“I’m sure I’ll eventually get tired of seeing all these kangaroos, but for now I just can’t get enough of them,” I said, as I apologetically snapped off a few more pictures at one of my many kangaroo photo sessions. It seems that we’ve happened upon a mecca for wildlife here in Warrumbungle National Park.In Northwest New South Wales, Lonely Planet describes Warrumbungle National Park as being one of the two tourist attractions (Lightning Ridge being the other) along this stretch of highway usually reserved for trips straight to and from Queensland. But for a tourist attraction, Warrumbungle appears to be the best kept secret from tourists.“Usually in the summertime it’s too hot so people go to the coast,” said the park ranger who was processing our camping fees. “And in the wintertime like now, it’s too cold for many,” she said, when we asked if we would have trouble finding a camping spot for the weekend. “You’ll pretty much have the place to yourselves.”
And we did.
It did however get bloody cold at night – no big surprise for us by now. Armed with blankets and many layers of clothing, the cold at night was bearable. And the beauty and warmth of the days made the nights all the more tempered for us. We were constantly amazed that we had so much of this unbelievably beautiful national park substantially to ourselves.
Immediately we saw kangaroos everywhere. We passed no less than a dozen of them grazing by the side of the road between the visitor centre and our campsite a short distance away. And every time I saw one I clapped my hands in glee.
We set up camp and enjoyed watching the kangaroos graze not twenty meters away from us. Photo sessions began, and there was much clapping of hands in glee. At sunset, we heard what was now becoming the commonplace symphony of birdsong (including the ape-like cackle of the kookaburra and the deafening prehistoric sounding scream of the cockatoo), and at night, we could hear the low belch-like grunts of emus grazing all around us.
Arising (and defrosting) the following morning, we saw yet more kangaroos hopping around our van, and there was more gleeful clapping of hands and photo sessions.
Our treks through the park over the following two days were incredible. Warrumbungle is the remnants of a volcanic explosion that took place almost 17 million years ago, leaving 1,000 meter high granite spires and domes poking out amongst an otherwise flat landscape all around. The life that pulses through the lush green valleys in between is evident everywhere. Birds of all kinds (gosh, we love the colourful Aussie birds), goats (gosh, we miss the goats in Hawaii), emus, koalas (although we didn’t see any), and of course – kangaroos.
We trekked over peaks and through valleys, journeying about 30kms over the two days. We regularly caught ourselves forgetting that we weren’t in Canada since much of the scenery was similar, and only upon seeing an intrinsically Australian animal would we be reminded of where we are. And how lucky we are to be here.