Claim a beachfront bush camp on the south coast. Our mission; Friday night Impossible. That’s how we ended up at Yaboro Flats camping area, for a humid, but unplugged weekend away.
We have camped at Yadboro Flats before, so after finding the beach well and truly occupied we turned tail and headed west. A large area, we were confident we could find somewhere to unfold the Oztent.
We dropped into the smaller Bluegum Flat Camping ground but despite being unoccupied, the abandoned, fire-licked sedan wasn’t our preferred camp decor.
Under the beams of our headlights we reached Yadboro. The road in is windy, corrugated and exceptionally dusty. We claimed an empty waterfront corner, save for the microbugs that swarmed our faces. They were attracted to our headlamps, and city stench. Blinking the lights only when required, we hurriedly setup the tents before getting a fire going. Between the Oztent RV3 and the Blackwolf Turbo tents, it didn’t take long.
We, friends included in their Landrover Discovery II were quickly settled. Regaining our night vision outside of the urban fluorescents, and computer screens. Breathing in fresh, night air (the bugs abated, finally).
In the rush to vacate the office and weave our way down the coast, we had not eaten. So we fried up some dinner on the Coleman. Slowly it seemed, and it wasn’t just our hunger, the stove was struggling to get power. The generator was maybe clogged. Nevertheless, late night sausages finally cooked and adorned with salad.
Waking, groggy the next morning to a humid and heavy clouded day. The colours of the bush – muted. Late November warmth and what looked like a South Coast storm en route.
We discovered polished new toilets since our last visit.
This weekend, years ago now, was particularly unplugged. My archive shows literally a handful of photos. Cue the bugs….
After an exorbitant breakfast of bacon and eggs, we all voted to walk the Pidgeon House Mountain track, a short but steep ascent with an amazing view.
I was losing the battle with a cold and thought the walk might ‘sweat it out’.
Dressed in awful boardshorts (it was a beach camp we had planned for) and hiking boots, the walk invites you into the fold of tall gumtrees. Just enough gradient to warm up your knee cartilage.
My congested lungs were almost immediately at their limit, and we recall second guessing our decision already, some 200m into the 2.5km climb. I was regretting the big breakfast. Hiking heavy, bacon and boogers.
Stubbornly, we pushed on. I dragged behind, listening to my ragged breathing, wondering if I had enough tissues in the beach bag that David was carrying, ahead.
The climb takes a few hard turns and introduces a proper ascent. The scenery either side of the trail is beautiful, rugged, albeit steeply angled.
I was actually able to take a lot of it in, given I needed to rest several times. My nose was no longer stuffy, but my lungs were heavy and full. Like a shaken soft drink bottle, I felt the congestion churn, fit to burst the more I pushed upward. In between my coughs, the bush was tranquil and still.
The stifling humidity seemed to slow the others down a bit, but not much. Eventually, the steps and ladders began.
The Pidgeon House mountain sports a proud peak, named Didthul, Aboriginal for a ‘woman’s breast’ I suppose Captain Cook erred on the side of a gentlemen on this occasion. Describing it as a birdcage instead.
As we climbed, the rocky landscape took over and we were granted a steel staircase.
It was about now that the grey humidity changed. It was now humid, grey and cold.
South Coast weather.
Single file, soon the stairs give up and there are ladders in their place. We steadily climb. Stubborn to finish, no delusions of a rewarding view.
We are literally climbing through mist. Frigid, blinding mist.
The bars are cold and slippery. My knees are hot. Complaining of inflammation. But at least I can breathe now. The slow climb is easier, despite each mildly terrifying rung of the ladder. The air is breezy and unarguably cold now. The humidity traded in for light rain.
Needless to say, we arrived at the peak, a small rocky perch with a couple of stunted trees to frame the supposed amazing view. Luckily, or because of, I have precisely zero photos of our walk or summit.
Stuffing ourselves with green apples, corn chips, beef jerky and chocolate, we were only encouraged to start the climb down, by the cold. Happily damp with sweat and mist.
Now sporting my Gore-Tex jacket, I was able to trap some heat in for the return. Our knees complaining more so in the descent, once on solid ground we all split up a little. Each falling and stumbling down at our own gravitational pace.
Back at the carpark, we are as happy to have finally completed the walk. Considering we had visited here before, without partaking. This weekend was supposed to be a sand-ridden but mostly a sloth-like camp by the beach. Instead we had powered up a granite spur and kissed the clouds. Weekends!
The weather had not shifted, but after the walk the cloudy sky reflected in the dark, clear water of the river. Invitingly. We all took turns for a cold soak in the deeper, secluded sections. Washing off the sweat, cooling down our angry joints.
With the stove generator stuffed, we snuck into Ulladulla and picked up a backup. We were able to squeeze a coffee out of the grudging café who had not cleaned their machine yet, right on close.
The coast was unattractive, it was colder here, not quite Pidgeon House cold, but colder than camp. The clouds were heavy, but not in that enthralling, pre-storm energetic way. We didn’t hang around long. Finding comfort on the dusty trail, we headed back to camp to relax.
The sun came out the next morning and it was glorious. Regretfully packing up, we voted on finding a beach on the way home and taking full advantage of the sunshine.
Making a bee-line for Huskisson, we ordered oversized burgers at 5 Little Pigs, as recommended on TripAdvisor. Then, we made our way back to the famous white sands of Hyams Beach.
We swam in short bursts, running in and out of the water. There were a lot of blue bottle jelly fish and we pushed our bravery, or luck, as much as we could.
The high sun reflects off the sand in an almost painful way. Much like my pale white legs, that refuse to tan. It is a beautiful view, through squinting eyelashes. The black-green forest backs right up to the sand.
Also, cute bugs.
The photogenic draw to Hyams Beach is strong and the neighbouring, hilly streets are littered with visitor’s cars. The beach itself, long enough not to feel crowded, despite the rotation of visitors, undressing or dressing behind the privacy of their car doors.
The sand carrying wind, blue bottles and work tomorrow pulled us back to our own vehicles and we began the slow commute home, with the rest of the weekend traffic.
Our off-script weekend microventure, was over. We had squeezed in a summit, some sand, and almost enough nothing. We were happily weary and recharged, all at once.
Campsite: Yadboro Flat
Facilities: Pit toilets
Access: unsealed road, via town of Milton, NSW
Features: wombats, water front camping, large flat green area, bushwalking
Pet friendly: Yes
Walk: Pidgeon House Mountain Didthul Track
Location: Morton National Park
Access: Unsealed via town of Milton, NSW
Distance: 6km return
Terrain: steep, unsealed, uneven, stairs and ladders
Views: Yes (weather prevailing)
Elevation: 720 metres (2,360 ft)
Pet Friendly: No
Location: Jervis Bay
Terrain: Squeaky white sand, bushland, holiday houses
Pet Friendly: Not sure…