There are a lot of rocks in this story. For starters South West Rocks was so named because of the boulders that lay off its coast. Against a backdrop of shipwrecks, post-war prisoners building a sea wall (with large rocks), sea-faring mariners and farmers, it’s easy to imagine the tall ships and tall tales that tell the story of this mid north coastal town. And yet apart from its lively coastal history and famed geology, South West Rocks simply sparkles.
Our getaway was planned for almost a week and by the second morning we’d seen much of the town. That’s not a bad thing. It leaves you with time, the very thing a holiday is meant for. My son and I lapped up every glorious morning with dips in the bay and spinning in the warm currents. The little township of SW Rocks sits on 3 beaches, Trial Bay Main Beach, Back Beach and our pick, Horseshoe Bay. Even with my well-spoiled experiences of the NSW coastline, cyan waters splashing into the cove drew an “oh wow!” from the crowd. A picture book pathway winds across the sloped headway that joins Horseshoe to Main Beach. In its centre, a surf lifesaving club, playground, and picnic grounds.
Culture, criminals and coastline
It’s said that when Captain James Cook journaled that he saw smoke from Aboriginal fires rising on the cape, it became the site of the Smokey Cape Lighthouse. Over the years as ships and sailboats laboured their way into the shoreline and sometimes into the rocks, the gleaming white watchtower gave sailors salvation from the headwinds. Today neat white cottages at the foot of the lighthouse are available for holiday rentals.
To give a respite from the ship routes heading through the rough (and dare I say rocky) waters of Moreton Bay, it was agreed a break wall would need to be built near the village of Arakoon, giving sanctuary and safe harbour. But in the late 1800’s, it would take more than the farmers of the Macleay Valley to build this rocky outcrop. Inspired by the British practice of casting off criminals to remote places, sending incarcerated manpower to this venture seemed the practical investment. And so, Trial Bay Gaol perched on the peninsula, became another regional landmark. Today it’s an interactive and insightful way to see how prisoners fared and spent their years. There are some quirky experiences that give the tour a curious flavour. The kangaroos hopping freely on the grounds is a playful delight.
A gathering place of plenty
Monument Point is the highest lookout for walking trails and was a place of gathering and ceremony for the Dunghutti, Gumbaynggir and Birpai people. Facing Stingray Rock (yes), towards the Pacific Ocean, it’s said that the headland represents ‘song line’ or ‘energy line’ between Mount Yarrahapinni and the hills around Arakoon. At the peak you’ll find the monument built as a tribute to German internees who had lived and worked at Trial Bay Gaol during the first World War. In springtime and summer, the walking track bursts with native flannel flowers, planted because they reminded them of edelweiss fields and home.
Go south-west young man!
SW Rocks, though southwest of somewhere, is also the beachside retreat less than an hour’s drive from boho Bellingen and Kempsey. Just north is Nambucca Heads, where the ocean and bays overlap in a criss- cross of sandbanks and tides, a seascape of luminescent turquoise and deep blue. V-Wall is the perfect viewing path along the foreshore and is another break wall. Take a pot of paint and brush, I wish we had. Here the rocks are brightly painted with holiday messages and inspirational words, left by travellers.
There’s no doubt that this shining coastal haven has been hit hard by the residue of lockdowns. So many locals I chatted with said they’re struggling to stay open, can’t find employees or have put their business up for sale. The signs are everywhere. But for a place such as this, steeped in history with the best of nature right on the doorstep, maybe South West Rocks is about to boom. I love that its low key style has kept it somewhat under wraps, but everyone deserves an idyllic SW Rocks escape sometime.
Feel inspired to see more of the coast? You may like to read Things to do in Killcare.
The backdrop to Ras al Khaimah is truly an oasis in the Arabian desert. Over 60km of mesmerizing coastline, crisp sandy beaches to tropical green mangroves, creeks and shifting sand hills. The amber desert is simply magical and home to the stories of the Bedouins, whose footsteps have crossed the sands for thousands of years. One of the most enchanting ways to trace these stories is at the Bedouin inspired camps. While thin plumes of smoke rises from campfires into the pink of the setting sun, enjoy traditional food and music with local families. The canopy of stars and cool outstretched sand beneath, is a thousand miles away from city life. Read more here.
Thank you to Hello 6E, IndiGo’s Inflight Magazine for sharing this story with fellow travellers.
Notwithstanding the hours yanking capricious weeds from flower beds, or the endless untangling of a hose twisted around my ankles, my garden is a place of great joy. And where there is great joy, there are great teachings. Or perhaps I just made that up. One thing I can say for sure, a garden is the cornerstone of many things, life-lessons included.
A garden is the bedrock of duality; winter and summer, rain and the big dry, a breeze to carry seeds and gusts that uproot, cold snaps and heatwaves, flowers, and weeds, too much and too little. I learnt some time ago that nurturing a garden to perfection will mean little in the face of a hailstorm. So better not to aim to make it perfect. The shredded leaves and broken stems will come back when the weather calms and the seasons change. When life breaks something, us included, the greatest warriors are time and patience. So too in the garden when the frost bites and the wind snaps.
Hands in the dirt, head in the sun
In any season though, the voracious growth of grass, as ordinary and steady as it is, are the lungs of a garden. Each blade gently echoing the energy of the everyday keeping the earth moving and the air rippling; the only problem being that it’s as relentless as the day is long. Sprouting mile high through hedges, trees, and bushes, turning into pampas grass by the time it’s reached the lawns edge. Where it suddenly stops, giving way to hard brown dirt that couldn’t grow a bean. It’s as if it only flourishes where it feels free to, and not where it’s told to neatly behave. Funny that.
A weed by any other name
In my garden of good and evil, an amusing little parody plays out when sneaky look alike weeds pop up alongside flowers. Appearing remarkably like the real thing, these little imposters have an uncanny knack of showing up. I marvel that this is one of the most complex things that can happen in a garden. A weed-like geranium seed searches the yard and plonks itself next to the real thing. Kind of like a stunt double that can take all the knocks.
Put simply, a weed is just a plant that’s grown out of place, or more specifically, one that I didn’t pick up at Flower Power. But these pesky wannabes are the most resilient, natural, and resourceful aides around. They fertilise, keep the ground moist, attract insects and often protect the plants they grow near. Well, nothing really grows when or where we want it to, does it? So many things pop up where we least expect it, so many things happen in their own time, so many times we can look back and say, it was best left to nature. Weeds and all.
All in good thyme
Things happen quickly in a garden. With Spring, birds flit from branch to branch. Flowers bloom overnight. They fade the next day. Day Lilies are just that. A red urban fox has come to see what all the fuss is about. Autumn breezes through in an afternoon and the trees turn crimson and dry. Behind the scenes the earth and the air are silently and diligently turning the wheel of the seasons. We think that change has come suddenly. Like we think that every day passes slowly but a year passes swiftly. Little by little, progress and change is happening all the time, even when we can’t see it, we’ve grown a little more.
If you’re waiting for a seed to sprout, then yes, a garden will teach you patience. But it will also show the art of control, knowing what to hold on to and what to let go. It will show you this in the most painstaking way until you realise that a garden can be a place of least control. I mean, you get a say it in, but it’s a negatable window of influence. As it happens, most things in life become easier with the same understanding.
My favourite time in the garden is when it’s raining. Not only because my watering services are rendered unnecessary, but because with the rain, pause is pressed, and the garden becomes a watercolour where I can stand back and soak in its impressionism. When I look at a Monet, I don’t want to correct anything or change it, I just appreciate the joy it gives. So too a garden. Until I look down and realise that I’ve splashed mud from head to toe, yesterday’s seedlings have been washed away and even the fox now has a wily smirk on his face.
“While strolling through the streets of Istanbul, it’s immersive and pristine architecture weaves a beautiful story with spellbinding chapters of the city’s 2,500 year old history.”
To find out more about Istanbul’s authentic charms, see Hello 6E, IndiGo’s Inflight Magazine where we’re proud to be published here
“Along the paved streets of Dublin, the bustling evening crowd spills street side. Beneath a pink stretch of evening sky, live music floats from Grafton Street and travellers fill the marketplaces, cafes, and corner pubs. It’s summertime in Ireland’s capital and the city is alive with the celebration of summer solstice.”
For more about holidaying in Dublin, see Hello 6E, IndiGo’s Inflight Magazine where we’re proud to be published here.