A tale from Dunn’s Swamp in which Hogey shadow boxes a possum …

When Darce and his friends were invited to a party near Rylstone (about an hour and a half north east of Bathurst), Steve and I seized the opportunity to spend a night camping nearby at one of our favourite haunts, Dunn’s Swamp, on the western fringe of the Wollemi National Park.

dunn's swamp

The name doesn’t sound particularly inviting but Dunn’s has a special vibe. Originally the Cudgegong River ran through the gorges but in the 1920s the area was dammed to provide water for the nearby Kandos Cement Factory. Thesedays it’s a long peaceful stretch of water that serpentines its way through sandstone cliffs and reedy swamps, perfect for canoeing. We’d always known that the area was important to local Aboriginals but we learnt this morning that it has special significance to Aboriginal women, a place where they would come to give birth among other things.

Could reflections at Dunn's swamp

For us, it holds its own power. As the kids were growing up we spent many mid winter camps here. Mid winter specifically because it would mean that we’d often have the clear blues days, freezing cold nights and the entire campsite to ourselves. I couldn’t believe it had been nine years since we’d last been out and everywhere I turned I could hear the children’s voices, see our friends huddled around a campfire and hear the roars and laughter that echoed through the valley as we got it into our heads one day to go skinny dipping after a particularly boozy lunch. Madness.

our favourite cave

To be honest, as I wandered the campsite yesterday afternoon, reacquainting myself with its rocks and trees and textures I found myself getting a little melancholy … feeling a sense of sadness for happy times past that we won’t ever quite capture again. Missing my friends. Wishing the kids were with us.

textures of dunn's swamp

But we dropped the 16 year olds off to their party and Steve and I returned to our little pup tent. He had a fire set and ready to go. Instead of the expected cloud and rain, we had a sky full of stars and barely needed a torch to get around, the moon was so bright. A super still night.

Sound asleep …

1am.

A couple of late campers arrive and decide to set up camp near us.  Not just a little pup tent and do the rest in the morning. No they decide to set up the full catastrophe crunching their way past our heads along the gravel.

And once they have their tent set up they start talking.

Meanwhile there’s some scratching at the tent. Steve, already toey with the newcomers, stirs and says “Is that you?”
“Is that me what?”
“Is that you scratching around near my head?”
“No.”

Next thing a huge possum appears under the edge of our little annexe, ferreting its way into a loaf of bread we’d left out. Steve quickly unzips the tent and retrieves the bread, rezips it back up, then next thing, the possum’s in the annexe and I’m watching an Indonesian shadow puppet play – backlit by moonlight – of Steve trying to thump the possum while the possum is unleashing its best ninja moves jumping from the esky to the bag pile going berserk in the annexe. This goes on for a good couple of minutes till Steve finally connects fair on its head and the possum ingloriously takes its leave.

Meanwhile the newcomers are still talking.

As you can imagine, Steve’s a bit fired up now, having just gone two rounds with an aggressive brush tail, so next thing he’s out of the tent, walking quietly over to theirs (as quietly as you can on crunchy gravel), leans over as close as he dares to their canvas and says in the most sinister, frustrated, possum whipping whisper he can muster “SHUUUUUUTTTTTTT  UPPPPPPPPPPPPP!!!!!”.  Scuttles back to our tent, zips himself back in, and the pair of us break into a fit of uncontrollable body racking giggles, the sort where you can’t get any air.

And the newcomers – at 2.30 in the morning – finally shut the fuck up.

Morning.

We woke early to a clear blue sky and as everyone else was up besides the newcomers, we busied ourselves with some serious gravel crunching, pot banging and toilet door slamming.

dunn's early morning

early morning at dunn's swamp

And then we took ourselves off for a canoe ride.

canoe and cliffs

We’d noticed, when we drove into the park, that there was an enormous amount of water lying about in the lowlands and apparently the water level at Dunn’s rose by a metre after a massive storm on Thursday night. For the first time ever (in our experience) the spillway was overflowing, not that you can canoe this closely. We pulled ours up on the shore and did the short walk to take a peek.

dam wall overflowing at Dunn's Swamp

Back to camp, a quick pack up, some more gravel crunching and pot banging and we were on our way.

We felt like we’d got our money’s worth.

Not to mention our own back ;)

The moral of the story …

Don’t mess with the possum puncher.

Oh, and P.S. we hired our canoe from Southern Cross Kayaking and had the best dumplings we’ve ever eaten at 29 Nine 99 in Rylstone. Na Lan has just had an excellent write up in SBS’s Feast Magazine.  Worth the trip. Yum.

And if you want some more information about Dunn’s Swamp, click here or check out google images – there are some beauties.

    17 Comments

    5 tips for social media success

    After two years of investigative research and intensive time wasting I think I’ve nailed the five key elements you need to have in your social media toolkit to do well. Enjoy!

    1. Get a cat.
    At the risk of committing social media suicide and potentially disenfranchising a number of readers who I know lovvvve their moggies, I’m going to come clean and announce that I don’t like cats. I can tolerate cats with some serious attitude, but the rest of them I can’t stand, especially the ones who invade our garden and eat little native birds. Psssssssssssssssss!!!.  But… if you want to be a social media star and you don’t like cats you must cast aside your aversions and invest in a cat. People go off their nuts about cats on social media. Don’t ask me why.

    2. Get a puppy.
    If you can’t handle cats, a puppy is your next best bet. People will fall over themselves to oooo and ahhhh over new puppies. But this one comes with a proviso. Puppies turn into dogs so your social media shelf life with a puppy is limited. So if I was heading down the canine route I’d focus on the toys, and frankly the more interbred the better – I’m thinking Schnitzeldoodles, Multipoos and Shityous.  Shityous are particularly popular. Truly you can’t go wrong. I remember years ago when I was working at the uni and Steve came up to visit, he brought our new little puppy with him. I wondered why he kept visiting throughout the week, with puppy in tow. Why? Because on a college campus full of bright young things, nothing, noth-ing has pulling power like a puppy. You may laugh. I have to live with it.

    3. Adorable little children.
    Refer to Point 2. But ….you do get more mileage out of adorable little children than you do with puppies but as Aunt Patty of The Simpsons put it so beautifully in her raspy, cigarette smoking voice:  “The older they get, the cuter they ain’t.”
    Important note: With reference to Point 2, the interbreeding thing … it doesn’t work with kids.

    4. Move to Italy or pretend you live there.
    Social media is mad about anything Italian. It simply does not matter what photo you take in Italy, people will LIKE and SHARE the madonna out of it.

    5. Anything turquoise.
    Living in the country, I’m a total sucker for this one. Any coastal fringed shots with glistening, clear, turquoise water gets my holiday juices flowing and everyone else’s apparently.

    … so there you have it, five gems that will set you on your way to becoming a social media legend.

    ….

    Which kind of brings me to my real point.

    Because I don’t have a cat, a puppy, adorable little children (with respect Madz and Darce), and I don’t live in Italy or near the coast, I’m going to be spending less time on social media and more time having a life and putting my efforts here.

    So… if you find your way here, or if you come already and would like to know when a new post is up.

    Please SUBSCRIBE

    Please SUBSCRIBE

    Please SUBSCRIBE!

    (That last one’s meant to look garish.)

    You can do that in one of two ways.

    1. Simply enter your email address in the envelope on the top of the column to the right, press submit and that means you’ll receive an email from me each time I do a new post. Which for newbies, on a good week might be 2 times per week, in a slow period might be once every 10 days. Bottom line is you won’t be inundated. And you can always unsubscribe if I start to Shityou.

    OR

    2. You can hit the RSS  icon (Really Simple Syndication) (it’s the third icon, the one that looks a bit like radio waves – under the envelope in the top of the right hand column) which will send a notification to your Feed Reader. What’s a Feed Reader? Well it’s like a centralised hub of all the things you subscribe to online. I personally prefer to get emails but I’m sure some of you might be able to enlighten us about Feed Readers, how to set them up, and which ones you prefer. I know Feedly is a popular one.

    ….

    On another little tangent my 22 year old niece Libby is studying Journalism and International Studies and she’s spending this year in Mexico doing Spanish. She has started a blog called Nacho Libby,  and it’s really lovely. She’s “exploring the colourful culture of Mexico one stag leap at a time”. Watch this girl. She’ll do good things.

    Behind the scenes, we’ve had lots of beautiful rain of late so Bathurst is looking a bit like Ireland at the moment. We’ve been picking pomegranates all week and they’re so pretty I don’t want to juice them. Steve and I did some video and sound training with my old cameraman mate Brendan Cooper from Cooper Films during the week and we had a ball so we’re looking forward to doing more little vids around the traps. Very exciting actually. We’ve bought some proper radio mics (that’s tech talk) and it’ll mean we can start getting a lot more playful with it all.

    Have a lovely week and I hope those tips are helpful.

    Let me know if you think I’ve missed any.

    And don’t forget to subscribe! And if you’re already subscribed then please SHARE the Shityou out of it :)

    lots of love

    Marg x

      23 Comments

      Celebrating two years at the blog and meeting Ita Buttrose

      “Why do you blog? I don’t get blogging. Why would you put your stuff out there for people to see?”

      All I can say, is that … It Just Felt Right.

      When I started this blog two years ago I had no plans except to use it as a creative outlet, a place away from clients’ work where I could be playful and do my own thing.

      Along the way something else happened. I rediscovered my love of writing, something I had trained in but something I hadn’t done for many years.

      And suddenly I had a place where I could use my words and images together.

      It was a natural fit.

      It. Just. Felt. Right.

      And then something else started to happen. I slowly started to get to know people from all around the world with similar interests and with a similar sense of humour. And friendships blossomed. In Australia, in America, in Italy, Algeria, in Mexico and Norway! And I realised that our little corner of the world in rural Australia has its own charms and people were actually enjoying our stories about Bathurst and our various misadventures.

      Last night in Sydney, publishing legend and 2013 Australian of the Year, Ita Buttrose, launched a book I designed for travel writer and photo journalist Christine Osborne.

      Christine Osborne and Ita Buttrose at the launch of Travels with my Hat

      Author Christine Osborne and Ita Buttrose at the launch of Travels With My Hat

      Christine found me via the blog.

      If I didn’t blog, I would never have met her and I would never have met Ita.

      Blogging has opened up my world in ways I never saw coming.

      Why do you blog?

      I love making you laugh. I love it when you’re moved to tears by something I’ve written. I love sharing our here and now with you, the little roller coaster that is our life in Bathurst. This crazy roller coaster that we all ride. I love the sense of connection. Of shared moments. Even if they’re a world away.

      In a busy, busy world, I am so grateful that you find your way here. And I’m so grateful for all your little comments and words of encouragement over the past two years, especially when we’ve hit life’s lows, and we’ve had our fair share of those in recent times.

      Somehow, dreams seem possible here. And that’s a wonderful gift you give me.

      Thank you so much.

      loads of love

      Marg xxx

        20 Comments
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        • About me

          Hi I’m Margaret, a creative soul
          fuelled by wanderlust and big dreams.
          A full-time mum, wife and graphic designer
          at red moon creative.

          I live and tell stories from Bathurst, Australia, a couple of hours inland from Sydney. In 2016 my husband Steve and I are planning to blog our way around the Mediterranean. In the meantime I'm doing it virtually over on the facebook page.
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