Narrowneck Plateau – Blue Mountains, Australia

Testing trips are an extremely important part of planning an expedition. You head out with systems that you think you’re going to use and put them through the paces. Invariably shit doesn’t work right, so you lick your wounds, go back to the drawing board and work out new solutions. It’s a critical step to getting gear and procedures right for an expedition.

Add a baby into the mix and emotions get amplified by an order of magnitude. Especially when things go wrong.

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We started off on a relatively bad foot just getting out the door. Aiming for a 9 o’clock departure (to coincide with Morgan’s nap schedule) we ended up leaving at 12pm. Not a good start.

Just getting out of the house with a little person sometimes feels like your fighting a battle against Murphy (‘s law). Try packing 110kg of testing gear, two desert carts with fat wheels, two adults, a baby and a labradoodle and it’s all out war.

**Lesson learnt** Get more organised. Everything has to be packed the night before or hell try and get up to the Mountains the day earlier and crash at a mate’s place or an airbnb. STRESS =/= FUN.

After finally escaping the Bondi bubble and the Sydney weekend traffic, we arrived in the beautiful Blue Mountains at the stunning Narrowneck plateau; an eroded sandstone plateau that spurs off the main dividing range for some 10km, at points only 50 metres wide.

With the stunning vista of the Megalong valley and the crisp winds blowing through the autumn leaves, we felt…exhausted; and we hadn’t even started pulling our carts.

We hastily unpacked the car, put together the carts and loaded them up with our gear and provisions. A process that took the better part of an hour and had me mentally recalculating the distance we could go before sundown. During this process Morgan managed to somehow get a lovely (read massive) nosebleed whilst crawling through the scrub next to the car. Our already frayed nerves took another massive hit.

On the trail pulling the carts…things were pretty good. The carts performed extremely well. One tweak that is a definite must for both carts is the need for brakes. On the hills dragging 120kg behind you is super tough work and without brakes, things would get quite dangerous. Even the Burley Cub needs a bit of a brake to help Lauren with the gradient regardless of the lighter weight.
When we finally pulled into our to be campsite, it was close to sundown – we had pushed it too far. Well to be correct, we had pushed Morgan too far!

We set up the tent in record pace whilst Morgan clamoured for her dinner. Since we were trialing systems for the expedition – we had to cook Morgan’s dinner over an open fire. No modern convenience of a gastop or a microwave here…everything would take time. Lauren bravely wrangled a very hungry and cranky Morgan whilst I cooked. Only after the meal was Morgan was happy and ready for bed in her cot cocoon, in the North Face Talus 4 tent; happy as Larry. Lauren and I were broken shells of our former selves.

**Lesson learnt** On the trail we’ll need to be finished for the day at least 2 hrs before sunset to give Morgan time to expel energy, set up basecamp and get her dinner going right away.

There is nothing like a good hearty stew and fresh baked bread to take the edge off a rough day. After sitting together with Ollie – we finally felt at peace. At last able to enjoy the outdoors.

Overnight the temperature dropped to 5 degrees and around 4.30am Morgan decided she would only sleep in mum’s arms making it difficult to get back bed for the whole family (dog excluded). At home this isn’t a regular occurrence – just something special Morgan saved for us out in the bush.

With a thick layer of fog settled around the tent, we started the day more relaxed. Nature was starting to seep into our bones. The morning was ours. No need to hustle to fight the traffic of the city, the only traffic out here was the odd runner training for the UTA. The discordant sounds of the city replaced with the warbles of lyrebirds and magpies. If only we could stay out here for longer.  Morgan seemed to be in her element.

Well in a couple of months we can.

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It wasn’t the most fun I’ve ever had camping, not by far, but I’m glad we went through this process. Rather than looking at the hard times as failures, you have to look at them as opportunities. An opportunity to gather data, work out what actually works , fix what doesn’t, so when we’re crossing the outback, we can focus on the important things…each other.

I might appear to focus on the negatives, but a lot went right on our overnight testing trip.

  • Morgan’s sleep net concept works well – see NIGHT NIGHT SLEEP TIGHT on blog for more info on sleeping in tents with kids
  • She sleeps in her cart like a boss, even on rough tracks
  • She seems to love being outdoors
  • The food (as always) rocks
  • And perhaps most importantly, once we’re out here, we get settled. It’s the journey to get there that’s hectic.

If the prep doesn’t kill us, I think we’re going to have one amazing adventure.