‘The comical blunder we made while caravanning in regional New South Wales’

May 03, 2019
What do you mean 'we aren't there yet'? Source: Getty Images

After our first few shakedown trips to Percy’s Place Caravan Park in Pitt Town, New South Wales in our new caravan, an invite to a friend’s 70th birthday party in Bowral, the largest town in the Southern Highlands of NNSW, Australia was a great excuse to ‘get going’ again — as if we needed any excuse! However, this time it wasn’t as close as our trial setups have been; yes, it was a whole 1.5 hours away according to Google Maps.

The offer made was to park in the driveway of the home of the birthday girl as all rooms had been taken up with close family and about seven young kids (several of whom thought they’d like to join us in the van when we did the guided tour). Easy peasy we thought. We decided a Friday to Sunday stay would be great. The party was on Saturday at one of the area’s local dineries and it would allow us some time to catch up on Sunday before making our return home on the Monday.

Having checked Google Maps and planned the route we decided not to go just on the motorway. This wasn’t about cost so much as we wanted an interesting trip that went through a few well-known local towns. Well, it was pretty interesting.

As any good navigator knows it’s important to first make yourself reasonably familiar with the journey before leaving and second put the correct name of the town into the system.

Bowral … Berrima … They sound the same don’t they? That’s exactly what happened, Bowral became Berrima. The two towns are pretty close, but the trip there was err … interesting, to say the least.

What should have been roughly a 1.5-hour trip towing our van ended up being about three hours! Three hours of “take the next exit” to … The biggest mistake was avoiding tolls and highways!

For anyone who knows this area of Australia well, from our home in Carlingford (a suburb north-west of Sydney) we did the back streets finally emerging around Wetherill Park/Bossley Park (some 30 minutes’ drive) and on to the M7 via Narellan and the Old Hume Highway. Perfect (I thought)! No busy highway!

Wrong! Oh so wrong! For some reason Google Maps thought we might like a quick tour of Tahmoor, then Bargo followed by Yanderra emerging on to the Hume Highway then the M31 for a few kilometres then off again on a guided tour of Breamar, Balaclava and Mittagong finally emerging in Berrima! This circuitous route that Google Maps had us on added greatly to the 2.25-hour journey we had planned, though actual kilometres I can’t be sure.

Yay, we made it! Let’s call the birthday girl …

Bowral? Did you say Bowral? We thought it was Berrima. No! Anyway the two towns are only 15 minutes apart so we finally made it.

Looking on the positive side of this trip, at least we got to see some small towns we’ve never been to before and that we’re never likely to see again. Further, it was a great shakedown trip towing over some hills and very dodgy roads.

The party was a great success and everyone loved touring our van. We think they might have been a bit envious too of the freedom it offers!

We decided to spend Sunday night at the Mittagong Caravan Park, notably the recipients of awards of excellence in 2017 and 2018, and situated amongst natural bushland and wildlife right at the door to the Southern Highlands. We found it to be clean, friendly and although a little tight on some of the powered sites for larger vans it was certainly a place we would go back to if exploring the Southern Highlands again, which we’ll no doubt do!

Meantime the trip back was fast and uneventful via the M31 motorway, but we were constantly amazed at how there aren’t more accidents with trucks travelling so fast and so close behind cars doing the speed limit.

Have you found yourself ‘off course’ while travelling from one destination to another? Where did your travels take you?

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