Flashie and I went camping for four days and this time we had a lovely big tent to live in!
We had initially planned to go to East Gippsland and stay in the Snowy River National Park, where we’d be close enough for day trips to Buchan Caves and the Bullant Brewery, but also laze away an afternoon or two next to the river should we feel that way inclined. And if there was beer. What am I talking about? Of course, there would be beer!
So, how the hell did we end up in Smoko???
As it happens, a few fires had started to spring up across the state in February and March, thanks to some really hot weather, tinder dry foilage and ever-helpful lightning strikes. The closest fires to our would-be camp were in the Baw Baw National Park and Bunyip State Forest – both a good bit west of Buchan so we weren’t really concerned about it, But like good prepared citizens, we kept our eyes on the fire situation and agreed that if things were looking hairy by Wednesday before the long weekend arrived, we’d pull the plug on Buchan and consider going somewhere less likely to toast us.
Flashie set about coming up with a Plan B. Preferably somewhere within a 3-4 hour drive, with interesting things to see and do but equally with campground surroundings nice enough that if we wanted to just hang out and chill, it would be a good place to do it. Oh, and a fire pit. Because contained fire is mesmerising and awesome for baked potatoes.
By Wednesday, lots of the smaller bushfires had joined up like they’d gate crashed a party they found on Facebook, and were hellbent on searing the eastern half the state, so Plan B was invoked. Thus it was that late Thursday afternoon after work, we hightailed it towards Bright in the north east of the state, well away from blazing Gippsland.
Flashie had found a decent campground near the alpine township of Bright, and we arrived just after sunset. We unloaded the car and set about pitching a tent in the twilight and finished the job in the growing darkness. Fortunately there was next to no wind, so we decided not to bother pegging the tent down at all points in the dark and opted instead for food and a beverage before a bit of chill out time.
The following morning we finished setting up camp, inspected our surroundings and collected some supplies in town. We were about to settle in for an afternoon of cheeky beers and World Championship Scrabble when another camper approached our site to warn us about the brown snake that was happily sunning itself about 20 metres away from our tent. Any thoughts we had of bush weeing were quickly axed, given such action might be detrimental to our health should Brownie be inadvertently rained on!
Quite a few new arrivals to the campground turned up during the course of the day so we were glad we came early and had the pick of the place. Brownie must've decided it was a bit crowded because he moved on; I saw him on the path as I approached the river late in the afternoon, and figured he was either scarpering, gathering a posse for imminent Snake v Human war, or it wasn't Brownie at all but Brownie V2.0. In any event, I didn't see either of them again.
We spent Saturday afternoon mooching around Beechworth, checking out the local lake, park and cemetery, and avoiding spiders (bastard thing was lurking in a public toilet, which suddenly cured me of my need to go). We also managed to pick up some beers at Bridge Rd Brewery, but you're not surprised to hear that, are you?
Flashie decided to walk through this:
....with her eyes shut and me calling out directions, because we'd been sensible for ages and it was getting boring and surely it's not a camping trip until someone falls over and splits their head open on a large piece of granite, right?
Fortunately, I'm ace at telling people where to go so Flash made it to the end without bloodshed.
We found the local cemetery including the Chinese section with its Burning Towers (for burning paper not bodies); the grave of Alexander Bell (no, not the phone bloke) and a bunch of graves of Catholic Mothers & Sisters, nicely laid out on a fenced lawn. Not out and about with the common folk, even in death, eh?
I like cemeteries; they're quite serene places. I can't be buried in one though. I'm not dead yet.