Don’t stuff it for everyone else.
There is a line, don’t cross it.
How do you like to wake up? Kookaburras singing? The patter of a small animal scurrying around your campsite? I bet a chainsaw 20 metres from your swag at 2.00am doesn’t tickle your fancy…
It’s 7.00am and there’s a thick fog on the banks of the Murrumbidgee with not another camper in sight. Bliss. A few hours down the highway and we began our High Country long weekend. Dargo was picked as the starting point with two mates that had never made it to the 4X4 Nirvana. After ascending the very wet Blue Rag, the day was getting long and the plan was to camp out the back of the Dargo Hotel.
With the campsite form filled in and a couple of cold ones in the pub, a spot was picked in the farthest corner of the (very) large campground. Over an embankment, next to a fire ring, the vehicles were arranged in an attempt to seclude our campsite (as you do). The majority of campers started to roll in an hour or so later and the campground began to fill up… but by no means was it full.
About 10.00pm a vehicle pulled up next to us and the driver came over. “Do you mind if we set up next to you? There’s a few more coming, but we will be in bed pretty early.”
I’d like to think I’m a pretty relaxed camper, but this is the last time I’ll ever agree to such a request. The four of us curled up in our swags about midnight, looking forward to a solid rest.
Now this is where it gets interesting. 2.00am: Chainsaw at full noise cutting down a tree. If there is anything that will startle you in a swag, it’s got to be that. The quickest swag exit on record was made – followed by sheer amazement. It took a while to comprehend what was going on. It was almost surreal.
A vehicle had driven down the embankment, parked next to our fire ring, pumped the music and was generally having a good old time. Fine, I’m no Grinch; I asked them to turn the music down and they obliged. Old Mate who would prove to be a punish for the rest of the night had finished cutting down the tree, and had decided it now needed to be blocked up.
After hearing no more than three words out of his mouth it was clear he’d had a skinfull and could barely walk, let alone use a chainsaw. It was asked (probably not very nicely – but hey, it was 2.30am), if he could avoid using the chainsaw again… but if you’ve ever argued with a pissed idiot, you’ll know it’s pointless. Thinking they finally had enough firewood, I felt it was time to go back to sleep. How wrong I was.
Between the drunk yelling, there was whip cracking and constant walking through our campsite. Not to mention the renditions of Khe San all through the night. That was the last sleep we were going to get. In good faith and holding onto the thought ‘how long can they possibly be awake for’? it was possible to drift off to sleep for 15 minutes while waiting for them to pass out. At 3.00am that same chainsaw was started again with the throttle held wide open. The clowns decided to block up a sleeper stolen from the nearby bridge. But this time it was less than three metres from us; right in the middle of our campsite. Thoughts of putting the shovel to good use flashed across my mind.
Our patience was dwindling and apparently so was the Publican’s. After some coarse words were said with some more pointless arguing, they decided to move their (stolen) timber 10 metres away and cut it there. Moments later the poor Publican made her way down to the camp to try and resolve the situation, but even she copped a mouthful of abuse and stupidity from these idiots.
The whip cracking continued and patience ran out. Packing up our campsite at 4.30am accompanied by their constant ‘comments’, running on two hours’ sleep, we headed for Billy Goats Bluff with a plan to sleep later in the day. The climb in the dark gave the spotties a good workout; and no traffic was almost guaranteed. Pushing through the thick fog, grinding our way to the top, we crested the last few hundred metres of the track.
And there it was. The view could be described as nothing short of spectacular. It was like a second wind; an awakening. A new energy came over the group. We were on top of the clouds hanging low in the valley. The sun hadn’t yet made its way over the horizon, and we were going to be some of the very few who would get to see the sunrise this morning. Boiling the billy, discussions over what karma these blokes would hopefully face lifted the mood. The sun peeked over the horizon; we had our silver lining. Without the help of those blokes, there was no chance we would have experienced this. As the sun bathed the valley, the escapades of the night before couldn’t have been further from our minds. The two newcomers had experienced the very best and the very worst that the High Country can deliver.
Not every trip is a great one. But you learn something new from each one. I’d like to think this was isolated, because it really was a great campground at the pub and the owners do a great job. I’d recommend it to anyone. That night just wasn’t our night.