Day 84 - 5th July
Coopernook State Forest Camp to Nelson Bay
Distance Travelled - 275.6 km
Was rudely awoken at about 12.50 am by the sound of someone playing very loud music. Craning my head out of the tent it looked to be coming from the car closest to me. I rolled over and tried to go back to sleep but couldn't. I was just about to get out of the tent and go have words with the morons when the music got turned off and quietness descended back over the camp ground again.
Unfortunately by this time it was just on 2 am. Finally fell back asleep and woke next at about 7 am to a much nicer sound of a myriad of birds chirping and calling to each other.
I got out of bed and looked to see if there was any movement from the offending car and none could be seen. The early morning light was very pleasant and beginning to peek through some of the trees. One spot in particular with a lot of dried leaves on the ground looked very pretty in the morning sun. I took a few photos but they really didn't capture how nice the scene looked.
After checking out the dew on the tent which was quite substantial, I decided to go for a walk on one of the tracks through the forest to see if there was anything worth photographing. I was away for about half an hour and found nothing to photograph. When I got back the sun was still not up high enough to get over the trees and onto my tent to help dry it out. I had breakfast and settled in for a read of the map book with my notebook nearby to try and work out plans for the next day or so.
Eventually everything was dry and packed away and I was ready to leave by just on 10.30 am. It was very sad but as I drove past the tent where the sleeping music offenders were my hand somehow slipped onto the horn and gave a large blast as I went by. Everyone else in the campsite was awake and the lady on the van nearest to that tent on the other side gave me a quiet round of applause as I drove past. I drove to the nearest info centre and talk to them about lighthouse stuff and received several maps and some handy information from the very helpful and obliging man behind the counter. Left there and went next door to the craft shop and saw some interesting stuff but not really much to inspire me.
Left the centre and headed to the Sugarloaf Rock Lighthouse at Seal Rocks. On the way stopped at the Forster information centre which had free wi-fi so posted my blog and found out about a giant book fair run by Rotary in Forster. Unfortunately the fair ran Saturday and Sunday and whilst there was still lots of books there, none of the ones I were chasing were around. Left the book fair slightly disappointed and headed on towards the lighthouse.
The lighthouse was once again designed by the architect Barnet, but this time was a different design. It actually looks very nice and has a certain charm about it with the staircase winding around the outside of the tower. I spent a bit of time taking some photos and then headed down to the car. It is a very steep climb up to the lighthouse and was much easier coming down.
Left Seal Rocks at about 3 pm and started heading to Nelson Bay, about 2 hours away. Got there and found the lighthouse is really a building now used as a cafe with a light stand on the corner of the building. This was how the original one was set up and there is another lighthouse on Fingal Island, but that could be harder to access. Took a few photos and went down to the beach where a lovely sunset was on display. Lots of pelicans around and a jetty with people fishing all of which just begged to be photographed. Spent some time taking photos and then talked to a semi-local about the Fingal Island lighthouse. Apparently you can walk to the island across a 900 m or so sand bar at low tide and have enough time to take photos and the like and walk back without too much issue. The big drawback is that low tide tomorrow is at about 4.30 pm. I will have to investigate the lighthouse more thoroughly tomorrow morning to see if it is worth the wait to get there.
After finishing there I set off in search of a place to sleep. All of the caravan parks within a reasonable distance want over $30 for me to camp the night so I have decided to go find somewhere else to sleep, as I consider that an absolute ripoff. Found a quiet deserted car park at the back of the local Catholic church and as I write my blog I haven't been asked to move on yet so hopefully this will be the place for tonight.
After finishing the blog I will sort my photos from today. make a few phone calls home and then settle in for the night, listening to music and possibly doing some reading. Tomorrow I will head towards Newcastle and the next lighthouse and then make some more solid plans about entering the Sydney area and how to spend the least amount of time in the metropolis but still get all the lighthouses I can. There are 12 lighthouses in Sydney Harbour itself and a few on the outskirts of the harbour so there will be a bit of planning to get the logistics of it all sorted. There does not appear to be anything in the way of free or cheap camping so that will need to be considered and sorted as well.