We Betchers had originally planned to drive up the coast with the Hammos on the 28th, but due to unforseen circumstances we ended up leaving later that morning and just met the others up there. The trip was uneventful, and slow… the traffic travelling north was unbelievable, with major delays at all the usual spots – Karuah, Bulahdelah and Kew. I can’t get over how many people have no idea how to merge from two lanes into one! It seems that the simple act of merging, and allowing another driver to pull into the space in front of you, really brings out people’s mean-spiritedness and aggression on the road. Anyway, I digress.
After settling in to camp, we took a quick explore of the area, walking up to the Top Hole swimming area. The campsite was stunning… a large flat expanse of green, with tall timber surrounding it on all sides and a charming creek running past our camp. The kids swam and enjoyed it, while the adults took to relaxing around the campfire.
Michael and Krissie eventually returned from the hospital at about 11:00pm after transporting Buzz back to his parents’ place near Byabarra.
Rain during the night and into the morning left many of the tracks quite damp, but the sun shone periodically during the day. A few of us decided to go explore the area, so a convoy of cars headed up the track from the campsite and onto the main ridge. Although Buzz had spent quite some time doing reccies and planning trips, without his expertise we were limited to some blind exploring of our own. Map in hand, we travelled across some good forestry roads, some steep and narrow logging tracks, as well as some tar roads into the surrounding district. After a brief stop at the Mt Comboyne lookout to take in the view, we drove out to the village of Comboyne itself where we had a pleasant picnic lunch in the park, and on to the amazing Ellenborough Falls. I wish we had a little more time here, as the falls dropped over a height of some few hundred metres into a large swimming hole, and it would have been great to do the walk into the valley and take a swim in it. Another time.
Next day was superb weather, so a trip the beach at North Haven was the go. Buzz was right about the area… there is plenty of variety and things to do. It was actually quite nice to be able to camp in such a pretty and comparatively remote spot, yet still be so close to amenities like beaches and towns. We frolicked on the beach for a while before eventually heading back to camp and then moving out for another drive around the local area, this time with Buzz at the helm.
A drive to the very top of Mt Comboyne took us to a fire observation tower where we met a nice young bloke whose job was to sit in the tower all day and look for bushfires (seriously!)
Brian and Dave showed us why butter knives are not the ideal tool for opening oysters, and Krissie pulled out her guitar and songbook, and another nice night was spent around the campfire.
We saw in the New Year with singing and dancing around the fire – it was very tribal – and the final countdown was marked with sparklers and horns, kisses and hugs and a great time by all.
It was great to get to know a few more people in the club, including many I’d not met before. A big thanks also needs to go to Buzz for organising the trip and making it possible for us to come enjoy the area, under what turned out to be fairly regrettable conditions for him.