The Royal Treatment

Buying and selling houses is a bit stressful. So to give ourselves a break we moved in with the inlaws last week to minimise “show home” stress whilst an army of potential buyers marched through our home in the lead up to the auction. Reg’s family live in an enviable spot right on the edge of the Royal National Park, with a bush track that leads to beautiful lookouts with views across Port Hacking to Cronulla and the sea beyond.

Grays Point Spring Morning

It turned out to be a great decision in more ways than one as not only did I avoid the ridiculousness of creating home beautiful 4 times in seven days with two children under three and a half, but I benefited from being within a few seconds reach of this beautiful piece of Sydney each and every day. An extra pair of hands enabled a daily dog walk, skirting (Ok it was a quick skip through) the park, crossing the oval and down to the beach with Rhubarb for a swim and a roll in the sand.

Doggie Spa

We went on several bushwalks with the kids, woke each morning to a chorus of rawcous cockatoos and fell asleep each night to the calming hoot of the powerful owl. The week ended on a very high note when at 7am down at the point I witnessed a sea eagle swoop past me on the beach, grab a fish and fly off across the water up into the gum trees. My heart almost skipped a beat and it turned out to be a good omen as we sold the house the very same day. I love this little pocket of the world. Where did you escape to this weekend?


Come on Down Beach Babies!

Happy Days

The big wet is back, Sydney is drenched and dams are overflowing. In between showers though we enjoyed a gorgeous stretch of late spring sunshine last week so we made the most of it and headed to one of our favourite spots in the shire .

My father in law has asked me not to tell everyone about this little gem but since my readership is, well let’s say still in its “growth” phase (Hi Pete!),  I don’t think we need to worry too much about the hoards descending. The place in question is the sand flats at Grays Point, just round the bend in the river from Swallow Rock boat ramp, only accessible at low tide.

There is no amenity block, kiosk, tap water etc. and limited parking. The sand is also not everyone’s liking; nice on top but slightly muddy, sulphurous and a bit pongy at times underneath.  Not the usual clean golden stuff that people like to let their toddlers loose in. Tess also cut herself on some oysters last year and if you stay too late you will get molested by swarms of sand flies.

So all in all you might be wondering why on earth I took the children down there for a picnic last Thursday. Well quite simply because all of the above combine to generally grant us the entire place to ourselves save a few a few bait diggers, fishermen and dog walkers for Ruby to terrorise. More importantly we get to share it with the odd heron, jumping fish, baby mud crabs,  and if we’re lucky a pair of soaring sea eagles on their way back to the nest. Raucous cockatoos squawking in the National Park across the water and the reflection of the sunlight on red gum bark and sandstone rocks complete my selfish little picture.

I also like to take the children there as an alternative to the picture perfect golden sands and concrete sidewalks of the city beaches and live a little on the wild side.

So now that I’ve convinced you how awful it is…hopefully I won’t see you there!

Bad Weather Always Looks Worse Through a Window

Sunshine on a rainy day

I couldn’t agree more with whoever penned this anonymous anecdote. Despite the fact that I have lately been complaining on the domestic front about the incessant rain we have had in Sydney, we did manage to get out in the tinny between the showers, the Sunday before last. I have been so busy catching up on washing and drying since that I haven’t had time to write about it.

Its also true that kids don’t notice the cold and only care about getting wet when adults make a fuss. I’m also a great believer in going outside and getting cold, just so you can come back in, put the kettle on and get warm again, not to mention the lack of crowds at the boat ramp.

So with all this in mind we rugged up and headed down to Southwest Arm to get out of the house and cure the encroaching cabin fever, armed with a thermos full of Bill Granger’s tomato soup and “healthier” chocolate brownies.

Lucky Dip

Even if you don’t have a tinny I highly recommend embracing the rain and getting out into some native bush to blow away the cobwebs. There will be lots of waterfalls running and the moisture really brings out that unmistakable blend of eucalypt, moss and sandy Sydney soil. If you’re still not convinced here’s a couple of rainy day quotes to coax you into it.

Anyone who says sunshine brings happiness has never danced in the rain.  ~Author Unknown

For the man sound in body and serene of mind there is no such thing as bad weather; every day has its beauty, and storms which whip the blood do but make it pulse more vigorously.  ~George Gissing, “Winter,” The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft, 1903

I am sure it is a great mistake always to know enough to go in when it rains.  One may keep snug and dry by such knowledge, but one misses a world of loveliness.  ~Adeline Knapp

Grays Point to Jibbon Beach: Autumn Days on Port Hacking

Tinny Track to Jibbon Beach

A clearing fog, steam powered chugger, dolphins splashing off Jibbon beach and little boys fishing from the wharfs dotted along the river bank. Just picture it. Well actually you’ll have to because a combination of wriggling toddler, unsympathetic tinny skipper, technical camera problems and having the agility that comes with being  seven months pregnant meant I hardly captured any of it on camera. By the time we got to Jibbon beach the camera was actually confiscated from me due to the ridiculousness of my predicament and the general angst it was causing on board. Imagine the chaos if Rhubarb had been in attendance?

When we got to Jibbon beach my frustration evapourated. What a stunning spot to pull up for morning tea and a dig around in the sand.

Jibbon Beach

No sooner had we laid eyes on the beach and started assessing how to land, I spotted some activity in the water beyond an anchored dive boat; dolphins! I’ve seen my fair share of dolphins on races and deliveries and the thrill of getting close to them never goes away. This time though the thrill was taken to a level I haven’t experienced before. Sharing the moment with your two year old daughter for the first time and who has so far only seen dolphins in story books, was simply magic. I wish I could have bottled the excitement. Of course the confiscated camera was immediately reclaimed but I’m afraid the shots I managed are, at best, just evidence of what we saw, along with a vast number of snaps of splashes and ripples where dolphins had been.

Spot the fin

And a nose....?

Absolute Proof!

The pod of dolphins soon departed and we headed back toward the beach to attempt to land. However not long after we pulled up we realised that the small surge would actually make landing the tinny a bit tricky with the current capabilities of the crew on board so we set the anchor, cracked open the thermos and put the camera away. A happy hour was then spent soaking up the autumn sun.

Useful information and activities

  • Jibbon beach is part of a number of Royal National Park bush walks and makes a great spot for a picnic a swim or as a stop off on the way to surf Jibbon bombora.
  •  The water is very clear (listed on NSW parks and wildlife as the cleanest beach in Port hacking complying with 100% of bacterial indicators) and so is perfect for snorkeling.
  • On May 15th Parks and Wildlife are running a discovery activity “Jibbon Headland and Rock Engraving”. Join an Aboriginal Discovery ranger and take a leisurely stroll along Jibbon Beach to the rock engravings at Jibbon Point, hear why this site is important to the Aboriginal people. For more info click on the link below.

Getting to Jibbon Beach

  • We took the tinny from Swallow Rock Boat ramp at Grays Point, a distance of about 2.5 nautical miles.  If you’d like the navionics track file please drop me an email. I still haven’t managed to upload the file type to the blog yet!
  • You can drive to Bundeena (about a 1 hour and 15 minute trip from Sydney CBD) and then walk along to the beach from the ferry wharf. There are also numerous bush walking tracks that lead to Bundeena including the Jibbon Beach Loop
  • You can also reach Bundeena by ferry from Cronulla (and Cronulla via train on the Illawarra line)

Useful Links

Google Map of Jibbon Beach

Great Information on walking the Jibbon Loop Track from Wild Walks

Swallow Rock Boat Ramp

Cronulla Ferry Time Table

Jibbon Headland and Rock Engraving Discovery Activity (scroll down)

Red Jacks Point: Pelican Amphitheatre

Red Jacks Point

Did you know that April is Children and Nature Awareness Month? Yesterday we signed up for the Great Outdoor Challenge, an event created by 5 Orange Potatoes as part of the US based Children and Nature Network’s efforts to inspire kids to get outdoors.  We’ve done a few trips in the tinny in recent weeks but fur, feathers and foliage have been a little thin on the ground. So with the Great Outdoor Challenge  in mind and a real incentive to get some photos, we headed down to Red Jacks Point on Port Hacking, where thankfully our luck improved.

After a doing a refreshing 20 knots from Deer Park where the no wash zone ends, we pulled up at Redman’s Point in very shallow water, only really suitable for a tinny or flat bottomed boat that is easy to launch from the sand. We switched off the engine and let the tinny drift across the sea grass beds whilst we finished off the CWA fruit cake from the Easter Show, washed down with a cup of tea from the thermos.  Bliss.

We were shortly joined by half a dozen pelicans who were probably attracted by the fish that could also be seen jumping out of and near the surface of the water. Every now and then a cormorant popped its head up and I wondered if they were fishing cooperatively, something that is unique to the little black cormorant species. The pelicans swam around the tinny in a wide circle (probably eyeing Rhubarb with some caution) creating a kind of reverse amphitheatre with the performance on the outside and the audience floating in the middle. I filmed a short piece of footage of two of them paddling past which I can’t seem to load on the blog so will try and post on the facebook page. I love the way their tail ends bob up and down just slightly as they glide along. I’m always amazed at their ability to take off from the water, being such a large and heavy looking bird.

Pelican Performer

Tessa can recognise and identify pelicans but whilst this was being shot was more interested in ferreting out some cheese from the coolbag, as you can hear in the background of the footage. I have learned that an assortment of healthy snacks can do wonders for extending the range of short attention spans on boat trips.

Stingray...De de doo doo doo doo

I was also lucky enough to see a brown stingray cruising through the sea grass beds but unfortunately wasn’t quick enough to catch it on camera; sometimes you just have to focus on looking and observing and enjoy the moment. Although the sea grass beds look quite barren on first glance, I can assure you they host a whole ecosystem of plants and animals just waiting to be investigated with a snorkel (note to self to leave one permanently in the boat).

Lilli Pilli Sand Flat

Hitching a Ride

By now the tide had dropped a fair bit so we all hopped out and dragged the tinny across the shallows back to the main channel, (a good workout for the thighs) and headed over to a sand flat at Lilli Pilli where we all had a swim and Tessa was fascinated by the worm trails in the sand. These little signs of life on the surface of the beach reminded me of the outlines depicted in some of the aboriginal rock carvings that I’ve seen around Sydney.

Secret Tunnellers

Relaxing Reg

To top off a superb autumn morning on the water we spotted the resident sea eagles circling over Grays Point. They were flying high on a thermal so the photo below is purely evidential! I’ll have to get a better zoom!

Grays Point Resident Sea Eagles

Heading for Home

Proof That The Easter Bunny Actually Lives in The Shire

Swallow Rock to Audley

The Port Hacking morning air had a decided chill about it when we launched the tinny this morning, heralding the welcome approach of autumn. With the cooler weather we can look forward to less hustle and bustle on the boat ramps, easier parking and less traffic on the waterways, with only the dedicated boaters out for a fish or a morning cuppa on the river. After a busy Easter weekend at home and a visit to the Easter Show, a trip in the tinny, albeit a short one, was well over due.

We made the short motor up the river from Swallow Rock to Audley to meet some friends for morning tea. The trip would arguably have been easier by driving an extra ten minutes by car, but why drive when you can arrive in style by boat?

Audley Picnic Spot

The trip is a very pretty one, perfect for a short jaunt, which we did several times back in the summer months. During one of these trips we stopped for lunch just short of Audley on a boat ramp beside a little beach. Have you ever wondered where the Easter Bunny spends the summer months? Before we saw it,  Rhubarb alerted us to the presence of a small furry rodent which looked suspiciously like an escaped domesticated tortoisehell rabbit. He didn’t seem at all bothered by our arrival, scoffed the sandwich crusts we offered him and carried on sunning himself on a pile of leaves just next to the edge of the sand. We snapped some photos just to prove we hadn’t been imagining it and left the picnic spot wondering how he came to inhabit the private little beach.

The Easter Bunny?

Meanwhile, back to today’s expedition. When we arrived at the picnic ground, just a little way along from the previously mentioned picnic spot, we decided to try our luck at foraging for some Easter eggs. Just as I thought, the Easter Bunny himself had already visited and deposited clusters of foil wrapped chocolate eggs in mossy hollows and rotting logs. 

Mossy Hollow

Just Out of Reach

Remains of the Simnel Cake

Kookaburra Watching Proceedings

Do You Think We've Found Them All?

 Clearly the upper reaches of the Port Hacking is the preferred location of the Easter Bunny  during the summer months, before meeting his obligations as Autumn approaches the Southern Hemisphere, and then hopping off to warmer climes (Whitsundays perhaps?) to spend the winter.

Day Trippers From Bundeena

Getting There

Audley is located in the Sutherland Shire of NSW, a 50 minute drive from Sydney CBD. Boats can be launched from Swallow Rock Boat Ramp at Grays Point. There is no Marina at Audley and smaller boats can anchor or land on the small beaches at low tide.

Google Map for Audley


The Audley Weir picnic spot is ideal for a family picnic. There are gas/electric BBQ facilities, flush toilets, picnic tables, drinking water, a public phone, and a kiosk selling coffee, tea, cold drinks, light meals, burgers etc. There is also a lovely National Parks Gift Shop and Visitors Information Centre that provides a wealth of information and resources on exploring the Royal National Park. The centre is open every day from 8.30 until 4.30 except for Christmas day.

Audley Visitor Centre

Tel: 02 9542 0648

There is a also a hire company at the weir where paddle boats, kyacks, canoes and bicycles can be hired for the day

Audley Boat Shed

Tel: 02 9544 1400

Useful Links

NSW Parks and Wildlife (Audley)

Boat and Bike Hire at Audley

Ferry Cruise Information

Recipe for Simnel Cake


Picnicers at Audley

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