Weekend in Batemans Bay

My mum came to visit, so we went for a long weekend down in Batemans Bay. It’s a gorgeous location – very chill, much more low key than Jervis Bay, an hour to the north.

We got an AirBnB down by Surf Beach, where we went to one morning to catch the sunrise. The storm clouds from the day before still hung low above the horizon, but as the sun started to rise, the clouds dissipated.

Perfect for a leisurely kayaking trip along the coast. Since we had my mum with us, we didn’t bring our foldable kayaks, but joined a tour with Region X Kayak. It took some persuading for my mum to agree to go on the tour, but in the end, she said it was the highlight of her Sydney trip. ūüôā She was in a double kayak with Josh, the guide, and had an enjoyable time keeping her eyes peeled for the pods of dolphins playing in the waters in the bays.

We also checked out Guerrilla Bay, which lies in Batemans Bay Marine Park. It’s a picturesque location with a small rocky island that separates the bay by a narrow strip of sand which is accessible even at high tide. Jeff and I donned on our wetsuits one late morning, and slipped into the waters for a bit of snorkel. Not a bad swim – there were quite a few schools of fish, and even more sea urchins – but the current was buffeting and the waters very bracing. Maybe better in summer, and with gloves to pick the sea urchins.

We also checked out the Boat Ramp by Mossy Bay, where our kayak guide Josh had promised sightings of those gigantic Australian Short Tail Sting Ray. Indeed, we spotted a few swimming to and fro by the pier.

Australia’s largest sting ray, the Short Tail Sting Ray (photo credit: my mum)

We also managed to squeeze in an astroshoot by the beach Sunday evening. The clear skies meant for a lousy sunset, but we had about a 45-minute window between dusk and the full moon rise, enough time to get in some shots of the milky way overhead.

All in all, a most relaxing weekend down the coast.

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Kayaking and camping along the Hawkesbury River

How fickle is this weather! Just yesterday we were leisurely floating down the Hawkesbury River, basking in the warm sunshine of late winter, laughing and looking forward to spring and the start of the kayak netball season. This morning, we awoke to drizzly weather and a dip in the temperatures. Looks like it’ll stay crappy most of this week. All the more to be thankful for the¬†clear blue skies this past weekend then, despite some epic winds we had to battle through to get to our bush camp¬†at Gentleman’s Halt.

A quick recap:¬†our friend Laura of Sydney By Kayak organized a getaway camping trip by kayak along the Hawkesbury River this weekend. Leading up to the trip, we checked the forecast obsessively, worrying over the¬†capricious weather and the warnings of gusty winds of up to 24 knots on Saturday. We bit the bullet anyway; the promise of fun¬†company over delicious camp fare was too good to resist. So early Saturday morning, we loaded up our kayaks full of gear, and held our breaths as we eased the first boats into the water. Several of the kayaks hung precariously close to the waterline, and the duffel bag of sleeping bags and mats that we strapped onto the back of Jeff’s kayak slipped off into the water in the last bit of the paddle where the waves were the most ferocious. But everyone and everything made it safely to shore in the end, albeit a little wet.

Kayaking along the Hawkesbury River

Kayaking along the Hawkesbury River
Enjoying the calm before the winds

Laura spared no effort in putting together the menus for our dinner and breakfast the next day, much to our effusive delight and the envy of the other groups of campers who drifted by our campfire, enticed by the smell. For dinner, we had starters of mushroom, capsicum, and halloumi kebabs with herbs, followed by roasted broccolini and sweet potato and entrees of tandoori lamb chops. We finished off with the requisite campfire smores and spent the rest of the evening huddling in front of the camp fire, trading tales with a couple hikers who joined our cozy glow.

Camping at Gentleman's Halt along the Hawkesbury River

Camping at Gentleman's Halt along the Hawkesbury River

Camping at Gentleman's Halt along the Hawkesbury River

Camping at Gentleman's Halt along the Hawkesbury River

Sunrise along the Hawkesbury River
Sunrise – and moonset – along the Hawkesbury River

Since we planned for a noon departure in the morning, people woke up at different times. A few of us awoke¬†before the sun and restarted the fire to make some coffee and get a bit of warmth. For a pre-breakfast we had melted Tim Tams on toast, then Laura whipped up a few batches of scrambled eggs with cheese, dill, and smoked salmon, topped with lemon aioli. Camping, gourmet style. On the other side of the fire, one of the hikers rejoined us with a couple cans of baked beans and sausages that he heated up over an enamel saucepan. Camping, Brokeback style. ūüėÄ

Breakfast of champions

Our fantastic group
Our fantastic group

Packs a lot lighter after we polished off most of our food, wine and beer, we restrapped our gear to the kayaks at midday and made our way back along the river. A fun, but too-short trip!

Kayaking along the Hawkesbury River

Hawkesbury River Kayaking

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Chilly morning at Little Bay

The temperature gauge in my car said it was 9 degrees C out, but it sure felt colder than that, with the constant wind blowing, and at one point, drizzle of rain.

Unlike the stellar sunrise we had on Saturday morning, the colors this morning was mostly muted by the heavy low cloud cover out east. Still, it was my first time down at Little Bay, and there was plenty of interesting compositions to choose from.
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Moonrise and sunrise over Uluru

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On our Australian bucket list: Uluru, the famous monolith rising from the otherwise flat landscape of the scrabby central Australian outback. We got that checked off this past weekend when we joined Mulgas Adventures for a 4-day/3-night camping trip.

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I have to admit Рright after booking the trip, I kicked myself for choosing, of all dates, the weekend of the full moon. One of my main motivations for visiting the outback had been to soak in the grand sight of the milky way spilling across the unpolluted night sky. Ah well, lemonade: we got to watch the moon rise by the glowing Uluru at sunset. That was quite a treat in itself too.

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The other thing about camping under the full moon though, is that it really is very bright. We slept in swags in the open, and I had to bury myself in my sleeping bag to escape the glare!

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But in the outback, the weather changes really quickly. Though we had watched the sunset under clear blue skies, by the time we awoke in the pre-dawn darkness, voluminous clouds had already moved in. The rains held though, and we were treated to a spectacular sunrise.

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Uluru Outback-

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