Sydney-Yerranderie-Hill End-Stockton Dunes-Sydney. Trip around 1200km.
One day, after a long and miserable summer, I had a sudden and very strong desire to go to the sands of Stockton dunes. Then I said to myself, why don’t you go the long way, in the Blue Mountains, up to Hill End and then through Mudgee and The Golden Highway down to Anna Bay, where I can finally drive in the sand.
I got my Stauns, I got my Maxtracks, my tent and sleeping bag, got water and food – it took forever to pack it all and on Monday, 23 January at 12pm I am finally ready (how ready I couldn’t know). Wife is not happy, she wants me to stay home, but I have a few days for myself and want something different.
The freeway out of Sydney is quite quick. After the hectic packing I don’t have a clear plan – maybe drive to Bathurst, then to Sofala and Hill End, or perhaps if I have time I might get to Yerranderie, a historical ghost town in the Blue Mountains. Why Sofala and Hill End and why Yerranderie? Well, the Australian history fascinates me – how is it possible for a town to be booming in a very short period of time, and then simply disappear from the map and for Sofala and Hill End? I simply saw two pictures in the Art Gallery NSW of the same street in Sofala, by Donald Friend and Russell Drysdale, which I liked and wanted to see how much the street has changed since they painted them (Russell Drysdale is my favourite Australian painter). Donald Friend later bought a house and worked for a while in Hill End. I also hope to check some of the dirt tracks around Sunny Corner as recommended by mikehzz.
Never mind my reasons, when I get to Lithgow, I realise I’ve missed the turn to Oberon, Shooters Hill and eventually Yerranderie. It is still fresh and early – brief hesitation and I decide to go back. Boring Oberon follows, but after Shooters Hill, the drive is beautiful and I miss the turn to Yerranderie, loosing half an hour with some 40k driving forward and back. Finally I get to the gravel road, which says 76k to Yerranderie. I proceed carefully, but slowly gain confidence and learn how to handle the car in the gravel – next day I will avoid a sure collision with incoming Ute. I get to Yerranderie in one piece (all good, except a little damage on the front left alloy wheel), despite driving arrogantly sometimes up to 80kh and despite the poor condition of the track, lots of recent rain made it badly corrugated. On places I wish I don’t smash into the invisible holes with such a speed. With every turn I freak out, imagining some ugly Toyota jumping suddenly in front. Sometimes the track is narrow, edging above deep abysses.
I get there in one peace relieved, but there is no one in Yerranderrie, I drive around the few empty cottages. A sign says go to the caretakers cottage down the road, where I finally find the caretaker, pay him my $7 for the camping and enjoy the status of the only guest of a ghost town. It takes a while to work out how to pitch my tent, but then starts the fun bit: a charcoal barbeque, few marinated chicken and pork pieces on it and of course cold beer (lucky I didn’t forget to crash a bag of ice in the eskie). One bold resident possum tries to bite the edge of my provisions bag. I chase him away and he runs into the chimney of the kitchen. I decide to pack everything in the car (don’t trust the possum), before cosying in on my airbed in the tent. Then I fall asleep the happiest man alive.
Sorry folks, it’s too long now – I will continue tomorrow.