Our Family Adventurer
Sarah & David Ralston
Batemans Bay, NSW
4X4 D-MAX LS-M CREW CAB UTE
Camping & 4x4 Adventures
As a local real estate agent in Batemans Bay, NSW, Sarah Ralston is used to singing the praises of the area. This picturesque township hardly needs any selling however, as its beautiful beaches, humming marina, sweeping river and friendly community vibe quickly entices any new visitor and make it near impossible for them to leave.
Sarah and her family live across the road from the bay, and in summer, they practically live at the beach. Her husband David is a keen bodyboarder and it’s pretty hard to keep their three kids - Caitlin, Zoe and Campbell - out of the water. They’re an active family and are also involved in rugby league, touch footy and running, but when the temperature drops in the winter months, for them, it’s all about camping.
About an hour’s drive through Nelligen and up along the stunning Clyde river, you will find one of the Ralston’s favourite getaways – Shallow Crossing. It’s a hidden gem of a campsite that’s famous for its eponymous shallow river crossing that draws people from near and far. The campsite is a sprawling meadow of green that hugs the river, complete with rope swings hanging from gum tree branches that have been rigged up to drop giggling kids into the water below.
The road out to the campsite is a winding dirt track that offers up plenty of twisting turns, water crossings, stunning vistas and forest bends, and Sarah says it’s half the fun of the trip.
“Driving our D-MAX out here is such a pleasure, and we love just getting out and exploring in it,” said Sarah. “It’s quick and easy to pack all the gear in the back, including our Blue Heeler Nikita, and the D-MAX never skips a beat when we’re away.”
Near the campsite there’s a must-do drive up to the Mogood Lookout, and the Ralstons go up there to soak up the sprawling views of the Budawang National Park and beyond. The steep dirt track getting up to the top is a bit of fun too, especially when there’s been some rain about.
Once the tents are set up and the kayaks are off the roof, the Ralstons usually hit the water to explore the surroundings. The river has endless nooks and crannies to discover, not to mention wildlife to spot, and the kids burn off tonnes of energy in the process. But kids being kids, they always have enough left in the tank later to kick around the footy or go on the hunt for firewood.
Getting a solid campfire going is a must when the mercury drops down low, and the whole family chips in to help. Of course, that’s with the notable exception of Nikita, who’s already staked out the best spot near the fire. Once the flames are flickering and the embers are burning, the sticky marshmallows come out and everyone’s happy.
By trade, Dave’s an accountant, so he’s good with numbers and checking the details. When it came to buying their ute, he says he did his fair share of homework.
“I think I nearly drove my family mad, I took that long to make my decision,” said Dave. “I wanted to get it right and in the end the D-MAX was the clear winner. The engine is a stand out and I love its reliability. It’s my weekday car as well as our family adventurer too, so it had to be flexible.”
Sarah’s more than happy with the D-MAX: she says she finds it comfy to drive, economical and spacious. Sarah recently joined Dave on an I-Venture Club day and discovered her confidence driving off-road.
“They really encouraged me to try something new, and once I learned to trust the machine, and its capabilities, it all became so much easier,” said Sarah. “I’m continuously impressed by what the D-MAX can do, and I can’t wait to test it out more.”
Sarah means what she says, and the family is currently planning more adventures with some friends that want to go further afield. They have Fraser Island in their sights and it surely won’t be long before Sarah has the D-MAX pointing north up Fraser’s beautiful Seventy Five Mile Beach.