When you type in Yalwal it autocorrects to halal. The irony here is that Yalwal NSW is a far from halal as you might get.
1.5 hours from Wollongong is a great campsite bordering a bass filled dam and surrounded by 4wd tracks!
The drive is quite easy, after you get out of Nowra, you hit the great red dirt this area has to offer, deflate and drop down a windy descent into Yalwal itself.
The camping is free and it seems a lot take advantage of it. It is accessible to 2wd vehicles who are happy to risk a few bumps and this does draw in a bit of rif raf.
Funnily enough, the weekend we were there, the toughest crowd were a scout group from Sydney who turned up at 1am Friday night, wedged themselves between some unhappy campers and banged pegs in for the next hour. It wasn't windy but the little buggers were determined to keep their tents pinned to the one spot.
Toilets and drinking water are provided and of good quality. The ground is rough with only the grassed edges of the campground worth fighting for and you have to get in quick.
The temperature sent us down to the dam where the girls paddled and the guys made the jump off the 5m dam wall. Refreshing and exhilarating for someone past their prime in stupid behaviour.
Yalwal is rich in history and a quick scope around reveals the hardship of the goldrush era. Unfortunately, a lot of trails have been fenced off as of late so a lot of the exploring has to be done on foot.
A favourite return trip is to head back out of Yalwal, right onto Deans Gap Road then right into Mintbush firetrail. It then winds down a bumpy descent then starts ascending up Monkey Gum firetrail which is a real gem.
The deep ruts were a challenge for the new flexy coil kit and the rear locker was activated twice to help out. A mates hilux stock bar a set of muds and a body lift made it up with a few attempts of the harder stuff. A real effort!
If you are up for a challenge and don't mind a few scratches from the odd branch then Monkey Gum is a ripper. You are rewarded with a great view from the top. The trail then takes you to Turpentine road where you hang a left and continue along before you hit a sharp turn onto Deans Gap road again for your return back into Yalwal.
A great weekend away with some good trails, comfy enough accommodation and a choice swimming spot. Just be ready to encounter a few fireworks, poor karaoke and the odd scout with no idea.