A sojourn in Berry

As a starting point, a little stay in beautiful Berry is just the ticket. Berry has always been one of my favourite towns on the South Coast of NSW. Cafes, arty crafty shops, bakeries, home wares, boutiques, antiques, wineries, lovely old houses, park lands. It just about has it all!

I used to make the drive just to attend the Berry Country Fair, which are held on the first Sunday of every month at the Berry Showground.  (Sadly it wasn't this weekend!)

I can't enthuse about the showground itself, I think I just prefer the wide open spaces that free camping gives us. However having said that, the grounds were clean, the grass thick and soft underfoot with no bindi nor prickles. The showers were clean, hot and hard pressured (no water saving going on here!). Price was $13 per head (February 2017), which the others tell me is a good price.  

 Happy hour with our small group of early retirees before the conference

Some of us rocked up early afternoon and chatted with this couple or that. Certainly we all gathered together for Happy Hour.

The purpose of our short 2 night stay was to fellowship with other early retirees and attend an informal mini conference organized by one of the ministers in our church. So on Friday morning we convened at the lovely old St Lukes' Anglican Church, just down the road from the Showground. I would have also loved to have seen inside the old church (circa 1884).

St Luke's Anglican Church, Berry
A lovely light lunch followed at the Berry Bowling Club, where the food was a great price for a variety of decent home style cooked meals. As the temperature was up int the mid 30's, the air conditioning at both venues was very welcome too!

I love old well maintained buildings ep churches and in addition to St Lukes', the old manse next to the church is just beautiful as are many of the older buildings in Berry. It is a pity the church elders back at the time weren't heritage minded and sold off the property a long time back.

Another lovely church I saw was the Presbyterian Church, the existing brick church was built back in 1934 replacing an earlier buiding. One doesn't see a copper spire very often any more. I feel sad that we don't build churches in the same manner anymore. I hope the people of tomorrow will be able to see the beauty of the buildings of today, which I can certainly find hard to appreciate.

Presbyterian Church Berry.
We went back to the showground after to lunch to spend some time with friends, Robyn & John, who  came up for the day's conference.

However if you were to have some free time to wander the streets, by all means go and see all that Berry has to offer. If you have already done that, then there are lots of beautiful places within a short drive including  Kiama to the north, as well as Seven Mile Beach and Gerringong. To the west a tad is Kangaroo Valley and to the east is Shoalhaven Heads and south is Nowra. All are worth visiting if you want some local drives.

Packing for a 6 week road trip

I am excited and frustrated at the same time. We are hoping to kick off a weekend camp with friends as the start to a 6 week trip to the Great Ocean Road starting Thursday. But I have been feeling quite run down and lethargic after a Shingles diagnosis just 2 weeks ago. Thus I am having a hard time packing the motorhome and getting the house tidy before we go.

A check list makes packing so much easier

I am a list person.  Lists keep me organized and on top of things. My Robbiebago Packing List works in much the same way.  I have included anything I could imagine we would take on our road trips.

The sterile kitchen BEFORE I made it real!
Thankfully most things are already in the motorhome and just need checking off. As we have travelled for many years now, we have deleted many items that we just don't need. Different people have different priorities. For me a couple of books and lots of craft supplies are a must. For Rob, he must have a variety of tools and lots of spare parts and bit 'n pieces (as you just never know when you might need it). This time round I have tweaked my checklist (which doesn't include Rob's tools & stuff) to make it even easier next time. Whereas before I had a list of everything needed in like groups eg Bathroom, bedding, kitchen food, appliances, clothing etc.

Kitchen ready for everyday use
I have now altered it to be arranged by storage location. My list can get quite messy as not only do I cross things off as I go along, but I write notes to myself as I go too! The biggest change is in my kitchen. I have 3 cupboards for pantry items and several drawers. So I decided to rearrange my list according to cupboard or drawer as well. This makes it so much easier for me to check what I have to replenish or bring back from the house (I take out food items to use in the house, that might date if we are staying home for a few months!)

If I ever work out how to post my packing list on this blog, I will do so. However, in the meantime, I am happy to email my list to anyone who requests it. This will make it easy for you to personalize and kick start your own list. I can remember wishing I had someone else's list to help me along the way when we first started caravaning seriously.

My actual checklist in action

Here’s how it works:

  1. Make your own list or find one that is closest to your ideal
  2. Print off your list.
  3. Cross off things as you find them and/or install them in their storage location
  4. This makes it easy to see what needs replenishing
  5. Make your shopping list accordingly and get those supplies
  6. Relax as you start off on your trip, knowing you have everything you need!
I would generally plan my meals for the first few days if not week, but there is just not enough energy or brain power in me this time round. I covered what I would normally do in this post.
This time I am just going to wing it as I go along. I have the basic pantry items, fruit and vegetables. There's a small range of meat in the fridge or freezer and a frozen meal (I was lucky it was from an earlier time - I wasn't organized enough to think of it this time!)

If you wonder how do we plan our trips, then take a gander at this earlier post of when we planned our Tasmania trip a couple of years back. It covers why we free camp and what we look for in a camp spot and what we do when we can't free camp. The trip it self is covered over many posts which you can start to find under our Tasmania trip banner!

The motorhome on a previous trip
As for getting away on time, we will persevere and leave no matter what!!! I am am improving but at least I can conk out AFTER the weekend if necessary. We have planned to spend 2 days camping with friends from our church at beautiful Berry on the South Coast of NSW as our start to visit the Great Ocean Road! If I have forgotten anything, then we'll just stop and buy it at the next town or when it is needed. Nothing is going to stop us getting away. We need this time out for our sanity as much as anything else!

So hopefully we'll see you on the road. Give us a holler if we are close to you or heading your way! We'd love to meet up with friends and followers.

The delightful historic town of Sofala

Visiting the small town of Sofala is like stepping back in time. It is one of the most unusual gold mining towns and it has a authentic charm and atmosphere. The town itself sits on the banks of the Turon River.

Main street

When we arrived, the heavy wet weather continues. There are free camps available up and down the river however 2 out of the 3 we visited we couldn't fit the motorhome in due the the trees and the very rough tracks. It didn't help that there had been lots of heavy rain recently and with the the potential of getting bogged, let alone flooding, we decided to stop overnight on the bitumen just around from the bridge, in fact we were right in front of the old bridge which rescued after a past severe flood ripped the bridge from its moorings. It is now part of a picnic area just at the entry to the "main street".

Old restored foot bridge

Sofala is a delightful village in the historical Bathurst region with a rich and intriguing colonial gold mining heritage. It would seem that the town hasn't changed much in 50 years. It is surrounded by beautiful national parks and is about 40km north of Bathurst on the road to Hill End.

This beautifully restored old miners cottage is available for rent

Michelle discovered a second hand book shop that is absolutely crammed full of books of every sort. This is a really book lovers paradise. In fact Michelle had to visit yet again the next day before leaving. Apparently it is connected to Slado's Bookshop in Bathurst which is closing it doors permanently, leaving this Sofala shop open for book lovers.
Down the road further is a wonderful old pub The Royal, and a museum which was closed at the time of our visit due the late hour most likely as well as several other mini businesses.

Slado's Book Shop

We heard that trout fishing is also popular in the area and of course there is also gold fossicking, even tours you can book if you're feeling lucky. Though we only stayed the one night, I hope we can come back in warmer weather and explore this town and just sit back and unwind watching the river flown by.

Premer Lions Park

Premer Lions Park Rest Area has a toilet block with 1 hot shower. There are 20 sites and of these 10 are powered. There is room for big rigs esp on the perimeter. It is not a free camp as they ask for a donation via a honesty box which I believe we should contribute to whenever a place asks for a donation especially if it is reasonably clean if we want to continue to have such facilities available on our travels.

We were there in heavy wet weather and the grounds were just managable for rigs if you pick your spots even for big rigs. The road passing is used a fair bit during the day but the traffic is almost non existent at nights. Contrary to the photos, there area was very green whilst we were there.

The amenities are very basic and were cleaned daily whilst we were there by members of the local Lions Club.

The town itself is quite run down but the pub is friendly so another camper told us.We didn't get to meet any of the locals on our walk around town probably most were keeping inside out of the wet weather, though we walked during a mini dry spell.

Moonbi Free Camping with a sweeping view

We free camped at Moonbi Lookout, just north Tamworth where it was quite windy overnight and down to just 5 degrees in the morning.

Michelle 1/2 way up the lookout
The view south from the lookout

There are old but very serviceable toilets there. There is also a picnic table which you can see in one of the photos and a couple? of BBQs of the wooden sort.(bring your own wood).

The view north to our Motorhome

We had some visitors pop by to have a look from the lookout but there were no other campers there over night.

Dangar Warfalls & Gorge

We head further south on our way to Canberra this time towards Armidale.

I love the architecture of old churches and though we didn't go hunting for them, these two were on the road we took near the city.

We also decided to have a bit of a cultural visit and popped into The Aboriginal Cultural Centre and Keeping Place. Never have we been so disappointed in a place. There was almost nothing to see. The few paintings were scattered around including propped against the wall but on the floor. The floors were very untidy with bits of packing rubbish strewn around. When the woman at the counter didn't offer anything else to be seen, we left not even 10 minutes after we got there.

One of the few art work available to be seen.

We then went on to Dorrigo and the Dangar Falls. How blessed the residents must feel to be so close to these lovely waterfalls being just 1.5 km away.

The falls are easily accessed and viewed from the platform at the nearby picnic area. It is very pretty & very peaceful.
Rob walking on the easy bitumen track

These are cascade waterfalls are small but picturesque within a beautiful bush setting on the Northern Tablelands. I loved the rock pool area which would make a great spot for dabbling in the waters and having a picnic.

One can scramble over the rock pools at the top or even picnic on them or in the nearby designated picnic area

Mother of Ducks Lagoon Free Camp

Just short of 70 km down the road from Glenn Innes is this free camp spot at Guyra alongside the Mother of Ducks Lagoon. The name is intriguing with the promise of lots of bird life.

The free camp site is on a grassy section between the road and the actual lagoon with a brick toilet block. It is within walking distance of town. There are a few other vehicles but since it is so wet we are all staying snug inside our vehicles to keep warm and dry. Maybe tomorrow we'll see more life in the place if it clears up a bit. We only planned on staying overnight (only allowed 1 night).

We took the car and went for a look around town and in search of some food as it was too late and I am too tired to cook. We found a lovely friendly fish and chip joint open which we really enjoyed.

Due to the heavy wet weather, we didn't get to explore the lagoon itself, but here is the info I have garnered: The Mother of Ducks Lagoon is freshwater and 14k in circumference, a marshy wetland in a silted volcanic crater. It is Natural Heritage Registered Reserve because it attracts many species of various migratory birds who come to nest here. About a 300mtr walk from the campsite the is a viewing platform and hide from where one can get some photos when the weather is conducive to that.

Guyra, itself is a tiny town with a population of 2100 and consists of a short and narrow main street, two pubs,a few old buildings and something like 6 Churches! It is 37k Nth of Armidale on the New England Hwy at an altitude of 1330m thus making it the highest Town on the New England Range. It is in the midst of a "Pastoral District (500,000 sheep and 100,00 cattle) with a past Tin mining history and with a Temperate Climate of Summer Temperatures 11 - 23c and Winter 1 - 11c is also ideal for Horticulture. A 20 Hectare Glasshouse that produces 72 million Tomatoes pa is nearby and is a major source of employment for the area." just quoted from the local rag.