Our journey through Mitchell River National Park
At the end of every year, my partner Mel and I pack the car up and go away on our annual week away, and this year we chose to travel east out of Melbourne to explore the Mitchell River National Park.
Renting a fridge
Ok, so I've been toying around with getting a fridge for the car for a while. Everybody who I've talked to who has one swears by it but then again do I really need more gear? To answer that (trick) question we headed off to pick up an Engel fridge from Oz Satellite Rentals to try out for the trip.
They only had a 60L in stock and this thing was so huge it took up two of the rear car seats. That said it's power draw was fairly low and on our 400wh Lithium battery we managed to be able to run it the whole time with a bit of help from our 120 Watt solar blanket. David at Oz Satellite Rentals was an absolute legend and got the whole thing sorted out last minute with 1 days notice, even though he was already on holiday himself!
The drive from Melbourne
The entrance to the national park was about a 5-hour drive out of Melbourne for us via the M1/A1 with a few stops thrown in along the way.
You can do it in 4 hours if you really go for it. The entrance to the park is from the south side and the roads in are perfectly doable in a regular car.
Billy Goat Bend Camping Area
We arrived to Billy Goat Bend Camping Area just after 7pm and it luckily wasn't too busy. A walk-in campground, my favourite type! For those who don't know "walk-in" basically means you have to park your car and walk a short distance to where the campsites are. It's got the right level of feeling wild but also still having access to all my camping gear a 5 minute walk away. It comes with the added benefit of being quieter than campgrounds where you can setup next to your car because larger groups and families who are more dependent on big setups will go elsewhere.
Mel and I had to setup quick to beat the sunset, and found an awesome secluded spot close to the bathrooms and the trailhead for the Ampitheatre lookout track. The ground was level and easy to hammer pegs into and we had a crazy amount of space. We're used to living in a 45sqm apartment in Melbourne so it felt kind of like we had a whole football stadium to ourselves.
The sun started to set around 8:30pm so we set up our table and got the fire going. It's crazy, 12 hours ago we were sitting in our kitchen in Melbourne and now we were living in the wild.
The Ampitheatre Lookout
The next morning we woke up at 8 to some light rain. Pro-tip; we always cover our camping gear and camping chairs with a tarp before heading to sleep and today it had paid off! We got out of our sleeping bags (the hardest part of camping), put on our rain coats and went for an explore. We knew there were walking tracks around and found the trailhead just north of where we were camping, near the toilet blocks.
There are a few different walks around here, something about the "Den of Nargun" sounded pretty unsettling, oh and the 3.5 hours written next to it, so we opted for the Ampitheatre lookout instead. The walk took us around 2 minutes to get to the lookout and wow, what a view! I kind of feel like it'd be nice if the walk was a little longer so the lookout felt more like a reward but I guess there's those other walks available too.
We went for a little scramble and explore around afterwards. It's pretty spectacular but in a very Australian an understated way. Especially with those grey clouds it just felt like the entire landscape was a sepia filter, like we'd stepped into some holiday photos in the 1970's.
Only a quick stop
We stayed the one night at Mitchell River National Park before moving on to Lakes Entrance and Pettmans Beach Campground. It's an awesome stop for Melbournites on the way to the Gippsland and a beautiful area in its own right. I'm looking forward to coming back and braving some of the longer walks soon.
Billy Goat Bend Camping Area
+ Walk-in means its quiet and not too busy
+ Toilets clean and stocked
+ Easy access to walks and a beautiful view
- Difficult if you've got lots of gear
You can read the next part of our December 2018 trip here. Happy camping!
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