with a few days off work and school during the holidays, we decided to get away from the millions of people fighting for a good spot to watch the famous sydney fireworks and go somewhere beautiful and isolated.. and we got more than we had bargained for..
we hit the road early in the morning towards gambells rest, our campground near bundanoon, a tiny town 150 km south of sydney, and one of the entrances to morton national park. after a very choppy phone call and a very burned coffee, we found our campsite and set up our tent, accompanied by (what felt like) thousands of flies with no concept of personal space, independently of how much bug spray we drenched ourselves in..
|grand canyon lookout - morton national park|
after lunch we went for our first hike, to the grand canyon lookout. the hike itself was nothing to brag about, but the view once we got there was pretty breathtaking. on our way back, we did the erith coal mine walk, this one a more interesting hike to a mine closed in 1915, next to a waterfall cascading to a nice little river full of rocks and dense vegetation..
|next to the erith coal mine - morton national park|
late in the afternoon we set off to the glow worm glen, essentially a wall covered with glowing insect larvae (not really worms). we arrived too early and had to wait about an hour until it was dark enough for them to start glowing, and by then we were a bit tired. so my tip here is to start your hike after sunset. there's no rush, they will be there all night, and the later you go, the more beautiful it gets (and there will be less annoying kids making noise disturbing them.. and you). the hike back in the dark with our torches was pretty fun too..
|morning sun. heaps of 'roos behind those trees|
we headed to moss vale town to get some groceries, and in the afternoon we hiked to fairy bower falls.. the stream was very weak, but we were the only ones there and you can get right under the falls, which makes you feel SO. FREAKING. GOOD! we were so ecstatic, it's hard to describe. maybe as a result of that feeling, we kept going down the hiking track, knowing (or strongly hoping) it would take us to the tooth lookout, but after walking a while we started fearing we might not be exactly where we wanted..
|fairy bower falls - morton national park|
the clock said we still had a good couple of hour before sunset, but we were on the other side of the mountain, and it was getting dark quickly, and the track was getting more and more dense, and we getting more and more tense. at this point i think our survival instinct kicked in and we were practically blazing through the bushes. then we saw the light, literally. the path started going up and we could see the lit part of the canyon (which was gorgeous), and later than sooner, we climbed all the way back up to the tooth lookout. safe, sound and tired. we were fast asleep by 9pm.
the good thing about going to bed early? waking up to see the sunrise! we were at the sunrise point by 5:30am, and while maja waited sleepy and wrapped in her sleeping bag in the car, i was on the edge of a cliff listening to the birds and waiting for the sun to come from behind the mountains, and that first light simply made my day.
after breakfast we started heading to jervis bay, stopping halfway in nowra for lunch, then currarong beach for a little swim and sun soaking. from there we went to meet our CS host allan in eworal bay, and he recommended greenpatch beach for the sunset. on our way back, i noticed some strange noises every time a car passed us by on the road, and to our surprise, we realized we had been driving with our trunk fully open for more than 5 minutes.. our cooler, kitchen stuff, camping tents and other things were all there.. nothing fell over! phew, close call...
|currarong beach and my "show off-ish" one yoga pose|
back home, we met another CSer, camilla, also staying with our host, cooked dinner and had some great conversations till late. our host was a 67 year old economist, and with maja being crazy about economics, things got very interesting, and i guess we all learned a lot (i know i did!)
maja woke up before 6am with several kangaroos right out of our window waiting to be fed (i slept for another hour or so). THEN it couldn't get any more aussie! later allan took us to the beautiful orion beach, where we stayed for a while and then went to explore a bit and found a "secret" beach. it's somewhere between nelsons beach and blenheim beach, but not reachable by the tracks.. you gotta go through the rocks, and it was all ours!
this was already new year's eve, so we went home to get ready for a bbq that allan's friends had invited us all to, together with their family. this is the beauty of CS.. we could be doing all the usual things, staying at a hostel or a resort, camping, whatever, but instead we were with great people nice enough to open their houses to complete strangers, and treating us like family.. it's such a great feeling!
we watched one of the most beautiful sunsets from their backyard, and after dinner, me, maja and camilla got some wine, our sleeping bags, a torch and went to nelsons beach. it was completely dark there, and while we could see a couple of people arriving there every now and then, nobody was close by, so it felt like we had the beach and the stars all for ourselves..
at one point we saw many torches coming to the beach from a further entrance, and we started worrying it would be a drunk group coming to poop on our party, but we were wrong. they just lit up some beautiful fireworks just about 100 meters from us and left. so we practically had our own private fireworks!
at midnight we saw some of the fireworks from huskisson, but they were tiny and far from us, and exactly at that time we saw some weird light right in front of us, low in the horizon. after a little guessing game, lo and behold, there it was, coming from behind the low dark clouds: the biggest, "yellowest" and most beautiful waning gibbous moon i've ever seen (it was a couple of days after a full moon).. beats the fireworks in sydney! just saying...
new year's day, we left early to beat the traffic to sydney. on our way back, mostly via the grand pacific drive, we still stopped at the seven mile beach, windang island, stanwell tops and through royal national park. we were home by mid afternoon, with our feet full of sand and our faces full of smiles.
great way to end an amazing year and start a more amazing one. this is life, and life is good!