Frying Pan Creek

I thought I’d start off todays post by explaining how this little blog came about.  As you’ve seen we are a family who loves to camp and we wanted to meet some more like minded peeps so we created a “secret” Facebook group (this means that only the members of the group can see the posts) so that we could plan a monthly camp in a different destination each time. We invited friends and family whom we knew loved to camp and told them to invite others.  This way we would get to explore new areas and meet new people.

We also use the group page to share different tips and tricks and have a few laughs.  Its all in good fun!

Our first ever camp we planned was at Frying Pan Creek in the Chichester State Forest about 30 minutes from the small town of Dungog in the Hunter Region. The camp ground is quite easy to access with a 2WD and a caravan but in wet weather it would be recommended to have a 4WD as it can be quite slippery.

There is over 100 camp sites at Frying Pan with the creek for swimming, one drop toilet that is kept as best can be by Forest Rangers and a couple of tree swings.  The area is dog friendly but they are to be kept on a leash  at all times and obviously you need to clean up after your dog.

There is plenty to do up there from swimming in the creek, bush walking, 4WDing, fishing or take your push bike or motorbike and explore that way.

We arrived on the Friday on a beautiful sunny day to a flat camp ground of lush green grass and shady trees.  We set to work setting up camp with a stop for lunch and a quick beer.

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We like to set up in  a big circle so that we can have a cosy camp fire in the middle.

That afternoon was spent relaxing around camp and Trish and I decided to take our cameras and go for an explore.

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Can’t you just imagine this as a little fairy garden!

The next day we awoke to another beautiful sunny day and after breaky it was time to hit the river. The FREEZING cold river! The temperature stopped me from getting in but not the kids….or the big kids!

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There was a perfect swimming hole not far from our camp that was about waste deep and had a nice little sandy beach to walk down into the water.

 

That afternoon there was a massive downpour of rain that lasted a couple of hours. But we didn’t let that stop our fun, we had  fantastic group of people and even though it was wet it wasn’t cold so it just didn’t matter.

We all ran from camp to camp pushing up canvas and quick shades making sure nothing caved in from the weight of the water and the kids played all afternoon in the rain.

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Who needs an umbrella when you have a rubber dingy!
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Time for some bubbles after the rain

That night we had planned to have a big camp oven cook up on the fire…sooo it was time to improvise and we all put our camp ovens on our little propane burner stoves and still managed to hook into a delicious roast whilst the rain kept coming.  It was a good test for everybody’s campers and tents because it rained steadily all night and luckily nobody got wet!

We awoke on the last day to another lovely sunny day.  We all had a slow breakfast having a big cook up.  There were smells of bacon, eggs, sausages and pan cakes all over the campsite and then it was time to pack up.  Luckily those of us with canvas campers and tents had all put tarps over the top so our setups were all quite dry.

After pack up on the last day we try our hardest to get a group shot at all of our camps, of course that doesn’t always workout for us but if we can manage it, its nice to have the memory of everybody that attended.

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The Aussie Camping Capers Clan

Frying Pan Creek is a beautiful spot and we’ll definitely be heading back there, especially with so many different camp grounds to explore!

 

Cheers

Ez & Trish

xx

 

(Words by Ez, photos by Trish)

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Cape York – Part 4 – The Tip

So…where were we…oh thats right! Car trouble…again! The Hilux had gone into limp mode, the boys stopped and worked on it a few times but eventually we took it to the RACQ mechanic at Bamaga who was kind enough to let them work on it in his workshop and use his tools but it was soon obvious that the Hilux would be staying at the mechanic workshop, at least for the night.

We ended up having to hire a small car to get around and spent our first night at the Seisia Holiday Park.  Our friends J & K had to get a cabin since their roof top tent was now living at the Mechanic with their ute.  Marty and I camped next door in ours with Wilso in his usual spot swagging it under the ute awning.

Seisia is the most northern community on mainland Australia. The holiday park is right on the beach and has stray/random dogs (quite a lot have collars on) roaming around everywhere…along with horses that you occasionally see one of the local kids riding…no saddle, bridle or any other gear…just cruising around on possibly a wild horse…which is pretty cool!

The amenities were clean and therefore fantastic! Especially after spending a few nights free camping without any, and there is a kiosk/cafe which again is amazing when you haven’t seen decent coffee for a week or so!

That night we decided we couldn’t be bothered cooking and needed a decent meal, we headed to the restaraunt at the Cape York Peninsula Lodge.  We were a mess, hadn’t showered in a couple of days but didn’t care, we deserved a delicious meal and that it was!

The next day was spent getting ourselves organised. The boys went back to the mechanic to go through a process of elimination to try and work out what was going on with the Hilux whilst K and I set about finding a place to stay that would house all 5 of us.  We decided on Loyalty Beach.  The only problem was that the little Toyota Yaris that we’d hired to get around in was not allowed to go off the tar roads so it was back to the car hire office to find another (Marty and I had actually taken one of the seats out of the back of the Navara for a second engle fridge that we used as a freezer and therefore made it only a 4 seater, not very helpful with 5 people). We decided that a Land Cruiser would do the job to get us all around together.

We hired the “beach house” at Loyalty Beach….which actually turned out to be a two story open air shed…not quite the luxury we were hoping for…but hey…it did the job!

Loyalty Beach is another beach front park with a small kiosk at the front desk and you can also book tours there, I can’t speak of the amenities as we didn’t need to use them.  The staff are all very friendly and all came over for a chat to hear our story (which I’m sure they’d heard many times before) when they saw that we had the whole of the inside of the Navara pulled out, airing out in the sunshine for days on end! The park also has a fantastic restaurant and bar that has a great vibe and delicious food.  Perfect for happy hour that then continues onto dinner whilst you watch the sunset over the beach.

So today was the day we were going to the tip! We all piled into the LandCruiser and off we went.  There is a bit of a walk when you get there but it is definitely worth it!

We had vowed that when we finally made it to the tip we would do the Salty Rain Dance….its amazing the looks you get when you break out into dance at the top of a hill….

After we’d had a beer at the sign, had a swim in the Coral Sea and done our little happy dance at the top, we headed on back down and dropped into Punsand Bay Corrugation Bar for a drink and some lunch and ended up sitting with some other campers and sharing stories of our trip.  It was great meeting other people and seeing how they had faired the Tele Track.

On the way back past the local Mechanic we dropped in to check on the Hilux and were informed that they couldn’t find the issue and there was no way it was driving back out of town.  We’d have to book it onto a barge to be sent back to Cairns.  We decided to make the most of our time up here since we’d be spending another couple of nights until we could get the ute on the boat and the others on a plane!

The next day was a tour of Thursday Island, an Island of the Torres Straight Islands located approximately 39kms off the coast of the Cape York Peninsula. You can get a return ticket for around $116 each on Peddell’s Ferry and they also combine tours with your ferry ride.  We did the Thursday Island Tour with a local Guide.

The bus tours takes you around the whole of the Island and stops off at Green Hill Fort with its under ground tunnels and rooms that house the historical museum.  You’ll also stop off at the local cemetery where you learn about the traditions and rituals of the local islanders regarding the death of loved ones and see the beautifully decorated headstones.

There is then plenty of time to check out the lovely bars and restaurants before you head off back to Seisia on the Ferry.

We had one more night before Marty & I had to start heading back down towards Cairns. We spent the night back at Seisia and went to the local fishing club for burgers, footy and karaoke.

We were lucky enough to meet another couple, Gaz & Lyn, who would be heading off the same day as us and therefore we didn’t have to travel alone. We stuck to the bypass road for the trip back down but stopped in at a couple of little spots on the tele track to see a few of the crossings that we missed on the way up.

We spent the night at the Archer River Roadhouse.  The camp ground was nice and shaded, the amenities clean and you could get a feed and some general supplies at the roadhouse.

Marty and I decided to take a different route after Archer River and turned off at Musgrave Station to go through the Lakefield National Park and would meet up with Gaz & Lyn at the Lions Den Hotel that afternoon.

One of our most favourite places on the whole trip was the Lions Den Hotel on the Bloomfield Track between Cooktown and Cape Tribulation and of course it was the one time in the whole trip that I didn’t have my phone or camera attached to me at all times so I have no photos.  You walk in and are surrounded by history…and underwear…I’m not kidding, it is hanging on the walls all around you!

There is powered and unpowered sites along with onsite cabins and safari tents.  The amenities include showers, toilets and a laundry and there is also bbq facilities and a kids play ground.  The meals and atmosphere are great and then in the mornings you can score breaky and a coffee…although you do have to be willing to line up!

We headed down the Bloomfield Track towards Cape Tribulation.  We’d heard that it could be a tricky road with steep climbs and river crossings.  It was quite windy and steep but we’d had a LOT of hot weather since we’d been away and did have any trouble with river crossings or slippery roads, although we did stop for lunch and a swim in one of the river crossings!

Marty and I had been to Cape Tribulation before so apart from stopping to have one last beer with Gaz & Lyn at the the Cow Bay Hotel where you’ll find the Bulls Bar, the longest single timber bar-top in the world!

After leaving our new travel partners we headed into Port Douglas where we would spend one last night before meeting up with J & K and Wilso in Cairns the next day.

I won’t do a post on our time in Cairns or the trip home.  Due to the fact that Marty and I had been there only 12 months before and the others were running low on cash after having to pay for flights and putting the hilux on the barge from Bamaga we really just hung out at the lagoon on the Esplanade, did a few touristy things like the Kuranda Rail and Skyrail and the night markets.  After we left Marty and I headed home on our own and stopped at a few spots until we got to Caloundra where we stayed with family for a few nights before heading home to Maitland.

As I said in my very first post of this series one of the best/worst holidays we’ve ever had!

Have you ever had a holiday like that?? Comment and let us know.

 

Cheers

Ez. x

Cape York – Part 3 – The Old Tele Track

So it was time to hit the Old Telegraph Track. Another regret we have from this trip is that we didn’t just bite the bullet and do the entire tele track, we only did the northern half. We went in via Bramwell Station and saw that Palm Creek was a mess, it was very steep and muddy and there were old bits of 4WD’s scattered everywhere…looked like carnage ha! So we decided that we liked our ute’s a bit too much to trash them at the first crossing and headed up the bypass road, which in hind sight was probably worse! Those corrugations were nasty!!

This post is going to be a bit of a photo vomit, because once we did hit the Tele Track it was fantastic fun! So here goes.

All of the river crossings were so much fun until…..Nolans Brook….

We drowned our Nissan Navara! In short…we were unprepared.  We had been having such a good time going through all of the river crossings and had walked each one before driving through but didn’t have any of our recovery gear set up and ready to go in case of an emergency.

The ute filled with water up to the gear stick and with it so did all of our stuff in the back.  The boys acted quickly and set up the snatch strap and got it out and luckily a man in the group that went through before us was a mechanic so he and the boys in our group spent the afternoon working on our ute and got it going again for us whilst we emptied the back and dried out our gear.

We ended up spending the night at Nolan’s Brook and watching many many other groups cross the river…each one making sure they had their recovery gear ready to go before beginning….oops! (We soon found out that Nolan’s is notorious and many cars are actually lost there…in face we even bought a stubby holder that says “I lost my car at Nolan’s and still made it to the tip”).

The next morning we repacked all of the soggy gear into the car and headed off for the last river crossing, the Jardine River, which thank goodness had a ferry.  We had to stop every 5-10 minutes to drain the bottom of the fuel filter and then prime it back up again to get the water out of the fuel.

So we fueled up, paid for our Ferry Pass and crossed the river into Bamaga…

and then…

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The Toyota Hilux died….

To be continued…

Cape York – Part 2 – The Red Dirt

So after the beautiful views of Lawn Hill Gorge it was back onto the red dirt.  Next stop…Karumba.

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We stopped in at the Burke & Wills Road House for lunch
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Dust devils along the road

Right on the Gulf of Carpentaria coast line, this is one place we wished we had the time spend more than one night.  We set up camp at the Karumba Point Sunset Caravan Park and set off to the Sunset Tavern for a delicious seafood dinner overlooking the water.

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The next morning we got up early and walked over to the water for a little bit of fishing before hitting the road again.

Then it was back into the ute for some more dirt! Today we were heading to Musgrave Station.  We were driving through gigantic properties, through heards of cattle and horses, past amazing farm houses and stopping to open and shut gates.  It was pretty awesome!

At one stage we had a feeling that we weren’t heading in the right direction, I checked our HEMA Maps on Marty’s phone (which I might add worked off the GPS even though there was no service) and it turns out that we’d missed a tiny little dirt lane that turned off to the right and were heading into a zero alcohol aboriginal settlement with a LOT of alcohol in our utes (Karumba was the last shopping stop before getting to Bamaga at Cape York) so we did a quick U-turn and headed back to find our turn off to cross the Mitchell River.

We made it to Musgrave Station that evening just on dark and quickly set up camp, the beauty of a roof top ten is that you just flip it over and your set up…setting up camp is always quick!

“Musgrave is the only overland telegraph station that remains as the old wire has been replaced with modern microwave radio systems and optic fibre”

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Musgrave Station has clean showers and toilets, a Roadhouse where you can buy meals and a shop where you can get a few supplies and souvenirs and is the last place you can get fuel before Bramwell Station at the entrance of the Telegraph Track.

That morning we also ran into a group of friends whom we knew were doing the same trip but were taking a different route.  We quickly learned that between here and the tip we would start running into the same groups of people at each place we stayed which was great as we got to hear stories of everybody’s adventures along the way.

Our next stop for the night was Moreton Telegraph Station, this was about 300kms of dirt/gravel road.  One very interesting  thing we saw along the way was a guy on a pushbike with a little trailer attached, we had to pull over for him because a road train came towards us and we completely lost sight of him with the massive dust cloud that flew up after the truck (we later found out that he was riding all the way to the tip, he peddled into Moreton Station the next morning as we were leaving! That’s one damn long bike ride!).

We had a quick stop in a Coen, a tiny town where you could drop into the Sexchange Hotel should you feel the need for a beverage and…..a sexchange? hmmm…maybe not!

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On arrival at Moreton Station set up camp and set off to explore.  There are wild cattle wondering about the place everywhere, they’re used to people and just cruise about unfazed, although obviously you’re not to approach them.  There is a little tuckshop where you also pay your camp fees and say hi to the resident green tree frogs that seem to line the walls and there is also a restaurant out the back that only takes group bookings when people stay in the cabins.

We had a fantastic time at Moreton, we met some of the workers there, most of them are back packers just stopping in for a few months to earn some extra dollars before taking off again.  We went for a swim and had a few drinks with them that evening to hear stories about their travels.

Lets just say that the next day was a bit of a slower start than previous stays….perhaps a few too many beverages with the stories from the night before or maybe it was too many stories…  But today we were hitting the tele track!

 

To be continued…

Weekly Photo Challenge – Numbers

Well we have skipped a couple of weeks of the weekly photo challenge over at The Daily Challenge but hey, life’s like that sometimes i guess we will just say we got busy living life rather than documenting it……That’s my excuse anyway!!! 🙂

So this weeks theme is numbers. I love this theme  this I think is a super awesome photo to go with it.

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This tree is at the Bramwell Junction Road House, Queensland.  The Road House is the last fuel stop before Bamaga at Cape York and the gateway to the famous 4WD track the Old Telegraph Track. Lots of number plates are lost at the first 4WDing crossing on the track and they are collected here on the tree.

Cheers

Trish & Ez xx

Cape York – Part 1 – And We’re Off!

So a couple of years ago Marty and I decided that we needed one more big holiday before heading down the parenting path. It was a toss up between going to the United States or going to Cape York. We weighed up the pros and cons and figured that after setting up the ute and buying all the gear we’d need for a big camping trip, it would probably cost around the same as a trip to the States only we’d have all of that gear forever to plan more trips in the future. So the Cape won!

Quite a bit of work had to be done to Nigel the Navara, but that will have to be a post for another time, and quite a bit of gear purchased to prepare for a 4 week trip through the Queensland outback and straight to the tip!

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So on 7 September 2013, 5 of us bounced out of bed at an ungodly hour with way too much energy and set off on what would be our most memorable holiday ever. It was somewhat of a disaster but also some of the most fun we’ve ever had.

After around 10.5 hours of driving we stopped in at St. George, Queensland for lunch on the Balonne River and a quick schooner at the St. George Hotel across the road, now it was stated that this hotel had “the best beer in Australia”…but that could have been 10.5 hours of driving talking so we’ll just say that that drink went down well!

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Then it was back onto those long straight roads to our first stop for the night, Mitchell QLD at the Neil Turner Weir.

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A slightly less early morning the next day and we hit the road heading for Ilfracombe with a population of around 360.  We stayed at the Ilfracombe Caravan Park, a really neat little park with friendly owners and clean, tidy amenities and the Artesian Spa is just up the road, but just be careful of the local emu’s who like to block the gate!

After dinner we headed up to the Wellshot Hotel where we chatted with some locals and played fetch with the owners border collie. It would would actually pick up tiny pebbles and rest them in the back of your shoe to get your attention to play some more.

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The Council Bi-Laws hanging in the Wellshot Hotel

Ilfracombe is also home of the “Machinery Mile”, an outdoor machinery museum, some of the machinery is very rare and all of it has been collected within 100 miles of town.

 

20 minutes down the road is Longreach so we stopped in there for some breaky and a snoop around the Stockmans Hall of Fame

 

Now when your leaving Longreach and heading through Outback Queensland you can’t NOT stop in at the Walkabout Creek Hotel at McKinlay, it would be an insult to growing up in the 80’s if we didn’t have a drink at the pub from Crocodile Dundee!

That night we stayed in the small town of Cloncurry, had a quiet dinner and an early night ready for another early start the next day.

Today we were heading for Lawn Hill National Park, a good 6 hour drive in front of us through MASSIVE stations, it really was an eye opener!

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This was the beginning of the never-ending red dirt!
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Be careful out here in the outback…..cows eat cars!!!

The Lawn Hill National Park, which is actually now known as the Boojamulla National Park is in the Gulf Country region of North West Queensland near the Northern Territory border.  We got a big shock driving into the Lawn Hill Station, it was very red, dusty, baron land that seemed to be in serious drought….and then we hit Adeles Grove.

Adeles Grove Camping park is 10 km outside of the National Park and from the Lawn Hill Gorge.  It is beautiful and lush like a forest! We set up camp and spent the afternoon swimming in the beautiful clear (and quite cold!) Lawn Hill Creek…that yes apparently does have fresh water crocodiles in it but we didn’t see any and then relaxed with happy hour!

 

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This is what happens when your too big for the rope swing…sorry kids!

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The next morning we headed out for some kayaking and swimming in the amazing Lawn Hill Gorge.

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I think I’ll leave you with the amazing images of Lawn Hill and pick up on this on another day!

 

To be continued….

 

Ez.

Weekly Photo Challenge-Earth

We have decided to join the weekly photo challenge over at The Daily Post this weeks theme being Earth

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EARTH

Such a great  theme, I had a hard time narrowing down my choices but opted to go with something that grows from the earth A native Australian tree, the paper bark tree

I love how the bark slowly lifts in beautiful textural layers Unlike the hard scratchy bark of most trees the paperbark feels soft almost silky .

A part of the Melaleuca  family the paperbark grows to around 15-20m tall & only grows in the warmer coastal areas from Sydney to Cape York. It has beautiful creamy white blossoms toward the end of summer & a small brown berry that looks like a gumnut

This one grows in my street & my children often stop to steal a piece of its beautiful bark when we walk by.

Do you have a paperbark in your neighbourhood?

CHEERS

Trish xo

Troopy Transformation

I would like to introduce the Troopy….

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We often call it “Busted Mustard” due to its colour & current state.

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Eventually we hope it can become “Trusted Mustard” as this old beast has a big job ahead of it.

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This old HJ47 Landcruiser Troop carrier is about to be stripped down piece by piece until its a bare chassis .

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Each individual part will be sandblasted any necessary repairs carried out &  resprayed ready for a ground up rebuild

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The engine will be completely rebuilt new suspension & a lift kit will be installed
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Interior wise, there will be a total transformation with new seats & a few upgrades to bring it in to the current century with some fantastic technology to ensure the kids stay entertained on the long trips. There are so many decisions yet to be made but plenty of time to make them. It really is an enormous project one that intimidates the heck out of me due to my total lack of mechanical knowledge but my husband who has done things like this in the past is completely at ease with the whole process.
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The boot area will be fitted out for optimum storage for travel & camping as this Landcruiser is going to take us all around this beautiful country starting with a trip through Western Australia next April but that is a whole other post.

I will be sure to keep you updated with the troopy transformation so don’t forget to stop by again soon.

Cheers

Trish xo

 

 

 

 

Country River Camp

A couple of Easter’s ago we decided that we wanted to do a big long weekend camp with a heap of our mates, the problem was that it was Easter Long Weekend and everyone else in the Hunter Valley had decided that they wanted to do the same thing.

Every local that we spoke to rained on our parade with every camp site that we could come up with “you will find it really hard to find a spot there, it will be packed” was the response to every destination.

But we persisted! Our trusty hubbies Marty & Mick decided they would go for a drive to find the property of a friend who said we could camp there if we wanted.  It turns out that they couldn’t find his property but they did find Country River Camp on Washpool Road, Booral, just outside of Stroud.

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These are the pictures that they sent us and as soon as we saw all of that beautiful lush green leafy-ness we knew that it was the right place for us.

Country River Camp is a privately owned by a lovely lady named Margaret and her husband (who both love a chat).  The facilities are great with lovely clean toilets and showers that run on solar power, so make sure you get your shower in before the sun goes down and take a torch for the late night toilet run. There are no powered sites so you will have to supply your own power source, should you need it. Thankfully we have a great solar set up.

The pamphlet that we were given states that the activities are “bird watching, bush walking, play a family  game of cricket, soccer or touch footy, bring your camera along or put your canoe or blow up boat into the river”….in other words theres no activities at Country River Camp and its fantastic! There is no phone service….no interruptions. Just complete relaxation.

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The river was stunning but the water was pretty cold

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There were a few other campers set up when we got there, but we had the whole of one end to ourselves and we filled it!

We actually did play a family game of cricket which to this day I can safely say was the funniest game of cricket we have ever played and we did put our blow up boats in the river.

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We had a fire each night that we sat around talking and listening to a good friend play his guitar, requesting songs and having a bit of a sing along.  It was a really great weekend!

So if you are ever in the Hunter and looking for a nice quiet place to stay. A place that has a beautiful leafy green back drop, a nice river to take a dip in and some good conversation with the property owners who have a wealth of local knowledge then visit Country River Camp at Booral.

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Do you have plans for this years Easter Long Weekend? Feel free to comment below and fill us in!

 

Cheers

Ez. x

Glamping

It all starts with a beautiful drive to a fabulous, tranquil location……

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you might say an enchanted forest…..
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set up your miniature pink tent with fabulous bedding……….

Spark up a mesmerising camp fire.

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Collect beautiful wild daisies from the side of the river…….
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arrange them in your best camping vase…..an empty cider bottle
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& enjoy a glass of wine & your favourite magazine………..
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while your partner brings you incredible yellow butterflies,  well moths really but butterfly sounds so much more glamorous…….
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Ah, the life of a wanna be princess.

It just goes to show, you can style the heck out of your camp site & bring a bit of girlie glamour to your weekend, even if it means spray painting a milk crate pink for the occassion.

Are you a “glamper”?

CHEERS

Trish xo