Our second week of vanlife started in Bushy Tail Caravan Park situated opposite Jervis Bay in St George’s Basin. It was only a fifteen minute drive to the main beaches and town and, for $33.50 a night for a powered site, we couldn’t say no. It meant we could finally charge up all of our devices and relax by knowing we didn’t have to find a free camp. The park itself was mostly permanent sites with only one or two for people like us. We didn’t really take in the name of the park until, out of nowhere, two kangaroos just bounced passed the side of us and stood eating about four foot in front of us. We spotted more roaming the park and, in the morning, we had about sixteen around us. The only downside is that they smell a bit, their poo is everywhere and they’ve most likely got fleas. They are cute though.We stayed at this park for three nights; Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Emma’s birthday was on the Tuesday and we weren’t exactly prepared given our new nomadic lifestyle. To celebrate we went into Huskisson for a meal but the weather turned drastically into a massive downpour. We still had a great time and, obviously, we had burgers.
At the southern end of Jervis Bay is Booderee National Park. This was our first trip into a National Park and for $11 you got two days access. There were some extremely remote beaches at Green Patch, Bristol Point and Cave Beach. We checked them all out and did some bush walking up to cliff viewpoints. On Wednesday we decided to head further south as someone mentioned the beaches were excellent around Mollymook. We couldn’t find any free camps and ended up staying in a holiday park, during the kids’ summer holidays, in Ulladulla. We paid $40 for the privilege of listening to screaming kids running around and Trolls being the movie of choice for the outdoor cinema. There wasn’t much in Ulladulla to make it worth it. Needless to say we wanted to move on again.
The coast is extremely busy at this time of year and some of the prices we were being quoted was crazy. One place wanted over $100 for an unpowered site. We both decided that it would be better to head inland where there are free camps aplenty and less people. Looking at the map, Canberra was the obvious choice. I didn’t realise however that the steepest and longest mountain climb was to come. Rising up from the coast, we climbed up very very slowly. I thought that either the campervan was far too heavy or there was an issue with the engine. All I really knew about Canberra was that it was the capital of Australia. Lonely Planet’s description mainly focused on a few museums and did say that it was quiet around Christmas and New Year. I didn’t know what to expect but I was quite intrigued.
For two nights, we stayed approximately thirty minutes east of Canberra at the Bungendore Showgrounds. It’s looked after by a lovely couple, Ken & Ann, who brought over homemade scones with cream and jam after we’d set up. For $22, we had power and water. An absolute bargain. Again though, we had to contend with a massive electrical storm and heavy rain. I think it’d rained almost every day up to that point.
On Friday, we drove into Canberra and had a good few hours at the National Museum of Australia which was really interesting. My first impressions of Canberra was that it was a weird city. There are wide avenues like in America and you cannot walk anywhere. Nothing is set out in a conventional way. I guess that was the idea of the American architects who won a competition to design the city.
We saved Saturday for our proper exploration of Canberra. I felt that I hadn’t had enough time to really judge the city the day before. We first went to the National War Memorial and Museum which was absolutely huge. Probably one of the best museums I’ve been to with so much information and artefacts. The highlight was the Afghanistan exhibition with hundreds of personal stories. Directly behind the Memorial lies Mount Ainslie, from which we hoped to get a birds eye view of Canberra and try to suss out the layout. There was a lot of information about the architects’ plans for Canberra and the original drawings of course matched what we were seeing below us. I found it fascinating that neither had been to Australia when coming up with their ideas. The roads towards the city centre were completely empty, it was like a ghost town. We walked through a modern shopping centre (which is essentially the high street) and there were so few people it felt strange. I don’t like a place when it is far too crowded but this was something else. Lonely Planet weren’t wrong about the city being quiet.
Disappointed, we were quick to escape and drive north back towards the Hume Highway which had taken us from Melbourne to Sydney. I’m afraid we won’t be going back to Canberra.
To end the week, we had a free overnighter at the side of Lake George, or at least where the lake used to be. This was probably the worst place we had been for bugs. We had twenty four mosquitoes and three spiders in the van which kept us up most of the night trying to find and kill them. They were driving me crazy; buzzing around my ear and then hiding when I shone my torch. I also saw the biggest spider yet, legs like fingers trying to crawl out of the tiniest gap. I quickly made my way back to the van.
The plan for week three is to return to Sydney, try and get an awning with a mosquito net and get the van checked over. Maybe then we can head into the Blue Mountains.