Here is the low-down on what went on in week one….
// Yamba and Angourie
My first stop along the coast was at a place called Yamba – a beautiful little fishing town in Northern New South Wales. There was a really chilled-out, surfs-up kinda vibe about the place which I loved.
Once checked in to the campground a bloke on a little golf buggy took me down to my campsite and showed me how to connect the power and where the water was. The whole connecting to power thing freaked me out at first, but now I am confident as f*** with it!
After a restless sleep, I woke and drove out to a place called Angourie which translates to “Noisy Ocean”. Such a stunningly beautiful place. I’d read about Angourie blue and green pools and was keen to check them out. These beautiful spring water-fed water pools are surrounded by bush – only metres from the beach and are the remains of the old quarry used for the break wall. I was so excited to get in and frolic in the spring water! I walked along the path and arrived at the ‘Blue Pool’, which was covered in algae and resembled more of a brownish coloured pond. I wandered over to the ‘Green Pool’, it was much clearer and cleaner, however, there was signage from the local Council advising people not to swim as the algae can be harmful to humans. After a few moments, I decided I’d go back to the van, slip on my awesome new hiking shoes and go for an epic bushwalk. The Yaraygir Coastal Walk begins in Angourie and finishes at a place called Red Rock (which features later in the blog), I wasn’t up for the 65km hike, but did about 7km instead. I hiked to a place called Dirrangan Lookout; a gorgeous spot with panoramic views of the ocean. I set my back pack down on the bench and looked out over the ocean, in awe of its beauty. In that moment I was reminded of something I have always wanted to do, which was to scream from the top of a mountain! Now, it wasn’t quite a mountain, nor was it a scream, but I gave it a crack. I found the process of letting it out quite confronting actually. Initially, I paced around back and forth and began to cry. I had all of this self-talk happening and was saying things like: I can’t do this, I just can’t do it. And then arrived a moment whereby I got all sassy with myself and gave myself a little pep talk. I was like: RIGHT JACQUELINE, you didn’t travel all of this way to NOT do these things. Just fucking do it. Let it out. And with that I stood, staring at the ocean and let out an almighty “RAAAHHHHHHHH”. Then I laughed a little – well a lot actually and put on my back pack and set off back down the track munching on my trail mix.
// Red Rock
Day three led me to a place called Red Rock. This is one of the most beautiful places I have been in Australia. There is a stunning turquoise coloured river on one side and a gorgeous stretch of beach on the other. Red Rock gets its name from the massive red-stained rocks at the headland. To the local Gumbainggir people, it is known as ‘Blood Rock’. In the 1880’s Europeans are said to have chased the Gumbainggir people from their camp at the river to the headland, where many innocent people lost their lives in what is referred to as the Blood Rock Massacres. Red Rock is considered a very sacred site and a place for reflection. A memorial stands at the top of the headland to mark the event and to recognise the brutality that occurred. Gumbainggir elders, particularly women, still avoid the headland to this day. I walked to the headland, took off my shoes and walked around on the headland in my bare feet. Something I learnt in Bali, is that you never wear shoes in places considered sacred. I sat down on a piece of beautiful red rock and I wept for about an hour. I don’t know what I was crying for; for me, for them, for the world…. It felt very cleansing and purifying and I felt as though I couldn’t leave. Each time I got up, I was drawn to sit back down and stay with it. I remember looking out at the ocean at one point and asking “what do you want me to know?” just as the sentence finished in my mind, two dolphins appeared right in front of me – pretty cool.
After spending quite some time at the headland, I walked back down to the river and decided to jump in to cool down. I left my keys at the fish and chip shop and walked down to the river. The current moves very quickly through the river, and if you allow it to, will carry you all the way to an opening where the river meets the ocean. I decided I’d give it a go. When I first got in, I was resisting it a little. It was almost as if I was trying to doggy paddle or something and then came a moment when I completely surrendered, laying on my back and allowing the water to carry me – it was delightful.
// Dorrigo and Bellingen – in two hours!
So…. This is where shit got a little interesting. From the moment I booked this trip, I have been saying when anyone asks where I am going: “I am not sure, but I am sticking to the coast road.” I decided to venture inland on this day as I had heard so many great things about Dorrigo and Bellingen. The drive up to Dorrigo is via a long winding road. Upon arriving at the top, I found myself at an altitude of 792m – the air was beautiful and fresh. I had read about a beautiful little campsite at a place called Dangar Falls, so I decided to drive out there. When I arrived, I realised I was the only camper on this acreage property, with no one else around and no on-site office. It was a gorgeous plot of land, I just didn’t feel in my gut that it would be wise to stay there on my own. So I travelled back down the road a little to the only other campsite at Dorrigo. When I arrived, it was absolutely bucketing down with rain – the type of rain that comes in your car when you open the door! I got out and ran to the office, which was an old timber log cabin looking thing. The office was unattended. I phoned the number on the sign and a lady answered, she said: “we’ve just gone out and won’t be back until 6pm (in 3 hours), find yourself a spot and we will come and see you later.” I drove up to the sites and didn’t feel comfortable there either. So I sat in the van and cried for a few minutes wondering where I was going to stay. I found a place that looked gorgeous on the Bellinger River and gave them a call – the lady was beautiful, although a water front site was very expensive: $50 per night! But I was running out of options and it was starting to get late in the afternoon so I decided to go there. After a nervous drive in the pouring rain down the winding road, I arrived at the campground. The lady was beautiful and ended up giving me a waterfront site for $35 – that’s abundance baby! I was so grateful. The amenities block was brand new and each person got their own little ensuite. I’ve heard people talk about “glamping” I think I know what they mean now J. I slept beautifully that night as it was a lot cooler and I woke with a fresh mind and attitude. Ahhhh….
// Learnings so far…..
– When it rains, and I leave the back door up, it will collect water. So when I go to close it, it is crucial I do it using the internal door handle to allow the water to run away. OTHERWISE, I will be drenched and resemble a drowned rat! (Would’ve been great to watch!).
– It’s really f****** hard to put sunscreen on your back when you are alone. If anyone has any hot-tips I would love to hear them!
– A pocket knife isn’t that daunting and is very useful.
– Grey nomads are awesome and love to have a chat.
Big Love xx
p.s. I have fixed the link in the first email so head over and check it!