Cronulla

Tuesday 31 December, 2014

The drive from Central Coast to Cronulla yesterday was uneventful but we were glad to make it to the Robson’s home in Caringbah. Greg, Katrina, Matt and Aimee warmly welcomed us into their lovely home.

In the morning Greg, Aimee, Jess (the little Jack Russell), Howard & I take Gregs little runabout down to the jetty at the end of the street for a cruise down Burraneer Bay, across Port Hacking to Jibbon Head.  Greg points out the latest, biggest and best mansions sitting on the cliffs overlooking the water.  It seems to be a favourite area for famous Australian sportspeople.

Launching the runabout

Launching the runabout

Burraneer Bay

Burraneer Bay

Greg & Aimee

Greg & Aimee

Jibbon Beach

Jibbon Beach

On one side of Port Hacking is the upmarket suburbs of Cronulla to the north and on the southern side is the massive Royal National Park. Jibbon Head is the point where the the Royal National Park meets the Pacific Ocean.

Only accessible by boat (or a long walk) Jibbon Beach is a favourite with locals.  Greg leads us through the National Park to aboriginal carvings of local wildlife in the rocks.  For now we can wander around the carvings but soon it will be fenced off to preserve them.

Carving - Kangaroo

Carving – Kangaroo

Aimee - always smiling

Aimee – always smiling

Howard and the whale

Howard and the whale

Back to the beach we take a dip and enjoy the serenity before heading back to Water Street.

Jess

Jess

Greg & Howard - whats that?

Greg & Howard – whats that?

Tonight is New Years Eve and we are crashing a party with Greg and Katrina.  Should be fun!

Crescent Head, Hat Head and South West Rocks, Central Coast, NSW

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

Crescent Head beach

Bridge to 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

A few brave souls – Hat Head National Park

Hat Head beach

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

Looking south from South West Rocks

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

Trail Bay Goal

The jail has been partially rebuilt

The jail has been partially rebuilt

Two legged inmates

Two legged inmates

The crumbling Trial Bay breakwater

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.

Central Coast, NSW

Saturday 28 December 2013

We have decided to take a few days off and head down to Sydney for New Years Eve.  Its 950 km via the Pacific Highway, which in Australian terms is not that far. Its 1770 km from Brisbane to Port Douglas in north Queensland and that does not even get you to the northern most tip of our lovely state.

Approximately 1/2 way between Brisvegas and Sydney is the famed NSW Central Coast.  I have booked us two nights at the Moon River Motel in Kempsey.  Moon River, how romantic! Those in the know would say “why Kempsey?” in an appalled tone of voice.  Well its Christmas / New Year and everything else on the coast was booked out months ago, hideously expensive or only available for week long bookings.

Its a long tedious drive to Kempsey … the Pacific Highway is a national disgrace.  There are still many many long sections that are single lane and where you can travel at 80 km’s an hour if you are lucky.   We eventually arrive at our modest old school motel which is on the banks of the Macleay River.  The view out the back of our hotel is certainly the highlight!

Macleay River, Kempsey

Macleay River, Kempsey

Moon River Motel #9

Moon River Motel #9

We head downtown for a dinner and a few drinks …. somewhat limited in our selection we hit the Kempsey Hotel.  Here is a bar that time has forgotten …. I don’t think it has changed in 50 years. H has a few schooners of Tooheys Old, I have a glass or two go red, and a steak.

Early to bed and late to rise.