DRIVING & ORGAN-PIPING

14 Dec 2020

“There’s a road to the Summit!” I said pointing across the dashboard excitedly. “It’s open!” 

“Great!” Says Dave turning onto the narrow side road. 

The East Coast Low wreaking havoc on the coast had reached us overnight and cold wind whipped around us as we climbed the newly fireproofed stairs to the summit.

“This is our kind of weather!” I shouted over the wind,  inhaling a strand of my ponytail. 

“Awww Maaate! How good is this!” We were thrilled to be here! This place is something special. 

360 degree views stretched out to the horizon. They say you can see 10% of the state from here on a clear day. An engraved plaque indicated the distance and direction of the local towns. I pointed to the horizon in the direction of Brisbane and called out over the wind “Home!”

Our attention turned from the horizon to the landscape immediately around us. Fire damage from last year in places devastating the forest. Some of the larger trees had re-growth, but many of the smaller trees still looked lifeless, while the wildflowers bloomed. 

“That was invigorating!” Exclaimed Dave climbing back into the car and firing up her engine. She growled into life and we pulled back onto the narrow dirt road leading down the mountain. “We’ve got an adventure-mobile, Carol!” The new car vibes haven’t worn off yet, and exploring places like this is exactly why we bought this car. 

Our next stop, Sawn Rocks, was 1.5 hours away and in the same National Park. I won’t write about how I made Dave miss the turn off and when we realised, there was no-where to turn around for a couple of winding kilometres. 

It was only 750m to the lookout but the sign said to allow an hour. We had another four hours of driving ahead of us so we set off at a cracking pace. 

“Dave, look up! We’re here!” 

“Yes, I see!” He called back.

Reading from the sign, Dave says “ The organ-pipes you see in front of you, extend 40 meters above the creek and 30 meters below the surface. Formed when basaltic lava flow cooled slowly and evenly, allowing the crystals within the molten rock to align perfectly with each other.” 

I’ve never seen anything like this in Australia. The regular form and texture, the shadows, and colour- we couldn’t look away. 

Following the stairs down into the dry creek bed gave us a different perspective. Huge chunks of crystal shaped columns had broken off and lay discarded along the ravine, a little like ancient ruins. Looking down at the smooth stone we walked along, the same crystal shapes appeared in cross-section. 

After one last look from the viewing platform, we decided we would jog back to the car, and set off at a comfortable pace, feeling good to be moving before four hours in the car. 

The road heading east out of Mount Kaputar National Park wound through picturesque forest with a pink-red soil, green and gold grasses and a grey leafed tea-tree forest. 

“How would we paint this?” Wondered Dave naming the watercolour paints he’d use. “Indian red with a bit of white, sap green, yellow ocher….” I love how his watercolour technique is developing, so loose and free. 

We pulled into Bingara, a small town looking for a café for lunch. Closed. Everything was closed, except for the pub. 

“Great! A pub lunch then!” 

“Kitchen’s closed, now” said the girl behind the bar. I looked at my watch, it was 2pm. “We have cakes” she said gesturing towards a few half empty glass containers.

“Cake for lunch then!” Actually, there was no cake just a muffin and a few cookies or slices. So we split a coconut and macadamia muffin and had a coffee each. “That’ll do.”

Back on the road for the last few hours, driving due east straight into the East Coast Low weather system. It was a non-event, overcast skies and some light rain only. Not even enough to wash the dust off the car. 

The Everest just eats up the miles, and in no time we pulled into Glenn Innes. The closer we get to Brisbane, the more excited we are about seeing the family. And with the weather turning more ominous closer to the coast, we’ve decided to push straight through the five hour drive home to Brisbane. 

See you soon!

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