It rained a lot in Byron Bay. So much so that at one point, the bottom of the tent was like a waterbed thanks to the lack of drainage and waterlogged ground underneath. It was pretty horrible, but it was nothing, compared to Gordon Country.
We left Byron for Warwick first of all. The drive took us over what’s called The Scenic Rim, which again is the remains of an enormous volcano, and the highway through the mountains was beautiful. The land levelled out at the top, and Warwick, which was another hour or so over the plain, is the industrial centre for all the surrounding farms.
We were there to visit old friends, and we stayed with them for a night, before all of us took off to Gordon Country – a large, privately owned piece of land right next to the Border Ranges National Park, which is a northward extension of the scenic rim. To get there we drove down a long, winding valley with steep sides and massive eucalyptus trees bearing down on either side.
It was an impressive forest, but a little bit eirie in the grey weather and low lying clouds. When we got to our camp site there were Highland Cattle just roaming around the place. Very disconcerting when you wandered out the toilet to face one of those big fellas.
They stayed in a cabin, we set up camp as usual. It was the first time we had set up with anyone else watching, and we were a bit nervous, but we nailed it with our best yet – 20 minutes for the basic camp – done.
By now the clouds had dispersed, the rain looked doubtful and the sun was beating down through the tall canopy of trees. Good friends were there and beers were being passed around – so we decided not to bother setting up the second room straight away, which turned out to be a massive mistake.
Katie and Skye had a lot of fun playing with their little fella, who was only one but really enjoying the older kids company. It felt like a wee holiday, and it was nice for friends to be joining a little bit of our trip. The rain started as we were sitting under the corrugated iron shelter watching the kids run around. It was only a little, to begin with – so we thought it would be fine. Then it got worse, and we decided to put the second room on, and the waterproof tarps over the top.
We got soaked doing it, and the ground underneath our ‘kitchen dining living’ room, was particularly muddy and disgusting. Yuck. We were idiots not waterproofing our camp to begin with. Anyway.
The rain, of course, stopped once we were set up, but at least we’re ready now for whatever happens. The weather cleared and we had a lovely afternoon, and once we got all the kids to sleep we had dinner out under the stars.
The next few days passed quickly with the odd walk, a good bit of rain, a lot of chat and a board game called Sequence, that I’m now totally hooked on.
The widowmaker (as he likes to be known) and his missus left, and we decided to stay another day or two, as we hadn’t really explored the area that much. The weather had other plans for us however, and we ended up in the most torrential, sustained downpour that you wouldn’t even contemplate going outside.
Even if you did, you wouldn’t want to leave the tent on its own for too much in this weather. The rain pooled in dips in the canvas, and you had to use a broom to poke it from the inside to relieve the weight. Massive torrents of water then pouring over the side, and swilling underneath creating another waterbed for us to float around on.
There was also no mobile phone reception in Gordon Country, so it was pretty isolating. The first time we had a whole day of rain was in Byron Bay, and it was actually quite enjoyable. We lounged around inside and watched movies, read books and relaxed. That was a while ago though, and by now we were kind of sick of it.
We did, eventually, drive out of the valley just to get mobile reception. And having made a few calls, returned to find out that we had left a few of the tent windows open, allowing a particularly heavy shower to soak about 25 percent of our bed, and a good majority of our living room. Fuck. Me.
We used three massive sponges to mop all the water up, squeeze it into a bucket, then throw it out of the front door. We had to strip our bed, put towels and a tarp down then sleep on a damp mattress. Luckily the kids’ bunks were fine, and they were kind of oblivious to it all really. But we, had had, enough.
That night the rain never stopped, and I hardly slept a wink. Half expecting the tent to collapse from the amount of rain, or for it to come seeping in somewhere – which thankfully it didn’t. We had both decided that no matter what the weather was like the next morning, we were getting the hell out of Gordon Country.
We packed up as much as we could that evening from inside the tent. Hoping to speed our getaway the following day, when hopefully the rain might have stopped. There was no let up the next morning however, but we had to get on with it.
We used the ‘communal’ rain shelter to lay out soaking wet sections of the tent, in a futile attempt to dry them off before packing away. I say ‘communal’ because there was not another soul there. Nobody wanted to hang around in this weather.
We were on a mission though. We were not going to be broken, and eventually, after an arduous morning we finally hooked the trailer up to the back of the car, and we were ready to go. The sun came out. Our spirits were high, and we thundered along the dirt roads out of Gordon Country without looking back.
Lesson number 7: Always prepare for the weather
Lesson number 8: Don’t ever leave the tent with the windows open