After SMPTE – Miller, Manildra & memories

We would be remiss in not mentioning Miller Tripods for the fabulous piece of equipment they have supplied us with for the trip, or Heidi from Videocraft in arranging this for us. The brilliant Miller Air Solo 75 Alloy 2-stage tripod system is lightweight and so easy to work with – even for someone as non-tech as Kirstine! We had a lovely visit with the team when we picked up the tripod, however concerns about the voracious nature of parking inspectors in the area meant our visit was cut short. A huge thank you to Miller for your support, and for making our camera work so much easier!

Where did we go after SMPTE? After visiting Miller, we stopped and had coffee with Anne and Lisa at Cub Campers! It makes such a difference being able to put a face to a name, and they were hugely supportive of our trip – albeit wondering how we would stay sane travelling for over 12 months with 3 children!!

From there we travelled around to Liverpool and stopped to see the local Nissan dealership. The Principal may have been away, but their social media guru, Christina, stopped to talk with us and take some photos of the Legend!

If you haven’t yet discovered the peace of the Royal National Park, we highly recommend you do! We ended up staying for three nights, to try and decompress after the busy-ness of Sydney. It is difficult for us to be in big cities now, if for no other reason than that we are towing a camper trailer! Seriously though, we find ourselves sometimes not wanting to give away the locations we find, but we can’t keep them all to ourselves. Reviews on various camping apps are often what lead us to a specific place, and it’s only fair that we share our own experiences.

Bonnie Vale was delightful. We initially booked in for one night, but after a fun wake up call by the local ibis and cockatoo population, we knew we had to stay a bit longer. Ever had some birdlife help themselves to loaves of bread or such like, while you were still asleep? No, go to Bonnie Vale! It was so hilarious to wake and see 4-5 sulfur crested cockatoos, ibis and ducks enjoying the stale bread we’d left wrapped on a shelf under the camp kitchen sink. There are photos on Facebook and Instagram if you’re interested.

The cockatoos became a standard group of visitors during our stay. A day was spent walking along a beach and coastline to see some local indigenous carvings in the rocks, and generally letting the kids “be kids” and burn off some of the energy they kept contained while in the Sydney CBD.

Eventually we decided to leave Bonnie Vale, after meeting some wonderful people and talking about our trip. The kids, in particular our eldest daughter, made great impressions with others, and we’ve actually had positive Facebook messages about those interactions. This really isn’t a holiday, and it means so much to have great feedback about the kids’ behaviour.. even if we doubt the authenticity when we are feeling particularly jaded .. lol.

The next day we crossed the Blue Mountains to Bathurst, after a stop at the Three Sisters. We’ve never been here before, and were in awe of the landscape. It’s a well set up location. There is plenty of space to see the Sisters and take photos, with a secondary viewing platform only a short walk below.

Bathurst was awesome – if only for Mount Panorama! Unfortunately the showground was dreadfully overpriced, considering that the amenities were over the other side of the race track, and we were right on the main road. I guess it goes without saying that the kids are used to “alternate” peeing arrangements in these situations, and Paul and I spent the evening pretending we were deaf, because the traffic noise was so ridiculously loud!

Being able to drive around Mount Panorama was a massive bucket list item for Paul. It’s a normal 60 km/h road when there are no events on, so both Paul & Kirstine had a turn at driving, going back the next day after the fog had lifted (weather as well as the lack of sleep), to get some photos and footage.

From Bathurst we headed further west, and found a fabulous spot at Manildra. We can’t speak highly enough of this campground at the showgrounds there. Top notch amenities, wonderfully friendly caretakers, and level grassed sites. We were able to send the kids off to run amok, and catch our breath! We source most of our camping locations on the CamperMate app. For the most part, the information is up to date and accurate. We had to rave about Manildra! This gorgeous little town is home to the largest flour mill in the Southern Hemisphere (!!) and the longest continuously running movie theatre in Australia. Please, PLEASE, don’t bypass small towns in favour of the bigger ones. You miss out on so much by doing this, and are likely also paying for the privilege. Alan & Hazel, you are doing wonders at Manildra, and we hope to see you again next year!

Having decided to stay for two days in Manildra, we travelled a loop to Parkes (out to The Dish), and on to Forbes, Eugowra and back to camp. Kirstine’s family is from this area, so it was so special to go and see some of the locations that meant so much to her.  At The Dish, which you REALLY should go and visit if you’re anywhere nearby, Paul had a special conversation with a staff member at Visitor’s Centre, in reference to a previous guest’s visit with their supposed “service dogs”. Kirstine believes there is a separate post to be done in this respect, so please bear with us.  

From a media perspective, we met with a journalist in Parkes and did a phone interview with one in Dubbo. When we have the links available, we’ll post them for you here.

Where are we now? We’re in Narrabri in northern New South Wales. It’s been a big day to get here, and tomorrow we’ll cross the border into Queensland. Then we will be STAYING PUT for about a week, so we can plan the itinerary for the state and contact the schools and community groups in the towns we’ll visit. Most importantly in the short term, our youngest daughter turns 7 on Saturday, and we always take the time to mark family occasions like this!

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