Kiama Coast Walk in Numbers

By Vita Forest

Gerringong

Werri Lagoon, near Gerringong

Another post hand-written while on holidays…

By Vita Forest

2 walkers – Saskia and Vita.

1 stop on the train – Kiama to Gerringong. $4 for my train ticket (because I left my opal card at home… $2 for Saskia, she remembered hers).

2 legs of the Kiama Coast Walk – Gerringong to Loves Bay and Loves Bay to Blowhole Point.

14km walk from start to finish.

3km walk from Gerringong station to the start of the walk at Werri Lagoon.

2 pairs of wooden dream poles covered with local indigenous symbols, at either end of the Gerringong to Loves Bay leg.

Dream poles, Kiama coast walk

Dream poles, Kiama coast walk

1 herd of black and white cows huddled together in an adjoining paddock.

Millions of golden dandelions covering the hills.

Dandelion covered hills, Kiama Coast walk

Dandelion covered hills, Kiama Coast walk

1 woman using the hillls over Werri Lagoon as an outdoor gym – interval training, jogging up and down the steep hill and stopping at the top to do push-ups or squats…

Millions of hidden insects in the swaying grasses, chirping and clicking.

Thousands of visible bugs in the vegetation – butterflies, crickets, flies hitching rides on the back of our backpacks.

2 girls overtook us on the walk.

1 train line disappearing into dark caverns beneath the hills.

1 handful of delicious, wild, sun-ripened blackberries picked from the bushes along the path.

Blackberries

Blackberries

Thousands of purple wildflowers tumbling down the steep escarpments.

Wildflowers on Kiama Coast walk

Wildflowers on Kiama Coast walk

4 sea kayakers passing below the cliffs as we walked in the opposite direction, 2 with tiny sails to take advantage of the sea.

8 pelicans flying in formation.

Pelicans on the Kiama Coast Walk

Pelicans on the Kiama Coast Walk

1 electric blue fairy wren balancing delicately on the barbed wire fence beside the path.

4 patrolled beaches along the route (Werri, Easts, Kendalls and Surf).

Near Easts Beach

Near Easts Beach

3 caravan parks.

1 stile over a dry stone wall near Easts Beach.

1 heron that stood silent and still before launching off over the cliffs at Easts Beach when I ventured too close.

1 amazingly refreshing swim at Kendalls beach.

Storm approaching, Kendalls Beach

Storm approaching, Kendalls Beach

Several rumbles of thunder and flashes of lightening as we neared the Surf Beach.

1 downpour just as we neared our holiday flat.

1 blister on the bottom of my right big toe.

29 degrees C in the middle of the day, 22 degrees after the storm.

2 tired but happy explorers sitting on the balcony with a cup of tea watching the rain.

Kiama

Surf Beach

 

This week

By Vita Forest

Kiama

Surf Beach, Kiama

This week I have been

READING The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George (I’m afraid I would not recommend it. Saskia lent it to me to see if I would feel the same way she did about it. And I did. Thanks Saskia!!)

WRITING with a sharp lead pencil in my notebook as I’ve been –

VISITING Kiama and its surrounds on holiday with Betty and Saskia

SWIMMING in the glorious glittering ocean and in the beautiful Blowhole Point rock pool.

WATCHING dolphins swim around the rock pool at Blowhole Point!

WALKING around the coast at Kiama, two legs of the Kiama Coast Walk, the track at Minnamurra Rainforest.

CHATTING with Betty and Saskia.

PLANNING lots of writing.

LISTENING to Opera in the Domain in Sydney with some lovely work colleagues.

WAITING to get somewhere to write up and publish these posts! (working on the iPhone did not prove easy – any tips?)

Low on cost, high on life

By Vita Forest

Shelly Beach Manly

Go to the beach

It’s summer school holidays here in Sydney.  We tend to look for adventures that are low on cost but high on fun.  Here are ten things we do to explore, relax and have fun without breaking the bank.

  1. Have a picnic, day or night in a beautiful spot.  Sometimes we will have night-time picnics sitting on a rock overlooking the harbour – hard to beat!  Picnic with friends, or by yourself with a good book. Cost: food and drink (prepared at home).
  2. Take a swim at the beach.  It costs less than going to a pool and you get to enjoy the natural world too.  Cost: Free
  3. Take a walk in the bush or in the city, there is so much to explore.  Check out local council websites to find hints from the locals about interesting walks in the area, join a Meetup group of like-minded walkers.  Cost: Free or token payment for Meetup groups.
  4. Take public transport.  Step lightly, catch a train, bus (or if you are in Sydney – a ferry).  Take a trip to a new place and spend the day, take time to look out the window on the way.  On Sundays, we use our Opal cards for $2.50 all day travel in Sydney and its surrounds (up to the Blue Mountains, down to the South Coast or Southern Highlands etc). Cost: $2.50 on Sundays, more during the rest of the week (but maximum $15 for the day).
  5. Visit an art gallery.  We are lucky to have lots of excellent free art galleries here – the MCA, the Art Gallery of NSW, the White Rabbit Gallery, the Brett Whiteley studio, to name just a few.  Cost: Free
  6. Visit your local library.   We have fantastic local libraries with books, of course, but also excellent DVD and music collections.  Our recent “Alfred Hitchcock Film festival” was sourced through visits to local libraries.  Cost: Free
  7. Take time to read.  What could be more enjoyable than having time to read?  Sleep in and read all day, or take your book on a picnic (see Number 1).  These holidays, Lucy has been working her way through Melina Marchetta’s Lumatere Chronicles, while Max is enjoying the Skullduggery Pleasant series by Derek Landy.  Cost: Free (from a library) or raid your own or a friend’s bookshelf.
  8. Listen to a podcast or the radio.   These holidays I have been listening to interesting interviews on Radio National, including discussions from festivals that have taken place earlier in the year.  Lots of food for thought.  Cost: Free
  9. Do some craft.  While listening to the radio…  My Ann Wood boat building continues, I have also finished a cowl for Lucy and made some Christmas decorations.  Check out Pinterest for ideas.  Cost: craft materials or look in your cupboards and make use of old supplies.
  10. Be on the look out for free events.  At this time of the year, the Sydney Festival is on with lots of fantastic free events (Fabulous Flying Fox anyone?).  Last night we joined thousands of people for a picnic at the Domain to enjoy Symphony under the Stars.  Cost: Free

What do you do for a low-cost high-life adventure?

 

Are you in?

By Vita Forest

Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre

Are you in?

Sydney, as you might imagine, has a large collection of pools.  We went to one of them on Tuesday – the Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre.  It is not the closest pool, or the most scenic, but it does have other advantages.  We picked up Max’s friend Max (yes, two friends with the same name and even the same initial.  That’s what happens in real life) and I battled through the pouring rain in the car.

It is a large indoor complex with a selection of pools to suit all swimmers.  And the water is warm.  Warm enough to stay in for nearly four hours (when the free parking runs out).  There are pools to swim laps in, dive in, sit in and play in.  And even one whose floor can be raised and lowered depending on the activity (Water polo? No problem).  We spent a bit of time on the waterslide, in one of the spas, and on the wet playground (with its warning bell sounding when the enormous bucket of water at its peak was almost full and about to tip).  But the funnest of the fun was indeed the Rapid River.

This is an undulating circuit which careers around in a snaking loop, it starts with a great surge of water at the path’s opening which propels you forward with great speed immediately, and ends in a larger open area where you can catch your breath, swing off and hang out under one of the shower-like fountains, or keep your feet up and be carried around again.  It has jet outlets around the walls which push the swimmer forward and make it difficult to move backwards.

We spent most of our time here because this was the best place for a monster game of tip.  Tip has evolved somewhat since I was at school.  Now they use hand signals.  It’s quite easy and quite fun.  Holding up two fingers in a Peace sign means you are not “in”.  If only one is displayed (as if you have just thought of a great idea), you better get away from there fast!  If you get tipped, you have to give the tipper a ten second getaway.  This can also be counted wordlessly, displaying the diminishing timeframe on fingers disappearing into a fist…

There were lots of strategies; you could wait opposite a screen which showed live camera images from further down the river (when another player surged closer, you could swim on yourself), you could float by at the back of another group of revellers and hope that you might be mistaken for a piece of flotsam (like Harrison Ford did in The Fugitive), or you could slowly drag yourself the wrong way back through the current and huddle behind a bulge in the tiled wall.  And wait.  Sometimes it was a case of speed – crashing and diving through the crush of bodies, sometimes it was crouching in the stiller water like a crocodile with only your snout and eyes above water.

I was not the only adult in the river and I was not the oldest.  All of us had silly happy grins on our faces.

Because it was just a lot of fun.

Making good on the candy promise

By Vita Forest

IMG_2925[1]

We have just returned from a short trip to the Blue Mountains.  As I explained to one of my work colleagues a few weeks back, there were

“3 Mums, 6 children, 1 dog, 1 holiday house…”

She looked frightened, “It sounds like a horror movie,” she said.

But it didn’t turn out that way.

The Dream and the Reality

The Dream and the Reality

The Blue Mountains…when I was quite small, I had been excited about going on a trip to the Blue Mountains, the thing that had struck me was the word “blue”.  I had imagined blue trees, blue grass, blue people… I had even drawn a picture of my expectations which my Mum has kept somewhere (no doubt to have a good laugh over when they feel the need).  You can imagine my disappointment at my actual visit, but I do not feel like that now.

It was quite an operation for Vastra, Saskia and I to find a suitable date that suited our children, us, our exes (and probably our exes’ new wives and partners and THEIR exes.  Life is very complicated.)  At last we came up with a three day window of opportunity and Vastra found us a big five bedroom holiday house in Katoomba.  We walked, played cards, read, cooked and talked.  The children walked, played cards, fought, complained, ate, chased each other and SHOUTED.  During one of their games (all of which produced blood-curdling screams as they raced around outside), the girl-next-door Katie popped her head over the fence to see if someone was in fact being murdered, or if it was all in fun.  She was invited to join them and agreed.  Katie mentioned that earlier in the day, her Dad had been rushed to hospital as he had cut his arm with a chainsaw…  But he was OK.  We had missed that excitement.

We had been out walking.  The deal was that we would go on a walk in the morning, and in the afternoon we would go to Leura to The Candy Store, a shop infamous to children everywhere.  And so we had walked along the cliff top tracks to Echo Point, getting lost a couple of times on the way (but seeing scarlet and green king parrots and a waratah bush in full bloom – who would want to miss that? Us! shouted the kids).  We had seen the waterfall at Katoomba Falls, the Three Sisters, and misty views over the valley due to the rain that fell at times (but did not sway us from our purpose, much to the children’s annoyance).

Katoomba Falls

Katoomba Falls

We returned to the house for lunch, and then it was time to make good on the whole candy promise.  The kids were outraged to find we intended to walk to Leura too (one walk a day is more than enough apparently).  Grudgingly they trailed along, lured by the promise of pocket money to spend at the other end.

We saw more king parrots, blossom trees, rhododendrons and magnolia flowers.  We walked up and down some large hills, past some pretty weatherboard houses, through a shady gully and up another steep hill, before arriving on the main strip at Leura.  When they recognised their surroundings, the kids raced ahead like a pack of hounds catching the scent of a fox.  It took a great deal of time and discussion before their final purchases were made and we were able to move on.  Vastra looked up the train timetable and discovered there was not going to be time to go to the candle shop and make the next train.  Howls of indignation were heard from some of the younger members of the party at the audacity of the adults wanting to look at a shop too.  How dare we?!

The adults decided that we would walk back through the pleasant hilly streets.  We WOULD NOT wait an hour for the three minute train trip.  The kids quickly conferenced and decided they WOULD.

And so it was that we came to spend a peaceful hour having a delightful walk, even stopping to admire a specimen of white waratah that we had failed to notice previously due to the distractions of various bickering siblings.

Blossoms of the Katoomba / Leura region

A good time was had by all.