debate as to whether snakes are or are not nocturnal (try saying "not nocturnal" fast, three times!) - and it seemed this one definitely enjoyed the night-life!

The amateur snake-catcher!
Given the curiousity of our young boy, we decided to relocate the snake.  Nick was armed with long-handled tongs (and a rice bag). I had the torch.

Nick was not keen to clamp the tongs too tight and damage the snake - and the snake was not keen to stay still, so it was an interesting exercise!

As torch-bearer, I was a bit too skittish to be overly useful but eventually the snake was caught - and gently moved a considerable distance away from our camp.

Lovely leeches

Pines Camping Area, Watagan State Forest
This guy/gal had already stolen a loaf of bread!
Our first camping trips were short, making the best use of Nick's rostered days off. After the success of our January adventure, we returned to the forest for two nights in March (shortly before our Dubbo Zoo holiday).

It did rain a little while we were there but nothing major. There were a few leeches to keep Vaughan happy.

They were scooped up with mutterings of "come here my gorgeous" - and then kept in a (recycled!) 3-litre juice bottle!

Of course, the rest of us find it difficult to appreciate the beauty of the blood-suckers and Erin in particular generally wears her longest striped socks, hoping bright colours will deter any leeches (or she will spot them more easily when they attempt to assail her legs)!

(Vaughan's bottle of "lovely leeches" is resting on the seat in the second pic).

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Hello from the Happy Hamby Campers!

Pines Camping Area, Watagan State Forest (October 2009)

Hello!  Come and join us around our (virtual) fire!  It all started when we hired a camper trailer for a week in October 2008.  As a result of that experience we decided a camper trailer wasn't for us - however we enjoyed the actual camping so much that we purchased our initial equipment in January 2009 (the day before heading off for 3 nights)!  We still have much to learn about camping but are enthusiastic amateurs, keen to broaden our horizons (figuratively and literally/physically).

Our camping efforts were confined to the Watagan State Forest in 2009, just 50km from home so a manageable distance for our two-car convoy to lug all our "necessary" gear!   Of course, the other benefit of being close to home was being able to nip back for a shower or to use a civilised loo when all seemed too rough - under the guise of "feeding the cats"!

Fortunately we won an eBay trailer auction in December 2009, which definitely broadened our camping horizons!

For a glimpse of our very first (3-night) trip, press "play" below:-