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THE GREAT OTWAY NATIONAL PARK

16 Aug 2022

Snake encounters and going bush

If you are following along the story so far we are up to day 35 and time is flying! We have driven a total of 5812 kms, driven through 3 states have definitely been colder more than we thought we would have been.

We have culled so many times and finally have a good weight distribution happening which is keeping the hubby happy and our space is starting to feel like home. The kids are getting used to making new friends only to have to leave and make new ones again and our set up and pack down routine is on point.

One of our favourite Freecamps so far has to be Stevenson Falls at the Great Otway National Park, VIC. We love going bush and getting away from the hustle and bustle of town centres, and after spending a week around Melbourne we were happy to head for the hills!

We looked at Wikicamps for Stevenson Falls and read the reviews, it sounded amazing but we were a bit worried being a busy time of year, whether there would be any space for our home on wheels and if we would even be able to get the van there. We figured there were a number of freecamps around the same area so we would try our luck and cross all our fingers and toes.

It was about a week after New Years and the coastline was a buzzing hive of activity so we headed inland from Apollo Bay after stocking up for a few days and immediately you can feel the calm that goes along with entering a National Park. The lush green and thick bush was a delight as well as the stunning views once we got higher on the range, this is definitely our favourite type of camping.

We hit the dirt and the road got narrow, nature started surrounding us then as we came into the campground clearing we saw people and campsites set up everywhere. Bugger we thought, we are never going to fit in here, big family groups everywhere, kids on bikes, there didn’t seem to be much space but we ventured in to have a look.

Luckily we found an area with space big enough for us to set up comfortably with an extended family group set up on the other side and a group of Portugese boys in tents chilling out.

As the day went on groups started to clear out and we got to chatting with our neighbours, the extended family that comes to this exact spot twice year. Apparently Stevenson Falls is a very popular camping spot over Xmas and New Years so if we had been a week early we would never have got in. Lucky us!

Beautiful shaded area with great cleared camp spots and fenced off areas, long drop toilet (these freak me out, always imagine something coming up while im sitting there, too many horror movies! Haha) and not much else.

We set up and headed to the falls, a gorgeous short walk, well sign posted and full of creek and rock climbing opportunities for the kids, big kids too. For most of the walk there we rock jumped through the creek instead of taking the path stopping to make some rock formations along the way.

It was here we found our first snake making its way slowly across our path, a gorgeous Highland Copperhead snake, highly venomous but very slow moving enjoying the sunshine. It was because of this encounter we have now started a new rule that Dad walks at the front and Mum at the back. Poor Kensie (6 years old) was skipping ahead and ended up being on one side of the snake, the rest of us on the other and apart from crapping herself, she handled it all rather well, waiting for it to pass.

The falls were gorgeous and we jumped off the path again climbing some massive rocks to get a closer view and take some pics and we were lucky enough to be highly entertained watching foreign tourists braving the freezing cold water for a dip, crazy crackers!

This campsite was great and we got cooler nights which meant we could enjoy a fire (checks were done with the CFA) and chuck the camp oven on, now thats camping Barry!

Another great area we found while camping here was a little township called Forrest. If you are keen on a bit of mountain biking they have an extensive circuit of biking tracks depending on your skills and a cool little coffee shop to get ice cream for after.

The whole area has a number of hikes and waterfalls so we could easily have stayed for a week and enjoyed the serenity. Highly recommend the Great Otway National Park as a destination to get away from it all.

We are definitely learning as we go and here are some things we would like to share:

  • We now have a small first aid kit including snake bite bandages that we carry in our backpack. We keep the backpack in the back of the car so we wont forget it. Better to be safe than sorry.
  • Freecamping means it can sometimes be first in best dressed, but don’t assume you wont get a spot, you just never know. If there is no room there will most likely be something close by. We have also been trying to get to freecamps before lunch before it gets too packed. Wikicamps has been awesome for reviews and checking out what is in the area.
  • We bought a Camp Oven Cooker for our camp oven (you can find them on Facebook) it minimises the mess you make when cooking and contains your heat beads, super cool little device. www.facebook.com/campovencooker
  • Always have an adult at the front when bushwalking, although obviously snakes can come out at any time, it can help assess what is up ahead, quite hard if like us, you have kids that always want to be the leader!
  • National Parks rock! We love them and definitely like spending more time in them than Caravan Parks and a lot of the time there is no reception, which is great! The space and being surrounded by nature is hard to beat.

The Barossa Valley, the Grampians National Park and Mt Gambier are next on the list and we can’t wait to share our journey with you!

Niki

The Daly Trippers
https://www.facebook.com/DalyTrippers