Cruising the NSW Coast: Urunga to Seal Rocks
Trip Start Apr 05, 2011
79Trip End Nov 15, 2012
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It was a scenic location with the Kalang and Bellinger Rivers merging in front of us and flowing out to sea. A boardwalk to the right stretched across the lagoon, past the mangroves and over to the ocean beach. It was a picturesque outlook which changed as quickly as the tide rolled in and drifted out. Had there not been so much tannin in the water from the recent rains it would have been a perfect swimming hole.
Whilst the majority of our time in Urunga was spent cleaning up and restocking we did manage some lovely walks and with such an inviting body of water at our doorstep we couldn't resist putting the kayaks in for a paddle as well
Having enjoyed a lovely sunny day it wasn’t long before cumulus clouds filled the sky, rolling in across the mountains, their tones darkening to a deep charcoal and yet again the summer rains descended upon us. This was a cracker of a storm, the lightning flashing across the sky as the thunder rumbled deep into the earth, the large rain drops pounding heavily above us, so much for summer!
Our second stopover on this stage of the journey was South West Rocks (SWR’s). We had our eyes on a caravan park set along the terraced foreshore of Horseshoe Bay right in the hub of town ideally situated to take advantage of all SWR’s has to offer. Unfortunately however it was fully booked! With school having resumed we never considered for a moment we would have to book… we will know for next time! Having seen the location of that park, nowhere else measured up. Feeling dejected, we eventually checked into a riverside park where our consolation prize was being entertained by a family of ducks.
Our plans of snorkeling and kayaking during our time in SWR’s were in disarray, with all the rain and flooding around, the normally crystal clear waters were running a really dark murky brown
We drove a little south to the lovely waterfront hamlets of Hat Head and Crescent Head both of which would have been great places to kayak had the weather been conducive. A little north, Stuarts Point was really nice as was Scotts Head with stunning views along the coastline.
With no sight of a change in weather we took a scenic drive inland up into the mountains to Taylors Arms, the home of the pub with no beer. The drive was gorgeous, traversing vivid green farmland, dense rainforest and through stunning ranges, a number of steep switchbacks delivering us into pretty valleys. The route kept us interested with not only the scenery but the ever changing road conditions.
Back along the coast at Smokey Cape Lighthouse we shared the picnic area with a few large kangaroos as we sat and drank in the stunning views along the rugged coastline. Tackling the steep walk up to the lighthouse proper was well worth the effort as not only were the views breathtaking out over the Pacific Ocean but we came upon a large Goanna taking advantage of the short lived burst of sunshine to stretch out atop a rock.
Leaving SWR’s behind us we headed further south bound for Crowdy Bay National Park. Whilst the road into the park included 5kms of gravel road, all indications were that it was suitable for caravans so off we set… The road was full of deep jaw jarring pot holes, by far the worse road we have taken the big white beast along, we took it slow and eased her through, our reward for effort was a gorgeous camping area at Diamond Head
Like everywhere else we had been along the coast they had had their fair share of rain and the ground was soggy. We maneuvered our way through the lazing kangaroos and massive lace monitor lizards to a dry site and set up. It was just lovely to be so close to the beach, listening to the waves crashing ashore while the kookaburras filled the air with their distinctive laugh as the day slowly drew to a close.
Surprise, surprise it wasn’t long before the rain set in and it was torrential throughout the night. We awoke to find ourselves (the van) in a lovely big puddle! We waded out and with a spell in the rain we took the opportunity to head off on the Diamond Head Loop Walk. The walk was lovely through rain forest, across hinterland and low growing heath. The tracks were flooded and in places resembled mini waterfalls adding to the experience. The leeches were out in force however having learnt from past experience we seemed to find them on our boots prior to infiltration! At Kylie’s hut we diverted off to the Kylie Campground where we were directed to the beach and told of a track at the end of the beach which would rejoin the loop.
Down on the beach there was a large volume of water making its way out to sea from the preceding rain, the tannins were strong which made for an unusually dark colouration. We removed our boots and waded across before continuing along to the end of the deserted beach. The track that connected back into the loop was a near vertical climb with slippery makeshift steps which had been dug into the hill side. The climb was well worth it affording us breathtaking views back along the beach
The sunshine was short lived and we had not long been back at camp before a short but heavy downpour dampened our day yet again. It was however as we said a short and sharp shower which did not hang around. The afternoon brightened slightly and with that if was not long before we were surrounded by kangaroos either lying around or grazing slowly across the grass. We watched as a mother lay casually on the grass with her joey playfully jumping all over her, wrestling with her before returning to the comfort of her pouch.
The beach located just metres from our door was not only a lovely beach to walk along with its nice firm sand underfoot, it was also picturesque with Split Rock standing proud at one end. A lovely natural structure pleasing to the eye, it filled the space with interest and intrigue. Whilst we would have loved good weather and the opportunity to have a snorkel around the rocks, at low tide we could ramble over them and explore the area.
Finally on our last night in Crowdy Head National Park the rain abated
We awoke to a glorious day, the sunshine was glistening across the park. It had us contemplating staying for another day, yet there is so much to explore along the coast that our contemplation was short lived. We did however make the most of not having to vacate the site early and took a long walk along the beach before packing up. We were not looking forward to taking the big white beast back out along that horrendous gravel road however it had to be faced, pot hole after pot hole, it was relentless and we grimaced with every bump.
We rejoined the Pacific Highway once again, this time appreciating the smoothness of the bitumen surface under our tyres like never before. We were however questioning what we were doing in the car on such a rare fine day.
Our next stop over was Seal Rocks and we were keen to get there before the clouds rolled in again. We arrived at what we found to be an amazing little hamlet, devoid of development, a quaint and tranquil paradise time has left alone. Our park was located opposite a beach on the way into town. Not only was the park rustic and super friendly, the beach opposite was gorgeous with a lovely rock pool located to one end. Had the conditions been calmer it would have been yet another ideal spot in which to snorkel.
We couldn’t wait to explore, there was another beach just over the hill along with some housing and a little general store. Out the other side of town sits the majestic Sugarloaf Point Lighthouse. Visiting involved a lovely walk past the Seal Rocks Blowhole and up the very steep incline to the lighthouse itself which afforded us sensational views of the Seal Rocks and Treachery Beach.
As luck would have it we awoke to another sunny day so without hesitation we headed over the hill to the main beach for a swim. Whilst the water was way too cool for me, Rod took the plunge. At the end of the beach set up in the hillside a house was being used for a movie shoot. Named 'Grandmothers’, Naomi Watts is said to be one of the stars along with Robin Wright. It was interesting to watch as the crew started to arrive on set and the house became abuzz with action.
It wasn’t long before we noticed that the sky was blackening over our camp, we arrived back just in time for the weather turned and we were treated to yet another amazing storm. The sheets of lightning and roaring thunder put on quite a show… another fabulous night and just so indicative of our time along the coast
Unable to resist we enjoyed one last walk along the beaches of Seal Rocks before it was time to pack up and continue our journey south.
Highlights Urunga to Seal Rocks:
- Urunga Heads
- South West Rocks
o Surrounding coastland
o Scenic inland drive
- Crowdy Bay National Park
o Friendly kangaroos
o Camp fire and clear night sky
- Seal Rocks
o Oh so quaint and rustic
o Delightful beaches
o Scenic coastline