Campervanning for beginners: Notes from the road


But unexpectedly we had a campervan on offer for three days … was I going to pass this up just because I lacked the necessary imagination to put me in the middle of a campervanning mini-break? Hell, no! So last Friday morning, the Mister and I, as well as 13-year old Little B and her bestie, stowed our bags into the dozens of compartments in our rather fancy 6 sleeper Maui campervan, loaded the groceries into the onboard fridge (THAT was fun and very novel!) and hit the road, bound for the west.

Stop 1: Katoomba

No matter how fleeting your visit to the Blue Mountains may be, visiting The Paragon café is a must-do. Classified by the National Trust as being essential to Australia’s heritage, it is a wonder of art-deco décor. Usually heaving with tourists, we discovered that on this particular cold, drizzly Friday afternoon, it was completely empty. Except for the four employees who did a pretty good job of giving pretty bad service. No matter – we drank our hot chocolates, we ogled at the handmade chocolates, we Instagrammed charming examples of art-deco signage, and then we skedaddled back to the campervan we’d parked in a side street.


Stop 2: The BIG4, Bathurst

Perhaps arriving after dark for your first night ever spent in a campervan isn’t the smartest thing to do. Still, the Mister never lost his cool – he managed to manoeuvre the campervan into our allocated spot without a single mishap, he plugged us into power, and he turned on the gas and water. Meanwhile, indoors the little Missus (me) made beds in challenging spaces, and set to organising dinner. Despite having all the kitchen facilities we needed at our fingertips, we agreed to not sizzle our sausages inside the van to avoid lingering fatty smells. So, minutes after he plugged us in, the Mister found himself in the frigid night standing at a lonely barbecue turning snags. What a guy.

Stop 3: High Country Trail Rides – Oberon

Next morning, we were ready to tackle something local and outdoorsy. Little B’s bestie had never been on a horse before, so horseriding seemed the thing to do.

An hour’s drive south of Bathurst and we arrived at the beautiful little town of Oberon, where we met our horses and spent a happy couple of hours walking through picturesque farmland and recently harvested plantation forest. It was quiet and fresh and completely delightful – exactly what you hope a trail ride will be. It was nothing but a good experience for the novice bestie and only one horse had a moment of madness (mine, of course!).

horse riding

Stop 4: Mount Panorama, Bathurst

As soon as we were off the horses and safely back in the cocoon that was the campervan, the weather completely fell apart. So what better moment to tackle the Mount Panorama racetrack? It didn’t matter that visibility was low and we were driving a big six-sleeper campervan; the Mister was determined to conquer that mountain. And he did. WE did.

It is certainly a strange experience to be driving along a dedicated racetrack complete with pits, Holden signage and safety fencing only to realise that this is a street circuit. People live on Mount Panorama. They drive this circuit every day to reach home. Amazing. Amazing too how happy and excited the Mister was beetling along in our big heavy campervan in the streaming rain. He was living the dream.

Mount Panorama

Stop 5: Bathurst

Back to the BIG4 caravan park, just in time to plug back in to the electricity in daylight and to send the Mister out once again to the lonely barbecue. After a quick dinner, we settled in to watch a DVD, play card games, laugh a lot, eat lollies and drink tea. Now this was the stuff my campervan dreams were made of.

Another good night’s sleep later, we packed up the van and headed into Bathurst proper to have morning coffee and a good poke around this very pretty country town. I think I could live here if I was banished from my real life for some reason. Full of wide streets, deciduous trees, period architecture and energetic university students, this is a country town with loads of energy and things to do.

Finally, after a fortifying coffee and croissant with jam each in the Acropole Restaurant (a wonderful time capsule of an establishment), we boarded our campervan for the last time, pointed it east and headed for home.

Campervan notes for beginners:

Finally, a word on the bathroom facilities (because I know you are wondering)

To use the toilet, you have to be prepared to do a bit of waste wrangling later and, considering we were not exactly travelling into the Great Unknown, we decided to use the BIG4’s lovely clean and spacious amenities block and save ourselves the bother. But what I can say is this … the bathroom is REALLY close to the rest of the living space. I’ll say no more.

We travelled in a Maui ‘River’ 6-sleeper campervan. Until 30 June, Maui is offering up to 25% off bookings for travellers exploring NSW, in partnership with Destination NSW and The Caravan and Camping Industry Association of NSW (CCIA).