I have just spent an absolutely wonderful day at the clothing optional resort south of Sydney called River Island. I've only ever been out here for day trips twice before. On those occasions it was a long walk, dip in the pool then off home again.
Today has been much different. I booked a camp site for the night, and have been able to spend the whole day here.
I took a gamble on the weather, and as I was leaving Canberra, it was low cloud, gloomy and drizzle. The forecast assured that Mittagong, the nearest centre on the map, would be showers in the morning, but sunny in the afternoon.
The closer I got, the more promising the weather looked, with bursts of sunshine, and increasing patches of blue sky. By the time I arrived, a little after 11am, it was warm, sunny and generally great weather with no wind.
I didn't waste any time stripping off. The first order of business was setting up my tent. It's a very old one my wife and I used when we first met, and it was at least 8 years ago since I last put it up. Luckily enough it's one of those very easy tents, that basically "pop" up when you erect the main two fibreglass cross poles.
With the tent set up, and car unpacked of bedding, it was time to hit the hills. I walked up the valley in the opposite direction I had explored on previous trips. The temperature was just right for walking. Bursts of autumn sunshine, with comfortable breaks behind light cloud.
I hiked up out of the valley following a 4WD track. Views through the bush clad hills and valleys were spectacular, with a picturesque river flowing throughout.
The entire return walk was about 2 hours. Probably about 12kms.
After ditching my walking belt, which carries a water bottle and some snacks, I headed up the river towards a location called the Cascades.
Not too long after leaving the camping area, and hitting the National Park, there's clear evidence where the river has previously flooded, and wiped out what used to be the track a little up from the river bank. Negotigating the track via the river bank isn't too bad, though I initially missed the detour and ended up clambering over tree debris. Quite an intrepid endeavour.
The aspect I like most about this part of the river is the outlook into the wilderness, and the rocky surrounds. It's not long before you encounter a dry river bed, and head towards a part of an adjoining river called the Cascades.
On my very first visit, the water levels had been so low, I didn't actually see any Cascades. This tie around, with some rain the previous week, the water levels were up, and the Cascades lived up to their name.
By the time I got back to the camp ground, that was another 6km return. Time for a quick dip in the pools. First the cold water pool after a nice warm shower. A couple of dives and laps in there, then over to the heated "Noodle" pool. With one noodle under my neck, the other under my legs, I laid back and enjoyed simply floating. What a fantastically relaxing feeling. Total weightlessness.
The later afternoon is warm and blissful. A quick meal of nachos using my camp stove to heat up the chilli beans. Some home made lager, then a quick call home to check on the family.
Although the camp is nearly deserted, there is a couple of other people here. Two single guys who are pleasant enough to chat with, and a retired couple. We spent about an hour in the spa talking about various trips, locations and walking.
It's still early evening, about 7:30. I'm amazed how comfortable I am even though it's probably 16-17C. The stars are spectacular, even if a little muted by a 3/4 waxing moon. I decide on a naked evening stroll.
I'm hoping to head for the grassy riverside where there are no lights so I can enjoy the stars in all their glory. I'm rewarded with a close up view of a wombat out for an evening meal.
Sitting with the light of the moon is so absolutely relaxing. What a fantasic day.
Now I have the moonlit night to look forward to. An early night for an early start me thinks. I have to head off around 10am, but this has been a trip well worth remembering.