Sunday, 31 March 2013

Coromandel Coastal Walkway


It was overcast today, ideal to walk part of the seven kilometre Coromandel Coastal Walkway which runs from Fletcher Bay, at the end of the road coming up the western side of the peninsula & Stony Bay, the end of the road on the eastern side. There is no road access right around the tip of the peninsula so this a great way to see this rugged & remote area. It’s a 56 kilometre drive over narrow & winding roads from one bay to the other so it is wise to either walk part of the way then return or if in a group, have a vehicle left at either end & swap keys when you meet on the track. Some even carry their tents & packs & stay overnight at either end, returning the next day.



The views are fabulous, the coastline steep & rugged with jagged rocks, offshore reefs, island & small wild rocky bays as far as you can see. This area is known as the Pinnacle Coast.


Click on the photo to see the rock fisherman in the first photo

The first section crosses the hilly farmland of the Colville Farm Park which was purchased by the Crown in the 1970s, with the intention of preserving the coastline & forested inland slopes for the benefit of all New Zealanders. It was a steady & steep climb through the first paddock where there was a large flock of sheep which had obviously decided they quite like to rest on the level track at night, most of our time was spent dodging large amounts of sheep poo.


The next open section we crossed is known as ‘The Six Foot Track’, an old bridle path constructed & used by pioneers with pick, shovel & wheelbarrow to join the two bays. Not far from here is a valley of flax that early settlers harvested for a mill that they had in Port Jackson where the fibres were dried, baled & shipped to Auckland. The tin shack set high up the slope is used by itinerant scrubcutters.


About an hour and a half after setting off the track passed through a large area of manuka scrub, then we started a steep descent down into Poley Bay which is a small compact cove with a shingle beach. This was going to be our turnaround point. Large pohutukawa, ferns & nikau palms dominated this section & it was a shame to see so many mamaku ferns (Black Tree Ferns) in various stages of dying. Apparently the endless summer as taken its toll on our native forests & especially with the ferns which need a lot of moisture & frequent rain.

 
We had a break & ate our lunch in Poley Bay and while we were sitting there a family came climbing over the rocks, they’d been exploring as the tide went out. It was a surprise to see them as it was a long way in and quite a strenuous hike to where we were. The two little boys were two & five & had walked the whole way. They were now headed back & Dad said as long as they didn’t push them they'd make it all by themselves. Although the wee one must have finally decided enough was enough as we caught a glimpse of them on the last section before home with the boy riding on his dad’s shoulders.

The climb out of Poley Bay was very steep and slow, we were both relieved to get back to the carpark at Fletchers Bay, especially as it had just started raining although that didn't seem to stop the campers from enjoying themselves.
 

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Port Jackson Campground


Port Jackson campground runs the length of a beautiful crescent shaped golden sand ocean beach which is tucked into relatively sheltered bay located between Kaiiti Point & Cape Colville. And we have what we’ve decided is the best site of all…..as long as the wind doesn’t get up.  We are sitting high up on the sand dunes on the front row, the van sited horizontally to the sea view with a salty scrub wind break on one side & a beach entrance on the other. Port Jackson is a back-to-basics campground & the “long-drop” toilets & cold showers are just a short walk away should we want to use them and the water tap is just across the track from us.
 
It was more by good planning on our part than by chance that we have a great spot. While a lot of people living life on the road don’t have itineraries & I’m sure we won’t have much of one either once we get the hang of it, I decided that this five weeks around the Coromandel, while mostly flexible, had to be planned a little more because smack bang in the middle of it was the long holiday weekend of Easter. Easter signals the end of the summer in New Zealand (and what a summer it’s been!) & the last chance for Kiwis to visit their favourite seaside holiday haunts & going by the number of campers that have invaded this camp ground this is a very popular haunt!

I’d booked a site at Port Jackson over the internet before we left home & also spoke on the phone to the camp manager Jenny, to ask her about access for a fifth wheeler. When we did the day trip to check the road out we called in at the camp & spoke to Jenny & Len, her husband, they were very encouraging about the road and after we’d made our mind up that we were coming they sent us down the camp ground to choose a site.

There were very few people about and with three sections to the camp we had a lot of choice. We found a couple of great sites on the front row in the middle section, Barrier Camp. Jenny earmarked  them for us although one had been taken by the time we arrived. The other was our first choice so we weren’t worried. The site was usually booked along with 3 or 4 others around it by a group of families that come to Port Jackson every holiday and have been doing so for the last 15 years or so. But as they hadn’t confirmed & we’d planned to get here two days before the Easter rush it was ours to occupy. The families did arrive in the end; they are behind & beside us & have made us very welcome even though we have their prime site!

Here they are discussing the day's catch
We had a quiet couple of days (& the best weather) before the masses & their boats started arriving on Thursday night & all day Friday. A dust cloud erupted every time another vehicle pulled in or roared past outside heading to Fletchers Bay at the end of the road. A wide variety of colourful tents began popping up all over the site along with quite a number of caravans & campervans. Most of these people have done it before & have been doing it for years, it’s a family tradition. They have come with their tinnies  & inflatables, quad bikes, push bikes, kayaks, diving gear, fishing gear, BBQs & tables, solar panels, communal food tents, shower tents & toilet tents, awnings hung off the front, the rear & the side of anything stable, & even a hand wringer mounted on the trailer for the washing!


And let’s not forget the most essential item of all, the large chilly bins full of ice & beer. It would seem a fisherman is not a fisherman unless he has his shirt off and a beer in his hand. Some even bring the kitchen sink. Except it’s not for the kitchen it’s for the fish, they stand around the old formica bench with a beer in hand while they analyse & discuss what went wrong or right with their latest fishing trip, who caught what & what got away, while filleting their catch.
 

And then there are the kids, lots of children racing around on their bikes, making new friends & renewing old friendships, digging in the sand, swimming in the waves & enjoying just being kids. What a fabulous time they're having and the making of some great memories; no playstations, computers or mobiles out here, just good clean fun enjoying life & our wonderful outdoor environment. Families enjoying a slice of the Kiwi dream.


It would seem nothing much has changed since I was a kid when our family holidays were spent camping at Te Awanga & Clifton in Hawkes Bay & at Mahia & Mahanga in Northern Hawkes Bay. Iconic Kiwi summers live on.

More photos here of Port Jackson


Thursday, 28 March 2013

Tuatua- Bounty From The Sea


We fancied some fritters for dinner, so after finding out where the shellfish beds were we waited for low tide and then went digging for tuatuas.  Here in the Coromandel (& Auckland) you’re only allowed 50 per person, elsewhere it’s 150, which meant I’d have to get wet too if we were going to collect enough to make a few fritters for tea. Although it wasn’t the getting wet that bothered me, it was the crabs. I have childhood memories of digging for pipis & tuatuas & coming up with a crab attached to a finger or a toe. I hate the foreboding feeling of digging away knowing that if something moves it's probably a crab & it's likely to nip you or worse still latch on.
 
 
I overcame my fear & helped out although I’m sure David dug the most. Most of them were very small or extremely small so of course we threw the tiny ones back which in the end meant more digging & more chance of getting nipped. I felt a few moving away but thankfully nothing major latched on.



We brought the tuatuas home and kept them in a bucket of salt water overnight, changing it twice to keep them fresh & to encourage them to spit out their sand. There’s nothing worse in my opinion than a fritter with sand in it; crunch, crunch. David then went about the task of opening them all & presented me with a small bowl of tuatua meat.
I found a couple of fritter recipes I had been saving (I knew one day they would come in handy) & we had beer batter tuatua fritters with coconut curry sauce, which was delicious. I’m not so sure about the shellfish though; the batter & sauce seem to overwhelm the shellfish taste. It’s the same with whitebait & paua fritters; personally I think they’re all a little overrated.

More photos here of Port Jackson




 

Dedicated to our friend Rodger


 
There was a full moon last night and I couldn’t sleep. It was also a clear warm night & through our open cabin window I could hear the waves gentling lapping onto the sand below, getting slightly louder as the tide came in, then receding as it went out & I counted through the hours.
 
I could also see the silver moon light stretching across the bay and then the moon as it slowly dropped towards the ridge on the other side. When sleep continued to elude me I got up & sat awhile outside in the peace & quite of a still night, watching & listening but most of all thinking of our dear friends Rodger & Heather.
 
Shocking & heart breaking news had found it's way through to us that Rodger was fighting for his life in ICU. How could this happen to a fit, healthy & happy man we wondered, it is just so sad. And poor Heather, what must she be going through. Tonight I felt a long way from home. 
 
Footnote-
April 4th- We still don’t know why & he is still fighting. Kia kaha Rodger, kia kaha xx

July 23rd- A miracle!

 

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Fletcher & Fantail



Fletcher Bay is the next accessible bay along from Port Jackson & also the end of the road. The Coromandel Coastal Walkway begins &/or ends here depending if you do the return trip or not, it is a popular three & half hour walk (one way) & many tourists make the long journey up the peninsula to complete it. The walk's end, or midway point if you are returning, is Stony Bay on the eastern side of the peninsula and a 56km road trip away.
Fletcher Bay also has a DOC camp, a smaller one than Port Jackson and not on sandy ocean beach but in a nice little stony bay. The camp wasn’t nearly as busy either with just one small campervan, probably due to the fact that it’s also inaccessible to bigger vehicles due to a deep ford that needs to be crossed; our back end would most likely become wedged as we climbed up the other side.
 
The road again is very narrow & winding as it passes through Colville Farm Park & then climbs up and along the cliff top with magnificent views out over the Colville Channel to Great Barrier Island & beyond, Cape Colville to the left & down to the islands off the eastern side of the peninsula.
We have motored through the Colville Channel in our boat many times in the past; it holds a good amount of fear for many sailors as it is well known for cutting up rough. Sail times are planned around the weather & tide to help with a safe passage. Today it was looking very benign and it was great to see this area from another view point.


While we were admiring the view a commercial crayfish boat came around the point and in close to the rocks to check their pots. They were so quick at pulling up the pots & resetting them we couldn’t see if they had caught any.
We also took a drive back along the western side of the peninsula to Fantail Bay, back along the winding dusty road for a third time. We wanted to check out the DOC camp at Fantail and also see if we could find a couple of potential fishing spots.
The road was very busy with quite a number of cars that we had to squeeze & carefully manoeuvre past, thank God we didn’t have the fifth wheeler in tow. There were also dozens of small boats fishing off the coast and lots of fishermen & women fishing from the rocks along the rugged coastline. At Fantail Bay, which looked to be the only place where you could launch a small boat, the parking area was packed with cars & boat trailers, they even had their own fish cleaning station built into the rocks.

We had a good look around & decided we might come back once Easter was over & the ‘crowds’ had gone home.




Footnote
We returned to Fletcher Bay on Easter Sunday to do the Coromandel Coastal walk & what a difference a couple of days make. The DOC camp now had quite a number of tents, boats & people enjoying the long weekend.




 

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

THAT Road Trip

We pulled out of White Star around lunch time and drove the short distance to Cabbage Bay, just past the tiny settlement of Colville. We parked up on foreshore reserve where we began our anxious wait for 5 o’clock to roll around. 

Low tide at Cabbage Bay
I wandered off to do a bit of bird watching & located a healthy population of around 20 or so NZ Dotterel & a few Banded Dotterel (and a dotterel that was banded), the tide was on its way in & they were congregating around a small stream to swim & preen.

The critically endangered NZ Dotterel with a Banded Dotterel behind
 
 As previously mentioned we’d made the decision to leave for Port Jackson late in the afternoon so we wouldn’t meet too much traffic, if any at all. Most campers leave Port Jackson & the other two smaller DOC camps, Fantail Bay & Fletchers Bay in the morning when they’re also less likely to strike opposing traffic and any day-trippers would hopefully be at the tail end of their outward bound journey where the road isn’t quite so bad to pass.

The hours ticked by very slowly & every vehicle that went past David analysed; "Was that a local? Would they be coming back down later? Was that bus heading up? Thank God that truck left early; no need to meet him on the road. Oh no how many more are heading south?" There did seem to be quite a number compared with when we did the trip on the weekend. By 4 o’clock we could stand it no longer, let’s just DO IT! Get this over & done with. It is, after all, only 26 kilometres.

And it was fine for the first 10 or so kilometres, we did meet three or four cars but we were able to pull over on the verge to let them past. Unfortunately the sun was low in the sky, the glare & the reflection off the dash onto the windscreen were bad. We hadn’t allowed for that when deciding to leave later in the afternoon. We managed to get through all the one way bridges ok, they had ample room, but it was a little tight on the first ford. I had to hop out & hold back a marker post that was leaning inwards so the van could squeeze past. There was enough room but you had to approach them dead head on which was a little difficult when there was a corner just before. David got it right on the next couple though & we sailed through.
We cautiously crept up to every blind corner, with the chief navigator & sometimes co-pilot straining to see around the right hand ones to confirm that there were no cars approaching. I was also looking well ahead when the road was in view to report any noticeable dust clouds which would mean a car was heading our way. On one occasion we pulled into safe area and waited about 5 minutes for a car to pass, we could see it coming way off in the distance.

  
We knew the last third of the road was going to be the worse and it was. I had to keep reporting on the distance between the van wheels & the edge on my side with the van being wider than the ute. David was tending to hug the road wall on his side but occasionally he had to pull it round a tight & narrow corner. Whenever I said “you had about 6 inches spare ” he knew it was serious. There were a number of “bottomless” culverts with no edge that dropped away into the tide below, they scared me a bit, lose a wheel into one of those & we’d have been a goner.
 
 
Finally the long & tough haul up the side of a steep hill, over the top and Channel Island came into view. We both breathed a sigh of relief, not long now. But as luck would have it, we met two cars on the downhill stretch, both on blind corners, both came to a skidding halt & both had to back up. We had to pull off the road as best we could to manoeuvre past them, I tried not to look too closely over the edge. 
One hour 45 minutes after leaving Colville we pulled into the campground just in time to watch the sun disappear over Kaiiti Point & the sky to turn a brilliant orange. We can now rest up for eight days, problem is David is already thinking about his plan of attack for the return leg. We’ll be leaving at 6am in the morning………
 
More photos here of Port Jackson
 
 

Feijoa; Autumn Bounty from the Hedge

I LOVE feijoas, feijoa (fee-joe-a) are one of my most adored fruits. I am in seventh heaven with a big pile of ripe feijoa in front of me, a sharp knife & a spoon to scoop out the succulent flesh. So it was with great joy that I collected a large bag full after David pointed out to me that the feijoa hedge the van was backed up against at White Star Station, had deposited a load of fruit onto the ground in the wind overnight.

When we arrived I had tested (like all good kiwi kids do) a few that hung on the trees but they were rock hard & I thought with the dry summer we’ve had they weren’t quite ready to ripen yet. And in fact, I’ll have to wait a few days for these ones to ripen a bit more but I’ve had a good go testing the pile for ripe ones!


Every kiwi kid grows up loving feijoas, I have memories of sitting under feijoa trees eating as many as you can before your mother calls out you'll get belly-ache, or raiding a hedge of feijoa you find on the way to school. Feijoas are a South American fruit but one New Zealand has made their own (they are known as pineapple quavas in America). They have a very distinct & unusual flavour which is quite hard to describe, pineapple menthol perhaps…..
 
Feijoa hedges along with individual trees are found in many home orchards & especially in the back yard of older homes. You used to have to plant a female & a male tree to get any fruit or hope that bees from a neighbour’s male tree came to your female tree to pollinate it. Nowadays propagated trees are both female & male. Planted in a hedgerow feijoas provide excellent wind breaks & feijoa hedges line many public parks, golf courses & gardens.

If I was at home I’d be making feijoa chutney to give me my feijoa fix through the winter but I guess I’ll just have to eat the lot of these & savour the taste, or perhaps I can swap some for a couple of fillets of fresh fish…..

Footnote
I actually made feijoa compote with half the amount I had, & deliciously sweet but great with a good dollop of yoghurt added to it for dessert. It will also keep in the fridge for a few weeks.......if it lasts that long.



 
 
I also gave a small bag to our neighbour at Port Jackson, a lady we'd met previously at Kirita Bay. She had lost her husband a few years ago, rented out her home on Waiheke Island & was travelling NZ in her campervan (well actually it was a caravan shell on a truck) Whenever she arrives anywhere, no matter for how long, she off-loads her potted lettuce & herbs to the ground nearby, sticks her coloured windmill in the ground, hangs up her prayers flags & strings her solar powered coloured lights about. Home is where the heart is I guess.
 

 


Gold Mine, Glowworms & Wetas!

This will be my last post for 10 days or so as we'll be moving up to Port Jackson later today where there is will be no internet connection. After Port Jackson we are coming back down to Colville & then crossing over to the east side of the peninsula to the DOC camp at Waikawau Bay, another area where there will be no internet.

We stayed an extra day here at White Star Station so we could go exploring out the back of the farm. The station is named after the White Star Goldmine that's located high up in the hills and having a 4WD ute was of great benefit to us. The mine has glowworms inside it & we hoped they'd still be there, they need dampness as it's been so dry they may have moved on. There are maps for visitors to follow & they said the walk to the mine would take about an hour. More like three hours I would think, it was a very steep & steady climb up a bulldozer track cut into the side of the hills.


We climbed & climbed in the ute and very nearly thought we were on the wrong track, I'm sure the sheep thought we were mad, it certainly looked like they hadn't seen anyone in a long while. This was the first real 4WD outing the ute has had & David was very impressed with the performance especially on the downhill leg when HDC (hill descent control) is selected & the ute takes over the whole descent. You only have to steer it.


We finally saw the mine sign & then couldn't decide if we wanted to do climb down a very steep & slippery hill & fight our way through scrub up the otherside to it. In the end we figured we'd come this far we might as well complete the task. The mine is located on the rock face in the centre of the first photo, you can see the track up to it on the otherside of a stream we had to cross first. And if you click on the photo & look closely you'll see our vehicle parked on the track just about where the row of pines finishes, the second photo is taken from the mine entrance.


Half way up the vehicle track we suddenly remembered we needed a torch! Duh! Visiting a pitch black old disused mine without a torch would be just silly. Luckily David remembered he had a small magnetic LCD torch that he uses to check that the hitch has grabbed stuck in the tray under the hitch in the tray of the ute. That would have to do. I even have a head torch I use when doing night photography that would have been ideal for the cave. Next time we must be more organised!

The mine had three tunnels, two didn't go very far and after stumbling through the pitch blackness, me holding David's shirt tail so I didn't get left behind we found another entrance. We didn't spot any glowworms on the way through but found them on the way back, dozens of them sparkling away on the ceiling and sides of the walls looking like a lost milky way. Of course we had to turn the torch off to see them and any photos just don't show the tiny grubs although we you can see their hanging threads that they use to catch food.


Before we saw the glowworms, in a little short side tunnel when David shone the torch up on the ceiling just a foot or so away from our heads we found dozens of cave wetas! My mother's favourite insects. Not. Yikes! I know they can't harm you but they were quite scary all the same. They have such long legs & feelers & moved quite fast when disturbed.
I made the pictures large just for you Mum :)


 
 

Weta Facts

• The weta is only found in New Zealand and is so old it has outlived the dinosaurs.
• Weta are large by insect standards. Some of the giant weta are enormous and are amongst the heaviest insects in the world
• The weta is sometimes called the dinosaur of the insect world
• The weta is more primitive than the tuatara. The weta has changed very little in the past 100 million years.
• Weta have their ears on their front knees and can feel the vibrations of noises around them.
• You can tell a male and female weta apart because females have a long ovipositor, which looks a bit like a stinger, which they use to lay eggs.

Types of Weta

There are five different types of weta – tree weta, cave weta, giant weta, tusked weta and ground weta. All together there are over 100 different species of weta.
 
There are 60 species of Cave Weta. 
 • They are mostly found in caves, which is a good place to hide from predators like rats, but they can also be found in other dark places such as under houses and logs.
• Cave weta have big back legs and can jump up to two metres!  (luckily I didn't read this before we went!!)
• The cave weta has very long antennae and legs. It uses it’s antennae to feel around in the dark.
• The cave weta can live up to seven years
 
 
 We also found this large spider & web(last photo) on one of the walls.

And that was that, we had a great afternoon & slept well last night after clambering up & down hills. We're packing the van up now, tie-ing everything down ready for the gravel road, will be heading out of here early afternoon to park up by the water until about 4pm when we'll set off on our next "little" adventure.

Happy Easter everyone.

More photos here from White Star Station, Colville

Tiki touring Colville

We really know we've made the right choice with our ute & fifth-wheeler combination now that we've been on the road a little while. It's so great to have a base but still be able to unhitch & explore the area.

Waikawau Bay
We took a drive over to the Waikawau Bay yesterday to again, make sure we could get the fifth wheeler there safely after we leave Port Jackson. It's another all gravel narrow road that crosses over the range that runs down the spine of the Coromandel Peninsula. The road was reasonable but very winding in places & needs grading as there were quite a few corrugations. But another stunning beach awaited us at the end and the DOC camp was well placed right on the beach & well looked after.

We again did a little exploring around Colville on the way home, the settlement sits at the head of a very large tidal bay; Cabbage Bay & Wharf Road took us just about to the end. The wharf that serviced the gold mining, gumdigging, logging & granite industries of early last century is long gone. But there is still evidence of the fish trap early Maori set up on the tidal flats to catch flounder & other small fish. A narrow wall of rocks formed a large square that captured the fish when the tide went out. What an ingenious method of fishing.

Cabbage Bay, Colville
With my interest in old churches we next followed the sign to the Colville cemetery which was located high on a hill inside a gated paddock quite a way inland. It was quite a large area with only a few gravestones but an information board told of many unmarked graves that had been surveyed. It was a great surprise to see that most of the front row of headstones were Evans including two small white picket fence plots; sadly both children under 1 year old. Of course, I then remembered that our hosts at White Star Station are Evans too and when I looked at the view the headstones were facing I saw that most of the farmland & hills in the distance were in fact White Star Station. What a perfect place to be buried.


In another uncanny coincidence, the second row of headstones were all for Wards, the maiden name of our daughter-in-law, Sophie.

On the way back to the farm I stopped to take a few photos, this quaint farm cottage was apparently some type of store/shop in a previous life.

 
Rustic farm accommodation available, listen to the sounds of nature, rest awhile on the deck overlooking the bay, free firewood, fully air conditioned.....


And just a few hundred yards from the farm gate is the Mahamudra Centre, a Tibetan Buddhist Mediation Centre. Which looks so totally out of place on this rugged peninsula & yet fits perfectly with the Coromandel's well known alternative lifestylers.

More photos here from Colville

Monday, 25 March 2013

The Road to Port Jackson

As previously mentioned we have been getting conflicting information about whether or not we'd make it to Port Jackson with the fifth-wheeler in tow. So yesterday we took the ute up on a recce trip to Port Jackson just to make sure we were happy we could make it. Our rig length is 14 metres, our width 2.4 and height 3.5 metres including our satellite dome. We needed to make sure we could get safely around some of the tight corners & that there were no low overhanging trees.

See the two fishermen on the rocks; it's a long way down
The road follows an amazing, stunningly beautiful & rugged coastline, there are hundreds of monster pohutukawa trees lying at all different angles with huge trunks and limbs that have taken on a life of their own. It would be so beautiful to follow this road at Christmas time just as they all come into bloom; there'd be a swathe of red following the contours of the hills and looking amazing against the brilliant blue ocean & the dark green bush. For my overseas readers, Pohutukawa are known as the New Zealand Christmas trees.


The road to Port Jackson from Colville is only 26kms long but when our TomTom GPS said it would take two & three quarter hours we knew it was going to be slow going. There are many blind corners which we had to creep around, lots of very narrow sections and plenty of climbing up and dropping off the sides of hills with the ocean crashing in on the rocks below us. It's also a gravel road but luckily it has just been graded so there were no corrugations and it was a reasonably smooth ride.


Most of the way we felt the road was marginal but totally OK & we had convinced ourselves it would be fine as long as we took our time and both fully concentrated on the road ahead; I could see around the blind corners ahead of David to let him know if anything was coming & also was able to keep him posted on approaching cars & when narrow one way bridges & fords were coming up.

But once we got to Fantail Bay the road got very narrow and started sharply climbing up across a large hill. We both felt a little uncomfortable about here & had nearly convinced ourselves it wouldn't be possible, we just didn't want to put the van at such an extreme risk so early on in our travels & with us still feeling our way. We had also decided that it would be just about impossible for two vehicles to pass especially with the van on the back, if we met someone coming the other way. They would need to back up as there was no way we could. The blind bends were a major issue as you just couldn't see if anybody was coming and once committed to rounding them there was no going back. I suggested I could walk to each corner & do traffic control but that won't be practical as there are hundreds of them! But at least as we rounded some of points we could see a couple of kilometres ahead & pick out any vehicles approaching. We could then wait at a wider part of the road for them to pass.


And then there were the overhanging trees.....


We were nearly persuaded it would be OK when we got to the top of the last hill and saw the beautiful bay & beach of Port Jackson spread out below us.

That's Great Barrier Island on the horizon
We wound our way down the last stretch & again it was narrow & very tight. Once we got to the bottom & pulled into the DOC camp site, we both agreed as much as we'd like to do it, we thought it might be stretching our nerves a little too much.

But out came the camp managers, a lovely couple Jenny & Len, who I'd actually sent a photo of our rig ahead to, when I booked a site a few weeks ago (we were going to be there for Easter & it's a busy period for the camp so I booked in advance). They understood our concerns but talked us through it and convinced us it would be fine, they've had many big buses and campervans come in but come to think of it, they didn't mention a fifth-wheeler. They suggested we came in the late afternoon as most of the opposing traffic will have left in the morning and be long gone. We liked this idea & it was such a beautiful spot we had an about face & picked our site & said we'd see them soon! :)

How is that for a relaxing do nothing beach!
The trip home didn't seem too bad after that & we took special note of a few touch & go spots and talked our way through them. We were heading up there this afternoon but have decided to have one more night at White Star as we wanted to explore the farm a little more. Explore is right! We took the ute high up into the range along a bulldozer track & clambered down a steep hill and up another into the old White Star Gold Mine. More of that in the next post....

And here's the blog on the road trip, with the 5th-wheeler on the back- THAT Road trip

More photos here from the road trip.