More wildlife encounters, some preferably to be avoided… and getting a taste of Australian beach life!

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Oceania » Australia » New South Wales » Kingscliff
October 7th 2013
Published: May 17th 2014
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I really enjoyed staying around Brisbane’s countryside but the idea of going to the coast for a while certainly got me excited! Relaxing by the pool, getting some sun, strolling on the beach, rolling in the sand, it all sounded very tempting for sure! Well, the sandy part a little bit less tempting maybe… 😉 Feeling sand beneath my feet sounds more like it! The weather was absolutely amazing as well – blue skies, nice temperature – quite warm but not too hot either, no humidity, just lovely! Perfect weather for having another shot at improving my hiker’s tan perhaps? 😉 Off we went to the coast then and a different state as well… Off to Kingscliff, New South Wales!

The resort we stayed at was a bit away from the Kingscliff town itself, just like many other resorts actually. Yep, I did say resort… Quite fancy with each room facing the seaside so not exactly the kind of place I would usually stay at, way overpriced may be one of the reasons… but then every kind of accommodation in Australia would be overpriced for me actually, even the backpackers are pricey here! I really prefer something a bit cosier and less crowded as well… It was a bit out of season so not many people around at this time thankfully, so one problem solved… And then there was another very good reason we chose this particular place for our holiday… as once you don’t have to pay for your accommodation it certainly puts any place in a totally different perspective…you may as well enjoy a bit of luxury then not worrying that it will leave you with empty pockets… what can I say? connections, connections! 😉

There were certainly a few more advantages of staying at this place as well – first of all we were literally metres from the beach! What can I say? It is true… Australia most definitely has an incredible coastline! Very broad beach, rough sea, no buildings in sight and almost no people for that matter either! A few surfers here and there and some more people strolling along the beach… There would be no swimming for me though – I couldn’t believe how cold the water was… But then comparing it to our last beach adventure at Sihanoukville and the very warm water there, no sea would be warm enough for me anymore… ever! I was more than happy simply strolling on the beach though, taking in the surroundings and enjoying Grant’s company… 😊 During our walks on the beach we saw quite a few muttonbirds (shearwaters), either floating on the water or sitting in the sand, surprisingly totally undisturbed by our presence. They looked quite exhausted to be honest though… We found out a bit more about them from the news. Apparently they were at this time of the year on their way from the Bearing Sea to the South-Eastern Australia for breeding. Every year many of them unfortunately are washed up dead on the shores … poor things simply die of exhaustion… But then it’s pretty amazing that so many of them actually make it alive all the way from the Bearing Sea to here… what an impressive test of endurance!

The resort had quite a large pool as well so we took an advantage of it, particularly on windy days… As much as I enjoy sitting around the pool and doing nothing though, it usually doesn’t last too long… Sitting or swimming in the pool would be another option, definitely not here though… I was wondering why there were only a few people in the water, well… as soon as I touched it with my toes I knew why… Freezing!!! Even colder than the water in the sea! How is this even possible? I thought it was sunny here more or less 360 days a year? Or do they keep the water temperature at close to freezing level on purpose? Still sitting in the sun without cooling off proved to be impossible task… It was so hot at some days that I simply had to get in the pool a few times – it lasted a few seconds literally, just to cool off… and shiver for the next 10 minutes… Some people didn’t seem to be affected by the temperature of the water at all though… Thicker skin perhaps? 😉 You could tell that most were as surprised about the temperature as I was though… You could definitely notice that looking at some young families – dads forced to play in the water with kids while mums ‘supervising’ away from water, chillaxing under beach umbrellas…

We didn’t spend much time around the pool though, sun was a bit too much for me, water cold, besides sitting in one place for too long is quite an impossible task for me anyway… Thankfully there was plenty to do around the resort though… There was the beach of course and a nice path stretching for quite a few kilometres along the coast – all the way from Kingscliff to Hasting’s Point… Perfect for walking or cycling… We particularly enjoyed our strolls to and from Cabarita beach – one way through the path, coming back through the beach… On the way to Cabarita you pass by quite a few impressive villas… definitely no cheap properties around here… But then it’s all about location here isn’t it? Literally a few metres away from the beach… Wow! It made me wonder what these people do for living though… I certainly doubt there are many job opportunities around and the closest city would be Gold Coast… But then I’ve already noticed that nothing is close in Australia – people are simply used to commuting… or rather had to get used to… Beautiful spot to live in for sure!

First time we went to Cabarita, Grant took me up a little cliff as apparently it was a good spot for whale watching… Ok, I knew that you can go on trips to do whale watching in Australia, but whale watching from the shore seemed a bit too much to hope for to be honest… especially that at this time most of the whales would have started their way back to Antarctica already… The whale migration in Australia starts around May when whales escape Antarctica’s winter and come to these warmer waters to give birth to their young ones. Once the babies are a bit older, whales go back to Antarctica to feed and mate again… So the migration in Australia lasts usually until November… There was a bit of time left then? I sure hoped to see some whales but wasn’t putting my hopes too high though … It just felt a bit unreal to be honest as well… Well, as usual I should have just believed in Grant as he did know what he was talking about… We weren’t standing at the cliff for longer than two minutes when Grant spotted the first whale! It was pretty far from the shore, but you could definitely see him puffing though… and you could actually hear him puffing as well! Wow! And it was only the beginning! We stood at the cliff for a good hour and spotted quite a couple of minke whales and a few humpbacks, puffing, rolling over, slapping their tail and their flippers… It was incredible to see! We were slowly getting ready to leave when we noticed a young calf swimming in the bay – not sure whether he got lost or simply decided to explore the waters closer to the shore, his mum seemed to be a bit concerned though as you could clearly hear her calling him from further away… Some of the surfers in the bay noticed the unexpected visitor as well and just sat on their boards watching the little one circling around the bay. In the end a pod of dolphins decided to help out the little one a bit. They circled him around, jumping over him here and there and safely led him away from the shore. Wow! That was simply spectacular to see! Soon after the calf was back at his mum’s side once again... You could tell that both of them were pretty happy about the reunion for sure! Slapping their flippers and tails… First the tail slapping was a bit uncoordinated – you could see that the little one was only starting to get to know this skill, awkwardly following the moves of his mum… It didn’t take long before he got the hang of it though… He sure got a big approval from the crowd standing on the cliff straight after – a big ‘aaaawwwww’ came out from all the observants simultaneously. 😉 What an incredible experience! And to be honest there wasn’t a day on the coast that we wouldn’t see at least a couple of whales swimming by… Once I found out what to look for I just knew I wouldn’t be able to stop scouting the sea with my eyes… if only to see a little puff in the distance, just to know that these gigantic but magnificent creatures were somewhere around…

One day we decided to go for a trip to Hasting’s Point as well. This time we thought that walking there and back might have been a bit too tiring, so took our bikes and cycled there instead. You would think that once you learn to cycle you shouldn’t really forget how to do it again, well… in theory you shouldn’t… I haven’t used a mountain bike for God knows how long so it really felt like cycling for the first time almost… What can I say? I just loved my vintage Dutch bike… and the bikes we rented in Asia were quite ‘vintage’ as well… 😉 Not that I had a chance to use my bike in Ireland too often… No rain in Australia, so no excuses though… After almost flying over through the front wheel a couple of times I finally got it which break was which – is everything the other way around here? As figuring out which ones were the indicators in the car, rather than constantly switching on the wipers, took a bit of time as well! Apart from this tiny bit of struggle with the breaks, I loved our little trip though… I was surprised to see fellow cyclists armed with spiked helmets though… Was it a decoration or what? Grant enlightened me straight away – apparently the spikes’ purpose was to scare away the birds… Birds? I found it strange that people would be afraid the birds would just sit on their heads… poop maybe? but just sit? Well, it wasn’t exactly to prevent the birds from sitting on people’s heads rather than to prevent them from attacking people! Whaaaat? You even have to watch out for birds in Australia??? As if there weren’t enough dangerous species of animals to watch out for… Apparently there were some reports of magpies attacking people, hence the spiky helmets… Thankfully I didn’t have to dodge any crazy magpies on our trip though… 😉

Hasting’s Point has to be one of my favourite spots along this part of the coast. Very relaxed town, quiet walking/cycling path along the beach and a beautiful little bay created by tides. It is quite popular among people, but you can easily find a quiet spot somewhere on the side. Perfect spot for paddle boards it would seem… and fishing as well! And a bit further you have a nice small cliff when you can sit on a grass and watch the sea… and the whales of course! Also a good spot for lunch – especially that there is a fish & chips take away close by. As we were cycling back to Kingcliff we stopped by the Hastings Point Caravan Park. Once again something that I am not really familiar with at all… People do travel in campervans in Europe as well, but I haven’t really come across anyone actually living on the campsites. And there seem to be whole sections of the park meant only for long-term stay and when I say long-term I mean years… I don’t know maybe we have these kind of parks in Europe as well, to be honest I never really gave much thought to it. It sure sounds like a good idea though. Obviously this kind of idea can only work in a warm country though… Harsh winters in campervans? It definitely doesn’t sound too appealing at all…

Another day we decided to head the opposite way and check out Kingscliff town. Once again you pass by some incredible villas by the beach but then the path becomes a bit wilder though… way more overgrown by trees and bushes for sure… Grant said that when the area was a bit less developed there were quite a few snakes around, even in our resort they once found an eastern brown chilling in the pool! Whaaat??? There are supposed to be a few less snakes around now, not only because the area is more populated but also because you can see quite a few bush turkeys running around… Still with the sun full on and my luck! I wouldn’t be too surprised to see a snake somewhere getting some tan… 😉 Thankfully no snakes this time….

Kingscliff itself is a really lovely, peaceful town with quite a few cafes and restaurants around. They even had a Nepalese place there! All the memories came back straight away – not sure if I was ready for a portion of dal bhat, but some momos would certainly be very welcome! We knew we would be back there for sure… As we were walking back to our resort by the creek I was amazed to see so many people actively spending their time outdoors – whether it was swimming in the creek, kayaking or paddling on surf boards, gotta love this lifestyle! I was amazed by all the animals around as well – bearded dragons, water dragons, seagulls, pelicans and ospreys as well… Another bird that I got to know around here… Apparently a few years ago they had only two breeding pairs of ospreys left on the Tweed Coast. Thankfully someone noticed that and decided to do something about it before it was too late. And it seemed that all was really needed to keep these birds in the area was to put a few high poles here and there where they could nest and breed undisturbed. Now you can see these birds all around this part of the coast once again. Pretty amazing!

On the way back to our resort we had a bit of an adventure… As we were walking through the bushy path again, suddenly Grant pointed to something I just managed to step over… I almost jumped and started running away thinking it might have been a snake, but thankfully it turned out to be only a big and hairy caterpillar which was peacefully crossing the pedestrian path. Pheeew! As I was about to walk further suddenly I felt Grant pulling my hand and saying: ‘Snake!’ I looked at where he was pointing and there was no doubt that right next to the path, maybe 2 metres away from us was a snake… It looked harmless and quite pretty through my polarised glasses to be honest, but I knew that most of the times the smaller snakes were the most dangerous ones… Grant said that I should try to take out the camera, but I simply couldn’t – I just stood there frozen watching the snake… Not sure whether he was aware we were close by, but I was sure he must have been very confused about this new smell in the air – the smell of a Polish flesh, haha! Eventually the snake lost interest and decided to hide under the path instead and we used this moment to run for dear life… well… or simply continue on walking… After a while Grant asked me whether I knew or wanted to know what kind of a snake it was… Well… I didn’t know and I certainly didn’t like the sound of this question – taking into account the orangey-brown skin I just saw I was basically expecting the worst… And I was right it would seem as apparently we just crossed paths with an Eastern Brown! The second most venomous land snake in the world! Lucky me I guess… Lucky to have seen it and even luckier about not finding out how venomous he really was… Pretty incredible to have seen it with my own eyes, out in the wild!, but it was certainly one of these experiences that I would rather avoid… I’ve seen more snakes that I had planned to see anyway…

We enjoyed our time around Kingscliff so much that we didn’t even do many side trips at all… Since we did have a pretty good view of Mount Warning from our resort there was no way we were going to miss the hike up there though. As we were getting ready one morning to drive up there Grant warned me that the last time he walked up Mount Warning he saw on the main path a couple of carpet snakes laying in the sun… Whaaat? Snakes? Not again… I have to say that this is definitely one of the things that I really don’t like about Australia at all – you can’t just go off the path or simply run around the grass as there might be something poisonous lurking around everywhere! Ah well… Thankfully we didn’t see any snakes that day. While the climb up certainly took my breath away and kept the blood pumping, the board on the top reminded me how easy it actually was to climb it nowadays – after all there is a man-made path and even chains on the steeper paths to make sure you have something to hold onto… Apparently in 1871 it took a botanist, Michael Guilfoyle three and a half days to reach the top! No wonder he stayed there for the night to truly appreciate it: “When we reached the top we were so enchanted with the glorious view that we quite forgot the inner man, remaining on top all night without food”. We really enjoyed our hike up Mount Warning and I was certain it wasn’t the last time I would be walking this path. Great way to actively spend a day for sure…

I remembered that a few backpackers we met along the way in Asia mentioned visiting Byron Bay and talking good things about this place so I thought that it could be a good destination for another trip from Kingscliff. Only an hour drive away it sure seemed like a perfect place for a day trip. One thing was clear about this place the moment we drove into town… It was a real backpacker’s, surfer’s and hippie’s paradise… Many people walking barefoot around town with very few clothes on for that matter as well. Very relaxed atmosphere all around… Even though the town itself was quite busy with people, still the main crowd seemed to have gathered on the beach. Lots of surfers and people with boogie boards around, no wonder why – the waves were just made for surfing… not that I know much about surfing but the waves were pretty big and if you see so many surfers around, I guess it speaks for itself anyway… We went for a stroll up to the lighthouse as well – some more beaches on the way, a bit more remote, if not private… We were lucky enough to make it for the last tour of the lighthouse as well – beautiful views from the top! And once again we had a chance to see a few whales puffing in the distance. As we were making our way back to town a pod of dolphins followed us along the way – incredible creatures! Another great day out and another nice place to visit…

I really loved our time along the Australian coast, but it felt like it was time to check out some other destinations. And what better place to fly to from Oz than New Zealand? The land of sheep… and hobbits… 😉 We had our tickets booked for November and I started getting really excited about our trip, having in mind that we would be doing some trekking once again… But then plans changed… or actually our whole lives seemed to have changed with one decision… An unexpected job offer came towards Grant and it made us really reconsider our original plans – plans of travelling a few more months and heading to Ireland to start our new lives there… Taking all the advantages and disadvantages into account, it just seemed like this job offer (in Oz!) came at more or less the right time… and on top of that how many opportunities like that do you really get in a lifetime? So once one comes along it’s best to give it a shot at least, right? So… New Zealand was postponed for now, instead we hopped on a plane and went to… Ireland and Poland! It was time to share a bit of my world with Grant before we went back to Queensland to start our lives there…

Additional photos below
Photos: 70, Displayed: 36


17th May 2014
what on earth??? inside the lighthouse??? ;)

When we travel we love taking photos of odd signs. We wrote a blog about signs. You should check it out.
22nd May 2014
what on earth??? inside the lighthouse??? ;)

Signs blog
I do pay attention to odd signs as well. It's incredible how even simple road signs differ from country to country... I loved your blog - great topic and even better collection of unusual signs!
17th May 2014
pelicans chillin' at Hastings Point

17th May 2014

I was hoping that your trip would end this way...
with a new life with Grant in Oz.
22nd May 2014

life in Oz
Thanks Bob! I had pretty high hopes for a future with Grant as well... Never thought we would settle in Australia though... Quite far away from home... Still Oz seems like a great place, full of sun... and opportunities... Hoping it will bring even more happiness into our lives! Regards

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