Having had two wonderful days in Melbourne, touring the Mornington Peninsula and catching up with friends, it was time to travel to the first of our free camping sites in Australia at Lake Elingamite, near Cobden in Western Victoria.
One of the beautiful things about free camping is that the best places are always nice to go back and see again. Lake Elingamite just happens to be one of these places, it is simply a beautiful camping location.
Rows of large trees creating a canopy to camp under are magnificent, and we always camp closest to the shelter.
Much to our dismay, this year we arrived just as a bush fire was extinguished. The Fire Brigade actually visited our campsite and advised us that, in their opinion, this was an unfit place to camp due to the higher than expected CO2 levels (Carbon Dioxide).
The Police also called in because there was concern that we would “suffocate” overnight. They explained that we were not breaking any laws if we decided to stay, and that it was our decision on whether to move on or not.
Naturally, we decided to stay.
Why would we stay when it was deemed unsafe
On occasion, we arrive at our camping site a bit late, usually because we take too long to look at places as we drive along.
However, this time it was because we had been so tired from the Melbourne weekend that we actually left very late in the morning. Given that we wanted to get to Lake Elingamite earlier we should have left before 10.00 am because it is a three-hour drive.
Apart from having a holiday, and seeing parts of Australia that I had never seen before, I had always intended to take a lot of photos, for two reasons:
- Any previous holiday, I had never taken a photo, just relied on memory to recall a trip; and
- This time I also wanted photos for this website.
This (taking photos) had, in part, created a bit of a workload which combined with catching up with friends had caused me to be a lot more tired than expected, but I needed to move on. From previous experience tiredness can creep up on you, and present itself in various ways, especially when driving – which usually meant a higher risk of an accident.
Our arrival at Lake Elingamite caused us some anxiety because it was clear that a bush fire had been through, very recently. The time had caught up with us as it was around 5 pm, at which time the light is starting to diminish. Naturally, we needed to have a look at the damage caused and assess the situation.
It was very clear that the fire had just been extinguished. The fire fighting equipment was still there. There was still smoke coming from ashes on the ground and the smell of “fire” was evident. And, as there was obviously nothing left to burn, at ground level, a clear indication that it was safe enough to stay.
Our decision became quite easy, I couldn’t drive any further and my friend had never driven a 4wd vehicle, and had never towed anything before. Effectively, we did not have a choice about staying because to move on meant driving for another hour, at night.
Fortunately, no laws were being broken and a bit of wind came along helping our cause.
Where we camped on this occasion
As can be seen in this picture, we utilised the facilities to our utmost advantage. Our camper trailer was under cover from the elements, we could eat under the same cover and if, a big if, any tree fell, our vehicle and the “roof” over the camping kitchen would give a high level of protection.
Mother Nature is an amazing “Thing”, rain fell that night, helping to dampen the ground and further extinguish the fire remnants. Rain drops were dripping through the trees, the dust had settled and the smoke had cleared by the next morning.
All was good with the world again, pity we had to move on.
This was not going to be the last encounter with a bush fire for us on this trip.