This section of the blog will go into detail about our time in each location. It will be more of a journal than anything else and will include things we enjoyed, as well as any aspect we might do differently if we were to plan it again.
Day 135 – Tuesday 18th December
We woke to the sound of birds chirping and looked out of the campervan window to see a couple of parrots happily chilling in the tree. After breakfast we packed up the van and had a stroll around the Rotary Park walk before getting on our way again.
Our first stop of the day was the red and white cliff known as The Pinnacles in the Benn Boyd National Park. We walked along the short loop track and down onto the beach to, you guessed it, throw James’ beloved rugby ball around. It was another super windy day so James resorted to chasing the seagulls around the beach! It was only a short walk but we’d worked up an appetite so we drove to Pambula and found Coffee 22, a cute little cafe, to have a feast of bangers and mash.
After a couple of hours chilling in the cafe we continued on to Merimbula for the dreaded food shop then had a drink in McDonalds so we could make use of their WiFi and charge the electrics.
With a 200km drive to our next destination, Kosciuszko National Park, we tried to make some headway by driving inland to find a rest stop for the night. We ended up in Candelo, a tiny village offering free camping on a small sport’s field. It almost felt like we’d gone back in time; there was an old-fashioned general store, which was also the cafe, and when we drove in everyone stopped and looked as if they weren’t used to newbies driving through, let alone staying the night. We cooked our dinner on the stove just as darkness fell then, as it was a very cold night, we got ourselves tucked up and cosy in the camper.
Day 136 – Wednesday 19th December
After our standard breakfast of granola we drove through Cooma, stopping off at the information centre to get some top tips for the Kosciuszko National Park. Cooma was a huge town in comparison to Candelo and it was absolutely rammed with tourists! Quickly, we got a map and some advice on the best hikes and continued on towards Jindabyne where we booked a camping spot for the night.
Just less than 40km on and we arrived in Thredbo, the alpine village and ski resort at the foot of Mount Kosciuszko, the highest mountain in Australia. It was cold and windy so, after cooking up some soup on the stove, we wrapped up warm and made our way to the office. As it was already mid-afternoon there wasn’t enough time for us to hike all the way up so we bought a one-way ticket on the chairlift which would take us partway up the mountain to the start of the summit walking track.
The lady at the counter said the summit track would take anywhere between 4 – 6 hours to hike. Oh, and there was a huge storm on the way so if it began to thunder and lightning we were to jump off the metal walkway and walk on the wetland strewn with hidden rocks…Fun.
Despite the weather warning and lack of time before sunset we decided to brave it anyway! On the chairlift up we saw mountain bikers racing down the trails, jumping any obstacle in their path. We could see why this was one of the most popular places to ski in the winter months.
On the 13km hike to the summit we experienced all sorts of weather; there was sunshine, rain, wind and I’m pretty sure it hailed at one point! But we completed it, with smiles on our faces as always. There were a lot of clouds at the top but the view was still incredible and it was so strange to think we were at the highest point in Australia! Luckily for us the thunder and lightning had held off!
Surprisingly the hike had only taken us 2 hours and we arrived back at the chairlift just in time to watch the last chair zoom off into the distance.
Hiking down it was then.
The 4km route down was even more beautiful as we passed streams, waterfalls and wildflowers through the forests, listening out for the wildlife as we went.
Back at the foot of the mountain we packed away and got in the van just in time for the Heavens to open, unleashing the well overdue storm.
Ready for some well-earned dinner we drove back to Jindabyne, where thankfully the weather was brighter, and bought ourselves plenty of food for a barbeque, which we devoured in record time!
Day 137 – Thursday 20th December
Once again we woke to the sound of birds and the most beautiful view outside the camper, Lake Jindabyne. It was a stunning day with the sun shining brightly so, after a breakfast of sausages, we wandered around the lake and into the town for a nosey around the shops.
After the long hike yesterday we fancied a bit more of a relaxing day so continued our journey on to Khancoban, stopping at Smeller’s Lookout to check out the view of the Kosciuszko National Park. As we continued on we spotted our first emu which we got way too excited about!
The town of Khancoban felt even more old-fashioned than Candelo and had even fewer amenities but we managed to get a bag of pasta and a jar of sauce to have for dinner. Khancoban Lakeside Caravan Park had the most incredible setting and we had the pick of camping spots in a lush green field overlooking the lake, surrounded by moutains on all sides. We spent the afternoon enjoying the sunshine and making the most of the warm weather.
Day 138 – Friday 21st December
Yet another morning waking up to insane views we felt so lucky to be able to just drive around and stop wherever we wanted. We took advantage of the hot showers and ate breakfast by the lake before setting of towards Paddy’s River falls, a stunning cascade waterfall.
However, on the drive to Paddy’s River Falls we realised we had forgotten to fill up the campervan with petrol and it was a 50km drive to the nearest petrol station, with the petrol gauge already showing empty…
There were some incredible views on the drive, however we were a bit distracted (okay, panicking) that we would be stranded at the side of the road in the middle of nowhere with no phone signal, so we couldn’t really enjoy them as much as we would have liked!
Luck was on our side and we made it to Tumbarumba (a great name for a place!) and managed to fill up, yay! I’m so glad we didn’t run out otherwise guess who would have had to thumb a lift to the nearest town…
Yep, you got it. Me.
Backtracking the 15km to Paddy’s River Falls we were able to relax and enjoy the views more now we knew we would actually make it there. James hadn’t been sure whether to bother going back but I’m stubborn (who knew?) and wanted to stick to the plan. We were both pleased we did as the waterfall was pretty cool. And by cool I mean cold. It’s a good job it was a warm day as we were soaked by the spray coming off the waterfall. James thought it would be a great idea for me to stand underneath the waterfall for a photo, I think he either wanted my top to get drenched (I wonder why?) or for me to fall in. I’m going with the latter.
After changing into dry clothes in the camper we set off for Tumbarumba – again – where we parked up by the river and heated soup up for lunch. There wasn’t a great deal to do in Tumbarumba so we set off for the Sugar Pine Walk, which is quite literally exactly what it says on the tin; a walk around some sugar pine trees. They were absolutely HUGE, towering over 60 metres above us, and looked stunning as the sun snuck through the canopy. The walk was only 500m long but we spent ages wandering around the forest taking silly photos and admiring the incredible trees.
Eventually we went back to the camper and set off for Tumut, where we would spend the night at the Riverdale Caravan Park. It was still early afternoon so we walked up to Tumut and got James a snack from KFC, and then McDonalds (as well as not skipping meals James loves to add extra ones!)
Only a short walk away from the campsite was Tumut River Brewery which we’d read offered decent beer and excellent pizza so we wandered there for dinner. It was true, James enjoyed his schooner and the pizza was delicious (and so were the mac ‘n’ cheese balls), made even better by a live band playing inside and the sun beating down on us outside.
I hate flies, especially around food, so when they come buzzing around us when we’re eating I quite often shoo them away. Well, while James was taking a bite of pizza I did exactly that. Except, I may have accidentally knocked the slice of pizza out of James’ hand. Safe to say I was in the doghouse!
Of course no evening would be complete without snacks so it was a trip to Coles (which I suggested to make up for the whole ‘pizzagate’ situation) before heading back to the campsite to settle in for the night.
Day 139 – Saturday 22nd December
With a long drive ahead and some more viewpoints we wanted to check out, we set off for Blowering Dam, one of the largest dams in New South Wales at three times the size of Sydney Harbour and the venue where the world water-speed record was made 40 years ago. It was more than impressive; it was ginormous with incredibly beautiful views on both sides.
After walking across the dam we continued on to Talbingo for another lunch of soup by the Tumut River. The views were insane!
We had planned to stay in Gunning for the night, however when we arrived it was still quite early so we decided to get a few more kilometres under our belt and continue on to Goulburn to stop at McDonalds to charge our electrics again, and maybe a small snack… (we seem to have spent a lot of time in McDonalds during this trip, we promise it isn’t usually somewhere we frequent this often but it’s useful for charging and free WiFi, and of course James can never pass up on a chance to eat!)
Thirty minutes down the road we stopped at Kingsbury VC Rest Area and cooked up some sausages for dinner but we decided not to camp there and instead opted for Gordon VC Rest Area only ten minutes further down the road!
Day 140 – Sunday 23rd December
Our last day with the campervan and we woke up to a miserable, rainy day! The girls back home were having the annual Christmas mulled wine and cheese night so I hopped on FaceTime for a quick chat with them while they were all together. It was great to catch up and wish them all a Merry Christmas!
As it was such a grey and damp day there wasn’t much exploring to be done so we drove to Berrima for a huge breakfast of cinnamon french toast for me and a massive breakfast bap for James. After having mainly granola for breakfast throughout our trip it was a great treat to end with!
Over 100km later we had made it to Sydney, where the sun came out in force to welcome us. We emptied the camper and checked in to Nate’s Place Backpackers which would be our home for the next ten days. James took the campervan to the depot and did a bit of shopping while I looked into James’ birthday present and organised a few bits.
In the evening we wandered to Mr Crackles for a tasty meal before heading to the supermarket and settling into the hostel watching Justice League before bed.