What's a Daycation? I hear you ask... it's a day trip that feels like a vacation - without having to unpack luggage and re-stock the fridge with fresh food on arrival back home. Some people call it a "Sunday drive" but if you leave super early in the morning and wander home late afternoon (or in the evening) it can feel like you've been away for a week. I've become addicted to them - it helps settle my wanderlust affliction.
We've got a mountain or two coming up to train for and so each weekend M and I have been loading the bicycles into the Jazz - roomiest little voom voom ever (we once fitted a go-kart into it) - and heading off to drop-dead gorgeous villages that are about an hour or so from us. I admit, I'm pretty spoilt when it comes to picturesque idyllic villages with living on the far north coast of NSW, we've got the most stunning beaches and glorious hinterland hideaways right on our doorstep, but for some reason we rarely visit them (too busy looking further afield) - well this past month that has all changed.
Last week is was beautiful Brunswick Heads, or Bruns as the locals like to call it (unfortunately I forgot to take the camera so have no pics to tease you with) and this weekend M and I flipped the coin and Yamba - once voted "Best Town in Australia"- won the toss.
Rising early we hit the highway with next to no traffic on it, the Grey Nomads were still having breaky in the stopping bays on the side of the road, along with the wallabies and flocks of rosellas, cockatoos and magpies. 'Macca All Over' was murmuring on the radio - and as anyone knows, there no trip on a Sunday morning in Aus without Macca accompanying you - and within the hour we had arrived in sleepy Yamba with a crystal blue sky above us and shimmering blue Clarence River beside us. Parking the Jazz at the very outskirts of the village, we unloaded the bikes and once over the Oyster Channel bridge, found ourselves pedalling along fabulous wide bike paths that would have to be some of the most well maintained and picturesque I've ever ridden along.
Following the gentle curve of Yamba Bay we meandered around to Hickey Island where we left the smooth wide perfect bike 'track' for a real track of sandy dirt and bumps lined with bird encrusted bushland. I say encrusted because the area was teaming with birdlife and one had to be careful not to 'ride/run into' the flocks that swooped and darted across the track, or were hoping about the ground hunting for insects. And talking about insects, the bees were swarming around the puddles on the ground - the place was absolutely humming! An important habitat for threatened species, to the untrained eye, Hickey Island was a paradise for creatures.
Back on the pretty bike paths we continued on to the South Wall where we were enthralled to see whales breaching and spouting. Next to the South Wall was Turners Beach with amazing views of Clarence Head and the Gantry Wall backdrop. This area was quarried in the 1800's for the construction of the South Wall. The rock formations enticed us over and we spent a lovely hour wandering the wave-smashed and carved landscape. The tessellation of the rocks so beautifully drawn and sculpted by nature.
Above it all sat the lighthouse - our next call, but not before we had to gather all out stamina and peddle up the steep Clarence Street. I made it less than a quarter of the way up before having to walk/push the bike up (note to self - more work needed on the leg strength!). The Yamba lighthouse is beautiful elegant 'lady' surrounded by an expanse of green that is perfect for picnicking and rug lounging. It's also the perfect place to ooh and arh over fluffy plover chicks and their proud parents. Not far from the lighthouse is the sweet little building of the Pilot station, built in 1862, it's brilliant whiteness shimmered in the sunlight
By time we'd cycled the full coastal boundary of Yamba including past the iconic Pacific Hotel that commands outstanding views, it was lunch time - we'd missed breakfast, but more importantly, we'd missed our much needed caffeine hit. This was made much harder when upon arrival in the main street, we couldn't decide which café to stop at. Yamba has an abundance of cafes and eateries and they all look super chic, smell divine and all entice. Wanting to keep with our holiday-vibe theme we decided to stop at the Yamba Backpackers and were blown away by how funky, upmarket and beautiful it was. Backpacking in Australia appears to take on a whole new meaning compared to Asian backpacking establishments. The food was incredible! and the coffee spot on.
I had heard that Yamba had a Turkish café, that sold real Turkish apple tea and Turkish delight so after our brunch we hunted it out, only to find that it was closed - the owner was in Turkey. While lamenting this, we heard a voice behind us exclaiming "I know this lady" and turned around to see a very old friend from a very long time ago. The funny thing about seeing this person is that every time we see each other we're no-where near our homes. I've run into her in various parts of Australia and once in Monkey Forest Road, Ubud, Bali... Oh course we had to stop for more coffee and this gave us a change to check out another fabulous and uber-gorgeous café, where we run into more friends just back from an O/s trip themselves. The gathering threw me back into travel mode as we sat basking in the sunlight, sharing travel stories and tips. I felt like I was back on the banana-pancake trail.
Then it was back on the treadlys and a pedal to Pippi Beach, before wandering around the back streets past the golf club, the uber-cool skate park and past the beautifully treed primary school that held an abundance of birdlife. I could not get over how much bird life there was in Yamba. The village is choir of glorious birdsong. (note the pic next to this is of Whiting Beach... Yamba has 6beaches!)
It was now becoming late afternoon so we peddled up to the viewing area of Pelican Island and Rabbit Island and finally around the canal streets of west Yamba with glimpses of Yambas other islands - Freeburn, Sleeper, Palmers and Thorney. Seeing these bushy, enticing isles with sparkling water and sandy fringes had us dreaming of what if we had a boat... maybe we could get a small runabout... oh wouldn't it be lovely to have a little yacht down here.
Ah yes all the fantasies that arise when you're on holidays.... or even, on a daycation.