Thursday, April 19, 2012

Beach Perfection at Yuraygir National Park

No trip up the north coast is complete without stopping in Coffs Harbour and having a picture taken at the Big Banana.

And no tourist trap is complete without the requisite lolly shop—to be honest, the only redeeming feature about this particularly underwhelming stop on our journey was the lolly shop’s candy-making demonstration.  I spent a couple of years crafting candies at Wythe Candy in Williamsburg, VA while in college, and I can make a mean chocolate-dipped caramel apple.  While I didn’t get to appreciate the nuances of the Australian caramel apple technique because this shop focused on hard candies, we all watched with delight as they pulled, twisted and layered the candy while it was still pliable and then deftly chopped it and handed it out as samples.  

And then back in the car.  All I can say is, thank god for Ferdinand the Minivan's three rows of seating, because my tolerance of car craziness is not where it needs to be for being a mother of three boys.  You'd think these long road trips would break me in a bit, but really my noise threshold keeps getting lower and lower.  I could go on about this, but even writing about it is annoying and I'd rather to get to the good stuff--the beach.

If I could live on a beach for the rest of my life, I just might pick the beach at the Sandon River campground in Yuraygir National Park.  I was giddy as we pulled in there--with the Easter holidays over, the huge crowds had gone and we had our pick of sites.

Our campsite, surrounded by mangroves that formed a built-in playground for the boys, was a mere 30 paces from the beach... and oh, that beach. Be still my heart.

Warm, clear water? Check.

Cool sculptures? Check.

Amazing private island that you can wade to at low tide? Check.

self-timer family portrait

One side of the island boasted a rocky playground with clear streams running through, or in other words, boy heaven.

I had heard that one of the wonderful things about the NSW north coast was the empty beaches, but it still surprised me that the whole time we explored the beach and island that day, we never saw another soul.   

And there's not much better than homemade hot cocoa after a long afternoon on the beach.  
When we camp, I do some work on the front end to make our life easier and more enjoyable on the road--a homemade hot cocoa mix is easy and so much better than what you can get in a package.  If you're interested, here's what I mix together in a food processor and toss in a Tupperware:
1.5 c. powdered milk
1 c. powdered sugar
1.25 c. dutch processed cocoa 
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

When it's time for cocoa, mix equal portions of mix and hot water together--I'm a bit of a cocoa snob and ordinarily would scoff at powdered milk, so it's not perfect.  But everything tastes better when you're camping, right?  

After two nights, I glumly helped pack up.  We had to keep moving to get to our real destination, but I could have stayed forever the week here and been very happy.


  1. That self timer portrait is absolute gold. It looks like something the boys will be pulling out in twenty years and reminiscing over.

    By the way, I seriously doubt if we *have* an Australian caramel apple technique... but I'd be willing to learn yours!

  2. Ooohhh...i want to go to this beach! Looks like a big piece of heaven!