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LCOOL - Buckland Valley Base Camp - Easter 05 - 24 to 29 Mar 05

Buckland Valley Easter 05.

With a busy weekend expected and campsites at a premium, our trip leader Craig Cheetham headed in to bags a favourite spot on the Wednesday only to be almost run off the road by a log truck coming out at 9 o’clock at night! It turned out we had to watch out for them all weekend as they didn’t stop for Easter.

Thursday morning was dedicated to setting up a giant truck tarp, (to scare away the rain) barbeque and toilets.   By spreading camping gear all over the valley and roping the remaining area off, we were able to fend off the constant stream of campers who wanted the same ideal site until the LCOOL crowd started to arrive.   With the recent Alpine fires, wood was aplenty and didn’t take Harry long to fill his ute.   The Cams from Benalla, Sanders and Gunderson families from Canberra were soon followed by the McRobb's.   All manner of accommodation was being set up from swags through to camper trailers and solar powered caravans.

A swarm of kids soon gathered riding bikes and playing in the creek, young Ben Sanders taking less than 15 minutes to be totally saturated for the second time.   LOL.

After dinner the crew settled in for a big night (1.15am), the King family, GCs family and Peter Dudley all from Melbourne setting up in the dark.   Leanne and Steve taking the best on ground award (for the second trip in a row) and paying for it next day :-))

With the first trip not due till after lunch we all had a lazy morning watching the Nankervis crew set up.   Craig erected a flying fox for the kids using his electric winch leading to plenty of excitement and a few hard landings.   Our drive headed up the Selwyn Rd then through some of the fire devastated area of Twin Creeks Track.   Climbing up to 1400 metres we stopped for the great view and a chance for some to let their tyres down.   The run across the Buffalo Range was going smoothly until a couple of inconsiderate 4bys (one with a trailer) forced most of the convoy to back up ½ a kilometre.   Meanwhile over the radio we could hear Glen & Sharon had arrived all the way from Sydney along with the Everett family from Canberra.   In the dry the ridge track didn’t pose any problems to the convoy coming out directly behind Mt Buffalo then dropping down into the valley for the run back to camp.  

Stan and his son Michael were next to arrive making a total of some 17 kids all of whom got on so well and surprisingly behaved themselves throughout the weekend.   Prize for the best meal cooked on the camp fire would surely go to Pete Nankervis who had the group drooling over his prawn skewers wrapped in prosciutto ham.   Mmmmm now that’s taking camping to a whole new level.
Locals John & Jenny pulled in late with their new South African Jurgens camper trailer impressing the crew with its many luxury features.

A sunny Saturday saw the group split, a few heading in to Bright for some retail therapy at the local market while the rest took off for the day drive.   Back up the Selwyn rd we turned left and climbed up Dingo Creek Track, a 600m climb in just over 3Km leading to a rocky pinch, many scrambling onto the summit of Mt Selwyn.   More great views for morning tea then off across the Tea Tree Range to Guys Hut.   Down Hart Spur a few were bellying out on the giant whoop de doos put in during the fires.   Heading up the Humffray River one could not help but be impressed by the picturesque valley and the 8 river crossings.   After lunch it was on up to the West Buffalo Logging Rd where the leading cars were doing up to 70 kph while those at the back were lucky to be going 20 due to the dust.   Steve’s new Top Spin air filter was working overtime and he probably could have sold it 10 times on that road.   Crossing the Buffalo River we headed for home up Camp Creek Track then down Scotchman’s and finally a little more dust into camp.   Nothing too difficult during the day but a little rain would have been nice to add some challenge.

Meanwhile a few more had arrived while we were away, John and daughter Sally and overnighters Darren McRae with John and James Koniw who had come all the way from Geelong to deliver and fit Ivan’s new sliders.   If only Ivan knew the sub tank had to be dropped to get them on he would have used it before the main!.   He he…..a tough job on a 90.

Saturday night was to be a camp smorgasbord dinner so there was much action around the fire.   Probably burnt half a tonne of wood to keep all the camp ovens going but the result was great.   Dazza started us off with his chilli bean dip while Peter Dudley baked up some bread to go with his spinach dip.   The ACT crew were cooking up a storm with their roast lamb and vegies, jacket potatoes in the coals and Sandy’s special apple Cobbler.   GC put in a lovely chicken curry, McRobbs grilled ribs, Peter N roast pork, finishing with a huge strawberry Pavlova from the Cheetham’s.   There were many other contributions to the table which I didn’t get to sample all adding to a terrific meal.   (Top idea Ivan)  The idea was also spawned to put together an LCOOL camp cook book with all our favourite recipes.

Another great night of jokes and tall stories around the campfire briefly interrupted by Craig’s fireworks and Serena’s screams as she fell off the creek bank into the blackberries whilst playing hide and seek.   Ouch……..

Easter Sunday and if you are a true believer, rabbits will bring you chocolate.   Well that’s what I learnt at Sunday school anyway;-) All the kids were taken down the creek while hundreds of eggs were thrown around the camp.   Glen then explained to them that the Easter bunny had crashed up near the tents and that started the biggest egg hunt I’ve ever seen.   Not sure who was having the most fun.   The kids or the parents watching.  

Eventually ready for the day drive we passed through Beverages station then up Pheasant Creek Track to the helipad on Gunn’s track.   More great views this time of Mt Hotham then over Mt Sugarloaf to the Hotham pay station at Buckland gap.   John was quick to spot a financial opportunity hopping into the toll booth and charging a gold coin entry fee.   That together with a few bucks collected later on raised $50 which will go towards an LCOOL donation for the RFDS.   Thankyou all.  

Craig & Joanne left us here for a trip to Historic Beechworth while the rest headed off on the Dargo road.   Right turn we arrived at what was probably the highlight for many, Blue Rag Range.    A challenging little climb with a nerve racking steep drop off leading to spectacular 360 degree views of the fire ravaged valleys from our lunch spot at the summit.  

Retracing our steps we then took the Twins Road around to Mt Murray.   The narrow track causing a few delays as we met several cars coming the other way.   Ivan was having some fuel issues too in the Prado as he had stalled whilst on the subtank.   A stick had speared through a grommet in the floor pan, shearing five wires from the subtank.    The main tank was all but empty but it was decided to press on, as he could nearly roll to camp on empty anyway.   Zach and Craig assembled their push bikes for the downhill run, the convoy unable to keep up until a flat tyre forced a retirement.

A light shower of rain put a dampener on the campfire festivities for what was for most their last night, although the stayers kicked on till midnight under the tarp.

Monday was pack up day with a lazy checkout to allow time for the tents to dry.   Craig Everett discovered the origin of yesterdays rattle with a couple of bolts missing that located the rear brake pads in place.    With many facing a 5 hour plus drive home, goodbyes were said concluding a great weekend with many new friendships formed.

I think Glen & Sharon summed the weekend the best,  “a relaxing time with great company, some awesome driving and a whole heap of fun”  

One of the Logging trucks on the Buckland Valley Rd - They didn't stop throughout the Easter weekend - Craig came off OK after meeting one on a corner - lucky, cos he had his caravan on as well!

Morning tea on top of  a high ridge

Rodney coming across a river on the Humffray River track

Steve and Leanne were last to bed (again) - Steve after a Stones or three (again) - here, he contemplates whether walking is an option! ;-)

Yeh, well, I guess Lea's not so flash either ;-))

Craig set up a flying fox using his winch - Ben gets some speed up, while Craig and Glen watch on.

Serena giving it a blast - little legs (behind) try and keep up!

Matthew - "The eagle has landed"!

We met a couple of cars on a tight track - there wasn't much room to move - and that's a vertical drop on the left hand side!

Made it!

Yep - these are our little angels!   They were great all weekend - but what better environment could they (or should they) be in

Building a dam in the river

Lauren and Sally

Lovely country side

Lunch at the Humffray River Deer Hunters Shelter

We met up with Zac and Joel who were riding down one of the tracks - we kept on their tail until they hit a hill - good work guys!

The start of the smorgasbord - Craig keeps an eye on the coals

George and Joel cooking up - Zac supervising ;-)

Peter keeping an eye on other proceedings as he cleans up

And here's what Pete's got his eye on!! Actually, it wasn't - this was gc's coconut curry (which was delicious regardless). Pete really had his eye on Sandy's Apple Cobbler - Recipe in the Clyde trip report

Craig, Ivan, B1 and Jeanette watch on as Lea cracks another one

Kristen with her best photo face ;-)

Darren and John bought Ivan's new sliders out - here's the old one on the way out.

Ivan and Daz's best view - the slider almost on.

Glen explaining to all the kids that the Easter Bunny had "crash landed" further up the camp site

The kids bolting up to the "crash site"

By golly, this Easter Bunny spread them far and wide!

But he left a couple in arms reach of the littlies

James lends a hand by divvying up all the eggs - thanks mate!  - each kid had their own plate or bowl - some came armed with saucepans!!

The spoils of the morning!

C'mon Steve - yes they've gone!!  (and what's that river down the hill!)

Pete with his incar Nav "C'mon Steve - I know which way to go!!"

Ambling up to Blue Rag

Some of the flora on the way up to Blue Rag

Steve with a lovely backdrop behind him

Peter and Lillian cruise up

Ivan on a nice slope

B1 and Jeanette - almost there and a lovely backdrop

George and Mel with John in the background

Time to go home - Jo, Steve and gc help Ivan and Lea shift their tent into the sun to dry