COOLING OFF: Campers enjoy time in one of the natural spas at Ladies Well. SPLASH DOWN: A young girl jumps off a rock into one of the waterholes at Ladies Well in the Chichester State Forest. PICTURES: DARREN PATEMAN
If you are interested in a bit of a getaway, an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, to somewhere quiet and serene, I have just the place for you. Two hours from Newcastle lies a semi-discovered haven of fresh water and countryside.
NCH NEWS, Cooling off at LADIES WELL in the upper Allyn. Image shows campers cool off in one of the natural spas. 15th January 2008 pic Darren PatemanAllyn River – Barrington Tops – Hunter – NSW
NCH NEWS, Cooling off at LADIES WELL in the upper Allyn. Image shows a young girl junps off a rock in one of the waterholes. 15th January 2008 pic Darren PatemanAllyn River – Barrington Tops – Hunter – NSW
Groan, two hours? People were not designed to be cooped up in houses and offices day in day out, so an outdoors trip is a great diversion.
The drive is definitely worth it. It’s the journey that matters, not the destination.
So pack a picnic, fill the car with supplies, dust off your tent and force your friends to head out with you to Ladies Well in the Chichester State Forest.
After following tiny, windy roads for what will feel like hours, passing the notorious “Boot Hill” (I’m talking hundreds of thongs, boots, sandals, water shoes, joggers, pairs, singles, you name it, tied to a fence), completely covering your car in dust, freaking out over the fords and passing what seems like every cow in the Hunter, you will reach Ladies Well via Allyn River Road.
I’m not promising anything flash, just a camping ground, some bins and a drop toilet. Drop toilet, I hear you ask? Also popularly known as the pit, the long drop, bush toilet and so on. It’s a dry toilet. Which means it doesn’t flush. Which basically just means it’s a hole in the ground. But there is a seat!
What I can promise, however, is nothing you can take home, show your family or try and re-create in the city.
When you arrive you will instantly hear the gushing river only metres away, see the lush greenery surrounding you, smell the fresh water and feel the sun beaming down on you.
I have been going camping all my life and nothing, I mean nothing, has ever compared with Ladies Well.
The water is not for the faint hearted (literally, it is so cold you may be in fear of a heart attack) but the game, fearless and the stupid will have the time of their lives.
With numerous deep forming pools, the Allyn River is perfect for jumping into.
Doesn’t sound fun? Try jumping from two, four or six or so metres and plunging into the water below. You will feel more alive than you have in years when you re-emerge freezing and screaming. Forget about expensive creams and treatments, your skin will reap the rewards of the fresh running water.
People who are more on the insane side can try diving, front flips, back flips, side flips and double backside tipsy flippys.
You know the old rope swings that you see in movies but have never seen in real life? There’s one of those, too. Waterfalls and wells provide the perfect hangout for people who do actually fear death.
The most magical part comes at night. You can spark up a fire, pull out the marshmallows and make memories with your friends under the Milky Way that you will never forget.
If you are lucky you will get a visit from Miranda and Jerry. They’re our possum friends. You can feed them out of your hands.
Buck and Noo the kookaburras drop in from time to time and Gobbles the turkey’s main mission in life is to rustle around in the night and terrify you. The ultimate sight to see is William, the bilby. He’s very shy and only comes out when it’s dead quiet.
Tell me the two-hour drive isn’t worth it now.