We were determined to take things slowly on this trip. Unlike previous trips before we retired, this one was going to be relaxing, with no long days darting hundreds of kilometres from Point A to Point B, whizzing past towns and scenery. This intention was fine in theory, until we heard about South Australia’s famed Wooden Boat Festival this coming weekend! Well, that sounds like fun! So, our first few days will be (yet another) fast blat, this time crossing 1,200 kilometres and three state / territory borders to Goolwa, in South Australia.
With our trusty Kokoda van (Roe’ving) in tow, our target for the first day was a free camp on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River, just a little further off the highway from the Birdcage Rest Area, about 20km west of NSW’s Darlington Point. The day started with a leisurely country breakfast at our friends’ property near Canberra, with the journey punctuated by several short breaks along the way in Jugiong, Wagga Wagga and Narranderra.
Finding the rest area was easy, and we immediately headed for the tracks leading to a vast collection of riverside camping areas. Some tracks were still affected by recent rain, with potholes full of water, and some leaf-covered muddy areas for the unwary. As there were no other campers or vans in sight, we had the pick of locations. After a short walk we chose a great site on a high bank next to the river. We did have a bit of mud to cross to get to the site, but our tug vehicle was up to the challenge, and easily pulled the van through the soft spots. With the van in place and a few minutes collecting firewood, our campfire was soon crackling away.
With no other vans or campers nearby, it was reassuring to know that both Telstra and Optus reception was available (albeit weak) if we needed to call for assistance. (And we are sure we’ll get braver as the trip progresses! But for our first night on the road, in a remote place where nobody would hear our screams, some mobile reception was a comfort!) As it was, the only disturbance all night was from kangaroos noisily splashing their way across river.As this was the first night on the road on our big caravanning trip, we celebrated the occasion with champagne and pizza around the campfire.After a quiet night, the morning provided us with a fantastic view along the Murrumbidgee River, so we took the opportunity to practise honing our photographic skills with the new drone.
A wonderful start to our trip – classic Australian scenery, remote location, and at no cost. We feel privileged to have the opportunity to free camp in such wonderful locations.