The impetus for the weekend was a visit from Craig and Kristen Cheetham who were up from Benalla - a number of the ACT LCOOLers had been on one or more of Craig's trips, and it was time to repay the experience.
They were up here for a week, and saw most of the Canberra tourist attractions - the weekend though was time for some nice tracks, bush and a beer.
We had planned to stay in the Araluen pub on the Friday night, but it changed hands the week before, and there were 20 dirt bike riders booked in to stay - not quite the family atmosphere that we had been looking for - we instead, took Plan B which was to camp a few kilometres up the track next to the Deua River.
The wind was gusting - one minute it was still, and the next it was blowing unoccupied chairs from one side of the fire to the other.
A couple of beers and bbq tea soon put any weather issues to the back burner, and it was just nice to be out.
Next morning, we were all packed up by 7:30, but were waiting for Andrew Lukies and Steve/Sandy - both expected before the planned 0800 departure - Andrew arrived with five minutes to spare, and S&S met us on the track (what, late???? - that'll be a dollar !!! )
We pushed on through some lovely bush, on and up the Merricumbene Fire Trail towards the Bendethera Valley. We planned on a late morning tea so that we could get into the valley for lunch, but good progress got us in there by 1230.
This was great for the kids who were really looking forward to some 'kid time' - little Steph said of the Cheetham girls "Mum, can they come with us EVERY time we go camping?" ;-)
Craig Cheetham had a tree dragged into the campsite on the back of his chain before most of the tents were up, and Rutman followed with another - gotta have a good bed of coals for the cookoff!!
As the kids made cubbies, and played by the river, the girls had wine time and a chat, and the boys talked everything 4by.
Smorgasbords have been a bit of specialty for a while now, and this was no exception, except that we planned a Wine and Cheese session prior - our evening activities went something like:
In the morning, we had a 10am departure planned which gave heaps of time for bacon and eggs, half a dozen coffees and a chat. We lined up for group photo's, and pulled out of camp at 10:01
Dampier Trig Fire Trail gives a great view of the campsite from quite a height, and we made a note to get a photo from up high, while the rest are still in camp - might make an LCOOL sign with all the bodies ;-)
We pushed on through a couple of tight hair pins - the rocky steps which had been some level of interest in the past had been graded and we safely made it down to the river where we aired up, did our last collection of fines, and made for the hot bread shop at Braidwood.
We said our goodbyes over a meat pie and sausage roll before hitting the road for home. Ivan and Lea stopped with Craig and Kristen in Bungendore to check out the local antiquities and art (more a girl thing I think..)
Footnote (we arrived home to no power - it had been lost in the high winds - good use of Craig's 12 volt lighting systems was made so that we could get tea, baths and bed sorted - the power coming back on long after we had hit the sack)
The weekend used the usual means of "Sergeant at Arms" to raise money for the Southcare Helicopter service - a total of $73.10 raised through some very imaginative fines, which brings the LCOOL ACT total donations to Southcare to $561.30
Thanks to all that came, especially Craig and Kristen from Melbourne, and all the Sydney-siders - you almost outnumbered the ACT guys!!
For those interested in the track file for the trip itself, you can find it at the bottom of the page.
Lined up as we head out
Once at the top of the first climb, it's straight back down again
Whoops, after whoops, after whoops!
and some nice rocky, slippery bits - Craig picks his route
With all the heavy wind that we'd had, there were quite a few places that had timber down on the track
This one needed the saw out to get through
One minute it's blue sky and warm - the next we're up in the mist
Continuing down Merricumbene Fire Trail
Here's that mist again - much heavier this time
What's this? - a Patrol stuck in our convoy??? - No, it's Alex, along for the weekend
Here's that mist - the trees so tall
lined up while we clear the track
along the ridgeline
Damian getting up a particularly rocky section - this is the last time you'll see his 60 series - he's got a new TD 100 on the way!!
Alex on his way up
John is up and over
One of the creeks in the valley
There are a couple of crossings on our way into our campsite
Grant crossing the riverr
Rutman has found some dead timber for our fire tonight
Chop chop - need some timber for our cookoff tonight
The kids tending the fire while they wait for Rutman's fuel
The kids loved being in camp early (1230), and were off looking for a dip
Meanwhile Lea, Sandy and Kristen have some 'girl time'
This photo was named "Fascinating Chair" by Craig Buckley - it's actually a laptop playing Craig Cheetham's Madigan Line video
Craig up in a tree - putting up our fluoro light for the night
Damian with his "Mar Hor", or "Galloping Horses" - absolutely beautiful - he couldn't find a plate big enough, so covered his table in foil
These on a mandarin base
And these on pineapple - the photo's look like they're straight out of a cookbook - not on a camp table in the middle of the bush!
Damian getting a feed after all his hard work.
Josh and Andrew Lukies in the foreground
Craig Buckley - deep in thought ;-)))
Adam up top, helping Ivan load up
Next morning - time to go - Craig and Steve use their hoses to put the fire out.
Alex, Craig and Ivan
Tiime for group photo's - The kids have found their spot on top of the cars
Grant and Craig running back to take their place
Everyone in front of their cars
Steve and Sandy on their way into the air-up point.
Canberra to Araluen Pub via Braidwood..
Araluen Pub to Bendethera via Merricumbene Fire Trail..
Bendethera to Canberra via Dampier Mountain Fire Trail, and Braidwood..