The Second Knot-Dragon Festival (It’s Still Just a Camping Trip)

Last year we gathered a bunch of people together for a 3 day camping trip in Wee Jasper in order to replace a music festival that had been shut down. We all enjoyed that camping trip so much that we decided to do it again in 2020.

We decided camp at Wee Jasper Reserves Micalong Creek again. It’s close to Canberra, has some good amenities and it worked out well last time with enough space for a large group. Last year however we didn’t need to worry about pre-booking – with COVID-19 meaning all campsites across NSW requiring you to register and book, we all had a hell of a time dealing with the poor administration skills of the Wee Jasper Reserves front office. They’ve just put up an online booking system which is much better to deal with, but most of us had to deal with multiple phone calls and inconsistent office hours in order to book. In a way it was like trying to get tickets for a big music festival, so I guess that part was authentic.

We left Canberra around Friday after a very stressful last minute grocery shopping trip.

Grocery shopping has that effect on some people.

Ollie slept the whole way there which was amazing, as he’s not had many long trips recently with everyone stuck in quarantine.

It was so green – the last time we went this way was in March and the contrast with this very wet spring was astounding. Lake Burrinjuck was very full as well, which we’ve only seen a few times before. It made for some very interesting comparison photos.

We arrived first and found a the same spot from our March Wee Jasper trip. The creek had much more water than the last time we were there, and the white noise it made rushing over the rocks was very impressive. Most of our friends arrived that Friday afternoon as well and started to set up in our expanding area. All up 15 awesome people were able to come on this trip, which was a great turnout.

Setting up

The usual suspects arrived after dark and took quite a long time setting up their camper trailer. That night it wasn’t too cold and we tried to get a fire going, but the firewood was soaked and very difficult to stay alight. A midnight curfew for most of us that night ready for a full day on Saturday.

Learning about sparklers

Saturday had great 26 degree weather. Our campsite was in between two creeks so the kids had a less fast flowing water source to play in. Drinking didn’t start until 10.30am, which was pretty restrained for this group. There was a couple that drove to the showers, same as last year, but we barely teased them about it.

Tent city

A bunch of the crew went upstream to the waterfall in the afternoon while a few stayed behind to ‘help look after Ollie’ (note: naps).

Quite a bit of water upstream

The more brave of us actually sat in the freezing cold water, but all of us sat by the bank of the creek and watched kids from other campsites whip downstream on lilos and other inflatable watercraft.

Second little creek with bridge up to bathroom

To help with the festival vibe, most of us brought LED strings to hang up around the camp which made the entire site look great as night fell. This night the fire worked much better with actually dry quality wood. Everyone stayed up pretty late this night dancing and carrying on. It was good that the creek was so noisy as it hopefully blocked any noise coming from our group for other campers.

Sunday morning was a bit of a struggle for most of us. A big shoutout to Mac who ended up going home before noon due to a lot of pollen in the air. The temperature on this Sunday was even warmer than before and we were slow in packing up. Ollie was very keen to get back in the van – we’re not sure if it’s because he was sick of camping, needed a nap or just likes vans.

That fake plant sure did drink a lot.

As with last year, we’re not sure if this counts as a festival, but we all had a great time and it was very good to get away for the first camping trip of the warm time of the year. We’ll definitely be booking some time for the third Knot-Dragon in 2021, maybe a new location this time.

A big thank you to all our friends that were able to make it out and made this trip so memorable.

Hammock came out, highly recommended.
Watching kids float by and get caught on the rocks.

Technical stuff

The van did very well this trip, but we did alter the interior quite a bit to a) lose a bit of weight and b) have a more efficient set up for tent camping. I removed the kitchen slide out setup which freed up a lot of space for the tent and 3×3 gazebo and removed at least 30kg of weight. The two side wings over the wheel humps were also removed entirely to let the sleeping bags, table, chairs and mattresses to be stacked upright along both sides. The middle seat next to Ollies chair was also taken out giving a very large area to stack bags and bedding.

The battery system was fully moved over to the passenger side and the electrical system was changed to a new Renogy 20A DC/DC charger and the old Epever 20A MPPT charger. The Matson 30A MPPT/DC/DC combined unit gave me a lot of issues at max charge and needed to be reset quite a lot, making power a worry and not something that just happened. The Renogy kit is 10A less, but more reliable and has an on/off switch on the dash if I need to conserve alternator power for lights or anything else. The solar controller works all the time with the 120A panel on the roof, so on sunny days I can get about 25A charge anyway while driving.

I also wiring up the system to let both the on top solar and my 200W movable panel work at the same time. This combo kept us fully charged and with cold beers for the entire two days, even though we were under shady trees. Last time in that spot power almost became an issue due to a lack of sunshine hitting the roof panel. I will eventually get a solar blanket or similar, but for now my old 200W very heavy panel is doing well. Lithium batteries will be the next big upgrade I think, though the AGM is still holding charge and working very well after 3 years of neglect.

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