The Old Barn Paddock – A Must Stay Campground!

The Old Barn Paddock – A Must Stay Campground!

written by Karen Mace

Callum and Natalie Murphy – A Couple with a Vision

The Old Barn Paddock is a must-stay campground near Hobart, Tasmania. It takes it’s name from the very old barn that Callum and Natalie have painstakingly transformed into a superbly rustic function venue. Don’t miss this beautiful spot!

Located around 53 km north of Hobart on the B31 between Richmond and Oatlands, the small hamlet of Colebrook is nothing more than a blip on the map for many.

 It was for us too until I decided to attend a retreat in the unlikely town. I thought it was too far to travel down and back to our home in the north of the state in one day – well, for me it is too far – so I suggested to Ross (my husband) that we take the caravan down and find somewhere to stay.

 I had it in my head that we’d probably stay at Richmond as I couldn’t imagine there would be anything in or near Colebrook. But … when I want to know about great places to stay, my go-to person is Miriam of ADU. It helps that she is my daughter :). Miriam was quick to message back with details about a place called the Old Barn Paddock.

 ‘Mum, you need to download the Hipcamp app. It’s on there.’

 So, it was thanks to Miriam, and the Hipcamp app, that we found ourselves parked up by the Craigbourne Dam that laps at the edges of The Old Barn Paddock.

 Just outside of Colebrook, Callum and Natalie Murphy have made their home a delightful place of rest for weary travellers. The Old Barn Paddock takes its name from the very old barn that Callum and Natalie have painstakingly been transforming over the past year into a superbly rustic function venue.



I ask them how they came to live on such a beautiful property.

‘I’ve always wanted to live on the Craigbourne,’ Callum says, ‘and Nat’s brother was going on at me about when we were going to buy a house, so I told him I would when one came up on the Craigbourne, and just a short time after that, this place came up.’

They both laugh as they recall the first time they looked at the property; they bypassed the house and headed straight to the barn. They shared a vision for making it into something lots of people could enjoy, although anyone else who looked at it would have been considering how quickly they could pull it down!

 ‘We took out 300 bags of sheep poo and couldn’t believe it when we saw an intact concrete floor underneath it all.’

As they talk about the transformation, the excitement is obvious. It’s taken lots of hard work, with more to come, but they have persevered and it’s beginning to pay off. They are sought out now as a wedding venue and are excited to continue to grow that part of their vision.

So where does that leave people like us, I ask? People who want to camp here and enjoy the beauty it offers?

Fortunately, they plan to balance the two. They’ll run events for a few months each year but will still open up in between for those who are self-contained campers. In fact, Callum and Nat have some great ideas for transforming the old barn, when there isn’t an event booked, into a communal meeting place for campers. Callum’s face lights up as he talks of music nights, pool tables, and a general coming together of people.

‘It’s always been about the community’, he says. Nat nods as Callum waves a hand towards a group camped in a corner of the paddock. ‘They were some of our very first campers. They’ve been really supportive and come back regularly. We consider them friends now and I dropped over there last night for a beer and a bit of a chat. I’d like to see the barn become the meeting place for campers to do that.’ 

A little later I chat with another couple. It’s their first trip in their new Jayco. They had a look at Richmond Caravan Park and also at Oatlands. Both parks were full. For them, The Old Barn Paddock was an unknown and they love it.

‘We live just down the road in Howrah,’ they said, ‘so we’ll be here again soon.’

Natalie and Callum love people, and it’s evident in the way they greet you when you arrive, and in the way they are always open for a chat or to help with anything you might need. So, next time you are in Tasmania, plan to stop for a night or two, parked up in The Old Barn Paddock, by the water of Craigbourne Dam. You won’t regret it!

Bookings: If you haven’t already, download the Hipcamp app! It works well for the Natalie and Callum, as you can quickly see which days are blocked out.

While you’re there make sure you don’t dismiss Colebrook. There’s a lot of history in the little town. Take a look at the following website for a few ideas of what to see.

This post was written by my mum, Karen Mace. Mum & Dad live in Grindelwald Tasmania and travel in their Titanium Caravan whenever they can. Karen is a published author and writer and you can check out her work at and


Black Rocks, Esk, NSW

Black Rocks, Esk, NSW

Sand dunes, huge black rocks, perfect grassy campsites, and a spectacular coastline – this is Black Rocks, NSW – an incredible natural paradise.

We have thoroughly enjoyed the past four days camped up at the Black Rocks Campground in the Bundjalong National Park in Esk on the NSW North Coast. We have spent quite some time in this area over the past 10 years, but this was our first time camping at Black Rocks as our usual ‘go-to’ is Woody Head Campground, just around the corner. Day trips to Black Rocks are great, but not the same as setting up camp for a few days!

‘Set behind the dunes amongst tuckeroo and banksia trees, Black Rocks campground is perfectly positioned right by Ten Mile Beach and near Jerusalem Creek. Not far from Evans Head, it is a great place for a family camping holiday, with campsites for caravans, camper trailers and motorhomes.’

When I posted on our socials about our trip, the most common question was ‘how was the road in?’ We found the road to be smooth and in really good condition. Dusty in the dry, and of course the rocks are still there as they always have been. But all in all, great condition. We did hear that just a few weeks earlier it had been very corrugated, so clearly some work has been done to it since then – my guess is in preparation for the Easter holidays.

Black Rocks Campground is extremely popular, and spots are snatched up pretty quickly, especially during the holiday periods. We stayed the week before the Easter Holidays and were lucky enough to secure the very last site big enough to accommodate a caravan, which was site 28. This is a GREAT spot! It’s a large, flat, grassy site with a clothesline, fire pit and undercover table and chairs. It is also right across from the beach, toilets and public BBQ. We even had a host waiting for us upon arrival!

There are 50 sites available at the campground and most of the sites are similar, but of varying sizes. Some are suitable for caravans, some for camper trailers and others just tents. Some are ‘walk-in’ sites and others can easily fit your whole setup.

You will find picnic tables, barbecue facilities, carpark, clean drop toilets, fire pits and clotheslines dotted around the place, and there is even a dump point if you need it. You will need to bring your own drinking water and firewood.

The beach itself is incredible and you could easily spend hours exploring the huge black rocks dotted all along the coastline. The weather in the previous few weeks had been a tad crazy which meant that the ocean and beach was covered in foam and quite vicious looking! It was also extremely windy for most of this stay.

Jerusalem Creek is well known for those who like to take the kayaks out for a paddle, and the Jeruslam Creek Walk is a 10.3km, three to four hour walk through the wetlands for people who prefer to explore with their feet on the ground.  

Black Rocks Campground is part of the Bundjalong National Park, which means that booking fees must be paid and permits are required. We paid $24 per night camping fee plus $8 per day for the car.

Click here to book

Riverina Hotel Free Camp, Holbrook NSW

Riverina Hotel Free Camp, Holbrook NSW

We ended up doing 600km from The Great Ocean Road to Holbrook and flicked open wiki to find somewhere close by. This free camp popped up and the reviews looked good so we thought we’d give it a go. We always enjoy pub camping; chatting to and having a beer with the locals is always fun!

It’s right behind the pub as they usually are, which means it was also close to the road. There is a grassy area with some dirt/gravel areas and a large gravel car park on one side (parking for the pub and trucks). You can enter via Bowler street through the car park or down the little road just past.

Big rigs do come and go – one started up and left at 3am, and overall it wasn’t super quiet, but not too bad. It was a warm night though so we had all the windows open.

The grass was green and the trees large and shady. We had no problem pulling in, turning and parking. We were the only ones there (Sunday night).

You must go into the hotel to let them know you are staying (for safety reasons) and buy a meal or a beer to use amenities (we are self contained so didn’t need to use them but I hear they are well maintained). We did have a beer, sat out front and had chat with the locals.

This is a great overnighter in a really convenient place.

  • Dogs are allowed

  • Shower (we didn’t see this but it says there is one in the wiki description)

  • Toilets

  • Bins

  • Good phone reception (we are with Telstra)

  • 72 hour limit

  • Accessible for big rigs

RV Retreat, Coolongolook, NSW

RV Retreat, Coolongolook, NSW

Overnight Campground for Self-Contained Vehicles

This morning we left the Gold Coast to head south. It’s day 1 of our brand-new lives … Aussie Destinations Unknown: Full Time Travellers! We know we have to be at various places in Melbourne next week, and we are catching the Spirit of Tasmania on December 11th. We’ve just booked 4 nights at the Melbourne Caravan Park for our time there, but leading up to those dates, we have no accommodation booked, and no idea of how far we will travel each day or where we will be stopping. Just like today. Chris felt that Port Macquarie was it, as he put the cruise control on, gave his feet a break and hunched himself over the steering wheel to stretch the stiffness out of his back. That’s generally my cue to flip open the laptop and start searching on wikicamps or Hipcamp.

Today wiki delivered a pearler of a spot! The reviews were fantastic, photos beautiful and location just one hour south of where we were. Chris had a look and decided he could drive a bit further and here we are. At the RV Retreat in Coolongolook, just down the road from the Cherry Pie Bakery, on the corner of Lombard and Park Streets.

Chris pulled over and I wandered through the gate and down the drive, following Denise’s instructions and the large signs saying ‘OFFICE’.

I was greeted by two smiling people, Matt & Denise and a gorgeous view over lush green fields, immaculately kept grounds, a dam filled with water lillies and a genuinely friendly country vibe.

Denise gave me a map which showed us where to park and all the things to do in the surrounding areas. There’s quite a bit to see here – I wish we could stay for another night! The reviews were right and the images genuine. What a find! I couldn’t believe our luck. Wikicamps – you’ve done it again.

We drove a small way down a dead-end street that looks like it leads up to the mountain behind the property and turned right through the large wooden gates and into our site. The roads are made out of what looks like crushed rock – not dirt, but not gravel, and browny/orange in colour. Dust free compacted road base is what Chris said it looked like when I asked him! This not only looks really tidy but offers a stunning contrast against the greenery and bright blue sky.

We were parked up in no time with the windows and hatches open letting the country breeze flow through the van. Being 31 degrees today, its surprisingly comfortable inside! We have a wrought iron table and chair setting right beside the van and the ‘site’ is very private.

We headed up to the brand new camp kitchen (‘The Happy Shed’) for a bit of a look to find a bar (installed a few weeks ago!), table and chairs, couches and lounge chairs, large table with table cloth, BBQ, trolley with insect repellent, stubby coolers, bin bags hand sanitiser and all sorts of practical things, a book exchange (woohoo!) and some antique goodies splashed around. All set in a wide-open shed with views down over the dam.

Chris and I love things to be neat, tidy, functional and to look good – and RV Retreat is all of those and more. The attention to the finer details is such a refreshing change.

About 4:30 Denise walked over to us and we had a great chat while Matt was at the RFS about a kilometre down the road. Originally from Sydney, they love this part of the country and moved up here for a bit of a sea change. Matt’s family was originally from here, so they already had the connection. Oh, we chatted about all sorts of things … including the new tunnel open in Sydney until she headed back to the house, ready to welcome some more guests.

Sure, RV Retreat is right behind the freeway so the sounds of traffic is there, but it’s definitely tolerable – and the sounds of the birds are what my ears tuned into in no time at all.

I can’t recommend this property highly enough, and for just $15 per night (that was for both of us!) you can’t go wrong.


  • Location: Corner Park and Lombard Streets, Coolongolook (a bit over an hour south of Port Macquarie and 25 minutes to Tuncurry and Forster)
  • Cost: $15 (2 adults)
  • Power: No
  • Water: Tank water available in the kitchen
  • Amenities: No (must be self-contained)
  • Pets: Yes. On a leash as there are chooks and sheep
  • Dump Point: Yes – across the road at the BP
  • Rubbish and Recycling Bins: Yes

Close By:

  • 2 cafes within walking distance (Cherry Pie Café and Salty Dog)
  • Caltex Service Centre (open 24 hours) on other side of highway
  • BP Service Centre (open 5am – 10pm) has liquor licence (on other side of highway

10 minutes away in Nabiac you will find:

  • Butcher (opposite the bakery)
  • Baker (open Monday – Saturday)
  • The Village Café & Takeaway (next to the pub)
  • Nabiac Pub (courtesy bus picks up from RV Retreat Tuesday (from 5pm) and Friday and Saturday (from 3pm)
  • The Nook (local handcrafts)
  • Foodworks (open from 7 daily)
  • Farmers Market (last Saturday of the month) at the Nabiac Showground 8 am to noon.