A free-spirit studying psychology at the University of Sydney.
Published February 16th 2016
Rustic riverside recreation
The beautiful vale of Bendeela was a most blissful weekend escape from Sydney. Right on the banks of the Kangaroo River, with a 360-degree backdrop of rugged mountains, you'll find a sprawling place to call your holiday home - Bendeela Recreational Area. Tranquil by day and tranquil by night, this site is a haven for all nature-lovers.
The rustic paradise sits beside Kangaroo Valley, and is about two and a half hour's drive from Sydney. Choose from one of two main routes, with both promising 'scenic'. Will it be through the rolling rural hills of the Southern Highlands (via the M7 and Hume Highway)? Or along seaside cliffs and a forest-covered mountain range (via the M1)? We chose the latter and were shrouded in clouds as we crossed the mountains - an eerie yet stunning sight.
En route to Bendeela - the town of Robertson made us feel like we had our heads in the clouds!
Travel here entirely at your own pace. The campsite is open 24 hours. It is divided into a front section accessible by vehicles all year round and a rear area - you may walk in here with your gear at any time of the year, but the gate only opens to vehicles in busy holiday periods. By the way, you'll be welcomed by friendly resident wombats.
Entertainment comes down to what you choose to bring
Facility-wise, the site is minimal. This makes this place ideal for those who enjoy real 'back to basics' style camping. There is a toilet block with running water, but no showers or electricity. No barbecues or fire facilities. Gas cookers are allowed unless a total fire ban is in place.
Scenery-wise, Bendeela is rich. We experienced the magic of a clear night and a valley illuminated by a full moon over the weekend we were there. It was also a beautiful sight to wake up to a ring of mountains around the expansive field. A short stroll from the tent flowed the picturesque river.
This is an ideal camping spot for those who enjoy water activities. If you cross the river you'll find a rope swing. Too much fun! While we made it in one piece, and it was refreshing to swim in this cool natural stream, we sure underestimated the distance to the other side. Bring your own canoes & kayaks to explore the waterways of Lake Yurrunga.
While a peaceful weekend away may be spent at the campsite, you may want to divvy up your time here and do some small trips to nearby attractions. There are things ideal for keeping it all naturale, as well as country towns for those who like to get a feel for local vibes. Here are a couple that we did.
Close by in the Southern Highlands is Morton National Park. Here you'll be treated to magnificent rainforest walks, sublime views of ancient gorges, and the majestic Fitzroy Falls (among other falls across the area).
A stone's throw from Bendeela is Kangaroo Valley. The area is know for its natural beauty, with the town also rich in charm and history. If anything, you'll see this from the Hampden suspension Bridge, opened in 1898. Being the oldest and the only timber bridge used by vehicles in Australia, it felt pretty special to step foot upon it.
From the bridge you'll see the Kangaroo Valley River below. Here you can hire a kayak and take on the 5 kilometre journey across river rapids. We didn't get to do this is but I am too excited to tick this off my bucket list in near future.
Other attractions in the area include the town of Berrima, Tallowa Dam, and Cambewarra Mountain lookout. While most are a leisurely drive from the campsite, it's up to you how far you feel like venturing. Will the Recreational Area be the base from which you'll adventure around, or where you remain to do absolutely nothing but enjoy the beauty of Bendeela? The experience is truly yours.