Ever wondered how you can feel free again? An unplanned trip can clear your mind and give you that essential me time.
I remember that day five months ago.
I was swanning on the verandah, feeling free and unencumbered. The boy had left his nest comprising of footballs, guitars and Play Station and started uni three weeks before.
“Oh yes!” I replied to the solicitous phone calls, “I’m missing him dreadfully!” Smiling, I surveyed my pristine house which no longer contained a trail of plates and cups or wet towels.
I reflected on how I would spend my extra time. More photography? Get fit? Hmmmm.
Then the phone rang.
“I’m moving down too!”
My mother was coming!
Five months blurred by as I organised the move. My last trip back to the city was a week ago. I had spent a week packing and cleaning mum’s house when the boys told me not to come home. They had caught the dreaded bug.
So I took my time returning.
Stopping overnight at Bateman’s Bay I experienced a restorative sunrise and a very weird sculpture.
After visiting the museum, I stopped at Mogo for a cuppa and a stroll in the shops. Then I stopped again 15 minutes later at Moruya which is changing. Interesting new shops can be found to wander into on the main street. Then the luxury of deciding where to stay for the night.
An hour later I was in Bermagui, a serene little seaside town complete with harbour and plenty of spots for photography and surfing. I was so relaxed I just made it to sunrise.
Alone on the beach, clicking away with my Olympus you can understand why I didn’t want to return to a house containing sickly males and used tissues.
The Sapphire Coast provides plenty of opportunities to escape the winter ills with cheap and available accommodation.
It also provides a sense of freedom.
Reward yourself and take an unplanned road trip.
How paddle boarding can turn you into a fit and peaceful nature lover
No – I’m not talking about changing the world. But you might just find that paddle boarding will give YOU peace.
Picture this – paddling up the river where the aqua water is so clear you can see the bottom. The bush is sliding past with only a curious kangaroo to see you. Frightened fish wizz away while lazy stingrays slide silently under your board. I’ve seen the majestic eagle swoop down and scoop up his lunch not five metres away and we are reminded of the first inhabitants of this great land as we float past reminders of their presence.
You can stop any time you like and explore the bush. There is only you and nature.
Apart from paddling down rivers there are a variety of places on the Sapphire Coast that are suitable. If you are staying in Merimbula, the obvious choice is the lake. Top Lake is less inhabited and you can stop and have a coffee and a really good meal at Sunset Kiosk. https://www.facebook.com/toplakeboathiremerimbulaandsunsetskiosk/
Access to the lake is also found at Fishpen and Spencer Park. There are other access points but be careful of walking on mangrove shoots which are essential to keeping the waterway clean and for oyster production.
If you like the challenge of waves, Bar Beach (see picture above) is a favourite spot as well as Pambula river mouth. The river mouth near the Coraki Drive carpark has nice gentle waves to learn on.
The nice thing about paddle boarding is you can start at any age. Why not hire a board for a couple of hours from Mitchies Jetty in Merimbula, The Broken Oar at Pambula Beach, or Tathra Beach and Bike http://www.mountainbiking.com.au/stand-up-paddle-boarding.
Give paddle boarding a try – it’s a great way to discover the Sapphire Coast.
You don’t have to go far to find a relaxing spot on the Sapphire Coast.
The tourists have gone home and I have one of my favourite spots back.
Bar Beach at Merimbula is close to the town centre but unspoilt. Spectacular views can be seen from the upper car park and you can absorb the ambience of the tiny beach – a perfect spot to swim. When the waves are going off, board riders and paddleboarders take advantage of the long rolling waves which peter out over the bar.
I love the relaxed vibe of yesteryear especially when the shacklike café is open in the summer months. I’ve eaten the best chocolate chip muffin there and the coffee is good.
What I like most about this place are the views. You can see down to Mount Imlay, along the river, past Fishpen and to Lake Merimbula. Unspoilt views to Pambula river mouth ensure your peaceful break.
If you are lucky you will see dolphins cruising past and sometimes, the occasional seal. Even though it is close to town, birds can be seen hunting for dinner and I have observed an eagle circling above.
So where can you stay to take in this tiny place of sheer goodness? The caravan park at Short Point is a 10 minute walk away – https://www.big4.com.au/caravan-parks/nsw/south-coast/nrma-merimbula-beach-holiday-resort. The area surrounding Bar Beach is thick with tourist accommodation which can be found at https://www.visitnsw.com/destinations/south-coast/merimbula-and-sapphire-coast/accommodation.
If you do want to follow my suggestions, leave your hassles behind, respect the environment and enjoy the best of the Sapphire Coast.
Autumn Splendour on the Sapphire Coast
Everybody has their favourite season. Mine has always been summer. I love the touch of a balmy breeze on a hazy afternoon, the refreshing tingle of an early morning swim and the long, light days which fade gently into night.
But there’s only so many salads you can eat – right?
I’m over the latest style of salad which comes in a bowl and you have to put it together yourself. Or more annoyingly, tip it out of a jar onto a plate so you can devour it. There is only so much quinoa a girl can bear!
Roll on autumn with its just right temperature where you can hide your wobbly bits in a forgiving pair of jeans. At last you can bring out the casserole dish in which the leftovers taste even better than when it was freshly made.
It is also a brilliant time for photography. The sunrise and sunset colours are intense and with the backdrop of changing leaves – a drive to this area is a must.
Autumn makes the Sapphire Coast a desirable place to be. Driving down country roads you can observe the golden light which starts from 3pm. See the changing leaves in Candelo and have a wonderful lunch at Two Blokes Café – https://www.facebook.com/2BlokesFood/. A trip to Bemboka (http://www.sapphirecoast.com.au/the-region/towns/bemboka/) is relaxing with rolling hills, a pie shop and café and if you are in the mood – continue up Brown Mountain to Nimitable. The village is reviving and has many interesting weekend events which can be found at http://nimmitabel.nsw.au/.
Let’s face it. We all need a change and autumn provides a perfect opportunity to walk, hike and just simply enjoy the changing countryside around you.
How your surroundings can enrich your life
I never thought I had an artistic bone in my body. I’m sure the school art teacher had my name on a list titled, “Students never to be offered a place in elective art.” I bet the teacher had a big star beside my name to emphasise my lack of ability and candidature for the course.
But that has not stopped me from developing an appreciation for art.
Photographing the Sapphire Coast has been a wonderful journey into enjoying natural art which is seen in rock formations, textures of windblown trees, composition of landscapes and the amazing hues of colour seen in the sea.
I cannot drag my eyes away from the blues which change in intensity depending on what part of the coast you are located. The Pambula River has clean, green colour while the water off Short point is a deep sapphire blue.
The Sapphire coast has a thriving artistic community who love to show their work. Pambula’s Artessence gallery shows paintings, pottery, jewellery and photography. Twyford Hall in Merimbula hosts artists groups while the attached gallery is often booked out with exhibitions. Don’t miss out on the Bega Regional Gallery https://gallery.begavalley.nsw.gov.au/cp_themes/default/home.asp with its exhibitions. I couldn’t believe my good luck to find the Archibalds there – without the crowds. For something affordable and simple, Black Daisy in Pambula has, “The exquisite work of local artists and artisans plus a selection of divine homewares.” https://www.facebook.com/blackdaisytrading/
Whether it’s natural or man-made, the Sapphire Coast offers opportunities to satisfy every artistic adventure.
Start yours today!
Some of the best sights can be found by pulling over and watching the moods of the Sapphire Coast
I have finally learnt my lesson. I have a habit of living in my head. We all do it. Afternoons can be the worst. You’ve rushed from work, picked up the kids, dashed to the soccer fields. Made a quick trip to the supermarket. Home to put the chook in the oven. Fed the dog. Watered the one surviving indoor plant and all the while thinking of something else. What you have to do this evening, tomorrow or have finished by the end of the week.
And all the while you missed something important – like what is actually going on around you.
I have visited the Sapphire Coast since 1986 and I have never actually seen it. Always in a rush, or too exhausted to take in the scenery, I never noticed the beauty surrounding me.
Like how the waters of Lake Merimbula has many mood and colours and how clouds create atmosphere.
How restful it is to sit for ten minutes and observe the changing light, reflections and colour.
Some of the best sunsets can be seen from the many vantage points around Merimbula, whether you are strolling the boardwalk at Top Lake or sitting near the pelican sculptures at Fishpen.
So if you are a busy traveller or just flat out with the daily grind, allow yourself time to appreciate the scenery. And don’t forget – some of the best sights can be found by pulling over and watching the moods of the Sapphire Coast.
For me, moving to the Sapphire Coast involved a huge leap of faith. I had to believe that leaving what I knew would be better. This meant overcoming the obstacles my mind naturally produced.
Like the obvious. I left the city for a country area considered rural and remote. I certainly felt isolated during the first few months when I bumped down gum tree lined roads to get to the supermarket.
Yet the locals reassured me we had done the right thing. They were so welcoming after they found we had recently moved that I knew we would soon belong. Being accepted is an important part of feeling valued and gives a great feeling of self-worth.
The more I explored my new postcode, the more I belonged.
I started with my immediate area and gradually branched out. I had no plan, which made my exploration more like an adventure. I just went where the whim took me. And the more I discovered, the more alive I felt.
Something simple, like taking the dog for her daily run, became the next step in the adventure. Together we saw wild life you would never see in the suburbs and we experienced the open skies and bare beaches of the Sapphire Coast normally reserved for travel stories.
Now it’s your turn.
Choose a place to discover.
Feel the freedom of being somewhere different.
Explore and feel alive.
Explore. Discover. Immerse yourself…
Imagine walking around a corner and finding something that makes your heart sing.
It had been a busy fortnight of unpacking and the faithful mutt was fed up. Her mournful chocolate eyes followed me relentlessly as I dealt with boxes and belongings. Today, the reproachful stare was enough to move me into action.
I followed the unfamiliar road in the early light, careful to avoid the kangaroos. The dog, grateful for her release, sprinted joyfully down the beach, her grin becoming wider each step. The beach was hard packed white sand, making walking easy.
Following the murmuring shoreline I came across a mound of red rocks. And then I made the discovery.
A few steps further on was a natural beach, about 10 metres wide, protected by a cliff and surrounded by water. On one side – the mouth of the Pambula River and the other, the ocean. It’s a favourite spot for local paddle boarders and sharks.
Mesmerised by the colour of the water, I turned to see Old Man Rock. His features, clearly seen by the rising sun which also heightened the orange tones of the rock. I sat on the sand, throwing the ball occasionally to keep the dog happy, and took in the ambience.
Peace. Serenity. Alone.
Sometimes the best gems are found when you just let life happen.
No research, no planning, just let it be.
How to find your serenity when surrounded by removalist boxes
It’s no secret that I’m an organised person. Well I like to think that but I can leave out crucial details. Essential details. Like spelling out the correct address that you want the removalist to take your beloved belongings to. You can imagine the chaotic phone call I received …
“You are where?” I screeched.
“It’s okay,” I reassured my husband who was driving the car packed full of the essentials including one teenager with very long legs and a doped up cat who still managed to complain.
Frantically, I texted the address with a map link, praying they would make it to our new home.
Two days later I had not come up for air. Why? I didn’t supervise the unpacking of the truck. I had been warned to stand at the bottom of the stairs to direct the boxes. I didn’t feel comfortable with what I perceived as an authoritarian stance. I assumed the removalist guys would read the large lettering and place the boxes accordingly. The lesson – don’t assume, otherwise you will find half of your kitchen dumped in the spare bedroom and you have to make umpteen trips up the stairs to rectify this.
Finally, remember the benefits of moving to the Sapphire Coast. After a few days of frantic unpacking, the teenager begged me to take a break. We drove three minutes away to the most gorgeous spot, which is still my favourite place. Our eyes feasted on the aqua colours of the Pambula River bordered by national park which, I imagined, looked the same for centuries. It was here, at the Pambula River mouth that I remembered to breathe and appreciate the beauty surrounding my new home.