I start the next day surrounded by clearing skys, sunlight and amazing birdsong, thanks to a good mix of Magpies ((Go here for a full description - http://birdsinbackyards.net/species/Gymnorhina-tibicen
) or (listen to them here - http://birdsinbackyards.net/images/a...na-tibicen.mp3
)), Kookaburras ((http://birdsinbackyards.net/species/Dacelo-novaeguineae
) or (http://birdsinbackyards.net/images/a...vaeguineae.mp3
)), Currawongs ((http://birdsinbackyards.net/species/Strepera-graculina
) or (http://birdsinbackyards.net/images/a...-graculina.mp3
)) as well as the usual noisy Sulfur Crested Cockatoos ((http://birdsinbackyards.net/species/Cacatua-galerita
) or (http://birdsinbackyards.net/images/a...a-galerita.mp3
)) and other assorted raptors. Waking with the birds isn't optional, it's mandatory. The Magpies are my favourite, without doubt, especially when you get a chorus of half a dozen or so young birds gathered together - just magic. So after cooking some plain. salty porridge and a cup of tea, I set out from the campsite, searching for the quartz reef further up the hill behind camp, detector humming along in the headphones as I follow a trail of broken quartz pieces higher and higher. Finally, after a couple of hours, I've reached the main reef and find this...
It's an amazingly deep shaft that cuts straight through the quartz outcrop, down at least fifty metres before being swallowed into pure darkness.
Not the place to slip or fall. I wonder how many kangaroos have hopped straight into it in the dark? I back away after working the tailings dump then follow the reef line downhill.
Great view from up here, they must have been fit miners to hike from the creek up to here every day. "I can't see my camp from here."
One thing that really impressed me was how good my new Sidi Adventure Goretex boots were to hike in - just first class boots and they lost their squeak days ago. Anyway, down the slope I go, constantly detecting and following the reef line. The rusty white quartz is easy to spot, even in the thick ground cover.
A close-up of the reef material. Gold prospecting is as much about geological knowledge and understanding as it is about pure luck and hard work.
While wandering along, something unusual on the ridge above me catches my eye, so I hike back up to investigate.
It's an old cannabis crop site. Well enclosed by chicken wire and shade cloth but in a poor state of repair due to the collapse of a tree over the main structure. It still has water tanks and pot planters inside, but they're empty. I'm sure someone thought it was a good spot to grow, but it's kind of obvious in an area with few ground shrubs for camouflage.
What is growing up here are these perfect, minature wild orchids, about the width of a fingernail.
Anyway, after making sure I'm not being tracked by hillbillies with guns, I continue downhill, towards the creek. Stepping around a large fallen tree, I almost step straight onto this guy.
Crikey! What a beautiful creature. Thank Gawd it wasn't a snake, as my left boot landed inches from his head.
The perfect natural camouflage for his environment year round with fallen leaves and moss covered rocks, he surprised me by not even moving a single millimetre the whole time I was near him. Maybe he'd never seen a human before and didn't know how dangerous we were?
After stumbling across this Shingleback Lizard (Go here for more info - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiliqua_rugosa
) I become much more cautious wandering around the scrub, as I know the snakes will be out of winter hibernation if the lizards are out and about. But I've got my riding boots and over boot mx pants on, so I'm okay except when I stop to dig up a detector signal. The scrub has become a snake infested area suddenly, especially down near the creek.
What a special area this is. I follow the creek back to camp, working the erroded base and edges as I go.
Freshly bloomed golden Wattle. Our Nations Floral Emblem, used on the Federal Coat of Arms and forming the colours of many of our international sports team uniforms.
The rich undergrowth plants and fungi, including hallucinogenic Psilocybin mushrooms. More on these later.
The trunk of a long dead gum tree near camp.
And the branch of a recently fallen one, the colours set off by last nights rain.
Back at camp, I gather some water from the creek, boil some with a fresh fire and have a great shower come scrub down before throwing the laundry into the remaining water to make use of the rare sunshine.
And while we're on campsite domestics, my nightly feed...
boiled up so I can use the water for a cup of soup before the rice/canned food main meal and if I'm lucky, enough for a cup of tea afterwards.
They provided a feed I looked forward to each night with good variety while allowing me cheap travel and the ability to be free of the real need for townships every day.