Story Blog

Codine's off for the moment, but if you haven't read 'Turning Stones' it's still up there - free read!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Camping Trip the Third - Sydney Lane Park

Now, before Morpheus puts his firm hand on my lug’ole and drags it pillow-ward, a skip and a dash to tell you about our camping trip to Sydney last weekend… our FIRST official pretty-much-totally-successful camping trip! Yes, it was. No torrential downpours, no howling gales. No deafening cicadas or idiotic neighbours. No surprisingly empty gas canisters, no pieces missing from the tents. Water and amenities exactly where they said they would be, no shortages. No leeches crawling up the tent, no spiders in the bathroom. (Well actually Ian did report on what might possibly have been a tree-dwelling funnellweb in the men’s bathroom, but we’ll leave that as a mere possible). Glorious weather. We did cut short on the third day but that was simply because we were so tired out from walking about and seeing so much exciting stuff.

Once again, on the Saturday we didn’t manage to set off before – in Australian terms, an absolutely laughably late time to be setting off on a camping trip. They generally get up and go by about 5 at least, mainly because of the distances involved, usually. Still, we made it to the site by about , which is good time. It was Lane Park camp, near Chatswood, and it was quite the most pleasant place we’ve stayed in so far. Very nice and clean, of course quite packed but what do you expect in the middle of Sydney in the middle of the summer holidays. Everyone was very nice and quiet, the kitchens and facilities were nicely laid out and clean. There was a pool too, but we never got round to using it. We arrived at (as aforementioned) , and after a VERY sweaty hour of putting up camp, we had both the main tent and the brand-new eating tent set up nicely. (I’ve got a pic somewhere, I think – will try to post). Not bad – though this still didn’t include blowing up the beds and so on but hey, it was the first time we set up the eating tent. Sandwiches and much-needed drinks followed.

Our two tents: main and eating: with the second in action (actually this was breakfast the next morning)

I think even the Littles is getting better at camping. She’s finally given up stepping all over the tent in the wrong way, waving her arms about quite as much, and has a good eye out now for the guy-ropes. She sat on the picnic rug playing with her Beanies really very nicely while we put the tents up. Becoming part of the known routine now, so she’s not so tempted to rush up and jump on us from behind just as we’re trying to hammer pegs in or tie ropes. Makes things a hell of a lot easier.

Well what with tents and lunch it was by now nearly 2:30, so we made our way in to town and chose to go to the attractions we didn’t have to pay to get into any more – namely, the Wildlife world and the Aquarium (next door to each other… we have annual passes. They are after all the biggest thing in Sydney as far as Lara is concerned).

They happened to have a rather bizarre Lego 'theme' on while we were there so there are a lot of Lego pics... Lego caveman...

Lego camel...

Lego shark (absolutley huge)... and quite real octopus

I believe it was damn near 7 before we were out of the aquarium – the nearly had to kick us out. Then of course there was the trip home, which all in all took a good hour, what with waiting for trains and the walk back to the campsite itself. Which in turn meant that we were warming up our pre-cooked stew at about , blowing up beds in the meantime and showering the Littles. Everyone was pretty tired.

The lateness of the meal did have one side-effect. Pretty much everyone else had long finished eating, but it was by now dark, the possums were out and we were making all sorts of enticing smells in our cooking tent. One intrepid possum (immediately named Blossom after the book) toured round and round and round the outside of the mosquito netting, climbing the adjacent tree in the hope of gaining access from above, and generally not taking no for an answer. We watched her and talked to her as she prowled around the place, trying to instil a sense of both the inappropriateness of the endeavour and its futility, but the message didn’t seem to be getting through as all she did was redouble her efforts. We did however manage to finish eating and pack up without her actually breaking in, and packed the Littles off to bed safely. She was very happy to go.

The Mr now went off for a very richly-deserved and refreshing shower (I’d been lucky and had mine earlier with the Littles, while he’d been slaving over a small stove) and I sat in the eating tent with my book. It’s a great boon, this new tent, gives us a great sitting room to be in after the Littles goes to bed without fear of being eaten by mozzies. Well there I was quietly turning pages when a little hairy sniffle comes past my legs. Blossom! She’d finally nosed her way in under the netting. Looked up when I admonished her, but showed no signs of taking fright or of retreating. Put hand in front of rubbery nose to stop her – she gave me a quick sniff and moved round further into the tent. After several more attempts finally had to take her by the armpits, turn her bodily round, the push her like a reluctant donkey back under the netting. She was really digging her haunches in, but eventually gave up and left. I’m sure it’s not an advisable thing to do and I was probably lucky not to end up with another chewed-off finger, but she just didn’t seem to be in a combative mood, I guess, so I made bold.

The next morning the Mr serenaded up with a full cooked breakfast of eggs, bacon, beans and toast. Boy that sets you up or what. Had trouble standing up straight, waist was under such duress.

This was the designated day for going to the Natural History Museum – or as they call it, the Australian Museum. Usual assortment of bones, dinosaurs, taxidermy and minerals. We spent ages there, there was of course loads to see, and Littles loved it. Have to say, their labelling was on the very skimpy side, and the least said about their taxidermy skills and the state of the specimens the better, but the whole museum was geared as much as at all possible to being accessible to children. They could pat masses of the exhibits (who were in a shockingly loved state), the could climb under gigantic turtle shells, they could look through microscopes, wrap themselves up in snake-skins and kangaroo skins, read storybooks about animals, touch rocks and minerals, draw pictures of rock formations, play around with casts of all the famous hominid skulls, juggle bones (again, totally unlabelled, quite impressive though) in a random higgledy piggeldy pile. In fact, dare I say, even the adults enjoyed actually feeling a real echidna, and finding out just how soft a platypus’s fur really is (at least, the bits that are still there and not entirely worn away by thousands of little hands stroking it).

By the end of the museum we were quite flagging, and left in the full knowledge that there was more to be looked at. Next time. We took a short walk to the Sydney Tower.

Now, normally this isn’t the sort of attraction we would be paying to see. However, it was the fourth thing on our annual pass, and we’d never seen it, so up the elevator to the umpteenth floor we went.

It really was surprisingly pleasant. Beautiful clear day, and you really can see every bit of Sydney. They have binoculars positioned at plenty of points round the place, with startlingly good magnification. It’s both intriguing and slightly off-putting suddenly to zoom in to someone parking rather badly at one corner of the park, and then someone juggling in front of a small crowd at the other end of it. People lifting cups of coffee to their lips in the cafes, children running round and round the waterfeature fountain in front of the Convention Centre. All in one swoop. … Plus, it was air conditioned and didn’t require much walking. Always a bonus.

Well eventually we tore ourselves away and now went for the main feature the Littles had been looking forward to: a ride on the monorail. Why she was so enthralled by this we don’t know, the fact remains that those few stops seem to have been some of the most memorable moments from the trip as far as she’s concerned. Off it went, and we got off at Chinatown to have a mosie.

The much-anticipated monorail and the first lion in Chinatown

Non doing a Gregory Peck impression from Roman Holiday at the Mouth of Truth... and riding the weird semi-caucasian lion


Mmm. We’ve made a mental note of the ambition to arrive at Chinatown ravenous and unencumbered by a child, and eat our way down the street. There were tasty-looking things on sale EVERYWHERE, but we’d just had a rather bland and very filling lunch rather late in the afternoon so there was no chance at all of indulging. Littles rode on no fewer than SIX lions (four Chinese, two rather weird half-Caucasian ones), after which the Chinatown escapade was considered closed. We retired back to the campsite.

We considered going for a refresher in the pool once we got back, but the whole effort of it seemed more than it was worth, even to junior members... so you get an idea of how tired we were by the time we hit camp. Had a shower instead, and dinner as fast as possible. The second night we used (or the Mr used, as he did the cooking throughout) the camp kitchen ('ooh a'say....') instead of our burner, and it was much easier. I think I'd still quite like to get hold of a table, we can probably just about fit it in (the car, that is). Facilities seem to vary a lot at the camps so sometimes it's easier to use one's own stove – for the first time this time round, the kitchen was easier. I guess one just has to play it by ear.

To my regret, as we were early and moreover ate in the kitchen, Blossom didn't come visiting: I hadn't had my camera to hand the night before and had been counting on it being a recurring episode. So no bush-tailed possum pics. Bed, though, bed!! For the first time camping we actually slept soundly... nice mattress, no rain keeping us awake, no wind about to rip off the tent... just delightful, wonderful BED. Finally. Perseverance pays off. Well, the odds are that if you're camping in the summer in Australia it should be sunny most of the time but we seem to have avoided it quite successfully so far.

Parrots up close and personal at the campsite, and Non and Daddy enjoy playing the DS in the evening.

Monday morning was bright and lovely as ever, and the Littles wasn't at all averse to the idea of spending the day at Tarronga Zoo but we decided that would be overegging the custard so packed up and called it a day. Just too cumulatively tired to be traipsing about a zoo all day. Drove home very pleasantly, absolutely beautiful day. (There was, of course, the surprising little incident where Ian's mobile phone ran – a rare occurrence in itself, even more surprisingly it was the W&W on the other side. Where were we? No weekend Skype call? We must be dead, maimed, abducted, and generally rotting in a ditch. Even MORE surprising as it was by this time probably about 1 in the morning over there. Oh dear.) Unpacked and cleaned up over the course of the afternoon while intermittently falling asleep in the heat. It was SO hot. Had to unroll and repack the tent (and quite a few other things) because it was still dewy when we packed up, so they had to be dried off. BOY did they dry off fast on the lawn. Toasted more like. So bright it was painful to open one's eyes outside without sunglasses. Put the tent out to dry tarpaulin-side up and within seconds it was too hot to stand on. And I'm really talking seconds here, perhaps 15.

Late in the afternoon the heat ebbed enough for us to venture to the beach. Had good time. Returned slightly on the late side, particularly as I was putting on a spinach and tofu lasagne and it always takes some little time to cook. Boy, we were hungry and ready for some veggies after loads of bacon and eggs, I've rarely seen Lara tuck in like that. She barely said a word until her plate was empty, must be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.


1 comment:

  1. Great report on a very interesting trip to Sydney, and that sleepover. You have become quite accomplished campers now: I remeber that when 8 of us went to Greece everything went much quicker on setting up the tents after the first couple of nights. Rain the third night also helped. Are the campsites in Australia graded, like the Italian ones were when we camped here for the only time in the sixties? Then only the top ones with 5 stars were worth considering.

    How big was Blossum? cat size? Sorry about the interuption on the way back. And how is Neil getting on, has he found work yet? The Non looks very happy in the Sydney pictures, although when I first saw it I didn't realise the croc was made of lego.

    Love to you all,