An evening in Cambewarra

Another of Richard’s cousins lives in the village of Cambewarra just north of Nowra and had invited us to visit so we left our camp at Holiday Haven Huskisson Beach and headed northwards through Nowra.

Traffic was made worse by the amount of roadworks involved with the new bridge going in across the Shoalhaven River. Once completed the new bridge and road widening will significantly reduce the traffic bottleneck through Nowra. At the moment all north/south traffic must pass over the existing two narrow bridges.

A quick stop for fuel and groceries in Bomaderry on the northern side of the river was made before driving out to Cambewarra. It is a very scenic area with Cambewarra Mountain in the background and very green farm fields.

Arriving at our cousins we quickly set up camp in their driveway and settled in for a read.

The cousins arrived home from their busy morning propagating mangroves for Shoalhaven Riverwatch. This vital community group aims to improve the health of the Shoalhaven River by planting thousands of mangroves that help reduce pollution, provide habitat, capture and store green house carbon and prevent the banks eroding.

We spent a wonderful evening catching up on family news and enjoying delicious home-cooked food seated outside on their wonderful deck overlooking the beautiful garden.

I’m always inspired after visiting their garden to do more in ours however I have to remind myself that what grows well on the coast does not always do well 600kms inland!


Relaxing day in Huskisson

It was a lovely relaxing morning spent reading, washing and cleaning the motorhome. We both loved hearing the excited chatter of the three year old little girl that was camped next to us with her mum and dad and 4 month old sister. She certainly is a chatterbox.

We’d arranged to meet up with our cousins at a cafe in the Main Street of Huskisson for lunch and we used our ebikes to ride the short distance. What a lovely lunch we had with Andrew and Tracey at the 5 Little Pigs (great name for a cafe!). The food was really delicious.

Richard and I then spent the afternoon visiting the Jervis Bay Maritime Museum. What a fabulous little museum. I thought it was very well curated. It has a small entry fee of $10 per Senior.

The museum houses a variety of spaces and galleries such as:
Jervis Bay History Gallery
Surveyor’s Gallery
Science and the Sea Gallery
Kingfisher and Vera Hatton Galleries
and the pride of the museum, The Lady Denman Ferry Gallery.

The Jervis Bay History Gallery tells the story of the Jervis Bay Area from pre-European Aboriginal settlement, to colonial European settlement and through periods of social and economic development up to modern times. There are great stories of shipwrecks, lighthouses, early tourism, and exciting development plans that were never completed. I thoroughly enjoyed this well presented gallery.

The Surveyor’s Gallery contains displays of surveying instruments from various time periods.

Science and the Sea Gallery houses the large collection of Walter Halloran and contains artefacts relating to mapping and navigation as well as naval memorabilia and a collection of paintings.

The Kingfisher and Vera Hatton Galleries housed a temporary exhibition of paintings and sculptures.

However the star of the show is the Lady Denman Ferry. What is a Sydney ferry doing in a museum in Jervis Bay?

Well the Lady Denman is a wooden boat and she was built in Huskisson in 1911. She plied the waterways of Sydney Harbour for 67 years before being retired in 1979. It took a great deal of effort by many local enthusiasts to have her returned to Huskisson where she has been lovingly restored and put on display.

The Lady Denman is 33.5m long with a 7.6m beam (that’s how wide she is) and could carry 500 passengers.

The ferry was named after Lady Gertrude Mary Denman who was the wife of the Governor-General of Australia, Lord Thomas Denman. Lady Denman was an intelligent woman who devoted her life to public service however she sometimes scandalised conservative society by wearing trousers and smoking in public.

You can walk under the ferry and view the single propellor and you can also walk on board. Various info boards tell the story of the amazing life of the last surviving wooden harbour ferry.

The museum is also home to the Tourist Information Centre where you can pick up brochures and find out more about the area and maybe purchase a souvenir or two.

Outside the museum are four hectares of native gardens along the Currambene Creek. From the rear of the buildings is a pathway that leads to an elevated wooden boardwalk that takes visitors out into the mangroves along the creek foreshore. It is tidal and the mangrove’s thrive in the salty water. The mangroves provide vital habitat for many creatures.

The museum closed at 4pm so we cycled back to camp along the excellent shared pathways.

After rugging up with warm clothes we followed the pathway to Andrew and Tracey’s for a last dinner together before we headed off the next morning. What a lovely visit we’d had with them.

We rode our bikes back in the dark along the pathway and I was surprised how good the headlights on the bikes are. We’ve never really ridden our ebikes at night and haven’t had the chance to use the lights but they were very effective and we arrived back at camp with no problems. I did have visions of the front page of the local newspaper with headlines “Senior crashes bike over the edge” however nothing happened and it was an uneventful ride home.

Exploring Boodoree National Park

The next day we rode our bikes to our cousins place in Vincentia and we all piled in their car to head out to visit Booderee National Park. Booderee National Park is one of only three parks in Australia managed by traditional owners, the Wreck Bay Community.

We spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon exploring the lovely coastal park including the Botanic Gardens, checking out Jervis Bay Village, Cabbage Patch Campground and the Historic Cape St George Lighthouse.

Cabbage Patch Campground looked like a lovely bush camp. One to remember for the future.

The sand in Jervis Bay is claimed to be the whitest sand in the world and it certainly is white. Apparently this is due to the amount of quartz in the sand.

Here’s a fun fact for you. Part of the Jervis Bay Area includes Jervis Bay Territory which is a unique piece of land that is a territory of the Commonwealth of Australia. It is administered by the ACT government and cars have ACT number plates. The local police are Australian Federal Police.

The territory was declared in 1915 when it was decided that our national capital needed a sea port. Jervis Bay is the closest sea to Canberra so NSW handed over a small part of the peninsula and shortly afterwards the Naval College HMAS Creswell was opened.

There are only about 400 residents in the territory and most of those work in defence and live in one of the two small villages Jervis Bay Village or Wreck Bay Village.

After a lovely explore we got back on our bikes and called into Vincentia shops to collect some supplies before heading back to camp to prepare for a night out.

Another cousin , who also lives in the area, was having a birthday and she had arranged for a group of friends to get together. We were invited as well. We had a fabulous night celebrating, meeting interesting new people and listening to some great folk music.

Shoalhaven Heads to Huskisson/Vincentia

Richard has cousins who have retired to Vincentia so we booked in to the Holiday Haven at Huskisson Beach as this was the closest park to our cousins house.

It was a short drive from Shoalhaven Heads into Bomaderry where we stopped at the hardware store to exchange a gas bottle. It had run out the night before.

We drove on through Nowra where major roadworks were going on for the construction of a new bridge across the Shoalhaven River. This will help reduce the serious bottleneck in traffic flow through Nowra.

We called in to the huge Bunnings store for a couple of things before taking the turn off to Huskisson. Huskisson has a busy Main Street with lots of eateries. The Jervis Bay Club sits in prime position with fabulous views across the river and beach below.

As we drove through Huskisson we took notice of where the caravan park we were booked into was. It is situated right on the beachfront. There are two Holiday Haven parks in Huskisson.

Huskisson merges in to Vincentia where we had no trouble finding our cousin’s new place. What an amazing view they have across the bay. We thoroughly enjoyed lunch outside on the deck and, as we were the guests, we got to sit facing the view. Just perfect!

At the rear of their property is a shared pathway that runs from Huskisson all the way through Vincentia. In the afternoon we went for a walk and down the stairs to the beach below. The sand is so white and the water is so blue. As it is a big bay the waves were only gentle little ones. Perfect for swimming, not so great if you want to surf though. Away in the distance you could see Point Perpendicular which sits on the northern side of the entrance to Jervis Bay.

The four of us managed to talk the afternoon away before it was time to go and set up camp at the caravan park. We had been emailed the entry instructions so we didn’t even have to go in to reception. It didn’t take long before we were all set up for the next 3 days.

Our cousin collected us later so we could join them at their home for pizza, wine and more talk.

Kiama to Shoalhaven Heads (It’s my birthday)

What a wild old night! It fairly blew during the night. At times the motorhome was being rocked from side to side. I was very glad we’d decided to pack our awning away.

I woke to the sounds of messages on my phone. I received lots of lovely birthday wishes via text and Facebook. I appreciated each and every one. FaceTime chats with family made my day. 65 years old! Where did that time go? Seems like only yesterday we were just beginning our married life and now our three children all have children of their own. We feel truly blessed to have 7 grandchildren in our lives.

It was time to leave our lovely camp at Easts Beach Kiama and head further south. We’d made a booking at the Holiday Haven in Huskisson for three days however we had a night to fill on on the way. Where would we end up?

Heading southwards we turned off into the small seaside town of Gerringong. It was Market Day in Gerringong so we found a place to park and spent a couple of hours exploring the local markets.

Gerringong is only about a ten minute drive south of Kiama and has a population of almost 4,000 people. The main beach, Werri Beach, set on a long strip of land with Werri Lagoon on the other side. Being only a 2 hour drive from Sydney means there are lots of holiday houses in Gerringong. Lots of city folk escape for a few days and come to enjoy being by the sea. We had a drive around the lovely little town, up and down some very steep hills and around some sharp bends until we headed further south.

The next little village we came to was Gerroa. Gerroa sits at the northern end of Seven Mile Beach and mouth of the Crooked River. Seven Mile Beach is a very popular beach. There are at least three surf schools along the 12km beach and you can hire kayaks and standup paddle boards to paddle on the river. A popular Big4 Caravan Park is located at Seven Mile Beach with the river on one side and beach on the other however we carried on further south.

The next village along the way was Shoalhaven Heads. This little village of some 3,000 people is located where the Shoalhaven River meets the Pacific Ocean. Shoalhaven Heads sits at the southern end of Seven Mile Beach. Between Gerroa and Shoalhaven Heads sits the Seven Mile Beach National Park and there are many bush walks to explore.

After a drive around we decided to call the Holiday Haven Caravan Park and sure enough, they had a site available. It didn’t take long before we were all checked in and set up on site 39, tucked away in the corner with bush on one side and views of the river in front of us. It was a great spot.

After setting up camp we got our ebikes off and went for a ride around Shoalhaven Heads. We found a lovely little Botanic Garden and spent some time wandering around the lovely park before continuing our ride.

It was my birthday so we decided to celebrate by going out for dinner to the local pub. We had ridden past the pub on our bike ride and the Heads Hotel was walking distance from camp. We enjoyed fish & chips and a seafood basket with a view across the river to the entrance. It was a lovely way to finish off my birthday.

2 days in Kiama

We spent our first morning in Kiama catching up on housework. It’s gotta be done!

The sheets were changed, washed and hung out to dry. Clothes washing was done and hung out too. I do love my little Sphere top loader. I’m so glad we were able to find somewhere to install it in our motorhome.

I fixed the Toilet flush (it stopped working yesterday and was a simple fix). We have a Dometic toilet and if you lift the central round piece (using flat screwdriver) where the flush button is located and carefully pull it out you will find a small electrical board that clips in underneath. If you push too hard on the flush button this board can become unclipped so the fix is simply to push it back in until you hear it click into place. The other problem could have been the fuse and it is located on that electrical board so it pays to check the fuse too.

I gave our bikes a good clean and Rich gave the rear of the motorhome a good clean too.

Chores done, it was time to set off to explore Kiama.

There was great excitement amongst the campers around us during the morning. A large pod of dolphins was sighted in the bay. We quickly grabbed the camera and walked around to the beachfront to watch.

They are beautiful creatures and it was thrilling to watch them leaping out of the water, trying to catch a wave and generally looking like they were having fun. I tried to get a photo of them leaping out of the water and almost got the shot (well, maybe not!)

In the late morning we set off on our ebikes and enjoyed the challenging ride up and down the hills past Kendalls Beach, Surf Beach and out to the Lighthouse. Our first stop was at Little Blowhole. It was really blowing. The wind was blowing the spray right up onto the houses nearby.

Surf Beach, Kiama

Continuing on our ride we went past Surf Beach and out onto the headland where the Lighthouse is located. Here you will also find the famous Kiama Blowhole. It was really windy but lots of tourists were out to check out the famous natural attraction. It didn’t disappoint. I love the booming noise it makes just before the water spouts up.

We’d packed a sandwich for lunch and, after purchasing a hot coffee from the shop next to the Visitors Centre, we found a lovely spot under the huge Norfolk Island Pines. We found a table out of the wind and enjoyed lunch alfresco with a view of Surf Beach on one side and Black Beach on the other.

Kiama has a population of some 23,000 people. Interestingly, the largest age group is the 65-69 year olds. Over 40% of the population is over 60. Lots of retirees call Kiama home.

There are 3 caravan parks in Kiama and the Showground takes campers in times of overflow (probably the Christmas holidays)

Our trusty ebikes got us back to camp where we had a relaxing afternoon meeting and greeting the neighbouring campers. We had a lovely family with 3 kids next door. They were six weeks into a six month trip around Australia. What a delightful family.

Our second day was spent doing another bike ride into the main shopping area and having a wander around the historic Terrace Cottages. These delightful old buildings were once the homes of local quarry workers and were built in 1886. They are now classified as historic buildings by the National Trust. The cottages house a variety of clothing, collectables and craft stores as well as a few eateries. They are a popular tourist spot.

Historic Terrace Cottages, Kiama

Kiama has some lovely old buildings such as the Post Office built in 1878, the Council Chambers, the Westpac Bank, and the Fire Station (which is now an art gallery).

The main shopping area looks out across Black Beach. Black Beach gets its name from the colour of the sand. It’s black! On either side of Black Beach are ocean pools where people can enjoy a salt-water swim. There’s a large park alongside Black Beach and a good pathway all the way around.

Some renovations were being done so we were unable to follow the path all the way around to the harbour but usually you can do this. Fresh seafood can be purchased right at the harbour each day.

We rode out to the Lighthouse to check out the famous blowhole again however it wasn’t blowing as much as the previous day. There were still hundreds of tourists watching it though.

On our way back to the park we followed the Kiama Coastal Walk via Surf Beach and on to Kendalls Beach. The pathway down to Kendalls Beach is a really steep switchback. I’m glad we were going down. I think I would have had to get off and walk my bike if we were going up. A bit too steep even for our ebikes.

After Kendalls Beach the walk detours inland and goes through Bonaira Native Gardens. The path meanders though a beautiful park full of towering native trees and dense undergrowth. It’s very dark and quiet through there as the path follows alongside a babbling creek. In the middle of the park is a large lawn area that would make a perfect picnic spot.

Back at camp it had become very windy so we pulled down our awning and packed it all away. We spent the afternoon reading.

What a shock I received when I went outside! In the morning there were only about 8 or so campers in our section. When I went outside all the sites were full. How did that happen? I must have been engrossed in my book because I didn’t really notice any noise.

Rich and I went for a stroll though the caravan park in the early evening and were surprised to find that the park was almost full. Most of the campers were families with young children. We guessed that they’d all arrived for the weekend, it was Friday after all! I love hearing the happy noise of children playing and there’s was lots of that. You did have to watch where you were walking though as you might be run into by an out of control toddler on a bike!

I’d put a chicken curry on in my little crockpot and it had been cooking away all day. I served it up in bowls with some boiled rice and yum, it was delicious. We had an early night and settled in to watch a movie on our Apple TV. We planned to head further southwards the next day.

Coledale Beach to Kiama

We were a little reluctant to leave our camp at Coledale Beach. It’s such a fantastic campground. The only thing we’d like to see would be a dump point. Not having a dump point means we had to use the toilets in the amenities block and I really prefer not to do that. That’s why we bought a motorhome with an ensuite! However the amenities at Coledale are kept spotless and caretaker Nicole ensures the whole campground is beautifully maintained.

We packed up and headed northwards so we could cross the famous Sea Cliff Bridge. It’s only 5km north of Coledale and in no time at all we were crossing the amazing bridge. It’s a marvel of engineering the way the bridge is built out from the cliff. Once across we managed a u-turn and came back across heading south. Check out the pics.

Heading south we got onto Memorial Drive. This amazing freeway takes you all the way through the city of Wollongong. It’s a wide divided road with multiple lanes on each side. It made for easy driving.

We decided to take the exit into Shellharbour and we visited the Stockland Shellharbour shopping centre. It’s huge! We were able to park the motorhome in a large carpark that had plenty of room. We bought some groceries and wine, had a delicious lunch and generally window shopped.

We continued southwards to the lovely coastal town of Kiama and arrived around 4pm. We’ve been to Kiama many times previously but I can’t recall ever staying there. Richard can remember staying in Kiama as a child but it was a long time ago and the town had changed significantly.

We’d booked a powered site at the Easts Beach Big4 Caravan Park as the weather forecast was for rain for the next few days and we thought it would be good to have a comfortable site to relax in while it rained.

Easts Beach Big4 is a huge park set on over 14 hectares. It is on the site of an old dairy farm and has been in the East family for over 85 years. The park is still run by the family today. The original farm house continues to be lived in by members of the family.

My parents stayed at Easts Beach on their honeymoon. They too went on their honeymoon with a caravan. My mum recalls that the park was still a working dairy farm then.

The park now has a mix of permanent holiday vans, a variety of cabins, powered sites, some with ensuites, and unpowered sites. There are multiple amenities blocks and camp kitchens. We were allocated a beach front site and we couldn’t have picked a better one if we’d tried. Sitting under our awning we had a great view of the beach and could watch the waves crashing on the rocks.

The park is beautifully maintained and has a fast flowing creek running though it. Being a Big4 it has all the usual activities such as a jumping pillow, swimming pools, adventure playgrounds, a splash park and a well equipped games room.

We quickly set up camp on our lovely spot, had a walk around the park, checked out the beach then settled in with a glass of wine and some nibbles. This is the life!

Easts Beach, Kiama

Central Coast to Coledale Beach

After managing to turn our motorhome around we departed from Mardi in the Central Coast and headed southwards. We had no real destination in mind however we needed to find a dump point as our cassette was nearly full. Using WikiCamps I couldn’t find a public dump point anywhere near us. It looked like we would have to cross Sydney first and then try the dump point at Picton.

This shortage of public dump points in Central Coast and through Sydney could create a serious problem for anyone not aware that there aren’t any to be found.

We had an uneventful journey to Sydney and, for the very first time, went via the North Connex Tunnel. We have read a lot about the tunnel, especially how expensive it it, however we found it brilliant. It made crossing the busiest city in Australia a piece of cake. The tunnel is tall and two lanes wide with wide shoulders. I reckon it saves about 24 sets of traffic lights from the old route via Pennant Hills Road. We were impressed. We probably won’t be when we get our e-toll account though!

The North Connex Tunnel merges with the M2, then we carried on via the M7 and M5 to reach the Hume Highway. All too soon we were across Sydney and out the other side.

Leaving the Hume Highway at the Picton exit we drove into the little town to find their dump point. A quick stop got that job done and we found a little park where we could make lunch and decide where we were going.

Decision made, we headed off again and followed the Picton Road all the way down the mountain to Wollongong on the South Coast

Our camp for the night was Coledale Beach Reserve. This fabulous campground is run by the Coledale Surf Life Saving Club and is located right on the beach. You really couldn’t be any closer. What a great spot. We managed to get an unpowered grassy site with water and sullage for the great price of $20 per night (with a Seniors discount)

We recommend this great spot but it is extremely popular so it pays to book ahead. We only managed to get a site because someone had to cancel.

How do we get out of here?

Have you ever driven your motorhome or RV into a spot and wondered how on earth you were going to get back out? We have.

We spent a lovely three days camped in the driveway at our cousins place on the Central Coast of NSW. Their home is on a hill overlooking a lovely dam. To get there you negotiate a winding, narrow tar road. The area contains lots of homes on small acreages. Just going along the road was a challenge due to the overhanging trees and the narrow road with bush on either side.

Our cousins driveway is a long gravel one which, fortunately, was firm underneath. We’d had so much rain recently across the state that the ground everywhere else was soggy and saturated.

On the morning of our departure, with the motorhome all packed up, it was time to try to turn around. This was expected to be a very tricky manoeuvre making sure that our rear drive wheels stayed on the firm gravel and didn’t end up on the grass. Trying to do this with our large overhang was expected to be difficult.

I was afraid if they went on the grass the motorhome would sink and we’d be bogged for sure. We’d never get a tow truck in there to pull us out!

With me at the rear and our cousin at the front directing, Richard was able to complete the 180 degree turn in 4 moves. I was a bit stunned as I was expecting it to take many more turns. Wow, Richard is a legend!

We could now continue our meander.

Another short break – Tea Gardens & Central Coast

Sadly we needed to attend a funeral in Tea Gardens on the NSW coast. Neither of us could recall ever going there in spite of having been to Nelsons Bay, on the other side of Port Stephens, many times.

The twin towns of Tea Gardens and Hawks Nest sit on the northern side of the entrance to Port Stephens.

Setting off from our home town of Griffith in NSW our route took us via West Wyalong, Forbes, Parkes, Yeoval, Gulgong, Cassilis, then following the Golden Highway until we reached the Pacific Highway and turned northwards.

We had a big driving day the first day…530km from home to Cassilis Park Rest Area. What a sorry state rural roads were in. I swear some of the potholes could swallow a small car. We only averaged 75km/h due to the state of the roads and roadworks. Between West Wyalong and Forbes there was water everywhere on both sides of the road and that’s without the big rains that were forecast for the next 10 days!

Cassilis Park Rest Area is on the Golden Highway and has a large area where lots of RV’s can pull up for an overnighter. It’s also a truck rest area with a long tarred section for the big rigs. There’s multiple picnic tables and a toilet block. You can have a fire and stay for up to 24 hours. Although it’s close to the main road the traffic noise dies down after dark.

This was a great spot to pull up for the night and we quickly got a fire going and enjoyed just chilling while the sun went down.

The next morning two council workers were on site cleaning the toilets and keeping the grounds tidy. We were impressed with this great little free camp.

Something to be aware of though if you decide if to park up for the night, please don’t park in the long parking bays for trucks unless you want a huge refrigerated B-double parked right next to you with their compressor going on and off all night. Truckies are working and need their rest breaks at the right time. If their parking is taken up by us travelers they need to go on to the next stop. Just be aware and park your RV out of the way.

We arrived in Tea Gardens and, after a drive around found the only service station was closed off and under renovations. That meant having to drive back to the highway to go to the next nearest Service station. On the way back into Tea Gardens we called in at the Lions Park and made use of the dump point and filled up with water.

We made our way to the Tea Gardens Country Club where you can camp in their carpark for up to 2 nights. One of you has to become a member of the club ($5.50) and the camping fee is $11 per night. Power is also available however you do need to be self contained. No grey water is to be let out on the ground and all rubbish must be taken away.

Check in is at reception inside the club and this was a simple process. Armed with my new club membership we were good to camp for the next 2 nights.

Our friends, Kevin & Sally who have traveled with us previously with their caravan, arrived and the four of us enjoyed a lovely meal in the Club.

The next day we took the opportunity of no rain to get our ebikes off and go for a ride around the area. We rode from the Country Club along the riverside, crossed the Singing Bridge (still can’t find why it’s called that) where we had to dismount and walk our bikes across, checked out Bennets Beach and Jimmys Beach in Hawks Nest.

Under the Singing Bridge across the Myall River you can see the remains of the old ferry crossing.

Our second evening was spent having dinner with friends at the Tea Gardens Hotel following our attendance at the funeral we’d traveled for. It was a very busy pub and served up great fish and chips.

Tea Gardens Hotel dinner

After 2 nights camped in the carpark at Tea Gardens Country Club we set off southwards and traveled down to Central Coast via The Entrance.

On the way we stopped off at Australian Motorhomes at Bennetts Green to check out the current motorhome models and we were very impressed with the current Sunliner Navian range. Do you love window shopping for a new RV?

We arrived at our cousins place in Mardi near Wyong on the Central Coast. Their lovely property overlooks Mardi Dam. The only down side was the long, winding, narrow road and driveway to get into their place.

As everyone in Australia knows, we have had so much rain that the ground is just saturated. Rivers are flooding, dams are over full and the ground just can’t take any more water. This was a bit of a worry as our cousins driveway is on a hill and we were not sure how we were going to be able to turn around without getting our 5 tonne motorhome completely bogged. Oh well. We’d worry about when we leave.

Our cousins had just purchased ebikes so we enjoyed a lovely ride around the area to try them out. We quickly discovered that their motors are more powerful than the ones on our bikes. Our fabulous bikes are 4 years old and the technology has changed so much in that time. Still, we were able to keep up but with more effort up the hills.

We spent three days camped in their driveway. Over that time we enjoyed many lovely chats over dinner, had a lovely night out at the Shelly Beach Golf Club, and generally enjoying catching up.