Forster/Tuncurry Revisited

Journey                 # 9

Time:                      November 2013

An aerial view of the Tuncurry Holiday Park, where we stayed.

Wednesday evening saw us getting the last of our items packed into the van for an early start on Thursday morning, 31st October. First trip in a while, with the van, so we had it checked and serviced a few days beforehand. Lucky for us, as the magnets on both front wheels had worn and needed replacing. Rear ones were fine. Not much else wrong, so that was a relief. Left home at 6am heading north to Tuncurry holiday park for a week or two. Traffic through Sydney M7 and M2 was pretty good and even the bottleneck through pennant hills was reasonable. Stopped for breakfast at a lovely rest area at Ourimbah and the bell birds were in full voice. There were a lot of vans and wicked vans there, obviously having overnighted. I think I got the last parking space. Beryl made us some nice egg and bacon rolls. Got a message from Mark, who said he was just sitting down to an egg and bacon roll in Melbourne. We arrived at the park just after 11am, so not a bad run. I was good and stuck to 90-100kph most of the way. The space we were allocated was quite narrow, so I availed myself of the managers offer to put the van in with the front coupled tractor. Much easier. The spot looks quite nice, with the ohma bay waterfront only 50m away. Lots of black swans and pelicans. Loads of old guys with expensive vans, vehicles and kayaks in the park. Mine is still on the roofracks. Plenty of fish being caught apparently, so looking forward to mark and wendy arriving on the weekend. First night was good but the morning is overcast and storms are predicted. We are parked under a big pine tree so hope it doesn't drop sap. Walked around the park and it was roomy and clean, with two boat ramps within 100m of our doorstep. Great. I had taken the kayak on this trip and was determined to get some use out of it. Mark and Wendy were arriving late Sunday, and Mark had also borrowed a 'kayak' of sorts so that we could go fishing together. It was good and we had a bit of fun through the following week.

Marks camper all set up.

Set up the awning today and had several goes at trying to work out how the stays fitted and how to clamp the awning cover to the two outside stays. Decided that the cover was slightly too short or had moved on one end. Not to worry, it was fine. Took the kayak off the roof racks and set it up for a paddle. Was quite windy, but the yak handled it well - not too sure about the old fella paddling it. I didn't catch any fish, but a dolphin came up beside me, checked me out and kept going. They are very big when you are sitting inches above the water. When I got the kayak off the roof, I put the expensive tie downs on the rear bumper and promptly forgot they were there. Later in the afternoon, went for a drive just to north Tuncurry, then to beach bums at forster beach for coffee. Saw a few whales on their southward journey. Drove to stocklands shopping mall for a few things and as I was getting out of the car, an old bloke told me not to lose the strap on the back bumper. Darn, lost one of them and was surprised that the other one was still there. Backtracked but didn't find it. Someone else found it before I did.

The floating oyster racks are a haven for fish, as they have lots of food for them. There are so many of them and the submerged framework of older style racks can be a hazard to boating. Care must be taken or you can end up with a tear in the hull.

The wind wasn't up much around 9am, so I went for another paddle and fish. The water was very clear and I saw lots of bream and blackfish swimming around. The tide was taking me along quite fast and it was hard to fish properly. Paddled through the oyster racks, which is something you can't really do in a bigger boat. Spooked a big flathead which looked around 70cm and solid. It was in only 30cm of water. There were schools of big bream and blackfish under the racks, but again it was impossible to fish them with the tide and the freshening wind. Had a good workout and felt a bit sore after 2 hours paddling against the wind and tide to get back. Mark and wendy arrive tomorrow evening, so we will have some company.

Swans were feeding in the shallows around the park.

Sunday morning, we went to Tuncurry Church of Christ and was surprised to see a couple we know and who have visited Engadine. Another old lady there, knew friends of ours from home, so it is a small world. Headed off to Blackhead beach around lunchtime, to have a look at the Sunday markets. Typical market with the usual stuff for sale. I did spot a van which was selling hot kransky sausage on a roll, with sauerkraut and fried onion. Yum. Went to get a couple, but was told there was only one roll left. Okay, I will have that. We have run out of sauerkraut and onion, but can give you a 50 cent discount! Wow, a dry, slightly stale bread roll and a very small kransky. Oh well, we have to support local business. Bery had dutch pancakes. The Blundens arrived around 6pm, so we helped them get set up and then cooked a barbeque meal for them in the camp kitchen. It was very well appointed and stocked with plates, cutlery and washing up gear.

Lots of small sheds sit around the foreshore. Storage and repairs to nets and racks are carried out in there by owners.

The next days, we (the men) kayaked, fished and did bloke stuff. The girls went for walks to Tuncurry and also across the bridge to Forster and did women stuff, like quilting and embroidery. We all walked across to Forster and had coffee one day and in no time, our time was up.
We had a good time socialising with the group of people in our part of the caravan park and made a few friends. Went to the Tuncurry Bowling Club with a mob of them one night and by ourselves another night. Good meals and well priced.
One evening, we went to the Sports Club for their well advertised roast night. Arrived at the car park around 7pm and saw half a dozen cars. Hmmm, not looking good. Doors were locked but the lights were on. We decided it must be a really popular place and the food was going to be exceptional, so we headed off to the Bowling Club. We learnt that the Sports Club had a power failure earlier in the afternoon, so was closed for the night.
One afternoon, Mark and I were fishing up the river, when I had to answer the call of nature. I paddled to a sand bank in the middle of the river, stepped off the kayak and immediately sank to my waist in mud. I was still going down, when I grabbed hold of the kayak. Trying to get back on, was very difficult because the mud held onto my legs and I couldn't put any weight on them as I would just sink in. Had to drag myself out and of course when the mud let go of my last leg, I flipped over and rolled the kayak, ending up in the same situation on the other side. Managed to right the boat and succeeded in getting back on. Lost some lures and a knife when the kayak rolled, but a lot of stuff was floating, so was recovered. Mark was 100m away, so didn't see any of this happening. I washed most of the mud off and paddled over to Mark and told him.
I continued fishing, but he headed back as the tide was turning and it was hard work paddling against it. When I got backto the park later on, the group were all sitting around near our van and one of them called out 'here comes the mudcrab'. All had a good laugh at my expense, including me. In hindsight, it was a dangerous situation had I not been able to grab the kayak. A lesson learnt.
We had such a great time and fitted in with the regulars who go there every year for a month or two, that they asked if we were coming again next year. We have booked in for two weeks, so one holiday is planned and set for us.
Another good time was had with our good friends (family really) Mark and Wendy.



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