The Campervan Chronicles: Driving to South West Rocks

Today is an easy driving day –

we do not have far to go to our next destination. We have chosen South West Rocks because it is reputed to have excellent diving – an underwater tunnel to an underwater cave, with hard corals and grey nurse sharks – we are planning to stop driving and settle here for 2 days, in order to dive tomorrow.

Yesterday at the Clarence River Resort, Nicki, who checked us in (and checked us out –via our web site. By the time we got back from walking around to pick a campsite, she was talking about Utz and Sophia!) was a goldmine of information about the area. She told us about all the local sites, and then gave us a booklet that she, or someone else at the campground, had put together with more detailed information: this area boasts, justifiably, of the cleanliness of its rivers and coasts.

Goanna Stare-Down

Because we are only driving a couple of hundred kilometres today, we spend some time this morning checking out a couple of the sights. In particular, a driving trip up to Angourie, which is famed for its surfing. Unfortunately for the crowd hanging in the water, today is not a good surfing day. However, as we wander around, we come face-to-face with a goanna, and have a good little stare-down.

The driving is not as easy as predicted – we are no longer in a valley, but are in the gently rolling countryside. There is a strong wind today, and we are driving a big box. It is a day to keep 2 hands on the steering wheel at all times.

We notice that the road signs have changed since leaving Queensland and entering New South Wales. Instead of promises of certain death, they demand that we stop every 2 hours to refresh ourselves and they smugly ask “How fast are you going now?” Every time we pass one, Greg does his best whiney, indolent voice.

NSW has photo radar cameras everywhere. As far as we can tell, they give you lots of warning about where they are – at least 3 signs before the camera. But the signs tell us that the NSW government has instituted another kind of control – the cameras record big vehicles, and monitor how long it takes them to get from monitoring point to monitoring point. This is not for speeding – it is to make sure that the commercial drivers are actually stopping and taking their refreshment break every 2 hours. We don’t know if it is really enforced, but the signs promise sanctions such as loss of license, a very real threat to someone who makes his or her livelihood by driving.

We get to South West Rocks and find a charming beach town. The woman at the campervan parks asks how we got here – it is not listed in the tourist guides, and all the tourists here are Aussies. Our camping space has a million dollar view (actually, these days, it is a $7.5 million view); yes, we have found another fantastic beach. We drive to the dive centre to book our dive, to be told that the weather forecasts for tomorrow are so bad that they have decided not to dive tomorrow. Disappointed, we confer about what to do and decide to stay here for our planned 2 nights. We feel sure that even if the weather is really rotten, there are few places we would enjoy as much.

We will walk on the beach, whatever the weather.


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