Wednesday, 17 April 2013

"Closed for the Season"

It rained on & off all night but by daybreak the worst appeared to be over & the sun was trying to make an appearance. The birds seemed to be very pleased as well, there was an amazing dawn chorus with lots of not so common bush birds we recognised.

We would love to stay on here at Broken Hill, but after looking at the forecast for the next few days and seeing that heavy rain & gale force winds are due back later today & for the next couple of days we decided we really didn’t want to get stuck out here in the wops by a slip or the river bursting it’s banks. Even with the rain, this has been a great campground, we’ve both loved the isolation & the peace & quite although I’m sure, going by the large number of sites dotted around the reserve, it must get very busy during the high season.
The sun came out for a brief couple of hours so before we headed off we decided to do two of the short walks that start near the campsite; the Broken Hills Battery Walk & the Gem of the Boom Creek Loop Walk. This area was once a bustling gold mining settlement & rusting relics from two of the batteries litter the bush alongside the tracks although we only managed to find some old wire rope, a  large scoop of some sort & a round metal sheet that may have been a tank.
Broken Hill Battery
Of more interest to us were the two mining shafts we came across. It's hard to believe that over 200 people lived in this area early last century, along the side of the river & this stream were a hall, post office, shops & houses. By 1914 the two large batteries had ceased production & people had moved on.
If you’ve been following my blog you’ll know what I’m going to tell you we found in the mining sharfs aren’t you? Cave wetas! And dozens of them again.  Here’s the link to the other post on the wetas where you'll find some detailed facts - Gold Mine, Wetas & Glowworms

In fact one of these shafts wasn’t a shaft afterall, it’s thought that this was some kind of jail. There was the remains of a steel bar protruding from the roof & the end opened up into a wider space. Someone with a sense of humour has added extras for special effect!

The mining shaft was much longer than the other one we visited at White Star Station & of course pitch black, it also turned a couple of times which always un-nerves me as you can’t see the light from the entrance. Did we have our head torches? No, again we forgot them. Thank God for mobile phone apps. I held on tight to the pack on David’s back as we walked through & tried hard not to think of the wetas swaying about just above my head. It didn’t help that I hadn’t realised that they can jump long distances! Duh, of course they can, that’s why they have such bloody long legs!
Back at the campsite we packed up and pulled out, still nobody about & just a small tree down across the road which David was able to skirt around. We did try manhandling it out of the way but it wouldn’t budge. Must remember the chainsaw next time! ;)

The river was still high but was dropping fast
Our next stop was not far down the line to another campground near the beach, small, private & with a great recommendation from some people we met at Colville;  Opoutere Coastal Camping. I’d already earmarked the area as there were a few walks & bird watching opportunities on the beach & in the estuary nearby. 
Opoutere Estuary
Down the road we went, all the way to the end only to find a sign up ‘CLOSED FOR THE SEASON’ And there were the owners with their car & trailer packed to the gunwales with kayaks & bikes strapped to the top parked outside their house; obviously off on their own holiday (the guy was quick to disappear inside when he spotted us). So there was nothing for it but to turn around, luckily in a paddock that had the gate conveniently open, & head back to the main road.

But not before rescuing a friendly old, fat, black & white corgi cross dog. We came around a corner & there he was stumbling down the middle of the road looking very tired & hot & bothered. David thought it was a small pig at first. He came straight up to me when we stopped & as there weren’t any houses nearby I decided he needed to be rescued. He had a collar on, no name tag but about 15 years worth of colourful registration tags. He lapped up a little water I offered him & followed me around to the door like he wanted to hop in. David wanted to drive on. I told him there was no way I was leaving him.
There should be a photo right about here of the dog but I figured if I got my camera out at that stage David would have throttled me!

The dog continued to plod along the edge of the road. I ran ahead around the corner until I found a house; an old run down house that I had to fight my way through junk to get to the door. An old guy answered it & told me that he thought the dog might belong to someone quite a way back up the road. He told me this after he told me he wanted to shoot all dogs. They were nothing but trouble.
When I got back out on the road David must have decided if he wanted to continue this journey he had to find a solution. We (as in the royal we) have saved a number of animals over the years, once David was in his suit & tie on his way to a conference when I made him climb a barbed wire fence to haul a sheep out of a very muddy bog(he's done this a couple of times since), in Ireland we had to turn around & travel quite a distance back to a spot where  I was sure I’d seen a sheep with huge horns caught in a fence. I had & it took all his effort to free him plus a seriously squashed finger that got caught in the wire.  Another time he had to run in amongst  morning rush hour traffic along the Tauranga expressway with the cat cage after I saw an injured plover up against the centre concrete barrier (I've been told to insert here the fact that I continued onto golf while he carried out the rescue). So he knew we wouldn’t be going anywhere until I had helped this old dog. My hero.
He had stopped a guy in his ute and after I came out & told them where the dog may have come from David convinced the guy to take him up the road & drop him off. So we bundled him onto the tray of the ute where he promptly collapsed on all fours, tied him with a bit of rope to the deck so he wouldn’t jump (not that he could possibly manage that) and sent him on his way. Job done. I’m sure the guy in the ute thought we were barking mad.
By now we’d decided to head all the way through to Waihi Beach. We had tentatively suggested that Maddie, our grand-daughter, come & stay with us for the last few nights of our Coromandel Odyssey & especially now that her mum & baby brother had chicken pox which she had kindly passed onto them.

And with the weather about to turn to custard & school holidays due to start on Friday we decided we were about done with the Coromandel. So now we are parked up in a tight little spot at the Waihi Beach Top 10 Holiday Park, under a huge pohutukawa tree where we have no TV reception (we keep forgetting to check that option; make sure the satellite reception has a clear view) with the wind gusting & a few showers passing through & one happy excited little girl trying to fall asleep in her very own bed on the sofa.

The Waihi Top 10 is an excellent holiday park  for children, there’s a great playground, heated swimming pool & spa, a huge bouncy cushion & you can even feed the eels in the stream that runs through the park behind our van. The beach is just across the road too, along with a couple of great looking cafes.

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