Nariel Creek Folk Festival – Dec 2023

In the strange and confusing days between Christmas and new years, we decided to get away for a quick camping trip and visit some friends that regularly go to the Nariel Creek Folk Festival in Victoria. This is the oldest continually running folk festival in Australia and its official run dates are from the 27th Dec to 2 Jan. That said, a lot of people turn up well before Christmas and stay into mid-January.

Eager to go

Rosie decided not to go on this particular trip, so it was just Ollie and myself. We took the camper for a couple of reasons – it’s easier to pack with all the stuff stored in it already, and with recent rains it seemed like a good idea to sleep up off the ground.

The shortest way to get to the Nariel Valley is to go directly south out of Canberra through the Namadgi National Park to Adaminaby, then go directly through Kosciuszko National Park over some very winding mountain roads. Bomeyan Road to Adaminaby is mostly dirt, and in places it is very rough with corrugations and rock outcrops on the road surface. The van and camper didn’t have any issues, but I wouldn’t like to take a low slung 2wd vehicle down that road. Still, it was another road to tick off the list and Ollie seemed to enjoy the bumpy and twisty ride.

Once through Adaminaby, we continued higher into the mountains along the Snowy Mountain Highway which is always a spectacular drive. We turned onto Link Road, then that road turned into Goat Ridge Road. You know you’re in for a tough drive whenever the roads are named after goats, and this road was very narrow and winding past a lot of Snowy Hydro infrastructure and dams.

It was at this stage that the sky opened up and we got some very hard rain coming down, slowing things down. We did bump into another Delica though, and we stopped for a chat with the friendly owners as I let them get past (I think that they can be found on Instagram @mariokellybasulto) The rain didn’t last long, and we came down out of the mountains unscathed. Our next stop was in Corryong, with is the closest large-ish town to the festival site. We first stopped for a bit of lunch at the Bottom Pub, otherwise known as the Corryong Hotel Motel. I had a great steak sandwich, while Ollie ate his usual chips and nuggets.


After lunch we kept on going into town and found a place to park near the local IGA. We did some basic shopping for food and beer (and a monster truck bribe), then continued on to the Nariel Creek Recreation Reserve a short distance down the road. Thanks to some very good instructions sent by our friends, we were able to easily find them right at the back of the campground.

I found a grassy knoll that was simple enough to drive the camper up on to a small ways away from their camp.

Set up was fairly simple, but I did find a small amount of water had made its way into the camper recently, making a couple of the couch cushions a little damp. Since last time I’ve been storing the camper tilted backwards to let water better drain of the top which seemed to have been working, so I’m not sure how that water would have gotten in into that particular spot. Still, it wasn’t as much as last trip so the cushions were dried out very quickly. I think we need to invest in a camper cover pretty to completely stop this from happening.

The rest of that afternoon was spent mostly chatting with our friends and their group, some of whom have been coming to the festival since they were born. Ollie loved ‘Battle Bags’, a beanbag tossing game that one of the group brought out. It even took his mind off his brand new Nintendo Switch that he got for his birthday.

We did end up going down for a quick dip in the creek, a short walk from our campsite. The creek area we were near had a great tree for jumping off, something that all the kids at the campground seemed to treat as a rite of passage. Me and Ollie kept to the relatively shallow swimming area near where some enterprising amateur engineers had put together a fairly sizable dam that made a couple of areas of low flow rate more suitable for little kids.

That night the group cooked up some very tasty pasta that I was very grateful for. Ollie had a few sausage sandwiches, then I got him settled in bed to watch a movie before bed time. He fell asleep with no issues with just himself in the camper, with me a short distance away. I checked in on him periodically, but he slept pretty soundly and didn’t wake up until the next morning. In the meantime I was introduced to a game called Numbers(?), where a group of people are given various random topics and one chosen player has to guess what the overall number or rating would be based on everyone’s answer. A great game that really helped me get to know the group a bit better – we’ll definitely be bringing that out for future chats around a campfire.

The next morning we got up and took care of breakfast, then went down to the creek for a bit of a swim and another rinse.

The water was much colder than the previous afternoon, but Ollie and I managed to stay entertained by helping build up and improve the small dams. His lips were only a little blue when I managed to get him out of the water.

After that we had a walk around the festival site checking out the various musicians jamming, some dogs in their designated camping area and checking out the aftermath of the Christmas day storms that had blown down some very large branches and poplars.

A few areas were fenced off due to falling tree limbs

After some lunch, we headed back down to the creek, this time loaded up with the inflatable crocodile and a couple of water guns that Santa had delivered to Ollie.

Some more Battle Bags were played later that afternoon as well, and some delicious cocktails were shared with the group. The campsite we had was right on the edge of the property, and the paddock next door was quite nice in the late afternoon sun.

Some more playing with a monster truck park set up on a rug outside the camper, then Ollie had some noodles and snacks for dinner. Once he was done eating he watched a movie before bed and I cooked myself some steak sandwiches with a Caesar salad topping. Very tasty, recommended.

Ollie was great again that night at getting to sleep by himself, and after he was down some of us went for a walk around the festival to see the various groups playing music and such. (I made sure that there was someone staying at our campsite just in case Ollie woke up). After a long day I got to bed fairly early.

The next morning Ollie woke up in a filthy mood. We were considering staying another day either at the festival or camping somewhere else on the way home, but with an emotional 5 year old in tow I didn’t have it in me to chance another night. Pack up was fairly slow and leisurely, and we had said our goodbyes and were out of the campground by 10am. Ollie didn’t want to stop for breakfast in Corryong, so we pushed on towards Canberra. I had planned to take the longer route through to the Hume Highway for the trip back home – while longer, there are less hills and tight curves on that road. So I selected that option on Google Maps, but Google unhelpfully managed to flip it back to the shortest route once the phone connected to Android Auto. I stupidly didn’t notice that I was going the same way as we had come until it was too far and too hard to turn back, so we went back up the same winding and steep roads for the way back.

We stopped at Adaminaby for lunch at a pub there, then got back on the road. I decided to take the Cooma route rather than go back down the dirt road directly to Namagi and Tuggeranong, mostly because I didn’t think Ollie would deal well with dirt roads in his current mood. We got back home mid afternoon after a long days drive and found that Rosie had been very busy with her time by herself with a few little house improvements and projects. We’d even managed to have a painter come through and update our eaves, guttering, security shutters and garage doors, finally getting rid of some of the green and cream theme that the previous owners had somehow thought was a good idea. The house looked great and it was good to be home.

The Nariel Creek Folk Festival is a fairly loosely run event. There’s not a lot of support facilities compared to other festivals we’ve been to. There’s only a small little stall with some merchandise which also doubles as the information tent and ticket sales. The ice man comes around twice a day on a loose schedule, but there’s no vendors, food stalls or lifeguards. There’s a first aid kit at the info tent, but for a trained first aid officer you just ask around for a bloke called Dave. It would be very easy to set up camp and not purchase tickets at all as there’s no gates or checks that I saw. It’s all very simple and volunteer led, which is part of the charm I guess.

It very much seems more like a bunch of families camping together than a fully organised event, though I didn’t really get to see some of the pre-planned dances and events so that’s probably just my own viewpoint more than anything. The people were friendly, and it was interesting to hear only live music being played for 2 days. Amplified music is not permitted apparently, so particularly in the evening the only sounds are of people talking in groups and playing instruments together or individually. It makes a change from a bush doof or electronic music event.

Boring technical stuff

The camper doesn’t seem to be getting a full 20amps of power in while hooked up to the van, so I’ve got to chase that up and find out if there is a bottleneck or faulty connection somewhere. Testing the camper back at home, I managed to push a full 20 amps into the camper via the hard-wired Anderson plug and a 240V charger, so it might be the connection from the vans battery that’s causing the issue.

Because of this gremlin the campers battery wasn’t fully charged when we got to camp. Solar wasn’t really an option given where we were camped, as there was too much shade. Instead I tried directly connecting the vans massive deep cycle battery to the DC-DC charger in the camper via a solar extension cord. In theory this should have allowed a full 20 amps to flow into the camper battery, but I couldn’t get more that 5 amps going through. I think the DC charger detects when voltage sags and limits power to that level only in order to keep things safe, but I’d love to be able to get some better power flow in this configuration for those times when I can’t put out the solar panels. More testing I guess.

Solar panels aren’t much good when you’re deep in shade

I managed to fix up the fridge with some epoxy putty. This is great stuff and the fridge door shelf feels as solid as it ever has. I also cut out some carpet from the front of the fridge to let better airflow into the fridge underside. This seemed to work – while the fridge is still a bit power hungry, it didn’t seem to consume as much as last trip (although the weather was about 10 degrees cooler on this trip).

The camper needs the bearings to be replaced or serviced very soon. The passenger side bearing was starting to squeak and squeal a little under braking and certain turns about 30km from home. I made it home okay, but will probably have to change the bearings myself as I don’t trust them to last another trip even to a local mechanic. The hub was getting very hot, and I definitely don’t want them to spectacularly fail while driving at speed.

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