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McNamara Park, Broke. Sun, shade and tranquility

Our first trip away for the year is to the village of Broke in Singleton NSW. Located in the Broke-Fordwich wine region of the Hunter Valley it is a little over 2 hours drive north from Sydney. The campground is a quiet, partly shaded area called McNamara Park on the Wollombi Road at the corner of Milbrodale road. WikiCamp reviews gave it a healthy 4 stars so we thought it would be safe to brave it for our first weekend away.

It took about 2 hours to get there after stopping for some last minute supplies on the way – including a bite to eat – which was OK but it was just after mid day and starting to get quite hot by the time we arrived. We did a quick drive around looking for a suitable spot to set up the trailer and knew we had made the right choice. The park was very clean and tidy with well kept picnic tables and wood barbecues scattered around the place, a real bargain for a free campground.

There were less than a dozen campers already there and they had spread themselves out quite a bit so it was easy to find a private corner for ourselves to settle.

We had the tent up and the kettle on in about 30 mins which is not bad considering we haven’t done it for over a year and then found some shade for a rest. It was now past 1pm and without checking the weather on the phone – it felt like 40°.

Once we had recovered a bit of strength we decided to investigate the local store which we noticed when we arrived. It was just a short walk, literally 5 mins, and was stocked like a small supermarket with everything you generally forget in the haste to get away for the weekend. You know, things like shampoo and scourers, teabags and cigarettes. Most importantly they had a bottle shop attached which was most welcome. All very reasonably priced considering we were a good distance from any other shops and the staff were very friendly and helpful. Best of all they stay open until around 8 or 9pm, depending on the day.

We strolled back to camp loaded with a modest collection of goods and settled in for the evening.

Exploring the area

A large part of these weekend excursions is to scout out suitable alternate camp grounds for our planned nomadic lifestyle. The selection criteria is quite straightforward at the moment. Free camping with toilets. Where possible, campgrounds also need to allow for extended stays of 3 days or more. Anything else is a bonus.

I had already found a shortlist of potentials on Wiki Camps so we knew which way to go and after a light breakfast we headed off to explore.

 Bulga Recreation Grounds
 Jerry's Plains Recreational Reserve
 Warkworth Recreational Reserve

All these sites were within a 30 minute drive North from Broke.

Economic camp cooking

The evening meal was an opportunity to test out our new DreamPot. A recent find at the Newcastle Camping Show. The idea is to get away from the pan fried or billy boiled camp meals that we have always associated with camping meals and cook something that is more interesting and healthier while at the same time preserving the precious camp site resources, gas and water.

Ignoring the recipe book that came with the DreamPot but understanding the principles, our first meal was a chicken casserole with drumsticks and vegetables.

I have to say it was a brilliant meal. Not only because it tasted so good but once the chopping and peeling was done it took less than 15 mins on the stove on a medium flame and when the meal was finished we had ample hot water in the pot for washing up.

But the hidden gem for me was because we did our food preparation early in the day, before we left to explore the region, and set the pot up to cook. The meal was ready when we returned in the afternoon. Ordinarily, after a busy day, we are too tired to cook and generally settle for a Peanut Butter sandwich and an apple. Hardly a substantial diet.

Ok one meal does not qualify for a resounding endorsement however the DreamPot lived up to the promise of a tasty, healthy, economical meal. I see this will have a permanent spot in the trailer.

What we learned from the trip

A long list of items we needed to find or buy
A checklist for packing
Must repack the trailer for our purposes
Keep a record of expenses.
Water management
Garbage management

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