I was home from the 10km run in the Medibank Marathon Festival before lunch, even allowing for a rest in the MCG grandstand watching some of the winning elite athletes in the half and full marathon crossing the finishing line. I was still fantastic spirits, and the caravan was packed, so suggested we head off to Seymour rather than contend with Monday traffic the following morning. We have a favourite CP in Seymour right on the Goulburn River, so it was an easy decision.
We had 3 longish days with overnight stops at West Wyalong, Gunnedah, and Tenterfield, then a short drive with a steep descent over the Ranges to Evans Head, about 40 km south of Ballina. The purpose of this trip was to explore the coast between Ballina and Newcastle, an area we hadn’t seen that much of in the past. We also wanted to relax in the comfort of the big van after our previous adventure in T-Rex. We also chose small less well known spots from internet research and reputation.
We pre-booked a week on a site of our choosing at Evans Head and weren’t disappointed with our selection. The CP was huge and in 2 distinct sections which we have never seen before. The larger fenced section did not allow animals, and the smaller, less well serviced for those with animals. Like many towns on the NSW north coast, Evans Head was at the mouth of a lovely, protected, tidal estuary, and so had the benefits of a beautiful surf beach as well as the tranquillity of a clean, wide estuary. The lovely little township was a short stroll away, and had everything the locals and tourists could want for, without being overdone. It had great ambience and a relaxed atmosphere. There was also a roughly 6km long shaded walkway along the estuary, over a bridge, and up to a sensational lookout. Along the way was a boat harbour and a fishing co-op with plentiful fresh and cooked seafood to choose from…..and we did. We had a very relaxing week with very warm days, and the only downside being the wind some of the time.
Reluctantly we moved on to our next stop at Corindi Beach for 4 nights, some 150km further south (or 30km north of Coffs Harbour). Close friends had been here recently, and recommended it. The CP belonged to the “North Coast” chain of CP’s, the same as Evans Head. The chain is NSW Government owned, and all the parks are on Crown Land, so all are in prime positions. This one was on a headland overlooking the ocean in both directions. We again chose our site, with a magnificent ocean view but protected from the prevailing breeze, and one of our favourite activities was sitting watching the humpback whales and calves at play on their return journey to Antarctica….and they were generally only a few hundred metres off-shore and appeared in no hurry as they frolicked around. We also took the chance to do day trips to other near beachside towns for future reference. On a previous trip we explored the magnificent hinterland extensively. It was beach weather….and we were on the beach!!
But time passes quickly so another 60 kms south to Urunga and another NCHP for a week, and as it turned out the best of the 5 fantastic stops we were to have. These North Coast HP’s also run a loyalty card, and once you know how to work the system it means one free night a week, which is handy, because they are not cheap. This park was on a lagoon about 1km up the estuary from the ocean. It had it’s own sandy beach, and a dedicated boardwalk out to the ocean. I had picked a site before booking, and it was superb: a big wide grassy site with an uninterrupted view looking straight up the estuary to the mouth and ocean break beyond. This was adventure in paradise…..well at least relaxation there. It had a small nearby shopping centre just like Evans Head…..and a Bowling Club with the best Asian meal we have had for a long time….authentic cuisine. We did a couple of day trips, as you do, and discovered Nambucca Heads as another possible future destination, even though it was a bigger town. It was hot here most of the time but we did have a “sound and light” show of tropical proportions one night and the following day, as a real thunderstorm hit the coast with badly needed torrential rain.
Our week was over in no time so another 140km south to Bonny Hills (about 25km south of Port Macquarie), and another NCHP. So we were on the flat, then the hill, then the flat, and back to this magnificent, secluded, sheltered headland perched above one of the best surf beaches in Australia, Rainbow Beach. This CP is quite small, but no site is without a panoramic view over the ocean. We chose one tucked in a sheltered corner, and set up for 3 wonderful nights. Bonny Hills is only 10km from North Haven/ Laurieton, which are busy little hamlets on a large estuary leading to a gorgeous and expansive lake. High up behind Laurieton is North Brother Hill/ Lookout, giving a great view over the basin and up past Bonny Hills. It is also the launch point for paragliders…..great to see, but don’t know if I would be game to try.
Our last stop was Hawks Nest, another 180km south (70km north of Newcastle), and another NCHP of course….to a site (of our choosing) not on the flat or hill, but on the top tier of a medium sized CP. All the same excellent facilities of the other NCHP’s, and a great meal at the Golf Club (in a courtesy bus of course). The weather here was ordinary, and we did have another sound and light thunderstorm on night. We did our normal drive around the area, and discovered a tiny place called Seal Rocks in the Myall Lakes district. This will be a must stay place for the future, but probably in T-Rex, as it is fairly remote and better suited to the camper.
It was all but over, apart from the uneventful trip through Sydney to Jugoing Showgrounds for a night, and our old favourite Seymour to clean up the van. This trip had none of our rough roads, museums, geology, history, mountaineering etc, but was soooooo relaxing, and proves that we can allow ourselves plenty of time to enjoy doing very little. It also proves we don’t have to venture far to enjoy some of the best locations for CP’s in Australia, or the lovely climate and seaside atmosphere that comes with coastal living on the NSW north coast.