Camping the Deua (NSW)

Photo Credit: Eliot Duffy

Highlights:

  • The river is crystal clear and surrounded by some pretty untouched forest
  • You usually get to enjoy the whole site to yourself
  • Endless exploring opportunities from the campsite, into the forest & up the river
  • Quit driving the boring way from Canberra to the coast

It’s as green as it gets, the water is crystal, the trees are old and the people are few – you can’t really ask for much more in a mountain hideaway campground.

We started camping the Deua valley as a more interesting way from Canberra and the Coast – the road twists through the mountains of the gorgeous Deua National Park to Moruya. About a half hour out of Braidwood the road passes the quaint Araluen Village (where there is one hell of a burger-joint gem) and turns into a winding dirt road as you descend into the valley.

About another hour later of beautiful bush, glimpses of off-the-grid hideouts and a few cheeky side tracks to explore, you come across the first of the two camp grounds – a nice little green patch with a few fireplaces and a stone staircase down to the river.

The last time we headed through this winter we spent some time exploring up and down the river, climbing the she-oaks to spot fish (…there were none) and mind-sketching some amazing slackline/hammock setups over the water.

Most of the river looked about knee deep, and after an hour or two of river exploring the whole winter thing was pretty far in the back of our minds…right up until I was standing on a huge tree that had fallen over the river, in all but my tightey-whiteys and one of the nice deep pools I had (regretfully) talked up how nice it’d be to jump into.

The best part is waking up to this gorgeous forest after a night of beers, campfire and mountain air, and you’re halfway to a morning surf at the NSW Far South Coast where the waves are equally empty. The slow trundle back home is always a slow one, regretfully driving back over the mountain to the ice-city of Canberra, but Araluen and the Deua Valley have easily found their way into my top 5 low-key weekend adventuring.

Essential gear required

  • Tent/camp set up (there are fire sites and pit toilets).
  • It’s about $6 per night per person if the ranger decides to come, no bookings needed.

How to get there

Follow the Araluen Road out of Braidwood for about an hour and 15 minutes: 35°44’52.57″S, 149°55’3.35″E

Activities

  • Swimming
  • Camping
  • Fishing (the ranger insisted there were fish somewhere)

Skill Level:

Beginner-intermediate (the dirt road can be a little hairy after heavy rains).