Around Meryla

Our first 4×4 outing.

 
With great excitement we headed off for our first 4×4 trip. 
 
We wanted to make sure that on our first trip we didn’t get lost or stranded on some tougher than expected track. To help us out we bought “4WD Treks close to Sydney” by Craig Lewis and Cathy Savage (6th Edition). This has 17 easy, 6 medium, one difficult and one very difficult trips around Sydney.
 
We decided on an easy one to start with that was not too far from home. Trek 1: Around Meryla
 
Distance: 32.6km 
 
Standard: Easy
 
AWD?: It says in the trip guide that it’s suitable for AWDs. Maybe when the book was published it was, but now you at least need high ground clearance on the Meryla Fire Trail section. Also if there had been a lot of rain, parts of the track would be very boggy.
 
The road up to the Griffins Fire Trail car park and picnic tables was pretty straight forward. Along the road there are a couple of camping spots. Good, without being great. No facilities.
At the car park, which is where the Griffins Fire Trail starts, there are a couple of picnic tables. It’s a great spot for morning tea. You could also walk down to the river if you had the time and energy. Not today.
Pretty well any car could do this part of the route.
 
Meryla fire trail has one rocky section that is not difficult but an AWD would probably bottom out and not have the traction to get up the hill. Also there are some wet bog holes that would have stranded an AWD. The first couple of these we went around as we only had highway standard tyres. Also we were still getting used to the capabilities of the Everest (and driver). Particularly on the second half of the trip we took our time and got a great feel for the car and track.
 
Great scenery, some good walks and the trip finished at Fitzroy Falls.
The are a number of picnic areas at the National Park Visitors Centre along with a cafe. About 500 metres along the Nowra Road towards Kangaroo Valley is a picnic ground on the left. This is situated next to the reservoir and made for a great lunch stop.
 
All in all a great introduction and a great way to get the new car dirty. 
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Wombeyan Caves

First stop, Wombeyan Caves camping area. This is part of the Wombeyan Karst Conservation Reserve. There are great limestone caves here and you can purchase tickets for guided tours. There is also one self guided cave (also a fee applicable). There is also a swimming hole, though there is a walk to get there.img_5533

The road in from Goulburn is quite good. There’s only about 7-8km of pretty good dirt. A little windy towards the end as you drop down into the valley, so just take your time.

The camping area is large and spread-out. No marked spots, just find you own. There were groups of campers with their surrounding tents, camper-trailers of various shapes and sizes as well as caravans. There are a small number of powered sites but we thought that the best spots were the unpowered sites. For us the only practical difference between powered and unpowered is that we can’t use our electric heater (certainly not needed now) and we can’t use our toaster. No big deal. There are also cabins.

Open fires are permissible as long as they are in the fire pits (which are very large).

There is a camp kitchen, complete with a bit of a recreation area. Both of these are functional, but showing their age. The garbage and recycling is beside the kitchen. There are also hot showers.

Camp fees are paid down at the Ranger’s Office, about 500 metres from the camping area. This is where you book cave tours and there is a small canteen there. The shop shuts at 4:00pm.

 

The Rangers told us that Easter is the busiest time of year here. It can get pretty packed.

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Exploring the NSW Tablelands

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Christmas/New Year brings lots of great things. Not the least, is a couple of weeks off work for my wife. This, combined with the need to get to Brisbane for a family birthday, another road-trip was on the agenda.
We have not done a lot of inland travelling, staying usually near the coast. We knew the coast would be so busy during the Christmas break. So a rough ‘plan A’ was developed, taking us up the NSW Tablelands. We knew that there will be a pretty good chance this will change as we were prepared to be responsive to whatever we encountered.
The only real constraint was that we had about 12 nights to get there. That’s so much better than flying or driving straight through.