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Travel Around Australia in 185 Days: New South Wales

  • October 2, 2017
  • By 50 Shades
  • 12 Comments
Travel Around Australia in 185 Days: New South Wales

When my husband took me out for a drink one night about three years ago I knew that he had big news to impart. I was concerned that his news could be that he was ill, or had decided to leave our marriage or change careers. However it was none of the above. He wanted to know whether I would be prepared to leave my job and home, and travel around Australia in a caravan for six months or more! So we started the planning process to caravan around Australia in 185 days.

My initial reaction was one of delight. Leave my job – YES! But leave my home and our two adult children and beautiful Labrador dog behind – I was not so certain. I had hundreds of reasons running through my head as to why not to go. After all we were both only in our mid to late fifties and maybe a little too young to be classified as ‘grey nomads’. How would I survive without the luxuries of life I had grown accustomed to and spend 24/7 with my husband of thirty odd years?

Around Australia in 185 Days:New South Wales

My idea of caravanning!

Planning an Around Australia Caravan Trip

There were so many reasons not to take this gigantic step, but after thinking and talking it through with my husband I thought “What the heck. What have I got to lose”? There really wasn’t one plausible reason why we couldn’t go (apart from the fact that we had to rent out our house for six months).

And so the planning began! We decided to depart on our trip from the Gold Coast in Queensland at the end of the Christmas school holiday period which was the day after Australia Day on the 27 January 2014. After discussions with our 25 year old son he asked whether he could get some friends together and rent the house from us for the six month period. We agreed to this under certain strict conditions and at the end of the day it solved one of our problems.

Around Australia in 185 Days:New South Wales

Many a happy hour was enjoyed along the way

The next problem was leaving our gorgeous 10 year old female Labrador. We knew our son would look after her but we didn’t want to leave her behind, so we decided we would take her with us. After a bit of research and the purchase of a book “Travelling with Pets” we found out that the logistics of travelling in a caravan with a dog was achievable. There are now a lot of caravan parks and camping grounds that allow dogs.

Purchasing the Right Caravan for the Trip

We immediately started looking around for another caravan as the one we had was a Windsor Rapid with drop down beds each end and only canvas between us and the great outdoors, plus it did not have a toilet or shower. We both felt we needed a caravan that was solid in construction with an ensuite. After shopping around we decided upon a New Age 16 foot Manta Ray caravan. We discovered that this very modern caravan was actually designed by an ex-Windsor caravan designer. It had all features that we required and aesthetically it was very pleasing to the eye.

The following four to five months was a blur of being very busy planning and preparing for our trip. We spent nights pouring over maps and camping guides working out where to travel. My husband spent endless dollars on buying accessories and equipment required for the trip and I spent mine on buying odds and ends for the interior of the caravan.

Around Australia in 185 Days:New South Wales

Our rig – Caravan and 4WD

There were two invaluable resources we discovered and that was the Camps 9 Australia Wide book we purchased from RACQ and an app we downloaded on our phone called Wikicamps. Both resources informed us of the best places to camp with detailed information on each campground/caravan park and gave us co-ordinates that we could plot into our Navman.

Departure Day

So the departure date of 27 January arrived and we set off on our adventure, loaded up with (quiet frankly with more than we really needed!) We headed south across the Queensland/New South Wales Border with the plan of stopping regularly to give ourselves and our dog a toilet break and a drink.

Around Australia in 185 Days:New South Wales

Taking in some sights on the second day of our trip at Woolgoolga

We had pre-planned only to drive distances of 300 to 400 km daily, so that we didn’t exhaust ourselves. We wanted to enjoy the experience and not be driving long distances in one haul. Our first stop was to the coastal holiday sport, 35 km north of Coffs Harbour at Corindi Beach.

Day 1 & 2 – Corindi Beach

Around Australia in 185 Days: New South Wales

First night camp spot at Corindi Beach

Distance: From Gold Coast 285 km

Where we stayed: Corindi Beach Caravan Park

Cost: Powered site $34/night (off peak)

Caravan Park Amenities:

  • New Camp Kitchen
  • Right on beach location
  • Large grassy sites with shady trees
  • Café and shop nearby
  • Children’s Playground
  • Dog Friendly
  • Free BBQs and Undercover Picnic Areas

Local Attractions:

  • 35 km to Coffs Harbour
  • 11km to Woolgoolga
  • Walks to nearby headlands
  • Surfing, swimming and beach fishing
  • Take a drive to nearby Red Rock
  • Close to State Forests, Nature Reserves and National Parks

HOT TIP: Always take a walk around the caravan park before deciding on a site. Choose one that isn’t too far from amenities blocks, offers shade, close proximity to beach and is large enough to accommodate your caravan and motor vehicle.

Read more about this region in this article on the Coffs Coast.

Day 3 & 4 – North Haven

Around Australia in 185 Days: New South Wales

The tranquil Camden Haven River

Distance: From Corindi Beach 213 km

Where we stayed: North Haven Caravan Park

Cost: Powered site $34/night (off peak)

Caravan Park Amenities:

  • 12 acres of shady bushland
  • 200m from beach and river break-wall
  • Dog friendly
  • Large grassy sites with plenty of shade
  • Close to beach and river

Local Attractions:

  • Launch a boat in Camden Haven River
  • Bushwalking in lush rainforests
  • Walk along river
  • Beach swimming, surfing and fishing
  • Walk into town with a variety of shops, cafes and restaurants
  • Drive to Lake Cathie and Port Macquarie approximately 30 kms

HOT TIP: If you like privacy large bushland type caravan parks or camping grounds like North Haven are wonderful for spreading out and getting away from the crowds. Also great for spotting a lot of different wildlife like Kookaburras and Water Monitors.

Read more about this region in my article The Great Macquaries

Day 5 – Clarence Town

Around Australia in 185 Days: New South Wales

Campground on the Williams River at Clarence Town

Distance: From North Haven 199 km

Where we stayed: Williams River Campground, Clarence Town

Cost: Unpowered site on river $20

Campground Amenities:

  • Few water taps available
  • Picnic Tables
  • Large open grassy area
  • Boat Ramp
  • Toilets, Showers and Laundry in Caravan Park available for usage
  • Fireplaces
  • Dog Friendly

Local Attractions:

  • Kayaking on river
  • Swimming in river
  • Boating on river
  • Fishing
  • Walk into historical Clarence Town with interesting buildings, shops and cafes
  • Drive to Historic village of Morpeth

HOT TIP: These cheap campgrounds, although lacking in amenities, are great for getting back to nature on an open grassy area on the river with plenty of shady trees.

Day 6 to 8 – Hunter Valley

Around Australia in 185 Days: New South Wales

Free Camping area in Broke in the Hunter Valley

Distance: from Clarence Town 103 km

Where we stayed: McNamara Park, Broke

Cost: FREE

Campground Amenities:

  • Bushland setting on creek
  • Basic Toilets
  • Water for washing only
  • Dog Friendly

Local Attractions:

  • Hunter Valley Wineries
  • Hunter Valley Gardens
  • Singleton Coal Mining town
  • Historic town of Cessnock

HOT TIP: This free-camping park, although basic is extremely popular for travellers on a budget and offers an affordable way to see the magical Hunter Valley area.

Read more about the Hunter Valley in this article H is For Hunter Valley

Day 9 to 11 – Lake Macquarie

Around Australia in 185 Days: New South Wales

Sunset views over Lake Macquarie from our Caravan Park at Belmont

Distance: from Hunter Valley 87 km

Where we stayed: Belmont Pines Lakeside Caravan Park

Cost: powered site $36/night off peak

Caravan Park Amenities:

  • Lake frontage
  • BBQ and picnic areas
  • Camp Kitchen
  • Swimming Pool
  • Modern Toilets, Showers & Laundries
  • Boat launching facilities
  • Dog Friendly

Local Attractions:

  • Boating, fishing, sailing or swimming in lake
  • Drive to nearby beaches at Caves Beach or Redhead Beach
  • Bushwalk along coastal walking tracks
  • Drive to nearby lakeside suburbs to explore the area
  • Drive into Newcastle 20 km
  • Visit an array of clubs, pubs or restaurants in the area

HOT TIP: If you want to spend a few more dollars per night book a lakefront caravan site as these are more spacious with grassy areas compared to the smaller asphalt sites in the middle of the caravan park. Make sure you watch the stunning sunset over the lake in the evening!

Read more about Lake Macquarie in this article The Great Macquaries

Day 12 to 14 – Kiama

Around Australia in 185 Days: New South Wales

Kendalls Beach in Kiama

Distance: from Lake Macquarie 300 km (approx)

Where we stayed: Kendalls on the Beach Holiday Park

Cost: Powered Site $35/night off peak

Caravan Park Amenities:

  • Beachside location
  • Toilets, Shower and Laundry
  • Camp Kitchen
  • BBQs and Picnic Tables
  • Dog Friendly

Local Attractions:

  • Kiama township within walking distance
  • Kiama Blowhole
  • Surfing, swimming and fishing
  • Scenic coastal walks
  • Scenic drive to Jamberoo
  • Scenic drive to Gerringong and Gerroa
  • Drive to Shell Harbour

HOT TIP: This Holiday Park consists of mainly cabin and small unit accommodation on the beachfront which obscures the views from the caravan sites. Although a lovely park I would stay somewhere else with better views!

If you would like more information on Kiama read this article Blown away by Kiama

Day 15 – Jervis Bay

Around Australia in 185 Days:New South Wales

Our camping ground on the Currambene Creek, Huskisson

Distance: from Kiama 67 km

Where we stayed: Hidden Creek Caravan Park, Huskisson

Cost: Unpowered site $35/night off peak

Caravan Park Amenities:

  • Toilets, Showers & Laundry
  • Camp Kitchen
  • Fireplaces
  • Creekfront
  • Open grass area
  • BBQs and Picnic Shelters
  • Fishing Jetty

Local Attractions:

  • Bushwalking
  • Fishing, boating, kayaking and swimming in creek
  • Walk or short drive to Huskisson town
  • Visit Lady Denman Maritime Museum, Huskisson
  • Explore Jervis Bay area towns including Vincentia, Hyams Beach and Sussex Inlet
  • Dolphin and Whale Watching Cruises
  • Sailing

HOT TIP: Jervis Bay is huge for boating and yachting enthusiasts. My advice is to either bring a boat or hire one to take full advantage of the region.

For more reading on Jervis Bay read this article J is for Jervis Bay

Day 16 & 17 – Ulladulla

Around Australia in 185 Days:New South Wales

Mollymook Beach in Ulladulla

Distance: from Jervis Bay to Ulladulla 62 km

Where we stayed: Milton Showgrounds (6 km out of Ulladulla)

Cost: Powered site $20/night

Showground Amenities:

  • Toilets and Showers
  • Water Tap
  • Large grassy sites
  • Dump point
  • Dog Friendly

Local Attractions:

  • Historical town of Milton
  • Seaside towns of Ulladulla and Mollymook
  • Warden Head Lighthouse walking paths
  • Walk along Mollymook Beach
  • Fishing, surfing and swimming
  • Snorkelling and spearfishing off rocks at Warden Head

HOT TIP: The Milton Showgrounds are a great cheap alternative to caravan park camping with basic but adequate facilities and location very close to the coast.

Read more about Ulladulla in this article U is for Ulladulla

Day 18 & 19 – Moruya

Around Australia in 185 Days:New South Wales

Moruya River Head and the breakwall

Distance: from Ulladulla 80 kms

Where we stayed: North Head Camping Area, Moruya

Cost: $15/night

Campground Amenities:

  • No power
  • Toilets and cold showers only
  • Tank water
  • Fireplaces
  • Close proximity to beach and Moruya River North Head Breakwater
  • Bushland setting with plenty of shady trees

Local Attractions:

  • Beach surfing, fishing and swimming
  • River boating and fishing
  • Drive to Moruya
  • Bushwalking
  • Drive to Batemans Bay 27 km
  • Mogo historical village and Mogo Zoo

HOT TIP: This camping ground is adjacent to the airport so can be a little noisy with planes flying in and out. Select a site as far away as possible from the airport. Best camp sites are near the river.

For more information on the region around Moruya read my article on Bustling Batemans Bay

Day 20 to 22 – Dalmeny

Around Australia in 185 Days:New South Wales

Dalmeny Beach across the road from the Campground

Distance: from Moruya 37 kms

Where we stayed: Dalmeny Camp Ground

Cost: $26/night

Campground Amenities:

  • Large grassed park on Dalmeny Headland
  • Toilets, Showers and Laundry
  • Campfires allowed
  • Dump Point
  • Small shop in Office
  • Dog friendly

Local Attractions:

  • Close to shops and café
  • Children’s Playground adjacent
  • Swimming and Surfing
  • Beach and Lake Fishing
  • Boating
  • Bushwalking in Eurobodalla National Park
  • Walking/Cycling Path from Dalmeny to Narooma 7 kms away
  • Day cruises to nearby Montague Island

HOT TIP: This campground is great value for money with good amenities, close proximity to shops and Narooma only 7 kms away plus the views from the headland are magical.

For more information on this region called The Eurobodalla see Land of Many Waters: The Eurobodalla

Day 23 & 24 – Merimbula

Around Australia in 185 Days:New South Wales

Merimbula Lakes

Distance: from Dalmeny 115kms

Where we stayed: Merimbula Caravan & Motor Home Park (6km west of Merrimbula on Princes Highway)

Cost: Approximately $20 per night

Campground Amenities:

  • Large grassy paddock on a farm
  • Water Taps
  • Powered Sites
  • Very basic bush toilets
  • Dog Friendly
  • Dump Point

Local Attractions:

  • 6 kms from Merimbula town, lakes and beach
  • Fishing
  • Kayaking
  • Walking
  • 4 kms from Pambula Village
  • Only 26kms to Eden
  • Only 24kms to Tathra

HOT TIP: This large grassy paddock is ideal if you have a dog and there is a creek that runs through the property where you can fish and kayak.

Read more about Merimbula and Eden on this article titled The Jewels of the Sapphire Coast

We left Merimbula and set off towards the New South Wales/Victorian border at Cape Howe, that was only a distance of approximately 100 kms. We had travelled a total distance of about 1,600 kms over a period of just over 3 weeks since we left Queensland. We did skip a lot of the North Coast of New South Wales because we have explored this region fairly extensively on previous caravan trips.

We enjoyed the South Coast of New South Wales immensely and would highly recommend spending a few weeks here exploring the region. Next stop is the state of Victoria (where I was born and bred) and then onto South Australia.

By 50 Shades, October 2, 2017 Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 4 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now 60. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Gold Coast in Queensland. She enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, movies, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.
  • 12

50 Shades

Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 4 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now 60. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Gold Coast in Queensland. She enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, movies, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.

12 Comments
  • Sandy from Tray Tables Away
    October 2, 2017

    My parents talked about this for years but when push came to shove they never did it for some of the reasons you mention and others – dog, grandchildren, a few friends who came back with bad experiences. Still thousands seem to happily hit the road every year and I’m sure this guide will be of great interest to many.
    Very informative !

    • Kathy
      October 2, 2017

      Yes I think the number of grey nomads is ever growing. It was a wonderful experience and I’m happy to share it with anyone contemplating doing the same. :)

  • Melissa @ All Around Oz
    October 2, 2017

    Fantastic post Kathy.Makes me want to pack it all up now and go! Our turn can’t come around quick enough.

    • Kathy
      October 2, 2017

      It makes me want to pack up again Mel and do it all over again! Your time will be here before you know it. :)

  • Budget jan
    October 2, 2017

    This is a great idea. Can’t wait to follow you the whole way!

    • Kathy
      October 2, 2017

      Thanks Jan. It’s a lot of fun putting this together from my journals of our trip 3 years ago. Lucky I kept a good record! :)

  • Jo
    October 2, 2017

    Lovely post Kathy. It was interesting to read your thoughts about the initial idea and how you felt. I think everyone feels these kind of things, but doesn’t really voice them. What an adventure you had. Are you going to do another one?

    • Kathy
      October 2, 2017

      Thanks Jo. Yes I did have my doubts initially but it soon became clear that it was going to be one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life. Yes I’m doing a whole series of these over the next couple of months. :)

  • Tony Wilson
    October 2, 2017

    Something we are looking forward to, down the track. We’ve done a few trips and learnt a lot about free camping, travelling light and camp oven cooking.. For us at the moment, it’s time. We jumped in the deep end and did 6 weeks in Outback Queensland towing a 76 Frankland Caravan and loved it. We are trying to find time for a SA to Darwin Drive. We are lucky enough to have visited every State in Australia. At least we have another guide to follow.

    • Kathy
      October 2, 2017

      Yes time and money are the enemies. We were fortunate that we have had early access to our Super fund plus the rent on our house helped immensely. It was a big decision throwing in our jobs and travelling for 7 months, but it turned out to be the best time of our lives. I would highly recommend to not leave it too late. I think to enjoy the experience you need to be reasonably young and fit.

  • Janet Camilleri aka Middle Aged Mama
    October 3, 2017

    I was really nervous when my hubster first broached the subject of a big trip with me, but the more we talked about it the more it made sense. We didn’t leave home until about 5pm one afternoon in Winter and were so exhausted we ended up spending our first night at a caravan park at Coomera, so only about 50km!

    • Kathy
      October 4, 2017

      It’s interesting to hear what inspired other (younger nomads) to quit work and school to travel around Australia. It was a big step and I did have a lot of reservations initially, but I’m so glad we did it before we get too old. I love that you only travelled 50km on your first leg! One day we only travelled 37km to our next destination! :)

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