off the beaten track

Well we’re back on the road and into the swing of things again after our week-long break in Sydney. Actually, the week in Sydney was less of a break as such, and more of a whirlwind catch up with family and friends, and journey of rediscovering all that we miss (and don’t miss) about city life. The traffic was a rude shock, especially when one morning we sat in the car for TWO HOURS trying to get from one side of Sydney to the other during rush hour. But it was great to see everyone again, and also to be part of a beautiful wedding (congrats again to Lucas and Ange!).

After Sydney, we had planned to travel north via the inland route, but a massive truck smash on the Pacific Highway meant we had to take a coastal detour, and ended up at the beautiful sleepy town of Seal Rocks, where we stayed for a couple of nights. The beaches there were by far my favourite since we left the South Coast – the rest of the mid north and north coast beaches really haven’t done much for me, they’re way too wild and windswept!

Bellingen’s showground provided the perfect campsite for the next couple of nights, and we fell in love with this charming little town, with its funky cafes, friendly locals, and the beautiful Bellinger River. We decided to drive up the scenic Waterfall Way to check out Dorrigo National Park, a spot I’ve wanted to visit for quite some time. This park is an absolute Must Do for anyone travelling through the area. It’s a World Heritage Area, created to protect a significant portion of ancient Gondwana Rainforest, and it’s unlike any other bush I’ve ever seen. On the rainforest walk we did, there were thick ropey vines everywhere, twisting up to the canopy and slowly strangling the trees they cling on to. That rich, damp smell of decaying vegetation, and signs everywhere saying ‘watch out for leeches’ and ‘don’t touch the leaves of the giant stinging tree’! 

After a night at a rather uninspiring campground in Coffs Harbour, we decided to go looking for a magical little campsite that some random guy had told us about when we were down on the South Coast. He said there was a gorgeous swimming hole, massive trees , glow in the dark mushrooms (ok, so maybe he was some crazy ol’ hippie!) and best of all, it was a FREE camping site. He gave us some vague directions, which we tried to remember but it was all a bit fuzzy. We ended up several k’s down a boggy dirt 4wd trail, full of bravado and sure we were onto something, until the track suddenly got steeper, and Oli said to me “OK, we need to turn around RIGHT NOW!”.

Not only was the track super muddy, it was also really narrow, with ditches on either side. We managed to do a tight turn, but on the way back up the slope, Louey-van struggled to find traction; the wheels were spinning hard, but we were going nowhere. So here we were, a couple of city kids in our campervan out in the middle of the bush,  no other vehicles in sight since leaving the main road, and we’re stuck in the mud. Really stuck.

 I volunteered to push, knowing that my driving skills just wouldn’t cut it here. Oli floored it, and I heaved and pushed and damn near gave myself a hernia, but slowly, gradually, Louey began to move up the slope. I was absolutely showered in mud from head to toe, and fell flat in the bog a couple of times, but we were free. Phew! What a relief. Must remember in future: Louey is NOT a 4WD!!

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