There has been a place calling out to me for a number of years but I have never had the chance to go. It is wild, with miles of gumtrees that stand motionless at the depths of a valley covered in shadow. A waterfall cascades down the soaring walls of the plateau with the flowing river cutting the valley in half, though it cannot be seen; only heard. Shrieks from black cockatoos echo across the valley and eventually fade out into ever expanding distance. All of this basks under the orange hue of the setting sun. This place is Kanangra-Boyd National Park and it is very much ‘the edge of wilderness’.
Chris and I made a last minute decision to pack the car up with camping gear and set off into the night. Two hours of driving on the bank account busting, toll enforced freeway followed by a further two hours of back country roads at dusk. This might not sound too perilous, unless you’re Australian. If you’re true blue, you will understand the perils of what might jump out at you in the night. No, I’m not talking drop bears; I’m talking Wombats and Kangaroos. Let’s just say for arguments sake that a hatchback is going to come off a lot worse against either of these two marsupials.
The road into Jenolan is quite the ride. It’s narrow, has one lane and a decent sized drop off from the edge. Not the sort of place you want to be texting and driving. Not only that, but you remember what I said before? Wombats? Kangaroos? Anyway, this journey had everything to throw at us.
We drove through Jenolan and Chris was amazed that you actually drive through a cave. If you haven’t been here, Jenolan is one of the world’s most spectacular cave networks. This place boasts a number of the world’s oldest caves. Definitely a recommended trip. But anyway, back to the chase. As soon as you get past Jenolan, you drive up a 90 degree angle road that has more curves than a Brazilian hen party. This was the part when all hell broke loose and life decided to throw everything it could muster at us. And by this, I mean a kamikaze of wombats. With careful manoeuvring, concentration and not letting the beads of sweat running down our heads distract us too much, not one came near to being hit. We even pulled over to get a closer look at these cuties that curiously sat by the side of the road.
After a 30 minute slog down a dirt road, we finally arrived, pitched the tent up and then got everything ready for the morning. There was only one problem; I had no idea where the ‘wall’ was that I wanted to photograph Chris standing at the edge of. Therefore it was time to get the dive torches out and find it. There are two lessons to take away from this: 1) if you don’t have a powerful torch, don’t bother searching at night (2) if you don’t have google maps downloaded on your phone in an area with no signal then you’re going to struggle. We didn’t have google maps downloaded but we did have the dive torches which are 11k lumen so we managed. We used Photopills to work out an accurate sunrise direction and time and we also timed how long it took us to walk there from the camp. That was everything we needed to know so we could wake up in good time to make it before sunrise.
As the sound of my alarm roared earlier than we would have both liked, we woke up and climbed out of the tent to see a beautiful orange haze on the horizon. This turned our tiredness to excitement and quicker than lightning we were on our way back to the wall.
They say wilderness is the ‘original and best of planet earth’ and when you find yourself standing at the edge of this wall, looking out at endless layers of gumtrees, with the wind blowing through your hair and the rising sun lightly warming your skin, you have to agree. It doesn’t get much better than this. Just breathe and take it all in. Oh, and don’t look down if you don’t like heights!