Camping at Girraween

 

The last time I went camping would have been with mum, to Cooloola back in March 2005 …and I’ve really, really missed going camping – so at a friend’s birthday a few weeks ago, a bunch of us kind-of just decided to go camping.

A few weeks of planning later, it was set. Three days and two nights at Bald Rock Campground, in Girraween (about 30 minutes south of Stanthorpe, QLD). In order to simplify things and save on the 7 people bringing double-ups of food, drinks, crockery, cutlery and what-not, the plan was for one person (me) to do the food shopping & cooking and everyone would pay me back. I think this worked well, as it made it easy to just plan a few meals and take it from there – no “hours of queuing” for 7 people to use the gas cooker, and so on. Here’s a bit of a day-by-day log of what went on… 🙂

 

Day 1 (Friday 10th September)

My boy and I had done all of the grocery shopping & packed the car the night before, so we knew everything would fit and were ready to go at around 8:30am in the morning. First stop was Sarah’s place in Ipswich, where Sarah and Ally joined the convoy in their car. We used two-way radio’s to communicate between cars, which ended up working really well, because we used them to organise rest-stops, advised of weather conditions, gave warning of vehicle overtakings, organised lunch stops and all kinds of things.

As we left Ipswich, the weather turned a bit crappy. Well, actually, it turned to sh*t, LOL. Heavy rain and dark clouds – but that didn’t deter us, as we knew fine weather was coming tomorrow, thanks to the weather radar and online reports, which we checked on the way when we had reception at townships and so forth.

We made it to Warwick about an hour or so later and stopped for lunch at a nice* cafe on the main strip. I use an asterisk there, because my boy got food poisoning on Day 2, and we weren’t sure if it was from the cafe or not. Anyway, the rain cleared as we pulled into Pyramid Road, Girraween. We were a little worried that the other 3 people, who were due to arrive around 7pm that night, may get caught by the rising flood waters – for a number of bridges along the way on the main highway had very high levels of water – some rivers & creeks were less than half a meter from the bridge – any rise in water level could have potentially closed the road and we were concerned the other guys might not be able to make it through – but luckily, the rain had eased, so any flooded creeks would have soon subsided.

As we drove down Pyramid Road, we soon came to a floodway. As we crested the hill, I used the two-way radio to communicate to Sarah and Ally in the car in front… “Please don’t tell me that’s water over the road in front of us…?!” …the reply came back… “Yep, it’s water alright. and it’s rushing over the floodway fairly quickly!”. We pulled over and Dale decided to check the levels by walking through it. The flood indicator on the side of the road showed it was under 20cm, but it clearly wasn’t, as the indicator was a few meters from the deepest point of the floodway. Luckily the walk-through showed it wasn’t too deep… but judging by the flattened grasses and bushes, the water level would have likely been over 1m deep a few hours prior – lucky we came when we did – any earlier and we’d have had to wait a while!

We’d be able to manage it in the cars, but decided to take some precautions instead… such as driving between 30km/h and 40km/h only. Windows down, in case the car was washed away and we’d have to get out… but luckily we went through with relative ease and had no problems. Soon after, Sarah & Ally went through in their car, too, with no issues.

We continued down Pyramids Road for 5 minutes and came to another floodway. This one was deeper, but the water wasn’t rushing as fast, so we again went through at around 30km/h and had no issues with either of our cars. You can see a photo of the first floodway experience in the gallery below. While we still had mobile reception (Optus reception cuts-out about 5km into Pyramid Road, from the main highway turn-off), I decided to MMS Ryan (Ryan, Sammy & Jake were due to come at 7pm) the photo of the first floodway as per below – and mentioned that we’d go and check it at 5pm to see if the water level had gone up or down – just so that they’d have a better idea if the road was passable or not.

A few minutes later, we drove into Castle Rock campground – which mum had recommended. Although, when we got there, it seemed to be more for campervans and trailer-style campers, so we backtracked about 200m in the cars and turned into Bald Rock Campground – which was much better, as it was suited to standalone tent-style camping. By now it was around 2:30pm – so we found a great spot with 3 tent sites, 2 BBQ’s and a picnic table and proceeded to unpack the cars and setup 3 tents, the tarp and eating / cooking area. There were probably only 14 or so other tents in the campground – so plenty of sites to pick from, although many only had 1 or 2 tent-spots near another… we’re luckily we found the three we needed right next to another (as you’ll see from the photos below).

By the time all that was done, it was 5pm – so we ducked backdown Pyramid Road for about 5km or so and checked both floodway’s so that we could inform the “PM Team” of their status – luckily the water level had subsided and both roads were now clear and passable. Phew! 🙂

Prior planning meant that “Team PM” (Jake, Ryno and Sammy) had a two-way radio too, so they radioed us at around 7:30pm as they were driving into the campground, and asked where our tents were so that they could find us. Shortly after they arrived, they settled into the tent we’d erected on their behalf and I began cooking dinner – red wine sausages with chicken curry pasta as a side.

We’d also tried to light a fire, but the firewood we’d bought from Bunning’s was crap and didn’t light properly, so we gave up on it for now. Everything went well, although some of us were a little cold at night. Despite the fact that it was the middle of September, the night-time temperature was between 3 and 6 degrees Celsius! Luckily we’d planned for it and had brought extra blankets, but the girls unfortunately didn’t bring enough and were quite cold overnight.

 

Day 2 (Saturday 11th September)

Most of us had an uncomfortable sleep – waking every 2 to 3 hours from cold or whatever and then the kookaburra fired up at around 6am – as did the rest of the birds. Despite this, most of us managed a few extra hours sleep in the warming morning and we got up and had breaky (bacon & eggs + cereal) at about 8am.

Unfortunately, my boyfriend had become quite ill… we think it was either food poisoning from the cafe in Warwick (as mentioned earlier) or the fact that Dale ‘tested’ one of last night’s sausages before it was ready. Either way, he was throwing up by 9am, which wasn’t good. A few hurls later and most of it was out of his system, but he kept the food and liquid intake very low for the rest of the day. Even drinking water caused him to chuck, which was a bit annoying for him.

Four of us drove to the shop on the border (about 10 minutes drive south) at around 10am to grab some firelighters and a couple of extra supplies and returned to camp for an early lunch. We decided to try the walk over to Pyramid Rock (2 hours return) via Granite Arch – a 10 minute detour on the walking track (both of these areas have photos below). The walking track starts out near the campground and connects to the nearby Bald Rock day-use area and first goes through a nice area where the creek crossed the track – again, photos of that are included below.

Unfortunately I was feeling a little ill too, and had to turn around halfway to Pyramid Rock… I made it to the toilet JUST in time, but luckily the gushing torrent came out of the back, not the front of me… so it was soon out, over and I was back to my usual self (LOL – gross, I know :P).

We explored a region behind the campsite which we found had wonderful views of the surrounding hills and was clear from trees – this would make an awesome spot for Ryan to take some extended-shutter photos of the night sky with his camera & tripod, so we planned on returning here at night to do just that.

After some quite time, a few hours spent relaxing reading books and what-not (plus chasing a bowerbird out of our tent – twice… LOL – I think he was after my bright blue dustpan! hehe…), it was time to make dinner – so I cut up a tonne of vegies, prepared the chicken and made a dish called “Fiona’s Rhodesian Campfire Stew” (Fiona is a friend of mum’s, and mum had made this stew for us back in Cooloola in 2005 – yummo!!). And yes, I cooked it over the fire in my brand new camp oven. It worked well, and everyone seemed to really enjoy it.

Speaking of fires, I must thank Ryno for his assistance in making said fire – it worked really well and burned long into the night – even long enough for us to have some of Sammy’s supplied “Campfire marshmallows” – yum!

After that, we decided to walk the short walk up the steep hill behind our tents and ventured up into the granite-boulder-filled clearing where Ryno took some really amazing photos of the night sky. All 7 of us were lying on our backs, on the flat granite rock, looking straight up at the wide, deepest-black, but amazingly star-filled night sky. I’ve never seen so many stars in my life. And you could also see what looked like a large clouded-band going right across the sky. This was, in fact, another ‘arm’ of the Milky Way galaxy (looking inwards). Absolutely amazing – because the sky was so clear, the weather so perfect and wow – soooo many stars!!! We spent at least 20 minutes up there, just lying down looking straight up – taking photos and relaxing. We saw at least 5 shooting stars, too! A truly awesome experience.

 

Day 3 (Sunday 12th September)

Our last day! We awoke around 8am today, with all of us having a much better sleep than the night before – myself included. I think, for 5 of us at least, that the tough walk up Pyramid Rock had provided enough exhaustion for a good nights sleep. We were also prepared for the cold this time, and I think me wearing jeans, a jacket, socks and a beanie really helped (considering the night before was just boxers and a t shirt – LOL!).

I made everyone pancakes for breakfast, then we washed up and began the pack-up process, which only took an hour or so. We departed our campsite at around 11:30am and headed home. Some of the others went home via the Granite Belt Maze, which – from the photos below – looks quite good. Ryan confirmed it was good fun – better than the maze we went to in Melbourne last year.

Dale was feeling a little better today and we safely made the trip home – however, I must admit that I felt quite angry at myself because I would have liked to have been able to drive. What if Dale has been sick again – in the middle of the highway whilst driving? I’d have no way to take over and help. So yeah… I was quite upset at myself for putting off getting a license for so long. I’ve really gotta learn how to drive one of these days. I’m a bad boyfriend :(.

Anyway… we made it home at around 3pm and were fully unpacked and back to normal by 5pm – playing games on the Xbox and eating some leftover Jatz crackers with cheese, LOL.

So yeah… that’s all from me for now! I hope you enjoyed reading about our camping trip – I certainly enjoyed organising it, cooking for everyone and, of course, I also enjoyed the entire experience of camping itself. If you’ve got any thoughts or comments to add, or perhaps you’ve also been to Girraween and have some memories to share, please feel free to do so via the comments at the end.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the photos below! 🙂

 

Photo Gallery:

Nb. Photo captions prefixed with an ‘R’ were taken by Ryno, and those prefixed with an ‘S’ were taken by Sammy…

 

Map:

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