5 November 10
We set off on our big trip west in fits and starts.
Our first short drive to a friend’s house on the other side of Beenleigh showed that the design of the trailer’s hand brake was clearly inferior. While we were driving, it had been knocked on as we drove over a bump. Since we were at Tony’s house, he brought out some tools and helped us fix it. We were thankful to have found the problem on such a short, low-speed trip.
When we were ready to go (for the second time that morning), Richard and Sharla met us at Tony’s house. They and their three children were in their family car, towing our tarped-up box trailer full of their camping equipment. The couple of days’ delay from our original desired departure, meant that we got all the minor details finished on the trailer, including wiring up the internal lights.
Richard and Sharla originally postponed our departure because of rain, and used the delay to finish stocking up on equipment and supplies. It was a blessing that both families were ready to go at the same time.
Driving west, we headed for a campsite nestled in a circular ridge that form part of the Great Dividing Range. Heifer Creek is southwest of the rural town of Gatton. It’s where the Thiess brothers completed their first major earthworks job, carving out a huge section of sandstone to make a roadway. The Thiess construction company is now a huge, multi-national conglomeration, turning over $18billion annually.
Our camp was well off the main road, close to the stagnant Heifer Creek (so named because it’s about as big as a cow, I guess). We were disappointed that the kids couldn’t swim in the water, but there were other attractions to the campsite.
I walked over and introduced ourselves to our nearest camping neighbours. Debbie and Myles had travelled from Redland Bay on Friday for a weekend of camping. They said they like to leave the city every couple of weeks. Their two small dogs were a great attraction for the kids who ended up spending a lot of time under their awning.
The kids soon set off to pick bouquets of lantana flowers. They startled several bush turkeys and would chase the big birds which fly up into the branches when they’ve had enough of small children.
Walking around the grounds, we were swooped by magpies although they didn’t actually peck anyone. In springtime, the Australian native magpies guard their nests by swooping at perceived threats. In urban areas, the magpies attack people, pecking the back of the head and being such a menace that individuals have to protect themselves with bicycle helmets and other protective headgear.
One afternoon, I climbed partway up the closest ridge. After tackling Mount Warning, I felt confident that I could navigate the steep rocky slope. Others had clearly forged a way before me, and I enjoyed the challenge of finding footholds in the treacherous ground. It wasn’t a friendly place for children (or the dog), and I left them all safe at camp.
On our last morning, David and our camping neighbour Myles climbed the tallest ridge within view. They walked partway up the road and waded through kilometres of prickly lantana before they were in the Australian native scrub. At the top of the ridge, they coo-eed to us to let us know they had conquered the summit. David loved having a companion on his adventurous trek!
As a campsite, it was a good start to our trip away. Although we couldn’t swim, the kids managed to transition to playing out in the bush, and we got to work out our logistical issues (like running out of cooking gas in all our bottles) while we were still close to civilisation!