10-13 March: Back into New South Wales

Author: Mrs A

Location: Boydtown & Tuross Head, NSW

Sunday: Driving north from Lakes Entrance it wasn’t long before we were back in southern New South Wales, pulling into Boydtown for the night. Boydtown was the original settlement in Twofold Bay, settled by Benjamin Boyd in the mid 1800s.

This is the area where Thaua aboriginal people had developed a special relationship with killer whales, which would herd humpback whales towards their spears. The first Europeans learned of this and recruited the Thaua people to help them with their whaling activities, There are still the remains of whaling stations and a whale spotting tower in the area.

Today, the settlement is home to the beautifully refurbished Seahorse Inn and a growing community as land is sold off around the pub. There is also a 40 acre campground at reasonable prices and beach access.

Not crammed in at Boydtown Camping Ground
Miss Tassie wondering where her Victorian haven has gone!

As we pulled into the camping area we saw market stall holders packing up outside the hotel, and several coaches parked up on the lawns nearby. Apparently the hotel had just hosted a couple of hundred people on a P&O cruise calling in at nearby Eden for afternoon refreshments. All very nice but sadly no oysters left for the likes of us!

We set up camp in the spacious grounds, and headed off for a walk on the beach. The cloud was rolling in, threatening rain, but very little fell after all.

Beautiful views across the ranges
Prancing along the water’s edge

We had a special sunset however.

Best sunset in ages
A fabulous sky show you just can’t stop watching

Monday: From Boydtown we called into Eden to complete a few tasks at the post office, before heading to Pambula Lake to the fabulous Broadwater Oyster shack there. We last visited about 12 months ago, and our memories of the delicious shucked oysters were still fresh. We were not disappointed – a dozen each and two dozen to take away. Fabulous and well worth the wait!

Our destination for the day was Tuross Head. We last stayed there about 2 years ago, having had to smuggle Miss Tassie ‘the wallaby’ in, as pets were not allowed. This time she was fully permitted, and enjoyed a bit of an exploration around the grounds (full of rabbit smells!).

Cat walking does not burn many calories…

Tassie proving to be a poor hunter – didn’t even notice the skink in front of her nose!

Tuesday: Tuross Head is a lovely settlement – not really much there in terms of entertainment, with a handful of small shops, a Chinese restaurant and a combination Thai and fish and chip shop.

But that doesn’t matter – it is surrounded by white sand beaches, sparkling turquoise waters and a shared pathway which explores the coastline. It’s perfect for those who enjoy peace and quiet as well as outdoors activities like kayaking, cycling and fishing.

After a lot of car time the past couple of days we were determined to get out and explore under our own power, and did a 13km cycle around the coast, following the pathway around to Coila Creek and back.

Mr A peddling off along the quiet cycle ways
Coils Bar behind me – the border between ocean and lake
Riding alongside Coila Creek which is currently a lagoon, closed to the ocean
Still perfection – Coila Creek behind the dunes
Dead tree provides a sculpture alongside the creek
Mr A enjoying the day!

Our afternoon stroll took us in the other direction, to a lookout overlooking the Tuross River and Horse Island. There are so many opportunities to explore this area by boat, we are certain to return again with our big kayak and a longer booking at the campground.

Looking out the tumultuous mouth of the Tuross River

Hold onto your hats! The wind picking up in lieu of a change in the weather
Enjoying the view from the lookout
Beautiful tree-lined streets

We’d been able to nab ourselves a beachside campsite, having booked in just after a long weekend, the perfect location to set up our chairs and enjoy our take away oysters with a glass of Chardonnay.

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A home with a view…couldn’t get much closer to the sand

Wednesday: We moved on again, initially planning to visit Ulladulla, but finding the campgrounds either ridiculously expensive ($50 a night) or allowing dogs but not cats – even mostly indoor ones which come out only accompanied on a lead. We bypassed the town completely and moved on to Milton, camped up on the showground.

The blue sky has left us for a few days, with the coast expected to receive some very welcome rain. It was much cooler today with heavy overcast skies. We took the opportunity to start our packing for our next adventure – in 17 days we leave Australia and head back to the UK to begin travelling there and in Europe. We continue up the coast tomorrow to Huskisson on Jervis Bay…we’re expecting to use our rain coats!

Wednesday & Thursday 7-8 March: Oysters galore in Merimbula

Author: Mrs A

Location: Merimbula and Pembula, NSW

Wednesday morning saw us packing up and heading north, just a half hour drive this time to the lake and ocean side town of Merimbula. As usual we checked into the caravan site and unloaded our bikes, ready for a cycle to the oyster farm that the receptionist said ‘is right next door’. Turns out that wasn’t quite true, and the route to the farm was via the extremely busy and narrow Pacific Highway, huge road trains thundering past just metres from us – not ideal. Somehow, Google maps found an alternative route via an old disused track which wound alongside aforementioned road and we bush-bashed our way up the hill. Upon reaching the top, we saw the sign ‘Oyster shack – closed’. And so ended our cycling oyster experience.

Frustrated, we returned to get the car and headed off to find oysters elsewhere. Merimbula is full of oyster farms, the lakes’ mixture of tidal fresh and salty water ideal for their growth. We ordered a dozen oysters from a seafood store and sat down to enjoy them. Just delicious. We took another dozen to eat back at the mobile apartment.

We had a few tasks to undertake in town so wandered around the shops. Merimbula seems to be a mix of quite nice boutiques alongside two dollar shops. It doesn’t seem to be one thing or another. Mr A treated himself to an ice cream, then around the corner I found a shop selling hand made chocolates and ice cream – including my favourite, dairy-free dark chocolate sorbet! What a treat!

We awoke Thursday morning to absolutely no wind, perfect paddling weather. Needing to burn off the decadence of yesterday we decided to head off in the kayak. We launched into the Pambula River from a beach beside another oyster farm and shop, and took off for an explore. It was a stunning morning, remaining still and mirror-like for most of our paddle. We toured down the river, stopping just before it went into Merimbula Bay, close to where we had been hiking last Sunday.

Just over twelve kilometres later we were back at our start point munching on a dozen oysters each. Well deserved this time!

We returned to camp via Pambula’s bakery, a loaf of sourdough, a slice of dairy free cake for me and a piece of cheesecake for Mr A. Highly recommended if you are passing this way.

Upon reaching the caravan we discovered there had been some heavy digging going on in the park, which had caused huge dust clouds of mud to coat absolutely everything! What a nightmare – we had left the windows open for Tassie, and every surface was covered in a layer of brown dust, and poor Tassie’s eyes were streaming. I had some work to catch up on the laptop and Mr A relaxed with a book in the sunshine before we tackled the seemingly endless task of cleaning the caravan. I suspect we will be finding mud dust for days to come. Mr A complained to the park management who refunded our night’s fee by way of an apology. It’s nice to have park owners who care about their reputation, but a shame they didn’t have the foresight to warn their guests to close windows and use air conditioning today.

Tuesday March 6: Another day, another river

Author: Mr A

Location: Kiah & Towamba River

We were determined today to get some paddling done, as the river running past the front of our caravan was the reason I had selected this camp. We headed downstream towards the river mouth, immediately immersing ourselves in the sounds of bell and whipbirds, pied oyster catchers were quietly hunting for morsels and a sea eagle soared overhead. We love paddling for this reason, its so easy to drift quietly along and not scare away the wildlife.There were a few abandoned camps along the river but we didn’t see a soul until we were back at our launch point three hours and 13km later. A couple of fishermen were staring longingly into the water hoping for a bite. The river was really beautiful, winding its way between sandy banks, very little breeze disturbed the mirror like surface.I had read trip reports from people who had been paddling with a kayak guide who runs tours along this stretch, and from those was hoping to see kingfishers. Finally, on the home stretch we saw one. Our waterproof camera sadly doesn’t have a great telephoto so he escaped our lens. trust me he was a beauty, all peachy belly and deep blue back. Not a startling blue one like some we had seen down this coast, but still a lovely sight through my ever present binoculars. My eyesight is shocking, so without them I wouldn’t be seeing much at all!.

Back at camp the lack of people around allowed us let Tas out without her lead, and blimey she was off like a shot, always with a look over her shoulder though to make sure “mum” was close. She even climbed up a couple of trees, not bad for a nearly 14 year old!It really made us smile to see her so happy. It’s so nice to be away from crowded caravan parks, for all of us. We had been a bit tied to them running our car fridge on freezer mode, but gave that up today and switched it back to a fridge so we don’t worry about needing to be on electricity to feed the power hungry battery.

Catherine had some work to do on her Facebook submission so I headed off for quick blast on the bike. Looking at the map the only feasible route I could see avoiding the highway was along somewhere ominously called “The Snake Track”. It turned out to be snake free, but a tough ride up into the hills behind Eden. As it was a fasting day I soon decided it was time to head back to camp as the legs were running out of puff.

Monday 5 March: A birthday by the river

Author: Mrs A

Location: Kiah, NSW

Farewells were our first order of the day as friends Jenny and David, John and Eveliene packed up and headed back north to the rain and Sydney. We were moving on too, South to Kiah, a locality just past Boydtown. We’d read about this bush camp on a property alongside the Towamba River with soft sandy beaches and easy boat launching and thought it would be ideal for a post weekend relax.

We arrived early to find we were the only people there, having the pick of the 10 acre grassland.The water looked perfect for paddling on, being shallow and not too fast moving, but there was a strong southerly breeze which makes it a challenge. We decided to save paddling for tomorrow.All this blog writing had made my iPad keyboard battery run out…or so I thought, so we popped out to the nearest shop for a new one (I later found that it is not the battery, but the Bluetooth capability which has stopped working. Ugh – seems a new keyboard might be required unless any readers know an easy fix?). On the way back we called into Boydtown for a look around.

Boydtown was originally built by Benjamin Boyd in the nineteenth century to act as a service centre for his whaling station. Apparently it was not too successful and eventually cost Ben Boyd his demise as his assets were liquidated to try to pay for it. All that remains today is the Seahorse Inn, now an expensively renovated tavern with landscaped gardens and apparently delicious food. We had a look around before returning to camp.

As the afternoon drew to a close we were invited to join our host as he fed the property’s animals. We hand fed Marino sheep, alpacas, geese, ducks and chickens, I even collected a couple of eggs.We finished off with feeding the peacocks, peahens and a chick before heading back for dinner, armed with the eggs and a bag of fresh spinach from the veggie patch.

We were alcohol free for the evening (think we’ve celebrated enough over the weekend!) but I was allowed the last piece of birthday cake! Thanks for all the kind wishes!

Sunday 4 March: Paddling and hiking around Eden

Author: Mr A

Location: Eden & Ben Boyd National Park

It was a marginal call in the morning whether it would be too windy for kayaking, but we erred on the adventurous side and went anyway. Our friends had singles and launched first headed onto Twofold Bay. Wow, this is a pretty amazing stretch of water framed by beautiful hills in the distance. Soon the wind was picking up though and it was time to hoist the sail.

The rock formations were amazing creating some amazing backdrops for the paddle.In the afternoon we headed off in cars to start a short walk up the coast though coastal forecast in Ben Boyd National Park. The roos were plentiful, the very lawn like grass indicative of a sizeable mob enjoying this grazing. Dolphins even obliged by appearing on cue, as well as an echidna and bush wallabies. A sea eagle soared overhead, while crested terns dived for fish in the bay.This area of coast is one of our favourite spots in Australia. It does get busier every time we come, but there is still leaves plenty of space. We would only have seen half a dozen people on the entire walk.Spending time outdoors in this serene and largely pristine environment is so good for our souls. It’s especially welcome as we mourn the loss of our friend. He’s on my mind a lot of the time, processing thoughts that move from angry to sad in a heartbeat. Our friends provide a welcome distraction, reminding me of the criticality of these relationships to our overall wellbeing.

As our friends were headed off on Monday we celebrated Mrs A’s birthday on Sunday night, with bubbly at the camp and pressures, then off into Eden’s little gem of a restaurant called Drift. Cocktails and craft beers were closely followed by some of the finest oysters we’ve ever eaten, actually harvested right were we had hiked earlier. Mains were pretty good, but the long churro’s and chocolate dipping sauce for desert was eaten in spectacular style, especially by Jenny. However, the video to accompany her licking the sauce off the end of them will not be posted as deemed XXX!

It was brilliant way to end the weekend, good food and wine and lots of laughs with close friends, it doesn’t get better than that.

Saturday 3 March: Using all the toys in Eden

Author: Mrs A

Location: Eden, NSW

Saturday morning dawned bright and sunny so we decided to launch our kayak in Curalo Lagoon, beside the campground. Our friends from Canberra, Catherine and Dave also had kayaks so joined us for an explore. The lagoon is very shallow, so we only paddled about 4km all up, and predominantly just floating on the glasslike surface. Not a bad way to start the day, however!After a fabulous team BBQ brunch, a group of us decided to try burning off some of the calories with a bike ride into town. Eden is famous for its incredible coastline with spectacular views. This means of course hills so we really did burn a calorie or two, but the views are worth it.We rode down to the wharf where a large cruise ship had just arrived, and enjoyed coffees down there before heading back to camp.

John, Eveliene, Mr A and I decided to go for a stroll along Aslings Beach, hoping for a return visit of the dolphins we saw the night before. None showed themselves, but it was a lovely walk nevertheless.After showers it was most certainly beer o’clock and the evening began. A delicious Ward spag bol was concocted followed by a very tasty dairy free chocolate birthday cake from Jenny. Much fun and laughter and a lovely birthday eve eve had.

Tuesday & Wednesday 27-28 Feb: Ups and downs of Tathra

Author: Mrs A

Location: Tathra Beach, Tathra & Kalaru

Tuesday Morning saw Mr A head into Bega without me, his destination a dentist to see about some slight pain he had in his upper jaw. Meanwhile, I had to work on a Facebook Community Fellowship submission so sat on the laptop, working for the day. Mr A returned around midday, his face numb from the first of what looks to be several root canal therapy sessions – not ideal while travelling, I can tell you! A few painkillers and a soft lunch later and we popped out to Tathra to have a look around.

There are some nice views from the wharf, and we picked up some fresh oysters from a fisherman’s house, before heading back to continue my work, and Mr A have a lie down with more painkillers.Around 6pm we decided to head out to the Tathra Hotel for dinner. It had been recommended as a spot to go to, and we could see it was a nicely painted heritage building from the outside. As we entered, I expected the usual stinky sticky carpets and dark dingy walls of the typical Australian pub, but was nicely surprised. The interior has been freshly renovated, with a lot of money spent and some great interior architecture and design in place. It looked fantastic, with high ceilings, and huge windows making the most of the views across the ocean. We settled onto a table with an ocean view and ordered our food. We accompanied this with a craft beer for Mr A and a local winery Tempranillo for me – just delicious. The food was great too – my curry a little mild for my liking, but still tasty.Wednesday morning saw us packing up and driving to a MUCH nicer campsite just 5km away in Kalaru. Lots of space, birds, wallabies, unspoilt bushland and close to the Bega River for potential kayaking opportunities. We set up early and relaxed with brunch to make plans for April, realising we have the Easter period quickly approaching when every decent campground is likely to be fully booked and full of children. We made bookings, including a couple with friends who have kindly offered us places to stay at the busiest times, and now feel a lot more in control.We then jumped on our mountain bikes to head off on a ride. We had only made it about 500 metres when a phone call came which shook our world. We had the horrible news that a good friend back in Sydney had lost his battle with depression. Just awful, we feel there must have been something we could have done to prevent this happening…how could we have fun while a friend was in so much pain? We spent a tearful hour or so calling other friends to let them know the bad news, and considered heading back to the caravan to reflect.

Instead, we decided try to clear our heads and took off on a short ride down some quiet local roads to see where we might launch the kayak tomorrow. The scenery around here is quite lovely, we rode through a sheep farm, only turning around when a farm worker tracked us down to tell us Google Maps was wrong, and we were on private land. We wondered whether this was actually true, but left regardless. Our ride was just 7km all up, we decided we were just not in the mood to go any further and returned to camp.Tonight is not to be an alcohol free night. Barbecued lamb chops on a pumpkin hummus will be accompanied by spinach with toasted walnuts and a lemon and lime dressing. We will toast our friend and hope he is in a happier place tonight. There will certainly be more tears from us before the day is out…

Tassie is happy here:

Sunday & Monday 25-26 Feb: Rain slows down outdoor play

Author: Mr A

Location: Wallaga Lake and Tathra Beach, NSW

Yesterday was a real washout, it absolutely poured all day, so it was bunker down and zone out in the Zone. Never a problem given the comforts we have! With weather like that it reaffirms our decision to leave behind the canvas of our camper trailer and go caravanning. This morning though I had the dubious pleasure of packing up camp in the continuing drizzly rain, while Mrs A does the indoor stuff. Our division of labour to remind readers is as follows: Mrs A: chief cook and head of travel research. Mr A: dirty, tall and unskilled labouring. It seems to work for us.

We were very early at our next camp – Tathra Beachside Holiday Park. What a disappointment. The park is right on the road and our van is as close to the tarmac as you can get without actually getting a parking ticket. Small sites jammed next to one another and no almost no green in sight. I negotiated an early exit strategy and got a refund – we will only stay tonight and tomorrow. Its certainly not going to be one of Tassie’s favourites either given the density of people, dogs and cars.

Things perked up when we headed out on the bikes. We stumbled upon a lovely ride along the foreshore, spotting an Eastern Great Egret and White Faced herons fishing, then a pair of white bellied sea eagles put in brief star appearance high overhead in the increasingly blue skies.We climbed up into a forest of spotted gums, the smell after the rain was just amazing. A very quick run back down the hill and we had made a great little loop ride (15km). I’m absolutely loving the new gears on my bike. A twist grip rather than levers which were so painful to use with my dodgy hand (touch of osteo). Mrs A struggled to breathe a bit on the hills but with her usual can do attitude just got on with it. She’s determined to not let this illness hold her back if she can overcome with the power of her mind.