peteg's blog

/travels/2018-11-NorthCoast | Link

I didn't sleep too well. I blame that on a poor hammock pitch: too high in general and in particular one end. The overall height matters because the angle of the tie outs on the sides matters. Live and learn. This meant I got an early start on the long road back to Sydney. The Telstra 3G was on the blink the whole day. At least there was reliable wifi at the Hat Head Holiday Park. A beaut day.

I headed back towards Kempsey and took the Loftus Road down to Crescent Head, where I got a so-so flat white at Green Room Cafe & Fruit, opposite the country club; yes, there is a golf course on the headland. I had in mind to take the Point Plumber Road down to the ferry to Port Macquarie only to find that it turned to gravel maybe 10km from town. (It's the track to a load of beaches and campgrounds.) A stop-and-go bloke with a massive (Costa/Peter Russell Clarke) beard at the start of the section they were grading laughed and suggested I try the Maria River Road. Sealed? Sure. But it was the same: 10km then gravel. A driver coming the other way told me I had about 15km of gravel left, so I gave up and took Google's advice to go all the way back to Kempsey. None of the gravel is signposted ahead of time or noted on Google Maps, though I guess I should have respected its refusal to route me via those roads despite my best efforts to convince it. Hmm. Ultimately I would have got there faster if I'd just eaten the dust of that coastal track. All the locals were driving Landcruisers. I spotted the odd troopie.

Had lunch with Dave in Port Macquarie. We aimed for "localvores" LVs but their service was too slow so we ended up at Carlos & Co Cafe. Later the well-travelled owner (she had lived in Stanthorpe and elsewhere) was adamant she'd never live in the country again after I told her of my Macksville experiences. It's a beautiful spot, though as I found on the Pacific and Ocean Drives to Kew it's a bit of a sprawling monster these days. Those roads are a little pretty but there's not much to see; I'm probably spoilt by this point.

Hanging near the Hocking and Dees Trail in Myall Lakes.

Back on the motorway I choked on the four-ish hour trip back to Sydney and figured Myall Lakes might make for an easy stopover; specifically Joes Cove Campground seemed like a nice walk to close out the day with. I got out at Bulahdelah and found a sign that said the ferry at Bombah Point was closed, so I called up the NPWS. The lady told me it was indeed closed for works but they were done for the day and it might be running again. She suggested she check but I thought I'd risk it. Well, after 15km or so of gravel I found that the ferry was indeed closed for three days (Tuesday to Thursday) but you won't read about that on the relevant NPWS webpages. Well, maybe with some digging. I wasn't going to pay a lot to stay at the NRMA Holiday Park, certainly wasn't going to ride back along that road today, so decided to camp in the nearest secluded spot, which turned out to be the Hocking and Dees Trail.

I incautiously parked the CB400 behind a Forester on some soft sand, covered it, and with my pack and a light dinner proceeded down the trail towards the lake. There was a large gecko near the gate that ran up the first tree when I showed up. It took a while to find a site as things got a bit boggy in some places, and with the coming rain I wasn't sure how bad it was going to get. It got windy enough for me to check very carefully for dead wood in the nearby trees. It's a pretty spot but I was too buggered to figure out how to get into the water without getting super muddy, my feet cut up or boots soaked.

Anyway, all up I did maybe 50km on gravel today for very little return. NPWS, WTF? Now I have 15km of gravel road to face tomorrow, rather than a nice trip along the coastline.