Yuragir Coastal Track - Trip Report with kids

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Yuragir Coastal Track - Trip Report with kids

Postby Kainas » Mon 28 Sep, 2015 2:05 pm

ETA: Yuraygir Coastal Walk (note the typo in the title).
Firstly, thank you to everyone who has answered questions in the lead up to this trip (mostly on this topic, but also in PMs. It made a lot of difference. We originally planned this trip with another family, but they pulled out at 4 days before we left (I will spare you the frustration and extra work that that caused, as we were using a trailer to carry gear between campsites, and sharing meals etc).

Myself (14weeks pregnant), my husband, and my two daughters (5 and 3) did the walk over 10 days, and used a vehicle to support us. Each day I would walk with the girls toward the next campsite, and my husband would drive the car, park it at the next campground and then walk back towards us. This meant he did a lot more walking than us. The days walk would usually begin with some headlands, my husband would walk that with us, before turning back for the car, so he mostly just missed the middle section of the walk.

Day 1: Mara Creek Campground (Angourie)- Shelley Head Camp (Remote campsite).

I am pretty sure the walk was supposed to start a few kilometres back up the beach, but we had trouble finding the start of the walk, so we decided to head to Mara Creek. Our goals for the walk were to experience the scenery, while bearing in mind that the youngest was only 3 years old, so the odd shortcut is appreciated. The first day I carried a full pack (4 sleeping bags, 3 camping pillows, and camp clothes), each girl also carried a pack with their jackets and water. After about 30 metres, literally just around the corner from where the track began my youngest (3) started complaining that she was tired and hungry. It was a bit miserable with occasional light showers. I am pretty sure my youngest complained the entire way, and I started to worry that the trip was going to be a bust.

My husband drove the car to Lake Arragan, and hiked back toward us, so he did a 40minute drive and 7km walk and arrived at the campsite about 5 minutes after us (we walked 4km).
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Shelley Head Campground was the nicest. Right on the beach, with a nice rock ledge for exploring. We didn't realise that there were rock caves just around the corner, which was disappointing as we would have visited them. It rained in the morning making breakfast impossible, and I stupidly grabbed a couple of backcountry meals for dinner which was disgusting (in my defense, I had planned to organise our overnight meals, but ran out of time when the other family pulled out and I had to modify lots of plans).

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Last edited by Kainas on Mon 28 Sep, 2015 6:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Yuragir Coastal Track - Trip Report with kids

Postby Kainas » Mon 28 Sep, 2015 2:23 pm

Day 2 - Shelley Head Camgroun - Lake Arragan (7km)

The rain kicked up a notch, the morning was awful and we ended up hiking out without eating much for breakfast (just some apples and a muesli bar) because it was too wet to cook anywhere. Rain and kids are hard work. Hard keeping everyone dry and getting everyone dressed in a tent, and then packing up all the sleeping bags. Still we managed, and we set off together. The kids were pretty miserable, pregnancy, a big pack, and kids are a challenging mix. Whenever they wanted something (ie food) it meant a full stop to get it, as they were too little to really manage on their own.

The rain got really heavy at times, and we stopped to shelter under some trees. I had bought myself a set of hiking poles prior to the trip, and they turned out to be brilliant, my eldest (5) used one for the entire walk.

For the last two days the tracks have been incredibly well maintained, in some sections it is obvious that a ride-on mower has been through.

Lake Arragan was a very nice camping area, but the rain was a huge deterrant for me. If it was just my husband and I then we would have enjoyed it, we would have layed in the tent with a book all afternoon. But with kids it is far more difficult, they can't be cooped up in a tent, and getting wet doesn't bother them at all (which is fine, except for it means wet clothes and mud and water everywhere). Adults can eat inside a tent, but kids make mess. I called it, and we drove 10minutes down the road to Brooms Head Caravan park. We were hoping they would have a good camp kitchen that we could eat under, however the couple that ran the park had no idea what was actually in the park (I suspect they had only been working there a few days). We satisfied ourselves with chips undercover at a little takeaway shop, and hoped for the weather to clear (which it did).

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Re: Yuragir Coastal Track - Trip Report with kids

Postby Kainas » Mon 28 Sep, 2015 2:36 pm

Day 3 - Lake Arragan - Brooms Head Caravan Park (5km)

Basically a 5km beach walk today. I was not looking forward to it, but the girls where. In fact they loved it. My husband drove us back to Lake Arragan, we explored the different campgrounds in that area (ie greycliff, and redcliff), walked around a bit, before he saw us down to the beach, and then drove back to Brooms Head and walked towards us (he did 9km of walking, and we did 5km).

Today was the first day that things started to work out with the girls. Firstly, I was no longer carrying a huge hiking pack, which meant the girls did not need to carry packs either (I carried a day pack with everything in it). Secondly, I stopped stopping to give them snack breaks, instead I realised that one bag of trail mix (or bag of shapes, or a poppa, or a muesli bar) would keep them going for a little over a kilometre, and we didn't start snacking until about the 2km mark. Thirdly, I started telling them stories etc. With all those things combined we had a pace of about 2.5km per hour, and very happy children. I don't know why, but they loved walking along the beach, preferred it to the tracks.

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This kangaroo and joey were so quiet, after taking photos we walk passed her to the lookout and she seen completely unconcerned by how close we passed to her.

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Basically this was the walk. From the spot that this photo was taken, to the township of Brooms Head that you can see at the other end of the beach.

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The beach was dotted with blue bottles (and rocks... but no shells anywhere).

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What a lunch spot - up the end of the caravan park.
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Re: Yuragir Coastal Track - Trip Report with kids

Postby Kainas » Mon 28 Sep, 2015 2:51 pm

Day 4 - Brooms Head to Sandon River Campground.

An 8km beach walk today, I was dreading it but the girls were really excited about it. It was just one long stretch of beach, deceivingly long. I kept looking behind me and thinking that we looked so close to the headlands, but I knew we had been walking for nearly two hours, and looking ahead it was obvious that we had as least as much to go again.

Kids are easily amused. We played games and told stories, and found a small sand ledge that they amused themselves playing on for half an hour. My husband was a speck in the distance, we could see him moving and suspected it was him. He could see us and was very curious why we weren't moving at all!!

Sandon River Campground was packed, but there were plenty of spots to stay. I think it just seemed so packed because the sites were so small and squashed together.

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This is the walk today... just a very long stretch of beach -- 8km.


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We found this sand ledge, and enjoyed half an hour rest and relax. It was surreal to be so far from anything or anyone and just stop. The ocean views where amazing... so empty, no ships in the distance, just ocean.


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Fishing at the end of the day. Camping on the river was lovely.


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This is why we need to drag a trailer around, to fit all the spare clothes, because they are constantly getting wet and dirty!!


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Our camping with kids setup.
Last edited by Kainas on Mon 28 Sep, 2015 5:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Yuragir Coastal Track - Trip Report with kids

Postby Kainas » Mon 28 Sep, 2015 3:33 pm

Day 5 - Sandon River Campground - Illaroo

This was by far the hardest day. We woke to huge winds, we had a big walk ahead of us, and my husband had to do a long drive (1.5hrs) to get around the river to the next campsite. The drive took him through Grafton which was handy as we needed to do a few jobs (ie buy more fresh food, renew our annual parks pass, etc).

The day started with a boat ride. We organised the guy a week earlier and said we would be ready about 9am, phone reception was bad. He tried to contact us but we didn't get the message, and he drove his boat over to the boat ramp about 8.30 looking for us (unbeknownst to us). When we called him at 9am he was just about to leave to go to work. It all worked out though. We got to the other side of the river and realised we had no idea where to go. No signage that I could see (and too lazy to get my map out of my daypack), we walked in the general direction of "south but not towards the beach" and found some signage.

We had the option of an 11km beach walk, or taking a track. I was sick of beaches, and the wind was feral so we took the track. I thought this would be a bushwalking track, I didn't realise it would be a 4wd back track. Nobody explained the following very clearly, so I will do it here. Sandon River Campground is across the river from the tiny village of Sandon. This is an exclusive place, it can only be access by 4wd, and only through locked gates - the keys of which are only available to ratepayers and NPWS. The vehicles can go either via the beach or the back track. It was low tide about 10am, so all the morning commuters where taking the beach. We were passed by 4 cars when we first began along the track, and they all took the beach turnoff. For the rest of the day we saw only one other vehicle (and that was after almost 5 hours of walking).

My first thoughts were disapointment. I had been prepared for an amazing coastal walk, and felt a little ripped off, it seemed to be either long beaches or a back road. However I quickly changed my mind. That back track was amazing. The isolation, the coastal scenery, and the birds made for an amazing day. The isolation at times was eery, I think because of the vastness, I couldn't imagine people around the corner because I could see so far ahead.

I am hugely impressed with my daughters too. My GPS watch read 13.5km by the end of the day. They walked for 5hours straight. We didn't see my husband until the 4hour mark, when he arrived at a jog with salad rolls and sausage rolls in his backpack for us. We were so glad to see him, as my water was empty, and we were out of trail mix (having expected him a couple of hours earlier).

The 3 year old plodded on all day. We didn't stop. The wind was blowing nasty sand in our faces and at times we had our hats pulled down shielding our eyes as we marched on. I fed them trail mix, and told lots and lots of stories. I didn't hear a single complaint from either of them all day... until the 10.5km mark when my 3yo leaned on her walking stick and sighed "I should have gone with Dad" (We had offered her the option of going with Dad in the car rather than walking, but they were both so excited about getting a boat ride that they would not be deterred). I carried her off and on after that (but I am 15weeks pregnant and was exhausted too!). We stopped for food when my husband arrived but she didn't want to be carried the rest of the way, all up we carried her for about 800m.

We stayed at the Minnie Waters Caravan Park for the night (to do washing mainly). It was a really nice park, in fact it felt more like a campground then a caravan park, and was much quieter than even the Sandon River Campground. We drove around to have dinner in Wooli, and surprisingly we all did another 1.5km walk before dinner. The angophora grove walk, which is off the Illaroo campground. I took about 50 photos, it was very picturesque and worth the extra effort to visit.

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The river isn't very wide, in summer without kids we would have been tempted to walk across.

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Last edited by Kainas on Mon 28 Sep, 2015 5:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Yuragir Coastal Track - Trip Report with kids

Postby Kainas » Mon 28 Sep, 2015 3:59 pm

Day 6: Minnie Water Headlands to Boorkoom + Wilsons Headlands

The headlands around Minnie Waters were very quaint. Well maintained, and kind of old-school. The picnic tables where huge and painted aqua and placed under trees instead of man-made shelters. The whole effect was to make me feel I had gone back 20 years into the past.

The track today was 1-2 kilometres of headland, followed by a choice of beach or 4WD back track (we chose the latter, due to the wind and me being sick of beach walking). Taking the backtrack saved us about a couple of kilometres of beach walking, we still had more beach walking to do. We left early in order to beat the tides, and got to Boorkoom in good time, so after lunch we decided to walk the Wilsons Headland one-way (2.5km), to save us the walk the following day. Having a car and a keen husband pays off here. He drove the car to the picnic area at the end of the headlands, and then walked back himself. That way the kids only had to do the walk one-way.

We saw a green tree snake on the track, possibly enjoying the freshly mown grass as the NPWS workers had just finished mowing and pruning the track.

The campground at Boorkoom was lovely, but we got two ticks sitting on the ground when we first arrived. The wind was still horrible but we had the campground all to ourselves (though strangely after night fall 6 vehicles arrived and set up 4 different campsites. One group arrived at midnight and setup right next to us. They sat around talking and laughing until 1am. This kind of thing doesn't worry us, we know our kids will repay the favour at 6am in the morning :lol:

The campsite has a steep set of stairs down to a rock platform, we ate the most enjoyable dinner sitting mid-way on the steps watching the waves crash over the rocks. I had a simiiar experience about 200m along Wilsons Headlands walk, there was a beautiful spot that I could have sat at for hours just watching the waves crash on the rocks (alas, children do not enjoy sitting for quite so long).

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I sat for a good hour on the stairs watching the swell.
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Most of the headland tracks were very well maintained.
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Re: Yuragir Coastal Track - Trip Report with kids

Postby Kainas » Mon 28 Sep, 2015 4:25 pm

Day 7: Boorkoom to Wooli

We were supposed to do 4.7km of beach walking today, from the picnic area to Wooli. Instead we began the morning by letting the kids spent a couple of hours exploring the rock platform, and then we decided to just drive to Wooli, and then go for a nice walk around some of the tracks at Wooli. We were booked into the Wooli Caravan Park. But when we got there it killed out buzz. It was ugly and the site was on the side of the road. I may (or may not) have played the pregnancy card and begged for a night at the Wooli hotel instead. :shock: I am glad we did because it rained all night.

Our entire walk was a little different than if we had full packs and were thru-hiking, a kilometre missed here and there. It was challenging as our first reaction was that if we didn't walk every step, then we didn't walk it. However I realised that with young kids and a pregnancy we need a new attitude, and we now take what we can get.

In the afternoon we walked around the entrance to the Wooli river, which was lovely - and then my husband watched the semi-final football, which I am thinking may have been an influencial factor in us ditching the tent for a real bed for the night :shock:

My eldest (5) kept reminding us that we had skipped the days walk and was insistent that we go back and do it.

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These are the stairs where I enjoyed a few long hours... and they are much steeper than they look.

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Re: Yuragir Coastal Track - Trip Report with kids

Postby Kainas » Mon 28 Sep, 2015 5:28 pm

Day 8: Wooli - Station Creek Campground.

Where do I begin. This was crazy, full of worries and waiting.

The day began with a 6am discussion about whether we actually wanted to do this next section, and if we did it, who would do it. It was rainy and we knew very little about this section of the walk. Lots of people told us we were crazy for taking a kid, and the other family that was coming got extremely concerned about this section. I was getting conflicting advice, and really wanted my own first-hand experience in order to make a decision.

There was a long drive to the next campground and no way for the walkers to turn around (due to the river crossing).

We spotted some blue sky and decided that we would regret not doing this section, as it was the most exciting for us. We had already decided that we would be skipping the 6km of beach between Station Creek and Red Rock that finished the walk. Next thing was for me to step aside and let my husband do the walk with our eldest daughter, while I drove the car. I didn't want to, but as I said earlier, we need to take what we can get, and my husband had very graciously driven all week (because driving involved a longer walk, plus because the kids always just wanted to go with me).

I waved goodbye to my husband and eldest daughter (5) at 9am, I heard the boat owner tell us we were mad (more encouraging advice :roll: ) and my youngest and I drove to Station Creek. Google Maps told be it was a 1.5hour drive, and the National Parks website told me it was 2WD access. The road from the highway to Station Creek was pretty hairy, lots of potholes, the rain made it all a bit rough in places, and then I encountered a huge water crossing. It was sloped on the sides, I got out and had a look and it looked deep. I was towing a trailer. I completely freaked out. We were too far to walk, I turned around and sent my husband a text message asking if he thought they could make it to Red Rock, as I couldn't get through. I didn't know if he would have phone service. I started driving out and ran into some guy who advised me to have another go (and I suspect he stopped himself from calling me a 'women driver' the most heinous of insults :twisted: ). I did have another go and got through, much to my relief. On the way home my husband drove and he was shocked that I attempted it, he told me that he wouldn't have driven through either... which was some consolation.

Having made it to Station Creek Campground (11am), I was now trying to find the track to Pebbly Beach Campground, our plan being for myself and our youngest to walk back as far as we could to meet them.

I didn't realise that the Station Creek crossing would be so deep (waist deep at 11.30am, with low-tide at 12.30am), I was expecting my husband to only be another half-hour so I decided not to cross. The last thing I wanted was to pass him without realising (as there was both a 4wd crossing, and the place that walkers tend to cross, same for the campground, he could have either walked through it, or bypassed it and went along the beach). If we did pass each other it would have taken us hours to figure it out. So I opted to have a rest.

We wandered around crossing at Station Creek for a while. Then we walked along the beach to the track. I realised then how badly it was marked. The beach was wide, and the signpost was so small and barely visible from the shoreline. I was incredibly concerned that they would walk straight past it. I had made a mistake buying the maps and didn't have the topo map for south of Wooli, and my husband had not even taken the brochure that had the campsite maps in it... in short, he really had no idea where he was going (and possibly had spent too much time watching football and not enough time looking at the maps the night before, in his defense he was expecting me to walk and himself to drive).

There was about 80m between the water and the signpost. I sat with my daughter at the signpost for about 40minutes. The campsite was another 20minute walk, and she was getting sick of sitting (though much better than I expected). I decided to draw some markings in the sand. A huge line down to the beach, with arrows and the letter 'E' everywhere (we had been making tracks like this all week with the girls for fun). I was sure he would recognise it... as long as the wind and 4WDs didn't destroy it. We walked back to Station Creek crossing again.

I happened to run into a guy from NPWS while I was there (the same guy that my friend from the other family had been speaking to all week). He told me that there had been a bigger sign but it had disappeared sometime in the past few months, and the beach had gotten wider. He later ran into my husband and daughter at Pebbly Beach, and his advice was very unhelpful... he told my husband to just follow the 4WD tracks and it was just there.... If my husband had followed that advice he would have added an extra 8km to the walk, as the 4WD tracks go way past the track.

We went back to the campground and waited... and waited. Around the 5hour mark I was a bit concerned. Finally I got a call from him. He had seen my scratchings and noticed the track. He had been walking on it for "half an hour" and was just about to turn around because he thought he must have been on the wrong track. I assured him it wasn't, and he found the campsite 2minutes later.

Everything turned out alright, but I had been running through a lot of 'what ifs" in my head. What if he missed the turn and walked all the way to Red Rock. I had a spare tent, I wondered about setting one up in the campground for them (in case they did make it), and then taking the car to try to find them (in case they had gone elsewhere).

I can't give much information about the walking, it was hard going, and they managed about 1.3km per hour. My husband was confused when he got back, he told me that they had been walking fast and he couldn't understand why it had taken them so long. However we watched some of his videos when we got home and it became obvious. Some sections they would spend 3 or 4 minutes just moving 40metres. But it looked brilliant and I am very envious!! :mrgreen:

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Re: Yuragir Coastal Track - Trip Report with kids

Postby Kainas » Mon 28 Sep, 2015 5:44 pm

My final thoughts.

A big hike with kids is an emotionally different experience. Some times when I would have happily walked in silence listening to the birds, instead I was making up stories to help keep the kids walking. Same for the campsites, where I would have enjoyed relaxing with a book, they were digging holes in the dirt, and itching for adventure (which required clothing changes, water for cleaning them up, places to clean them up, basicaly just a huge amount of additional work). At times on the walk I would have loved to stop and just soak in what I was seeing, but it wasn't always possible.

All this changed the way I felt at the end of the hike. I mean, this was 60km of walking over 8 days. It should have been a special experience, yet with children I found that the regularity of life with kids stopped this from being a 100% holiday. Like I wasn't completely on the track, part of me was still very busy being a parent and looking after them in all the ways I would have at home.

The kids impressed me. I think the finally kilometre tallies were well above 50km each for both of the girls (remembering that the youngest is just 3 years old), but they found a rhythm, we walked slowly (which suited me as I am still recovering from morning sickness) and stopped when we needed, and just enjoyed each others company. By the end they were asking to go for walks, and getting excited (though, I suspect this was aided by the thought of trail mix... we sat down every day and made up our own trail mix bags full of the things that we liked).

Now of course I need to speak more about the walk. I must apologise to anyone without kids, I think my track notes do highlight the difference between having kids and not. With kids, the walk becomes largely about them, the serenity is harder to grasp. It was there though. The scenery was truly amazing, and varied much more than I expected. It was new for me to walk such long distances without being surrounded my trees. On the Sandon backtrack there was huge portions with coastal heath, and nothing higher than my shoulders. The beaches were long and empty. No variety, and that in itself was beautiful. The birds really were loud, and interesting (though we never spotted an emu!). The headland sections were particularly well maintained and they would make it possible to do the walk (with kids or with a pregnancy, or a poor fitness level) without needing to do the long sections of walk.

As for the campgrounds, Shelley Head Campground was my favourite, along with Boorkoom, Station Creek, and even Minnie Water Caravan park. They were quiet and pretty. Sandon River Campground was busy and not so nice but the location was worth it. However the rest of the council caravan parks were pretty awful, with Wooli being particularly bad (cheap, but it would be like camping in a suburban street).
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Kainas
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Re: Yuragir Coastal Track - Trip Report with kids

Postby ofuros » Tue 29 Sep, 2015 3:56 am

Well done Kainas, a bit of faffing around travel wise to get from one section to the other,
but I'm glad everyone enjoyed the coastal walk in some way.
The kids did very well..,.I'll be taking my own wife & 3year old down that way very soon.

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Last edited by ofuros on Tue 29 Sep, 2015 6:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Mountains view are good for my soul...& getting to them is good for my waistline !
https://ofuros.exposure.co/
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Re: Yuragir Coastal Track - Trip Report with kids

Postby Lizzy » Tue 29 Sep, 2015 6:12 am

Braver than me that's for sure!!!
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Re: Yuragir Coastal Track - Trip Report with kids

Postby neilmny » Tue 29 Sep, 2015 8:04 am

A great insight into what it takes to successfully do a big walk with little ones.
You should be very proud of your girls (and yourselves). A very interesting read.
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Re: Yuragir Coastal Track - Trip Report with kids

Postby Kainas » Tue 29 Sep, 2015 3:59 pm

ofuros wrote:Well done Kainas, a bit of faffing around travel wise to get from one section to the other, but I'm glad everyone enjoyed the coastal walk in some way. The kids did very well..,.I'll be taking my own wife & 3year old down that way very soon.

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Ha, that is an understatement. But worth it for a nice combination holiday, part walking, part chilling out (I failed to mentioned all the kite flying, and sand castle making that we did).
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