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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tuesday, and another river crossing

“Hey sweetie, time to go, wake up,” I gently nudge my sleeping beauty and placed a cup of tea at the bedhead. She groaned, stretched, rubbed her eyes then snapped awake, listening intently for a moment before asking, “Do I hear wind?”
Banyandah anchored at Port Macquarie

Outside, the rain that had fallen sporadically throughout the night was again spitting fine mist in a bloom shrouding darkened downtown buildings. Behind them, the sunrise created a golden archway, as if indicating the direction of treasure. But there was nothing rich about our departure in the gloomy light. Merely a silent routine, braving the wet while rolling up the awning, followed by another wetting as the mainsail came out its cover accompanied by the deep rumble from our Perkins.

The crisp, wet wind and rumble of engine wiped clear our bleary eyes as Banyandah gathered way, weaving through the tight fleet of local vessels we left abandoned to nature’s hands. Retracing our path in, while battling a rather fast incoming tide, we nevertheless soon reached a flatten sandbar that fronted the Hasting River entrance. Continuing along our track in, we soon felt the wind heel us as a lone white breaker swept past. A few minutes hard on the wind, we tacked round to the south and began looking for our next destination.

From the lovely isolation of sea, tiny beetles ran along the coast road, seemingly buzzing one another towards darkened hives getting ready for another day’s work. While ahead on our horizon, red ramparts jutted out, perpendicular rock followed by golden beaches leading endlessly towards the end of our world.

Long before Europeans arrived on the NSW mid-coast, it was the traditional home of the Birpai Nation. Their Dreamtime legend describes how three brothers met their fate at the hands of the witch Widjirriejuggi, and were buried where today the Three Brothers Mountains stand. These three prominent coastal mountains, a feature of the Camden Haven Valley, were observed by Captain James Cook, and named in his log of May 1770, along with Perpendicular Point, which marks the mouth of the Camden Haven River.

A short easy sail took us to those red cliffs where yet another river mouth had to be negotiated. No matter how many we cross, I get agitated, even in the fine conditions we had that day. Our tidal information said we were an hour late for the incoming tide that would help smooth the bar. But I consoled myself thinking we’d at least have nearly full water in case a nasty one should jump out the flat sea.

Surprisingly us both, as we lined up the leads, two triangles points together, we saw the water still making, and taking us in with it. And with a whoosh, we crossed the skinny water, hailing a lone fisherman on the rocks as we flew past. Then ahead, at the end of a long corridor of still water,stood North Brother dressed in verdant eucalypt forests at rest under a grey cloud blanket.
Rain began again. This time in earnest, but we didn’t care now that we floated along in smooth water. It only wreck our ‘photo opportunities.’ But we even mastered that by dashing out to take quick snaps.

Welcome to Camden Haven read the sign, and we thought, “This must be Tuesday.” Our whirlwind tour had taken us to a quiet forgotten spot surrounded by lakes and waterways, and green mountains. Think we’ll like this place.

Port Macquarie had been beautiful, but too busy. Touristy streets filled with eateries and souvenir shops is not why we travel. Besides, the sandflies had always been so hungry wherever we stopped.
Laurieton at Camden Haven could be quite different. For one, there’s no Woolies. Port Macquarie has two in different shopping malls also containing a slew of novelty shops. Plus here we have found a friendly library just up the street, and a coffee lounge adorned with historical posters and books bringing life to the Camden River Valley past.

We’re betting a grand view will be had from atop North Brother, and we’ve just googled a way up from main street. Stay tuned for pics of that.

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