Setting off on their first big trip in their renovated 1978 Viscount caravan along the South East Coast of Australia.
South Coast road trip in a renovated 1978 Viscount caravan
Chris and Ben Stoertebecker of Our Sandy Days, together with their three kids, venture on their first big trip in their renovated 1978 Viscount caravan – affectionately known as Sandy – along the South East Coast of Australia.
We call South Gippsland our home – a place that is hot in summer, but bitterly cold in winter. When planning our first major road trip together as a family in our recently renovated caravan, we decide the beginning of spring is an ideal time to escape the cool weather in what feels like another long Victorian winter. The white sand and turquoise waters of Jervis Bay have been calling to us for some time, and it quickly tops our bucket list after Sandy joins our family’s ranks.
First stop: Pambula Beach
With the car packed to the max, we drive all the way to Discovery Parks – Pambula Beach in one go, arriving at our beautiful camp site backing on to the beach just as the yawns really set in. Sites this close to the beach are our favourite type of holiday as watching the sunrise over the water in our pyjamas is something we don’t get to do at home. We also adore listening to the waves hugging the shore at night.
The holiday park is amazing and the kids’ club wins us over immediately, with organised craft activities and stocked with toys for every age. Meeting the locals is a highlight – a group of very friendly kangaroos that literally hop right up to us – the kids ohhing and ahhing in surprise and delight.
On the days when we venture outside of the holiday park, we explore the many sprawling walking tracks around Pambula Beach and travel to the breathtaking Nethercote Falls, only a 20-minute drive from our accommodation. The crystal-clear waters stand out against the lush green bush setting, creating one of those postcard-perfect settings. It’s a decent hike but the kids survive and, although there isn’t any waterfall due to the longstanding drought, we love climbing the rocks, dipping our feet in the water, enjoying a picnic and swimming in the rock pools.
Second stop: Kiama
Our next stop from Pambula takes us through the lush green landscapes of the South Coast on a five-and-a-half-hour drive up to Kiama – a lovely town where you can stop just about anywhere and overlook the ocean one way and rolling hills the other.
BIG4 Easts Beach Holiday Park is our home for the next week and very few words can describe how amazing this place is. From the moment we check in with the lovely folk at reception we know we are in for a treat when the kids are gifted little holiday packs full of puzzles and word searches. Sandy is also happy: she has plenty of room in our huge campsite, which comes complete with green matting to drain away the sand from adventurous little feet.
As soon as we drive in and park, the kids are immediately drawn to the beach, which is just a stone’s throw away. Afterwards, their attention quickly diverts to all the entertainment options on offer, including a playground, aquaventure park, outdoor pool, indoor games room and jumping pillow. A serene little river filled with not-so-cute looking eels runs past our site, but the kids take an instant liking to the slippery fish and decide to give them all names. If you visit, be sure to say hello to Hooky the eel with a red fish hook stuck in its mouth, from us.
Our days are filled with early morning sunrises, bike rides and regular visits to the aquaventure park, which is the best one we’ve come across so far with its splash area for the little ones and big slides for the brave. The indoor games room features a cushioned playground, which ends up being the perfect escape for our one-year-old.
We love to explore by foot, so we spend a day venturing along the gorgeous Kiama Coastal Walk, which encompasses ocean views, stunning rock formations and unspoilt beaches. The challenging yet fun walk is accessible straight from the beach, and before we know it, we have hiked five kilometres into Kiama. Once in town, we find a wonderful beachside market where we pick up a few bargains and stop by the famous blowhole for a few laughs (and a few pieces of drenched clothing).
A day trip to the historic town of Berry turns out to be a real winner, in large part due to our first stop: the world-famous doughnut van. Pop this on your to-do list, the doughnuts are the warmest, most freshly baked circles of cinnamon we’ve ever had! We also take a longer journey down to Huskisson, a popular family holiday destination, and while it boasts numerous boutique shops, cafes and whale-watching tours, it is also a beautiful seaside town with a chilled vibe. It’s the ideal spot to stop and refuel before Jervis Bay and reminds us of a place close to home – Wilson’s Promontory – also a nature lover’s paradise.
After paying the $12 entry fee for Booderee National Park, we head to Green Patch and wander down the beach. It’s an overcast day so we don’t get the turquoise waters we are searching for and it’s not quite hot enough to swim, but it’s a lovely visit nonetheless due to the pretty scenery. It’s somewhere we’d love to visit again, perhaps without the kids, to attempt some more epic hiking around the bays.
Third stop: Eden
We are sad to leave Kiama, but it’s time to head back down south on our journey home. We settle in at Discovery Parks – Eden, a spacious beachside spot just a couple of minutes from the amenities of town. Our campsite is located at the rear of the park, where we are joined by only two other caravans. We get Sandy ready for another stint before letting the kids loose to explore … after six hours in the car, you can just imagine how we are all feeling! The little ones set off on their bikes to check out the holiday park, returning an hour later with hands full of flower bouquets to brighten up the caravan.
We can’t believe how close we are to the beach yet again. There is a path that leads to the ocean where we watch the most incredible sunrises – there’s just something about a sunrise over the water that #getsusverytime. The park’s facilities are fabulous: the grass sites are huge, the pool area boasts a small slide, baby splash pool and heated spa, and the toilet and laundry block, while stylishly retro on the outside, are modern and clean on the inside. The super-hot water is an added bonus.
As for Eden itself, we travel into town and spot whales frolicking in the bay from the top of the hill, then visit the ocean pool on Aslings Beach. This little slice of paradise is surrounded by giant red rock cliffs that protect it from the wind and the shallow water is warm. We will visit Eden again just to take a dip here in the summer months.
Fourth stop: Mallacoota
Like all great holidays, we don’t want it to end, but it is time to head back to South Gippsland. We plan on driving straight home from Eden, but our hearts are calling us to Mallacoota. We have camped here a couple of times and don’t often get this close. Of course, we can’t resist and decide to extend our trip (the weather may be persuading us too, it’s a balmy 27-degree day), driving to Mallacoota Foreshore Holiday Park and getting Sandy ready for just one last night.
We have always loved it here; the town has everything we need, the huge caravan park has an array of lovely walking tracks close by and the beach is literally our backyard. We dine on delicious noodles at Lucy’s for dinner before taking a walk out to Bastion Point, which is great for prams with its sealed path. We pack up early the next day and, although disappointed that our trip has finally come to an end, we are excited to start planning our next adventure with Sandy.
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Ben (the dad, shift worker and handyman), Chris (the mum, photographer and treasure finder) and kids (Mermaid, Seal and Turtle) are sharing their adventures on their blog, Our Sandy Days. The family calls the rolling hills of South Gippsland home and they plan on exploring Australia in their renovated caravan, Sandy, starting with trips close by in Victoria and New South Wales.
All images © Our Sandy Days
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