Our night on banks of the Macleay River was spent warm and snug in the Patriot Campers X3 while light rain fell through cypress trees above us and the river gurgled along its banks toward the sea. Today we would be following the river’s twisting route and would meet its waters where they spill into the Pacific Ocean at South West Rocks.
By morning the rain had cleared to leave another blue sky day, though the canvas of the X3 was still left damp. We hadn’t had any problems packing the camper when wet, the bed always stayed dry, perhaps because the tropical roof created a double layer to protect interior of the camper. Once breakfast was cleared away we packed up camp and made a coffee for the road then ambled our way along the river bank and onto the road to Kempsey.
Its roughly 100km from George’s Junction to Kempsey and we expected it to take a couple of hours. Most of the road was in fair condition other than a few puddles and pot holes, though some of the tight bends were washed out leaving only a single lane to negotiate the turn. Recent rain had dislodged boulders that were strewn across the road in several cuttings and workmen were recovering a landslide in one particularly tight section of road. As we got closer to the coast the road got steadily wider with more vehicles and farm houses appearing more regularly, then the final 30km was bitumen to show we had reached civilisation.
We had been told that the creek mouth at Hat Head was worth visiting and headed there after refuelling at Kempsey, but the tide was out so the little estuary was not presented at its best. Walking through the caravan park to reach the creek had us wondering about how close the sites were, almost like a first world refuge camp…
At over $60 per night Trial Bay is expensive by National Park standards and more than we would normally pay to camp, however the location has a great story and is in a beautiful part of the world. Grey skies had caught up with us again though, with forecasts of rain and wind by end of the day, so time to batten down.
We got caught out by a simple mechanical failure while trying to unhitch – a drive pin had bent in our trailer jockey wheel, preventing me from unhitching the trailer. To get set up I nosed forward into the site, which got us out of trouble even though it might have blocked some of the neighbour’s view. The jockey wheel combined with the weather did however help us decide to head straight home tomorrow rather than stop at the Peacock Creek campground in north of the state, as originally planned.
The kangaroos at Trial Bay are particularly tame and have virtually no fear of people, this fellow came to visit while we were under the awning and wasn’t in a hurry to leave.
That afternoon the wind picked up and made it pretty miserable to be sitting outside under the X3’s awning – this was first time we had decided to use the awning side walls and found them useless in the wind due to the velcro attachments separating and need to have the awning roof fabric pulled into gutters to prevent rain pooling. Eventually the load of wind and rain caused the spreader bar across the side-wall door to bend so we gave up, packing the walls away.
The mercurial weather continued with next morning mostly sunny, though we would once again be packing up the camper with damp canvas. We soon had the X3 tucked neatly back into its box with lid latches closed and headed toward one final attraction before turning for home.
Smoky Cape lighthouse is a beautiful example of a time when infrastructure had to have form as well as provide function – built in 1891 the heritage listed lighthouse continues to operate today and gives panoramic views right along this part of the coastline.
From Smoky Cape we drove the 500km home, mostly along the mind numbing blandness of the Pacific Highway with its endless concrete barricades.
We are now counting down to exciting trips that have been on our radar for some time! In only a fortnight we spend a week on Fraser Island with Lachie and Sarah, and week after that we head deep into the Northern Territory to starting point of our Simpson Desert crossing. Lots of work to be done and preparations to be made, catch up on adventures of the Travelling Two on our next blog post.