After spending a few days staying with Ron’s mum and visiting some friends we left Newcastle on Thursday morning and headed for Dungog to spend the ANZAC Day Long Weekend camping with some friends from the FJ Cruiser forum community.
After stopping in Dungog for some supplies we headed out to the Coachwood Camping Area in the Chichester State Forest near Dungog and setup camp. There was only one other person camped in the area when we arrived but just as we finished setting up our camper a large group of campers – with camper trailers and marquees – arrived and over the course of the weekend the camping area was filled to capacity most of the time.
Our friend Tamsyne arrived with her yellow FJ Cruiser and camper trailer on Friday afternoon and Tony, with his grey FJ Cruiser, a tiny caravan (a 9’6″ long model made in 1961) and his dog Trix, arrived on Saturday morning. Tony’s wife Michelle joined us late on Saturday afternoon in their cute 1994 Suzuki Maruti ute.
Although the weather was fine when we arrived on Thursday it rained on and off for all of the long weekend. There was a spectacular thunderstorm – complete with a great and very long light show – on Friday evening and at one stage the rainfall became torrential and shortly afterwards very strong winds tested the integrity of everyone’s awnings, marquees and guy ropes.
Over the course of the weekend Ron, Tamsyne, Tony and Michelle (and Trix) and I spent a lot of time exploring the beautiful Chichester State Forest and surrounding region and we all had a great time despite the intermittent wet weather. Ron, Tony and Michelle took part in a ‘Barista 101’ course conducted by Tamsyne on Sunday morning and Tony and Michelle treated us all to a tasty meal of lamb shanks and mushrooms in red wine which they cooked in their camp oven in an open fire.
The Coachwood Camping Area was in a lovely location with lots of bird life – we were woken each morning by the sounds of kookaburras and currawongs and these were often followed by cockatoos and crows. The thing that took us all by surprise was the number of leeches that were around – we all spent the whole weekend checking ourselves for leeches (they even latched onto Trix quite a few times) although fortunately Tony and Michelle had a spray made up on aniseed oil and water that the very effective at getting rid of leeches. The last leech I saw was as I woke up on Tuesday morning when I noticed something moving on the canvas just above my head (even it was still almost needle thin I later discovered that it had been latched onto my leg at some stage through the night).
Tamsyne, Tony and Michelle (and Trix) all left on Monday to return home but Ron and I stayed on until Tuesday as we had arranged to visit Drifta in Gloucester to buy another set of MaxTrax and some SnowPeak gear. We also refuelled in Gloucester and washed our very dirty FJ Cruiser and Ultimate Camper (surprisingly another rather dirty FJ Cruiser arrived at the car wash just as we had finished and we saw another Ultimate Camper driving through Gloucester as we were having lunch at ‘Roadies Cafe’).
After leaving Gloucester we headed to Coomba Bay (near Forster) to spend some time with our friends Allan and Vivian (and to dry out our somewhat damp camper and catch up on our washing).