Posts Tagged ‘Coffs Harbour’

5th January
written by Hope

As mentioned in my previous post, it took us a few days to find our new Aussie rhythm. It’s funny…our two weeks on the beach is exactly the type of vacation I would normally prefer: warm weather, swimming in the ocean, relaxing on the beach, and generally getting away from it all. But what I learned from this experience is that when you don’t have anything to “get away” from—when your life is not that stressful on a daily basis (save those moments when we’re lost in a big city or really hangry)—relaxing on the beach can be really boring. Like, “counting-down-the-days-until-we-return-the-van” boring. You need something to occupy your mind and feed your curiosity when it’s just miles and miles of “sun-drenched sands and crystal-clear waters with the constant soundtrack of rolling surf,” however nice that sounds. It took me a couple of days, but I finally realized that I needed to chuck my boring non-fiction book and start reading something that I was really engaged in. Once I did that, our new routine fell into place, I started enjoying the uneventful nature of the beach, and didn’t even mind the hippie camper. It’s interesting how simple the solution can be sometimes.

Another simple solution that helped solve our issues with the creepy flesh-colored vinyl curtains and general ugliness of the hippie camper’s interior: we rigged up our travel mosquito net! Not only did this allow us to sleep in peace with the windows open, but it added some ambience to our dreary camper interior. It was a total McGuyver job—we set this puppy up with dental floss and duct tape (no joke):

the inside of our van
Back view of the Hippie camper with mosquito net in the cab.

Our NSW routine consisted pretty much of the following:

1. Drive somewhere nice. Or not.
2. Yoga or run on the beach (Hope) or surf (Jeremy) in the morning, followed by swimming in the ocean, or any combination of the above.
3. Hide from the sun when it gets too hot.
4. Buy groceries (we shop on a daily basis since the camper fridge is tiny).
5. Make food.
6. Clean up from making food.

downward dog on the beach in the AM
Downward dog on Back Beach.

Just a few photos of the places along the coast we really liked:

view from our campsite at crescent head
Our camp spot on a river than leads into the Tasman Sea in Crescent Head. Yes, we were living in a van down by the river.

roos in south west rocks
Kangaroos by the river in Southwest Rocks.

The beach near Coffs Harbour.

sunset in yamba
Yamba, where we stayed on Christmas Eve.

sunset walk on christmas day
Taken during our walk on Valla Beach while the sun was setting on Christmas day.

We got as far north as Byron Bay, which is a big beach destination in NSW. We heard and read a lot about this area, but I think our timing was unfortunate…we showed up the day before Christmas Eve and the place was a madhouse: very scene-y, very busy, lots of posers. We were there about 45 minutes before we decided to get back in the car and drive back to some of the more secluded beaches that we saw on the way there. It’s funny, many people drive from Sydney to Byron Bay in a single day…it took us about a week and a half. :) Our sluggishness could have been a reaction to our more “motivated” pace in New Zealand, but I prefer to think that we were just responding to our environment. In NZ, the scenery changed dramatically every half hour and we were engaged in both the activities and the new sights around every corner. In Australia, where you just take your pick of beautiful beaches, we slowed it down a lot and just moved when we wanted to (we averaged less than 100 km a day during that first week and a half). So, in hindsight, some of the original anxiety I had about moving too fast was unfounded, I think…we were moving as fast (or as slow) as felt right according to the environs.

One last thing I do want to mention about the NSW coast during this time…about a week into our drive, the school holidays began, and entire families moved out to the beach for 3 or more weeks to celebrate Christmas and the new year. This is a big thing in Australia and it was so cute watching all the families open presents on Christmas morning. What a great environment for kids!

xmas on the beach
Taken near the Trial Bay Gaol (that’s how Aussies spell the word “jail”) campgrounds.

After a shaky start, it turned out it wasn’t a bad environment for our Christmas, either. :)

out for a surf at angourie
Jeremy heading out for a surf at Pippie Beach in Yamba on Christmas Eve.