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.

Kingscliff Beach Holiday Park

Kingscliff Beach Holiday Park

Name: Tweed Coast Holiday Parks Kingscliff Beach

(not to be confused with its sister park further down the same road, Tweed Coast Holiday Parks Kingscliffe North)

Location: 125 Marine Parade, Kingscliff, NSW

Website: http://www.tchp.com.au/tweed-coast-holiday-parks-kingscliff-beach/

Date of Stay: May 2018

Type of Park: Beachfront

Rating: 5/5 (Chris said 6 out of 5!)

 

 

Description:

We had heard plenty of positive reviews about this ‘amazing newly renovated caravan park in Kingscliff’ and while sitting around the caravans with friends at Sawtell this Easter discussing what the next ‘special event’ was, we discovered it was Chris’s birthday and booked our spots right away. We were lucky and all but one of us in the group managed to secure the premium beach front sites we had heard so much about. This park books out well in advance!

We arrived at a stunning and modern holiday park that is indeed located on absolute beach frontage in the heart of Kingscliff.

The sun was setting as were checking in, and the sky was the most incredible hues of pink I had ever seen! Before we had even made it to the site, I was on the beach taking perfect photo after perfect photo.

The park is just metres from an array of cafes and boutique stores. With a bowls club to one side, a fantastic park to the other, the Kingscliff Beach Hotel directly across the street and a breathtaking expanse of ocean out the front, this really is the ideal park in the ideal location.

This trip is in honour of Chris’s 43rd birthday and we are sharing it with some wonderful friends; most with caravans and with one family who are staying in the units across the road.

We have kids ranging from a few months old right up to 15 and many ages in between! Our kids (10, 12 and 13) had a ball riding, surfing, playing and just ‘being kids’. It’s great to see what they get up to when you remove their devices.

It has rained on and off for the first day, but even so, it was lovely. I came prepared with gumboots and a raincoat, a beanie and some warm clothes and I’m as cozy as can be.

The first evening was spent having drinks with our friends around the vans while the kids rode around and hung out in the camp kitchen. The first night was spent listening to the sounds of the waves, the rain on the roof and the distant strains of the live band from the Kingscliff Beach Hotel as they belted out tunes like Rolling on the River to the applause from the crowd.

The next morning I was up early to capture some new sunrise shots on the beach out the front of the park. What started as a 20 minute outing turned into a 90 minute walk on the sand down to the break wall and river and back through the parks dotted along the way.

I must say I was completely blown away by absolutely everything I saw. There has been so much thought put into the design and layout; from the table tennis table (with artwork and bats!), lounge chairs, trees, paths, undercover areas (with beachy artwork), lush grassy areas and of course views that take your breath away each time they appear through the trees.

The Surf Club located right next to the park does a HUGE and ridiculusly delicious breakfast. The staff were lovely and so helpful when I mentioned that I didn’t eat eggs or gluten. The chef came up with all sorts of alternatives that kept my tummy very happy 🙂

Kingscliff is a magic little town, and this is definitely our new favourite place.

The staff at the park are incredibly friendly, the grounds and amenities are immaculate, and Chris has said that he could ‘live here in a permanent van forever’. It’s his favourite camp ground yet – and that’s a pretty big call! Being a surfer, it’s easy to see why he feels this way – all you have to do is look out the window of the van to see perfection.

Facilities:
  • Fully accessible, clean and new amenities
  • Camp Kitchen
  • Beach Access Walkways
  • Sheltered Barbecues
  • Wi-Fi
Staff:

We found the staff to be incredibly friendly and accommodating both on the phone and in person. When we arrived, another couple was setting up their van in our site. The staff were wonderful when faced with this problematic start to our weekend, and we were parked in our absolute beach frontage site without too much delay.

Sites:

• Powered Tent Sites with Synthetic Grass
• Tourist Sites with Double Wide Slabs
• Beachfront Tourist Sites (this is what we stayed on)
• Tourist Sites with Ensuites
• Luxury Beachfront Cabins

Positives:

Everything!

  • Views
  • Location
  • Staff
  • Park grounds
  • Suitability – it’s great for couples, singles, families, groups of friends and any other combination!
Negatives:
  • No swimming pool or play equipment. A pool might have been nice in the colder weather (if it was heated). There is no playground, play equipment or games room either, but there is the park next door with bike paths and the beach out the front. So, it’s not really a negative … more of an observation.
  • No pets allowed. This isn’t a negative to us, but it might be for some.
  • No shelter anywhere – a gazebo would be a necessity in the warmer weather.

 


 

Our view

 

What a stunning backdrop

 

The beach out the front at sunset

 

The Kingscliff Beach Hotel

 

Surfing at Sunrise

 

A short walk to the river delivered this view

 

The brand new park next to the caravan is immaculate

 

A table tennis table!

 

A birthday breakfast with a spectacular view at the Surf Club

 

The kids love it!

 

Camp Kitchen

 

Clean, modern amenities

 

Cotton Tree Holiday Park Review

Cotton Tree Holiday Park Review

Name: Cotton Tree Holiday Park

FB: @cottontreeholidaypark

Web: www.sunshinecoastholidayparks.com.au

Location: Cotton Tree Pde Maroochydore, Queensland

Date of Stay: Jan 2018 (Australia Day), March 2018 x 2 

Type of Park: Beach front

Good for Kids/Families: Yes

Good for Couples: Yes

Description:

We come to Cotton Tree regularly with and without the kids– we just love it!

It is a well-kept little park, right on the water with both still water (riverfront) access and surf access (to the right).

It’s only a short walk to the surf club and RSL and Sunshine Plaza is just a 5 minute drive away if you need to go shopping (like we did last stay – Chris forget to pack a muscle shirt! Oh, the horror! Lol). You can pretty much walk to everything you need.

The facilities are clean and there are camp kitchens dotted around the park. If you don’t plan on cooking much in your van, there are plenty of café’s and restaurants within walking distance. For many families, a lazy meal of fish and chips is usually on the agenda and it’s so easy to walk across the road, pick up your dinner, and eat it on the beach or back at the caravan park.

If you forgot your meat, don’t worry – I forget mine on purpose! The Cotton Tree Meats butcher just across the road has a delicious assortment of meats just begging to be bbq’d.  You must try their lamb and haloumi kebabs. They hold the award of ‘best kebab I have ever eaten to date’

Last week we were here, we were on absolute waterfront (by the river) which was amazing, and those sites are worth fighting for if you get the chance! This week those sites have been cordoned off due to new turf being laid. So needless to say, those sites will be even better when they are reopened. Generally, we choose to be over near the surf where we are right now – that’s what the boards are in the back of the truck for! Besides, I love hearing the sounds of the ocean and waves crashing through our open windows, while I sit here typing 🙂

Right now, it’s quiet; there are many vacant sites, and not many kids around. It’s calm, relaxing and peaceful. It’s lovely to sit in my little beach chair and watch the relaxing flow of the river, alive with swimmers, paddle boarders (some with dogs!), kite surfers and people fishing.

It is an extremely popular park and therefore very busy in peak times, but it is still surprisingly relaxing and fairly quiet thanks to the 10pm curfew. The levels of ‘quiet’ do change HUGELY from off peak to school holiday times – this is to be expected in most parks though J There are plenty of activities for the kids during the holidays (discos, movies etc.) My advice would be to avoid the park during the school holidays if you don’t have school aged kids.

Most sites are quite a good size once parked but getting in and out can be a bit tricky when the park is full (this is what we found on Australia Day). Some sites are smallish and can be a bit uneven. Be sure to request a larger site if available when you are checking in!

Getting into the park in general during school holidays, especially Christmas can be pretty difficult, so book as soon as the park starts accepting bookings. It took us almost 200 phone calls to get through to reception while we were trying to book Christmas here last year – bookings opened on a certain date, and the phones were busy from the moment reception opened its doors! People were camping out at reception the night before hoping to book a spot.

We have never had an issue with theft at this park, which is reassuring.

Our kids love it here as they can ride their bikes and scooters (the bike paths around the park are great), swim, surf, play on the beach, head over to the shops for an ice cream and so on. But what they really love is jumping into the river and being swept downstream, clambering back onto the beach and doing it all again!

We have a great time here without the kids too; relaxing, reading, walking, riding our bikes, surfing and simply enjoying the fresh sea air, peace and tranquillity.

I love the market that is held across the road every Sunday morning and have be known to buy quite a few things here – including some gorgeous handmade aprons. Hey, don’t judge – they have built in hand towels and pockets!

Once you’ve visited Cotton Tree Holiday Park, one thing is for sure – you will be sure to book your next stay in the not-too-distant future! It really is a hard place to beat.

Park Facilities:

  • 5 amenity blocks
  • BBQ’s
  • 3 laundries – with coin operated washing machines and driers
  • baby facilities including bath and change table
  • free Wi-Fi

 

 Sites:

Powered: 372 Unpowered Tent Sites: 29

A variety of sizes and ‘views’. Slab, grass, powered and unpowered. Can be a bit tight when the park is at capacity. There are also 9 villas and one 4 bedroom beach house.

Staff:

Extremely fun and friendly most of the time (depends who you speak with), but extremely hard to reach over the phone. The park prefers you to book online. 

Positives:

  • Location, location location!
  • Peaceful (out of school holidays)
  • Surf and calm waters
  • Great amenities
  • The Markets on Sunday morning
  • Within walking distance to most places

 

Negatives:

  • No swimming pool or playground for the kids, but there is the aquatic centre next door if you really need a pool.
  • Extremely hard to book by phone.
  • Hard to get in and out of sites when the park is at capacity
  • Can be a bit chaotic in school holidays

 

You can watch the sun rise over the calm inlet and set over the waves on the ocean

 

How about that for the perfect spot!

 

Surf side at sunset

 

We came up for Australia Day – it was jam packed and we had an absolute blast!

 

The markets right across the street have some fabulous stalls!

 

Be sure to head across the road to the Cotton Tree Butcher. If you see their lamb and halloumi kebabs in the fridge, grab a few packets! They are divine 🙂