Members Trips


stories from Australia



neil & tania's nsw south coast trip

by Neil Miller

    After we had hosted the Burralow Swamp camp for the Camper Trailer group, we hurried home and started to make the final modifications that were still left to be done to the camper, to be ready to leave on the Monday after the camp. We were to leave after lunch on the Monday, we never made the deadline, some problems with wiring and adjusting the brake controller and a few other things mean we did not leave til after lunch on the Tuesday.

    We had a grand plan, to cover quite a bit of distance, to see a lot of places we had never been, to get a few caches done and to have a good time. I believe we accomplished all that we set out to achieve.

    After finally leaving Sydney, we drove down to Mittagong and stopped at the information centre for a toilet break, and we also did a cache or two around the town then headed off towards Fitzroy Falls. The falls were fogged in and we could not see much at all. So we continued on our way to our destination for our first night - Bendeela at Kangaroo Valley.


Night 1 - Bendeela - Kangaroo Valley

    We arrived a bit late and darkness was fast approaching, but we got all setup with just enough time to spare. There were a number of other people camping here, but there was plenty of space to choose a campsite from. There were quite a few wombats wandering around feeding and they really did not seem to be too bothered by anyone getting close. The only facilities at Bendeela was a toilet block way down the far end from where we were setup, they stunk, but that was probably more the septic tanks than the block itself. I don't think there were showers here.

    I was paranoid about someone stealing the 3 way fridge at night as when it is running on gas, we can't put it in the camper with us, it has to stay outside. So, each night we would cover it with as much stuff as possible, the theory being, someone had to make some serious noise to get at it. So, there I was fast asleep, 3:30am, there was the noise, I awoke with a yell and won't mention what I said here. Turned the lights on outside and went out to see what was going on. Nobody there, fridge still sitting where I left it, hmmm. Then, there was the noise again, torch in hand I decided to investigate! it was then I found our noisy invader, a wombat under the camper trailer feeding.

    We packed up in the morning and were away around 9:30-10am, no rush, we had plenty of time. We headed up and over the pass and then headed down into Berry via the winding road across the top of the range. Did the cache at Berry and then headed towards Nowra for lunch at Andy Burgers! If you like a burger, you can't go past an Andy burger!!

    We headed out of town towards Currarong which is the northern part of Jervis Bay to do a couple of caches and then headed back out towards the highway via a couple of the dirt forestry roads. We did one final cache on the highway as it was starting to get darkish and then headed south looking for a place to stay.


Night 2 - Lake Conjola

    We decided because it was getting late, we would stay at a caravan park this night. After I went and paid and got the keys etc, as I was walking back to the car, I noticed that there was water coming out of the camper, this was not going to be good. After we had picked a spot down near the lake, I opened up the trailer to find the tap on our water "bottle" had turned itself on slightly, probably from the bumpy dirt roads leaving Jervis Bay.

    Luckily, only about 10ltrs or so of water had leaked out, and not a great deal was that wet. We setup as best we could in the small amount of room we had, did not put the awning up this night. Made dinner, the kids went to bed and I had a chat to the young guys camped next to us. The next morning, just because i could, I plugged the charger in to top the battery up while we waited for the canvas to dry a bit more. Was not impressed with this caravan park, it was not cheap and you still had to pay for showers, won't be back here anytime soon.

    Again, we were on the road by 9:30-10am and headed down to Ulladulla where we had a look around and did the cache there. We then made our way down to Batemans Bay, did the new cache there on the bridge and continued south. Batemans bay is as far south as I have ever been on the coast so it was going to be all new from here on.

    We then went down to Mogo and visited the zoo there, headed across to the coast and then rejoined the main highway at Moruya, by this time it was after 5 and we needed to find a place to stay, we consulted our Boiling Billy camping guide and chose Congo for our 3rd night.


Night 3 - Congo

    We arrived again, in our usual style, just before dark, picked a spot and setup, but not before being pounced on by the caretaker for the camping fees. We setup and put the awning and one side wall up as a wind break. it was here that the kids finally got to have a fire at last so they enjoyed that. I did not get much of a chance to look around before finishing setting up and dark fell etc. My son met up with some kids from his year at school and he spent some time with them and went fishing up the beach with them that night.

    Over night we got our first rain of the trip, so we packed down in the morning wet canvas. We also got quite a bit of water in the tent area overnight as well with it seeping in through the stitching at the bottom of the back door. Congo has two toilet blocks and a information shed/kitchen, firewood is supplied and the camping fees are low, it is a nice area, we will be back!

    After packing up the camper in light rain, which is always a bit of fun, we headed back out to the main highway and turned south once again. We made a detour via Tuross heads to do a couple of caches and check the area out, a quick stop at the rest area on the highway further to the south to do a cache there in the rain and we stopped off in Narooma to grab some fresh meat and other supplies. After checking out the tourist information centre, we were on our way once again.

    We detoured once again out to Mystery Bay which has a large camping area, we checked out the spectacular coastal scenery, did a cache and then continued further south once again. Once again, we left the main highway and our next stop was Bermagui, then down on to Mimosa Rocks to check out the scenery, and of course, try the cache there, we could not find that one. Next time perhaps.

    As usual, it was starting to get late and we had covered some distance today so we started looking for places to stay, we drove down into Tathra, grabbed some supplies and then headed back north out of town to the camping area at Gillards beach.


Night 4 - Gillards Beach

    This is quite a large camping area, about 10k's off the road, right down near the beach. it has many camping spots, most of which, are divided by thick bush, so quite a few are pretty private etc which is good to keep the noise down. We drove around and picked a spot, then, when we drove in and backed in, could not believe how much roo and wallaby crap there was everywhere!!

    We setup, made dinner and some of us had a chance to checkout the sunset on the beach. I tried in vain to get a fire started with wet wood, but just could not get enough heat to get it going proper so no fire this night. Each camping spot here had a very well setup fire pit with grill and billy hook on a pole, very well setup we thought.

    Come morning, we tried to dry a few wet things out on the fence as the sun came up. It did not take too long before the ranger came around for the fee collection. Once we had packed up, I had time to go and view the sunrise on the beach, very spectacular!!

    We headed back into Tathra and did the cache there, visited the local museum and then headed across to Bega where we checked out the cheese factory, but, being Saturday the factory was not in operation. But, we did sample some of the many varieties of cheese. We did the cache next to the cheese factory and then headed further south once again and had lunch at Merimbula after doing some shopping and looking around.


Night 5 - Eden

    Once again we headed further south, our destination was Eden, where we booked into a caravan park for the night, we took the opportunity to charge the battery, have some showers, do some washing, go out for dinner and relax etc. Even got to see a few minutes of TV. We met 2 retired couples pulling large caravans from Qld who were arrived at the same time as us and setup next to us.

    The next day we waited around to visit the whale museum and with that done, we left town and headed down and around to Boyds Tower and the Davidson Whaling station. The coastal scenery at Boyds tower was quite spectacular with the reddish coloured rocks contrasting with the green of the trees and the blue of the ocean. We did the cache here and then had some lunch back at the car, it is so convenient being able to just pull out the kitchen and make lunch.

    Next we headed over to the Davidson whaling station and joined a tour being run by the grandson of some of the original whalers, this really was an hour well spent as he had lived some of the history he was talking about. We tried to do the cache here but there were a few people around and we really could not search, time was quickly running out so we had to head off towards Jindabyne. This was one of the longest single stretches we had to do and quite a bit of dirt. We headed south to Narrabara and then west across through the forests to the Monaro Hwy, up to Bombala, further north to pickup the Snowy Way west across to Dalgety and finally arrived in Jindabyne at around 8pm.


Night 6 - Sawpit Creek - Jindabyne

    After arriving so late, we decided to have a pizza for dinner and tossed up staying at the caravan park, but, we decided to head out to Sawpit Creek and see what it was like there, could not see much, it was bloody dark. After getting the ranger out of her jim jams to show me where to camp, we setup amongst the trees and got read for bed. It was then that Taylor our oldest girl noticed a big tick on the inside of her leg which I removed. We were fully expecting quite a cold night being up so high, but it was quite warm. I highly recommend this camping area, good facilities, not too expensive and very nice, even has heaters in the toilet blocks.

    After finally breaking camp, it was blowing a gale as we drove around the area having a look around. We went to island bend and did a cache there, drove up to Guthega for a gander, Smiggins Holes, Perisher and Charolette Pass as well before heading back into Jindabyne looking for some new walking boots for me, no luck in that regard.

    We headed out of town down the Alpine way, heading further west. it is such a steep and winding road this one, lots of fun to drive and quite scenic, but, I did overheat the front brakes too much so we stopped at one of the small camping areas on the way down and had some lunch while the brakes cooled down. I decided to use low gear and the engine to do most of the breaking for the rest of the descent. At around 4:00pm or so we arrived at our next campsite on the banks of a river.

Night 7 - Geehi - Alpine Way

    This is quite a large camping area, no firewood is supplied though, so after setting up camp and a bit of a look around, the boy and I drove off looking for some firewood. We had to drive quite a distance before we found any good dead stuff, so, with a boot full, we headed back to camp. At around 7pm, I could tell it was going to be a cold night, it was already cold then, at 6:30am, it was sitting on 3 degrees and it was no fun, BRRRR! We liked this camping area as well, the spectacular mountains made a beautiful backdrop and the river running 30 feet from the camp soothed us to sleep.

    It was hard finally getting out of bed, but we did, had breakfast, went for a walk and then headed off once again. By now, we were getting really good at packing the camper up, practice makes perfect!

    We were heading for Tumut today so we had some KM's to do! We started climbing back out of the valley and stopped at Scammells lookout on the way out, nice views and very popular place as well with tour buses etc. Some of the scenery was amazing as we drove over to Khancoban and then across to Cabramurra for a late lunch. Cabramurra is the highest town in Australia! before we could enter the local cafe, we had to wait for a taipan to vacate the area in front of the cafe doors. There are lots of great photos showing the history of the building of the power stations around here which are well worth a look at in the cafe. We had a great lunch here then headed off once again.

    We made our way across to the Snowy Mountains Hwy and then stopped in at Talbingo and did the cache way up in the mountains at Buddong Falls, a very interesting drive I must say, steep, single lane dirt with no guard rails and a LONG drop off the side. But well worth it, the falls were spectacular. We debated staying at the caravan park at Talbingo, but decided to push on to Tumut to stay with Tanias parents.


Nights 8 & 9 - Tumut

    We setup the camper in their backyard and the kids took turns sleeping in the much warmer house. We toured the area with them over the next day or so, even took one of them to do a cache with John-Luc and I. it was cold over both nights, but not as cold as it was at Geehi, it only got down to around 6 or 7 degrees so quite bearable.

    After bidding our farewells, we turn the car north towards the ACT via Gundagai, Colac and Yass to finally enter the ACT via the Barton Hwy. We of course did some caches on the way and when we got to ACT.

    2 days of cold was a bit much for the fridge, it was fine, but the temperature plummeted inside, and since we were not using anything inside it, everything froze, including some cans of pepsi max, one which split. I found this when we stopped for lunch not far from the ACT, the fridge was full of frozen pepsi max chunks.


Nights 10 & 11 - Canberra

    We went and visited some of Tanias relatives and then set about looking for somewhere to stay for a couple of nights. We went to one Motor park not far from the centre of Canberra, told them we had a camper trailer and paid for 2 nights. The showed us on a map where to find our spot so off we set, winding our way through this huge park. We got to the spot and could not believe they had booked us onto a concrete slab, tent pegs and concrete do not go too well together. So, we drove back down and explained this to them and asked if we could be put in the tent area.

    "Does your trailer have wheels?" was the question I was asked, I was dumbfounded! "Yes, it's a trailer" I replied, "Sorry, we don't allow vehicles of any kind on our grass area." "Great, lets have our money back then please", "We don't normally do that, I'll have to talk to the manager"

    In the end we got our money back and were told about another place near the outskirts of Canberra on the Sydney road. So, we headed there and it was not too bad. Older facilities, but, we were one of the only people in the tent area, so, it was quite good.

    We did the usual touristy things, a BUNCH of caches, went to the movies and generally had a good time, but like all good things, it has to come to an end.

    So, we packed down the canvas for one last time and made one last trip to say goodbye to Tanias relatives then pointed the car home. We stopped off at a few places on the way back to do some caches and arrived home around dark.

    We were happy to be home, but sad that our journey was now over. All up we covered around 2,400km's, visited a lot of places we have never been, still left plenty more to go back and visit, we also did 40 caches.

    We were very happy with how the car and the camper went on this trip, apart from some leaking stitching, all went really well and we are very happy with the camper.