Last weekend was the first weekend that Rusty and I travelled outside of Sydney, and it was a stunning success!
Our adventure started Friday evening. Rusty and I met after work at Central Station in Sydney to catch the train up to Gosford. The first time you’re in a new train station is always an experience, and it certainly was for us! We unknowingly entered the station from different sides and spent a few minutes on the phone trying to figure out why we couldn’t see each other. Pro tip: Be patient in new bus and train stations!
Despite our clumsy navigation of the train station, we boarded the 5:00 PM express train to Gosford and were on our way!
We passed a lot of this:
And a lot of this:
We arrived in Gosford and caught a bus to Forresters Beach right outside the station. In Sydney most buses won’t accept cash during rush hour–you have to have a pre-paid bus ticket–so I bought bus tickets in Sydney before we left, assuming that it would be similar in Gosford. It was not! The bus driver took my ticket, squinted at it, gave it the side-eye, and then gave it back to me. Cash is definitely the way to go when you’re outside of the city!
The tough thing about taking buses in unfamiliar cities is that even if you know the name of the intersection where you need to get off the bus, you don’t know when you’ve arrived there. There are two options to deal with this in my book. One is to ask the bus driver to let you know when you’ve arrived at the intersection. Bus drivers are usually good about this. The other option is to turn on the GPS on your smartphone and follow the bus’s movement on a mapping app. It’s definitely my preferred option! I love watching the little arrow move along the bus’s route.
Once we got off the bus, we had about one kilometer to walk to our campsite.
We stayed at the Sun Valley Tourist Park near Bateau Bay. The office was closed when we arrived, but management was very accommodating. They left an envelope in their mailbox for us with a map to our site and keys to the bathroom and kitchen.
It was dark as we pitched our tent.
Our tent and sleeping pads are brand new, and they’re fantastic! We moved our sleeping bags and some other camping things here from the States, but we decided that we wanted to buy a new tent and sleeping pads when we got here.
Rusty picked out the gear, and it is nice! Rusty and I have expensive taste in three things: Camping gear (mostly Rusty), running gear (mostly me), and mixed nuts (just me). We’re pretty cheap usually, but we do splurge on a couple things. The tent is a Vango Tempest 3-person Tent. The pads are Vango Ultralite 3/4 Mats.
Sun Valley Tourist Park is in fact not a campsite but an RV park. Our site was a corner site, so we snuggled our tent between our two neighbors.
The campsite had proper streets and site numbers because some of the lots were actually for sale, not just for rent. It’s a permanent community.
On Saturday morning, we woke up bright and early to go find some breakfast before we set out on our hike to Forresters Beach. Luckily we noticed there were some grocery stores and restaurants where the bus dropped us off the night before, so we headed a kilometer back down the road.
We walked through a mostly suburban-looking area.
We even watched some little kids playing cricket.
Mostly, though, we looked at birds. We found a parrot!
After breakfast, we started down the coastal track to Forresters Beach. The first beach we came to was Shelly Beach. I was awestruck by how beautiful it was.
Once we past Shelly Beach, the coastal track dipped into Wyrrabalong National Park.
We had such gorgeous weather all day. Bright, sunny, but not too hot to be hiking for hours. The coastal track followed the cliffs along the beach, and the first place it took us was here: A lookout for whale-watching.
We didn’t see any whales, but we saw some dolphins! It was incredible. We saw them blow air, jump, and dive in the water. Incredible.
When we left the whale-watching lookout, we ascended into the heathlands.
On the top of the cliff it was dry and faded, and the plants were short and scruffy.
I loved all of the flowers!
When we emerged from the heathlands, we were at another lookout with gorgeous views.
Forresters Beach! We could finally see it! We descended down the cliff through the little seaside town and walked out to the beautiful water.
Forresters Beach was our ultimate destination initially because we had signed up for an open-water ocean swim event there. Unfortunately, when we got there, the place was deserted! We couldn’t count more than ten people all together, and none of them appeared to be at the beach for a swimming event. We were kind of bummed that we couldn’t find the event, but we got over it pretty quickly.
Standing in a spot this beautiful, it’s hard to feel down about anything at all!
Once we concluded that there clearly wasn’t an event, we decided to continue on down the coastline. The day was too beautiful to quit exploring!
At the southern end of Forresters Beach we encountered the first of many bizarre geological anomalies. The rocks on the southern end of the beach were strange and awesome.
There was a rock table with grooves in it.
Odd, no? Especially since it’s surrounded by other strangely shaped rocks?
To get from Forresters Beach to the next beach on the coast we needed to scale some rocks. Rusty went to investigate.
There was a ledge at the top that led us around to the next beach.
Northern Terrigal Beach was beautiful.
Those green rocks were another anomaly. These were the only green rocks on the whole beach.
These rocks were interesting, too. The only ones like it were in just one small section of the beach.
After hours of exploring miles of beach, we saw some signs of civilization.
Terrigal! Not a minute too soon. We were starving. Terrigal has a cute row of beachside shops and restaurants. We set out for cheap Asian food.
Chinese lunch special = the best vacation food!
After lunch, we decided to go swimming. We couldn’t participate in our scheduled swim event, but we could still get in the ocean! It was COLD, by the way. So cold! We waded in slowly, though, and it wasn’t too bad once we were in the water for awhile. We didn’t swim too far away from the shore, but we swam far enough to see some fish and some rocks and seaweed and coral. It was AMAZING!
After our quick dip, it was time to head back up the coast.
Again, baffled by the bright green rocks.
Again, across the rock ledge between Terrigal and Forresters.
When we hit the coastal track just north of Forresters Beach, we were greeted by this guy at the first lookout.
A local told us that the reptiles were just starting to crawl out of hibernation. This guy was definitely enjoying the evening sun!
We walked the same miles back home that we walked on the way there, but somehow they looked totally different this time. Somehow, more beautiful.
Our adventure ended up being about twelve miles roundtrip. When we got back to the campsite, all we wanted to do was eat ALL THE FOOD.
Rusty and I cook our food when we’re camping in our trusty Jetboils.
Jetboils are AMAZING. If you camp often and you don’t have a Jetboil, you should get one soon. Water boils in them in seconds and they’re easy to pack and carry.
Not all food is good in Jetboils, but I’ll tell you what is definitely good: Couscous. We picked up this stuff at the grocery store, and it was absolutely perfect.
In the morning, it was time to head back to Sydney. We packed up the tent and said goodbye to the Sun Valley Tourist Park.
I didn’t want to go! The beach was so amazing… I hope our next adventure is soon!