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Coffs Harbour Beaches and Muttonbird Island

18 December 2011 No Comment

Saturday 12th February 2011 – Coffs Harbour, Australia

I hadn’t planned to spend too long in Coffs Harbour, but I was beginning to wonder if maybe I should, but I wasn’t really happy in the room I was in, and I wanted to move on as money was getting a bit tight, so today would be my last day here. I had a few things I wanted to do while I had the chance.

I started the morning by booking my onward journey tomorrow, and the hostel where I would be staying. The YHA in Coffs Harbour is a good hostel, and is run by some cool guys behind the reception. The hostel is fairly large and has ample space for relaxing alone or sharing some time with fellow travellers. I like hostels that offer you a choice of what you want to do, rather than being forced to socialise, or forced to be a recluse. I like the freedom you get in some hostels, and this is one of those places. I wanted to spend as much time away from my room as possible.

Boat Ramp in Coffs HarbourWith the bookings taken care of I was free to explore and to have fun, and so I went out for some photographs around the immediate area. My walk took me in the opposite direction to that of yesterday, and to some fresh new sights and sounds. I found myself looking back at the main beaches from a vantage point high up, further down the coast. You were able to get a nice feel for the size of the beaches while looking back from here.

The weather was hot today, and I didn’t want to spend too long out and about. I wanted some time to enjoy the beaches today. I walked back and came to the jetty where it looked as though many people were gathering. The younger generation were taking turns to throw themselves off the jetty and into the water below. It looked fun, although the petrified expressions on the youngest were all too evident. I wondered what they would make of this back in England. Health and Safety would have a field day, and would never let this happen. I liked how free it was here, and partly felt like I wanted to join in the games.

A while later I returned to the hostel to lock up my belongings, and then set out to the beach with my sun cream, hat and towel. I had water with me, but knew it would only be a matter of time before it heated up to an un-drinkable temperature. I found a nice spot on the beach a little way away from the expanding crowds, and was happy I did, for the waves on this particular part of the beach were ideal for body surfing. This is what I spent a lot of the day doing, and was having a lot of fun. Surprisingly, I felt a little cold after a while.

Back at the hostel, I had a shower and readied myself for a walk to Muttonbird Island. I could see it was a fair distance to walk, and wanted to get there in the light. One English guy in my room asked to borrow the laptop to quickly book a hostel. I agreed but explained I needed some time on the internet myself to do a few things in the evening, and that I didn’t want all my time to be used up. Internet is expensive here! As time went on I had to reiterate this fact, and that I wanted to get out before the light fades to get some pictures. In the end – some 45 minutes later – I had to demand my laptop back, but the light was already fading and I knew I had missed my chance. This made me angry, and even more so when a quick look at the history revealed football websites and social media sites as well as hostel-booking sites. I should have demanded it back sooner, but I am too much of a pushover.

I headed out into the evening anyway, and eventually arrived at the island. It was a steep pathway to the top of the island, but once there the views were breathtaking. Looking back onto the mainland, you could see all the light from the beach and the harbour, and that of the dwellings up and down the mountain side. The slightly angry-looking sky hugging the tops of the mountains in the distance really added to the enjoyment and appreciation of it all. I loved it here as it was so peaceful and quiet, and there was no light on the island itself.

Muttonbird Island is named after the birds that live and breed here. It is an island entirely populated by birds that live in holes in the ground. Their young can sometimes be heard calling out to their parents in the undergrowth, while the parents can be seen all around, dancing about around your head and feet, looking for food. Larger birds hovered several meters above ground, searching for an easy meal, occasionally diving into the bush below, usually unsuccessfully.

As I walked along the solitary unlit pathway, I was aware how alone I was, and felt absolute bliss. But as I reached the end of the walkway, I was met by the bright pink backside of a woman, (in a bright pink lycra suit), who at this point was bent double over the wooden fence around the seating area. She seemed unfazed by my presence, and proceeded to carry on her fitness routine overlooking the ocean below. I had to admit, there are fewer places more inspiring than this to help get fit. I could have sat here for an eternity, and actually stayed for quite a long while. In this time countless people arrived and left again, including many more fitness fanatics. I guess I wasn’t as alone as I had initially wondered.

I love the sound of waves crashing against rocks, and that sound when the water thuds into a large crack in the rocks, or into a small cave. It was all happening below, and gave me that feeling of being at the mercy of the sea if I were to fall in. There is something quite frightening about the sea that demands respect, and being dark as it was, I could only imagine the ferocity of the water below me. I would have to return here tomorrow for some pictures.

Alas, I had to leave the place as it was getting late, and followed the pathway back towards the mainland. This time the view was ahead of me, and it appeared more beautiful than previously. I had to endure an assault of crickets as they jumped across the pathway all around me, some coming close to my mouth, many hitting my face, but I came to the end of the pathway and walked around the harbour back to the street where my hostel was waiting. Some people were in their boats in the harbour, laughing and socialising. I would love to be able to do this one day.

I was desperate for a drink back at the hostel and settled for a nice cool can of coke. I then relaxed in the common room before going to bed. The room was quiet (for now).

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Written by Daniel Stevens,
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