We had 10 days off in the October School Holidays with the idea of heading towards the Blue Mountains to explore some new areas. How we got there and where we stayed was largely decided on the trip and planned day by day with WikiCamps.
This trip turned out to be 10 days of free camping in some of the most beautiful and quiet campsites around the Central West Region.
We always prefer to get on the road on the Friday after work for an hour or so rather than leave from home Saturday morning. This just means we are that little bit in front the next day, and the holiday feels like it starts a day early!
This trip we were heading west. We generally stay around Jerry’s Plains but we were stuck in a traffic accident not far from home which delayed our travels by 30 minutes so we decided to pull up at a free camp in Branxton.
This was our first time staying here and we will definitely mark it down as somewhere to come back to. Plenty of space, off the highway, toilets available and it was free!
Click here for more details on this campsite.
After a peaceful night stay in Branxton, it was time to get this holiday really started!
We continued west towards Wollemi National Park. There are a few different routes you can take and we opted for the Bylong Valley Way as it had been a few years since we had travelled that way.
Bylong Valley Way is a 138km stretch of road linking the Golden Highway near Sandy Hollow through to the Castlereagh Highway at Ilford.
This is a beautiful scenic route and a nice alternative to travelling the main highways. The road is quite windy so keep that in mind if you have little ones that don’t travel very well, you may need a few extra stops.
We stopped for a break at the Bylong Community Sports Ground (as we have one that doesn’t travel well). You can stay overnight here and there is plenty of space with amenities and a decent playground for the kids.
Click here for more information on this low cost camp.
We continued along the Bylong Valley Way and stopped for a wander through the small towns of Rylstone and Kandos and then followed through to Glen Davis.
Coorongooba Campground was one of only two campgrounds we had in mind before we set off on this trip. We had been around this area years ago on a day trip from Turon Gates and had always wanted to come back to camp.
Coorongooba is a beautiful FREE campground on the banks of the Capertee River, although it was very dry (like most) when we were there.
The campground is surrounded by impressive sandstone cliffs, has an abundance of wildlife and with no phone service you feel a million miles from anywhere!
In periods of wet weather there is a river crossing to get to the campground.
There is also another campground in Glen Davis in the middle of town (donation not free), but we preferred Coorongooba. Glen Davis does have amenities and isn’t within the National Park so dogs are allowed.
We had a lazy start to the day around camp and then before lunch we went for a wander to the old Glen Davis Shale Oil Works. The ruins are only around 2kms from the campsite and signposted “Glen Davis Lookout”.
There is a path from the car park that leads up to a view over the old operation. Although the old works are fenced off, you can still see from afar, and there are a few ruins including the old bath house that you can get a closer look at up the top.
Guided tours are run on Saturday afternoons if you are interested and in the area over a weekend.
Click here for more information.
After lunch we packed up and set off towards Wallerawang where we were looking to base ourselves so we could day trip to Katoomba.
The trip from Coorongooba to Wallerawang was only around 80kms so we had plenty of time to sight-see along the way.
From Coorongooba we followed Glen Davis Road back to Capertee.
PEARSONS LOOKOUT – Capertee Valley
Pearsons Lookout is on the Castlereagh Highway and was our first stop once we hit the main road. The lookout is around 3kms south of Capertee.
Capertee Valley is 30 kilometres wide!! That’s one kilometre wider than the Grand Canyon, but it’s not quite as deep!
Pearsons Lookout stands 627 metres from the lowest part of the valley floor and provides a spectacular view of the canyon.
*** If towing, park in the car park down the bottom, not much space for turning up the top. It’s only a short 50m to the lookout from there.
Pearsons Lookout is worth a stop, pop it in as a favourite in WikiCamps!
Our next stop was Portland to view the Silo Art.
SILO ART – Portland
The small township of Portland is located 25 minutes north west of Lithgow in NSW.
The Silos are officially named “The Foundations”. Painted in 2018 by Artist, Guido Van Helten, the portraits are of men and woman that worked at the old cement works and are still living in Portland today.
From Portland we headed towards Lake Wallace Recreation Area in Wallerawang. The WikiCamps listing looked great and it didn’t disappoint!
This is a free camp by the lake with ample grassy space. There are amenities, you can have a fire and it has a fantastic playground for the kids. Check out this post for more information and pictures.
We were camped down the far end at a spot on the edge of the lake.
We set up at Lake Wallace for a couple of days and used it as a base to explore the Blue Mountains.
We left the van and set off for a day exploring Katoomba. From Lake Wallace is was only a 45 minute drive so it made for an easy day trip.
K A T O O M B A
✅ SCENIC WORLD
We purchased a Discovery Pass which gave us access to the Scenic Railway (the steepest passenger train in the world), the Scenic Skyway and the Scenic Cableway. If being on the ground is more your thing, the Scenic Walkway is a 2.4km boardwalk through the rain forest and that is free.
✅ THREE SISTERS
You can view the three sisters rock formations from various locations in Scenic World or from the viewing platform at Echo Point.
✅ KATOOMBA CASCADES & KATOOMBA FALLS
We walked down the Fuber Steps trail (2kms) to the bottom station of the Scenic Railway and caught the railway (again) back to the top. This was the best vantage point for a closer look at Katoomba Falls and a very pretty walk down lots of stairs. At the beginning of the walk you can stop to view Katoomba Cascades.
Today we were going to make our way north towards the Warrumbungles however the weather forecast for the next week was in the mid to high 30’s so it wasn’t going to make for great bush walking weather! We decided to head to Bathurst and work out the finer details when we got there.
After a hot lap around Bathurst we visited the Tourist Information Centre and found a brochure on Abercrombie Caves and decided to head south to see what we could find!
The brochure showed a National Park campground at the caves and we had also found a few more a little further south on WikiCamps that we had bookmarked.
We left Bathurst with Abercrombie Caves around 80kms away. Once we arrived at the entrance the first thing we saw was a sign advising to call up on the UHF if you have a large vehicle. We tried this to no avail. Unsure what the road was like and not being able to contact the caves, we weren’t keen to tow the van down there so opted to drive further south to the other campgrounds we had marked on WikiCamps.
The Junction – Abercrombie River was the first camp we came to and it was only 15 minutes down the road. And, what a ripper spot! A free camp by the river with only a few other campers around.
We spent two nights here and enjoyed every minute!
For more information on this awesome free camp, click here!
Today we drove back to Abercrombie Caves for a self guided tour. And we were also keen to see what the road was like down to the National Park campground.
We were glad we didn’t take the risk and tow the van down!! The road was narrow and although we would have got the van down the road, the problem would have been if we met another car, as there was no room to pass and someone would have had to back out.
The campground is quite small and not overly level at the caves. We preferred the free camp at The Junction!
Abercrombie Caves is 70kms south of Bathurst and we highly recommend a visit!
▪️ Self guided tour of the Archway Cave
▪️ Allow around an hour
▪️ 1.4km round trip
❗️The road down to the caves is narrow and windy for 2kms with no room to pass if towing a caravan.
For more information and pictures click here.
DAY 7 – 8
In search of another campsite for a couple of nights we left The Junction and set off to have a look at Carcoar Dam. Upon arrival we weren’t that impressed by the Dam so decided to continue on and found another beautiful quiet free camp beside the Belubula River.
BAKERS SHAFT RESERVE is between Bathurst and Cowra. It is 15kms off the Mid Western Highway with the last 5km being dirt road.
❗️Be sure to take Burnt Yards Road otherwise you’ll end up at a locked gate!
This bush campground has two parts, one as you drive in and another up over the hill to the right.
There is a pit toilet however no rubbish disposal.
This was a very peaceful stay surrounded by beautiful green countryside
We had two nights at Bakers Shaft with a day trip south for a look through the township of Cowra.
Today we started our trek home with only one more night to spend in the van for this trip.
We decided to head towards Dubbo which would link us up with the Golden Highway the day after for the drive home.
From Bakers Shaft Reserve we drove through to Orange and then decided to skip the highways and drive along Banjo Paterson Way.
Before leaving on this trip we had seen many “Points of Interest” on WikiCamps along this road and after a little searching found it to be the Animals on Bikes Tourist Trail.
ANIMALS ON BIKES
📍 Bango Paterson Way – Molong to Dubbo via Yeoval (Central NSW).
The ANIMALS ON BIKES tourist trail is a 120km self drive that showcases some very creative sculptures in the paddocks along the way.
Animals on Bikes has grown from 45 sculptures in 2009 to 111 on display now!! The sculptures have all been created by the locals that live in the area.
There isn’t really space to stop roadside so it’s more of a drive by and see them, except for the towns where you can easily pull up.
A fun drive and a nice diversion off the highway if you are travelling north to the Dubbo region.
And then another night, another beautiful river camp!
PONTO FALLS RESERVE was the final campsite for the trip and what a beauty it was!
Ponto Falls is around 40 minutes south of Dubbo and is a large free camp on the banks of the Macquarie River.
Quite a few campers being the long weekend but still plenty of space. You can find more information here.
We will be back to Ponto Falls for a longer stay another time.
Day 10 had us back on the Golden Highway and heading for home with around 400km to cover for the day.
And that’s a wrap on our 10 day road trip!
We had a great time exploring new areas and enjoyed some downtime around the van.
Coorongooba and Lake Wallace were the only campgrounds we had in mind, the rest we just relied on WikiCamps and hit the jackpot with all the beautiful #freecamps we found!
✔️$0 camp fees!
New lines have been added to our map and now it’s on to planning the next trip!
We hope we have provided you with some good information and ideas/places to visit for your own upcoming trips!
If you are looking for more ideas of places to visit head over to our TRIP PLANS and browse through our previous travel itineraries.