There were 19 of us staying at Balcanoona and a few more hardy souls in the camp ground near the start of the Weetootla walk – facilities for the latter amounted to one long drop. However the shearer’s quarters at Balcanoona were comfortable and well appointed; it was good to have a return verandah which was a welcome spot for basking in the sun.
We enjoyed the postprandial campfires around a well contained fire pit with the cut wood provided. On the first night welcome BBQ we enjoyed Raelene’s baked apples – baked in a camp oven in the coals. On one night, we were joined briefly by a rock wallaby. On the last night it was too cold and damp (10mm fell overnight) to enjoy an outside fire so we had one in the living room. We kept track of the Covid situation with the evening TV news – the only time the television was on.
Judy and her helpers had developed and surveyed (and altered as a result) a good range of walks for B and C+ grades which included Monarch Mine to Weetootla, Mt. Warren-Hastings, Kingsmill Ck to Tillite Gorge, Acacia Ridge, the Spriggina Walk and a chance to explore a Petroglyphs site.
Not only had much planning gone into the Walks Program but also into making sure we took account of the Covid 19 requirements; as a consequence a good innovation which saved overcrowding at dinner time was to roster people for different meal preparation and eating times – three groups (between 5.30 and 6.30pm starting times). Assiduous daily cleaning duties were also rostered to relieve congestion for the two showers within the main block, some trekked over to the National Park facilities near the old shearing shed – good instant hot water in the two cubicles and more space.
We had no tyre incidents – and some of us learn a lot from those more experienced and knowledgeable about grades of tyres, life of tyres and when to deflate/inflate.One of us learned that the sign to Lga on the road in was not to a supermarket but to the site of a Native Orange tree.
The whole region was still very much in the grip of a prolonged drought. The vegetation was struggling, there was little ground cover (resulting in lots of dust) and even some of the euclalypts in the creek beds were dead as well as bleached bones aplenty. Apparently, it didn’t look as bad this year as last year! It was good to be able to find some flowers – notably the brilliant red Sturt’s Desert Pea and the striking Pussy tails (Mulla Mulla). there were even a couple of grass trees in flower on the Acacia Ridge walk.
Many thanks to those who lead walks, made fires, and contributed their vehicles to ferry us to the start of walks. And especially to Judy who spear-headed all the planning, organisation and checking of the walks, together with help from Lorraine and Isobel.