Some getaways require weeks of planning in advance, others can begin with a moments notice. Last week we spent 5 days adventuring though our some of our favourite places in NSW, and also exploring some new locations along the way. The weather was perfect, the beaches were empty despite the fact that it was the Easter Long Weekend, and the spots we camped were some of the best we've experienced anywhere in Australia.
The First stop on this micro getaway was the unique Diamond Head. Situated right in the middle of Crowdy Bay National Park, Diamond head has been one of our favourite spots for quite some time. It’s one of those places that has something for everyone - there are kangaroos hopping around through all the campsites, the beach has protected rock pools at one end and pumping waves at the other and to top it all off you can drive your car right onto the sand. We spent the first afternoon watching the sunset on the beach, with not another person in sight. The next morning the winds had turned offshore and the swell had picked up, so after a “quick” surf, we left one of our many favourite spots behind and headed north.
After a quick lunch stop under the trees at Valla Beach (another amazing, less visited spot) we continued North to the laid back town of Bellingen. This cool little town has everything you need for a good time, and nothing more. Scattered around the town are a whole range of hidden waterfalls and pristine, crystal clear creeks - and with a little bit of research and local knowledge, you can have your own private swimming hole all to yourself. We spent the arvo tracking down our own little piece of paradise, cooling off in the amazing clear waters and watching mirror-like reflections as the sun slowly went down.
The next morning, we got up nice and early and went for a little paddle in the Bellingen River. To this day I’ve never seen water so glassy and smooth - it honestly felt like we were kayaking along in a giant swimming pool. As the sun came up, the cold air and the warmer water created surreal steam which surrounded us as we made our way up river. As the sky turned from bright pink to a perfect, cloudless blue, we headed back to the van for a quick brekky, and spent the rest of the morning wandering though one of my favourite markets in Australia. Bellingen markets always happen to be on when we are in town, so we made the most of our time and stocked up on some vintage jewellery and some wacky clothing.
After a quick lunch by the river, we were on our way again, West this time up into the mountains towards the Dorrigo Rainforest. We decided to skip the amazing hikes and walks throughout the forest as we’ve done them countless times previously, and instead made a beeline for another favourite - Ebor Falls. The last time we were at these incredible falls was on one of our first adventures together and unfortunately every single one of our photos from that trip was lost. Luckily they were just as amazing as we remembered, and we were able to create new memories and images to accompany them. The light was fading fast, so we raced through the rolling hills to our next stop. We arrived at Cathedral Rocks National Park a little later than we had hoped, but were pleasantly welcomed by an amazing little campsite set amongst towering gums. We quickly set up camp, packed some wine and cheese, and raced up the mountain to try catch the sunset at Cathedral Rocks - a collection of huge granite boulders perched atop a nearby peak. We managed to do the 1.5 hour hike in 45mins, and make it to the top just as the sun was sinking below the ridge line. We took a couple of quick snaps of the boulders glowing bright orange in the afternoon light, then decided to head back to camp for dinner. Despite the fact that some less than ideal campers had chosen to set up their tents practically on top of the van and had helped themselves to our fire, we had an awesome night watching the stars and cooking up a feast on the open fireplace.
We contemplated returning to the summit for sunrise, but wisely decided and against it and opted for a well deserved sleep in instead. A quick fire cooked brekky and one last look around the amazing little camp site, and we were off again. We stopped at Blue Hole for lunch, an awesome little swimming hole just outside the town of Armidale and enjoyed a swim and a bit of basking in the sun before making our way through Armidale and into the Oxly Wild Rivers National Park. This park was another spot we had somehow missed on our previous travels, and as we made our way along the highway the number of campsites, waterfalls and gorges we saw was absolutely insane. The best thing was that all the national park campgrounds were either free, or extremely well priced - and came with free firewood! After much deliberation, we decided on Aplsley Falls to spend the night, and were super glad that we did. Again, the campground was incredible, and despite the fact that it was Easter Sunday, it wasn’t even full. We cooked up a feast on the fire, then wandered around the rim of Aplsley gorge just after sunset, and the colours were incredible.
The next morning we checked out the falls themselves, and then said goodbye to one of our new favourite spots and headed back East towards the coast. Although the drive was only about 100km, it took us a good 2.5 hours thanks to the awesome views and never-ending twists and turns on the way - but we finally made it back to the ocean and spent the rest of the day driving south. We decided to stop in at the Entrance, on the Central Coast for sunset, and were rewarded with one of the best displays of colour I’ve seen in a long time.
After what seemed like weeks, but in reality was only 5 days, we made it back to our current campsite of choice on the Northern Beaches in Sydney. We were sore, tired, a little bit sunburnt, and completely amazed at what you can squeeze into such a short period of time if you make a little bit of effort.
Visit NSW are running a pretty cool competition which allows you to show off some of your favourite holiday destinations in the State. Visit http://www.visitnsw.com/ilovensw and check out the details - there are some pretty good prizes up for grabs!