Lake St Clair is set in the hills at the foot of the Mount Royal Range and designed to be a premium outdoor leisure spot, which it is, the planners have done an excellent job. The area is well maintained and the camping amenities are basic but adequate. Flushing loos and hot showers – we’re part of the glamping set and tend to frequent sites that have the basics.
We chose Lake St Clair for our weekend break as it is a short 1 1/2 – 2 hour drive from home and the roads are excellent. The recently opened Hunter Expressway has made a huge difference in reducing the time it takes to get from Newcastle and Lake Macquarie into the countryside that form much of the lush flood plains of the Hunter River.
Our first experience of the lake was a summer camp with a group from work and we spent time on the water kayaking. The second visit and we were amongst fishermen and we were grateful that local fishing clubs restock the lake regularly with Australian Bass and Golden and Silver Perch.
If we head away late Friday morning and reach our destination in time for lunch the afternoon is spent setting camp at a leisurely pace. Our routine is becoming more streamlined the more often we get away and the last few times we’ve headed to new horizons our system has worked like a well-oiled machine.
Any hiccoughs along the way are generally due to my poor time management skills when at home. An excellent time pacer at work, I resist being kept to a schedule at home, and that has been known to slow things up, but he MOTH (Man of The House) is a patient soul.
As mentioned the first visit to the lake was with a group from work and is memorable for the one-upmanship and politicking of the office. It was a break away from home but it wasn’t relaxing.
Our recent trip that that part of our state was spent with a group of Church friends and I saw, and experienced, the area in a different way.
We left home in the drizzle and arrived during a torrential downpour. We are fair-weather campers and we get sad (very sad) when it rains before we have set camp. We have been known to sit in our vehicle and just stare at the clouds and rain discussing the pros and cons of setting up in the wet or heading home to the warm and dry.
But it was apparent leaving was not on the weekend’s agenda as we soon find out when safely ensconced in our friends’ cozy, dry caravan with our hands wrapped around cups of hot coffee. If we gave up and went home we would not be enjoying the happy banter of good friends. Whatever the weather we were in good company and laughter cheers the soul like no other elixir. The journey is better in the presence of kindred spirits.
It took the weather an hour to break and we duck-waded the puddles to find the two least sodden sites on which to set our camp and that of our friends. Winter camping may be risky with the weather but you are guaranteed of a quiet time even the wildlife are settled and go about their day almost oblivious to our presence.
Day two and we were already relaxed and when day four rolled around I was as they say, as loose as a goose. I arrived home feeling like we’d been away for a week and ready for the week ahead.