An easy drive along the Princess Highway to Red Rock a small seaside village set on the Corindi River mouth on the South Pacific Ocean. Our caravan Park in a wedge between the river and Ocean is protected from the wind by sand dunes and the Red Rock high rocky out croft protecting the river mouth from southerly winds.
The Corindi river is a tidal river, which runs 30 kilometres into the Arrawarra National Park an estuary covering some 146 square kilometres, a great place for fishing and particularly for canoe’s and Kayak’s as the river is quite shallow.
Red Rock is a small village with a bowling club the central meeting place and the caravan park, which is also the general store and café. The caravan park grounds are more like camping on a foreshore in amongst the shrub, bush turkeys are ready to swoop on any scraps left around, with Magpie’s, kookaburra’s and Black Cockatoo’s taking refuge from the fires with Plovers squawking protecting their nests and Seagulls and Pelicans at the river always looking for a free feed. In the evenings Bats fly overhead catching insects an interesting sight in the twilight particularly with an orange sun shining through the smoke, as it recedes bellow the horizon. Red Rock is also home to one of the most significant Aboriginal fish traps situated at the mouth of the river. The fish traps are rocks placed in a rectangular shape two rectangles adjoining each other, each trap has a small opening allowing the fish to swim through, when the tide is full the openings are sealed off with either a reed net or basket, which trap the fish as they try to swim back to the river. At low tide the Fisherman simply remove the baskets with their catch. I think I will sell the boat and get some rocks. There is however some conjecture as to whether this was built by Aboriginals or early settlers.
There are a small number of Aboriginal descendants living at Red Rock and it is great to hear that they are actively teaching their history, language and hunting methods. The Aboriginal cultural centre is well worth a visit with artefacts, gift items, paintings and some amazing old photos of Aboriginals as our first settlers would have found them. As we had walked to the centre a ten-kilometre round trip we planned to call in the next day to buy presents unfortunately they were closed so we missed out.
There is an unfortunate history in this area, which occurred over 100 years ago apparently the Aboriginal tribe living in this area were attacked by troupers, the troupers chased the tribe through the forest the men folk told the women and children to hide in the forest, the men continued to fight the troupers. The story goes that the troupers drove the men to the red rock outcrop surrounded them and killed them all. I have not been able to find a reason for the trouper’s action but I suspect that the tribe may have stolen cattle or sheep or even killed a settler, not a wonderful history.
We loved this area, the walk through the national park and along the beach very relaxing and other than a meeting a couple of fishermen we were mainly on our own, certainly a place worth a visit.
Wednesday 14th through to 20th September.
Port Macquarie was established as a penal settlement we understand the gaol was located where the caravan park is today, although there is no sign of a gaol ever having been here.
The caravan park is located alongside the Hastings river at the river mouth, sites are large amenities good and being in front of a cliff face very quiet, no road noise. It is an NRMA park therefore an RACV membership entitles one to a 10% discounted rate.
There are a number of interesting places to visit, we stumbled upon an Anglican Church now under national trust. The church was constructed using convict labour taking four years to complete commencing in 1824. The bricks were hand made some 365000 of them the walls some three feet thick, the roof was of shingles over 400000 of them all hand cut, the floor was originally compacted earth later covered in ballast bricks these arrived here in vessels calling in to pick up Red Wood and cedar logs a lucrative trade. What took our interest was the box type pews similar to those at Battery Point Tasmania. These were used to contain prisoners and later for free settlers to isolate them from the rest of the congregation.
The only change to the building today is the roof, which is now terracotta roof tiles the church is in excellent condition. Another area of interest is the rain forest national park, which is a short drive south along the coast. Before the arrival of settlers this whole area was rain forest much removed during the harvesting of timber and also cleared for farm land, the small area of rain forest left was declared national park just a few short years ago. The forest is enclosed between the coast and the outer suburbs of Port Macquarie.
The board walk, which is elevated about three metres from the ground makes for a great viewing area and an easy walk that takes about 45 minutes. We chose to go on a guided tour and this was well worthwhile. Our visit coincided with one of the driest years they have had in this area for many years and as such the forest was suffering, however the walk was well worthwhile, informative and wonderful to see that some protection is in place for these important areas. I am pleased to say that the next evening we had good rains with showers continuing over the next few days, but considerably more is needed. The restaurant at the forest information centre was excellent food a little expensive but delicious. After lunch we returned to the Aboriginal section at the centre mainly to have more time to view the photograph exhibition on display. These photos were taken over 100 years ago showing the lives of the earlier inhabitant’s incredible photos showing very healthy Aboriginals going about their daily lives.
The entrance to the Hastings river can be quite dangerous with shifting sand bars protecting its entrance, however on the day of our arrival it was a pussycat, that all changed when the wind increased it then showed its potential for disaster. A number of vessels have met their fate in these heads with loss of life. One of the most notable tragedies was the loss of life of the port pilot when his vessel was hit by a large wave knocking him and two crew into the water the crew were able to get to shore and survived.
This is our third visit to Port Macquarie our first visit here some 40 years ago and we have always enjoyed our time here. The walks around the town and along the rock wall reading many of the messages painted on the rocks is entertaining. Port Macquarie also has a great selection of restaurants, cafés, hotels and clubs where one can get a good meal. We will return here again.
Tuesday 20th and Wednesday 21st September.
An easy drive to Seal Rocks on a very windy day, the wind a South Easterly blowing straight into Seal Rock cove a spectacular sight with waves crashing up against the rocks at either end of the cove and rolling breakers tearing up the beach, the conditions such that surfers had a day off. The caravan park is situated directly opposite the beach on a sloping hill with views directly overlooking the beach, the disadvantage we were fully exposed to the wind.
After setting up the van we set off for a walk along the beach, another wonderful area however this time the beach was a little over a kilometre long enclosed by cliffs at both ends giving this place feeling of seclusion. Seal Rocks is a favourite area for surfers and fishermen although much of this area is now marine park breeding ground for many species of fish as well as sharks, also since being made a marine park Seals have once again been seen in the area, seals were wiped out by sealers many years ago. On the Wednesday we decided to take a drive around the area and discovered that there is more to this place than meets the eye. Driving south we came across a little oasis a café come general store overlooking another cove with again surfers standing together on the cliff top trying to decide whether to test the water the day still very rough. Further along the road we came to a parking spot with a walkway to a lighthouse, this was an interesting walk even if a little steep at points, along the walk we came across an area were the water had eroded the cliff face making two channels around a large piece of cliff face one quite narrow crevice the other about 10 metres wide the water from both meeting at high tide, with a large sea running the effect of the waves carving their way through the cliff face was spectacular.
The walk to the light house was not for the faint hearted a rather steep climb but well worthwhile. The light house is still operating and in excellent condition with a light house keepers’ cottage and worker accommodation now available for rent, a wedding was to be celebrated there later that day. Once at the light house you can see out towards seal rocks and southward to Sugarloaf point, in 1895 the Catterthun caught in a south westerly gale was pushed to close into shore the captain tried to head back out to sea and when almost clear they hit outer seal rock holing the ship. The ship sank with the loss of 31 lives including the captain, there were 26 survivors.
On board the Catterthun was a cargo of 9000 gold sovereigns a Kings fortune, although the Catterthun was on the bottom at a depth of 60 metres a significant depth for divers in those days, this salvage was worth every effort to recover, the divers were successful and recovered the lot, some very happy people.
This tragedy occurred well after the construction of the light house which was constructed in 1875. A visit here is a must. Time for a coffee and some nosh, not much on offer at the general store mainly the trusty pie, pasty or sausage roll. The coffee however served out of a caravan out front was very enjoyable. We also drove through the national park called into one of our son Drew’s favourite surf beaches again very rough with rather sad faced surfers watching the breaks and making wise decisions. Seal Rocks is a great place to visit when the sea is more friendly a great place to surf, swim, fish or just laze around with a good book. The caravan park outside of holiday period at $43.00 per night was in the higher level but the area was well kept and amenities modern and clean.
Thursday 22nd & Friday 23rd September.
Today we chose to go to Tea Gardens as we have not been there for some time, we were recommended to stay at the bowling club apparently the joining fee at the bowling is $5.50. and with membership camping in the club car park is free with a maximum stay of two nights. We were also told the meals were great and not expensive. As such we gave this a try. Tea Gardens is situated on the Myall River leading into the Myall lakes a huge part of this area is national park. Tea Gardens is on the opposite side of Nelsons Bay on Port Stevens and from Tea Gardens a ferry runs to Nelsons Bay daily a great trip out of the Myall River across Port Stevens arriving at the mariner at Nelsons Bay, highly recommended. The Tea Garden village right on the river is a relaxing place with several restaurants, cafes and a Hotel, with gift shops to keep the ladies happy. The golf course at Tea Gardens is in great condition long but not daunting it was nice to hit off grass again, the greens had just been prepared for the summers season after a Pro-Am comp and were very slow they took a little while to get use to. The staff were friendly and although we only wanted to play nine holes the pro told us to play more if we wished, so we added on an extra two holes.
On the Friday we decided to drive into the national park along a spit, which borders the ocean and the Myall River leading to the Myall lakes, this an approximate 20km drive.
We called in to check out a number of the camping grounds and they were all different all well set out with long drop toilets and very tidy. Most of the camp grounds were on the river or lake with a few on the Ocean behind sand dunes which gave protection from the wind. The Ocean side mainly for fishermen, the lake more for boating activities. This was our second time at Tea Gardens and we have enjoyed both visits.
Our next stop Morisset and again we will stay at the show grounds our reason to be here is to support our Grandson Zac sailing in the NSW Youth Regatta to be held on Lake Macquarie in early October.