Camping at Mollymook

Camping at Mollymook

Having purchased a new, perhaps over the top, Black Wolf Turbo tent, it was time to go camping. Thankfully my cousin and his partner had a trip planned to Mollymook, and invited us along. As the weekend approached, inclement weather saw us considering a cabin. Thankfully we ummed and ahhed for far too long, and by the time we enquired all the cabins were full – so camping it was to be.

Sharon picked up the the kids at 3pm and began the 250km long journey south. Rather than backtrack, I took the train south from the office, planning to meet her at Sutherland. As it turned out traffic through Sydney on a Friday afternoon is manic, and it took her around 90 minutes to reach Sutherland, by which time I’d ingested a few cups of coffee. I joined my family in the car, and so the bumper to bumper traffic continued for another 30 minutes, until we finally broke free.

Sadly by this stage it was pitch black, so we couldn’t take in the scenery as we headed south on the A1, through the Royal National Park. It was raining on and off, and discussions revolved around the best way to tackle setting up a brand new tent, for the first time, in both the rain and dark.

Since the kids were both tired and hungry, we stopped for a quick bite to eat at one of the many take aways on route, opting to eat in rather than drive through. Keith and Caroline were still stuck in the office, so we had some time to spare.

We finally arrived at the Mollymook campsite just after 8pm. The journey had taken Sharon 5 hours, despite being only 250kms away. Absolute madness!

When we arrived, two things were working in our favour. Firstly, the kids were fast asleep in the back of the car. And secondly, the rain had stopped. We quickly got to work on the tent, using the car’s headlights for illumination.

The main room popped up quickly and easily, and the back room didn’t take much longer. At this stage everything was looking good. But then we got to the fly sheet. After pulling the canvas fly sheet over the tent, we set about trying to erect the awning. As it turned out, we had one more pole than existed in the manual, and couldn’t for the life of us work out how to attach it to the roof of the tent. Eventually we consulted the all-knowing YouTube, suddenly glad we had signal! Ten minutes and 2 videos later, and we were slightly wiser as to what was required. However, despite having a better idea, we were still unable to pull it off.

I took a short breather (and had a quick beer) to relieve the tension. Sharon, meanwhile, added some logic to the situation, and finally the tent was up.

Keith and Caroline then arrived, and so we helped them setup camp over another semi-cold beer. It was finally time to relax!

Our first night was rough, thanks to our 1 year old who’d gotten enough sleep in the car and therefore decided to wake up at midnight, ready to start her day. Thankfully our new tent and mattresses were great, so at least we were comfortable trying to get Katie back to sleep.

A chilly walk on Mollymook beach

Mollymook campsite was very different to the campsites we are used to back in South Africa. Firstly, the majority of the stands had cabins on them (some built by extending old caravans), which left very few sites for tents and caravans, despite being called a campsite. It is also located alongside a main road, and in a small town, which was very different to the seclusion we are used to. That said, we chose this campsite not for it’s location, but rather because it was the only campsite we could find that wasn’t fully booked over a long weekend, and allowed dogs.

Ignoring the lack of seclusion, Mollymook was a great campsite. It’s a short 800 meter walk (or drive) from a beautiful beach, and the campsite itself has some great facilities on hand. In terms of cooking, Mollymook offered multiple BBQs, as well as a pizza oven and plenty of wood to get it going. And for fun there was a great jungle gym for the kids, table tennis, a pool table, darts, a tennis court, a swimming pool with a splash pad area, and a laundry (not for fun…for after the fun).

Our first morning got off to a lazy start, cooking bacon and eggs on one of the campsite’s BBQs. Bellies full we took a drive down to Mollymook beach where, despite the light drizzle, we decided to go for a walk. We headed north, with Emma proudly walking Ziggy, and Katie insisting on walking, just like her big sister. Mollymook beach was beautiful, so it was somewhat depressing that we were exploring it in jeans and jackets. That said, excessive clothing didn’t slow the kids by any means, and they somehow managed to cover themselves from head to toe in sand. I meanwhile had a small chuckle at the 2 surfers out in the water, despite the distinct lack of any waves.

Having spent some time on the beach, we took shelter around a heater at the local cafe, and ordered coffee and hot chocolate. Our timing was perfect as the drizzle quickly turned to rain.

With most of our kid’s clothes already drenched, we quickly realised we weren’t adequately prepared. So we made our way to Ulladulla where we stocked up on gumboots and warm (dry) clothes. From there we headed into Milton to pick up some rolls for lunch, at a bakery we’d previously passed called the Heritage Bakery. We quickly got sucked in by the smell and had soon ordered a few custard slices for dessert.

For lunch we BBQed a few hot dogs, and then we headed out to explore a few of the nearby bays. We chose to head north to Narrawallee Creek and beach, which had looked interesting on Google Maps. Thankfully the clouds had subsided and we were greeted by beautiful, winter weather for our walk around the head. 

The views of the creek were spectacular, and I was massively jealous of two fishermen heading out in kayaks, under a setting sun. We relaxed on the rocks for a while, letting the kids explored the rock-pools, before heading back to the beach. Again we timed it perfectly, as we got to enjoy an ice-cold beer on the beach under glowing, pink skies, while Ziggy and the kids played in the sand.

Narrawallee Beach sunset

We arrived back at camp in the dark, just in time to make it undercover as the rain returned. We spent a relaxed evening around Keith’s BBQ, tanning meat, and drinking beer, wine and gin. It was a good night, made even better by the kids, who (mostly) slept through.

Our second morning started in much the same manner as our first. A relaxed egg and bacon breakfast (after I’d failed trying to make pancakes on the communal BBQ), followed by a trip to the local beach. This time we explored the rocky shelves to the south, before sitting down for the mandatory cup of coffee at the Mollymook Beach Hut Cafe.

Having already explored the areas north of Mollymook, we headed south to see what we could find. We stumbled across the Ulladulla Water Ski Club which was, unsurprisingly, deserted. That said it was a beautiful expanse of water surrounded by natural vegetation, definitely worthy of a trip in summer.

Back at camp we enjoyed a few epic games of table tennis, before heading out to Cupitt’s Winery (which ironically overlooked the Ulladulla Water Ski Club). Sadly I’d drawn the short straw, and only got to spectate the wine tasting and festivities, as I was the designated driver. You can read more about it here.

Our final night was far more relaxed than the first two. It may have been due to the previous night’s gin, or the trip to the winery. Or perhaps we were just tired from 2 nights of interrupted sleep. Either way, we were all in bed early.

Relaxing at Narrawallee Head

Thankfully the rain subsided the following morning which allowed us to pack up in the sun. That said, the sun wasn’t strong enough to dry all the camping gear, which meant we had to set it all back up once we got home. The Black Wolf tent was tougher to get back into the bag than expected, taking 2 attempts. It was however our first time packing it away, so perhaps it’ll get easier.

By 10am we were out of camp and on the road. We decided to make the most of the journey back, and made our first stop in a small town called Berry. After wondering the main streets, looking for a coffee stop, we picked the Berry Chocolatier. Coffee quickly dropped off my radar as I ordered an Italian Hot Chocolate, which was absolutely heavenly. I coupled this with a decadent caramel slice, which Sharon, the kids and I shared. It was equally as heavenly (and deadly).

Feeling slightly sick I decided that a cup of coffee was in order. I headed off in search of a cup, hoping to find a shop with a short line. This proved tricky, but I eventually found a hidden gem with a shorter line than most. Sadly, the shorter line was misleading, as I was told there was a 20 minute wait once I finally got to the front. As such I headed back out in search of another shop. Eventually I gave in, did my time, and finally got my coffee.

Back on the road we took on the next leg of our journey, to the Scarborough Hotel. The drive was incredibly beautiful, especially once we hit Lawrence Hargrave Drive. Sadly, the winding road got the best of Emma and, 10 minutes before arriving at the hotel, she got sick. 

The Scarborough Hotel was not much to look at from the road, and I probably wouldn’t of stopped had it not been for Keith’s recommendation. However, once I had parked (which was in itself a mission), I was massively impressed. The food was great, the beer was cold, there were gardens for the kids, and the whale filled views were spectacular. You can read more about this here.

We finally got back onto the road at 3:30pm, bellies full, and ready for the final stretch to Sydney. We opted to drive through the Royal National Park, despite the route being slightly longer. It was great to finally see the vistas in the day, having previously only driven through the (outskirts) of the park in the dark. It was well worth the additional 10 minutes in the car, and was great to see the number of hikers out and about.

Sydney greeted us with it’s usual traffic, despite being a Sunday night. When we finally got home there was admin to be done as I setup the tent and gazebo in the garage. But it was all worth it. We’d had a great weekend, had seen more of New South Wales and Australia, and had christened our new tent.

I have mixed feels about whether I’d recommend Mollymook. It’s well maintained, with good facilities and activities, and is close to a beautiful beach. But it’s also in town, and alongside a main road. I guess it’s really up to you.

Sea Cliff Bridge