Thursday, October 30, 2014

Arakoon National Park

Arakoon is closer to home than Crowdy Bay National Park and we normally combine staying here on our way home. We have again pre-booked site 13 under the Norfolk pine trees with the bay behind our site. The couple camped bedside us where here forty years ago when the Norfolk pines were planted and the camping was free. They have camped here every year since then.
The campground faces due west across the bay to South West Rocks and the sunsets are quite spectacular. I think its probably the only location on the east coast where you can photograph the sun setting across water. 
This site gives us easy access to the water and more importantly it gives our solar panels enough light until the sun sets. We have booked for seven nights and plan to just relax with walks along the beach and include plenty of swimming.
It was lovely to meet Karen and Ken, who follow our blog and recognized our 4WD and van. They were first time visitors to Arakoon after reading one of our blog entries and have recently taken a tour at the Bushtracker factory. Their plan is to place an order in the not too distant future. We mentioned how we print our blog trips as hard cover coffee table books. They were interested in the address, so here it is:

Its the first time in many years of coming here we have had seven beautiful sunny days, the only downside is the camp area has never looked so dry.
One day returning to our campsite after shopping in South West Rocks we followed a Bushtracker heading to Arakoon. Nina and Greg in their 20' BT were passing through on their way home to Newcastle and popped in for a chat. 
Apart from the goal another historic site is a German graves monument perched on a hill just over 1 km from the goal.
During our stay we enjoyed a breakfast and lunch at the restaurant within the park. The restaurant is also open for dinner on Friday and Saturday nights.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Crowdy Bay National Park

We have just spent seven days camped at Crowdy Bay National Park. The weather was fabulous with rain falling on two of the nights. This National Park is one of our favorite camping spots and its just over two hours south of where we live. Once the three remaining sections of the Pacific Highway upgrade south of Coffs Harbour are completed then our travelling time to this park will be greatly reduced.  
The park has four campgrounds which include Crowdy Gap in the south, with Kylies Beach, Indian Head and Diamond Head in the northern section of the National Park. 
Our preference is to camp at Kylies Beach, with its basic facilities which include drop toilets, cold water showers and very clear non-potable water. The campground is set back from the beach behind sand dunes and vegetation and is protected if the weather turns nasty. The main campground is basically a large grassed area without those dreaded koppers logs, and for those who require shade there are other more secluded campsites surrounding the main area.
Indian Head campground:
Diamond Head campground:
 Laurieton with a population of 2000 people is just 5 km north of the National Park boundary and has all the facilities you would ever need. The park lies just over 45 km south of Port Macquarie and 35 km north-east of Taree. We access the park through Kew and then Laurieton but you can also access the park through Moorland south-west of the park.
We have found in the past that the camping areas get very busy during weekends and school holidays which probably has something to do with having these larger towns so close. We try to avoid these times however for this break a weekend was included in our time here, and as expected it was busy but by Sunday night, there were just three other groups camped with us.  
The ranger station is at Diamond Head where the majority of people seem to prefer to stay, with its extra creature comforts which include flushing toilets and free gas BBQ's. Since our last visit the campground has been upgraded with kerb and guttering and new turf. 
There are many activities to keep you busy while staying here including many walking trails, fishing, swimming, whale watching, surfing or walking along the beaches that are never crowded.
But best of all is the wildlife. There are koalas and kangaroos along with goannas. With over 700 species of eucalyptus in Australia, the koala only eats from 40 species, and they sleep up to twenty hours per day with the remainder spent eating. 
Looking south down Dunbogan Beach towards Diamond Head. Diamond Head is thought to be named after quartz crystals that are present in the cliffs and that sparkle when the angle of the sun is in the right location and viewed from the sea.
Several photos taken from the headland walk:
Looking south down along Kylies Beach towards Crowdy Head. Captain Cook named it Crowded Head in 1770 after seeing a group of aboriginals on the headland.
During World War ll, the Australian author Kylie Tennant moved to Laurieton. She met a local farmer who grazed cattle on Diamond Head and he built her a timber hut to use as a writing retreat. The hut has been moved to its present location and restored by National Parks. The hut can be accessed from Indian Head and Kylies Beach campgrounds.
Several km west of Laurieton is the steep access road that takes you 487 metres to the summit of North Brother Mountain. Laurieton is in the foreground with the small towns of Dunbogan and North Haven on the left hand side of the Camden Haven River as it enters the sea.
Looking south from North Brother Mountain over Watson Taylors Lake with Crowdy Bay National Park off to the left, and Crowdy Head in the distance: