Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Campervan: Day Six - Golden - Johnstone Lake

For the first time on the trip we were shoo-ed away from our campsite - alas it was in the local swimming pool carpark. We weren't very gutted to be leaving Golden compared to our other stop off points - it's first impressions weren't great and it wasn't as spectacular as the brochures made it out to be. We drove to the tourist information - conveniently out of the town- and parked to have breakfast before the first signs of life so we could see where we could escape to next. The woman inside was actually very helpful at giving us information on trails around Golden and "just fabulous" onward routes for the rest of the campervan trip - the glimmer of hope this place needed!

The rest of the group went to do the Giant Cedar Trail but the antihistamines for my bites made to KO on the bed so I had to pass on that one. After Golden we headed south again towards Radium Hot Springs (unfortunately not the site of a Superhero factory) and stopped at a gas station to see if one of the parks (Bugaboo Park) was open - which it wasn't (surprise, surprise). The woman did point out two waterfalls on the way to the park that were worth a look. We were going to soon realise that tourist information centres are not always as good as gas stations and bars for hints and tips.

Typical of hidden local sites, we had to drive through some kind of ranch and factory site before arriving at a small hidden trail barely visible from the road. The first falls were pretty small in comparison to most we had seen so far but you could get right up to them as well as climb precariously around them. The second falls were a bit further on through another ranch- I still forget that people get excited by cows on the road- but they were much, much bigger. You could still get pretty close to them and you could essentially balance of the cliff face above them. On the way out we met a Dutch family and Gabby tried out her Dutch again after five months without it.

We headed south to Radium Hot Springs which was just seemed to be some touristy hot springs with a town built around them. We stopped at a bar for a drink and planning but ended up staying for dinner. Here we asked the locals for tips on where to go and they suggested the Lessier hot springs which were more natural than the towns namesake. The barmaid also told us about her secret camping spot at Johnston AKA Turtle Lake as well as a place where we could go cliff jumping. She also told me to spread out my change to stop the wasps annoying me - it worked! We sat at the bar and it was quite nice to just sit and socialise for once!

We left for the barmaids campsite suggestion looking for a telegraph pole with "MOM" grafittied on it- it the dark: we were destined for failure. The roadside was also clogged with Elks so we got pretty distracted and inevitably went to far and reached the statue of a Native American. However, the barmaid assumed this would happen and so had also told us that the site was exactly 5km back from this statue which was bang on! Although the sign says "No Entry" and "No Trespassing", this was just a deterrent against unwanted surges of tourists - apparently a common technique in Australia to keep local spots to locals. It was too dark to see what the place actually looked like but it seemed like there was another couple there who had also been at the bar that evening.

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