This summer we managed to escape busy Byron and enjoy two successful camping trips with friends, both in national parks within a 2-hour drive of home. How lucky we are to be surrounded by such beauty in every direction we drive! There are so many great camping spots nearby, it was only a matter of choosing.
This summer, we went south both times. The first trip was a 2-hour drive down the coast to Minnie Waters. We camped in the Illaroo campground in the Yuraygir National Park, right on the ocean! It was our first rugged camping experience — no camp kitchen, no showers, not even any running water! We slept in our tent, bathed in the ocean, cooked on our camp stove, and refilled our big jugs of drinking water every time we left the national park on daily surf adventures. We camped with three other families and managed to get four campsites all in a row, with plenty of shade and an ocean breeze. The kids ran around from one site to the next, and we’d often find them in one of the tents playing card games or drawing together. Kid heaven!
We even managed to find good surf at some of the nearby beaches — a particular magical (mostly empty!) beach with a fun left-hand point break! It was a successful camping trip on all accounts, and we all came home happy and tired (and excited for a shower!).
For our second camping trip, we again headed south down the coast, this time to Lake Arragan, just one hour and 45 minutes from Byron. We camped at the Lake Arragan and Red Cliff campsite in the national park. The campsites along the ocean were all occupied when we arrived (it was Australia Day weekend), so we decided to check out the camping along the lake instead. We managed to find paradise at the very end of the campsite where three empty campsites awaited us. We had the entire area to ourselves for the long weekend!
Again, being the national park, there were no showers, running water, camp stoves or any other facilities. And there were no toilets in our section of the campground, which meant we had to walk five minutes to do our business (this was the only major downside, I’d say, especially with all the kids). Even more than the previous camping trip, it felt very off the grid! While it’s a bit annoying not to have running water, what’s nice about this type of camping is that you really feel switched off. There are no big camper vans plugged into power, no stereos or TVs (yes, we’ve seen those at other campsites before!), and you get a general sense that everyone is there to enjoy the beautiful natural surroundings.
As we arrived, a group of campers were packing up after a week of camping. We chatted to them briefly and discovered they live near us in Mullumbimby. They very generously offered to let the kids use their kayaks for the weekend, which ended up being the best thing about the weekend! The kids spent every waking minute in the lake, playing on those kayaks and paddling around.
We also managed to squeeze in a day trip to Yamba (just 35 minutes away) for a morning of surfing followed by Fish & Chips for lunch. It was nice to spend an afternoon in town (no dishes to scrub back at the dusty campsite!), and we were able to pick up more ice for the ice chest and more wine for the grown-ups. : )
Three nights here felt like the right amount of time. By the end of our trip, we were all covered in dirt and grime and ready to come home to running water, clean toilets and a washing machine. These camping trips are as exhausting as they are fun, but all you have to do is take one look at the kids on these weekend adventures and it all seems worthwhile. They had the time of their lives and are already asking when we’ll go camping again! I’m still recovering from all the laundry, but hopefully again soon.