I'm a 43 year old Family Day Carer with a beautiful teenage girl and a balance bike obsessed three year old boy.
Published February 10th 2016
Keeping it simple at Killalea
What is it: Killalea State Park Camping Ground is a grassy campsite on a hillside close to both a river and beaches 30 minutes south of Wollongong.
Why you should go: At only a 30 minute drive southwards, for those who live in Wollongong it's close but still far enough away to feel like a holiday away from home.
There's no power at the site which adds to the appeal if you're hankering after Bush camping but want the comfort of hot showers and running water. Refrigerating food isn't a problem because it's close to Shellharbour which has both a Woolies and Coles so food can be easily restocked as needed. The close proximity of shops also means it's no big disaster if something is forgotten.
Despite its nearness to civilisation as the maze of the Shell Cove housing estate is left behind and the state park is entered an unseen border is crossed between urban and rural. The coastal road view down cliffs to beautiful Mystics beach with its green-blue sea and its long lazy curve of sand is enough to lighten anyone's heart.
At the camp site park outside the office and the owner will come to say a friendly hullo and book you in. Be sure to take your emailed booking form as the office can see which sites are booked but not by who.
One of the advantages of this campsite is that you can look at a map of the site, choose your spot and book online before you go. There are about 60 spots. We choose number 51 because it's at the top of the hillside so it has a good view and catches the breeze, there's a tap close to it for drinking water, it's away from the bins and cooking area (less flies) and it's one of the larger sites. There is quite a variety in the size of the various sites so have a good look at the map before picking one. Most have a tree so there's a bit of shade to sit under.
At our site, which was big enough to park our two small cars and pitch our seven man tent we set up camp. Half our site was sloped so we pitched the tent on the flat bit. This meant there wasn't room to use the metal grate fire which was at one side but the owner said he was happy for us to use the fire pit on any of the empty sites. In summer there might be a fire ban but on the two nights we were there fires were possible so we cooked sausages on an open fire. Wood is available from the camp site office.
After setting up we took a ten minute walk through the bush from the camp site, across a road and down steep steps to beautiful Mystics beach for a paddle (there are no flags). On a previous visit we were also able to walk along a different path twenty minutes through the bush to the Minnamurra River for a swim. This second path was closed on this visit (January 2016) as bees have set up home in a dead tree trunk next to the path.
The following day we took a short 15 minute drive to Bushrangers Bay where we snorkelled and saw a terrific array of different fish. On our way back to the camp site we stopped in at The Farm Kiosk for bacon and egg rolls ($7). The Farm is the beach to the North of Mystics (there was once a Farm here) and is also worth a visit although like Mystics it's un-patrolled.
Who should go: Singles, Couples, Families and Teenagers looking for a basic camp site. Anyone looking for a base from which to explore further South.
When to go: We went in January to take advantage of the warm weather for the beaches and snorkelling.
Where it is: 30 minutes south of Wollongong. Come off the A1 and take a right on to Dunmore Road at the roundabout. Go left on to Southern Cross Boulevard then right on to Killalea Drive. There are brown signs showing the way to Killalea State Park. Keep a sharp lookout for them, they're there but it's easy to miss them among the buildings. Killalea Drive goes to the left and eventually becomes Killalea Access Road. Once you hit this road follow it all the way to the turn off on the right for the campsite.
What to bring: Camping gear, food, snorkels, Swimmers, insect repellent.
Facilities: Wood and ice sold at camp office, toilets, laundry, covered outdoor cooking area with picnic benches sinks and barbeques, hot showers, numbered bookable sites, access to Mystics beach, Access to Minnamurra River, large grassy spaces, fire pits and Bunk house.