STATES and TERRITORIES

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Stenhouse Bay Campground: New Year Eve in Innes National Park

We take very seriously the Russian wonderful belief: "As the new year to meet - so spend it". This is the reason why we always choose very carefully the place for the New Year celebration. Last year, we found out that in Australia people book a New Year accommodation approximately six months before the holiday. It does not fit our concept of quite spontaneous traveling.

Stenhouse Bay jetty, Innes National Park
Stenhouse Bay jetty, Innes National Park

So this year, five days before the New Year, Alex looked up from his computer and asked, "How do you feel about New Year's Eve in Innes National Park?" Everyone looked at Sonia, who had fever for the past three days. "I do not care where to be sick," - she happily coughed. We agreed and pre-paid on-line the camp site at the Stenhouse Bay Campground.


Innes National Park Entrance
Innes National Park Entrance


By the way, now, park and camping fees in Innes National Park could be paid on-line only. It is quite easy, if you have a smartphone. Those who do not have such an opportunity, can still pay on-line ... in the Information Centre at the entrance to the National park.

Spectacular cliffs around Stenhouse Bay
Spectacular cliffs around Stenhouse Bay

We spent the morning of the last day of the year, rushing around the vehicle, putting together things for the trip. As a result, we left our house at half past two. Innes National Park is about 300 km. (or 3 hours) from our house  - we really hoped that this would be enough to come to the place where heat of the day subsides. And it was so.

Stenhouse Bay Campground
Stenhouse Bay Campground

When we arrived, we saw that the Campground has been already full. Even on special camping expos we have not seen such a variety of vehicles and equipment for camping. On one of the sites encamped volunteers of the National Park. Probably they were here to keep order on the Campground on New Year's night and to prevent some New Year miracle if someone would forget about the heat, total fire ban and prohibited fireworks... By the way, not only volunteers but also rangers and police took care of the order in the campgrounds. Pleased to note that we all celebrated the New Year without any unpleasant incidents.

Old closed gypsum mine near Stenhouse Bay jetty
Old closed gypsum mine near Stenhouse Bay jetty

Our campsite was quite large and even isolated a bit by bushes from the neighbours. We hang a Christmas solar garland on the bushes, to create the necessary New Year mood. We quickly set up the tent, prepared cozy beds, ate delicious sandwiches, and within an hour were ready to go somewhere to get the new impressions.

Fishing is not a bag idea for a New Year celebration
Fishing is not a bag idea for a New Year celebration

We decided to drive to the Stenhouse Bay located nearby. This place is incredibly beautiful! On both sides this bay is surrounded by spectacular cliffs with unusual shaped stones. There are some remains of wooden constructions on the shore, reminiscent of the mining past of this region. In the 20th century the high-grade gypsum was mined here. Ships brought this valuable building material throughout Australia, sailed from the very wooden jetty, from which we observed the life of fish and crabs! The manufacture was discontinued in the 70's of last century, when the Australian Government bought this land and established a National Park.

Dolphin watching from Stenhouse Bay jetty
Dolphin watching from Stenhouse Bay jetty

We saw a group of five dolphins who played in the water of the bay. They fished very close to the shore, so close that you can see in the photo a bitten by someone dorsal fin on one of the dolphins. Only we and a couple of fishermen on the jetty admired this spectacle - no one else nearby! We delighted the absolute solitude, contrasted with an active life in the crowded campground. We had an idea to meet the New Year in the shelter on the cliff above the bay, next to a huge ship's anchor on a pedestal.


Inspired by this idea, we rushed back to the camp to pick up food and to relocate closer to the beach. Alas, this great idea was not realized. Once we got to the tent, Anna immediately crawled into the sleeping bag and announced that she would sleep. We could not argue with a three year old child!.. Should I say that at this New Year's Eve, she was the last one in our tent who fell asleep?

Our campsite with some New Year Decorations
Our campsite with some New Year Decorations

So we switched to "Plan B" and organized a humble festive table "under the bush". The biting flies and ants had already gone to bed, and we settled comfortably under the huge sky full of stars. Children once more thought of the people in the city who could not see so many stars in the sky. By the way, the stars in the sky were not only stationary, but also shooting - so everyone could make wishes as much as wanted. Can you imagine this romantic setting around us: million stars shined from the sky,  blue garland flickered from the dark and three lanterns with candles lit our festive table... (Do not forget that there was a total fire ban, so we used the LED candles!)

Exiting light-painting at last minutes of 2015
Exiting light-painting at last minutes of 2015

Neighbors turned on the radio, and we all in unison with the radio broadcaster counted down the last seconds of the year. At midnight we shouted cheers and clinked ... no, not champagne glasses ... the bottles of cider that was much more appropriate in that circumstances.

The first sunrise of 2016 at Stenhouse Bay
The first sunrise of 2016 at Stenhouse Bay


There was a strong wind in the night buffeted our the tent much. However in contrast to our first overnight stay in the park last year, at least the tent did not try to fly away. The first morning of the new year, in spite of the weather forecast,  was warm and sunny. Though Alex, who went to a "photo-shoot" at six in the morning, claimed that dawn was cool. By 10 am, we already had breakfast, packed up,  and were ready to explore new lands.

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