Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Myall Lakes to Limeburner's Creek

Up with sunrise and feeling much improved - although still a tad fragile - we broke camp by eight o'clock. Packing up the Avan Cruiser continuing to be a joy compared to tents and camping trailers and the luxury of breakfast and no time pressure.

Bombah Point Ferry
Heading to the north end of the Broadwater, we arrived at the Bombah Point ferry crossing immediately after his first run of the day. It's a narrow stretch of water - I could still heave a cricket ball that far - but without a James Bond submersible super car, the only way across. There was no hurry and we crawled across the passage, getting great value for our $12 charge. The road into Bulladelah is good quality unsealed and we arrived for petrol in no time. Fuelled, tires checked (I had inadvertently been running them under-pressure after neglecting to make adjustments for being heavily laden) and windscreens cleaned, we were taken on a wild goose run around Bulladelah whilst the GPS insisted on finding the previously programmed way point.

Eventually back on the Pacific Highway, it's wasn't long before were deviating again  this time along Lakes Way, on the long run into Forster, via Seal Rocks.

The last few hundred metres of the road was just wide enough for passing as long as one car took to the verge. When towing a van, right of way usually prevails and it did on this occasion. Parking in the last parking lot before the beach gave out to Sugarloaf Point, we locked up and climbed by roadway and eventually a steep path, the 108 height differential to Sugarloaf Point lighthouse. Along the way, we stopped to admire the blow hole - in reality a narrow passage for the sea to ingress, with steep rock walls towering above. Nature has been so successful that the passage circumnavigated this tall section of the coastline, making it into an absurd little island.

Above, the lighthouse sits at the highest point, making it unnecessary for the actual structure to be that tall (only 15m). It is one of only two lighthouses in Australia with an external staircase. The view is again spectacular with beaches and cliffs extending back from the light house at perhaps 120 degrees. Sugarloaf Point was the first turning point for ships sailing north from Sydney and with its outlying islands - Seal Rocks - was the site of many shipwrecks before the light began guiding them clear in 1875. Much of this was due to sailing times from Sydney, which would put ships in the area at between one and three in the morning and many skippers made sudden course correction to the east to avoid Seal Rocks as they loomed out of the dark.

Having read that the Head Lighthouse Keeper's cottage had been renovated and was available for rent, we enquiries as to cost. For $450 you may have the pleasure of an outstanding view ... and that's per night in the off season. The season in this case being determined by whale movements off the coast. Whales are often close to the coastline at Seal Rocks.

Sugarloaf Point Lighthouse
The greatest treat of our climb to the lighthouse was exposed after we had admired the view and taken snaps. A pair of Eastern Whip birds started calling very close by and as we stood there looking, both appeared in the low plant life which ekes out a living on exposed, rocky outcrops of the coastline around Australia. To be certain of their identity, beyond the characteristic swept back narrow comb, they called for us as we watched! I have only once before seen these birds, more easily identifiable by the male's whip crack call and his mate's "chip chip" response. People often are unaware the calls are made by male, followed by female. Most think the one bird makes the two calls. The      only other occasion I have seen a whip bird, I was laying on my stomach in the scrub at Dorrigo National Park as my brother encouraged my silence for what seemed like half an hour until we were rewarded by its presence. Then, the male called alone.

Back down the hill, we had morning tea in the van, our view being the beach at Seal Rocks. Not bad.

After making our way, post morning tea, back to the Lakes Way, we circled the northern edge of  Myall Lake itself, Smith's Lake and then along the eastern edge of Wallis Lake before driving through the twins, Forster and Tuncurry. Eventually joining the Pacific Highway again at Rainbow Flat, it was on and past Taree until turning east at Kew for Bonny Hills and a lunch overlooking the beach and the Bonny Hills Surf Club. Unfortunately, we drive off leaving our rubber door mats on the ground and with the step extended. No damage done but the mats are lost to other owners!

As we did with Taree, we snubbed Port Macquarie and after reaching Kempsey drove south east to Crescent Head before picking up a dirt road to our overnight spot at Melaluka Campground beside Limeburner's Creek. We managed to fit in a short walk to the small beach, discovering in the process that the creek is dammed by the roadbridge which crosses it.

Drinks were taken beside the creek, in the company of a pair of Pied Butcherbirds.

On to Yamba tomorrow.

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