Megalong Valley has two council reserves that offer free camping to travellers and locals. Old Ford Reserve is further down Megalong Valley than Blackheath Glen Reserve, which is located higher in the hills and in the wetter rainforest foothills of the Blue Mountains.

After camping for a couple of days at Old Ford Reserve, we received an invitation to join a friend at Glen Reserve. We first met Grant at the Rainbow Gathering in November 2011, and when he bumped into David in Katoomba, we renewed contact.

Megalong Valley, February 2012
Where Glen Reserve sits on a site on the north side of Megalong Road, the road is still winding down through the mountains' forests.

Camping at Glen Reserve, February 2012
Our first site is just off the road. We park and walk throughout the reserve to see if our truck could make it comfortably onto a site. It can, but we decide to spend the night where we are.

Blackheath Glen Reserve is a very pretty place to camp. The site is surrounded by lush tree-ferns and bracken. Leeches are around, but they’re not very aggressive or plentiful. Firewood is hard to come by, but forages into the surrounding forest provides enough wood to last several nights.

David has taken the girls to play in the creek, even though it’s a lot smaller than further downstream. There are some places deep enough for washing, but most of it is rocky and shallow.

Girls watching TV, February 2012
With constant rain outside one day, we set the girls up to watch some television shows on our laptop. Their current favourite is "Magic School Bus".

Elijah Rainbow, 3 months old, February 2012
It's nice to have a clean, dry spot to place Elijah. This bouncinette — given to us in Sydney — is such a blessing!

Megalong Creek, February 2012
At this spot, Megalong Creek is a narrow stream. The campsite has a ford over the waterway which would possibly flood after very heavy rains.

Brioni and I collected water from this spot in the creek. We waded in and I dipped my bucket to fill it up with water. I looked up, startled, when I felt an arm wrap around my leg. Brioni was lying sideways in the water and holding on to me to stop from dropping over the edge of the small spillway. She had chosen to fill her bucket by positioning it under the little waterfall.

When the force of the water pulled the bucket down, she was pulled down into the water with it. Her face was pressed against the cement step and water covered most of her face. But she refused to let go of the bucket although that was what was keeping her in the water.

After pulling her upright, I explained to Brioni how unimportant the bucket was in comparison to her, and we would probably be able to retrieve the bucket from further down the creek if she had let go of it. She wasn’t hurt or traumatised by the incident, and it was a gentle learning experience for us both.

As I think back on this, I wonder how often I hold tightly onto my own metaphorical bucket — the very thing that’s pulling me down and is slowly drowning me. By simply letting go, I don’t necessarily lose that which I prize — my bucket — but I do gain my life!

Camping at Glen Reserve, February 2012
We later move the truck to a new spot, closer to the main body of the camp and within sight of other campers.

Brioni on a bike, February 2012
When the rain stops, the girls are eager to play outside.

Aisha playing, February 2012
Aisha practices her arrow-shooting technique, inspired — perhaps — by something she's seen on a movie.

Black and red spider in Australia, February 2012
I notice a beautiful red and black spider crawling on me (seeking camouflage, perhaps?). We all pause to admire its elegance before I give it a new home in the grass.

The best thing about a new camping ground is that we make new friends. We like to deliberately greet all the other campers. Some are staying in this spot for weeks and even months. Others stay just for one night.

Grant Rosendale, February 2012
We spend good times talking with our Rainbow Family friend Grant and learning more about him. He's steady in his wisdom and has a lot to offer those who come around him.

Finnish tourist Robert, February 2012
Robert has recently arrived from Finland for a working holiday. He bought his car in Sydney and this is his second night on the road. I gave him our book showing all the free camping sites in Australia — that'll help stretch his budget.

Swedish tourist family, February 2012
This Swedish family are also new arrivals in Australia. They've been here one week and are travelling with their three children in a camper van.

Brian at Blackheath Glen Reserve, February 2012
Brian is an enthusiastic Christian who has been staying in his van at this location for several months. He likes to hand out Bibles to other campers and shares groceries with whoever needs them.

Girls eating by the fire, February 2012
Instead of making our own fire, we cook at the fireplace of Chris and Shannon. David and Chris go off to collect wood together — a shared activity like this helps men to become friends more easily.

Chris and Shannon, February 2012
Mother and son — Shannon and Chris — are travelling and camping within a three-hour radius of Sydney. Shannon has fifteen separate medical conditions, so they need to stay within an easy drive of the city to make all her specialists' appointments.

This campsite is memorable because of the number of long-term campers and the lessons we’ve learned from them. Three different camp-sites were set-up by people who intended to stay several weeks. This changes the dynamics of the camp, establishes an unwritten hierarchy of authority, and we’ll be more aware of these sensitivities when we encounter them in the future.