Day 4 was a scheduled rest day, and while the Cabin-crew decided to sleep in and enjoy our beautiful accommodations, the rest of the team decided to join Hurricane Clare on a 2hr drive to Bald Rock National Park to see the 2nd Largest Rock in Australia (and the 1st largest slab of granite in the southern hemisphere).
We drove the scenic route, through Tooloom National Park and some areas that hadn’t been burned to a crisp! It was winding road, passing gorgeous weatherboard farmhouses. It was on this drive that we saw Kites, Hawks, and Eagles, one of which was resting on a telegraph wire as we drove past, but flew away when we slowed down to get a better look. We had a quick stop at Willson’s Downfall, possibly named after 3 different Willson’s who lost their fortunes or lives in the region. The following story on how it may possibly have got it’s name was published in the Brisbane Courier Mail in 1938:
We pulled in to Bald Rock 2hrs after leaving Paddy’s Flat, only to be confronted with a sign that announced it was closed until 12! After a short discussion we decided to suck up the back-tracking, and headed in to Tenterfield for an early lunch, a small grocery shop, and our first taste of reception in 3 days (excepting those of us who are with Telstra, we had patchy reception at Sunset Lookout!). We had totally forgotten to get petrol when we left Tenterfield, something that would cause some anxiety later on.
On the way back to Bald Rock we stopped at ALL the things! We saw Captain Thunderbolt’s hide-out, and more WW2 Tank traps. We arrived at Bald Rock about 1pm, and it was still closed!! We decided to get ready, and were applying sunscreen when the rangers came and opened the track. They were getting materials delivered by helicopter to rebuild the track after the bushfires had obliterated it. We were allowed to walk while they built around us, but not while the helicopter was dropping parcels. It was only a 4km hike, so we expected it to take an hour or so, but the sign read 3hrs. This confused us until we got our first glimpse of the Rock, which was visible through the sparsely-wooded forest (bushfires again). My first thoughts: Holey-Shit, we have to climb that…
It was actually quite intimidating! Steep, with the appearance of being slippery (it wasn’t, but the warnings made us feel scared!), Bald Rock was a magnificent moment. Mukta called her family in India from the top, and Terry was quite emotionally overwhelmed. A 4km track easily took 2hrs for us as we soaked it all up – a highlight for sure! It should also be said that every single one of these people currently or formerly had problems with heights – and they all conquered something today!
While we had reception we looked up whether we could get petrol without going in to Tenterfield – Google said there was a station on the highway home, so we took off home! Once we got to the town though, we discovered it was an OLD station, one that was now a motel with the old pumps painted bright yellow and being used as decorations… I had a small amount of anxiety on the way back to Tabulum – if the petrol station was closed (it was 430pm by now) then i didn’t have enough to get us back to camp and out again. That meant driving to Casino, then turning around and driving the dirt roads in the dark, blowing a 2hrs drive out to 4hrs…. my passengers saw the station before i did, excitedly crying out “there, there” but offering no tangible suggestions to where “there” was, i had to watch the road still! I turned in to Tabulum, realised the station was on the road i was on a minute ago, so cut across the nature strip (appreciating my 4WD) to get there. It was amusing to say the least.
We stopped for a reviver at the local co-op and made it home at 630pm – JUST before dark!