Tag Archives: wildlife

Weekly wisdom – just start

… because if you’re anything like me, you’re doing this right now!

Don’t keep putting things off, waiting for 12 doves to fly
over your house in the sign of the cross before you begin.
Just start.                                                              Jack Canfield

honeyeater

Okay, it’s not a dove or 12, but you get the picture… © Louise Creely

 

 


Surprise yourself – on the NSW Central Coast

Some of the most beautiful places in the world are the ones not too far from home. Especially if you live in Australia.

Copyright: Louise Creely

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.

Port Macquarie

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).

Copyright: Louise Creely

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…

Norah Head

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.

Copyright: Louise Creely

Copyright: Louise Creely

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

Copyright: Louise CreelyAfter 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)

Copyright: Louise Creely

Copyright: Louise Ralph

Copyright: Louise Creely 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. 

Coffs Harbour

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.

Copyright: Louise Creely

Copyright: Louise RalphIt’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


Winter is here

Copyright: Louise Creely

It may be snowing way south of here, but it was another crisp yet balmy start to winter here in northern New South Wales.

Walking along Kingscliff beach at dusk, we saw birds diving like missiles into the ocean… and something else breaking the glass-like surface.

At first we thought it must be a dolphin or a big fish. Then a gorgeous manta ray leapt into the air, executing an elegant full spin before disappearing into the deep blue… only to rise again, spinning like a ballerina, over and over again.

It’s been two years since we saw our first leaping manta ray – right here – and knew we’d come home. There’s just something about this place that steals your heart.

It’s a perfect start to winter. Now, for those wonderful whales passing by…


Bruny Island cruising

With EB stuck in Hobart dealing with investment property issues, I had a choice – stay in water-logged Brisbane or head to Tasmania for the weekend to hang out with the crazy boy. Tough choice…

Copyright: Louise Ralph

…can’t resist those water views.

Tasmania’s capital city, Hobart is an absolutely delightful place steeped in history, but not stuck in it.

There is so much to love about this city, from its sandstone buildings, wharves and iconic Salamanca markets, to its proximity to some of Australia’s most pristine wilderness and waterways, and an abundance of delicious food and wines.

Copyright: Louise Ralph

The Monuments. Just one of the spectacular rock formations on Bruny Island.

But wait, there’s more…and more… and more.

A short drive or boat ride away is the the always fascinating Museum of Old + New Art (MONA).

With its surreal other-worldly feel, MONA’s architecture is the perfect backdrop for the artwork and a fantastic event calendar.

There is a winery, brewery, café, cemetery and stunning accommodation onsite – notorious gambler David Walsh‘s gift to Tasmania that has helped put Hobart on the world map.

So much to explore, so little time. The plan was to go back to MONA, but cruising Bruny Island won out in the perfect boating weather.

The multi-award winning Bruny Island Cruise has just taken out Australia’s No.1 Tourist Attraction, and as soon as you meet Robert Pennicott, who founded and operates the tours with wife Michaye, you can see why…

He is absolutely nuts about this part of Tassie, a passion that’s rubbed off on his staff and affects everyone who takes the tour.

From breathing rocks, towering cliffs and sea-carved monuments, to show-offy dolphins, sleek fur seals and migratory seabird encounters, this is exhilarating in every sense – including becoming instantly windswept and interesting as you zip along on super-sized zodiac-style boats.

Copyright: Louise Ralph

Surfing the wake…

March and April are great times to do this tour, but I’m coming back in October when the whales are migrating…

Meanwhile, here’s more of our Bruny Island cruisin’ encounters. I rest my case.

Copyright: Louise Ralph

Shearwaters take flight…

Copyright: Louise Ralph

A fur-seal bloke’s life is fraught with danger. Apparently.

Copyright: Louise Ralph

Black-faced cormorants…

Copyright: Louise Ralph

And the last word goes to…dolphins in formation. Magic.

This is the next stop on our different journey list. Just as soon as I’m brave enough to implement my FIFO granny status. That’s fly-in fly-out (FIFO) as opposed to drive-in drive-out (DIDO).

Sometimes you’ve got to take a dolphin-style leap of faith…