Ken and Yvonne Prado (Trip Leader) Dave and Heather Brown Landcruiser Gary Hutchison Triton Jim and Robyn Collis Prado Bjorn and Amanda Alexanderson Nissan Patrol Simon and Cheryl Newton Mazda BT 50 David, Alison, Luke and Timothy Wallace. Nissan Patrol Roger Carrodis HiLux Bev Fort Prado Scott Horne Rodeo Pete Glendenning and Bev Hockley Landcruiser John Bryce and Helen Tanner Prado David Brownlee and Violet Landcruiser Pete Robinson Colorado 7
Saturday the 20th of June saw 14 vehicles meet up at our starting point at Wattaka Rest area on the Newcastle Hunter Link Freeway at 9am. This was my first big trip with the club so I didn’t want to be late, but I ended up second last so I already knew my fate of a trip report. It was good to meet some of the faces that I had regularly seen at meetings and a great way to get to know everyone, as we were all about to spend a few days together. The last vehicle arrived so after being checked in, Ken gave a briefing on our trip that lay ahead.
This was a large convoy of vehicles but well managed by Ken and Yvonne. We finally moved off and after a radio check, we motored down the freeway. All with caravans except for Roger, who opted to tent it. It was a beautiful day for the journey. A short distance down the freeway, about half a dozen old GTHO Falcons overtook our convoy, more than likely on a club trip themselves. There was a bit of talk over our UHF radio to identify if they were authentic GTHO’s or Falcons with the badges on them. Either way, beautiful old cars that had been well looked after and restored.
After Cruising through the winery area, we stopped at a park in Denman at 10.40 for morning tea. It was just a short drive but just enough to get out from the Central Coast area to stretch the legs and have a bite to eat and a coffee or tea. After a 40 minute break, it was time to get back on the road and make our way towards Mudgee. Ken and Yvonne took us off the main road and then travelling down a dirt road. A few corrugations and pot holes on the journey, enough to rattle off Ken’s towing mirror. A call over the UHF radio abruptly stopped our convoy while the mirror was recovered, unfortunately I believe minus the reflective bit.
Then onwards towards Mudgee and a stop at Pieter Van Gent winery. A look inside the cellar door, found large barrels of wine leading down to the wine bar where many went to look and have a taste of their produce. A few purchased a few bottles of wine and Bev was even seen to purchase a 5 litre container of White Port. I thought this looks serious to knock down 5 litres of port, no matter what colour it is.
A bite to eat for lunch then into town where most of us refuelled. The servos were suddenly full of our vehicles. Out of the three servos in the main part of town, only one was out of diesel. That’s the one I went to. Diesel was $1.41.9 in Mudgee compared to 1.36.9 I fuelled up at Tumbi Umbi earlier that morning. Didn’t take long to fill up and then meet up out of town on the Sydney road outside Bunning’s.
Once we all met up, we continued on only a few k’s before we took the turn off, now heading towards Windeyer. We had a little bit of a climb up the hill but very picturesque and a pleasant scenic journey. Checking in at the bushlands Tourist Park was a little bit of a wait as there was only one lady at the reception but we all eventually made it through reasonably quick and then time to set up camp.
Most of us later made our way to the Gold and Fleece Hotel, adjoining the caravan park. (Very convenient). After a few beers, some of our group decided to return to their respective camps to cook something for dinner. It didn’t take much convincing for me to stay at the pub for a meal and a cold drink around the fire. For $15.00, there was a steak, chips and salad in a quite comfortable environment. The other option was to stand out in the cold cooking your meal. I think I took the better option, along with a few others.
SUNDAY morning saw us head off after another briefing by Ken and Yvonne, for the town of Hill End. I had never been here before, but had heard about the place through many other people in conversation. We left the campground just after 10am and travelled straight to the Hill End tourist area. The old Hill End Hospital stood up on the hill, surrounded by old relics of gold diggers equipment, a Cobb and Co. coach and other museum type memorabilia. The old hospital is now a museum with many rooms still decked out in old beds and other medical equipment of the era. The display of old medical instruments looked quite evil compared to today’s instruments. God help anyone needing an operation or suffering a serious injury looking at some of the instruments from that era. We then drove though town and up to the Hill End Lookout. Fantastic view overlooking the valley, where in the distance, fog or low cloud could still be seen. A drive back down from the lookout, then a quick stopover to see a mine entry that had been locked up. Back into town after this and time for some lunch. Again the weather was magnificent and some had lunch at the bakery, where I and several others, opted for a lunch in the beer garden at the pub. Little bit of a delay as only one lady in the kitchen to take orders and cook until reinforcements arrived to help out. After lunch, we had a walk around town to take in all of the history of the place. The whole town seems to be like a living museum, with many information plaques around the streets telling stories of the buildings that once graced the town. And now, no more than vacant grassed areas, with outlines of the building foundations in rocks. When you consider that in it’s heyday, Hill End had a thriving population of approximately 8000 people and 28 pubs. Now, the population has dwindled to 166 (according to the 2006 census) and only one pub.
After exploring the town, it was time to move on. Ken and Yvonne had planned a great trip back to Windeyer via Bishops View Road. This road started off fine, but gradually deteriorated to a great 4wd track. Through rocky creek beds and sandy tracks, we made our way through. Not much water in the creek which I suppose was good, but track just in a condition that made it enjoyable. There was a series of gates that unfortunately for Yvonne had to open at each of them. As our tail end Charlie for the day was Dave, Alison and their two boys Luke and Timothy, Yvonne left the boys a surprise sitting on the gate post at each gate. A couple of lollies and the last one even a couple of chocolate biscuits. Bit of incentive to race out and close the gates. Boys did a great job and of course, thanks to Yvonne for opening the gates. No gifts for you Yvonne though.
We finally made our way back to the Windeyer campground. Another meet up at the pub and another pub dinner, where most had originally planned to eat there from the Sunday night. Another good night in town and after a big day full of adventure, time to head back to the camp for a good night sleep.
Monday, we packed up camp and headed towards Mudgee. A stop over at the Mudgee Honey Haven, saw many buying some gifts for friends and sampling some of the different varieties of honey. After buying a few things and some had to have a quick coffee, we headed north to Gulgong. Gulgong, as many of you know, is famous for having one of its pubs on the old ten dollar note. Not on the current one. After a walk around town and some lunch, it was time to move on. There is the pioneer’s museum in town, but I didn’t have time to visit and I’m not sure if any others paid a visit, but certainly would have been with the time to go in. Maybe next time I’m in town. Dave, Alison, Luke and Timothy parted ways here in Gulgong to head home as the boy’s had to be at school the next day.
After leaving Gulgong, we headed out towards the Goulburn River National Park. A bit of a detour had to be found as the original road that we were about to take was closed due to a bridge being out. A quick change in plan had Ken and Yvonne leading us to an alternative road that eventually got us to the Spring Valley campground.
Time to set up camp and get the camp fire going. A few drinks around the fire was very welcome after a bbq’d steak dinner. Bev then got out the white port and a few joined her in a glass or two.
Next morning after breakfast, it was time to pack up and move on. Gary had a bit of trouble with his bearings. The bearings on his trailer that is. He was able to tighten them up and that seemed to get him out of trouble, enabling him to tow his camper back home. A stopover in Merriwa for lunch saw most of us then part company and head back towards home.
I was cruising along through the Hunter Valley, when all of a sudden I realized there might be a problem with a tyre. I pulled over and behold a flat tyre on the front driver’s side of my vehicle. I pulled off the road and started the task of changing a flat. Thank goodness that a few members were behind me and stopped to help in changing my tyre. Thanks to John and Helen for stopping and John showing me his u beaut electric jack he bought from Aldi. Plugs into the 12v power socket and up she goes. Very unique. Pete and Bev stopped also and helped out. Thanks to you all for your assistance.
I enjoyed the trip and it was good to spend time with the members to get to know them better. Ken and Yvonne seem to be seasoned and well experienced members of the club and thank them for their efforts in organising this trip. Look forward to many more.