With the weather warming up and Oliver getting a little bit more interactive, we thought it would be a good time to get away camping for a night. Fortunately, some friends of ours were already heading off camping at a spot they’ve been to before and we managed to tag along.
Red Gum Campground is just before Bateman’s Bay near Nelligen.
It’s a very small free campsite with only 2 camper/caravan spots and 2 tent spots and 1 drop toilet. It’s right on the river, but access is down a steep dirt road that requires some careful driving if you have a standard 2WD car.
I wouldn’t recommend going down in the wet without a 4WD or AWD SUV as it may be hard to get out. The camps are right on the river, but there is a short walk to the tents from your car.
Our friends went down on the Friday night to set up and snagged both tent spots. Both the camper spots were already taken up by a Tarago and a caravan towed by a huge Patrol or Landcruiser. People came down looking for free camping spots the entire time we were there, so it seems like it is a popular campsite.
The drive down was very smooth with no issues. We got stuck behind a large RV that was severely riding the brakes at the top of the Clyde, but I found a spot to overtake pretty quickly. I don’t think our brakes would have survived going behind him down the entire mountain. Once we got to the National Park, it’s very badly signposted and there’s very little indication of which way to go, so make sure you look up the way beforehand.
Setting up camp took about 1.5 beers, which is about what we’re aiming for. The instant up tent that we’ve only used once before worked well again and we like the amount of room we’ve got inside. The drill-in tent pegs are still excellent and recommended. I think we can do better with the bed setup and sleeping bags, but it’s still a pretty quick overall.
We had a good day just eating and drinking. We ducked down to a nearby servo in the van for more firewood when we realised we’d need more. Ollie is still very interested in fire. I put the drone up as the sun was setting and got some very nice shots.
<Drone video here when its edited>
The term ‘stump lovin’ was coined on this trip, but we won’t get into the origins of that phrase. Suffice to say beers and wine with cheese and good company meant everyone had a great time.
During the day though, the weather was a lovely 21 degrees. As long as you were in the sun you could get away with just a t-shirt. Ollie even had a tiny splash in the mud next to the river.
Temps got down to 3.8 degrees overnight which is a little colder than we were expecting. Ollie has his own travel crib, but didn’t like staying it in despite being fully rugged up. We think he just didn’t like the cold air on his face, so he slept next to Rosie all night. Not a great sleep for either of us, but we survived.
The possums were out in force that night though, and these ones seemed to like tomato sauce very much. They didn’t even wait for us to go to sleep before raiding the table.
Breakfast was bacon and eggs prepared by the best friends in the world. Of the three travel stoves there, I think everyone agreed that our LPG unit works a lot better in cold weather compared with the butane stoves, which is exactly the reason we went with LPG this time. I got some time to send up the drone again as well in the morning.
After packing up, a process that seemed to take forever and require 82 trips between the van and the campsite, we headed up the hill and made our way to Pebbly Beach north of Batemans Bay.
We went through Murramarang National Park on the dirt road between the Princes Highway and the coast, as we’ve done it before and found the roads well looked after. Ollie managed to stay asleep despite the corrugations and bumps.
Pebbly Beach does not have pebbles like European beaches, but the sand there is slightly coarser than other beaches in the area, so I guess that’s where the name comes from.
Parking for any length of time is $8, payable only in coins. There’s a bunch of kangaroos and rosellas in the area that were being fed by kids when we got there, despite several signs asking people not to feed the animals.
After a quick paddle in the freezing water by Rosie, we headed to South Durras for some takeaway at the South Durra Shop (no EFTPOS, cash only, good burgers, average fish and chips). Then we headed straight home in an uneventful drive.
A big thank you to all our friends that went camping with us and helped look after Ollie over the weekend. We’ll absolutely do it again.
Boring technical stuff
This particular trip was designed to be a shakedown before the next large trip we’ve got coming up this September. I’ve made some modifications to the van interior storage that I’m hoping will let us travel and set up better now that we have Oliver and all of his stuff to pack as well. It worked pretty well, but there’s a couple of things I still need to fix up.
The electrical system was updated recently and worked well this trip. We’ve got a small 120W solar panel permanently on the roof now which pushes out less power than the 200W portable panel, but ends up doing more anyway because I don’t need to set it up and move it around chasing the sun. The AGM battery is still operating okay 2 years on, but is starting to show signs of neglect. We’ll replace it with lithium when it eventually does die, and the new setup was designed to eventually handle the necessary charging profiles for LiFePO4. I’ll be doing a post on this new system with a diagram that shows the new system a little better.
The main thing to repair is our water tank mounted under the van that developed a leak this trip. I’m not sure if its the tap connection or cracking in the plastic, but either should be repairable. I also need to try get the weight down – the van feels a bit slow and sluggish fully loaded and is chewing through fuel, but on this trip up and down the Clyde its hard to tell what fuel consumption should be. It may need a service, or just a clean up of the throttle body. Or the tyres could have been just a little flat. Or it could be we’re just overloading with gear and that’s how it is. Pretty much a full tank of 95RON was used for what Google is calling a 383km trip – not ideal for a long-distance touring vehicle! Fuel consumption worked out at 14.53L/100km
We still don’t need to store anything on the roof, but that will probably change before our next trip. If fuel economy is bad now, I’m not sure how having even less aerodynamics will affect fuel consumption. I may need to adjust the solar panel to fit more bulky stuff on the roof as well, but the goal is to have a much in the van down low to keep a better centre of gravity.