December 20-24, 2014: A FEW DAYS IN THE COUNTRYSIDE

Saturday, 20 December began as a notably bad travel day due to a misunderstanding about visas required for entering Australia. After sorting that out, we flew 3.5 hours to Sydney where we were met by one of our Sydneysider friends. From the airport, we boarded a train for a 2+ hour ride to Newcastle; upon arrival, our his partner picked us up and we drove to their country home in Hawks Nest. It was a delightful end to a long and hectic day that included a 2-hour time change.

Hawks Nest is a small seaside town, population around 450 locals plus holiday owners and visitors. It is in close proximity to several beaches, both on the Pacific Ocean and along the nearby Myall River. Our friends bought their little piece of paradise there a few years ago, and escape to it from the City (Sydney) every chance they get. The house borders a dense forest and is a short walking distance from two ocean waterfronts: Bennet’s Beach and Jimmy’s Beach, the latter also being a caravan (RV) park.

During our time there, we awoke each morning to the sounds of tropical birds and had our morning coffee on the deck while enjoying the balmy, mostly sunny weather—a wonderful change from the grey skies and drizzle in Auckland. We took long walks, both to the beach and to town, which is about the length of a city block and consists of a convenience store/post office, a pharmacy, a bakery, some small retail and eating establishments. Nearby Tea Gardens, a 30-minute walk away, is a larger community that offers all the usual commodities to residents and tourists, including a library with wi-fi and a supermarket. It sits along the Myall River and is very picturesque. Ferries from there transport people and cars to nearby small islands, which we, unfortunately, did not get to visit.

The Summer Solstice
December 21 was the summer solstice in the southern hemisphere, while it is June 21 at home. It has always been my favorite day of the year because it’s the official beginning of summer. This year I get to celebrate two summer solstices–how cool is that!

Street signs showing distances and walking times

Street signs showing distances and walking times from Hawks Nest to nearby sites

Along the Myall River

Along the Myall River

Stretch of 7-mile long local beach

Stretch of the 7-mile long beach in Hawks Nest

Mangrove tree with exposed roots--an unusual sight

Mangrove tree with exposed roots near the river–an unusual sight, seeing one out of water











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