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Travel Australia with Kids

Tuesday, 26th April 2011

Parmiss Keyhani - Friday, April 29, 2011

With the Easter and Anzac Day long weekend coming up, we were a bit nervous about being able to find places to stay amongst the holiday crowds, so we reasoned we would have more luck inland than the coast.  Drove through the quiet (Good Friday after all) town of Gunnedah to reach Lake Keepit State Park, where we encountered a very long line of holidaymakers in all sorts of travel combinations (tents, camper trailers, caravans, motorhomes) most of which included a boat.  We actually had to line up to check in and see if there were any spots left.  We needn't have worried - Lake Keepit is enormous!  Altough the caravan park and the lakeside sites closest to it were already full, there was plenty of bush camping space left on the other side of the lake.

Lake Keepit is a watersport destination - fishing, water-skiing, jet skiing, even tying tubes behind the boats for the kids to have a ride in.  We tried to convince the boys to have a go riding on their body boards tied behind our Zodiac, but they're way too chicken for that.  They'd much rather go fishing in the lake, which they certainly did.  I had set aside an entire day to catch up on blogging (5 weeks worth - quite a mammoth task), so the 3 boys spent most of their time fishing on the lake. The views of the lake from our caravan in the morning were so calming and relaxing.  Unfortunately the night times weren't as serene - we had a group of about 15 people camped behind us, with music blaring, loud carrying on and even floodlights (which needed very loud generators to run) well into the night.  Why would you bother going camping and bring floodlights?  I just don't get it.

We headed off on Easter Sunday and drove through more quiet towns (they take their public holidays quite seriously in the smaller towns).  We did stop off in Tamworth for fuel and a spontaneous decision to have pizza for lunch - which we had at a lovely park in town. Even Tamworth was empty of activity and traffic.  The drive along the countryside towards Walcha was gorgeous - beautiful farmland valleys, rolling hills and all the time getting ever closer to the backdrop of the Great Dividing Range.  And seeing it all in autumn with the dozen hues of coloured leaves was an absolute gift.  We got very lucky to score the last lot of Easter Eggs at the only store open in Walcha before heading off to our next camping spot along Thunderbolt's Way.  We stopped at tiny Nowendoc (where the shelves in the general store were quite bare and would not be re-stocked until Tuesday - told you they take their holidays seriously!) to fill up our water tanks and continued on.

The drive along Thunderbolt's Way is a MUST DO! Only a poet (or a real writer) could do it justice in words. Just one magnificent view after another; some quite steep climbs and descents on the road, but that made it even more spectacular. Bretti Reserve - a magnificently beautiful and free camp spot along the Manning River - was absolutely packed!  We had a great view of the camping area from the top of the road and identified a couple of possible spots and headed down.  With the help of some friendly campers we managed to find a spot just vacated that morning and set up camp. The grass around the camps  was very long and an industrious camper had set up a tidy little business of hiring out his lawn mower for $20 a pop to anyone who wanted some peace of mind about snakes around their campsite.  Our site had a good sized clearing already (thanks for the previous campers), but to walk out we had to constantly trudge through the long grass, so Mike cleared us a path for us with a hacksaw (he's such a good boy)!

The lovely neighbours who had helped us find our campsite also had similar aged kids, and more importantly, 4 dogs!  Kia was in heaven and the boys spent as much time at their camp as possible (we had to keep dragging them away!).  The majority of the campers left the following day (Anzac Day) to beat the long weekend traffic home, so it was lovely and quiet.  We had a little splash in the freezing river, not as keen as others who were floating along the current (which was way too strong for the kids anyway). And the scenery was magic - fog surrounding the hills and mountains in the morning only to lift by mid-morning to full sun. It rained our last day, so a great excuse to bum around and watch DVDs.  Heading back to the coast tomorrow and although all 4 of us are enamoured by water, I must say our travels inland so far have been wonderful.


Camp spot at Lake Keepit - NSW (22Apr11)Kia and Tiran creating a messy masterpiece of some type - Lake Keepit, NSW (22Apr11)Ready for another round of fishing - Lake Keepit, NSW (22Apr11)Kiavash - Lake Keepit, NSW (22Apr11)
Tiran - Lake Keepit, NSW (22Apr11)Beautiful sunsets over the lake - Lake Keepit, NSW (22Apr11)Mike doing all the hard work! - Lake Keepit, NSW (22Apr11)Magical colours of the sky after sundown - Lake Keepit, NSW (22Apr11)
Even when it's not their catch, they insist on a trophy picture! - Lake Keepit, NSW (23Apr11)Kia with yellowbelly caught by Michael - Lake Keepit, NSW (23Apr11)Lovely Cross Park at Tamworth - NSW (24Apr11)Autumn colours inland NSW - Walcha, NSW (24Apr11)

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