Croc Lobster – 1 night at Araluen – Feb 2024 🐊🦞

To celebrate a completely arbitrary week that has nothing to do with Rosie’s birthday, we decided to head down to a campsite we’d been to recently for a single night away. We even brought along Ollie’s cousin for another camping adventure.

The two boys are completely different, despite being related and being the same age. It’s very funny to watch them together as they try to find common ground (dinosaurs, PokΓ©mon and animal facts mostly).

A bit of drizzle, nothing serious

The trip down to Araluen was fairly uneventful, with just a little bit of drizzle on the way. We were pretty loaded up for the extra under-camper room, but the van and camper handled the extra gear well.

We got to Araluen Creek Campground around 11.30am. It wasn’t that busy, but a lot of the prime spots were already taken or were close to other campers. We decided to just camp in the same spot as last time – close to the bathrooms, easy to get to the creek and no big ant nests underneath!

I have no idea why they are standing in the fireplace

The goal was to have the two kids underneath in their own personal tent, leaving the camper above for the grownups. Once the kids saw the tent set up they were very impressed, and immediately banned adults from entering unless they knew the secret password. They did let us in to blow up the camp mattresses and set up the sleeping bags though.

Big tent attached on the bottom

Once we were set up we chucked on some swimmers and headed down to the creek for a bit of a swim and splash around. The kids had been given bright green butterfly nets for them to chase fish, bugs and frogs around the campsite. I don’t think they caught a single animal all weekend.

The kids also got some floating animal pool toys to lounge around on. Ollie stole his mum’s lobster, while Ishy (nickname) got a new crocodile. Both kids had a great time floating around on the toys. The water was a bit brisk for me (bloody cold), but I did set up a stool in the creek water so I could be a part while not developing hypothermia.

After that swim we went back to the camper for snacks and some chill out time. Friends started arriving from about 3.30. It was a little colder than normal due to cloud cover and the occasional drizzle of rain, so long sleeves were found for most people.

The kids started getting restless about the same time as our friends were setting up, but I had prepared for this. We brought out a little air rocket toy that amused them for at least an hour. As one of our friends was a small black terrier called Reggie, the kids had someone else to play with as well. Though Reggie was more interested in other dogs and birds to be honest.

That afternoon we set up the fire, sent the kids on important ‘missions’ around the campgrounds, listened to a few tunes and had a few drinks. A few friends went down to the pub for dinner.

We managed to snag a big branch from an unoccupied site and carried it back to our little firepit.

The kids went to bed surprisingly early and easily. They even managed to stay in their own tent for the entire night. We’ll definitely remember that trick the next time we take both of them somewhere. It’s a bit more effort to set up but well worth the extra room.

The drizzling rain got a bit harder later that night so we brought the van around to set up and use its awning near the firepit. Another awning attached to a friends van meant that we stayed pretty dry.

The next morning was an 8am start, pretty good by 5 year old sleep in standards. Ollie was in a foul mood though, something that lasted until we were home. Rosie, Ishy and Casey went and had a brief swim (cold plunge) in the creek until Ishy’s lips turned blue.

A slow packup (maybe a bit of a hangover for some of us) meant that we were the last ones to hit the road and head back to Canberra. I did find and catch a small frog that was hiding under the camper – Ishy was very impressed that a) his uncle could catch a frog with his bare hands and b) that he got an opportunity to touch the frog, making it jump. The highlight of his trip apparently.

We did stop in Bungendore for a couple of pies on the way home, then headed back to Ishy’s place to drop him off. We arrived back home, reversed the camper back to its spot and had a quiet Sunday afternoon.

Boring technical stuff (that Rosie never reads)

The fridge is still using up more power than I would like, with a daily usage of about 50Ah. Given it wasn’t overly hot this trip and the battery was confirmed fully charged when we arrived, that’s a little high for my liking. Next steps are to remove the fridge and confirm that it’s getting sufficient ventilation and there’s not a huge bunch of dust clogging things up.

We definitely need to find and store the 12v air inflator in the van – blowing up and packing away the big floaties is a tough ask to do manually!

Fuel usage was 19.47L/100km. Fairly consistent with other trips, though not great and gives us only about 300km per tank while towing. I’ll keep playing around with tyre pressures on the van and camper to see if I can get a few more K’s out of the van.

Since I got the van in October 2015 I’ve been logging all van costs and fuel fillups using an Android app called Fuelio. In the 9 years since I got the van my total costs, including fuel, has been AU$48,601. (not including rego or insurance). Fuel costs were AU$20,017 of that, and that cost includes the 3.8L engine upgrade/replacement work.

I think that’s pretty good considering the van cost us $13,500 when I first bought it. Overall, after almost 10 years of ownership and a lot of memories, our total costs in owning and running the van have been less than the price of a new 4wd.

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