I crossed a River, Climbed a Cliff, Hiked a Forest to find you

I crossed a River, Climbed a Cliff, Hiked a Forest to find you


On the far south coast of New South Wales in Australia, lies a tiny coastal town aptly called ‘Eden’. It is a beautiful part of the world.

If you get in your car and drive half an hour south of this town, you’ll see a turn off leading down a long, rutted dirt road which continues through national park forest, all the way to the ocean. At the end of this road is a clearing, an untreated water tank, a pit toilet, a marked out campground and a healthy herd of kangaroos that gather at dusk each day to scout for food. Walk past the kangaroos, and you'll arrive at a shallow, Tea-tree stained Salt Water creek connecting to the ocean. Cross the creek, down the sand dune, and you'll arrive at one of New South Wales' many stunning, untouched and isolated surf beaches. The waves here are untamed, crashing, and best tackled by experienced surfers and good swimmers. Stand for a while. Enjoy the beach. Feel the power of the waves and the spray on your face. Then, take a left hand turn, cross over the rock pools and you’ll find a narrow dirt walking track leading up onto the headland.

11 years ago, I came to this headland with my eldest son. He was a two month old baby at the time, and as a brand new family, we arrived at this beautiful beach for a week’s camping over summer with our baby. Heading up onto the headland that first day, I walked slowly through the trees, and I clearly remember being struck by the beauty of this place for the very first time. I noted the monochromatic colours of the forest, backlit against the dying late afternoon sunlight, and the dramatic shapes of thin, twisting coastal forest overhanging the cliffs of the next beach.

We clambered down a tiny kangaroo track cut into the side of the headland, and after a bit of scrambling, found ourselves in an isolated cove tucked underneath the cliffs. Invisible to the rest of the world, we swam and watched the sun setting over the Pacific ocean, alone on our private, wild beach. As the light began to fade, we climbed our way back up and found ourselves walking silently through the dark, spindly trunks of the coastal forest leading back towards the campsite. It was a meditative and almost spiritual experience stepping softly through that forest. We almost tiptoed, feeling like we might disturb some kind of spell by treading too heavily. As we walked on, the light flickered through the trees, casting shadows and glowing golden sunbeams between the gaps in the forest. We could hear the powerful ocean roaring below us, but sheltered beneath the twisting trunks and blanket of branches above, all was quiet. Nothing stirred.

When I think back on that afternoon, this is how I remember it. Light flickering. Ocean crashing below. Spindly forest. Twisting black trunks closing in on us, as a golden sunset flickered from above, closing the door on a perfect day in Australia.

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