We’ve stayed at Hawks Nest Beach Caravan Park a couple of times in the past, so we knew this would be a nice spot to hang out for a week or so on our way to Coffs Harbour. Nothing like a bit of R&R on the beach!
We had a bit of business to transact in Sydney on the way, which we thought might put us into Hawks Nest at about five o’clock – and we weren’t sure whether the office would still be open. We phoned on the way to let Colin, the manager, know. “No problem,” he assured us. The office closed at five, but all we had to do was press the buzzer and they’d be right there to let us in. It makes such a difference when you get a cheerful person at the other end of the phone!
Our site was close to the amenities (which were spacious and well-cared for, and also had a bath) and we were near the back gate that led to the adjacent Golf Club with its handy bistro.
NOTE: I liked the ‘book swap’ facility at reception – travellers can either swap a book for another in the small library there, or pay a $5 deposit, read the book then get their $5 back on its return.
On our last weekend in Shellharbour before setting off, our son Derek gave us a set of two small glass containers in a basket. One he filled with sand from North Shellharbour beach, the site of Shellharbour Surf Club, where Rob is a Life Member. The other he left empty, ready to be filled with a trickle of sand or soil from each of the locations we visit on our way around Australia. A nice idea! Here you can see me pouring in approximately a thimbleful of sand from Hawks Nest beach.
On the site next door to us were Debbie and Rob: after an initial chat while setting up we met up again at the golf club the next day for the meat raffle. As it happens, Debbie works for Australia Post, and was able to answer a few questions I had about mail forwarding (I’ve put it in a forum post – but as she says, procedures can change at any time, and the staff at any post office can let you know the latest info).
Just across the way were Judy and Doug from Coffs Harbour, with one of Doug’s treasured plywood boats securely fastened to the top of his car. Doug is part of a group who call themselves the “Plywood Pirates”, and Judy tells me he has four more of these boats at home! In this picture you can see “Paleface”, and I know that one of the boats at home is called “Lake for Work”… love it!
On our third day at Hawks Nest we took a day trip to Port Stephens, catching the ferry across from Tea Gardens. (Gotta love the pace of life in the country… all the passengers were happy to pause for 10 minutes on the trip across to watch the dolphins at play!)
While having lunch at the pub at Port Stephens, we noticed a couple of hardy travellers waiting to cross at the lights – pushing a tandem bike, loaded with all their worldly goods. “Looks like a hard way to see Australia!” I commented to Rob. We saw them again on the ferry for the return trip to Tea Gardens, bike strapped to the roof… and yet again when they camped on a site just down from us at Hawks Nest. Naturally I couldn’t resist finding out more, and wandered down to have a chat before they left.
It turned out that Denise and Richard were from the UK, and had just arrived in Australia after two months touring New Zealand on their bike. (“Richard is the keen cyclist,” Denise told me. “I think I’d rather do it your way! But it was either join him or stay at home by myself for 16 months… so I decided I was going too.”
The two of them are on their way to Cairns, and from there plan to go to Bangkok (“or wherever Qantas takes us!”) and tour Indochina.
Before we left Hawks Nest, we went out to dinner for our wedding anniversary. (We’d actually celebrated this with the family before we left, but that was a week early… this was the REAL date!) Friendly Colin at reception recommended Tillermans at Tea Gardens for fine food, and that was good enough for us. Good decision!
Our week at Hawks Nest seemed to fly by (of course the fine weather helped – we were out and about all the time.) As a lot of caravanners do, we checked out on a Monday morning, but this time we waited until a few others had left so I could get some practise backing into sites! With Rob giving directions, I got behind the wheel and started putting what I’d learned at Tow-Ed into operation. Rob found it… um, shall we say “interesting”??… being the one on the other end, giving directions instead of getting them. (I was sooooo tempted to say “What does that twirly motion with your hands mean again????” to get some of my own back, but I have to admit that most of his instructions were pretty clear!) I managed fairly well, because I had lots of room to manoeuvre – but I know it gets a lot more challenging when there are cars and vans parked right across from you when you’re reversing.
All in all, our week at Hawks Nest was great: beautiful weather, a lovely location and nice people around us.
Now: on to North Haven, near Laurieton!