Christmas is done, everyone is full of food and goodies and it’s time to head home and pack up Charlie and Leeroy for a few days camping. normally at Christmas we would head north to family spending a few days somewhere from Christmas and new years exploring. one year we attempted to tent it but yeah we’ve moved on from tents 🙂 .. we don’t mind the swag here and there but we are definitely camper girls now.
This year we didn’t really know if we were working the days between Christmas and new years until quite late and i needed to stay in phone range in case i had to return to work, which is why heading north was out. it was also supposed to be very hot upwards of 38-40 degrees. the coast is always super busy and we like our space and peace and quiet when we are camping, so heading west is our go to at this time of year. we had decided on Coolah Tops National Park, about three and half hours drive west-ish from Newcastle (home). We were hopeful that the canopy of the forest would give some relief from the heat
Battery Rock rest stop
Monday lunchtime we were all good to go and our way to tops, it was a bit risky as there is no booking system and its not a large park so there was a possibility of there being no spots but we hoped that without a swimming hole and the predicted heat it might not be too busy. We stopped for a rest stop at battery rock rest stop.
Boy were we in for a surprise here! there was a road leading down behind the loo and being inquisitive i decided to drive down and see what was there. There’s a few little overnight camp spots, picnic table and little creek that would run after the rains.
But most surprising of all was the Columnar Rods formation.
We’d seen the vertical type at Narrabri (which are super impressive and well worth a visit) but never horizontal coming straight out of the hillside. it was a little freaky trying to get your head around how it was possible.
We decided to keep on trekking to the tops and log this for a longer stop another time. The trip from Newcastle to Coolah is quite pretty as it passes through Merriwa and the agricultural area. Unfortunately there aren’t any sunflowers along this bit of the road however it was sad to note that the iconic Merriwa hut, famous for being surrounded by Canola has almost met its full demise. It’s a much loved and photographed icon of the region by photographers near and far when the Canola is in flower.
We turned off Warrumbungle’s way to head into the park for about 25km before you reach the rocky dirt road into the park. it’s quite well maintained however does have a few steep parts and about half a dozen dips (well sign posted) that you need to be wary particularly if you are towing. I wouldn’t recommend it for non off road vehicles with low clearance unless you are super familiar with your vans limitations (particularly in the wet).
Once inside the park the canopy takes over and the relief is almost instantaneous. There is a little info hut not to far past the NP sign at the entry (there is also limited phone service at this point). Going into the park further you reach a fork in the road – straight ahead will take to you The Pines campground and Bald Creek Falls (which later on we will have wished we took a LOT more notice of the information hut map!); to the left Cox Creek and The Barracks campgrounds, as well as the Pinnacle Lookout. We opted to go left and headed into the Barracks campground (Coxs Creek is currently closed for maintenance however is expected to open early in the new year).
We decided to do a quick look-see of the lookout before pulling into the campground, and at the lookout turn bay i noticed the steering was very very heavy. We continued back to the campground and as we turned into the campground i looked at Tash and said we have a problem! happily there were a few spots left and we took one in the back right hand corner. i started to reverse in and confirmed that there was a big issue with the vehicle – i couldn’t turn it without it being a full body gym workout. we got the camper in and up went the bonnet.
Much to my dissatisfaction the power steering fluid bottle was empty – not a disaster but also not great. we asked around the campground if any anyone had any and unfortunately like us power steering fluid isn’t in their little fluid kitty. Knowing that Coolah was about 30km away and one of the service stations likely to be open tomorrow we set the camper up and relaxed into our first evening.
There were little skippy’s everywhere, the kooka’s were going crazy although not as crazy annoying as the cockatoos, a very pleasant introduction to Coolah indeed.
Even though the temperature was quite pleasant, what’s camping without a fire!
We woke up (not too early) cooked up a lovely breaky and headed into town. The second servo (the Black Stump Servo of course) had fluid. Brilliant. Fill the bottle, take it easy and head back to camp, or so we thought.
By the time we reached camp again the steering was still stuffed, so bonnet up again and the bottle is empty again! not being very mechanicy at all, we wondered if it need to flow through to somewhere, so we started to put some in and noticed that it was draining out again. so under the car we go and yep sure enough power steering fluid everywhere. hmmm even we knew this wasn’t a good sign.
Being a public holiday and already knowing the mechanic and NRMA in Coolah were closed until New Year we had an inkling it was time to head home and get it fixed in Newcastle and probably sayonara holidays.
Sadly we packed up the camper, hitched up and headed for the junction of the Warrumbungle’s way again where we called my very knowledgeable and handy uncle to get some advice. after talking to Uncle Michael, we made the decision to head home, stopping every 50 odd kms to flush a little more fluid through the system hoping to keep the pump ‘alive’ until we could the dealer to look at, which we feared wouldn’t be for a week or so.
We made it home late Tuesday afternoon/evening unpacked the car and camper and sat glumly on the lounge wondering what could have been.
A call to the dealer – Klosters at Newcastle – first thing Wednesday morning and wonderfully they said they would look at but no guarantees about fixing it. i moped around the house on Wednesday having sent Tash to work – no point wasting good annual leave! until the call from the dealer later in the afternoon, not only had they found the issue, they had fixed it and he was ready to be picked up with all the work being covered by warranty. we couldn’t believe it and we were so stoked. we’ve been buying and servicing with Klosters since about 2007 and i have to say we have always found them wonderful to deal with and after today’s effort they have certainly kept our business.