In recent years my husband and I have done a fair amount of travel overseas, but now we are embarking on a new life of adventure… Exploring and photographing Australia whilst travelling in a caravan! Not full time mind you, but these will be the practise years for when we eventually do go gypsying around full time.
I remember only too well the the days – well, years, of roughing it camping with four small children. It’s hard work. Damn hard work! We started with a simple tent and yoga mats close to 20 years ago, and have been steadily upgrading our comfort levels ever since.
One particular day we were sat, exhausted, after a long days drive at a camp site, eating two minute noodles for dinner when an enormous RV rolled in. You know, one of those ones where they come equipped with everything, even its own spa and servants?
We sat there green with envy, and even more green especially after – somehow, our kids were invited in for a quick tour.
“They have a real leather lounge suite and all!” our kids told us.
We put our noses up at the fancy shmancy tenderfoot people and muttered.
“I wonder what THEY’RE having for dinner!”
Well, now the shoe is kind of on the other – tender foot.
Now we have this.
So, for the first time towing the beast we headed out for a trial run to see how it all works.
Ok, so the car did NOT like towing this thing up hills and as much as we tried to avoid hills, well…they are everywhere.
There is one particular hill outside of Gloucester, NSW that is a real killer.
The car has never made smells like it made on that stretch of incline. I honestly thought the motor was going to blow up!
If a car can have a hernia I think ours has got one now.
“I think I can, I think I can” is not what the car seemed to be saying.
I think it was hurling all manner of vile automotive cuss words at us!
It was misery and gloom as we headed to our first camp spot for the night.
Gloryvale the site is called, (Just before Bretti Reserve) set by a small flowing stream. Only a pit toilet there. Nice peaceful spot though.
We had an uneventful night, slept well, ate well with pre prepared stew – some habits never die hard, like pre preparing the first nights meal as we always did when camping.
I did note on our first night though that it was bloody annoying that the whole van would move with the slightest movement from either of us. I told my husband not to sniff so violently as somehow it was causing the entire van to rock!
Later he did tell me that he’d only put two of the stabilizer legs down. Unfortunately though even with four down we seem to make the van rock, a lot, and with no shenanigans going on.
More gloom and misery the next day as we drove to Walcha, NSW, where we were to stay for two nights in a Caravan park.
Now, neither of us particularly like Caravan parks but the one at Walcha is very neat and clean…real glass doors on the showers! Everything is tidy and well kept. The owner was very welcoming and even helped guide us into the site because my husband told him I was inept at directing…and he’s not lying. I do suck.
I don’t know what happened because the first night there were a fair few vans in the park. I even had the shock of witnessing a Grey Nomad – male, walking from the amenities block in his wife’s hot pink, short fluffy dressing gown first thing in the morning. With long socks and sandals. (Oh the sights you see.)
By the second night though we were the only ones there. Pity, because I would have liked to have snuck a shot of hot pink fluffy Grandad after his morning ablutions.
There is a great Antique shop in Walcha called Antique Junque. More like a museum than a shop. So much for the eyes to feast on…and so much to accidentally break as you snake your way gingerly through overcrowded aisles. Worth a poke around in, but if you have children , tie their hands behind their backs.
There is also a historical mansion there called – Langford Homestead. You apparently can arrange to do a tour of it. We didn’t have time, but I did manage to stop early in the morning to photograph its fancy gates and the winding road leading to the estate.
How magic are these gates! Mysterious!
From there we drove up to Uralla for a bit of a look around and we came across a little tourist drive which led to this amazing old Church/Chapel set in the middle of nowhere. (Gostwyck Chapel – built in 1921) It was quite picturesque so we actually made three trips back there in one day just so I could try and capture it in better light.
From Walcha we moved on and headed towards Tamworth. We wanted to stop and get some supplies but found it too stressful trying to find somewhere to park with the caravan behind us so we ended up just driving through to Nundle which was our next destination for a two night stop. Somehow we’re going to have to get the hang of this “how to park with a caravan in towns” because I was surviving on a bag of peanuts in the car for lunch because we couldn’t stop to get bread for sandwiches.
We found a nice quiet empty free camp site in Nundle. Perfect! This place is called Teamsters rest reserve. There are a few picnic tables, rustic type barbecues and a pit toilet.
Our first afternoon at this site we took it easy. I actually dozed off in my chair that I’d dragged out into the little bit of sun and when I woke there were a couple of cows standing at the fence observing me. I was glad there was a fence because I have a sneaking suspicion that they would have come right up to my chair. Cows are such curious creatures, but I do have my qualms about them, ever since being chased in the outback by a herd of cows. Frightening ordeal that was – even though nobody believes me.
Anyway, so I went over to the fence to make friends with them, as I always do. Now, I joked just the other week about singing Kum Bay Ya to a herd of cows…. and that my singing drew them in to me. I think my friends think I really DID sing them in…but I was kidding. Standing there at the fence though, sensing their nervousness at this immobile lump of a human that suddenly was upright and approaching them, I decided…well, what the heck…I’m going to sing to them! So I did. I started singing Amazing Grace, and I kid you not, but IMMEDIATELY five cows came straight over to me, huffing and snuffing and they were absolutely transfixed! Cows love singing! They are musical creatures! Whaddya know!
It made me want to cry, and I could not eat steak for the rest of the trip.
In the morning the cows were back at the fence. Maybe they wanted more serenading?
So we explored a bit more around Nundle. Nice rustic little place! There is a great shop there that sells all kinds of kitchen ware. All that enamel ware stuff that my husband always oohs and ahhs over and tells me every time he see’s it that this is what his mother used to cook baked custard in etc etc…but then he never buys it. Anyway, I bought two nice tea towels because they matched the colours in the van.
We had tea and scones in the Museum/B&B/cafe/gold mine tour place ( they have covered all bases there.)
The scones were good!
There are a few other little shops and businesses in Nundle worth having a look at. The Wool Mill, the Glass Gallery ( we bought some lovely glass coasters there), a second hand shop in the old Church, and a new little business selling goats milk products. Lovely lady owns and runs that and her dog is hysterical. It lays down head first at your feet and puts it’s butt in the air. I have no idea why, but it was very comical.
Is that a dog in sheep’s clothing?
And of course no town, no matter how small is complete without a pub.
On our way out of Nundle as we headed back towards Gloucester we stopped at a little body of water so I could take some photo’s of this old windmill in the water. Not too often you see that and there was just a little bit of mist too which made traipsing around in the mud a little bit more enticing. In much more beautiful light this little spot would be lovely for photography but my light was all blue, so I have converted these to black and white.
Bowling Alley Point Camping area is just around the corner from where this windmill in the water is and it looked like another good spot for both camping and photography. For the patient types I bet there are plenty of birds in this area too. We stopped so I could take a few pics of the many tree’s submerged in the water.
After having been to places like Ireland and the UK, Germany and Austria where the history is much more extensive and they have amazing old castles and Abbeys and breathtaking scenery almost always with mist and fog and all those things that fill my fantasy wired brain with such excitement…I must admit that photographing Australia for me personally brings many challenges. I’m just- in my head- so fantasy driven that much of our landscape I find less enchanting to capture. It’s always afterwards though, when I look back through photo’s I’ve taken that I realise we do have our own certain type of “magic” here in Australia. It’s more rustic somehow, rugged….but it’s there, and sometimes you just drive around a corner and bam….suddenly the light just does lovely things.
And how much more quintessentially Aussie could you get than a few sheep in the fog?
Our last night was spent in Gloucester Caravan park as we were having issues with the fridge and our water was running low. Not nearly as nice as the caravan park in Walcha and way too many people – to watch our reversing and hooking up antics. My husband bought walkie talkies to try and make this horribly stressful process more bearable, but it helps if he turns his onto the right channel! I felt like an idiot talking to – nobody, while he made such a racket trying to reverse in and then started muttering at me…for what? I did what I was told, while he thought I was saying nothing!
The amenities here are dated and apparently the mens showers are for midgets…. My husband explained how he had to do a lot of shower yoga, in order to get all his parts wet under the way too low shower head. You shouldn’t have to do the Limbo in order to get clean…but it would have been amusing to watch. He now says he has put his neck out with all his contortionist shower antics.
The bright neon yellow toilet seats in the ladies were a bit hard on the eyes in the morning too, but hey…a toilet is a toilet and it’s nice when they flush it all away instead of inside a plastic box sloshing away under your van. There was no crazy retching or heaving btw, from my husband when he emptied the toilet cassette, ( damn) but as punishment – or something? I was asked to make his bed. Hey, fair deal, but really considering I have changed many many bedpans in my time, I don’t think emptying the thing would really bother me all that much.
We had a couple of cupboards that came open inside the van on our travels. I nearly died when I discovered my laptop had fallen out of one, but in hindsight it was silly for me to have put it in there. (By some miracle it survived) We had issues with the fridge, but all in all things went well for our first trip towing the beast.
Coming DOWN that hill that we went up on the way there was terrifying! I was locked frozen in fear, holding my breath the whole way down. Hopefully our next trip out to Broken Hill, despite the name, will be devoid of hills!