Two weekends ago, I was able to enjoy one of my favorite hobbies – camping. One of my colleagues knew that I was interested in camping and got me in touch with a friend of his who was planning a trip to the Yalwal area of New South Wales.
Yalwal is the site of an old gold mining town, which is about 184 km south of Sydney. Today, Yalwal is buried beneath a lake formed by the damming of the Danjera Creek/Shoalwater River. According to the Yalwal visior information site, the only remnants of the old town of Yalwal are a graveyard and some leftover mining facilities. The land is now owned and managed by the City of Shoalhaven.
I caught a ride to the old town with two of the seven eventual campers – Krishan and Andrew. To get to Yalwal, Andrew drove us from Sydney down the south-west coast of Australia for about 131 km before turning inland for about another 60 km or so.
The last notable town before heading into the mountains is a town called Berry, which is a sort of boutique mountain town where city-slickers can escape for the weekend and feel like they are being active (when in actuality most of them are probably doing nothing more than sipping gourmet coffee on the sidewalks of a little boutique mountain town).
My crew and I, on the other hand, were doing the real thing. We hurried through Berry and soon found ourselves winding up long gravel roads until we reached the top of a mountain – at which point we winded down again until we came to rest in the quiet little valley formerly known as the town of Yalwal. Our camp set upon a ledge overlooking Dangera dam and the lake it created.
The three of us were the last to arrive, and we rounded out the crew of seven. Attending the trip were two Brits, two Sri-Lankans, an Indian, an American (me) and only one Australian (who is 100% Greek).
It was a nice, fun, laid back trip. We sat around the campfire Saturday night and took a hike down to the lake the next day. However, the highlight of my trip (besides meeting a bunch of cool new camping buddies, er…mates) took place before we even made it to the campsite on Saturday.
A few twists and turns before hitting the campsite, while still in the car, Krishan pointed out an animal that was grazing in another campsite off to our right. Andrew stopped and I got out of the car to experience my very first proper Australian wildlife sighting! I saw…
…three kangaroos and three wombats!!!!
Live!!! In the wild!!!
Scared of us humans and ready to run away!!!
Before the animals took off, I was able to get a picture of one of the wombats. The best way I can describe the wombat is that it looks like a groundhog the size of a full-grown pig with the face of a black bear.
When I mentioned the sighting to people back in the city, they all told me that I was lucky to see a wombat in the wild, because apparently they are quite rare to see (they are nocturnal).
I told ’em that’s what I do.
They don’t call me the Koalablogger for nothing!