The World is an amazing place .... go and be in it

Monday, 21 September 2015

Have a peek around the 'backyard'

There's a little (mis)quote attributed to the Dalai Lama that I just love and try to live by "Once a year As often as possible, go someplace you’ve never been before." and every year I plan a new destination, but while I dream and plan the next big trip,  I try to keep the wanderlust at bay by living a similar quote by Katja Hentschel (Travelettes with her "Once a month, go somewhere you've never been before."....and try and find places close to my backdoor to go visit.  

Last Sunday morning, after our weekend 'chores' of early morning stroll around the village, check on the platypus in the creek and pick up our regular Sunday coffee from our local barista, we sat on our backdeck, and wondered where to go that was close and 'new'.  A flick through the local North Coast markets website threw up the name 'Pottsville'.  We had driven through Pottsville and it's twin village, Hastings Point countless times, but had never stopped - ever - not once in twenty-five years of living on the north coast.   So off we trundle with the treadlies, to the tiny little seaside village of Pottsville.
I had always thought of Pottsville as a very much blink and you'll miss it sleepy little hamlet with a peep-of-a-beach hidden from the road behind a large sand-dune.  Many a time we've just driven straight through it; winding our way off the main highway and following the coastal road from Brunswick to Tweed, thinking is was just a group of houses facing the ocean.  
But how wrong we were...

Parking the car at the brand new estate of Black Rocks -which is just off the main road, across the sandy inlet and behind a reserve- we unloaded the treadlies and pedalled our way along a flat wide bike path with creek and wetlands on one side and expanse lawns and quite streets on the other.  It didn't take too long to wind our way to the market site where the Pottsville Community Markets were in full swing - featuring lots of the usual creative stalls that can be found around the north-coast markets, but also delightfully interesting art stalls, musicians and a fabulous entertaining children's show.    Even more surprising for M and I as we biked through the market was to 'bump into' our darling granddaughter who was having a lovely little dance on the green - it turned out Bud and Gorgeous Gal (along with the grandbubbas) had had a similar idea that morning of taking a Sunday drive and turning it into a little day adventure of their own - markets and beach in the morning with mountains and boulders thrown in for the afternoon (Pottsville to Nimbin).  
 Turning into the high street of the town we hit the hub - which, although quaint, was also very new.  No colonial or vintage charm here, for Pottsville is a relatively 'new' town -  the first house being built there in 1930 by a chap called Bill Potts. Despite this, its still a bustling little place full of coffee shops with a touch of quirk.

It doesn't take long to ride through the town and before we know it we're back in suburbia where all the homes have a same-same appearance of costal-lux with wide treed boulevards and lush gardens filled with  abundant birdlife.  Just as I was thinking that it was becoming a little ho-hum,  we suddenly happen upon a expanse of bushland which is ringing with bellbird tings and a whip or two echoing through the greenery. 

Entering into a high gated area the bike path morphs into a bark chipped track and sunlight filters through gum and melaleucas  as we ride deeper into the Pottsville Environmental Park - home to less than 150koalas and the endangered Bush Thick Knee.  When I first read the sign declaring the park to be home of Thick Knees  I become all excited thinking it must be some kind of rare breed of Koala (seriously!)... one with really fat knees and wondering how in the world you could 'see' a Koala's knees in the first place... of course it's nothing of the sort!  

The Bush Thick Knee turns out to be a bird - a curlew.  Ah yes,  curlews have very knobbly knees indeed - bit rude to call them thick though. 
The park is a delight, perfect for cycling and walking through with at least five tracks to choose from; all leading to various areas of the park and following the line of Cudgera Creek and wetlands.  The bird and animal life is abundant and we need to be vigilant that we don't run over/into curlews and turkeys that have scattered themselves along the various tracks, and we are constantly stopping to take in the masses of birds flittering and swooping around the trees, along with clouds of butterflies and bees. 

I'm having such a wonderful time becoming lost in the fern glades that as I come around the corner I almost have a head-on with an enormous goanna who is ambling up the middle of the track.  He's HUGH!....with massive claws and mouth, which flicks out an incredibly enormous tongue.   I hit the brakes just in time and am narrowly missed being belted from behind by M who is also riding merrily along with his head also lost in the beauty of the ferns.   The goanna runs first at me then turns quickly and is up a tree before I am even off the bike and running away in the opposite direction.
It takes us almost two hours to ride all five tracks of the park, then we make our way towards the beautiful beach of Pottsville - stunning is a word that is just not going to cut it  when describing this beach. 

It would have to be one of the most beautiful beaches I've ever see in Australia.  Long, golden, glorious...  although I must say, the signs to all the entries of the beach had me a little nervous -  they were full of warnings about Sharks.
2015 has been quite a year for the North Coast and shark incidents, so it really doesn't surprised me too much to see the shark warning signs, however these signs appear to be old, some are faded and it had me wondering how common it was for shark sightings here - a search of news items shows that it's fairly common, including an amazing article  in the April of this year showing a massive tigershark being reeled in from the beach - it took 3hours! (what stunned me more was the chap does it in the name of conservation and tracks the sharks through a catch and release.)  As much as I like the water,  M and I decided to give the surf a miss and instead just enjoy the feeling the golden sands scrunching under our feet.
Further back down towards the main part of the village the bike path leads to expansive boardwalks that take you to the Mooball Creek Inlet, again, another beautiful picturesque waterway this time filled with families wading in the shallows and sand castles being built.  In the background, coming from the park, we hear the rhythmic tribal beats sounds of djembes and flutes, and laughing children enjoying the sunshine.
Back  at the markets, we took a quick once round, then headed off for a scrumptious  (late)lunch at one of the many eateries lining the main hub. The plan was to indulge in coffee then take a ride up to the next hamlet - Hastings Point - another village we've always driven straight through, with nary a glance either side. Just as we were finishing what I would have to say was one of the best burgers I've had in a very long time,  we noticed the birds were bundling about in blustering flocks, screeching and shrilling,  the air had become icy and as the wind swirled up,  blackness fell across the sky and clouds rolled in  -  we decided to skip our afternoon plans  and  hightailed it back along the bike track - lightning flicked across the sky and rumbles vibrated the air.  Swallows and finches darted crazily about, anticipating a pounding from the heavens.  Packing the bikes into the car, the air tasted damp and as we drove towards the highway, the storm passed over, with nary a drop.  

I make a mental note to pop Hastings Point on the 'next month new spot' list and add Pottsville to the 'will return one day' list.

 happy travels....

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