Paying attention to road signs

February 8, 2022 Peter No comments exist

We have been camped at Nick and Veronique in Waterfall for 25 nights – it wasn’t planned, but Covid-19 has a way of dealing with the best of plans. The plan is to stop at the Nungarry Rest Stop before heading off to Bendeela Recreation Area for 7 nights. We do not need to stop at the rest area but will be stopping at these rest areas as we travel around the country and this is a trial run to see how we go. We used rest areas often in our ravels around the USA and found them convenient for a one night stop. Google Maps shows that we have about 60km to travel.

After a few lovely days the weather has turned and we are now expecting a week of cold rainy weather. Not ideal. The new second battery has finally arrived and we now have 2 120AH AGM batteries which should give us more than enough power for a few days. Hopefully the sun will make an appearance and we can charge the batteries via the solar panel but if not, we will use the generator. The past 25 days have given us a chance to test everything and make sure we know how it all works. We have had some issues with the awning but hopefully those are now resolved. We will be back in Waterfall in about 2 weeks time as Margaret is going to be doing some baby-sitting but we are looking forward to getting on the road.

The trip to Nungarry Rest Area was fairly uneventful and we were one of a few caravans and RV’s spending the night at the rest area. Apart from the noise from the passing trucks, the overnight stop was a pleasant one.

Google Maps shows we have about 60km to get to Bendeela Recreation Area and there was nothing to warn us of what was to come. There are 3 roads leading into Bendeela. From the north one could take the B73 from the Hume Highway bypassing the Fitzroy Falls, from the east one could take Kangaroo Valley Road from Berry and from the south east one could take the B73 from Nowra. We found no mention of a particular road that was either recommended to use or avoid.

We left the rest area just after 09H00. We plugged the address into our Garmin GPS and were blindly following the instructions on the GPS. The first 40km was on the motorway and uneventful. We left the motorway at Berry and headed inland taking Kangaroo Valley Road. They say ignorance is bliss.

My mistake was not paying enough attention to the road signs. As we entered Kangaroo Valley Road there was a road sign prohibiting vehicles over 12 tonnes or 7 metres from using the road. I am still getting used to towing the caravan and the 12 tonnes registered in my brain but somehow the 7 metre limit did not. The Ranger and the caravan have a combined weight of just over 5 tonnes and I somehow went no further than doing this calculation.

Had I thought it through I would have realised that we are approximately 10 metres in length but my brain somehow didn’t do the calculation. The caravan alone is almost 7 metres in length. We passed two of these warning signs. On reflection though, by the time we passed the second warning sign there was nowhere to stop and turn around. Within a very short period of time the reason for the warnings became evident. We where about to go over a very steep long hill and the road was narrow and had been cut into the hill. There was barely enough room for two cars to pass side by side.

There where multiple hairpin bends with the recommended speed limit being 15km/h. It was a nightmare. We were committed with no way of backtracking. The hairpin bends come thick and fast and we had to use the whole road to get around the corner. Because we where travelling so slowly we soon had traffic behind us and they weren’t happy. The oncoming vehicles weren’t happy either. We were using the whole road and they would have to get off the road to allow us to pass. Going around the hairpin bends was a matter of blind faith. There was no way we could see if there was a vehicle approaching and we needed both lanes to get around the bend. Fortunately we did not encounter any oncoming traffic on these bends.

On one of the hairpin bends going up the hill the Ranger lost traction and the back wheels spun madly for a few seconds before again gaining traction. It is one of the scariest trips we have ever done and we had visions of us making the evening news for all the wrong reasons. Going down the hill proved just as difficult. The weight of the caravan pushed the Ranger and we had to crawl around the hairpin bends, again using the whole road to get around. Where it not for the electric brakes on the caravan we may well have made the evening news.

Once we cleared the hairpin bends and the traffic behind us could pass, they made their displeasure known. We apologised profusely and often. Lesson learnt – pay more attention to the traffic signs!

We arrived at Bendeela Recreation Area at about 11H30 and it had taken us about 2 ½ hours to cover the 60km. Bendeela proved to be a pleasant surprise. The recreation area is managed by NSW Water and the reserve is on the river. There is a huge open area for campers on a first come first served basis. The reserve is well maintained and it is quite a surprise to see such a beautiful area set aside for free camping. There are no showers but there are toilet facilities. The kangaroos and wombats come out to play in the evening.

Due to Covid-19 and the bush fires it is now necessary to make a booking but the booking fee is only $6 for 7 days and there is a 50 day annual limit which seems very generous.

We know that we cannot again take Kangaroo Valley Road when we leave Bendeela and we accordingly checked out the B73 north to the Hume Highway and the B73 south to Nowra. Both of these roads also have multiple switchbacks and hairpin bends but nothing as bad as Kangaroo Valley Road. We will leave via the B73 to Nowra which is, in our opinion, the best road when towing a big caravan.

We made a short video on Bendeela Recreation Area and you can view that here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.