While most of us may not be as adept to surviving the wild as Bear Grylls himself, the Australian population is definitely one for loving the great outdoors. And if five star Sheraton hotels are your thing, then maybe you should sit this one out.
Just a one and a half hour drive from Newcastle, the Ferndale Park campground sits soundly in an amphitheatre of gorgeous mountains in the foothills of the Barrington Tops. These mountains provide a tranquil, sheltered camping area for everyone to enjoy. Which means, for those of us who are not weathermen nor well acquainted with geography - when it's hot, it's hot, and when it's cold, it's cold. Nevertheless, the area experiences beautiful weather.
If you're looking to escape the city to somewhere that feels far enough away from home to justify calling it said escape, but you also want affordability, Ferndale Park is the sure choice. At just $11 per adult, per night and $8 per child, per night for a traditional camp site, you can't go wrong. And if you just can't go without electricity, a powered site is only $5 extra per night. For those of you Sheraton Hotel lovers who are being dragged by their husbands and children to participate in camping activities, there is also the option of staying in a Ferndale Country Cottage - a fully self contained two bedroom cottage starting from $250 for a two night stay. And available to everyone who stays on the Ferndale Park campgrounds are clean amenities with hot showers and flushing toilets. It's not a hotel, but it is a nice added touch to traditional camping that might sway you to take to the great outdoors.
There's also something slightly magical about getting in touch with your inner survival mode and being able to cook dinner over a fire. It's not a la carte but there is a distinct flooding sense of pride felt when dinner is served.
Situated only a thirty minute drive from Ferndale Park is Dungog town centre. Here you will find all your 'inner city' needs, such as supermarkets, other specialty shops, and a good quality coffee.
If you're an impatient camper and find you can't sit still for long and have already found inner peace within 5 minutes of arriving, there are a few activities you might be interested in. The popular trail to Chichester Dam takes 15 minutes and will lead you to a scenic landscape that will take your breath away. This also creates plenty of glorious opportunity for exploring. The Chichester river itself runs alongside the campground and is an easy, low-key walk from wherever your site is located. The Chichester river is so serene and beautifully untouched you will find the urge to take a dip or leap into it from a tyre swing very strong. The Ferndale Park camping area also provides the perfect cricket or soccer ground for the kids.