7/11/16 We’ve just camped for three days at a great little community caravan park operated by the folk at Darkan, a small town with a population of around 500 in the Wheatbelt region of Western Australia between Collie and the Albany Highway. We pulled in with the intention of only staying one night but the facilities looked so new and clean that we decided to stay on a little longer. So far, there’s been only us and one other van here. Camp fees operate on an honesty system, too, which I think says a lot about the nature of a community. And, it’s so quiet, unlike the Nanga Mill Campground before Darkan.
Nanga Mill is one of a number of campgrounds in the picturesque Lane Poole Reserve, about 100kms south of Perth. We’d set up the van in a lovely spot among tall pine trees just up from a small flowing trout stream that dabbled over rocks and away through the wooded valley – all the makings of a very pleasant camp spot or so we thought. Serenity was swept away with the arrival in the afternoon of a dozen or more vehicles bursting at the seams with kids and tents for some sort of group weekend camp-out. From the moment the first car door opened, the ever-growing horde swept through the campground, trampling Serenity into the dust. Their most popular activities involved rampaging around the campground and high-pitched screaming, but for sheer ingenuity the prize had to go to the group of kids who went around late in the evening peeing on the remains of all the campfires. The level of uncontrolled mayhem was comparable to a primary school playground during a teacher’s strike. And on the topic of striking, where were the parents? If not for their cars still being in the campground, I’d have thought they’d made a rapid exit after dropping their little terrors off. Perhaps they were all holed up in one of the tents quietly getting sozzled, but wherever they were, they had obviously left Control and Discipline at home while packing Mayhem into the car. In the still-tranquil dawn light of the following morning, we were out of there, disappearing up the road in a cloud of dust, the earliest we’ve ever broken camp.
Darkan was a good opportunity to get a few things done like rearranging the gear inside the Landy to track down a persistent rattle, doing a good clean inside of the Kruiser, washing down the van and Landy, greasing the Treg hitch (which I’d missed doing for ages – oops), and swapping out the awful north Perth water for better local stuff. The Perth water must really be bombed with chemicals, still tasting toxic after ten days in the tank. Oh, and Darkan was also good for after-lunch siestas.
After three hours, it’s no longer called “resting your eyes”.