My dear mom was visiting me for 8 weeks this year – her first time in Australia. We decided to do a camping trip down the South Coast of NSW and the results were great!
Day 1: We visited Bowral and their Tulip show and gained free entry by a fluke! It was glorious to be walking amongst the tulip displays. That night we camped at Bundanoon – Morton National Park, and we also did the Glow Worm Glen walk after dark – just the two of us, and some 6 little creatures (not glow worms) who turned out to be wombats – gave us a small fright when we first saw them, looking like little bears roaming. The Glen was quiet, we were the only ones there on a Sunday night, which was special and just a tad eerie!
Day 2: We visited Fitzroy Falls before going through a beautiful pass called Bellawongarah, or Bundewallah. Small road, not suitable for caravans. We then visited Berry where I wanted some Berry Tarts or pies, but instead we settled on a banana honey cake (gluten free of all things) from Berry Bakery and it wasn’t half bad. It lasted a good 3-4 days, came in very handy at coffee breaks when we needed something sweet. We also stocked up on some groceries, before heading to Booderee National Park. My favourite.
I was there for the first time around 28 Dec 2014 and all 3 campsites in Booderee were completely booked. I vowed to come back – my memories served me well for the next 9 months. At last I had the chance to camp there with my mom and I wasn’t disappointed. There are 3 campsites – with Cave Beach being quite rough – no warm water, only a few toilets, and you have to walk down from your car to the camp, carrying all your camping stuff with you – about 300 metres, but it gets heavy with the 5th cycle and we each had a tent, duvets, little mattresses, pillows, cookery, camping chairs, a table etc. etc. But once you’re there, it’s glorious. We set up camp right next to the pond, with deafening frog songs right through the night. By early daylight, when the froggy pandemonium died down, the birds quickly took over. We stayed 2 nights, as we couldn’t muster up the energy to pack up and walk up the hill with all our stuff. The sunsets alone make this worth the effort, though:
I spent a great morning on the beach (Green Patch, Scottish Rocks, Hole in the Wall) and we also went to visit the nearby towns of Sanctuary Point, Erowal Beach, Wright’s Beach (where I spent a night in Dec 2014 in the car at the boat mooring place) and St Georges Basin. Lastly I showed her Hyams Beach and it’s infamous little coffee shop, where city dwellers on holiday were queueing for their morning lattes.
The next day we packed up just in time, as it started raining. To be honest, we did go for warm showers in the other camp (Bristol Point), totally worth it. We also checked out the Booderee Botanical Gardens and I saw a Diamond Python, who took one look at me and decided to get out of the way.
Day 4: We got as far as Bendalong – which my colleague insisted we visit. Well worth it. A bay so turqouise, it’s hard to leave, and forests all round. We spent the night in a very nice campground (the only one in Bendalong), in the power-free area and all was well, until this family with a very noise little boy moved in next to us. And that was the end of our peace. I went for a well-deserved beach walk over sunset, and got back refreshed, and the kid was quiet as it was close to bed time. We grilled sausages that we bought at the only little shop in town. We also drove to Manyana, the neighbouring town to have a look – loads of houses and nothing else. Apparently it’s a breeding ground for sharks, because of the sandy kind of inlet that is exposed during low tide, but gives protection during high tide.
Day 5: We drove South – through Ulladulla, which wasn’t half bad – I was curious what a place with a name like that is like, and it was pretty nifty – we stocked up in a huge Coles and there’s even a large Bunnings where we bought gas for our cooker and my mom bought me a beautiful candle in a bird motif pie dish. We drove to Pretty Beach to look for camping places – the long weekend was getting closer and everyone was warning us that they were booked out. We didn’t quite found what we were looking for at Pretty Beach – absolutely nothing wrong with it, it just wasn’t us. We drove through the State Forest to Pebbly Beach, best drive in a long time. The forest was glorious, the road not bad, and it was the day that the flying ants (some kind of termite) all decided to hit the road. Pebbly Beach was not our kind of place – and even more so with the flying things in the air. We pushed through to Depot Beach and we were not disappointed. We immediately knew this was our place. Camping on the edge of the forest with the birds going crazy, but a seaview of turquoise water. We would have stayed longer if we could, but one night was all they had available, as the next day was the start of the long weekend and they were all booked out and were expecting 170 new arrivals. The ablutions weren’t the best, but the camp site was. It was here that I used a box telephone? What is it called? for the first time in years. There is no cellphone reception in the whole area, so I needed to let hubby know where we were and that we were okay.
Day 6: Stopped at Batemans Bay for fish & chips and it was BUSY. Everyone coming down for the long weekend. It was frankly way too busy for two ladies who just spent the last few nights with frogs and wombats and little else. We made our way down, enquiring where we would be able to find something quieter. They said Narooma was lovely, but there was a music festival on that weekend, which would have made it loud and full. We decided to skip it. But when we hit Narooma at 5pm that day, tired, warm and sweaty, we decided to try our luck. There is one caravan park down in the centre of town, which looked as full and hot as we felt, and it was right across from the music festival – we gave that one a skip. But then we found another one, about 2km outside of town towards Mystery Bay, at Surf’s beach. Lovely receptionist, lovely spot, well kept park. A little more expensive, but well worth it. Excellent ablutions, we could do our laundry, we even moved to a more idyllic spot the next day (just picked up our erected tents and dragged it across!). We did still hear the thump-thump of bass music that night, but with the roaring sea on the one side and my earplugs on the other, I didn’t have much trouble sleeping.
Day 7: We drove on to Merimbula that day, again on a recommendation, but again, it was too busy for us. We had fish, chips and slushies on the beach, and drove on to Eden, which was kind of our aim for the trip. And there we found Garden of Eden. A holiday park so perfect, we could have stayed forever. By this time we had enough of erecting tents, so we opted for an apartment. It was set in lovely gardens, with birds playing around the whole day. There were quite a lot of permanent dwellers and very few campers. On the one side, we had Lake Curalo, and on the other side the beach. And I took my time to drive around and found my perfect spot for a house – on the Nethercote Road, and when I took my mom to have a look at it, 2 horses magically appeared! Hoping to be fed! We only had one mandarin, which my mom begrudgingly offered to the horses (she bought it and they were very sweet – the mandarins, but the horses too). They loved it. We also visited the view points and Cocora Beach. We loved Eden and the friendly people there.
Day 8: We had to stay another day, of course! I visited Ben Boyd National Park and the Pinnacles and some beaches.
Day 9: We packed up and started our journey home. We took the smaller inland roads, had pies at Bemboka (ham, bacon, cheese and something else- oh, potato!) and ate it at a viewpoint we thought would never materialise (in the Snowy Mountains). Before that, we tried to find a picnic spot closer to Bemboka, only to be nearly run over by a herd of cattle, so happy to be out and about that they were doing the happy cow dances.
We drove through Cooma, where I had a rest and saw an Eastern Rosella for the first time. The drive was so windy, it really took it out of me to steer, and have this warm wind blow at you the whole time. During my rest, I found a cheap but nice place in Canberra for us, so we headed straight there. Best Western Sunset or something. Very nice lodgings indeed, just outside of town. By the we have been driving with the car’s ABS light on for about 2 hours and were really worried that the car would break down in the middle of nowhere, with dusk (and kangaroos) approaching soon – so many decaying kangaroos and wombats I’ve never seen before.
Day 10, last day, we spent at the Floriade in Canberra (as we started with a tulip festival in Bowral on our first day!) which was lovely. We also visited the Canberra Botanical Gardens and picnicked there. We didn’t see much of Canberra unfortunately, as we were anxious to get home before dark. After stopping in Goulburn for a break and a quick shop at Vinnies and some other odd shops, we bought yummy stuff from a very busy bakery to have on our way home. Unfortunately (or fortunately) we had a very near miss of an accident, which left us a little rattled and so we just pushed on home.
Home sweet home, thanks Mom for a lovely trip, I wouldn’t have wanted to do it with anyone else! And thanks hubby for waiting so patiently for us and holding the fort at home.