Trip Report – Capertee to Bathurst
Saturday 8th & Sunday 9th June 2019.
I can’t find my keys
…was the text message I viewed on my phone early morning Saturday 8th June enroute to our meeting spot at Capertee. Luckily the message was slow to hit my phone and Joe was able to meet us on time for our trip across the once golden country of Sofala, Hill End and Ophir, having found his keys the night before.
The drive from Sydney was overcast, foggy and cool but the weather didn’t dampen the spirits of the group slowly gathering at the rest area on the western side of the road at Capertee.
|Rob Drummond, TL with Kira||Patrol|
|Shane & Kylie Beatson with Joel, Isabel, Olivia||Patrol|
|Kristi & Ryan Jones with Adam, Jacinta, Jocelyn and Andre||Prado|
|Joe Cillia and Lucas||Landie|
|Visitors: Rex and Susan Farr with Harrison and Amber Rose||FJ Cruiser|
|Visitors: Paul and Kathleen Gollagher||BT 50|
Introductions were required as we had two families of visitors, the Farrs and Gollaghers and it was Joe’s first trip as a TRAX Member. Good to see some new faces. After our customary prayer, we set off north along Castlereagh Highway only to quickly turn left at the top of the hill onto Upper Turon Road. Within a kilometre,
we stopped at a safe location to air down to enjoy a smoother ride and protect the roads, and then wandered off to enjoy the views as we drove across the ridges through grazing country. After a while we started descending into the Turon River valley and eventually past the Turon Gates campground which was almost full as this was the long weekend.
A short time after we stopped for some morning tea at a creek crossing and was met by a fellow visiting family on their farm close to the creek. He thought we were going to take the wood he had piled up into the shape of a bonfire.
Having placated his erroneous thoughts, he set about setting fire to the wet timber like someone attempting to smoke out the mozzies (he really was friendly). Just after crossing the creek and passing the farm house and buildings, we turned right to continue following the Turon River towards Sofala. Unfortunately the road was blocked due to roadworks which required a backtrack of about 5 kms to the turn off near the farm house. Turning right here, we drove south towards Palmers Oakey, west through Winburndale Nature Reserve, Limekilns then north through Paling Yards and finally re-joining Upper Turn Road and turning west to Sofala. This detour wasn’t what we planned but took us through some lovely countryside which we would have missed! We later found from a local that the road was blocked due to road and other drainage being installed as part of the road upgrade. Hopefully the area still keeps its charms as a place for quiet adventure with the road upgrades.
A lunch break at Sofala and time to wander around the town and enjoy the historic buildings and ambiance before the short drive across the blacktop to Hill End, our destination for the night.
Having arrived at Hill End late in the afternoon, it was time to set up camp which we finally did at Glendora Campground. Camping fees are $8 for adults and $5 for children and if you want a shower it’s a whole $1! After everyone ate their various dinners, we gathered what firewood we could to build on the campfire started earlier. We could only find one reasonable log which was a couple of metres long, so Rob got out the bush saw and turned it into four logs which gave the fire plenty of energy to keep us warm. It also gave inspiration to Susan and Rex for a damper! The damper was a great success but it was a team effort around the fire to get coals on top of the camp oven and provide some colour to the damper. Plenty of butter and jam made the perfect dessert! Thanks Susan and Rex!
We awoke to an almost cloudless sky but it was foggy and cool. We packed up and Rob held a Bush Service with assistance from Kylie.
The first stop for the morning was the Hill End Bakery where we all ordered various hot bevvies and tasty food. This turned out to be our morning tea break as there were so many of us, with other travellers too, that the coffee machine couldn’t keep up with demand so a short stop turned into a long but enjoyable one.
Back on our way, we headed north to check out the Cornish Roasting Pits. These were used, not to bake lots of yummy Cornish Pasties as some had thought, but to roast quartz thereby weakening the hard rock. The pits were art of the gold extraction activity started in the 1850’s. Once weakened by the heat in the pits the quartz was then transported down the hill to the Battery, smashed by various means in the battery crushers then passed through the troughs, or Long Toms where the gold was finally collected. The area was enjoyed by all and a great insight into the history of our golden past.
Having saddled up again, we headed west along Ullamalla Road for our journey to Dixons Long Point. The road is in good condition though a little dusty and passes through farmland. The road mainly follows the ridge lines which affords fantastic views across the various hill tops in all directions. Approaching the drop down to the Macquarie River we took it easy to help reduce the heat in our brakes, and other underbody components, as the water was bound to be a lot cooler and therefore could cause some ingress of water, due to the sudden temperature change, into those important parts rarely seen on our 4WDs. This was particularly important for Shane and Rex as they were towing their campers.
Rob set up his GoPro to capture what may soon become historic footage as the crossing at Dixons Long Point has been touted for a bridge instead of the excitement of bouncing over the rocky river bed. Once over the other side, Rob stopped and took photos of everyone else as they easily negotiated the crossing which was barley up to the sills of our vehicles at the deepest point.
After everyone made it across, we stopped for some lunch in this wonderful setting. Our new friends, Paul and Kathleen had to start their trip back to Queensland, so left us to begin their long journey. It was great to meet them and hope they are able to join us again in the future. Paul has also offered to show us around the lower end of Queensland and even Fraser Island… there’s a trip in there somewhere!
After our lunch, we started climbing out of the valley and encountered a roughish track with a stepped near-hairpin bend which added a little excitement to what was an otherwise easy drive. Following along the road using the HEMA, the Garmin GPS and the excellent road signage, we made it to the Forth Crossing Picnic area near Ophir where we said our goodbyes as some were heading home and others staying on, making the best of the long weekend.
The drive towards Bathurst took us through more spectacular scenery and there are some farm houses in most excellent locations with near 360 degree views of the surrounding countryside. The trip will be repeated again before the Macquarie River isn’t a challenge anymore.
Those staying for the rest of the weekend…..
The group prayer, giving thanks to God for the weekend, and then departed from Ophir on the Sunday afternoon. While the Jones family decided to camp another night along the Cox River, the Beatson’s and Farr’s headed towards Bathurst for a camp. Without a camp site in mind, Susan searched and found a big, open, grassy, FREE camping ground on the Wiki Camps App ( Macquarie Woods Recreation Park NSW State Forest). There were no showers, but it had a drop toilet and a picnic BBQ which came in handy for a fire. We arrived late afternoon and set up before dark. Then Rex, Shane and Joel took the GU to collect some firewood. While the girls played some card games Harry set up his telescope as the sky was clear. After dinner we sat around the campfire eating toasted marshmallows, relaxing and chatting. Harry got a good focus of the moon on the telescope. The children were fascinated to see the bumpy craters on the moon. It was quite a chilly evening.
The next morning the children restarted the campfire to warm up. We all had a breakfast of bacon and eggs. In between packing up the children played some more games, Joel played with his mini Nissan on some dirt bumps. While the two camper trailers were drying out Kylie and Susan took the children for a walk around the camp site. We saw kangaroo footprints in the dry mud.
We left the camp about midday and headed towards Bathurst as we needed to stock up on bread. We found a nice bakery and then stopped at a parkland in Kelso along the Macquarie for a quick lunch.
We continued on our journey towards home. Shane wanted to show Rex Lake Wallace. We drove around the lake to see what the camping sites were like and if it would be a viable option for a future camp spot. We noted that whilst there are showers and toilets there, they are only open certain hours!
Being the long weekend and considering the traffic, we decided to avoid the Great Western Highway and use Bells Line of Road. While the roads were still busy it was a much prettier journey, particularly as we went through the leafy apple orchids and cafes near Bilpin.
It was a wonderful weekend. Plenty of beautiful scenery along the dirt roads, warm campfires and great fellowship.
The Beatson family
Thanks to Paul and Rob for the pics of this trip. Copies available on request – every car captured crossing DLP!