Sunday, July 29, 2012

Winter camping tips

Although I put up a post about our trip to Newnes, which happened back in Easter, we have just arrived back from a two week adventure through the outback - traveling as far as Oodnadatta, Cameron Corner and even Broken Hill!  The reason that we went this time of year is that it is pleasant out that way, weather wise, this time of year.  Add to that a lot of people (relatively speaking) travel through the region it is relatively safe this time of year.

When we were thinking about the trip I cam across some winter camping tips from outdoor gear specialists Coleman...

There tips - used with permission - are as follows:

There are some obvious benefits to camping in the colder months such as smaller crowds, campfires in National Parks and the chance to see wildlife that you wouldn’t normally see (for example, whale watching along the coastline South of Sydney). Coleman has provided some great tips and tricks on how to get out into the wild this winter.

Tips from the outdoor experts Coleman include:

1.          Be properly prepared – Make sure you have everything you need for a colder, harsher environment. You might even want to bring along the Coleman Hot Water on Demand to make sure you can have a hot cup of coffee.

 2.          Have the right equipment – A durable and warm sleeping bag is essential. The Bigfoot range from Coleman are perfect for this!

3.          Stay on top of the weather – Check the weather in advance and make sure you’re prepared for the worst case scenario.

4.        Get out of the wind – Make sure you select a site with some natural wind breaks.

5.       Always use an airbed – Insulating yourself from the cold ground is far more important than insulating from the cold air.

A couple of extra tips from us:

1. If you have some more than a couple of days plan to travel somewhere that it is best to travel to in Winter - desert regions and tropical regions spring to mind.

2.  Check with the National Parks folks about campfires - some don't allow them year round - Sturt National Park springs to mind.

3.  'Menu plan' for comfort food.  Stews and soups are great in winter especially if done in a camp oven!  Camp oven damper, warm, with honey is a favourite of mine.

This being a blog - feel free to post a comment with your tips or even a comment about either my tips or Colman's.

Coleman have a pretty good range of stuff on the market - visit for a look at what they have.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Newnes - Free - Not pet friendly

Wollemi National Park is home to the recently identified Wollemi Pine, which was discovered by National Parks officer Mr David Noble in 1994.  Not only is the Wollemi Pine one of the rarest trees in the world, with less than 100 mature trees in the wild, it is also one of the oldest, with fossil records indicating this rare tree existed about 90 million years ago.

Wollemi National Park is only a couple of hundred km from Sydney and it is one of those places that should appeal to anyone who loves the outdoor lifestyle.  Although the exact location of the pines has never been made publicly available by National Parks there is plenty of interesting flora and fauna in the park.  For history buffs there is the former township of Newnes and Blackfellow's Hand Rock and for 4WD enthusiasts there are any number of great tracks in the area.

I haven't mentioned lots of other attractions, but a search on a good search engine will point you in the right direction.

Add to all of this the fact that the campsite is free this place is pretty cool.

We set off and it is about a half day drive to get there.  It is a reasonably easy drive in to Newnes in the dry, and it would be accessible by 2WD vehicles, but in the wet it gets slippery.

To camp where we camped you will need to cross the Wolgan River and that requires 4WD.

It is a pretty easy crossing...

And you have arrived in the National Park...

Once across the creek the campsite is magnificent!

There are a fair number of campsites and the ruins of the Shale Oil mining facility are quite close. The Wolgan River runs near the campsite and there is a nice, clean drop loo.

After arriving, setting up and taking some photos we caught up with some friends, and planned the following day - a 4WD trip to the Spanish Steps.

The next day was a bit of an adventure - but the scenery in the area is amazing.  And the track conditions vary from muddy bog holes to quite good dirt tracks.

Being guided down the Spanish Steps is something I won't forget in a hurry...

The photo doesn't really do the steepness justice - nor does it reflect how fast my heart was beating as I descended into the valley.  The Spanish Steps, as they are known, are a sandstone formation that resemble steps down into a valley.  And as the saying goes, what goes up...  So there was also a slightly more challenging ascent.

I should point out that the Land Rover Discovery, lately christened 'The Snail' is not a highly modified 4WD.  It has not been lifted and the tyres I use are all terrain pattern.  I do have a winch on the bull bar, and some other bits and pieces like driving lights, UHF CB radio and camping gear.  All up I was pretty impressed that The Snail was able to get down into the valley and then up the other side along with the others who had the benefit of lockers, lift and highly aggressive tyres.

It was an amazing day, lots of fun in the 4WD's and we headed back to re-establish our camp.

The next day we decided to walk to the glow worm tunnel and have a look at Blackfellows Hand.

It's a fair walk in to the tunnel, but worth it for the views and to see the glow worms.

Being way to hard to photograph I did the next best thing...

Looking out of the tunnel - I used a flash to introduce the wall perspective into the pic.  Flash photography, I think, would not capture the glow worms.  In fact it might even upset them into not glowing so I didn't try.

If you intend visiting the tunnel - and I would encourage a visit - wear good shoes, take a torch and remember to be courteous to other visitors and more importantly respect the glow worms.

And respect the natural beauty of the flora and rock formations - how good is this!?

If you walk to the glow worm tunnel from the Newnes side (it can also be accessed from the Lithgow side) it is worth remembering that the trail is the abandoned Newnes Railway line.  You are walking over and alongside history!

It is worth keeping an eye out for the historical stuff like the rock walls and old sleepers on the track.

After the hike in and out we drove to what is known as Blackfellow's Hand Rock.  This rock formation has a number of aboriginal artworks and is definitely worth a look.

Hand paintings on the rock.  If you do go in for a bit of a look please don't touch the paintings.  Once they are gone, they are gone forever.

Access: Some campsites are accessible by 4WD. 2WD would be OK in dry weather if you want to camp on the 'pub' side of the river.
Toilets: Yes.
Showers: No.
Water: Boil water from the river.
Shop: Limited to the Newnes Hotel - best to check if it is open.
Campfires: Yes - subject to firebans. Bring own wood.
Pets: NO - National Park
Cost: FREE.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Killalea State Park

Earlier this year we went to catch up with some friends and stay at Killalea State Park.

The Park itself is near the coast and the Woolongong suburb of Shellharbour.  It is close to surf beaches and fishing.  Grat place to stay this time of year.  There are full facilities there for campers including a camp kitchen, hot showers and flushing toilets.  You can have a fire in an established (or constructed) fire place.  However it is not pet friendly so the favourite animal will need to stay away.

As it was a weekend visit to catch up with our friends I didnt take a lot of pics - other than one of the new camping set up I mentioned in an earlier post - our rooftop tent and annex.

Pretty awsome set up and we enjoyed the stay at the park.  Time and socialising prevented a proper fish, but the facilities are teriffic and the staff helpful.

If you are interested in some more details about Killaliea visit: