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A Family Get Away - Newnes, NSW


Well it’s December 2021 and I have discussed with the family about heading away for a couple of nights prior to the fat bloke in a red suit arriving. As always we had planned to go and visit my parents in Sydney for Christmas Day but wanted to do something before that. Where could we stay that wasn’t too far from my parents place? How about Newnes? I spoke with the family about the area, I explained what I had seen and heard and it was decided, we were going to Newnes for a couple of nights. Well, The Pajero is running good; Low Range is working again so as long as the river isn’t up too high we will go for the Cricket Pitch Campground across the river. Maybe that won’t be quite as busy as the main campground that is easier access.


Next question, how do we get there? Obviously we could just hit the M1 Motorway and straight out along the Great Western highway. I’m not a fan of paying tolls to travel a road that really doesn’t save much time anyway so the M2 & M7 are out of the question. No I wanted something nicer. I played around with Google Maps for a while to see what other routes are there and came up with one that sounded nice. We would head out through Yarramalong from home and down Wisemans Ferry Road and through Spencer. I had heard about this sculpture of a lady sitting by the water down there, Serenity by a guy named Peter Rush who has been doing quite a few of these sculptures around the coast all made from natural materials. We would put that on our To Do List on the way out to camp before continuing to Wisemans Ferry where would in fact get the ferry across the Hawkesbury River there and follow this a winding road, River Road along the river’s edge until we reached Lower Portland and again cross the river and follow Lower Colo Road until turning onto Putty Road. Reaching Kurrajong at the eastern foot of the Blue Mountains we would join Bells Line Of Road, head up and voer the mountains through Lithgow before turning to head up into the Wolgan Valley/Wollomi National Park and onto Newnes.


Well December 22nd hits and I load up the mighty Pajero with our camping gear except a few basics such as drinks, food, clothes and bedding. All in anticipation for the following morning when we would hit the road on our way to a Family Christmas Get Away. Well I get a text from my darling mother to tell me some bad news. One of my family members had been a close contact to a positive Covid 19 case and was waiting on test results. We had been so anxiously waiting for this trip this news was devastating. Not just getting away but seeing my family for Christmas which had not happened the previous year due to Covid 19 and Lockdowns. Well it was discussed with Mum and my family and we decided stuff it, we would go away like planned and Mum could send me a text message once they knew the results. I knew we would probably have no phone signal in the gulley for Newnes so either way at least we would get the trip in as a family. December 23rd hit and we were up early and on the road before 7am. Out through Yarramalong as planned with our first stop to see the beautiful Serenity sculpture. This really is a wonderful creation by a very talented man. If you are ever out this way I do suggest stopping for a look and following Peter Rush’s Instagram and Facebook to find out about more of his work and other sculptures.


After a few photos and of course a bit of filming we continued on as planned. Across the Hawkesbury River on the ferry and on down River Road. WOW what a drive that is. The river to the right and stunning rock over hangs to the left. A tight winding road flowing and curving almost with the river. Just be careful as this road is narrow with a few blind corners. We continued on to Lower Portland where we again got a ferry across another section of the Hawkesbury River. Down Putty Road and into Kurrajong before heading up and over the mountains. On the climb up the mountains I did feel the Pajero seemed to be a little low on power having to drop back into second gear at some places to get up the hills. As we hit some road works I made a last minute decision to take a break. We turned off into the Blue Mountains Botanic Gardens for a stretch and a look around. What a truly beautiful location this is with stunning views out over the Blue Mountains and beautiful gardens and a variety of different plant types. A must see when heading up this way.


Off we go again hitting the road. We decide we will stop at Lithgow to grab a few last minute supplies such as Bacon & Eggs for Christmas Breakfast While heading up over the mountains the destruction caused by the 2019/2020 bush fires was evident. Dead tree’s line the mountains with barely a splash of green amongst it. Two years it had been since these fires devastated the area and still in many areas nothing had recovered. A very stark reminder of how we need to pay more respect to what we have in this country and listen more to the people of the land on know best how to manage it. So over the mountains now we hunt around for Coles or Woolies, the wife runs in and grabs what is needed and we take off to our final destination. Newnes. Heading down Wolgan Road we come across a Road Closed sign. Now I had already known about this as there had been a land slip recently after heavy rains and although the sign was still on display the local Council did say we could continue on with caution and vehicles over 5 ton were not allowed. This was another bonus for me as it meant fewer caravans and camper trailers and therefore less people. I stopped for a short time to have a look and try to double check the website however I had no mobile signal by this time. A quick look out over the Wolgan Valley and back behind the wheel. A little further on the road turns to dirt but is pretty well maintained. I engaged 4 High for some extra traction and control and cruised along, finally coming to the old Newnes Hotel which is now more of a museum with no alcohol being served. I pulled up just before the river crossing to walk it and see how soft the base is and how deep the water was. After working out I would be fine I engaged Low Range, 1st gear and just crawled across with not a single drama. I probably could of stayed in High Range but as I have not done a lot of water crossings I thought it best to be safe.


Finally arriving at camp with only one other vehicle around we found a spot we liked and stopped to make some lunch before setting up. After lunch we unloaded the car and got to work setting up camp for the weekend. As we had a picnic table and chairs already in the camp site we didn’t really need our own but they still came in handy. After setting up my wife and I decided to head back over the other side of the river and have a look at the main campground and visit the Hotel where I purchased some firewood for the weekend. On the way back out of camp we spot a large Water Dragon on the road and a beautiful Wirriga (Goanna). Remember this is a National Park and the collection of fire wood is prohibited. As I load the last of the fire wood onto the roof just as the rain starts although not heavy and it didn’t stay long. Upon returning to camp I unload the firewood, split some ready for use and crack a beer before going for a small walk to see what is around the area. I come across a massive Wumbat (Wombat) burrow only meters from our camp but we never did see the Wumbat (Wombat) it’s self. Sitting back for a while relaxing with some gentle music and the sounds of nature we are soon joined by some frisky Wallaru (wallaby) and hundreds of Burudyara (Butterfly). As time started to get on I got the fire going ready to cook dinner. Dirty Steak Sandwiches. For those that don’t know a Dirty Steak is one cooked directly on the coals of a fire not on a hot plate or grille. After dinner we sat back with some games. We started with a game of Chess between my son and I, follow by Chinese Checkers. I got my arse kicked both times. Watching the sun start to set over the mountains as we played and having a good laugh. This is what a Family Holiday is all about.


Friday 24th December I woke around 6am to the sounds of birds singing as they woke to face the day. Greeted by more Wallaru (Wallaby) in the morning as well as loads of birds and more Burudyara (butterfly). Watching the clouds hide and reveal the mountains as they moved across the campground at low levels as I enjoyed my morning coffee. This was truly heavenly. A couple of coffee’s later and the rest of the family woke to face the day, well I did wake my son earlier as he slept in the car and I needed my coffee from the back of it. We got up and made some breakfast before my son and I took off for the Newnes Ruin Walk. This walk takes you through the old Slate Oil Mine ruins with old Coke Ovens and countless other buildings. While walking through this area you cannot help but think as to what it was like back in the day, back when this was all operational, a thriving town and industrial area surrounded by natural bush land and stunning mountain views. It would have been a hot slog out there though with such steep hills and unlevel terrain to work in. The men of those days are a far cry from the men of today. We have gone soft. Well my son didn’t want to continue the walk so he headed back to camp pretty early on but I did continue and I ran into another guy who I ended up continuing the walk with. After this walk taking a couple of hours I headed back to camp and went for a dip in the Wolgan River that surrounded the camp ground. A very sandy river with shallow, crystal clear water it sure is a great place to stop and cool down a little. Not much else happened this day just relaxing around camp talking and enjoying the area surrounding us.


Christmas morning and we are woken by a trail bike at 5:30am putting around camp, I guess it was a present they couldn’t wait to get on and annoy people with. I kicked the fire up again and prepared Bacon and Eggs for breakfast before we got into packing up camp so we could head off in the hope to see my family for Christmas lunch. Packed up and ready to go we make tracks and cross the river again and head back up the mountains again stopping to show the family the view out over the Wolgan valley. After a look and a few more photos we continued on to Maiyingu Marragu (Blackfellows Hand Trail). As we turned the corner our phones started to go off, we had signal again and I got the message I had been waiting for, my family was all clear, No Covid 19. We stopped at a small car park near to where I thought the caves to be but due to safety tape over the track we did not continue on up that path. I followed the trail a bit further by car before turning around and heading back out and over through Katoomba. With plans to stop in at the Three Sisters and Wentworth falls.


On our way down from the coast we had noticed the VMS GPS unit having troubles and turning its self off repeatedly. Unfortunately this continued happening on our way back to my parent’s house so we decided to skip these last couple of places and head straight through to their house. We arrived there around midday and my Brother, His fiancé and my Sister and her wife arrived not long after. Lunch was planned for Boxing Day due to my brother and sister spending lunch with their in-laws but that was our plan and all good. We had a few drinks, a big feed and sat around catching up all night.


Sunday, Boxing Day and all the family is there ready for lunch. We kick off the day be exchanging gifts, Wiyanga (Mother) and Biyanga (Father) put out a huge spread as always and we feast on very over cooked steaks and sausages, you know the Beer Timer for the BBQ. It really doesn’t matter to us how bad the steaks and snags are though, we are with family and that is all that matters. Later that evening we sat around playing games, Monopoly, Alice Coopers Horror Box which is like a Horror version of Cards Against Humanity and something else I don’t recall the name of. I kicked butt at all of them lol.


Monday morning we packed the car and said our goodbyes to the family before heading home. Traffic as always on Pennant Hills Road was a nightmare as was most of the M1 Motorway. We turned off at Brooklyn and took the scenic route home along the Old Pacific Highway which provides a much nicer drive again along winding roads, rock faces, dense bushland and more. As we headed back through Narara we stopped in and met a young guy named Tyler from Full Throttle Leatherworks and I arranged to use the money my brother had given me for Christmas on a custom handmade knife sheath. After this the general drive home was nothing exciting. This so far stands as my favourite Christmas holiday with the family. I cannot wait to get back to Newnes and spend some more time around the Blue Mountains.

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