Bendethera – May 2015

Wednesday 13th May.

Leaving Sydney at 10am after dropping the kids off at school we were on our way. We decided to travel down the Princess Highway, to Moruya. It took roughly 1.5 hours to get through Sydney….due to the normal Sydney traffic. We finally arrived in Berry, was overcast, just before 1pm with the speedo reading 158km.

We had a pie each from the Berry Bakehouse, then after that, bought a coffee from the famous Berry Donut Van, with of course two donuts….We did have to wait for a bit as there was a small hail storm passing us by, didn’t last long, but wasn’t expected at all. Donuts were sensational, as was the coffee, and Jason said his Steak and Pepper Pie was one of the nicest he has had for a very long time!

On our way by roughly 1.15pm, arriving in Moruya by 3.20pm filling up the tank just to be sure. We turned off on the Bendethera F/T just before 4pm.

Bendethera F/T.
Bendethera F/T.

Was getting dark, having to drive with the spotty’s on, arriving at the Bendethera Campground by about 6.30pm, 367km from Sydney. It was a steep descent, with also a few climbs thrown in for good measure. Towards the end of the F/T there were quite a few erosion mounds, making for a slow trip, especially with the camper trailer. We also stopped twice on the track to gather some firewood, as the campground is in National Park, chainsaws are not permitted.

After doing some reading we knew there were a few areas to camp, most saying don’t camp in the first area but go to the second or third area, which was across three rivers. As it was total darkness when we arrived, we finally found a spot, thinking we were in maybe the second one….wrong! Come morning we discovered we were in the first area! We set the tent up, had a quick cup of tea with no dinner and hit the sack, not only because we were tired, but because it was about 5 degs!!!! Nasty.

Thursday 14th May.

One of the Bendethera Campgrounds.
One of the Bendethera Campgrounds.
We were the only ones there for a day or two....ahhh the serenity!
We were the only ones there for a day or two….ahhh the serenity!
Our Complete Campsite.
Our Complete Campsite.

Was a restless nights sleep, we were both cold…..needing extra sleeping bag layers to warm us up! We finally got up, but only after the sun had made its way over the hill. After arriving in the dark, we both decided that we managed to pick a fairly good spot, despite it been in the first area, was on level ground, which is a start for us at least!

We had breaky, including our camp coffee, courtesy of La Crema Lounge in Allambie Heights, which I can’t do without. As we had been in the truck for a while the day before, we decided not to do too much today, except see the other areas where we were MEANT to camp. We discovered it was a huge campground, with massive areas of camping available. We drove around the whole area, stopping to look at the ruins from the old homestead and horseyards, dating back to 1910.

The site of the old Homestead and Horseyards.
The site of the old Homestead and Horseyards.
The Horseyards.
The Horseyards.
The instructions for baking bread.
The instructions for baking bread.
The appliance for baking bread.
The appliance for baking bread.

We travelled around the area, still the only ones there. We headed back to camp and although it was only early, a bit before lunch, we settled in for the afternoon. We had our fire all ready to go when the sun went down, which didn’t take long as it ducked behind the hill and that was that!!! We got the fire going, about 2.30pm, as it was going to be another cold night. The locals had started to make their way out as well. Other campers had started to arrive by now, actually a club….the Land Rover Club!

More Bendethera locals.
More Bendethera locals.

Dinner was cooking, a lamb tomato stew, which was tasty and very warming on the insides.

Just kicking back.
Just kicking back.
Tomato Lamb Stew....very warming on the insides!
Tomato Lamb Stew….very warming on the insides!

Was another cold night, so it wasn’t long before we were in bed…..I think we lasted until about quarter past 8 tonight!!!!

Friday 15th May.

More of the Bendethera locals enjoying the morning sun.
More of the Bendethera locals enjoying the morning sun.

Was up after the sun had settled on our campsite….too cold otherwise! Decided to head to The Big Hole via The Dampier Mountain Fire Trail. Headed off about 10.30am, after breakfast and that must have coffee. The Dampier Mountain F/T was straight up the side of the mountain, with a sign specifically stating that camper trailers weren’t permitted. Although it was quite steep with numerous erosion mounds, it must have been the two very tight switch backs that made towing camper trailers up there too difficult.

Part of the Dampier Mountain F/T.
Part of the Dampier Mountain F/T.
Speaks for itself.....
Speaks for itself…..
Dampier Mountain Trig Point.
Dampier Mountain Trig Point.

We slowly made our way, finally reaching the trig point on top of Dampier Mountain. We then continued on, following Snowball Road (Krawarree Road) to the Big Hole. We arrived at the parking, picnic and camping area where the walk to the Big Hole begins. We followed the trail for a short while before having to cross the Shoal Haven River. It was rather high and as I didn’t want to get my feet wet, I was ‘piggy backed’ across.

This cold and high Shoalhaven River.
This cold and high Shoalhaven River.
My Knight!
My Knight!

The walk wasn’t difficult, but slightly uphill at times. There was a fairly easy trail to follow, only 1.8km each way. It took us about 40mins to get to the viewing platform. Lucky for the viewing platform with the safety railing….looking down, made my insides go funny at one point! Was an interesting place to visit and read about on the information plaque, well worth the visit and walk to get there.

The Big Hole.
The Big Hole.
Lucky for that Railing.
Lucky for that Railing.
The trail to the Big Hole.
The trail to the Big Hole.

We headed back to the Truck where we had lunch before heading to the Wyanbene Caves for a look. We travelled back down Snowball Road turning off at Wyanbene Road. Took about 15-20 mins before we arrived at the carpark for the short walk to the caves. Off we went, was a very short walk, the last 5 mins slightly steep, but nothing too bad. We arrived at the gate of the cave, not really prepared to head down them. Jason walked down the ladder to the first platform but not much further in than that.

Wyanbene Caves.
Wyanbene Caves.
I wonder if the Postie ever gets confused?
I wonder if the Postie ever gets confused?

We headed back to the truck, driving back to Bendethera Campground, via the Dampier Mountain F/T again. Was straight down, as it was straight up. We arrived back to camp by about 2.30-3pm. We got the fire going, having a well deserved beer at the same time, yet again enjoying the company of the Bendethera locals. We were having grilled chicken with a homemade satay sauce, serving it with rice. Was yet again going to be a cool, actually cold evening.

Saturday 16th May.

Was a beautiful morning in camp although still rather fresh. We had a slow start to the morning, having bacon and egg wraps for breakfast….and yes with that coffee too!!! We were heading to the Bendethera Cave, so a fair walk in front of us, hence the breakfast, we needed our energy!

One of the Bendethera Campgrounds.
One of the Bendethera Campgrounds.

We drove to the start of the walk to the caves, which is actually at the end of the Bendethera Camping area. Off we set for our walk which was a bit before 11am. We were told it was a rather steep finish, the last km or 2. The track was easy to follow, there were 10 river crossings, most easy with steeping stones, some not so much! (I didn’t need a ‘piggy back’ with any of these crossing though!)

The last part was steep, having to scramble up a few rocks, over tree trunks and the like, finally making it to the entry of the caves. We left a backpack at the start and off we went. Was fairly damp inside, with a few very steep climbs inside, using chains and foot pegs to lift ourselves up. We got to a point inside where we both decided to turn around. We had climbed through some tight holes and were already covered in bat poo and didn’t really fancy getting absolutely covered. We stayed in the caves for a little while before climbing back out, both ways tight, muddy, steep and slippery. Was a great experience though and one I would definitely recommend. We decided that it wouldn’t be overly suitable for children, both the caving and the walk up there. Was very enjoyable though.

Inside the Bendethera Cave.
Inside the Bendethera Cave.
The light at the end of the tunnel.....
The light at the end of the tunnel…..
Covered in bat poo....very pleasant indeed.
Covered in bat poo….very pleasant indeed.
The entry to Bendethera Cave.
The entry to Bendethera Cave.
The view from Bendethera Cave.
The view from Bendethera Cave.

The journey down the hill was, I think, worse than the way up, I don’t enjoy going down….in truck or on foot actually! We made it back to the truck, including the 10 river crossings. It really doesn’t take that long to get back as what it takes to get there. Back in camp by before 3pm, the sun already setting behind the hills behind our campsite. We had decided to have showers, having a slight problem with our camp shower….it doesn’t seem to heat up as much as we would like. I must say though, sitting in front of the fire, champers in hand, all clean after a physical day, is such a great feeling. Our boots on the other hand we think, needed a lot more attention!

Those boots were made for trekking.
Those boots were made for trekking.
Whats for dinner???
Whats for dinner???
All clean, with that all important beer/champers in hand.....oh and my slippers!
All clean, with that all important beer/champers in hand…..oh and my slippers!
All clean, champers and those locals back again.
All clean, champers and those locals back again.

Had a delicious dinner of flame grilled steak, potato and corn in the fire, with veg. Wasn’t long before we were off to bed, after a physical day, oh and it was getting really cold again!!!

Sunday 17th May.

It seemed to take a while for the sun to rise, so having a peak outside the reason was…..there was no sun. Was a very foggy start to the morning. Lucky we had decided that we weren’t going to rush the pack up, wanting the tent to dry as much as possible. We stayed in bed for a while longer, for two reasons, 1) it was warm and 2) we were studying the map for the route we were going to take on our journey home. Eventually getting up before 9am, the fog still quite heavy.

The foggy start to the morning.
The foggy start to the morning.
Looks a fresh morning through the trees.
Looks a fresh morning through the trees.

We took our time with breakfast and coffee, slowly packing up around us. We eventually had the trailer packed up and was on our way by 12.35pm. As I mentioned, we weren’t in a rush to get back. We headed up the Bendethera F/T with 204km on the clock. Was a slightly steep ascent, as we had come down it in the dark, we weren’t sure of exactly how steep it was. We arrived at the junction of Western Boundary Road reading 240km and 2pm. We followed the little Sugar Load F/T heading towards Moruya, turning off onto Araluen Road, taking this road all the way to Braidwood. It was a track, not a Fire Trail, but it was very, very windy. We didn’t think it would be terribly busy, but at times, we saw more vehicles than we had seen for the whole trip.

It felt like a long trip up to Braidwood, although it only took just under 2 hours. We arrived at 3.50pm, with 325km on the clock. By this stage, I wasn’t feeling well at all, maybe it was the long windy road, that at times was rather narrow too. We stopped in at the Braidwood Hotel for a beer, although I just had a coke. We went to the servo to fill the tyres up of both the truck and camp trailer, leaving Braidwood at 4.30pm, we headed off for Sydney. We followed Braidwood Road, which took us through Goulburn, as we missed a the turn to take us onto the Freeway. Finally hit the Hume Highway towards Sydney, then taking the M7/M2 to Narrabeen. We arrived just on 8pm, having done 446kms home. We did a quick unpack of the fridge from the camper trailer, then had much needed showers. I was in bed before 9pm, still feeling slightly ill from the the windy trip home.

Don't like packing up, knowing we are heading home.
Don’t like packing up, knowing we are heading home.

Was a great short trip away, although it was cold, the days were beautiful and there really isn’t anything like sitting by a campfire. We are looking forward to our next trip away!

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