Adventuring in Australia: Weekend up by Cudgegong River

Australia was one of the second wave of countries to announce their re-opening to travelers back in November last year. Immediately, we booked tickets. We quickly found out though, that that plan was a soft launch, just for Singapore citizens, and did not include expats residing in Singapore (like Jeff). Then, Omicron hit, and while borders remained opened, travelers now had to do a mandatory 3 day quarantine at their place of residence before they were allowed to leave. In the end, we shelved those plans, and contented to staying in Singapore for the holidays.

Happily, we’re over that hump now (and hopefully it’s firmly in the rearview mirror). With borders re-opened – this time fully – we used the last of our carry over vacation days from last year to revisit what we regard as our second home.

Landed in Sydney on a bright and sunny Thursday morning, in time for a quick stroll around the quay before we settled down to work

We’d come in right before the ANZ long weekend, perfect to plan a weekend getaway with some friends. The Monday before though, after obsessively following the weather forecast, over a Zoom call, we reluctantly changed our plans to camp at Mungo Brush up in Myall Lakes, given the gloomy 8mm of rain projections every day of the long weekend. Happily, Dani found alternatives out west, and we easily swapped out our plans to explore Cudgegong River, west of Mudgee.

It was so, so, so lovely to be back on the water with these kayaking mates. This time, Jeff and I brought our standup paddle boards instead of kayaks, and Dani brought along her racing SUP for us to play around with (along with her trusty Elliot kayak and Oru Coast). We had the most marvellous afternoon paddling around together on Saturday afternoon, just like old times, before we returned to prepare a delicious hot pot meal and to lounge by our campfire and admire the stars and milky way overhead. Just like old times.

It’s always a special treat when one travels with friends who love to cook! For Sunday brekkie, we made french toast with fresh berries and mascarpone with vanilla and maple syrup. SO GOOD. Washed down with fresh moka pot coffee – we were nicely set up for a long day’s paddle!

The day’s paddle started off lovely. Though it was mostly cloudy, the winds were low and so made for a nice leisurely paddle to our lunch spot, a tiny brushy island on which we found a small clearing. Delicious build-your-own wrap lunch of roast chicken, pickled daikons, cucumbers, tomatoes, rocket, ham, and tuscan mix. Mm.

The wind picked up just as we finished lunch though, and sent white caps spraying in whichever direction. Initially, we’d entertained continuing up the river to explore, but very quickly decided with the strong headwinds, that it was more prudent to start turning back.¬†What a mad struggle – especially for me, a semi-novice stand up paddle boarder! The winds were pushing us backwards at least 3 km/hr, and I’m on average just clocking in 4 km/hr on my board. Lol. After at least 45 minutes of full out paddling, I looked back and we were barely 1 km away from our lunch spot. Gah. Looking at the time, I decided that if we wanted any chance of returning before sunset, I had to get a tow assist.

Enter Garry! He gamely pulled me behind his kayak for a good 7km. And though the sun finally came out right at the end, and the winds died down, I was too spent from trying to hold my own end of the tow to volunteer to unhitch from his kayak. Huge kudos to Jeff for pushing through on Dani’s racing board, badly skinning the tops of his toes kneeling through the wind in the process.

We were pretty wiped out by our 17 km paddle – no thanks to the epic winds coming back – and woke up sore the next morning, but it was a beautiful sunny and calm day on Monday that a bunch of us simply had to take the crafts out for a last spin. We ventured up to what we thought was a cove at the end of lake, but it turned out to be a fun little creek that we could meander up for quite a distance, alongside curious cows.

To end off the trip, and to take further advantage of the beautiful sunny weather, we stopped by Lowe Wines in Mudgee for a bit of cheeky tasting, and walked away with four bottles. Just couldn’t resist.

Another amazing Aussie bush weekend for the books! So grateful for the lovely company as well. Our hearts are full.

Late Winter Sunrise at Curl Curl

It’s sometimes difficult to wake up when it is still dark out, and throw off the cozy bedspread to head out into the cold. I’ve yet to actually regret that decision though.

No difference this morning. Given that the forecast warned of relentless rain for the next week, today spelled my one window of opportunity to get back out to the beaches for sunrise. I found a new spot this time, the southern end of Curl Curl Beach in North Sydney, and this might be my new favorite location yet!

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Funnily enough, although the picture of the fisherman doesn’t quite lend the feel of a beautiful late winter day, warm enough for t-shirt, shorts and flip flop weather, it turned out to be my favorite of the excursion. There’s something about those swirly waves that draws me in.

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See it is almost spring! Just one more week!

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Weekend in Forster

We had, hands down, an incredible weekend up in Forster, New South Wales!

Let’s see: we enjoyed each other’s company, beautiful lakes and beaches, and spotted a koala in the wild, two pods of whales, and at least 4 pods of dolphins.

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Jeff looking up at the eucalyptus trees, trying to spot koalas

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We found one… way high up

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Oyster farms!

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Humpback breaching!!!!!!!!!

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We saw so many dolphins it was unbelievable

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Gallery

Checking out the Kite Surfers at Long Reef Beach

Kite Surfing Long Reef Beach-1-3 Checked out Long Reef Beach this evening. The wind was stiff and cool at 15 knots. There were maybe a half dozen kite surfers out on the water. They seemed a pretty friendly bunch, grinning for my camera whenever they washed up to shore. One guy asked if I could send him shots of him; more than happy to oblige especially since they happily let me practice on them! Got to chatting with another guy as he packed up for the day – he gave me some tips on how to kite surf (learn to fly a kite for at least 6 months first), and what wind and wave conditions to look out for. Kite Surfing Long Reef Beach-1-2

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