Sunday 29 December 2013
Today we are visiting a few of the local beaches, before we head off tomorrow on the second leg of our road trip to Sydney.
First stop is Crescent Head which is a lovely little holiday beach town. Its Christmas and perfect weather, so the few shops are pumping. We grab an organic breakfast and look at a few of the small boutique shops before hitting the beach. Crescent Head is obviously a family beach with a caravan park right on the spit. But you have to cross an old wooden bridge that is 1 meter wide, over a little creek to get to the beach. Children are floating down the creek on inflatable toys and playing in the shallows. The sand on the beach is fine, white and packed with family groups, umbrellas, sun huts, boogie boards, beach chairs and other beach apparatus.
Crescent Head beach
Bridge to Crescent Head beach
On the beach we stake our claim and hit the water. Its fantastic, unfortunately about 1/2 an hour later the wind suddenlyl picked up and hats, umbrellas, boogie boards and anything not pinned down went flying down the beach. Suddenly there is a mass exodus from the beach.
Time to move on.
To get to our next destination we have to go inland, drive north and then head back south to the beach. Hat Head, the only reason I want to go there is cause I’m in love with the name – Hat Head – how cute it that. Hat Head is tiny, a real sleepy little backwater nestled in the middle of a National Park. We spot 2 shops, which may or may not be open, lots of modest beach houses, an RSL and a caravan park. Stepping out of the car we realise why there is no-one around. The wind has reach gale force and is whipping around us like a toddler in a tantrum. We venture down to the beach where there are a dozen or so brave souls enjoying the perfect sunshine.
A few brave souls – Hat Head National Park
Hat Head beach
Alas we are not that brave and jump back in the car heading further north to South West Rocks.
The drive is lovely thorough farm land and along a winding river. South West Rocks is a much larger beach town. Still very much family orientated but with lots of holiday apartments and a few more shops. We find a semi protected spot under a tree on the headland and chill for a while until the buffeting wind drives us back to the car.
Looking south from South West Rocks
South West Rocks
Just outside town on the headland is Trail Bay Goal. The partially restored jail (a seldom seen historic building) was opened in 1886, after 13 years of construction. It must have been a strange feeling for the inmates building a prison in such a beautiful setting. The prison labourers were there to construct a breakwater to make Trial Bay a safe harbour between Sydney and Brisbane. The scheme failed but you can still see the remains of the breakwater from the guard tower lookout. During World War I the gaol became an internment camp for people of German descent who were feared to be enemy sympathisers.
Trail Bay Goal
The jail has been partially rebuilt
Two legged inmates
The crumbling Trial Bay breakwater
Heading back to Kempsey we stop at a lovely pub, the old Heritage Hotel in Gladstone on the Macleay River. It looks like it has just been renovated and we enjoy a few drinks in the late afternoon sun. H is truly enjoying the Tooheys Old, a rich almost black beer that is very hard to find in Queensland as it is too heavy for our hot climate.
Its then across the river to Gladstone’s sister town of Smithtown to the Riverview Hotel, which is touted to have the best pub meals in the Central Coast … we’ll see!
It pretty early and the restaurant hasn’t opened yet, but we skipped lunch and are fanging. We grab a table (out of the wind) and enjoy a drink as we look out over the river. Before too long we place our order and my massive plate of ribs arrives – oh yeah they are delicious. H is happy to help me out.
Back to Kempsey to watch some bad tv, a noisy air conditioner and an early night.