Our friends from Denmark Janne and Peter and their two sons Emil (6) and Anton (3) happened to be in Australia at the same time as us by pure coincidence. Following the same route but in opposite direction that made for a perfect chance to meet up and spend 5 great days together.
We had not planned exactly where and when to meet, but ended up joining at Depot Beach camp ground about 20 minutes drive from Batemans Bay and booked 2 nights there. The kids were ecstatic to see each other again so much that it almost made the adults shed a tear.
The campground is large and pretty basic, but with hot showers (wow! ;-)), covered tables and barbecues, and very close to a nice beach.
It is full of kangaroos, which is really nice, and we also heard but did not see possums, and saw a huge monitor lizard.
Similar to other Australian beaches, there are huge waves at Depot Beach not suitable for small kids to swim in. But it does have a small Billabong or lagoon with shallow and calm water, which is great for kids to play and practice swimming in. Though finally in a spot with warm and calm water it still took us a while to convince Noah and Vitus to get in. After 2,5 month in Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines any water below 35 degrees it by definition considered too cold to swim in. This time they fortunately gave in and Emil, Anton, Noah and Vitus had a great time playing there.
We spent most of the next day at the beach, except for a short rainforest walk. Depot beach is surrounded by some of the oldest and most beautiful rainforest in NSW but unfortunately it had been raining the previous day, so the track was packed with leaches. Leaches happen to be Line’s no 1 fear (after deadly snakes, of course) so it turned into more of a save-yourself-rainforest-run for her. Everybody but Jesper escaped the jungle without leaches on their skin.
The trail ended at the beach and we ended up staying there for some hours before heading back to the campsite. Jesper and Peter had a lot of good rides on our body-board and the kids had some in the small lagoon.
Jesper even managed to convince Line to give it a try, but that only resulted in two big rounds in the washing machine and a not so happy camper;-)
The next morning we left Depot Beach and went to Batemans Bay to do some grocery shopping and find a new place to stay. We found a playground with barbecues and tables by a river and had our lunch there while watching a group of huge pelicans. Unfortunately it started raining a lot and since we needed to do some shopping anyway we made an extended trip to the shopping center for a couple of hours while waiting for the rain to stop. Batehaven beach became our designated dinner spot and we even managed to go for a swim and catch a few waves before heading out to find a place to stay for the night.
We found a small parking lot at a viewpoint just 1 kilometer south of Batehaven. It’s fantastic to find an isolated place with stunning views and being able to fall asleep to the sound of the waves – and for free.
The next morning, after enjoying breakfast with a view, we headed on to the Bateman’s Bay Botanic Gardens in search for a great playground and some nice walking tracks. The playground was truly great but again we found the tracks covered in leaches. Jesper and Peter went for short walk with the children but Line and Janne passed on the opportunity.
After seeking some advice for child friendly beaches at the counter in the botanic garden we went to Broulee Beach for a swim. It turns out that Aussies have a different definition of “child friendly” since it looked very much like a typical surf-beach with lots of huge waves crashing on the shore. Lots of other kids were in the water, however, and though neither shallow nor calm water it was not as wild as it looked. Jesper took the body board out to the big waves and had his first real “big wave” experience as well as a number of turns in the washing machine when he was not successful.
After that we went to Malua bay, a place we had had lunch before meeting up with our friends. It has a large beach, again with huge waves, but it also has a great playground and barbecues, toilet facilities, and tables. On WikiCamps, we read that it is OK to park and spend the night outside the surf school at the beach. Again a place where we could fall asleep to the sound of the waves – at least until a giant storm swept through the area with constant lightning and roaring thunder for more than an hour from around 1.30 AM and very heavy rain. Our kids managed to sleep right through it, but the adults did not.
In the morning, we woke up to clear blue skies and spent the day at the playground and at a very small secluded beach behind the rocks on the left side of Malua Bay.
At night we found the best spot we have stayed at – a parking lot with toilet facilities right by a small secluded beach called Lilli Pilli Beach.
When the kids were asleep, the adults played cards and went outside to watch the stars, since there were no lights in the area. And in the morning we had breakfast with the most amazing views and could let the kids run free to play at the beach. After breakfast it was time to say goodbye to our friends and head further North. It was a bit hard on the kids to say goodbye to their good friends, but they had 5 great days together, and it was fantastic to see how quickly they found each other again after being away from each other for 3,5 months.