The Travelling two are still impatiently waiting on delivery of our Patriot Campers X3 camper trailer, though we did get goods news that the build is ahead of time and pick up has moved from September into August. Like everybody we are spending a lot of time at home, holed up as COVID19 rampages through our capital cities, but thankfully not at the crazy rate of countries like USA and parts of Europe.
To escape the madness a plan was hatched with my friend Josh to spend a weekend camping with our sons on Belbrooke Farm, a cattle property near Esk and on banks of the waterway joining Somerset and Wivenhoe Dams, north west of Brisbane. You can find out more about Belbrooke Farm at this link [Hipcamp Belbrooke Farm]
Josh with his son Callum and I headed up Friday afternoon, though unfortunately Callum had blown a tie rod end on his GQ Patrol ute and had to ride shotgun with his old man. My son Lachie and his mate Luke were coming up the following day due to work commitments.
We were soon out of Brisbane’s Friday afternoon traffic and headed up the Brisbane Valley Highway toward a setting sun. A quick visit to the farmhouse saw us signed in then we trundled through the property to the Old Cattle Camp site. Josh had his Kimberley Kamper in tow and began to set up the base camp while Callum and I were in swags, so given we were unpacked the quickest Callum and I set about collecting firewood to fend off the evening chill that was already sneaking in.
Josh made dinner for the three of us as I had already volunteered to cook the following night when Lachie and Luke were with us. We had no sooner finished and light showers started to drift across the camp, sending a cold shiver through us as the rain started to soak in and the fire lost some of its vigour. After finishing dregs of the rather nice red that Josh opened we headed to our respective beds, and I was soon asleep listening to rain drops sprinkling onto the canvas above me.
Our morning broke with clear skies and crisp air, so first order of the day was to rekindle the fire and make a warming coffee. Everybody has their favoured method for brewing coffee at camp – some choose the Aeropress or simple filtered coffee, other stick to an instant concoction (bla) and I even know people who have stuck with the coffee and condensed milk mixture in the toothpaste like squeeze tube. My go to is Nespresso pods for easy packing and mess free dispensing using the Wacaco hand press, with boiling water from the ever reliable Jetboil, and this morning I was enjoying a Nordic Black brew while thawing my feet at the fire.
Our plan for the day was to explore Conondale National Park, 80km to the north, where Lachie and Luke would meet us for a late lunch. I had already explored Conondale six months earlier and managed to get hemmed in by a large tree across the Cockalorum Road (in reality it was barely a track) on a ridge where I couldn’t easily turn around. The trunk had broken cleanly from the root ball so I could winch the tree across the track and continue. I was interested to see if that part of the park had been impacted by the summer fires and the rain since.
News came in that L & L were running late, so Josh and I headed into the park via Conondale Range Road. Conditions were damp but not wet so we took a route into less defined tracks, to the sound of lantana and tree branches screeching up sides of the cars. I cringed at the thought of the pin stripes they were leaving but shrugged knowing the damage was done and a few more would make no difference, so now it was time to enjoy the drive. We bumped and slid along the clay tracks, sometimes pushing our way through a tunnel of undergrowth making it clear the tracks had seen little traffic lately.
Eventually we emerged onto Sunday Creek Road and headed west to get phone reception for an update from Lachie. As we neared the black top Josh heard the distinctive psh-psh-psh of a holed tyre going around, which turned out to be his right rear which must have collected a stake. His spare wasn’t in great shape either so we decided there would be no more playing in the forest, which turned out for the best because news came through that Lachie and Luke decided it was too late to go wheeling and had pulled into the Exchange Hotel at Kilcoy… with instructions to order another three beers we dropped Josh’s Patrol off the jack and headed south to join them.
Kilcoy is a very picturesque town built on a heritage of timber getting, but it also has a dark past. The area was the scene of several attacks against the areas aborigines in the late 1800s and even early 1900s, it is also recorded to be an area in which “death pudding” was used, a damper laced with poison that was given to the aborigines in an act of apparent good will that had evil intentions, [ref. Blood on the Wattle, Bruce Elder].
Once lunch was washed down by one too many ales we headed back to camp and with three Nissan Patrols gunning around the bends in front I was forced to navigate the twisting road past Somerset Dam through a haze of diesel soot. Back at Belbrooke the newcomers set themselves up as I prepared a dinner of roast pork and vegies in the camp oven, while a rising moon put a ghostly sheen across the camp.
A great night was had around the campfire with plenty of banter and verbal jousting. To give our aching ribs a reprieve from laughing Josh set up his impressive GPS guided telescope under a clear sky and gave us all an impromptu astronomy lesson. We took turns at marveling at Saturn’s rings and Jupiter’s moons then returned to warmth of the fire while sharing a bottle of Gentleman Jack.
It wasn’t clear when last of us got to bed, but thanks go to Gentleman Jack for a late awakening and a decision that some members of the group were too dusty to consider a day of 4WD wheeling and winching. Breakfast was had and camp was broken, then the convoy trundled its way back to civilisation.
Belbrooke Farm is a great get away location a short drive from Brisbane and has six separate sites to choose from. Its dearer than most Hipcamp sites but has advantage of great views and proximity to the friendly town of Esk for supplies. Details of the driving route we took this weekend is at this link [Belbrooke Farm & Conondale NP].