4WD Duea National Park for an exciting weekend getaway. Did we mention it’s close to Canberra?
Most of Deua National Park has been closed due to significant bushfire damage. Berlang campground and The Big Hole walking track remain open. Read more: Local Alerts NSW National Parks
- Dry Canyoning
- The Big Hole (it’s exactly that)
- Real fun amateur 4WDing (I’m talking river crossings and car sick passengers)
- A ton of native wildlife
- Plenty of wild swimming
4WDing In Deua National Park
After a quick night in a motel, and an early breakfast we were ready to get 4WD in Deua National Park. We came from Sydney, so the plan was to enter the park from the east and exit on the west side as we came from Sydney.
For the first forty-five minutes or so the road was a fairly standard fire trail affair until a deer suddenly appeared in front of the car and appeared to be paralysed with fear.
We passed a sign saying that the rest of the trail would be 4WD only and as ominous, dark rain clouds appeared we knew we had fun times ahead.
The road became steep – very steep. The kind of steep where there are drainage gutters dug across the road to prevent it from becoming a waterfall in heavy rain.
Up and down and up and down, mountains flitted in and out of view to the north and south.
The carsick bemoaned their lack of medication preparation and called shotgun for respite as the smell of burning brake pads filled the air at each stop. Next time I’ll be sure to bring a sick bag.
We pulled into Bendethera Campground, located in the heart of Deua National Park, to scout it out for a subsequent trip, and squealed with delight at each river crossing.
Seriously, driving through water is badass. With calm waters, open campgrounds, and lots of room we will definitely be heading back here in the warmer months, lilos, and kayaks in tow.
The second half of the car trip combined the steep inclines and declines with one lane hairpin turns.
The clouds finally dropped their guts on us when we arrived at the Dampier trig station. The joke was on them.
It was so cold that big fluffy snowflakes began to whip around the mountain and this was met with squeals and screams of delight and proclamations of awe.
At this point, we should have predicted the freezing temperatures of the night to come. We did not.
Marble Arch Canyon And The Big Hole
To summarise: creek crossing, BIG hole, dry canyon, great adventure. The hike is approximately 13km return and fairly easy. The only steep descent/ascent you will experience is coming in and out of the canyon.
Spoiler. The Big Hole is exactly what it says, BIG! Really big. The canyon has just the right amount of maneuvering to make you feel like a rookie Spiderman and it is actually made of marble! So make sure you have a head torch and check it out.
The hike is a pleasant ramble through gum forest and overflowing with native wildlife. We saw two echidnas, tons of wombats (my fave furry critters), and a slew of native birds.
Back To Berlang Campground
We arrived back at the campground at sunset, but not before one of the crew misjudged a step on the river crossing and ate it hard.
The only thing hurting after the fuss was our bellies from all the laughing. Wood was chopped, the fire was lit, the tent was erected and wine was mulled. We went to bed with toasty toes and warm bellies. All was well until the witching hour…
The Coolest of Nights
‘Is everyone awake?’
‘Can anyone else not feel their face? Or their toes? Can anyone feel anything?’
Turns out it’s easy to misjudge the temperature of the night when you’ve had a few too many wines by the campfire to warm you. By this time the wine had time to make its way to our bladders and no one was getting back to sleep. Group toilet trip!
As we exited the tent it became obvious it was well below zero. The tent flap was more like a solid door and the grass crunched underfoot. And then we looked up.
The stars were quite overwhelming with a combination of the new moon and emptiness of city lights. They almost felt…closer? They twinkled brighter. They actually lit up the ground. We didn’t even need headlamps. Night vision FTW.
‘Rach. Rach. Rachel!’
‘Go take some photos.’
‘What? No. I’m a popsicle. You go do it.’
‘Nah. Don’t know how.’
And that is why I will forever remember those stars as I saw them. Bright and brilliant. No cameras. No photos. Unfortunately nothing I can share with you except words.
Sometimes, that is the nicest way to remember.
Sunrise And A Coffee
Morning came and my many, many layers still weren’t quite doing it. I was in desperate need of coffee.
As my pals all slept, I watched the sun come up over the ridge while I waited for some water to boil. My husband ran from the tent to the car and yelled, ‘It’s still bloody -6ºc!’
Once the tent thawed out and breakfast was consumed we packed up and headed back to Sydney. We couldn’t resist a coffee break in Braidwood and neither should you. Head to 134 Espresso Bar for the best soy latte you will ever lay your lips on.
The perfect way to end our 4WD adventure in Deua National Park.
• Overnight camping gear
• Wine (always)
• Water or water purification system
• 4WD – not required if approaching Berlang from the West
How To Get There
Drive 5 hours south of Sydney to get to the Moruya side of Deua National Park or just under 2 hours southwest of Canberra to get to the Berlang side.
- Dry canyoning
- Freezing your butt off (seasonal)
Hiking – A fairly easy ramble for any reasonably fit adult.
4WDing – We stuck to the main fire trails between Moruya, Bendethera Campground, and Berlang Campground. As amateur 4WDers we found it to be a great drive with a Ford Ranger that has not been modified. The creek crossings were a good depth but would increase in difficulty and depth with rainfall.
Marble Arch Canyon via the Big Hole – 13km return / 4 – 6 hours
Moruya to Berlang – half a day