May 19, 2012

"Everything in life is somewhere else, and you get there in a car."

On the day that Josie was to leave us to return to windswept Melbourne we decided, the three of us, to journey to a local National Park to witness for ourselves the wonder of Bangalore Falls.

Armed with peerless cartography, we set off to Bindarri National Park to embark upon the epic 1000 metre walk, and with firm resolve I navigated us into the hinterland behind Coffs Harbour and up into the hills, then along a valley road. The road gave way to gravel, as is common I am sure as one withdraws from civilisation, and then proceeded to ford a stream. This did seem a little odd, but we arrived at the entrance to the Park, where we were confronted by a not-quite-fork in the road, the offshoot of which was marked "4WD only."

So gaily we pressed on down the straight road, which deteriorated with each passing metre into mud and occasional ruts and wash-outs. But this was still a two-wheel-drive road, we were assured, until we reached the lip of a steep incline. Only a few hundred metres to the picnic area. But that hill does look steep. And the road is muddy. And bumpy. Maybe not.

I turned the map over and there was in fact a more detailed insert. Oh, so this was a 4WD track too. Well, perhaps we'll make it back!

Not to be too discouraged - there was a definite kosher two-wheel road into the park but around the far side - we set off the long way round with ope in our hearts and the reserve light on the fuel tank illuminated.

The final turn-off soon had the road turning to gravel again, and twisty-turning into the forested hills, but no mud or ruts now, just the cold hand of fear embracing our hearts as we contemplated, to the sombre tones of Radiohead, the prospect of running out of petrol in the back of beyond far from the gentle caresses of mobile phone coverage.

We marched into the scrub (well I hobbled) to arrive at a poxy viewing platform over a distant waterfall.

I used my phone to try to find our preferred petrol station in town as the motor began to wheeze on the last of the fumes, but it told us outright lies. I watched the blip on the GPS screen wander past the flag marked "petrol" and looked up at the row of residential housing in perplexity.

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