I had intended this last walk of the year to be an overnighter but it turned into an “in the nighter”. The country was in the grip of a heatwave so walking in the daytime heat was unwise. The remaining hike in my 12 Hike Challenge for 2018 was an overnight walk so I tried to find a short walk to a pretty, secluded campsite. Brooklyn Dam, on the Great North Walk, seemed perfect.
I set out at 6pm, as the temperatures began to fall. There was two and a half hours of daylight left and it was only a 3km walk. After a very steep climb the track levelled out. I ducked through the bush every now and then when there was the promise of a good view. I was well rewarded.
Upon reaching the dam I set up in a perfect spot. From the door of my tent I had a lovely view of lily pads floating on the water and I looked forward to this being my morning view. I had intended to set up without my fly but the cicadas were so loud I needed something to block them out. I explored the dam a little, called my children to wish them a good night, then settled into my steaming hot tent.
Just as I was starting to relax, I heard music and a large amount of hollering heading my way. It was a huge group of teens or twenty somethings and they immediately began setting up for a boozy night right behind my tent. I popped my head out and said hello. They were speaking a different language although there was some English here and there. Fires were not permitted at this campsite and there was a heatwave anyway, but they lit a massive campfire anyway.
I had a choice now. I could pop over and maybe join in the festivities, or I could find somewhere else to set up. As I have become, and really always have been, an old fuddy duddy, I chose the latter. Once I’d packed up (in record time!) I headed off with the intention of setting up on the other side of the dam at the small secondary campsite. But as I got going, the light from my headlamp showed me just how little light was left. I called it a night. The kids could have the campsite, they’d have more fun if they didn’t have to consider disturbing someone anyway.
There was still a faint glow of daylight tinting the sky so I walked as quick as I could. My headlight shined on the new Great North Walk trail markers and I appreciated the new design. They stood out incredibly well in the lamplight. When night had fully descended I started eying off the bush every time I heard a rustle. At one point I disturbed a wallaby and I could hear it bounding through the bush. There was one section that felt very strange so I picked up the pace. I do love night hiking! You experience the world in a light beam and fill in the blanks with the noises from the bush. It was fantastic!
I reached the train station with a minute to spare. Even though I didn’t stay overnight I still had a lovely walking experience and was able to experience some night hiking, which I’ve only done twice before.