Spoiler… it ends in paradise

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We knew the surf was gonna be rubbish, but we went anyway. We laid our boards carefully in the back of the ute, before chucking wetsuits and towels on top.

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We headed out of town with the windows down and the AM radio shouting at us through tiny speakers. We stopped for coffee, leaving the ute parked askew in the car park with its windows down, walking slowly to the cafe without any need for shoes.

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We held out a faint hope for waves but with blue skies and no deadlines we just wanted to be outside. We pulled off the tarmac onto a dirt track. The sudden din of the car rattling on the corrugated dirt road told us we were heading into the bush, despite the irony of chasing the chill of the forest by blasting along dirt roads in a truck.

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The trees and the landscape are unique, immediately recognisable to those that have been. A salt encrusted old surfer scientist once explained that these are littoral rainforests, unique to Northern NSW. There’s only a few pockets remaining in isolation and while they’re protected from development, these sub-tropical oasis for rare trees and wildlife are made ever more fragile as their surrounds are encroached and eroded by us humans – with our utes and plastic coffee cups.

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Part of the beauty of the place is that you can’t check the waves from the road. You have to commit and head on down the track, but it’s hardly a chore, the foliage changes as you descend starting with tall trees with thick, waxy leaves that block out most of the sunlight, further on it changes to thin and gnarled shrubs that reach bare branches out towards the sea, the branches are perfect to clamber up and get a view of the water.

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You get a sweat-up negotiating the rough stones of the narrow goat track, but all the while you get glimpses of the blue of the sea which is masterfully matched with the screaming white sand.

There was only a couple of other groups down there, laying calm and cool by the rocks, casual is the only option down here.

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We paddled out to find a wave but in the end we just bobbed around laughing at vain attempts to surf the washy mess of white caps. If nothing else it was worth paddling out just to get a view of the beach and surrounding cliffs. The tiny spit of sand seems an impossible fluke to emerge between the sharp rocks and the pounding of the sea.

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The only sounds are the waves and the birds. Pretty soon the others on the beach had left. I was laying in the sun and with exquisite timing   the shadows of the cliffs crept over my pale skin as the afternoon wore on. We didn’t talk much, I took some photos. We saw dolphins spitting water and throwing spray just offshore.

It came time to leave as another group descended the rocky track, their smiles were broad and loud.

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Back up the track we headed, our legs and our boards felt heavier and the sun dragged sweat from our skin. My thighs screamed up the steep stairs but my bare feet felt good on the smooth stone.

Gear went into the ute and we took long drags of warm water from a bottle left in the car. With windows down we headed back along the track with the car rattling and rocking and our smiles broad at the fortune of a day lost in the sun.

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