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High Country to Coast – Xmas, 2018

Well what can I say except bring on Christmas holidays again!

Given we have two young kids our work leave will probably correspond with chrissie holidays for the next umpteen years. Whilst a bit of a pain it’s at least something to look forward to throughout the working year. With no grand plans, rather than set a goal that we couldn’t financially accomplish we contemplated revisiting some of our favourite campgrounds, especially ones we hadn’t taken the kids to yet. Our plan was simple, forge a loop from the high country to the coast and celebrate Christmas with some family in between… Sounds easy, right?

As we were taking the kit and caboodle the new trailer would also get a serious shakedown and would be filled to the brim with all odds and ends. When camping off grid we tend to take everything we could possibly want, not basic camping but it affords us those creature comforts. Whilst not a camper trailer the trailer performed amicably well, hauling all our gear without a hitch (Well, pun intended).

We started off heading towards Tumut and Batlow with our destination the iconic Paddys River Dam. There is a lot to see and do here but one of our favourite past times is fishing and generally relaxing in the surrounds of a picturesque NSW state forest. As in years gone by (sans kids) getting their pre-Christmas is always a safe bet as you could beat the crowds and have the place to yourself. We ended up staying three days and had the run of the place, with a couple of other groups camping on the other side well away from our vicinity. It rained one day but apart from that it was perfect.

Wild Brumbies rule the plains, Platypus at dawn and dusk and Wild Trout patrol the edges. For such as small area the concentration of iconic species is something to behold. The only downside was the solid fuel fire ban in place, a stark reminder on the importance of adhering to council guidelines. We caught a couple of Rainbow Trout that were quickly dispatched for a feed on the Webber, then on the last day caught a nice a Brown Trout in-between dancing around a beautiful Alpine Copperhead snakes

We fell in love with the Tumbarumba region all over again with stops at Paddys River falls highlighting the thawing of the highland snow was still ongoing, the water was freezing. One of my highlights was stopping in Tumba to use (ahem) facilities when I spotted a general Trout stream sign. As I passed over the stream I spied a decent specimen just moseying behind a rock. 16 hours later on our way out of town the kids needed to use the loo and sure enough the Trout was still there (right in the middle of town).

Our next destination was equally as iconic, the mighty Gehhi Flats. This is a n area we passed through a couple of years before we settled down and should of camped at (but didn’t for some reason). It had always been a goal of Claire’s and mine to return and with our kids water wise and intentions high we made a beeline to the campgrounds to break up our journey towards the coast. The Alpine Way is one heck of a windy road and is subject to many a black spots and totally closure during some winter months. Needless to say the Fortuner lapped it up, towing the trailer and in turns ourselves carefully down the passage towards the Swampy Plains River.

Geehi Campground could get busy I suppose, but I just can’t really imagine it packing out to the brim. It’s just so vast, so big, so many options and isolated. Many, like us, would use it as a transition. Others would use it as a gateway to the high country,. Whilst we weren’t headed up the iconic alpine tracks we were interested in the regions picturesque streams and huts. The kids really had a ball swimming in the crystal clear waters and so did I, breaking out the large inflatable unicorn for a river bash, literally. There were plenty of Trout in attendance sipping insects off the surface but I couldn’t tempt them with my artificial offerings, a reminder to all to make sure you pack the fly gear on those high country sojourns.

The huts were magical and the wildlife, especially birdlife, was quite astounding. No more jakes thank god (snakes), but plenty of crazy wood ducks who had learned to inhabit sites for a feed. A lot of Kangaroos too, which spent their days sleeping mostly. Each campsite has a spectacular feature and none could you say were lacking. If your vehicles up for it cross over to Behrs flat for another epic experience, some of the best river sites in the district (Tom Groggin is another).

By the time we made our way to Merimbula for a family Christmas we were feeling a little dirty and drained. However, after a couple of days we got itchy feet again and managed t snare a couple of nights at Cape Conran. Cape COnran is situated in the Gippsland region near Marlo, and is a Parks Victoria gem. There are a lot of sites here and this place was booked out, so whilst it was ideal it was packed to the rafters and a far cry from our previous sites serenity.

Lie is what you make of it though and Cape Conran has activity in spades. Amazing swimming in the Yeerung River, perfect beaches that were unusually flat as a tack and just a stones thrown from Marlo/Bemm River and other Gippsland beauties. We swam, fished, explored, beach combed and enjoyed a few days of R&R before returning home early in the New Year. F we had more time we would have returned via Buchan and the Snowy, but alas it was not meant to be.

We have uploaded a video featuring some our trip highlights onto our YouTube channel (worth watching for Paddys River Dam alone). Keep a look out for Brumbies in the background, giant Marlin (#sorrynotsorry) and other smatterings of drone and Go Pro footage.

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