As you might’ve discovered in my first blog, us motorcaravanning novices decided to chuck ourselves in at the deep end with an ambitious (for us!) fly-drive tour of Australia. In one week, would our first ‘van experience go swimmingly and campervan hire prove to be the idea of a lifetime, or would it leave us rushing for the nearest hotel?
On day two, we woke at the beachside Coledale Surf Life Saving camping reserve, a couple of hours south of Sydney, to – shock horror – a greyish sky. Even some drizzle. It doesn’t put off the surfers, though, nor the cockatiels whose racket has taken over from an endless night of chirruping by a million cicadas.
A full English – sorry, full Australian – brekkie is what’s needed this morning, something the facilities in our small but perfectly formed Hilux Hitop deliver with ease. With the back door open and a cabin full of ozone from the pounding surf just metres away, it tastes like the best breakfast ever.
Today the plan is to keep heading south for Wollongong, drop in on some relatives, check out the city centre (nice enough but not a must-see) and go in search of overnight motorhome heaven via a scenic bit of road called the Grand Pacific Drive.
Apollo, from whom we hired our Toyota Hilux campervan for a week’s whirlwind tour out of Sydney, had given us some campsite guides. As Apollo customers we could get a discount, but the problem seemed to be there just weren’t many to choose from, and they were more theme parks than camping reserves.
We didn’t want outback remote (have you ever seen the terrifying Aussie film Wake in Fright?), but neither did we want to be squeezed in between caravans, motorhomes and the children’s playground.
Kiama is a pretty holiday town in full jacaranda tree bloom. It has a well preserved historic side, lots of boutique shops and cafes and, the headline, a great big blowhole. Everyone who goes to Kiama visits the blowhole. The surf crashes into the rocks and is funnelled into a channel from which it erupts in a giant water spout with an enormous roar. Kids just love it.
Kids also love Kiama’s Easts Beach Holiday Park – there would be something wrong with them if they didn’t. So, yes, that’s right, for our second night, we fall into what we had been trying to avoid. Big, bold and complete with pools, cafes, ‘jumping pillows’, tennis courts and, most importantly, a massage studio, Easts (a family-run business for 75 years) is also bang on a beautiful, safe and sandy beach. Our powered pitch – at a hefty $46 a night – is also quiet, spacious and just one row back from the dunes. So, really, it is pretty perfect!
Not that the beach is busy. Nor is the Kiama Coastal Path that crosses the beach. Everyone is in the pool, or having a massage perhaps. So we walk along the cliffs in solitude, via secluded sandy beaches, on grassy uplands strewn with wild flowers and oleander bushes, punctuated by dry stone walls and with a lush green rolling countryside behind us. It had been rainforest until the English settlers turned it into dairy country. It’s a little like the Isle of Wight – on steroids.
There are advantages to campsites like this, and the camp kitchen is one of them. The spotless barbecue cooks my fillet steak to perfection for a superb al fresco dinner. At 8pm it’s dark but still 22C. There are few people around and it’s quiet, just the waves lapping softly. Oh, and the cicadas. A swim in the morning? Just try and stop us.
Since leaving Sydney we have covered only 170km (just over 100 miles) and the fuel tank is still over half full. Australia is a big country but you don’t need to spend all day driving to enjoy it. Could it be that we are living the motorcaravanning dream? So far, so good – what’s next?
For our second night, we fall into what we had been trying to avoid