Thursday, 19 February 2015

Nights under canvas? Part I

A question was asked on a forum: How many nights did you spend under canvas in 2014. Be it camper, tent or swag. I answered with a respectable 34 (see my 2014 archives). Not a bad effort I thought, a month under canvas with no major trips in that. But the question was baited. The proposer had spent 49. So the challenge was on, I need to pull a finger out in 2015.

I don't know what happened with January, before I knew it, it was gone and the closest I'd been to canvas in that time was on the sewing machine manufacturing more camping goodies. But February will allow me to make some amends. Two 3 day weekends in a row and perfect camping weather, if  a little hot. At the start of both of these I have 1pm finishes at work, so effectively, if I go somewhere local, I can technically expand that 3 into 4 days. Due to the temperature and the amount of bush fires we have experienced of late, water based camps take priority over the rural ones this time of year.

First up I thought a revisit to Preston Beach and Martin's Tank was in order. Since I was there last, the camp ground has had a major upgrade. Another reason to check it out. It was to be a solo camp except for the Saturday night, when the girls would join me. Unknown to them, this was a test to see how they would handle sleeping in a swag. On the radar, is a Canning Stock Route trip in 2016. This will be a 3 week test of endurance for them in a swag. I need to have them trained beforehand. Also, its a training session for myself. 3 swags occupy a hell of a lot of real estate. Real estate that is highly valuable for such a remote trip. I acquired an alloy tray for the right price a few weeks prior, smaller than I wanted, and smaller than I need, but the price was right. So the mission for the CSR will be to make it all fit.


 This is 4 days worth. How the hell am I going to fit 3 weeks worth in at this rate?

I had the car packed Thursday night and shot off to work at 0330 (the joys of an early finish don't come cheap. You pay for it somewhere). And I arrived at Martin's about 3pm. I had purchased a Coleman Event 14 sunshelter a few months back at a ridiculous price. This would make a great shelter for the swags, so up on the roof it also went. Now the challenge was to assemble it single handed. Which I did in about 30 easy minutes, in between emptying a brew. Its not something that will see the CSR, but overall, I was impressed with it.

The rest of the day was spent leisurely setting up the camp as I wanted dinner to be started about 6pm. With the camp having good gas barbeques, a camp kitchen and picnic benches, that meant a lot of equipment I did not have to unpack. People had been progressively coming in during the afternoon, but I had use of the facilities to myself. After dinner, sat at the camp table with some tunes and a camp mug of red, the night ambled away before it was time to retire. Not long before bed, I had a visitor to the table. Oh no, the evil possum. Visions of Sue's Bridge in 2012 came running back. However, he was a friendly critter, sat on the table with me as I drunk my red. I decided to grab the camera and the little bugger went back to ground. Then as I pulled the camera from the car, he shot off. Out of the corner of my eye, I thought he had gone beside me under the car. A quick visual proved this to be the case. So I just waited till he came out in the open again and took a few shots. Before long, he left my camp and made for where ever a Brush Tail Possum goes. I never saw him again.

Saturday was a nothing day really. A cooked breakfast and all I had to do was wait around for the girls to turn up around 2pm. The camp host had swung by and we had a chat. She was remarkably friendly (unlike the ones last time I was here). Friday afternoon, when she swung by to collect my dues, she marvelled at the event 14 and somehow during this I mentioned geocaching. She seemed intrigued about it. So I offered her the chance to see what it was all about which she jumped at the chance. I told her I would swing by at midday. In the mean time I just did camp chores. Set up the girls swags and my new rear awning which I had made myself recently.

Picking up the host I told her I wanted to find an old lime tunnel circa 1920. This was not to be a great introduction to caching due to the fact it was a reasonable hike to get there on a walk trail followed by a +100m bash through dense scrub. But I was like a bug to the light. I wanted to see this at all cost. I found this on the net: 

The nearby Yalgorup National Park contains a number of tunnels (13 is the number most often quoted), that have been dug into the side of a limestone formation. No one, so far, seems to know who created the tunnels or why they were dug in the first place. The tunnels are about 50 metres long and appear to have been dug by hand (as opposed to by machines). Dates carved in the walls of the tunnels go back to at least 1927. Some of the entrances were intentionally blocked during World War Two but others remain open even if they are not that easy to find.

at this site: Lake Clifton

I mentioned to the host to be warned. I'm very good at finding the hardest way to a place. And today did not disappoint. I found a walk track and we headed up. A kilometre or so in and we made a T- junction. A quick look at the GPS and I decided left. A few hundred meters down this and with a re-evaluation of the GPS  I decided we were heading the wrong way. So back we went, past the initial trail. Some time later I noticed we were heading back to the road I had parked up on. Again, we were in the wrong place. So we back tracked to the initial track and headed back down. I could see the cache was on the other side of a rise. There was no way to penetrate this scrub, so we decided to head back to the car. There had to be another track to the East of the rise. I would have to come back. We must have spent over an hour in this terrain, up hill and down dale all for nothing. It was quite warm today as well. I then took the host to an easier one on the way back to camp. 5 minutes at ground zero and I had it pegged. I called the host over and she was amazed. We opened the box, signed the log and returned to camp.  Just maybe I have made another convert??


After the girls arrived, we just hung around camp. We would do Preston Beach tomorrow. Progressively, more and more people arrived. It was going to be a busy night I think. 

We didn't have exclusive use of the facilities tonight though. All those people that came in also found the camp kitchen to be a great piece of kit.

And soon enough, it was time for little ones to go to bed. So excited about swagging it, she decided to do here reading time in there. Fully closed up under torch light. Then I told her it was sleep time. Without argument, lights went off and off into the land of nod she went. We sat up a bit longer consuming a red before it was time for us too to make lights out.

Sunday morning and another cooked breakfast to come. This camping caper cant be good for ones health? The verdict from the night before: The little un slept fine, the bigger one not so. Bugger, more training to be done. And the claustrophobia felt means another new swag and more roof top real estate no doubt.

Trev, a work mate was going to come down for the day for a play on the beach. He arrived on cue at 10am. A bit of a chat and we made the 7km or so trek to the beach. In the carpark, we deflated in preparation for the sand. Nothing too difficult really and we headed south to about 5Km's from White Halls. It was there Trev suggested he knew a good dune we should be able to climb where we could have a bevvie and some lunch. So we headed back towards Preston.

Trev found the dune and ascended first. The little zuk had to have a couple of goes at the steeper, softer upper part, but was up no worries. I showed him how good the geopaj was by going up first try.

At the top, we repositioned, rolled out the awning and I took a photo or two...or three or maybe even more. The little un had fun on the sand slopes.

 Seeing the sea breeze was in, I got out the little un's kite. Whilst she had a ball flying, we sat in the shade with a bevvie.


 Whilst it was just sandwiches for us, Trev cooked up a sausage storm. I suggested after lunch we could head off to the Old Coast Brewery for a pint. Everyone agreed. Back at the car park, we aired up and headed off to the brewery. It was reasonably quiet here. The little un had an ice cream and played on the playground stuff, whilst we had a pint and took in the entertainment. Pint done, it was now late Sunday afternoon. Trev left for home and we left for camp. At camp, the girls packed their car and left also. The camp ground now almost deserted. I spent a quiet night, with exclusive use of the facilities again and headed off to bed early.

In the morning, I had a couple of coffee's and started the task of packing up. Being so deserted, a mob of roos came in for a feed.


Packed and ready to hit the road by 10am, I went down to say goodbye to the host. The ranger was there as well and we chatted for a bit. I showed him the paperwork I had on the lime tunnel cache and he seemed impressed. I decided I would have another crack at it on the way home.

Looking for a trail on the Eastern side of the rise I was rewarded. About a kilometre up the wide sandy track I had made the turn point. Now it was a pure bush bash through thick vegetation. Scratched and bleeding, constantly on the lookout for any snakes, I finally made the tunnel. A crap picture taken with the phone camera:

The view to the North was nice:

And so it was, dripping with sweat (it was very warm today), I signed the log and claimed another geocache prize. From there it was a 2 hour meander home. Just in time to unload the rooftop cargo to spend the next week thinking about where to go for part II the next weekend.


  1. Another great read mate. Those tunnels sound interesting, I wonder what the history is?

    1. Not sure, but I know the fella that owns the cache. I'll email him, see what I can find out and publish an addendum should I find any more detail.

  2. Well done Shane - really looking forward to joining you in the near future.....You can teach me all about this "caching". Wish I'd thought about doing a day trip and meeting you down there like Trevor - another hindsight "light bulb" episode - I must be getting old(er).... Looking forward to any addendum on the tunnels too.

    1. We are all getting older, sorry to say. Look at my hair :)

  3. Damn. Was there on the weekend and didn't even check for geos. Next time.

    1. There is always a next time Chris :)