Kangaroos are funny critters, so imagine how awesome an entire valley full of them must be! Imagine no longer, because there’s such a valley a couple hours outside Sydney – and I went there! After spending an extraordinary evening chatting to magical pixies in the mountains above the town of Kangaroo Valley, I dusted the spiders out of my pockets, jumped in the del Sol and cruised down the near-vertical Moss Vale Road towards the township of Kangaroo Valley. It’s a stunning drive, but make sure your brakes work properly or your car will be sharing a tree with a family of possums.
The Hampton Bridge guards the entrance to the village, and was built in 1895 to assist the residents in their decade-long battle with some extremely violent and well-armed kangaroos. Well, at least that’s what a local wino told me before shitting his pants and passing out under a tree. Whatever the true story is, the bridge looks a bit like a castle and is completely out of place in rural Australia, which makes it absolutely fantastic.
There are few townships more picturesque than Kangaroo Valley, and there are plenty of cafes, restaurants and antique shops to enjoy. Go for a stroll beneath the towering gumtrees, shove a kilo of carrot cake down your throat, squander your next mortgage repayment on a century-old teapot – anything’s possible. Sadly, despite the name, marsupials don’t work in any of the shops, which is flagrant discrimination.
The Cambewarra Mountain Lookout is just 15 minutes drive south of the village, and offers a stunning view out over nearby Nowra. At least it normally does, because when I visited it was completely fogged out and I could barely see my hand in front of my face. I guess you could say I “myst” out on something special.
West of the town is the massive Tallowa Dam, which was thrown together in 1976 and provides drinking water for the region. It’s not as scenic as I was hoping, but it is home to something truly bizarre – a fish lift. Yes, a lift for fish! Apparently the little limbless pricks were cranky that they couldn’t swim from one end of the Shoalhaven River to the other, so the Sydney Catchment Authority built an elevator to carry them 43 metres from the bottom of the dam wall to the top. Geez, is there anything else they’d like? Apparently I made a poor choice when I decided to not be a fish when I grew up.
Kangaroo Valley has plenty of great places to stay, but Drunk and Jobless isn’t about spending hundreds of dollars on accommodation – it’s all about finding somewhere cheap and blowing the savings on boxes of wine. I camped at Glenmack Park, and it turned out to be one of the best caravan parks I’ve ever been to. It’s clean and well-maintained, with eye-popping views out over the mountains and plenty of animals around. There’s also a massive pool and some sort of giant inflatable pillow to jump on, but it was too cold to use the former and I was too hungover to use the latter.
The pulsing heart of Kangaroo Valley is the Friendly Inn Hotel, which is a charming if pricey spot to get on the sauce. Unfortunately, I ran afoul of some local tough guys after chatting up the wrong woman and so decided to give it a miss. I was hooking into the booze back at the camp’s comfortable outdoor kitchen when a couple of old ducks swaggered in and started blasting their boombox. I’m Too Sexy by Right Said Fred was followed by Can’t Get Enough of Your Love by Barry White, and I was ready to neck myself. The grannies were getting absolutely hammered on cheap goon and started twerking around and flashing me, so I was relieved when the park’s owner rocked up and told them to move the party back to their cabin. By that time it was one degree outside, so I had a good, hard think when they offered me a warm place to relax and a fridge full of cold beer. Did I go home with them? I’ll never say, but let’s just say I needed to take three showers the next morning before I stopped smelling like gingernut biscuits and Sunnyvale Fruity Lexia.
Oh, and as for kangaroos, I didn’t see a single one the whole time. False advertising if you ask me…