We have spent the last week pottering our way up the coast, from Bermagui to Nowra. Our van (which we have recently named Trevor) is doing very well. He has been taking his time up the mountains and is enjoying his frequent windscreen washes and tyre checks. He has made it to several remote campsites and is converting into our accommodation each night with ease! The countryside in this area has been lush, the beaches stunning and the mountain views spectacular! Here’s what we’ve seen so far:
Travelling up the coast, we took a turn-off to the historic village of Central Tilba, tucked up into the mountains. This town was settled in the 1800’s during the gold rush period. It has a well-established historic cheese factory and many other original buildings from this time. The countryside is beautiful! We did a short walk up to the top of the hill, said hello to the cute, spotty horse and admired the breath-taking scenery of green rolling hills, before taking a stroll around town.
All the historic buildings have plaques on them, describing their previous functions. We enjoyed choosing lollies from the extensive selection of jars in the sweet shop and tried vegetable pasties and fruit flans from the bakery – a little over-priced but very tasty. It is a shame the town is so full of tourists these days – I would prefer the historic village to be as it was back in the olden days, but I suppose times change and tourism is what keeps the town alive.
We only stopped here briefly for a picnic lunch, but I could easily stay here a few days. It is a sleepy coastal town, with lovely beaches and a great view from the one-tree lookout.
We stopped just North of Moruya at North Head Primitive Campground, situated right on the beach, with cold showers and basic facilities for $11 per person per night. It was extremely windy but very relaxing. Enjoyed gin and tonics before making up a warm couscous salad for dinner. The sunlight hit the gum trees and we enjoyed watching all the different breeds of dogs walking by!
This was where we decided it was time to buy an esky! Before now, we have been buying only what we need, but having refrigeration is revolutionary – we can now buy cold items a few days in advance! Also, after our cold shower that morning, we decided to invest in an $8 solar camping shower -another revolutionary purchase! I will explain our first bush shower later when we use it! At the shopping centre we happened to arrive on a day where they were giving out free coffee vouchers, so we settled ourselves in a cafe for a while to take advantage of the free wifi. This city has everything you need, though it’s not the prettiest place.
North Head Bush Camp
This place was magical! Just North of Bateman’s Bay, turn right on Durras Drive. Then, take the first right turn onto North Head Road. Follow this forested dirt road all the way to the end and you will reach North Head Bush Camp. The campground is completely surrounded by tall eucalyptus forest. There are ferns and wild grasses, sandy tracks leading down to the beach and other walking tracks, which take you into the forest. Some Eastern grey kangaroos welcomed us on our way in, but they hopped away when we got too close. There was also a friendly goanna who investigated our van the next morning!
We set up in one of the campsites. Facilities here are basic, with only two pit toilets and some bbq plates, but the best thing is that this campsite is FREE! There were a number of other campers, but all-in-all it was very peaceful. We walked down through the ferns, fighting off the flies! The beach here is serene, sheltered by the bay, with calm, rolling waves crashing onto the sand. We wandered to the end of the beach, had a look at the rock pools and dipped our toes in the ocean, before making our way back to the van for an early dinner. Later on, we took the ukulele back down to the beach to learn some new songs whilst watching the sunset.
The next morning, it was time for a swim! The wind was picking up but the water was warm (once you’d got used to the initial shock)! Sun-baking was not so pleasant. The wind started to hurl sand at us so that it felt like thousands of needles. We escaped quickly, covered in sand and feeling a little the worse-for-wear!
Walking back through the forest to our campsite, the wind had really picked up. Gumnuts fell from above our heads and then, all of a sudden, a couple of loud cracks sent us running, as two heavy branches fell from up above, missing us by metres. With no sign of the wind easing up, we shoved everything into the van as quickly as possible and left in a hurry! On the drive out, we came across a tree, which had blown over the road. Luckily, we had invested in an axe. A few minutes later, another tree! The wind was still blowing hard and it was a relief to make it back to the Princes Highway safe and sound.
We were exhausted, hot and bothered by the time we reached Ulladulla, so we spent some time in the air-conditioned library/visitor information centre, where I stocked up on brochures and free maps. We then went to a cafe overlooking the bay and devoured delicious vegetarian sandwiches and hot chips whilst looking down onto all the boats.
By the time we reached Jervis Bay, It was time for a swim. We made our way to Greenfield Beach and it was stunning! The water was aqua blue, clear and calm, sheltered by the bay. The sands were white and almost hot enough to burn our toes. We had a great swim here, looking back towards the forest, where you could see distant fires, due to hot, windy temperatures. It made me a little nervous and I hoped the heat would subside whilst we were in such heavily forested regions.
In Nowra, we filled up the solar shower with cold tap water, ready to heat up in the sun later on. Then, it was off to find our free campground for the night, apparently an easy 25km drive to Yalwal! It took us a few wrong turns and a very windy, steep gravel road through the dry forest before we reached this secluded campsite, where it was only us for the entire night! Toorooroo Campground in Morton National Park is well-worth the drive in, though it helps if you know where you are going and what to expect.
When you head West out of Nowra on Yalwal Road, you need to take another turn left when you see the sign to Yalwal Picnic Ground. Then, the road turns to bumpy gravel, the incline is steep up the hill and then downhill for a good 25km. Our brakes smelt like burnt rubber at the bottom when, to our relief, we finally saw the sign into the campground. A kangaroo greeted us on arrival and we enjoyed the serenity in this isolated, magical piece of the national park. The light green grass, gum trees and bird life was delightful. We sat and enjoyed the outdoors over a pasta made in the billy!
That night, we awoke around midnight to a loud sound! It was the water tap – it had turned on by itself and was flooding the back of the van! We rushed out with our head torches, half asleep, to fix the problem. Not too much damage, just a very wet carpet which had to be removed and dried on a rock.
The next morning, we really enjoyed using the solar bush shower for the first time! Syd hung it up on a gum tree in a secluded patch of forest and it was just a delight! Not too warm, though I suspect if we heated it up for longer in the sun, it would be perfect. Despite the slightly stressful drive and the leaking water tap, I’m very pleased we found this patch of paradise.
This heritage listed town is in a beautiful area. We stopped at a delicatessen for a fresh salad and avocado wrap, toasted pesto and eggplant wrap and coffees. Afterwards, we took a stroll around town before doing the tourist drive up Berry Mountain, which was extremely steep but offered magnificent views.
Fitzroy Falls (Morton National Park)
This place is definitely worth a visit. There’s a $4 per vehicle fee to enter the park, then you can explore to your heart’s content, opting for shorter or longer walks to suit your needs. The waterfall itself is a short boardwalk away and when you arrive, it feels very much like you could fall over the edge! Of course, there are secure barriers so you are very safe.
On the way along, we saw a lyrebird in the forest, with it’s beautiful lyre-shaped tail. I’ve never seen one this close before. After the main falls, we took a short walk around to the twin falls and admired the spectacular views into the valley. It is a beautiful area. The information centre is quite interesting too, as it explains the history of the park and a lot about the native flora and fauna.
Daly’s Clearing Campground
Our Camps Australia Wide book has been extremely handy for finding free campsites. On this occasion, we drove into the state forest to Daly’s Clearing, which is a quite pleasant grassy area in amongst the pines. There are toilets and a little dam nearby. We enjoyed sharing our campsite with the local ducks. The only downside were the extremely loud dirt bikes early Saturday morning! Obviously this is where the locals like to do their riding on the weekends.
This whole area has been a delight to visit. We are now on our way up to the Blue Mountains National Park. Look forward to checking in with you when we get there!