Last time you saw me I was lounging by a pool in Brisbane. It was not half bad. Beastie spent a day or so looking fetching by the pool – azure blue water really sets off that KTM orange, you know – but we were back on the road soon enough.

I headed out of Brisbane in a sort of north-westerly direction, past Lake Wivenhoe (I think that lake was Wivenhoe) and into the hills.

I found some sun-dappled dirt roads after Esk and fanged through Anduramba and Pierce’s Creek just for fun. Beastie was loving it. Then I headed for Blackbutt because the name implied there might be some impressive forest up there – and there was, along with impressive machinery to cut it down.

I’d dawdled that morning in Brisbane so by the time I got to Blackbutt the sun was yellowing with late afternoon and I started looking about for a quiet camp spot.

My map told me there was free camping at the Blackbutt showgrounds. There were already a couple of caravans parked up there, and half a dozen grey nomads in canvas camp chairs, giving me surly looks over their glasses of afternoon chardonnay. I decided it wasn’t my scene and headed out of town.

Down the road a bit was the Benarkin State Forest. I followed some logging roads until I saw a stern sign telling me that I must call the Queensland government and obtain a permit before camping. I turned off Beastie and dialled the number. Silence descended on the forest. As I listened to the hold music, dusk descended also.

Eventually I got through to an operator.

‘Where are you?’

‘Benarkin State Forest… on a logging road…somewhere…’

‘And when you do want to camp?’


‘Do you have a booking?’

I looked around. Just me and Beastie on a logging road, and I hadn’t seen a soul since I left Blackbutt.

‘Um, is it crowded?’ I asked. ‘I didn’t realise I needed to book?’

‘Oh yes,’ he told me. ‘Most people book months in advance.’

I looked around again. What immensely popular attractions was this forest hiding? Was I going to stumble across a Tuesday night bush doof? It seemed unlikely.

‘Do you think you can fit me in tonight?’ I asked. ‘It’s getting dark and I was just going to put my swag out somewhere.’

The operator was dubious. ‘Well, let me look…’ There was a pause. ‘I think we can fit you in tonight.’

Just as well. It was getting darker and darker. Permit granted, I proceeded deeper into the bush. The road became windier until I came out at a camp spot on the banks of the creek.

As you can see, it was very crowded.

So crowded, in fact, that I had to do three laps before I could decide which camp spot I liked the most.


I rolled my swag out beside Beastie and lit a fire. I put the billy on and listened to the sounds of the night – I could hear a mopoke owl down by the creek, but the creek itself wasn’t running enough to make a sound. There was the muted crackle of the fire and the soft rustlings of breeze and wildlife in the bush. The stars were laid out over my head with a brightness that a few years in the city will make you forget.

I was happy. I slept like the dead.

At dawn, I cooked breakfast in the company of a couple of kookaburras.

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By the time I’d packed up my swag the sun had come over the lip of the valley, and it was a glorious day.


I racked and stacked my gear and headed West.

0 thoughts on “Shakedown Run – Part 2

  1. nittyangeles3677 says:

    Nice read so far. Just starting to read your blog and follow you. Looking forward to getting caught up with your adventures. And I spotted the TABASCO sauce — a must have! ???? Nitty

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