We brought new meaning to ‘campfire’ on our first family camping trip in Harrington in NSW’s Manning Valley in October 2013. A few days before we were to set off we were alerted that the Big4 Holiday Park we were booked to stay in was evacuated due to an out-of-control bushfire in Crowdy Bay National Park!
After much deliberation and calls to the Rural Fire Service and Big4 staff, we decided to press on with the camping trip… but when we arrived we were greeted by the whir of helicopters water-bombing fires still raging in the National Park and as the sun set we could almost read by the glow from the fire!
Bushfires aside, the camping trip was a great success. The Big 4 Holiday Park was fantastic for the kids, with a great pool with kids play area, mini-golf, pedal go-carts and a giant inflatable trampoline to keep them occupied for hours on end.
The beach at Crowdy Head – only a 5 minute drive from the Big 4, is great for small kids with plenty of rock pools to explore, a safe patrolled beach and a kiosk for the odd sneaky ice-cream or serving of hot chips! Just up from the beach is the quaint Crowdy Head Lighthouse overlooking the National Park and the Pacific Ocean- a great vantage point to spot whales on their migration… well spot their random spouts anyway!
We also discovered Harrigans Harrington on the banks of the Manning River. It is such a beautiful setting, it has great food and provides lots of space for the girls to run about and burn off energy while we relax with a drink watching the sunset over the river.
Diamond Head in Crowdy Bay National Park was also a special discovery. The girls got up close to wild kangaroos with their joeys in their pouch, right next to a spectacular beach of crystal clear turquoise waters that just begged you to swim- just amazing.
Finally, a road-trip to Gloucester at the base of the Barrington Tops provided a good activity on a dull day. The drive was very pretty and Gloucester itself had a number of cute shops and galleries to explore, as well as a park for the kids before we headed back to the campsite.
The girls kept a journal each day of our trip in a scrapbook. They drew pictures of their favourite moments from each day and stuck in any keepsakes they collected. I am so glad they loved the camping adventure and look forward to planning our next family camping trip to explore another part of NSW.