By: MALCOLM GRAY, Photography by: Getty Images

Namadgi Visitor Centre Namadgi Visitor Centre (photo: Getty Images).

Camping in the winter on the way to Canberra has its scenic advantages.

Gibraltar Falls at Namadgi National Park (photo: Getty Images)

Canberra was my July destination. I was heading there to visit family. The Beast was my transport and I was determined to try roads I had not previously travelled.

The first night I spent at Yea, Vic, and was the only person in the local park. The rain was falling, I was warm, and I slept for 10 hours. That told me I had been working too hard.

Before sun-up, I headed north to explore Ghin Ghin Road. My outdated maps showed unsealed roads, but that had changed since they were drawn up.

I wondered why the next town was listed as Highlands. I soon found out, as the road rose steeply, requiring me to drop The Beast into a lower gear.

I loved Highlands. There were no shops that I could see, but there is a school, basketball court, CFA and a hall that was built in 1902. The Community Announcement Board advertised merino marbles – great for your garden – for $3 a bag. A monument consisting of six upright granite rocks commemorates the pioneering families that settled the area in 1882.

The sealed road led me on through Caveat. It was too foggy to see Good Morning Bill Hill, but I did see wallabies, cattle and an amazing house built by an inexperienced handyman.

The road took me through Terip Terip, which has three tennis courts, Creighton Creek, and on to Euroa, where the region’s funeral parlour is located on the corner of Bury Street. The library had a sale of old paperback books for 10 cents each. I lashed out and spent $2.

Taking the back roads, I visited Violet Town, Benalla, and arrived at the Warby Ranges State Park outside Wangaratta, where I stayed the night at Wenham’s Camp. It was a welcome bushland setting with plenty of kangaroos in the lower paddock and, best of all, the morning sun came straight through my windows.

The next day, Jones Swamp Road took me to the well preserved town of Rutherglen. As with Euroa, I couldn’t work out why I had never visited Rutherglen before.

I crossed the Murray River at Howlong. Stopping at the Lions Park for lunch, I met Terry and Marilyn Wilson of Eaglehawk Neck, Tas. They had arrived by ferry two nights before and were heading north in their old motorhome, which is based on an International truck. It’s so old that the speedo is in miles.

In Canberra, I stayed with my daughter and, while she was at work, I explored. I headed for Tharwa and had to take a detour to get there because the old wooden bridge is being refurbished.

I wanted to check out the ACT’s Namadgi National Park, which adjoins Kosciusko National Park, NSW. Namadgi is the start of the Great Alpine Walk. Experienced trekkers can take eight or nine weeks to traverse the Great Dividing Range to Walhalla in Vic. It is truly one of Australia’s, if not the world’s, best walks.

I drove all the sealed roads in the park and checked out the camping areas. My favourite was Honeysuckle Campground, on the site of the former Honeysuckle Tracking Station, which received the signals from the moon landing. The name featured heavily in the Australian movie The Dish.

I liked this camping area because snow fell while I was there – I am always entranced by softly falling snow.

Honeysuckle is on a mountain top and the 9km road is steep and winding. The Beast, with its turbodiesel engine, handled it well, but anyone wanting to take a big motorhome or a caravan up there should first check with Namadgi Visitor Centre, (02) 6207 2900.

Leaving Canberra after a wonderful holiday, I tried the newly opened Albury bypass and loved it – no more dodging heavy traffic on inadequate city streets with traffic lights at every corner.

My final night was spent at The Camp in the Warby Ranges, Vic, north of Wenham’s Camp. I could not have picked a better spot.

Right in the middle of a State forest, with barbecues, shelter and toilets, I was again alone, and I slept with the curtains open enjoying the many stars.


Originally published in Caravan World #446, October 2007