Monday, January 15, 2018

Natures Fairylights

One of the reasons I wanted to return to Bundanoon was to visit the Glow Worm Glen. Obviously only after dark, it's a short descent to the Glen. We set out at dusk as suggested, walking the track as the sun set so no need for torches. The Glen is a nestled within several rock faces, closely aligned with a small creek running though. There is a purpose built platform to view the glow worms.

We joined the small gathering of people and patiently waited for the light to disappear from the sky. Glow worms are the larvae of fungus gnats. The female fungus gnat lays approximately 130 eggs before dying. After 8-9 days, the larvae hatch and position themselves within tiny rock cavities where they can retreat if conditions become unfavourable. As night falls, the glow worms lure insects into their webs by their glowing tail light. This blue green light is produce by the chemical reaction of certain body fluids of the glow worm and oxygen. Once tangled in the web, the insect is reeled in to be consumed by the larvae who needs to eat enough to sustain enough energy to metamorphose and survive the next breeding season.

The wait was a test of patience but eventually tiny blueish specs were visible and slowly became brighter. As more larvae turned on their lights, the line of the rock crevices were outlined. Trying to get a photo was useless in this case and we will have to remember natures fairy lights in our own photographic memory.

Knowing that it was after 9pm, we still had to trek back uphill to the car before driving to our camping spot and we had a very early start, we decided not to linger although I wished we could in this magical place. In the end we had managed to fit lots of fun activities into the day and have many memories to treasure.

Day 3 - Xmas 5 Day

It was an early start as we needed to pack up our campsite at Moss Vale including the slackline in order to arrive at the orienteering to start before 9.30am. Luckily it was a short easy drive to Penrose State Forest, a pine forest full of interesting rock features. Both girls made large mistakes and were disappointed with their runs.

The day quickly warmed up, so we were all very grateful for post run refreshments at a cafe in Bundanoon. We had booked into Gambell's Rest campground at Morton National Park for the night and headed to set up our tents before exploring. Ever since the 2103 Highland Fling mountain bike race, where I first camped at this spot, I've wanted to come back but it hadn't worked out until now. With our bellies extremely full from a large and early lunch and our tents up, we headed off to Fairy Bower Falls.

Despite it not being remotely close to sunrise, we briefly stopped at Sunrise Point for a spectacular view over Bundanoon Creek before continuing on to the Fairy Bower Falls carpark.

It was a short but steep hike down the escarpment, 1.2km (plus 600m climb) to the bottom of the falls. Unfortunately Eoin's knee didn't enjoy bending on the steps so we left him at the halfway point, where we crossed the Fairy Bower creek above the falls.

Dropping over and contouring along the escarpment was wonderful. The steel path hugged the cliff edge at the same time as providing excellent views. 

Lots of steps led us down where we came across a 'No Access' sign placed in the middle of the path to the waterfall. Knowing that others had been down there today and the path was clear, we held a group conference and once convincing Katy that it would be ok, decided to continue walking quickly as a group watching for any signs of a landslide.Twas a little nerve wracking as we passed underneath massive rock overhangs!

As the path flattened out, the eucalypt forest transformed into rainforest with lush ferns, moss covered rocks everywhere and the sound of the water falling. A gorgeous tapestry of vines hung from the walls of the sheer cliff with the old stairs cut into the rock seen behind. Clambering carefully down the the slippery last section we arrived at the base of this beautiful waterfall.

All hot and sweaty, we enjoyed a refreshing *gasp* shower beneath the falls while the girls explored the surrounding area.

After the cool shower, we were ready for the return uphill hike and before we knew it, we had arrived  at the halfway point of the creek crossing. The girls had discovered an inventive way to dam the water by placing their bums into the water race, a groove that the water had made into the rock. They had so much fun damming the water, before jumping up and racing to the edge of the waterfall to watch the gush of water tumble over the edge. We must have spent another 30 mins or so here.

Completely drenched, the girls continued the 600m uphill back to the carpark and were almost dry on arrival. At the cars everyone was hot again and voted to find the local pool. We spent the remainder of the afternoon cooling off in the chilly water!

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Day 2 - Xmas 5 Days

Canonleigh, only 30km west of Moss Vale, was the location for Day 2. The drive though took nearly an hour thanks to a learner driver and 10km of rough gravel road. After hilly and hot orienteering courses we made our way to Carrington Falls via a coffee shop at Moss Vale.

Located within Budderoo National Park, we found this area to be a popular spot especially on a warm day. Luckily for us, we arrived in the small carpark just as someone was leaving! Locals directed us to the ideal swimming area known as Nellies Glen. After a short walk, we discovered the spot! It was quiet crowded but we stashed our stuff on the rocks and were keen for a swim. A small waterfall cascaded into descent sized pool below. The water was chilly but refreshing and the pool turned out to be relatively shallow with a rock platform.

Fairly quickly, the kids were climbing the steep embankment to the explore the upper sections of Missingham Creek. We spent most of our time at this area with it's many steps and rock pools. The kids caught tadpoles, made dams and generally had an awesome time discovering what nature had to offer.

We enjoyed a picnic lunch before an exploration party set off up stream. The rest of us followed shortly after and were pleasantly surprised to come across Blue Pool. It was very much like a pool - about 60m long and 40m wide although the water was more brackish than blue but that probably had more to do with the overcast conditions. We all plunged in and swam to the other end. It was much colder than the waterfall pool at Nellie Glen.

It was great to be able to dip in and out of the water all afternoon. Eventually it was time to go but before departing we ventured a short distant past the cars to Carrington Falls. The Kangaroo River tumbles over the Budderoo plateau forming the spectacular 50+m waterfall. There were some brave souls who swam in the infinity rockpool at the edge. We were all too nervous and viewed this impressive waterfall downstream and a very safe distance from the edge.....well kinda of....

I'm keen to return to this area as there seems to be heaps of great places to explore and walk to. On the bucket list for 2018!

Friday, January 5, 2018

A 20 Year Break

Our entry to the Christmas 5 Day orienteering was really the result of wanting to camp at Morton National Park which has been on my bucket list for some time. In searching, I realised that the Christmas 5 Day orienteering carnival was based in the Southern Highlands and thought perhaps we could run a few days.

Unfortunately the camping at Morton National Park was full for most nights except for the 29th which we booked. As for the other two nights, we were based at a caravan park in Moss Vale.  Cath, Eoin and Aoife camped with us.

And so after a 20 year hiatus, we were back! Reminiscing on the drive to the first day at Chevalier College, Bowral we recalled, if our memory serves us correctly that our last Christmas 5 Days was in 1997 and based around Belangalo.

Both the girls entered with Ella running by herself, while we took turns shadowing Katy.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Merry Christmas

Santa once again thought the girls had been well behaved this year leaving their Santa sacks filled with very generous gifts. Each received a coding robot - Katy a mouse and Ella a Sphero Ball.

After the initial Santa sack excitement, we dragged the girls out on a family 'run'. Up to the horse paddock we trotted, where Andy peeled off for a real run. Katy and I remained chatting to a couple who were attending to their horses while Ella wandered back home. Katy was pretty impressed when she was asked if she wanted to brush the horse called Patrick! 

Back home a few more presents (from interstate) were opened before readying the house for the arrival of the rest of the Hogg family. Ella was in charge of table decorations and did a fantastic job with the rosemary, orange and jasmine floating candles as well as the fresh cut maple leaves.

Arrival of the 9 guests saw the Christmas tree nearly disappear under the presents! Food was gathered and initially prepped before we began the traditional gift giving.

With all the excitement over, our focus turned to cooking the roast dinner. We had the chicken and lamb roasting in the weber on the deck; the potatoes, pumpkin, sweet potatoes in the oven plus an assortment of vegies on the stove top. Timing was the key and it all went smoothly to plan. By mid afternoon we were all enjoying a roast Christmas lunch on the deck.

To help digest the feast we had just devoured, we all headed down to the Cook oval for a match of cricket. Fun times.

Returning back home we enjoyed the desserts on offer - orange and chocolate cake; coconut, lime and mango semifreddo and fruit platter. Definitely no need for dinner! A very relaxing and enjoyable day just as Christmas should be.

Unfortunately for Katy, the end of the day spelt disaster. As she was being swung in the hammock, the rope broke resulting in her crashing to the ground with her cheekbone taking the brunt of the force. Luckily she escaped with only a graze and bruised cheek rather than a fracture.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Christmas Prep

This year, the lodge was booked before us by another family and so we were to remain in Canberra for Christmas. For the first time ever we offered to host Christmas so on Christmas Eve there were a few preparations to sort - cleaning the house, last minute food shopping as well as table decorations to be folded and dessert to be made. All was completed in ample time, in fact we even enjoyed  impromptu Christmas Eve drinks on our deck with a few friends. All extremely relaxing!

More Advent Happenings

We scored a lovely balmy evening for our annual outdoor cinema trip at the Botanical Gardens. Susie, Patrick, Joshua and Mia joined us for a picnic dinner while we waited for the sun to set and the film to begin. The movie, The Star, was a cartoon animation of the Nativity Story. Provided lots of questions afterwards especially from Katy.