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Postie Camping in the Watagans

Posted on Friday 20 November 2015

The third camping trip of the season goes to the ‘third’ bike I own. I had originally intended to try camping in the Chichester State Forest to the north of Newcastle, but that area is to be avoided during the dreaded Schoolies Week, so it became a ‘reverse’ of the second camping trip about a month ago that cycled through the Watagans.

The camping gear was packed to Postie in much the same way as I used for traveling around Australia; a smaller duffel-bag this time, as the previous one was too damaged to continue using.

The plan was to enter the Watagans from the north this time, and to explore a few of the trails I didn’t get to before (…and to find out how far can a motorbike legally go on the Great North Walk (GNW) bushwalking track..)

For exploring the part of the Great North Walk that heads across the top of the Watagans, I headed down Heaton Road, dodging the several speeding 4WDs, and turned onto Georges Road. Georges is not a through-road to anywhere except for GNW walkers, so the track is not maintained to the standard of the other tracks in the forest. Postie (with its road-only tires) didn’t have any trouble with the steeper parts (the track was dry, though!).

The four photos above are from a lookout called “The Narrow Place”.

And that’s as far as any vehicle can go along the GNW (32.97224S 151.32925E). Look at that disappointed Postie bike.

There’s a campsite about 2 kilometres further along, however I wasn’t up to walking several trips to carry everything in, so I headed back. I discovered another track and a lookout that wasn’t entered into OpenStreetmap, and mapped it out. By now there was no chance of making it to an official campsite before dark, and given that the main drag had dickhead speeding 4WD drivers, I made an illegal camp not far from there.

Bush camp.

I thinks someone, very likely male, has camped here before…

The obligatory Nissin cup-noodles and Honda Cub photo!
I also brought the dehydrated food I made last year, and the dinner that night was rehydrated black beans w/ capsicum.

I’ve been telling people that these camping trips have been to ‘practice sleeping on the ground again’… I got maybe an hour’s sleep. :-/

The next morning I decided the camp for that night would be at one of the Onley State Forest campsites towards the south of the Watagans, giving me plenty of time to wonder down to the Watagan Forest Road, and get there before the day’s predicted heatwave. I found another unmarked lookout along Georges Road to add to OpenStreetmap.

The ride along the Watagan Forest Road was great! …especially for a small motorbike like a Postie. While it wouldn’t be too demanding for most (bigger) trailbikes, at least with a dry track, it was was a good balance of riding skill and riding enjoyment. Everyone in the Newcastle area with a Postie must give it a go! :-)

About half-way down there’s the Boarding House Dam picnic area. No camping allowed, however the place was a mess and not too appealing for staying anyway.

I ended up at the “Turpentine” campsite. No contest for how it got the name… (Wikipedia: Syncarpia glomulifera)

I had a very cheeky Pied Currawong constantly looking for free food. His birdsong was rather nice, and he occasionally hopped off to eat some native berries that I took photos of to see if they were human-edible. A Wonga pigeon arrived later in the day. (Leucosarcia picata)

This is likely a Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo.

And the campsite at Turpentine the next morning…

The ride from “The Pines” area to back home was uneventful. The track out of the Onley State Forest was a well-beaten 4WD track with occasional ruts for that extra “meh”. The surfaced road reappeared just in time for the steep twisties and blind corners, but there was no other traffic to make things a problem. After reaching Corronbong I had to content with much-faster and much-bigger vehicle traffic, but after ~35,000 kms of Postie touring, I’ve got the ‘emergency sneeze stop’ maneuver to move onto the road shoulder to let others pass down to an automatic reflex. :-)

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