With Summer coming to an end and the days getting shorter, the family and I packed the car full to the brim with camping gear and headed south to the Royal National Park, just 1hr from Sydney, in order to make the most of the last weekend before Autumn descended.
We have camped at the Bonnie-Vale camping area near Bundeena in the Royal National Park many times before – pre-children – and although we have taken the kids camping before, this was the first time in a bush setting without the onsite pools & jumping pillow distractions of a Big 4.
We managed to secure a great large site at the back of the camping area close to the toilet/shower block and nestled against dense bushland. The kids and I explored the site and set up our solar lights to charge while the tent fairies (AKA my husband) set up the tent & gazebo in the morning heat. The girls and I grabbed a small snack while we sat back to watch the man at work but it wasn’t long before we had a visitor… a large goanna!
The girls were so excited and the goanna was not scared of us in the slightest, inching closer and closer to our picnic in search of food. I had to bravely usher him away with the lid of our camping box and finally he decided our meal was too much trouble and moved on.
Once our site was all set up we jumped in the car and headed over the the gorgeous Jibbon Beach, just on the other side of the Bundeena Town Centre. it’s a beautifule spot and being a Friday, despite the bright sunshine it was almost completely deserted. The water is crystal clear and the sand pristine. It is just a very special spot to enjoy some time at the beach.
With our solar lights all charged and our BBQ fired up, we enjoyed our dinner whilst watching families arriving and setting up their sites in the fading light. Given its close proximity to Sydney, this campsite is the perfect weekend escape and many families arrived after seemingly leaving work and school on Friday evening.
With our kids showered and changed, we set them up in their inflatable beds, sleeping bags and read their stories by torchlight. It wasn’t long before the excitement of the day and the fresh bush air sent them to sleep… despite the shrieks and squeals of laughter from older kids playing spotlight in the dark.
There is a short bushwalk from Bonnie-Vale campsite around to the little village of Maianbar– the perfect length for the girls. Within metres the girls had found their walking sticks and we’re listening intently to the sounds of the bush. They spotted spiders in webs, kookaburras and cockatoos in the trees, hundreds of small red crabs in the mangroves, and shags drying their wings. The girls loved exploring and they also loved navigating the terrain, climbing and selecting the best route.
The heat of the day had kicked in though so we moved from the bush to the beach and decided to test out our new inflatable kayak on the calm Bundeena bay. There is kayak hire right beside the campsite for those that need and there were plenty of people out on the water taking part in a kayak your as well. For us though, the kids loved the thrill of heading out on our kayak and paddling our way up and down the beach.
Great friends of ours made the short journey from Sydney’s inner west to join us for a BBQ lunch at our campsite. There were plenty of small kids in the surrounding sites and it was great to watch all the littlest making friends and playing games. It was such a relaxing afternoon surrounded by good friends, the sounds of nature, a good old fashioned BBQ and a few beers.
We woke early on our final morning and the girls and I packed up some cereal, milk & bananas and headed directly over to the beach to watch the sunrise and enjoy a picnic breakfast. It was great fun and a real novelty for the girls and a beautiful time of day to just sit and take in the changing light and listen to the early morning sounds of kookaburras laughing, cockatoos shrieking and magpies calling while the small waves lapped the shore just metres away from us. A very special way to start the day.
Even though it was only two days, we felt as though we had been away for much longer. We felt rejuvenated and much more connected and really look forward to camping again with the girls soon.
Have you been to any great camping spots close to Sydney? I’d love to hear your tips!