There are two main things that I love about camping – adventure and pure relaxation. And yep, you guessed it: Wollondilly River Station, NSW, has got both of these things in spades.
Now, this isn’t exactly one of those iconic places like the Cape or the High Country, it’s more the type of spot where you can relax for a few days before you have to drag your sorry behind back to work, which is exactly what we did. If you’re Sydney-based, it’s the sort of place you can visit to escape the rat-race for a quick weekend getaway. In fact, even if you’re from out of town, it’s the perfect spot to check-in to for a few days or more.
With a few days to spare and the weather looking pretty good, we decided to make the most of it and check out what Wollondilly River Station and its surrounds had to offer, and it’s pretty safe to say we had a bloody awesome trip!
You’ll find Wollondilly River Station in the beautiful Southern Highlands of New South Wales. It lies around 50km west of Bowral and Mittagong on Wombeyan Caves Road, right on the Goodmans Ford on the Wollondilly River. It’s only three hours from Sydney or two-and-a-half hours from Canberra, making it the ideal weekend getaway.
If you’re visiting from Sydney, take the Mittagong turn-off on the M5 motorway, and drive into Mittagong. In the town centre, at the lights, take the right lane towards Berrima and Wombeyan Caves (Hume Highway) and take the right-hand turn on to Wombeyan Caves Road about 5km up the road. Follow the road for another 45km until you hit the bridge at Goodmans Ford and you‘ve made it.
PRIME RIVERSIDE CAMPING
There’s not a camper alive who doesn’t like a relaxing campsite right next to the river. I mean, there are some people that will choose a hotel over a tent but I’m talking about sane people! So the hardest part about nabbing yourself a prime piece of real estate here at Wollondilly Station is choosing from all the prime spots. If you can’t tell by the photos, we got an absolute cracker! Now, I don’t want to tell you how to live your life, but if you’ve got a hammock, this place is practically made for it. The trees are spaced perfectly apart, the breeze is smack bang on the money and the serenity is simply superb.
THINGS TO DO
If lazing around in a hammock for a few days isn’t your style, I’m sure a leisurely paddle downstream will do the trick. Nothing much compares to canoeing in these parts, just ask the dog; she likes it more than I do, I think. You’ll find there are water dragon lizards all over the place here, and they don’t seem all that afraid of people, so you can get nice and close for a look. A variety of bird species fly up above and between the valleys. In fact, the amount of wildlife around here makes it the perfect place to try your hand at photography. Goats are found everywhere around here, including under the camper at one stage, the cheeky buggers!
There’s a maze of walking tracks around, and even a few spots to explore with the 4WD. Mountain bike riding is popular on the property, and if you own a horse they’re welcome to come along for the ride – it doesn’t get any more pet-friendly than that!
The river is full of fish, including trout, native Macquarie perch, bass and fresh water catfish. But here’s something you don’t hear every day; property owner Brian reckons you’ll have a ball catching and eating carp! Yep that’s right. He reckons the carp put up a great fight and, because they are being caught from a fresh water running stream instead of a muddy dam, they actually taste half decent. Use worms or even corn as bait and you might just be surprised.
ATTRACTIONS NEAR WOLLONDILLY
If you’re after a good day trip, roughly 15km down the road you’ll find Wombeyan Caves. This place is beautiful to visit during spring when the flowers are blooming, and there’s a bunch of walks like the Mares Forest Creek Walking Track and Victoria Arch Walking Track. The main attraction, of course, is the Wombeyan Caves themselves. The limestone caves of Wombeyan Karst Conservation Reserve are between 400 and 430 million years old and are a fascinating system to explore. There’s even a guided discovery tour, which is the perfect chance to learn the history and geology of the caves.
Here’s a fun fact for you – in 1865, Wombeyan became the first area in Australia to be reserved for the protection of caves and there are still structures dating from the early 1900s in some caves.
For a self-guided experience you’ll never forget, Figtree Cave is regarded as one of the best in New South Wales.
On the other side of the station, you’re just a hop, skip and a jump away from the Nattai National Park, which offers plenty of things to do. That includes the Wollondilly lookout, which gazes out across the eucalypt forests, sandstone cliffs and mountain ranges of Nattai National Park.
SLICE OF PARADISE
If you’re after a quick weekend escape that offers true bush camping complete with your own little slice of riverside perfection, you’ve found it. Plus, if that’s not enough to pack up the camper and bring the family out camping, the fact that you can even bring the dog along should do the trick. You can let your pooch relax around camp off-lead, providing he’s well behaved, that is.
Make sure you bring the canoe or at least an old tyre tube to float down the river in, and don’t forget the fishing rod and tackle either! I might not be able to catch a fish to save my life but I’m betting, with a bit of luck and persistence, you could catch plenty of absolute crackers in these parts!
Wollondilly River Station is about 165km from Sydney via the Hume Highway and Wombeyan Caves Road.
Camping fees are $15 per adult per night and $5 per school-age child per night; pets and children under six are free.
Visit www.wollondillyriverstation.com for information and to place a booking phone (02) 4888 9207 or for large bookings please fax (02) 4888 9271. No email bookings please.