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Biithry


I have a theory that if you went to a new beautiful stretch of waterway along the Sapphire Coast each weekend, it would take you years to see all of the hidden gems. And probably because of this, it’s easy to take all this unspoiled beauty for granted. Lets face it, there are not too many places in the world where you can sit on a warm, sandy beach, watching waves lap against the shore line without a person in sight. Place the the same picture somewhere like the south of England and you would be tripping over beach umbrellas and blow up toys on your way to your beach towel.

 

So last weekend, we took out the map and decided to head somewhere we hadn’t been before, an inlet north of Tathra called Bithry, found in the beautiful Mimosa National Park. There was going to be a bit of wind around, and on the map the inlet looked pretty sheltered. The plan was set.


Birthy 1

 

The small carpark provided easy access to the beach. Now parents would know that easy access is always a big bonus as you cart enough stuff to the beach to open your own outdoor adventure market. Many a time I’ve reached the water feeling like an underpaid sherpa just returning from Camp 4 on Everest!

 

First up, it was time for some ‘flat water surfing’, getting the kids used to the standing position on flat water. You simply get them to stand up on the board (a big adult beginner board) and push them along with the tiny waves coming in from the ocean mouth of the inlet. There is something particularly special about getting young kids up on a surfboard and feeling that wonderful movement for the first time.

 

 

Jackson Surfing


I then went for a bit of an explore on the Stand Up Paddle board. Bithry Inlet provides plenty of beautiful flat water as well as some fun little waves towards the opening to the ocean. I am becoming more and more of a fan of SUPing. I love the versatility. You can head out with the kids, go on major explorations, have fun in some small waves or use it as a great excuse for heading to the ‘bar’ for some coffee and cake! Standing on the board also gives you a great vantage point to see things above and below the water. And there are plenty of places to SUP along the coast here. From the waters of Bermagui to those of Eden, you could SUP for a lifetime!

 

Paddling


To see how it’s done, head down to Fishpen this weekend to check out the Merimbula Classic, featuring a range of SUPing race formats and the kite surfing nationals.

 

After using the gas BBQs at Bithry to cook up some sausages (they always taste better outside) we headed over to Middle Beach, to have a quick look the lagoon, beach and camping area.

 

Just another piece of paradise to explore, another day.


Middle


Jackson Paddling 2


There’s no such thing as bad weather, just not the right clothing. 

This saying was repeating around my head as Jack and I headed towards the beautiful Bournda National Park on Sunday as the rain patted down on the car. We could have stayed home and sat in front of the TV all afternoon, but I had better plans.

Bournda National Park, just north of Tura is like a nature theme park. Great surf, a range of challenging and mellow walking trails, fire trails to take on with your mountain bike, and Wallagoot Lake and Bournda Lagoon for other watery fun. But this theme park is no Disney Land, with kilometre long lines and overpriced fairy floss. No, Bournda is like finding Disney Land in the middle of somewhere like Dakota, with no waiting in lines for the rides and spectacular views replacing sugary confectionary.

We were dodging raindrops to try a little ‘father-son’ duatholon. Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP) on Bournda Lagoon followed by a short walk to enjoy snacks and the views. 

The calm waters of the lagoon are perfect pretty much anytime for a paddle. It only occasionally opens to the ocean and the trip out towards Sandy Creek is a special one. Our SUP is big enough so that both Jack and I can be on it. The outward journey had Jack paddling, with me kneeling behind him, enjoying looking at the rocky outcrops and tea trees and trying not to move around too much for fear of being reprimanded by the skipper.


Getting a lift

As it usually goes, the tag team came in to play with the young man needing a break. “You can have a go now dad. Take us all the way back.” It was then I noticed that after a morning of rain, we hadn’t had a drop since we got out of the car. We paddled on, trying to find glimpses of the Sandy Creek walking track and chatting about important things in life, like Mario Kart video games and AFL player cards.

Dropping the SUP by the car, we changed and picked up my backpack to do some walking. The 6 km Sandy Creek track is a must do, with a coastal stretch and landscape ranging from rainforest to coastal heath. There’s even a cool water crossing. The full loop wasn't on the cards today, instead we did a short out and back, making sure we stopped at the lookout with views across the lagoon and out towards Bournda Island. 


Walk 1

We enjoyed some chips. No that’s not right, I enjoyed one chip and then obviously took too many photos because when I got back they had all been devoured by my 7 year old chip monster. Just a rookie mistake when it comes to father/son adventures.

Bournda View


We made our way back to the car, and I silently congratulated myself for risking the rain to get out there with my boy, and enjoy a great couple of ‘nature hours’ instead of staying home and sitting in front of the TV. As we drove away from the car park, the rain came down with force. I asked Jack how he enjoyed our adventure.

“It was cool... dad... can I play Mario on the computer when I get home?”


View Bournda


Dolphin Cove

It’s Sunday night and I just got up from watching 30 minutes of TV. Nothing unusual there, but I just realised that I had no interest whatsoever in the program I sat through. It was just there. SIt down, click the remote and away you go.

 

Now this isn’t an anti TV rant. I like TV. Some of my most cherished childhood memories consist of watching ‘Monkey Magic’ with my brothers and then going outside and reenacting all the fighting scenes using mum and dads gardening equipment. No, it has just got me thinking about those snippets of time; 30 minutes here, an hour there, where, it’s easy to think there isn’t enough time to enjoy getting outside.

 

It’s especially relevant during those weeks like the one I’ve had. Away for work during the week and then things to get done over the weekend. There was definitely no chance of getting away for an extended period of adventure time.

 

I had an hour spare this morning so I quickly grabbed the board and ran down to the surf. The waves were pretty small, but the relative warmth of the water and beauty of the awakening sun made up for it. I love my local break. Rarely crowded, apart from when the dolphins come and make it be known who the real locals are, and when the waves are good, they are really good.


Kids on North Tura

 

Having a spare 30 minutes is an opportunity for a quick run to the end of the headland, past the 30 odd kangaroos that in some parts of Australia, would see tourists lining by the dozen to take photos. Some mornings the wildlife experience can continue as the whales make their way along our coast.

 

A little more time and you can have fun rock hopping along the same headland. There are even a few safe places to climb.


Rock Pool

 

End of a busy day can mean having the kids staying up a little later and going for an evening stroll through the bush tracks that surround us.

 

I’m looking forward to the summer, when we can again take dinner down to what we have declared as ‘our’grassy patch, overlooking a million dollar view and enjoy the late evening air.


Walking track

 

From the couch, it can be easy to forget just what amazing places we have just outside, here on the Sapphire Coast.

 

And all those 30 minutes, those snippets of time, where you actively decide to ‘get out there’, add up. They clear the mind, connect you with family, friends, even yourself.

 

I’d go as far as to say it’s even better than watching the latest cooking reality TV show. Although, a reality show combining cooking and martial arts, well, that may be a different story.


North Tura


Alexanders Hut


You can learn a lot in 24 hours. Anyone who has crammed for an exam will tell you that. You can also have quite an adventure, especially where we live.

 

This 24 hours was spent on the Postman’s Track. Inland from Candelo, this track makes up some of the once used postal route from the hinterland to Kameruka in the 1800s. Back then they must have bred tough posties riding on horseback, especially when they would be fined if the mail was late. Today it makes for a great 4WD trail, with the odd creek crossing, some steep sections and hundreds of water bars, all through some beautiful parts of the South East Forest National Park.

 

The campground is located on the banks of the Tantawangalo Creek, and we, along with great friends, had it to ourselves. It’s a perfect setting, and the improvements to the campsite that National Parks are undertaking now will only make it better.

 

It’s a place we had never been to before, off the radar so to speak. But like most camping trips, there is always something new to experience and to learn. Here's ten.


1. An ‘upside down’ fire actually does work. It seems like voodoo science but you should give it a go.

 

Upside down Fire

2. Roasts cooked on a camp oven are pretty spectacular, but do take  a fair amount of preparation... big fire, coals     ready, moving the oven, more fire, more coals, repeat.

 

3. Given the opportunity, kids don’t need much to be entertained. Part of the campground soon became a mountain bike track, carefully made by dirty hands. The bikes went round and round and round.

 

Riding

 

4. Kids can paddle in freezing cold water for ages without feeling at all cold. Even when it begins to rain. Even when it begins to hail.

 

5. Hail stones are great entertainment for kids. Running around, they try to catch them with their mouths wide open, constantly asking “can you eat these?” as if they are some delicacy from above.

 

6. Our new camping mattress absolutely rocks! It’s like sleeping on air. Technically , it IS sleeping on air, but you get what I mean.

 

7. The 4WD out to Alexanders Hut is a must do. Great driving and finishing off at the old graziers hut, set on the hill overlooking treeless fields is a real treat.

 

8. The kids are getting really good at taking on longer bush walks. We walked the beautiful circular trail from Alexanders Hut (all 4.8km) with only our little one needing the odd carry from dad up hills and her mum almost needing a carry after spotting a red-belly black snake. This trail links on to the trails around Nannock Swamp, ready for another visit.

 

Bushwalk

 

9. Our 4WD goes pretty well. It was only as we were towing the trailer back out from the campground towards Cathcart that we had a ‘mmm, we may have to be camping for another night’ kind of moment as a particularly steep section of track had the car working hard.

 

10.And finally, I learnt that when a leech attaches itself to one of my toes, I let out a particularly high pitched screech and wave my arms around frantically. I guess that’s just the kind of outdoor guy I am!

 

Yep. You certainly can fit a lot of learning into 24 hours.

 

Thanks to Geoff, Jo, Wyatt and Bronte for a great time!


View


I forgot I owned a washing machine once. There, I said it. 

I’d moved out of a shared house and spent the next 6 months walking to a Laundromat to do my washing while my washing machine sat in my old house, being used by others. To add insult to injury, I actually walked past this house, complete with washing machine, on the way to the Laundromat. Still didn’t remember.

I mention this because it’s easy to forget what may be right in front of you. It can be like that here. The Sapphire Coast is awash with amazing places to visit, some close, some a little further a field. Some, just down the road.

So on the weekend we had a morning free, so took the kids on the wonderful Rotary Park walk to Bar Beach. We haven’t done this walk for over a year now! It begins at the Rotary Park and skirts along the edge of the lake, out towards the Bar. Usually when we walk the kids lead, apart from on those hot, dry days when dad goes ahead as bait for any red belly black snake that may cross our path. 



Walk

Our two fearless leaders

It wasn’t long before we spotted our first lizard, which quickly led to a game where we counted how many lizards we could see. The kids would walk ahead, calling out ‘Lizard! That’s 7!’ as the reptile would scurry off into the protection of the bush. Their speed drew an adaptation to the game, where you only had to hear a lizard to add it to your tally. I think the final results were kids- 215, mum and dad- 7. 


Platform

   There are some special views to enjoy with information boards about the Djiringanj people and Merimbula of past

The path meanders along, ferns and boardwalks giving the impression you are wandering somewhere closer to far north Queensland. As you walk along, you are constantly rewarded with glimpses back towards town and out over the bar towards Pambula Beach.  On a low tide there are a few options to walk down to the lake and find your own secluded beach, but for us, the beach and coffee at the Bar were calling! 


Trolls

Grumpy Trolls blocking the way! 


Apart from the occasional hold up from some grumpy old trolls who need you to answer a question to pass over the bridges, the 1 km walk flies by, leaving us plenty of time to grab some food and drink from the Bar Kiosk, and have a swim in the sheltered waters. Tired, sandy and wet kids meant that it was decided that I walk back to pick up the car. As I walked back there were already subtle differences in the light along the trail and on the water. It’s the kind of walk that you could happily do most days and never get bored.

And it’s certainly more memorable than any washing machine I’ve seen.


For more info, check out http://www.sapphirecoast.com.au/point-of-interest/merimbula-walks/?t=1729


Bar Beach

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