First time at Billy Grace – Wee Jasper Feb 2022

A chance encounter at a friends’ toddler birthday party meant that we had two small families that were willing to come out for a night camping with us. For both families, this was to be the first time they had gone camping since the arrival of their respective 3 year olds, so they were looking for some experienced campers to go with to see how it went. After one delay due to rain, we managed to get away for a night in Wee Jasper in February 2022.

The van was set up and packed up ready to go in the morning. We packed a little bit more than we usually do, just in case our friends had forgotten or didn’t have something crucial.

We’d chosen Billy Grace Reserve as the campground this time, as it’s the only site in Wee Jasper with a proper playground. Despite us camping dozens of times in Wee Jasper, both of us had never actually camped at this site before. We arrived just before noon and drove around looking for a spot. While not particularly busy for a Saturday, most of the good spots with room for 3 families were taken. Fortunately we noticed someone packing up close to the creek and in good walking distance to the playground, so we creepily hung around waiting for them to leave.

We set up in good time and set about exploring the creek. There was a decent amount of water in it, but it was crystal clear and quite shallow near us. Ollie wasted no time in picking up rocks and chucking them into other parts of the creek.

We’d just put lunch up when the first group of friends arrived. Ollie and his friend played with toys while the adults chatted. They brought out a huge inflatable tent bought specially for this and future trips. It would have taken a lot less time, but Ollie insisted on helping with the pump and other aspects of tent setting up. Once up the tent was very impressive and much more sturdy that you’d expect for something with balloons for tent poles.

We moved our camp chairs down to the creek and sat in them. The water was cold, but it was a nice warm day. Both kids loved throwing rocks, but had to be reminded not to throw them at people.

The next group of friends arrived a while later and set up their tent with minimal hampering on the part of 3 three-year-old boys running around. The camp chairs were brought back up to the campsite and we sat around chatting. The huge inflatable tent was a huge hit as a funhouse for all of the kids, and ended up being the playroom for them all for a huge amount of time. It did end with a twisted ankle for an adult though. A lot of cheese, meat and crackers were consumed that afternoon.

Tucked under the trees

Dinner went pretty well, with each family cooking for themselves. We had burgers, while Ollie had sausages in bed while watching a movie. All the kids seemed to get to sleep pretty well – it was interesting to see the different habits of each kid. Despite being the same age, they all have different sleep patterns and rituals.

Wee Jasper Reserves continues their stupid rule of no fires for 4 months of the year, no matter what the actual official NSW region fire danger is, something that was commented on by everyone that night. Everyone went to bed early, knowing that there were 3 toddlers ready to wake up at the crack of dawn.

There was some crying by one of the kids overnight, but nothing too bad. Before dawn a huge flock of cockatoos screamed into the campsite and the trees around us. Very noisy. Kookaburras followed with their calls, but at a slightly more reasonable time. No hangovers due to a quiet night, we were all up and eating breakfast fairly early. One of the kids wasn’t dealing well with the morning, despite an excellent beanie.

Sad Beanie (c) 2022

One last play on the playground, then we all packed up our respective gear and headed out. We made it back to Canberra around lunch time, tired but happy with our overnight stay out of town.

This was the first time we got to use the side mounted ensuite tent. I’d installed it recently to give us more options when getting changed at the beach or if we had a portable toilet setup. It worked very well and was simple to mount and use.

A big thank you to the friends that came along on this trip, and here’s hoping for many more trips like it in the future.

Scott Written by:

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