Crescent Head – Beach, Rocks, Surfers, Golf and Sharks


There is a price you pay for having green, verdant landscape. The price is rain. Lots of it. We have been stuck inside a lot of the last week and the rain has been pretty relentless. Our property is slushy at best and the rest is a swimming pool. The daily temperature never really changes. It’s high teens at night and high twenties during the day. Very pleasant most of the time, though it can get a little humid at times, but nothing bad.

So, when we see at least a little break in the weather, we try to get out before it turns again. This was the case when we headed down to Crescent Head to give the dog a chance to run somewhere that wasn’t muddy and us a chance to get out of our four walls. This beach, like most in the region, is quite beautiful. Situated at the southern end of Hat Head national park, Crescent head is a long white arching stretch of white sand, with the Killick Creek flowing in at one end near the point with its rugged cliffs and a break that is popular with surfers. On the other side of the point is Pebbly Beach which is in stark contrast to the sandy beaches around the crescent.

Due to all the rain, Killick Creek is running red with tannin and this stain is evident out into the surf, with a red tinge apparent in the white caps of the waves. The town itself is sleep little village at this time of year without the crowds, but it does come alive at the weekends when surfers and holiday makers flock to make the most of what the region has to offer.

There is a lovely little golf course carved into the side of the cliffs and running down to the beach. It’s a little wet to play at present, but hopefully will dry out so I can get a game there before we leave.

We are lucky to have this and other such beaches within our easy reach, and should this weather ever let up, we will be spending a lot more time down and around here. On midweek days like these, we don’t have to share the beach with many others… just the odd person going for a stroll and a few surfers.

I’m told the fishing is good here, though I have had little personal experience of success. There was a sighting a few minutes before we arrived of a 4-5 foot shark leaping out of the water and twisting in the air before splashing back down. This happened just near the surfers. They are made of sterner stuff than me. I don’t like co-habitating with sharks, but it didn’t seem to worry them much.

Macleay Valley



We’ve settled here in Kempsey now and are discovering what the region has to offer. We have had a few trips to the beaches at Crescent Head, Hat Head and South West Rocks, all of them beautiful and inviting in their own way. I’ve rediscovered the frustrations and relaxation of fishing, and even Glenda has joined in! I’ve had a little success and caught a couple of meals worth of Bass, Flathead and Bream (small meals), and hopefully there will be more to come.

While I couldn’t say we were “busy”, there are things to do around the property. My main task, after looking after the dog, is to mow the lawns. A meagre task you may think, but there are a few acres that need to be mown and I have a variety of boys toys at my disposal to achieve the task, including two ride-on mowers and 3 push mowers. I find the ride-ons a very relaxing way to spend a few hours. One of them even has a cruise control! It’s a bit like painting the harbour bridge – by the time you get to the end, it’s time start at the beginning again.

We wandered up along the Macleay valley to Bellbrook hotel for lunch the other day. This is “real country”, where the dogs wander around the pub at will and the pub grub is a true, old fashioned meal with old fashioned prices and very welcoming service. Sitting in the veranda, sipping on an ice cold beer, looking down on the river and the flood plains, it was hard to imagine being more content anywhere else.

The weather hear is interesting. The temperature never varies, with lows of about 18 and tops of about 28, every day. It can be raining one minute and clear blue skies the next. The rain doesn’t really interrupt much, it just feeds the humidity (which is quite high, speaking as a Melbourne boy). We are in for a bit of a torrent tomorrow I believe, as the tail end of Cyclone Marcia whips its tail at us. We have heard varying reports of between 170mm and 300mm+ in terms of tomorrow’s rainfall. Both sound like a lot to me! We will be keeping an eye on our river on the border, which I am told is the second fastest flowing river in the southern hemisphere when in flood. It is fully expected that our bridge will go under, though I am told that our property has never flooded (I hope this remains true). I’m not sure what this will do for the fishing, other than make it a shorter walk.

The wildlife around here is amazing, especially the insect and spider life. The variety and colour is excellent. There are a plethora of various birds around, but we very rarely see them. There is so much bush and trees for them to hide in, they don’t often come out to be seen, though they are in full voice from sunup. Magpies, butcher birds, whip birds, kookaburras, blue wrens, wagtails, red breasted robins, kurrajongs are just to name a few… My challenge is to capture pictures of them, but I haven’t been too successful to date.

We had a great BBQ with Marie and Steve and friends last Friday at their horse property just down the road. Country hospitality is hard to beat and this was no exception. Great food, excellent company and the odd drink make for a fun evening. Thanks guys! Our turn next…

There’s plenty more to see, and plenty more to experience.

Photographer’s Block


Sometimes, as a photographer, you just seem to lose motivation and enthusiasm. You know there are photos out there you want to take, but, well, you just can’t get started and even if you do, you have trouble “seeing” the shots. I’ve been like this for the last few days and it’s frustrating. I sometimes find what helps is to take a macro lens out into your yard with an empty memory card and promise yourself to fill it. This forces you not just to look, but to see. All of a sudden, you are aware that, where there were trees and shrubs before, there are now colonies of wildlife in every little crevice. We are blessed in Australia to have such a huge array of colourful and characterful little chaps just waiting for us to notice them. After a short while, I find myself lost in their carrying-on, waiting from them to land long enough to get a photo or to move just to this place in the shot where they will be framed by their own web. I also find the colours of these little chaps to be so vibrant. The tiny flies covered in iridescent blues and greens, the soft mauves of the butterfies, the incredible intricacy of the webs. I can (and do) lose hours to this and it (hopefully) brings back the ability to “see” a shot on a larger scale. All these shots were taken within 20 metres of my front door this morning and I am certain I have only scratched the surface of this little world under my nose…

North to Kempsey


Our new farmsit is in Kempsey, in north east NSW. Kempsey nestles in between Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour, sitting on the might Macleay river. It is the perfect base to explore the region and the choices are many. A very easy drive to the east finds you some of the best beaches in Australia – South West Rocks and Crescent Head to name just a couple. In-between these two, you have the thick bushland of Hat Head national park, with its own peaceful little beachside hamlet. To the west, there is huge choice of national parks and state forests to explore, and I intend to do as many of them as possible.

We drove up here from Melbourne over a couple of long days, stopping in Goulburn, south of Sydney for a night. I had forgotten how beautiful this drive is, with widespread forest and farm land, brief glimpses of water and mighty cuttings through the hills. Starting with the golden farmlands of summer Victoria, everything gets progressively greener the further north you travel. Kempsey itself is verdant, with that definite sub-tropic feel about it.

Our house is set on 33 acres about 16Km from town. We were to have a small flock of sheep to mind, but they were sold the day we arrived. Problems with dog packs had driven Paul, the owner, to sell them off. After loosing 37 head of sheep in one night to a pack of domestic dogs that are not restrained was heartbreaking, so the rest were shipped off. This leaves us in charge of the house, which is wonderful. It is very spacious, with a huge swimming pool, lots of “toys” (motorbikes, quadbike, a variety of ride-on mowers and a couple of Jaguars at our disposal, should we wish to partake…and who wouldn’t! One of our boundaries is the upper reaches of the Macleay River, a large, beautiful and relatively slow flowing affair. I was down there in the early morning and the water was like a mirror, broken by the occasional fish that would leap up to catch some insect on the surface. There are a myriad of birds of many varieties along with lots of dragonflies hovering about. I think I will be spending a few mornings down there…

Our one singularly most important charge for our stay is to look after the child replacement dog, Coco. When I heard that our responsibility was to a miniature poodle, my heart sunk a bit. I’ve never really been one for little dogs. I do have to say that this one has won me over a bit. She plays ball with total enthusiasm, is affectionate without being “in your face”, travels perfectly in the car with not a sound, eats very little, deposits her tiny bits way off in the garden, rarely barks, (and never at me), and is generally an all round good egg. Of course, I still require that Glenda takes her on the lead in public while I walk on the other side of the road…. she is, after all, still a poodle…

I haven’t yet explored much of the region, but what I have has been wonderful. Early morning mists with the sun peaking through lighting up the orb webs, long reflective rivers, birds and insects aplenty and distant mountain ranges tempting me toward them, its going to be a fun few weeks. There is lots to photograph and explore. I even caught a fish! As Glenda might explain, it is the most expensive fish in history, given the money spent recently in resurrecting the tackle, but I’m sure the cost per meal will keep coming down, angling gods willing.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.