Field Trip #1: Sapphire Coast Dairy, NSW

Join Hipcamp team member Brooke as she explores Sapphire Coast Dairy on the far south coast of NSW.

Sunrise at the old dairy campsite.

The assignment

On 16 February 2022, I set off on the very first Hipcamp Field Trip to Sapphire Coast Dairy Homestead, Djiringanj Country, on the far south coast of NSW. For readers wanting to skip to the good part, you can watch the full episode on YouTube, or check out my relaxed one-on-one chat with Host Norm Pearce, here.

The jewel in the crown is, without a doubt, the outdoor bath.

The highlight

Inspired by the much-loved Australian TV drama series McLeod’s Daughters, the jewel in Sapphire Coast Dairy’s crown is, without a doubt, the outdoor bath, handcrafted with oodles of love by Hipcamp Host Norm Pearce. The piping-hot bath is fed with mountain spring water (yes!) and has views over the lush green valley as far as the eye can see.

The location

The site is perched high on a hill overlooking the rolling green Bega Valley to the south, and Mumbulla Mountain (named after local elder King Jack Mumbulla) is its dramatic backdrop to the north. Culturally significant Biamanga National Park adjoins the property, and Norm has private bushwalking tracks into the national park via his property. He offers this private site exclusively for one booking at a time so the spot is all yours.

There’s nothing better than a campsite swing with a view!

The access

The Pearce family is well known in the area—so well known, in fact, that their road is named after them: Pearces Road. Expect lots of yellow “cattle ahead” signs. Windows down please. Once you arrive at their cattle grid entrance, you’ll travel along a good, quality dirt driveway for about 2 kilometers, winding your way past lush green pasture, cows grazing and greetings of friendly moos as you pass. The last 200 metres are fairly steep up the hill to the old dairy. I was in a 4WD Pajero (no problem) and my crew had a 2WD Ford sedan, which accessed the location pretty easily in dry conditions (but we wouldn’t want to make the trek in a car like theirs after wet weather). If you are towing anything (like a camper trailer or caravan), you’ll need a 4WD. If it’s wet, you’ll need a 4WD, or you can always opt to park your 2WD just at the bottom of the hill and walk up to the old dairy site. The walk will do you good.

Grass as soft as the finest silk and thick as the most exotic Persian rug.

The campsite

This is barefoot territory. Grass as soft as the finest silk, thick as the most exotic Persian rug and vibrant as the greenest treefrog! Dogs and kids (and Brooke’s) will love to run wild here. The first thing I did was take off my boots and enjoy the cool green grass on my feet. There are plenty of flat options to set up camp – close to some shady trees, or in front of the dairy where the views travel for miles. Ample room to turn caravans around, and you can even leave your van hitched.

A solo camping trip for the ages.

Think shabby-chic meets historic charm, meets laid-back country style.

The amenities

5 star camping. I’m a lifelong camper and have stayed at a variety of camps, and this is up there with the best. Goosebumps best (if you’re a camping tragic like me). Think shabby-chic meets historic charm, meets laid-back country style. The old dairy building itself is a treat to the eyes, visually unique with a multitude of little touches Norm has added over the years – such as the beautiful hardwood timber door, dual interior hot showers with exposed copper pipes, old dressers stocked with cutlery, and piping hot running water (luxe!) not to mention the incredible outdoor bath, and another hot outdoor shower.  I was also blown away to discover a microwave and a fridge freezer stocked with Zooper Doopers! Blackcurrant flavour in abundance – winning!

A cosy bathroom with a view.

The nearest place to swim

If you’re like me, a fish out of water, you’ll be looking for somewhere to get your gills wet pretty quick. Brogo River is a picturesque 5-minute drive. My tip is to pack some food, hang out at the river for a few hours and then head back to camp in time for dinner. When I was there, the river was flowing quite fast (fun fast) so pack some tyre tubes for bonus memories. There’s a cool concrete bridge which is very Instgrammable – if you’ve got teenagers, they’ll love it!

The tucker

Food plays a big part in my outdoor trips, usually because so many memories are created around shared meals. For dinner I cooked a pearl couscous stir fry with broccolini and haloumi, followed by freshly sliced sweet rockmelon. And I’m a big believer in hearty breakfasts too, eat once and eat well is my motto – then head off on a day of adventure (<insert eye roll from teenagers>). So after suitable caffeination was achieved, we ate pancakes with yogurt and blueberries, followed by free range scrambled eggs with sourdough.

The vitals

  • Nearest major town: Bega NSW
  • Cost: $40 per night for two, extras $15 (at time of writing)
  • Pets allowed: Yes
  • Toilet: Yes, flushing
  • Showers; Yes, three hot showers.
  • Mobile reception: Yes
  • Power: plenty of power points at the dairy

The gear

Wandera Contour Single Swag, Coleman Hyperflame Gas Cooker and Zempire Roco Lo Rider Chairs

A memorable first field trip.

The crew

  • Brooke Wood from Hipcamp
  • Zac Ward & Kieran Lefevre of Ground 9 Productions (videography, editing, and photos)

The final word

I certainly have some good memories of this place. It’s going to be hard to beat this first Field Trip! I think I was so impressed with Sapphire Coast Dairy because it’s not your typical bush camp. There is so much love here; it oozes from the walls of the old dairy. It’s clear that Norm gets a lot of enjoyment from his agritourism business which has evolved over the years. I wonder where it will be in another 2.5 years. We’re really proud to have Hosts like Norm with Hipcamp.

Brooke is a member of the Hipcamp team based in Moruya, New South Wales, Australia. She’s a lifelong camper who has spent many a night under the stars, and prefers a swag over silk sheets any day. Her favourite campsite is anything close to a river, with nothing much else around (including other people).

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