Some of the most beautiful places in the world are the ones not too far from home. Especially if you live in Australia.
Lake Macquarie from Mannering Point
We recently took off on a quick road trip from Kingscliff to the Central Coast. We may have been on a mission, to get to a family gathering there, but we weren’t out to break any distance records.
For us, there’s nothing better than meandering along the east coast of Australia. And no matter how often we do it, we always find something to surprise us.
About six hours after leaving the Queensland border, we arrived at Port Macquarie… and we were ravenous.
So our first stop had to be the Zebu bar + grill at the Rydges Resort, for a warming ‘some like it hot’ cocktail (think delicious bev in a chilli-rimmed margarita glass), a zucca pizza and some local talent at the open mic.
Then it was back to reality. No resorts for us. Time to give our ‘new’ escape vehicle a test run (because we’re on a quest to simplify our lives, but more on that some other 60 seconds).
First night moments…
For our first sleepout in the troopy*, we stayed at the Flynn’s Beach Caravan Park, surrounded by enough nature and wildlife to make us feel at home.
It was a crisp night with a little (well, a lot) fewer creature comforts than we were used to – like a diesel heater and a mattress that didn’t feel like a couple of planks nailed together! And it was only going to get colder as we went south (you can stop smiling now).
We usually stop at Cassegrain Winery while we’re here, but even we have our limits. Well, it was 7.30 in the morning when we left Port…
Just over three hours south, we arrived at Norah Head, a little coastal village near Wyong that hasn’t been yuppified – yet.
It was the first time we’d been here, so of course EB dragged me straight out to ‘stretch our legs’ along the stunning coastline and up to the beautifully preserved lighthouse – with a few strategic ‘getting lost’ moments added in for good measure.
The lighthouse was completed in 1903, making the once-perilous shipping lane between Newcastle and Sydney safe at last. The lighthouse was fully automated in 1995.
We were ready to crash that night, in the Norah Head Holiday Park, but the bed was proving a challenge. At least we weren’t reluctant to get out of it in the morning, at the crack of dawn. Again.
Lake Macquarie – Mannering Park
After a side trip to Sydney, we arrived back up at Mannering Park Caravan Park. It sits on the edge of Lake Macquarie, an hour north of Sydney.
Twice the size of Sydney Harbour, the lake is the biggest permanent salt water lagoon in the southern hemisphere.
The caravan park seemed like a comfortable place to hang out for a few days, but we were in for a surprise. And it started like this… (cue music)
On our second night there, when the campground was completely silent (and our warm, now seriously padded, bed was waiting) we decide to take one last look at the lake.
And there before us was the most majestic sight – a huge burnt orange full moon in a charcoal sky, slashed across by inky clouds, casting a truly spectacular fiery pathway across the lake towards us.
We’d never seen anything like it – even EB was speechless.
Meanwhile, I was muttering about phone camera inadequacies, punctuated by ‘wow’ and ‘dammit’.
Note to self: Pack your ‘real’ camera and tripod next time. No, every time.
We usually stop in at Coffs for breakfast, but this time we decided to stay overnight in the Park Beach Caravan Park. We soon discovered it was a walking distance (in sensible shoes!) to the restaurant strip along the jetty and marina.
It’s a great place to kick back and watch people promenading and the sun setting, and to spot the plume of a passing whale.
It may have been a quick trip without our usual stops in National Parks, but it made me realise, not for the first time, that some of the most beautiful places in the world are the ones not too far from home. Especially if you live in Australia.
*Toyota Landcruiser Troop Carrier