Tops that rock

hunter dustEarly in March I went to the Coolah Tops National Park for the first time. Averaging 1100 metres, they offer what would be stunning views over the Liverpool and Breeza Plains—if the Hunter coalmines’ dust haze hadn’t got that far. But I’d actually come for the Coolah Tops Jazz Festival.

coolah screerocksbandBefore the music began I did note that each ridge top was of loose basalt rocks, that screes on mountainsides were common, and that certain freestanding rocks were glaring rather balefully at the tourists snapping them.

Then the Bogalusa Strutters started strutting about, making music on the move and being cheeky. We left the rocks alone.

As the afternoon progressed towards evening, the Eskies and folding camp chairs multiplied, coats and beanies replaced the sunhats, and artists like the George Washingmachine Band and Julie O’Hara took to this stage at the edge of the world.

In between we had displays of Australian wildlife such as writhing but friendly pythons, a closely held crocodile and even an amiable Joanna Goanna.

NPWS guides led short bushwalks nearby for those who wanted to stretch their legs or slow down on the Shiraz.

It was a fun country sort of day in a great setting, where most people camped overnight nearby, after dancing in the dark on a dance ‘floor’ the size of a football field. Bit like picnic races I imagine.dancefloor

Bush bash

Recently I held a party. My mountain often being inaccessible, I chose to have my do in the next best bush place I know: The Old Brush.
Surrounded by forested ridges, it’s a green valley floor with man-made lagoons, rainforest borders, shady seats and quirky statuary – like Woodhenge. Kangaroos graze and birds abound.

It’s a small paradise that the owners are generous enough to share with the bushwalking and picnicking public.
brush cabin
Robert BignellRobert and Gail Bignell are friends, originally met when I interviewed Robert for an Owner Builder magazine story about his charming handmade bush cabin.

A professional photographer, that day Robert snuck a picture of me which later became the author photo for my book.

It had rained for weeks and continued on the party day—until the marquee and tarps had been erected beside the guest cabin down by the dam.

Then the sun came out and stayed out till the stars took over. A slightly boggy good time was apparently had by all—I left them to it at 3am—and Robert made a DVD to remind me that although I officially turned 60 I had fun doing it.


These are some of his photos. More on The Old Brush web site.