Turon Gates is one of those places which you want to go back to often. Originally planned as a weekend treat for Charlotte, with horse riding as a reward for studying hard, the trip expanded until there were almost 20 heading over the Blue Mountains.
When travelling it is not too much of a chore breaking camp in the morning, then settling in somewhere else. Probably as everything you need is already on board. Weekends away are slightly different – I always prefer to make it a 2 night affair if possible.
So Friday off work for Hils and I and a day off school for the girls. It seems odd that over here it is just an e-mail to the school office to let them know, but in the UK they would probably fine us for providing the girls with experiences beyond homework and watching TV…..
One thing hadn’t changed, however, from our trip last year; no matter where we head to someone is either already there or turns up shortly after. Being early spring, with Friday forecast to be wet I’d assumed we would be first in, but no! Another group had arrived on Thursday and set up, in the back paddock, right where I had my eye on.
Silver linings still exist though; instead of camping in the back paddock we found a cracking spot in the main camp area, tucked under a grassy bank next to the river and out of the wind. This was very handy when the rain set in mid-afternoon. Talking next day with Sonia, wife of Soren, who together own Turon Gates, the back paddock can get belted by the wind: seems we had the pick of the spots.
Arriving before midday, there was plenty of time to sort out the fire pits and test run the pit which was to host the spit roast next day.
Arriving later that evening was Chris although no family this time as they had returned to the UK. With the addition of a rooftop tent and drawers in the back of the Toyota he was well set up.
Saturday was supposed to be a few early showers but then fine and sunny. Maybe the forecasters need some more computers (or to look out of the window), as the showers continued through the day.
We were so well sheltered in our little spot under the bank (sounds like a scene from wind in the willows…) that we hadn’t appreciated quite how windy it had been. Sonia drove over to say there was a large tree down across the road in, so the horse riding lady couldn’t get in.
Actually a great big tree across the track sounded rather fun, but the SES are very efficient out here; by the time we got to it they had been and gone with just logs remaining.
On the plus side it meant that the rest of the party could get in. John of Fifty Toes, his mate Nick a great new introduction and Jason with Amie and Maddie. Unfortunately their better halves had decided home was a good option, so Hils was sole torchbearer for the ladies.
Also on the plus side, Charlotte could get her horse ride. One of the fantastic things about Turon Gates is the riding is reasonably priced and realistic in managing risk. Try riding in Kangaroo Valley and they would put Charlotte on a lead rope due to her age; here she had a 2hr ride matched to her ability, so plenty of cantering.
With recent wet weather the Turon River was a touch higher than last time we were here, but nowhere near its peak, even with the overnight rain. Apparently a couple of weeks before it was 2.5m above the bridge on the way in. The fast flow didn’t seem to hinder the feral goats though as they cross back and forth, and was still safe for the kids to invent their own games along the banks.
So to the spit roast! The fire pit had worked out well the night before, and we’d been out to get plenty of firewood. When choosing what to roast it makes life easier to choose the more basic cuts, which can handle a long slow cook; in this case boneless pork shoulder rolled and tied.
I’d like to report that the kids were pressed into action turning the spit, earning their keep. However they had been replaced by a 12v battery, much more reliable and no complaining.
With the meat turning itself there was plenty of time to test camp oven skills, me with a lemonade scone cake and Jason with beer damper (funny how there is always some beer left over for the chef to dispose of…)
5 hours later and the feast was on, with John excelling with accompanying potato bake and oriental salad.
With Sunday came the fine sunny weather promised for Saturday, perfect for a lazy morning around the camp fire (aside from the packing up….) whilst the kids headed off on the horses.
It is funny who you meet when out for a drive. Whilst the others packed up camp Chris and I headed off towards Sofala. This is a rocky, narrow, track; would be hard towing but otherwise a fairly simple drive through beautiful country.
At the Sofala end there are some reasonably deep causeways, at the last of which there was a bloke with video camera looking uncertain
It turns out he was trying to shoot marketing material for Dodge RAM. With him was the first import of their smaller truck, only 6.8l of engine! Plenty of grunt but too long to be a decent off-roader.
Anyway, he was uncertain about the water crossing – ironic given his truck weighed as much as a small tank and about the same pulling power. With Chris in the passenger seat and me starting the camera he got his video – hope we get a mention in the credits!