Gillards Campground was a new destination for us, and to be honest, was one we chose due to it being available, and next to a beach - something hard to come by last minute during summer! Now, Gillards Campground is one I'll think of fondly, for a number of fun reasons!
The gorgeous location
Mimosa Rocks National Park is on NSW's South Coast, about 2 hours south of Batemans Bay. The journey there was full of quaint little towns, narrow bridges, and dozens of fields, and was a lovely change for us.
Once you reach the park, it's a quick drive along a dirt road down to the campsite. Now, no fear about the dirt road - I drive a little Toyota Yaris, and even for me, it wasn't too much of a struggle!
The campsite itself is lovely, it's unique in that it's made of many little 'coves' which are separated by shrubs and trees, and can each comfortable fit perhaps 4 spread out camp setups. This makes it feel amazingly private. As well as the benefit of the setup, each 'cove' has its own pathway straight onto Gillards Beach. It really is an absolute dream being able to hear the crashing waves only a few metres away from your campsite!
The cute (and occasionally scary) animals
As you'll find at many campsites around the country, kangaroos and wallabies coexist with the campers relatively well. At dusk, and in the morning, they loved to come around the grassy areas near our tent. Despite having seen them so many times before, it still feels so special to see them jumping around in the wild!
A little bit rarer than the kangaroos, you can also find goannas at Gillards Campground. If you aren't quite sure what that might be, think 1 metre long lizard that moves the same way as an alligator. Now don't try to get too close, because when they feel like it (take it from personal experience), they can run A LOT faster than expected. We had one get a bit too friendly with our picnic rug, it seemed to claim it as its own one morning!
If you're lucky you might also spot some possums at night, but make sure you keep any trash up high or somewhere enclosed! The possums and the goannas are both very curious, and not afraid to rummage through trash bags.
One last note on the animals - please be aware that there are some European Wasps at the campground. We found they seemed to disappear the second night, but were a little bit pesky!
The nearby beaches
The beaches of Mimosa Rocks National Park are unpatrolled, so if you are wanting to properly swim at a beach and don't have a strong understanding of currents and rips, travelling 30 minutes south to Tathra may be worthwhile.
However, for a walk on the beach, a fishing attempt, or a wade, Gillard Beach might be for you! Or, if you are feeling up for a long walk, you can walk north to Middle Beach. On the way, you'll pass some amazing rock formations. For the kids (or kids at heart), they are perfect to climb up, otherwise, they are perfect to admire and perhaps photograph too.
When you reach Middle Beach, you'll also come across Middle Lagoon. We spent almost a whole day enjoying the lagoon and its surrounds, finding some shade under a tree near the shore. Apart from a few families there in the early morning, we were the only people there all day, and it felt like our private paradise! There's an island in the middle of the lagoon, and although it looks inviting, I don't recommend walking around it. It was a much longer walk than expected, and not one suited to swimmers and bare feet!
The 'off-the-grid' feel
Take this as a reason to visit, or something to consider, depending on what you prefer. The amenities at Gillards Campground are extremely limited - there are drop toilets (but no sinks) and fire pits, and that is the extent of it. So if you plan on visiting, make sure you stock up on water for drinking and cleaning. Hand sanitiser is also a good idea, and if you want to have a fire, bring some firewood too.
Another important note, despite being a very basic facility, the toilet (near our campsite at least) was very clean. A very welcome surprise!
To add to the remote feel of the site, phone reception can be quite flaky. We found that for some of the group it was quite reliable on the beach itself, however, at our campsite, no one had a signal.
The memories you'll make!
This camp location was a special one for us, as it still has that 'undiscovered' feeling that is so hard to find on the South Coast now. I hope it leaves you with as many fond memories as we made there!