A short drive north of Sydney before reaching Gosford on the M3 you turn off to Peats Ridge. Soon after you will find the entrance to Glenworth Valley. A multi-purpose facility bringing the outdoors to the footsteps of metropolitan Sydney. Known for horse-riding, kayaking, abseiling and also for hosting the odd Tough Mudder or similarly themed adventure race.
Glenworth valley also has camping. And so we arrived on a crisp Saturday morning to spend a night among the tall scribbly gums that dominate the valley. Navigating the twisting, descending trail to the valley in Bruce, the trusty 4WD, so used on weekend adventures requiring a little muscle.
We checked in, which seems over the top for a spot of camping, but the price you pay for convenience I suppose. Plus there were toilets and showers provided for another level of convenience. Scouting out a few places in the Mill campground we picked out a spot with some decent trees for hammocks although it was nearer to the road than preferred. But the campground was quite spacious with only a few campsites up.
A downside was the prevalence of horse manure. Everywhere. While the horses seemed to be kept to the roads on the trail rides, during the week they must roam free and poo freely! You could’t step a few metres without encountering another muddy pile.
Rationalising that this was mostly grass anyway we setup camp. First the tent. Fixing a few poles before it was up in a jiffy. Then the hammocks. The sheer size of the trees made it difficult to lasso the tree straps around. They only just met on the other side leaving just enough slack to slide the caribiner through.
A classic V formation was settled upon and previous experience with the stretch and sag of the hammocks ensured the height was maximised on the first hang. Finishing the tie of both the mosquito cover and the rain fly. We now had two mirror image hammocks hung side by side which from a distance looked like two classic style tent roofs suspended with their bottoms missing!
Given it was penultimate day of May, ‘Winter was coming’ so being suspended in a hammock in the chill of the valley floor meant for some extra provisions. First the sleeping bag. Then the pillow to prevent cold seeping into the head. Finished off with a thin thermarest style ground mat to sit inside the hammock preventing the cold seeping in where the body pressure would be at its greatest, and therefore coldest.
Camp being established it was off for quad biking! Three quads at the ready to tear off into the bush. First a safety briefing and instructional test though to ensure we were competent. Passed! Then we follow the lead Quad bike out through the trails, over some creeks and do a few loops around some muddy patches to get the back ends sliding out.
We end up at a circuit made for the quad bikes with a few tight corners aimed to test the stability of the machines. Getting gamer every lap and with photos being taken by the guide we were lucky a few times not to tip face first into the mud. We were lucky to just be the three of us as we hear the roar of engine coming around the corner and 15 or so quads arrive to line up for their turn. We bid the course adieu and head on back.
The confidence now showing as we try a few tricks and nudge each other a little more abruptly than on the way out. But soon were literally back at the ranch to hand back our quads, both rider and machine unscathed, if a little more muddy.
Back to camp and prior to sparking up the fire we go in search of a few decent logs for the fire. We get court marshalled by a random horse riding instructor for taking dead wood from a pile that looks set for burning anyways. And, for also using the supposed horse riding trail for a vehicle. Someone needed to remind her a vehicle super seeded the horse and should quite logically have right of way! So we snuck some logs and ‘cantered’ back in Bruce.
We light up the fire as it is cooling down quick and dark will also come soon. Prepared with BBQ grate the fire is established with a plan to get the BBQ going later on with remaining coals. The usual sitting around the campfire ensues. Prepared a delicious meal (far from camping!) and a few drinks down. A satisfying end to the day!
Rain fell in the night. Protected by the fly it left us dry as dry can be and the thermarest worked a treat. Not a single chill! The only advice to get a wide mat so it does’t slide out of place too easily. The tapered mat may seem ideal to fit the hammock shape but the more rectangle one will work best.
Not wanting to rise from the cocoons we sleep till 8am. The fire is still smouldering even after the rain so we spark it to life for warmth! Breakfast porridge with fruit and nuts is a hearty meal cooked by gas stove and washed down with a coffee sou sou of Bornean origin.
Activity two involves abseiling! Back out on the same trail but with a muddy steep rise to the cliff top it causes the guides land cruiser to lose traction. So we walk up before abseiling down. Three abseils being attempted. We try the first two a few times perfecting our moves and spiderman type slides on fixed roles. The third requires a more adventurous jump over the lip of a cave ceiling to be left swinging freely beneath before gliding safely to the ground. Like the quads we all managed to perfect the technique with only moderate bruising to ourselves and our dignity.
And so we leave Glenworth Valley. Our tent and hammocks still quite damp but it is not a long drive home to dry them out. A pleasant stay for the convenience of a place close to the city with the crisp country air with only a hint of horse manure. Glenworth it!