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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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