Our friends Simon, Hilary and daughters (110 Around Oz) invited us for a camping trip down south of Sydney for the weekend. Having been stationery in Sydney for what seems like an eternity Xavier and I jumped at the opportunity to escape to the bush. An early start saw us heading south with minimal traffic, and within 3 hours we had headed inland from Nowra for the last few kilometres to Coolenden. The property is privately owned and given the recent chills of winter there were very few campers there.
Xavier and I checked out the Shoalhaven river that snakes around the perimeter of the property. Fast flowing and quite deep it is popular with kayakers and anglers alike, but way too cold at this time of year for a dip let alone a paddle.
Without the trusty Camprite trailer we had resorted to the other extreme, a tiny two-man tent, three poles that can be put up in a couple of minutes.
The weather gods were kind, and once the glowing sun sank behind the trees a roaring campfire replaced the warmth. With foil covered spuds in the coals, a pot of chili over the top, and the first bottle of red open the night was set.
The morning was overcast, threatening rain so Simon suggested we go for a drive. We packed up, and watched Satin Bower birds hopping around as we finished our breakfast.
As we turned off the dirt road onto Mintbush track and viewed a drop into what appeared to be a mud-bath I suddenly realised this wasn’t the Sunday drive I was expecting and I probably hadn’t prepared as well as I might have. Descending through the mud was fine but when Simon explained we’d return the same way I was left wishing I’d checked the winch was working ok. Dozens of dirtbikes ploughed their way around us as we negotiated the increasingly rocky descent. We negotiated the creek crossing then turned around before the track becomes known as Monkey Gum. With one hairy moment where I found myself leaning against the window to ensure enough wheels stayed in contact with road (two is usually enough to feel ok) the return was slow and steady, picking the path through rocks and washouts. The final mudbath exit proved easier than expected too. Two “souped up” cars made it look harder by getting temporarily bogged, and some aerial antics that must have hurt their undercarriage but we all exited gracefully and headed back for lunch and the return home. A very short but enjoyable weekend escape.