Moreton Island

Moreton Island

Moreton Island is one of our favourite Aussie destinations, and we are so lucky to have it right in our own backyard.

Chris has been holidaying on the island since he was a kid and has been bringing me along for the adventures for the past 10 years. (yup – we have been together 10 years this October!)

 

He’s told me stories of his parents, aunties, uncles and cousins all loading into an old troopy and camping up at the Ben Ewa Camp Ground; of how he used to head over as a teenager and get up to all sorts of mischief (like falling off a tailgate that snapped when they hit a bump driving along the beach) and camping with tents and gazebo.

We first camped on Moreton many years ago in an old tent that I brought with me from Tassie. Since then we’ve camped in our rooftop, camper trailer and even towed our 22’6” Jayco across to the surfside. Yep – it was a little tight through Middle Track!

We’ve spent weeks camped up in the dunes on the surfside in the middle of summer, weeks in the same dunes in the middle of winter, a few nights in the glamping tents and multiple nights in other various campsites dotted along the beach on both sides of the island. We’ve had a wander through ‘The Birdcage’, a house for hire in Bulwer where family were staying and of course we’ve had a sticky at the Tangalooma Resort. And while it’s not our preferred type of accommodation, we have friends who love it.

There are plenty of choices for those who decide to stay on the island and this trip we spent 3 nights in the Castaways Glamping Tents and 3 nights in beach campsites. (See our review on Castaways on our YouTube video. Link here https://youtu.be/rVBlaKkaJFI )

Needless to say, we love Moreton and don’t really mind where we stay as each area has its own ‘uniqueness’! We do prefer absolute beach front though and love the sunsets and calm waters of the Western Beach and the sunrise and surf over on the Eastern side.

 

We’ve spent time snorkelling, fishing, sandboarding, surfing, hiking, exploring, kayaking, swimming, sunbaking and of course drinking and eating! There is so much more to do than hang out on the beach and we highly recommend exploring the old World War II Bunkers that are scattered across the island.

There really is so much to see and do and we would love for you to watch our latest YouTube video as we show you around the island. Link here https://youtu.be/rVBlaKkaJFI

Sadly the weather wasn’t the best for us on this particular trip and we had a day or two that was more suited to curling up with a good book and a cuppa! This meant we weren’t able to climb Mt Tempest, explore the Blue Lagoon or head down to Kooringal and the Gutter Bar. But we suggest that you do!

We often get asked how long we recommend staying. Let’s just say we stayed for 6 nights this trip and still didn’t do everything that we wanted to!

Please make sure to book your trip well in advance as the Micat’s more popular ferries can book out pretty early. If you are planning on camping you will need a camping permit before you head on over. Book and get everything sorted here: https://www.moretonislandadventures.com.au/

Let us know what your favourite Moreton Island experience is and if you haven’t been over, are you planning on it? If not, why not? We are sure you will love this perfect island holiday destination as much as we do!

Check out our YouTube Video here

Camping – What is it Really?

Camping – What is it Really?

‘Yes mum. I’ve rinsed my feet in the bucket. YES! I’ve wiped them on the towel too.’ I shook my head, laughing a little as I walked inside.

If I had $1 for every time someone said to me, ‘I don’t like camping,’ I’d be a very rich woman! In fact, I grew up with a mother who doesn’t like the feel of sand beneath her feet let alone the idea of camping near a beach, camping in the bush… or well, camping anywhere at all! My dad, on the other hand enjoys time spent in nature, so I could experience both perspectives firsthand.

I spent the first 10 years of my life in Tasmania and remember heading off with my grandparents, aunties, uncles and cousins for the school holidays; packing our beanies, jackets and gumboots, making jaffles and listening to campfire stories until we were sent off to the bunks inside the giant canvas Taj Mahal-like tent. We would swim, hike, check out the wildlife and do all the things kids love to do on family camping trips. We loved it! Mum? Not so much.

We moved to Ecuador, South America when I was 10. My parents were missionaries with an organisation known for its medical and radio work in Latin America. Initially, we went to a town right on the edge of the Amazon jungle. We spent a couple of years there and I loved it – mum, not so much! Who wouldn’t love all the exploring we did? There were a few of us, and if we weren’t swimming in waterholes and rivers, swinging off vines, riding our bikes all over, or playing with our pet dogs, we were digging holes deep in the mud while being careful not to get worms in our feet of course, and playing in the torrential downpours that happened every day around 2 pm. Check out this pic of my mum with our old Renegade!

When I was about 13, we moved to Quito, a vast city up in the Andes mountains where there are way less creepy crawlies and much less oxygen! Dad was involved in what was called Medical Caravans – not anything like the caravan we have – and mum did a bit of nursing but worked mostly in publicity and radio. Those early teen years in Quito I spent doing what rebellious teenagers do. But there were a couple of times during those years, when I was about 15, that dad took me camping to the radio station’s antennae farm. It was out in the country a bit, in a town called Pifo (pic below). Dad probably thought it was the only way to get me away from all the chaos of being a teenage girl in a crazy city! It not only did that, but it also rekindled my love of getting outside and staying out for a night or two.

I moved back to Tassie when I was about 16 and eventually took up camping on my own. With a 6-man tent from KMart in the back of the car, I’d strap my young son, Sam,  into his car seat and head off with friends to the East Coast when we could. Fast forward to me being the age now that my mum was back when I remember her complaining about sand in the tent and I can honestly, and surprisingly, say that I’m following in her footsteps, although not to that extreme. Yes, I grew up with a love of camping, but that has slowly but surely developed into a love of glamping. Before I met Chris, I used to have my tent and a few camping bits and pieces that travelled with me in the back of a car. Since Chris and I met back in 2010, we have slowly worked our way through tents, rooftops, camper trailers and caravans until what we have now – our dream caravan and an Alucab roof top tent on the 4x4. We’ve also worked our way through Hilux’s!

Chris is very much a ‘go with the flow’ kinda guy who couldn’t care less if there was sand in the tent, no showers for weeks or canned food for a month so I appreciate that he has put up with my need (want) for a more ‘civilised’ approach to ‘camping’ and has indulged me along the way (not without our fair share of disagreements I might add).

We’ve come such a long way in the camping world that two years ago we invited my parents to come with us on a three-week road trip to Cairns – yes, my non-camping friendly mum! They slept in the caravan bunks and on the odd occasion, booked a cabin if we all needed a bit of space from each other. And they LOVED it! Especially my mum. So much so, that she has mentioned, occasionally, that she wouldn’t mind selling the property in Tasmania and heading off in a caravan of their own. Look closely at the pic below and you’ll see my dad giving a double thumbs up out the window. Lol. And check out the smile on mum’s face! She had a great time.

Which leads me to this… camping might not be what you think it is, it’s what you want it to be. What do you think camping is? And what would you like it to be? Let’s uncover some camping truths.

1.Camping is basic … or is it?

It can be as simple as a swag and some freeze-dried food, but it sure doesn’t have to be! If you want to glamp and you have the budget to make that happen, then go for it!  Here are 3 ways you can go from camping to glamping.

  1. Buy a top of the range caravan and a luxury 4x4 to tow it with

Expensive? Sure. Comfortable? You betcha! We recommend  Titanium Caravans from Caravans Coffs Coast if you are after one of the most well-appointed luxury vans on the market. This is our fourth off-road caravan and the absolute best by far. Why does this caravan take us from camping to glamping? Let me explain.

  • We have a full off-grid Enerdrive lithium battery system giving us access to 240 power whenever we need it. And we don’t have to be plugged in.
  • We have a washing machine, air conditioner, microwave, gas heater, smart TV all which are usable at any time thanks to our battery system.
  • I am able use all my kitchen appliances (think Thermomix, Air Fryer etc) wherever we are, whenever we want to.
  • We have a toilet, full shower and large ensuite … where I can blow dry and straighten my hair whenever I feel like it
  • We have a large club lounge that’s as comfy, if not more comfy than the couch at home
  • We have air suspension from Airbag Man that makes it super easy to level the van up – no more rolling out of bed!
  • We have a slide out kitchen with plumbed hot and cold water and triple burner gas cook top OUTSIDE the van
  • And the best part? We have so much storage and room to move that we truly feel at home when we are traveling

 2. Book a cabin at a Holiday Park

Don’t fancy spending as much money on your holidays as you would to buy a house? Then don’t! Book a cabin or glamping tent at one of the many top-quality caravan parks around the country. In fact, most of these parks aren’t even known as caravan parks anymore. Think of; Resort Camping, Holiday Park, Resort, Caravan Village… and the list goes on. Booking a weekend in a cabin will cost you far more than booking a caravan site, but if luxury is your style and you don’t want to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a set-up, then this could be the way for you.

 3. Take your ‘basic’ set up and head to a caravan park/resort

You don’t need all the fancy gear to enjoy the luxuries of a Holiday Park. If you have a tent, bedding, some camp chairs and an ESKI – you’re all set! Almost all parks have amenities with showers and toilets (it pays to check and read reviews first). Most parks have camp kitchens with fridges to store your food, BBQ’s and microwaves to cook, and sinks for washing up. And, if you don’t want to do any of that, many have their own restaurants and cafes plus food vans that stop by on weekends. Generally, the more you pay, the nicer the amenities. If you have kids, many of the larger parks have jumping pillows, playgrounds and swimming pools.

2. Camping means long drives in the car … or does it?

This is generally the case for us as we love to get out and explore new and unknown areas, but it most definitely doesn’t have to be this way. We have a few local haunts that we head off to when we need to get away from home but don’t have the time or the inclination to spend hours in the car.

Do some research on Google, Wikicamps, YouCamp or even just the BIG4 websites and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what is close to where you are now or where you want to be. We love the Gold Coast Holiday Park in Helensvale, which is just an 18-minute drive from where we live, and close to where we like to surf.

Check out these parks close to Australia’s capital cities.

Brisbane –  https://www.big4.com.au/caravan-parks/qld/greater-brisbane/sandstone-point-holiday-resort

Melbourne – https://www.melbournebig4.com.au/

Adelaide – https://www.aspenholidayparks.com.au/our-parks/adelaide-caravan-park/

Perth – https://www.midlandtouristpark.com.au/

Canberra – https://www.big4.com.au/caravan-parks/nsw/capital-country/governors-hill-carapark

Hobart – https://www.big4.com.au/caravan-parks/tas/hobart-surrounds/hobart-airport-tourist-park

Darwin – https://big4howardsprings.com.au/

Sydney –  https://www.big4.com.au/caravan-parks/nsw/greater-sydney/ingenia-holidays-nepean-river

3. Camping is just for outdoor lovers, or is it?

I hear this so much when I tell people what we do! If only they knew what really goes on when people go camping across the country.

If you take the time to wander around the campsite, you will see people talking, laughing, drinking, eating and relaxing, and then sleeping and doing it all again! You might throw in a dip in the pool, beach, or whatever body of water is close, or stroll through the local township, if there is one, or nearby park. And of course, there’s always plenty of time to put your feet up and read a book or have a snooze. We find we are the odd ones out with our mountain bikes, zest for adventure and love for the great outdoors! 

If you are staying in a resort/holiday villa you can spend as much time indoors or outdoors as you like. You can indulge yourself by lounging by the pool, eating in the restaurant, having a cocktail at the bar, or reading a book in the guest lounge.

4. Camping is just for young families and caravanning is for Grey Nomads!

Camping is for everybody and if you don’t believe me, open up Instagram and see for yourself! Newsfeeds are filled with photos and videos of young families, teenage friends, young lovers, middle-aged couples, older couples, grandparents with grandkids. You might see entire generations sharing their adventures as they get out and enjoy camping together! And the exact same can be said for caravanning.

While its generally true that the younger families can’t afford the fancy van and the expensive 4x4 that the retirees can afford, we are seeing a huge shift in who’s towing a caravan along for the holiday break. More and more young families and couples are investing in a lifestyle that they know will bring more fun and less stress to their way of life. We are one of these middle-aged couples! We have our dream van and 4x4 and we are only in our 40’s, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

5. Camping = constant cooking

While I do agree with this to some extent, I firmly believe that you only cook as much as you want to. We have friends that don’t like cooking much and generally eat takeout the entire time we are away! If you love cooking (like I do) then this won’t be a problem. I have a variety of appliances that I take with us depending on where we are headed.

  • My thermal cooker usually gets loaded up before we leave home, so our dinner is ready and waiting that evening. This gives us time to set up and relax without having to meal prep at all.
  • I have a Thermomix that whips up a mean curry in half an hour, instant desserts and all sorts of easy mealtime deliciousness. I also take the air fryer so we can bake cakes, quiches, bikkies, nachos and even cook the snags if we want to in half the time it takes to preheat and use the oven!
  • Other times I make double meals the week before we head off and freeze them so all we have to do is defrost and enjoy when we’re away.
  • Sometimes, if we know we will be with lots of friends and they’ll be eating out, we only take a few meals worth of food with us and buy food from the restaurant.
  • Caravan parks have camp kitchens so even if you don’t have a BBQ, you can take your meat down and cook it on theirs.
  • If you want to keep it cheap and basic, buy a large pack of sausages or premade hamburgers and some packets of salads and you’re set!

It does all depend on how much you eat and how much you want to cook as to how much time you will be spending cooking. But I do find that no matter what you intend to do while away, a rough meal plan and grocery list makes all the difference.

6. It’s too hard packing and unpacking … or is it?

It most certainly doesn’t have to be! But again, this comes down to how much time and money you are willing, and able, to invest into your setup and of course, how much ‘stuff’ you want to take with you. When we had tents and gazebos and all that jazz it would take hours to pack the car at home and even longer to set up once we arrived. When we graduated to the camper trailer, it took less time at home and slightly less time to set up and pack up.

But nothing can compare to the simplicity of having a van large enough to store everything inside that you will need… permanently. We are the stage now where all we need to do is pack our food and clothes and head off. We have everything else we need in the van ready to go. We even have enough food in the pantry to last a few days if we don’t pack anything before we leave.

We have taken this one step further and have the same with our 4x4. Kitchen ware, toiletries, cleaning products, sunscreen, insect repellent, camp chairs, and everything we need lives permanently in the canopy so all we need to pack are clothes, towels and extra food. We have a pantry drawer fully stocked with staples and snacks all the time.

The main thing to remember is to only take what you need! Don’t take all the ‘just in case’ items. And yes, I know that Chris would be shaking his head at me and laughing if he read this (he doesn’t read anything, so I think I’m OK! Lol). It’s taken me a looong time to learn that I don’t need as much as I think I do, and I take less and less with me each trip that we take.

While I understand not everyone is able to leave the setup mostly ready all of the time, it’s what we have worked our way up to and are so glad that we did!

If you really can’t be bothered with all the ‘stuff,’ pack a swag, or tent and bedding, your basics, camp chairs, and an ESKI with your food in it, and book in at one of the luxury resorts and use all of their ‘stuff’! They have plenty of it ready and waiting.

So, there you have it. What ‘camping’ is and what it can be! From a swag under the stars to a luxurious caravan plugged into power and water at a 5 Star holiday resort, there are options for everybody whether a lover of camping yet or not. All I ask is that you give it a go and not let your ‘lack of adventure’ ruin the adventures you can experience … and if you don’t like it the first time, make changes until you do. If my mother can become a lover of camping (glamping), I’m sure almost anyone can. Check out the pic below … I’m very happy with her change of heart!

The Gorge, Clarence River NSW

The Gorge, Clarence River NSW

We were so lucky to stumble across The Gorge on the Clarence River!

After spending some time on the stunning white sandy beaches of the NSW North Coast, we felt it was time to head inland and swap sand and saltwater for grass and the fresh, running waters of the Clarence River, also known as ‘The Big River’.

Chris had spotted a couple of sites that looked good on Wikicamps and asked me to pick one. After seeing the photos and read the existing reviews of The Gorge, I knew this was a place we had to explore. When we couldn’t get through on the phone to make a booking, we decided that we would drive to the property and if they were booked out, we would simply drive back.

Located 75km north-west of Grafton, the drive to this property is almost as exciting as spending time there!

The way in was a long, windy, corrugated dirt road that bumped us all over the place with views so spectacular that we didn’t mind the bumps one bit! The road winds its way along the ridges, giving you glimpses of the Clarence River below on one side and incredible mountain views on the other. (luckily you drive out the same way you drive in, so I had the river views on the way out!)

We saw cows grazing on some of the greenest grass covered rolling hills we have ever seen, coupled with the bluest of blue skies with a smattering of fluffy white clouds. We were literally lost for words. There was something beautiful from every direction as far as the eye could see! I ended up putting the camera down and just soaking it all in as there was no way I could capture everything.

Crossing grids and splashing through causeways is all part of the fun, all the while keeping an eye out for cows and other wildlife like kangaroos.

 

After passing through 2 giant trees with signs displaying ‘You are entering The Gorge. All Welcome’, ‘Private Property’, ‘Day Visitor Permit Required $10’ and a phone number to call to make a booking, we rumbled over a wooden bridge and looked at each other in confusion as we both asked if we heard voices! When I popped my head out the window, I could see a family splashing away in a rockpool below the bridge. That was when we started to get really excited; stunning scenery beside the mighty Clarence River, little rockpools and no phone service. This was beginning to feel like paradise.

We made our way along another 4km of windy dirt road, across some more of those tiny wooden bridges until we came to the homestead. A man was standing out the front in thongs, shorts and a singlet and he came up to welcome us as soon as pulled up.

We met Buck and Belinda (say that 3 times quickly! Lol) who are just lovely! They explained why we couldn’t get through to make a booking. Frustratingly, their phone lines have been down for ages and there is no service at all on the 8000+ acre property, home to over 30 different campsites with 10km of river frontage on the Clarence! And to complicate things further, as they are new owners, they don’t have the passwords for any of the website Facebook or Instagram pages! So, your best bet is to take the long, windy, bumpy and most spectacular drive right up to the house and say, ‘I’m here!’ just like we did 😁

They told us there were showers and toilets up near the Homestead, but nothing else around the property. And as most campsites are a fair way away, it makes life much easier if you are self contained! Bathing in the river is always refreshing 😉

They suggested we camp below the homestead on the river and guided us down in their bright orange Kubota. They walked us in to check out the site (known as Old Boat Place) before we drove the Hilux in.

We asked them how business was over Christmas and that’s when the stories of the bushfires were shared.  When they showed us videos of the hills glowing red, smoke blanketing the river and gorge and the water bomber helicopter dropping in to fill up right beside the boat, we realised just how close and how dangerous it had been for them.

 

Belinda explained that the property had been in drought for as long as the they had been there, with calm and crystal-clear river water, but recently the heavy rains had lifted the waters to levels they hadn’t seen before and some of the campsites were still very muddy. What a start for this lovely couple on their new property! Drought, heavy rain and bushfires, all within a matter of months!

 

The river is now wide, flowing and quite muddy – but still beautiful and most definitely swimmable. As we were setting up, a truck was returning from dropping campers into the river further up so they could float their way down on their inflatables. Not long after they came bobbing down, hats on with drinks in hand. How relaxing!

Buck said they were about to head up the river and see what it was like with so much water flowing after the floods and asked if we would like to join them. Of course we said yes, and within an hour we were set up, had swum in the river with the turtles while tiny fish nibbled at our toes, and were ready when they arrived on the Kubota to take us first to Skinny-dipping Waterhole (I think that’s the name!) and then up the river in the tinny.

But first … the waterhole. Once again, we bounced along the road in the Kubota, over the bridge and down until we came to a secluded little corner with the most inviting stream babbling along and over some rocks into a deep waterhole.

We all got into the clear water and Chris and I paddled over to the little waterfall. I didn’t want to get out! But it was already 4:30 and we had a river and some incredible waterfalls to explore!

We drove back to our campsite where the tinny was moored, jumped in and headed off up stream. The further we went, the more spectacular the scenery became. Fish, birds, cliffs, waterfalls and incredible rock structures once again made for a moment where the camera just had to be put down, and we tried to take it all in.

We pulled in, tied the boat up and decided to do the rocky 2km walk along the river’s edge to see the falls. I wasn’t sure how I’d go in thongs and Chris being barefoot, but we were fine and so very happy we decided to do it.

The first falls, Willowtree Falls, were affectionately known as the ‘baby falls’ … but not this time! Water was barrelling over the top and there was no way you’d get in for a quick dip at the bottom.

Belinda assured us that as beautiful as these falls were, the best was yet to come. We continued on over grassy hills, up rocky walls, under shrubbery and across water covered plains until we reached the magnificent Rainbow Falls. There is no need to ask why the name, as you can clearly see a rainbow directly in front of the falls created by the mist spraying gently onto your face and body as you stand and admire what was once a lovely swimming spot that is now a raging waterfall!

We just sat, mesmerised until we realised it was nearing 6:30 and we still had to walk back to the boat, ride down the river and Chris still had rocks to jump off and ropes to swing off before we could head back to camp.

The river was flowing quite fast, so we decided to see how far we could get with no motor – but it wasn’t long before we were leaning over the side and pushing the tinny off the rocky walls, and Buck was firing the motor up to stop us side slamming into a large rock that was looming right up in our path!

When we could, we just drifted in silence, listening to the birds, fish, turtles and all the stories Buck and Belinda had to share about this incredible place.

The property has long been a working cattle station, and Buck, Belinda and Belinda’s mum are in the process of bringing their own herd of cattle to run here.

Chris was shown all the best jumping spots and gave them a go (except the first one as we’d forgotten to stop!). He also climbed the riverbank and swung off an epic rope swing after Buck showed us all how it was done!

It was past 8:30 and dark by the time the boat pulled back into our campsite. We were tired, hungry and exhilarated! What an amazing way to spend Australia Day!

Buck and Belinda went back to the homestead and we cooked up our lamb steaks and salad.

It wasn’t long before Chris was up in the rooftop tent and I was laying back in my camp chair staring in amazement at how many stars there were and how brightly they were shining!

The next morning, we were up as the sun was peeking over the hills, lighting up the glassy river

By 9:30 am we were saying our goodbyes, wishing we had more time to spend at, and making plans to return to The Gorge here on the mighty Clarence River.

How to get here:

Drive out and pass through Copmanhurst, keeping an eye out for a large sign saying ‘Appletree Flat Road’. You will also see a sign saying, ‘The Gorge Station.’

Not long after you will come across Lilydale Bridge, a very low bridge where you will find plenty of campers (this was also on our list). We actually stopped here and had brunch on the rocky riverbank on our way home.

After crossing the bridge, turn right at the sign for The Gorge and then just keep driving for about 35km. This is where the scenery is spectacular no matter where you look!

You will see the welcome sign for The Gorge Station and continue on a further 4km until you reach the homestead.

MAP HERE:

https://goo.gl/maps/Rj3GY1Tnc1H1PUaD7

Helensvale Meet Up

Helensvale Meet Up

RnR Wanderers, Let’s Get Outta Here and Makn Trax were coming along for our first weekend away in months! We’ve had a really rough year having had no van or 4x4 for what feels like forever, and this was us finally getting back out there doing what we love.

 We still don’t have a caravan or a battery system in the Hilux but we weren’t going to let this stop us. So, we were heading off with what we do have – the Alucab rooftop and a borrowed Eski packed with ice.

Our initial plans of a weekend at Flanagan’s Reserve were completely thrown by the devastating bushfires that have wreaked havoc in our National Parks and so many other places. Where could we go on such short notice we wondered? The BIG4 at Helensvale popped into my mind (it’s our local go-to park being only 20 minutes down the highway). Worth a try I thought and made the call. Within a few minutes we were booked into the unpowered sites down the back by the river.

It’s such a fun park with awesome amenities and great, super-friendly staff. I love the huge tropical fish tank in one of the (really nice) camp kitchens and the even bigger one in the amenities block! It’s pet-friendly and even has a dog-park which was perfect for Mel and Geoff’s pooches Molly and Kiki to have a good run around in. If dogs and fish aren’t your thing, feel free to check out the various animals in the ‘petting zoo’. There’s a BMX track which Greg’s little fella didn’t take long to find, and plenty of open spacefor the kids to ride/tun around in.

The pool area lit up by flames at night and open until 9 p.m., is amazing.  You can relax in the spa or splash around in the heated pool which has a water slide while the kids (if you have them) have fun in the shallow kid’s pool. If you get hungry while hanging out in the pool area, you’ll find the café serves scrumptious food and drinks until 8 p.m. And they can whip up a mean cocktail! 

Yep, this park is just awesome! It also helps that the park is located right across the highway from Movie World, Dream World, White Water World, Wet n Wild, Outback Spectacular and Top Golf and isn’t far from Surfers Paradise or Brisbane.

This park is just awesome! It also helps that the park is located right across the highway from Movie World, Dream World, White Water World, Wet n Wild, Outback Spectacular and Top Golf and isn’t far from Surfers Paradise or Brisbane.

Mel and Geoff (RnR Wanderers) were already set up when we arrived about lunch time on Friday. We parked the Hilux next to ‘Blondie’ and our Alu-cab roof top and brand new awning was set up within a few minutes.

We had a bit of a chat before I left the boys with their beers and went for a splash in the heated pool.

When I returned to camp, Greg from Makn Trx  had arrived along with Kurt and Carly from Let’s Get Outta Here .

 The boys were frothing over Greg’s chopped 200 series and discussing all things 4x4.

Camping makes a person hungry and we were there is a flash when Kurt and Carly invited us over to their caravan for Weber-fired pizzas. Carly’s got that recipe nailed … dinner was delish!

It was still early when we climbed up into the roof top. It’s super comfy so we fell asleep fairly easily despite the sound of the freeway. We had forgotten how loud the road-noise is when not in an enclosed van!

The sun peeking in through the flyscreen combined with the cockatoos squawking had us up pretty early. I pulled up a camp chair by the river to read for a while and Chris did whatever it is Chris does (Instagram and YouTube I think … lol).

By the time the others were up and about, we’d showered, and Chris was getting hangry. We thought brekky at the café would be quicker than cooking our own, so we all headed over there to find we had 15 minutes before the gate opened.  Not to be idle, we decided to have a bit of a sticky at the huge new water park that will be open to the public in February next year. It will be amazing!

On the way, some gorgeous little French Bulldog puppies name Bob and Marley grabbed our attention and wouldn’t let go! They were adorable and had us all wishing we could take them home. Marty (their dad) came out and had a chat with us. Turns out he was there with his family on the final leg of their lap around Australia! ‘Glamping Around Oz’ was stuck on their Silverline next to a big ‘For Sale’ sticker.

Breakfast was divine (pancakes, eggs benedict, brekkie wraps and big breakfast filled our table) and a great way to start the day that was filled with relaxing, chatting, swimming, being a little crazy in the pool and just enjoying each other’s company.

We had a nibbles platter for lunch, again thanks to Kurt and Carly, and said goodbye to Greg who was packing up and heading off only to set up in a new location a few hours later. The rest of us all went our separate ways for a few hours; some of us reading, others (Chris) having naps, swimming, and doing whatever else we felt like.

Chris added some awesome graphics to the back of the Let’s Get Outta Here Van and managed to get it straight even after a few Big Heads!

We came back together later in the arvo to sort out how we were getting to and from Top Golf which was just across the Motorway. Needless to say, we were all a little disappointed when we arrived to find out that the wait to play was over two hours.

We decided food was the next best thing (I know, food did feature a lot in our weekend!) and headed to the Boathouse Tavern for some amazing food and drinks.

We sat outside next to the live music. It was fun to people watch a bit and continue chatting. We didn’t run out of conversation all weekend which I guess is to be expected when like-minded people with similar passions get together. It was great!

There was a brief lull while we were all devouring our meals … but that didn’t last long! We all have so much in common and so much to share with each other … including lots of laughter.

I tell you … Mel and Carly seriously crack me up! Such hilarious human beings.   

Sunday was breakfast at the café and then time for Kurt, Carly and us to pack up and head off. We watched Mel and Geoff disappear in our side mirrors as we drove away … they were lucky enough to be hanging around for an extra night.

We had such a great weekend even though it was nothing like we had originally planned. Our free-camping adventure at Flanagan’s turned into a caravan park adventure with loads of delicious food and pool time! Who can complain about that? Certainly not me! I had a blast and I can’t wait until our next meet up in mid-December. 

Thanks to Mel and Geoff, Greg and Ellie and Kurt and Carly for making the weekend awesome.  Oh, and Chris. Of course, thanks to Chris! He makes all my weekends awesome 🙂

 

Woody Head, NSW

Woody Head, NSW

Wahoooosers! It’s great to be baaaack!! 

Our new van is amazing and we love it … but what we love more than the van itself, are the adventures we get to experience once again. 4 months without a 4WD or caravan has truly taken its toll on all of us.

We couldn’t have chosen a better place for our first relaxing weekend in the van in months … we were finally able to set up the camp chairs, and enjoy a few beers (or many beers in Chris’s case!) around the fire with both old mates and new ones. 🔥

White sandy beaches, rock platforms, a boat ramp, grassy areas, rainforest, shallow reef (perfect for snorkeling) and lots of kangaroos roaming around … plus awesome surfing and great fishing put Woody Head, part of the Bundjalung National Park, right near the top of our beachside camping list. And the fact that it’s only a bit over 200 km from home makes it even better.

The charming seaside village of Iluka, right at the mouth of the Clarence River is just down the road and has everything you need including an IGA, golf course, a great bowling club and pub plus pretty much everything you need including a caravan park. We didn’t eat at the pub this time, but we have before and the meals were epic! The whole area (pub included) gives off an awesome relaxed vibe that makes you think seriously about not going home!

Our first time to this gorgeous spot was back in October of 2014 when we came and stayed at the Woody Head Campground and attended a friend’s wedding at Shark Bay, just around the corner. I was blown away at the beauty and tranquility of the place as it was my first time to the NSW North Coast. Chris had not long finished building our camper trailer and adventures like this were a new thing for us. We fell in love and knew we’d be back for sure.

 

Woody Head back in October 2014

We finally made it back, and yep – we are planning our return trip already. And next time we’ll bring the kids. We know they will love this place as much as we do. 

There really is so much to explore. A short walk through the campground will take you to a grassy area that leads you down to a white sandy beach (or a boat ramp if that’s what you need!) and if you head off to the right you will find a gorgeous little path, quite often dotted with kangaroos, that you can follow along the rock shelf and coastline for ages. You can spend hours exploring the rock shelf and checking out the different textures and patterns. We went for a walk just after sunrise to snap a few pics.

“Woody Head is a campground with the lot – you can pitch your tent, park your caravan or book a cabin to enjoy a pleasure-packed beach escape for the weekend or longer.
It’s a great place for a family holiday, with a protected sandy beach that’s ideal for swimming and fishing, a boat ramp and the spectacular rock platform. There are heaps of other things to do as well and children and adults alike will love exploring the rainforest and shallow reefs around the campground. There’s also a boat ramp for those who’ve brought their boat along, great places for fishing and waterbabies will love being so close to the beach.

There is one designated group camping area and the campground is wheelchair accessible.

Of course, with the amount of attractions on offer, it’s no wonder Woody Head is a popular north coast campground. You’ll need to book with plenty of time to secure your campsite.”

🌐https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/…/woody-head-campground

Woody Head Campground
🗺Woody Head Road, Woody Head NSW 2466
📞1300 072 757
📍https://goo.gl/maps/GpSLUNJk65JhBk527

Full Video Here

Kangaroo Valley and Buladelah, NSW. By Charli

Kangaroo Valley and Buladelah, NSW. By Charli

The first time dad has ever been worried … of course we’re all scared to death.

We were driving through a mountain range down an extremely steep, slippery road and were all scared for our lives.

When mum had found what sounded like an amazing free camp on Wikicamps (Bendeela Recreation Area), one person’s comment has mentioned ‘windy, slippery roads’ – and we were finding out first hand exactly what that person had meant! ‘

One wrong move and we’re ‘dead meat,’ that’s what dad said anyway.

Not to mention we had a 3 tonne caravan dragging behind us, making everything 100 times more difficult!

We finally make it through the steep mountains and get to a cute, one street country town. There are loads of little shops and cafes lining the main street, and a lovely old bridge that crosses a small ravine with a gorgeous river flowing underneath.

When we finally arrived at the free camp mum found on Wikicamps, we saw tonnes of wombats and kangaroos, some ducks and even a black cat!

We wandered around the campsite for a while, following a pathway that led us through some bushes to a stunning lake called ‘Lake Yarrunga’. The reflection of the surrounding trees on the water was absolutely beautiful.

Lake Yarrunga was formed when the Tallowa Dam was constructed in 1976, it’s an extremely important lake, as it is a part of the water supply for Shoalhaven, Illawarra and Sydney.

Lake Yarrunga is absolutely gorgeous and is filled with plenty of wildlife including platypus, ducks, birds and heaps more. And yep – I read all that information from a sign near the lake 🙂

As we were taking in our surroundings, we noticed that we could hear our voices echoing throughout the hills! We were standing on the wooden ramp cooeing and shouting into the hills, just to hear our voices talking back to us. We did that for about 20 minutes, until mum came over and told us to be quiet because we were echoing throughout the whole campsite. Oops.

We walked back to the caravan and decided to relax out the front and enjoy the views. It’s so green and so peaceful. Soon after, we decided we were starving and begged mum to cook us dinner, so we could hurry up and eat s’mores after.

For dinner, mum had cooked a beef and vegetable stew, and it had cooked in her thermal cooker while were driving. We ate it with a side of potato bread that tasted delicious! Who knew bread made out of mashed potato could taste so good? After that, we finally got to do what we had all been waiting for since we left home in Queensland, eat s’mores!

Although it wasn’t how we expected to, it still tasted delicious.

This whole trip we have been looking forward to sitting around a warm, cozy fire and toasting our gigantic marshmallows on the long pointy sticks we’d specially hand picked from the bush, smearing the melted marshmallow onto chocolate covered biscuits. But sadly we aren’t allowed to have fires where we were staying. So instead of eating them around the fire, dad lit the gas burner in the Dometic outside kitchen and we toasted the marshmallows that way. We had just picked up our brand new caravan, and we are super happy it’s got a slide out kitchen. I just hope we get to have s’mores again tomorrow night!

Next day: Kangaroo Valley to Bulahdelah River

We woke up to a nice warm caravan, with the smell of porridge wafting through the air. Mum and dad had woken up early to have a nice, peaceful breakfast without us kids making a racket. After we had brekky, we hooked up the van and drove off to our new destination, Bulahdelah.

On our way dad insisted we stop at one of his favourite pie shops called ‘Heatherbraes Pies‘. Mum got her favourite steak and mushroom, dad got a Jillaroo, and Aylah, Cooper and I all got an original beef pie. Once we all finished, our bellys were full and we were absolutely delighted with the delicious pies.

Soon after several stops at service station, we finally arrived at Bulahdelah. It’s a beautiful free camp right next to a gorgeous river that has plenty of space for heaps of caravans, tents, camper trailers, ect.

About 10 minutes after we arrived, we spotted a rope swing hanging out over river. We all desperately wanted to swing off it, but it was way too cold to go swimming. Cooper being the person he is, decided to show off to everyone how cool he is by swinging into the river without falling off. That didn’t go to plan. The first swing Cooper had, he slipped off the stick and landed strait into the river! We all burst out laughing as we all watched Cooper walked out of the muddy river with shame and embarrassment.

Of course Aylah wanted to have a go after Cooper, so she took of her shoes and grabbed onto the stick. She was hesitating for about 5 minutes until finally she built up the courage to swing over the river. We were all 100% certain she was going to fall in, but surprisingly she didn’t! She even swung 10 or more  times and still didn’t fall into the river. That really did shock us all.

And then it was Golden Hour! Time to snap a few pics as the sun set over the Myall River.

Later on we collected some rocks and made a fire pit. We grabbed the wood from our Navigator bags the that we had collected and dad had cut with his new chainsaw and began to build our fire.

The sun sank slowly, casting an orange glow. Birds were flying down the river, over the water and looping back around. Mum obviously decided to take photos of the sunset and they turned out amazing.

The campfire was lit, the chairs were set in a circle, relaxing music was playing from the caravan, everyone was sitting around the fire and everything was perfect.

A bit later dad cooked up some delicious meat patties on the slide out kitchen and mum put together some hamburgers for dinner. Aylah, Cooper and I sat around the fire and demolished our burgers faster than the parents could even make theirs! And of course we had s’mores after!

We had some Colourful Fire Packets (that you can buy from our online store here! http://www.aussiedestinationsunknown.com.au/product/colourful-fire-packets/) and dad decided it was a good time to toss one in. Lucky we had already eaten our s’mores as you can’t roast marshmallows with the colorful flames bouncing around. It did look beautiful though and was an almost perfect night. We finally got to roast our marshmallows over the open, warm fire, sitting under the stars enjoying each others company.