A trip away between pandemics and bushfires – Wee Jasper March 2020

Let me just start out by saying that 2020 has not really gone to plan. We’ve not been majorly affected ourselves, but many people have and our entire family are thinking of those people across Australian and the world that have not had a great year.

We decided to escape for a weekend camping after not being able to over summer. The 2019/20 bushfires had destroyed most of the campgrounds close to Canberra, and had shut off a lot of the coast as well. So we hadn’t got away properly in quite some time. I’d spent a night sleeping in the back of the van in Feb at a friends party, but Rosie and Ollie ended up sick that night and weren’t able to come. And with COVID-19 ramping up and a probably lockdown happening across Australia, we thought it might be a good weekend to get away.

We took our friends who were supposed to be celebrating their 9th wedding anniversary, but had plans cancelled on them due to Coronavirus shutdowns. These guys suggested 2 nights away instead of one, as they have a lot of gear to set up and pack away, and we were easily persuaded to stay 2 nights. We chose Micalong Reserve Campgrounds in Wee Jasper as it’s a favourite site of ours and the stream there is less dangerous than the riverbanks at other camgrounds in the area. Also, everywhere else was closed or burnt down.

We headed for the campsite around 3.30pm, after a detour to Bungendore to catch up with some friends. We took the backroads to Yass and then went through to Wee Jasper down that way, rather than through Uriarra Crossing like usual. It’s a very lovely view when on that road, although the road is bit skinny when going down the steep parts.

Back roads
Lookout towards Lake Burrinjuck
Lookout at the entrance to Wee Jasper

We got into camp around 5.30pm and managed to find a spot in a space right next to the creek that’s usually very crowded with caravans and other long term stays. We quickly set up, let Ollie play in the creek for a bit and settled down to wait for the others to arrive.

Our little setup

Dinner came and went, gourmet hot dogs, and then we settled down again with some red wine and beer to wait again.

Waiting for our friends to arrive.

Our friends arrived around 10pm with their kids asleep in the back of the car. They tow a camper trailer, so there’s quite a bit of faffing about with poles and other items when setting up. Their jockey wheel had broken on the drive in as well, so they weren’t able to disconnect the car. But with our help (my help, Rosie went to bed around 10.30), they were all packed up and had the kids transferred over by 11.30pm. We started a quick little fire, had some scotch, solved some of the worlds problems and then retired around 1am. Maybe 2am?

The next morning we work up at a fairly reasonable hour (for Ollie). Rosie took the noisy one for breakfast and for a walk around the campgrounds while I slept in just a little bit longer. Breakfast was bacon and eggs. We set up the hammock for the third time ever on two trees right next to the creek.

The rest of the day was spent doing not much at all. A lot of wine and beer were consumed (from 11am, we’re not savages), the kids had a great time playing in the freezing creek water and Ollie only needed 3 or 4 changes of clothes throughout the day. The dads set about building some stepping stones to let us easily cross the creek to use the bathroom on the other side, but somehow it ended up being a small dam that seriously altered the course of the creek.

Not show: dam that ruined this little creek
Both setups

That nights dinner was pasta and bolognaise sauce, with even more wine and beer. That night we toasted marshmallows on the fire, had a few chats with our new (very close) neighbours and then into bed. 27 degree days with 10 degree nights are pretty much Rosie’s ideal camping weather, and it’s hard to argue with that. I lost my phone that night, but it turned up the next morning after only a few hours panic.

We were pretty warm in the tent with the new thick sleeping bags. Ollie still sleeps in between us, but he’s outgrown his furry little onsie so we’ll need to find him some more cold weather camping gear later this year. He did great as usual while camping, no issues with him and the fire (oooo, hot, ouch! Watch out buddy!) and he only tried to sneak away a couple of times. He did steal our friends wedding rings as she did the (endless) dishes, but he gave it directly to me so we’re saying he just picked it up for safe keeping.

The idea to get out of a pandemic town and spend the weekend camping must have occurred to everyone, because on Saturday night the campsite filled up almost completely. It was a good idea to get there a bit earlier. This might be the last camping trip we do for a while. This week NSW and QLD are both closing their national parks due to isolation requirements, so it will be almost impossible to find an open campsite for the next few weeks. I’ll keep an eye open if anyone online finds one just in case, as it would be really good to get away at least once more before it starts getting too cold to go out.

Van glamour shot
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