I love a good adventure and have found myself on some epics over the last few years. These include spending months walking across remote arctic islands, skiing from the north pole to Canada, taking a dugout canoe 1,200km down the longest river in PNG and rowing a boat (unsucessfully) across the Bass Strait. That being said, it’s not always possible to carve out a month or two to put your life on pause for these bigger trips. But to keep the adventure demons at bay, I’ve been on mission to go on lots of little microadventures throughout the year. Last weekends trip to the Hawkesbury River was one such microadventure.
The Hawkesbury is an enigma. It’s only an hour or so from Sydney, but parts of it are so remote it feels like you’re a million miles away. It’s surrounded by bushland and has countless little beaches you can only access from the water. It also happens to have a bunch of great rock climbing sites. Last weekend, I decided to round up a couple of mates, Jules and Simon, and smash up to the river first thing Saturday morning for a weekend of climbing, camping and generally escaping the planet for a bit.
Our little adventure started off well enough, with the usual last minute packing, buying supplies enroute and a good weather forecast ahead. We drove up the freeway and commadeered Jules’s dad’s boat at Brooklyn, filled it with beer, food and camping supplies and headed up the river. We had a map and a vague plan of camping and climbing but that was pretty much the extent of our planning.
After an hour or two of exploring a the many bays and tributaries we came across a particularly awesome spot right up the end of Jerusalem Bay where we heard you could go deep-water soloing (rock-climbing without the need for a rope because you just fall into the water below). The rock looked awesome and the weather was nice and warm so we anchored the boat, jumped in with our climbing shoes stuffed in a drybag and swam over to the cliff-edge. What we didn’t realise was how bloody hard the climbing was in that area. Well, hard for us anyway. It had been a while since we’d all been climbing and I dare say we were a bit out of practise. That being said, it was a great afternoon of taking the piss out of each other as we scrambvled up the rock and very quickly fell into the water in varying degrees of undignified manouvers. The trick, we quickly learned, was to pick the spots where the water was deep enough so when you did fall, you’d avoid the many rows of oysters just begging to kamakazi themselves into your feet below. Those things are NASTY. Not our best climbing day but I enjoyed having a laugh at our serious lack of skill and grace on the rock.
As the afternoon wore on, we decided to hang the climbing shoes up for the day and find outselves a good spot to camp. It was a full moon and clear skies, so we weren’t to worried about being caught out at night but we quickly found a secluded little beach with a view of lion island and the surrounding bushland. There was not a single other person in sight and it felt like we had the entire river to ourselves. We anchored 100 meteres of the beach, threw all our gear in drybags and swam ashore. Because the weather was so nice we decided to leave the tent at home and camp under the stars instead. By sunset, we had a camp made and were sitting around a roaring fire drinking beer and cooking up a storm. It was either the day spent in the sun, afternoon climbing or the lack of modern day gadgets to entertain us, but by 9pm we were all ready for bed. I very quickly fell alseep watching for shooting stars and listening to the waves crashing on the beach.
Remember how I said it was a full moon? Well do you know what happens during a full moon (other than werewolves)? King tides. Yep, Jules and I woke up nice and early on Sunday morning to find our pretty little beach now dangerously close to being a pretty little bay. The tide was up so high the waves were lapping only a meter or so from my sleeping bag. I quickly packed everything up and started building a sand wall to protect our fireplace. Simon on the other hand was not so quick to get up. Not 30 seconds after he woke up and started to roll his sleeping bag, a set rolled through and swamped our entire campsite. Where I was sleeping last night was now 2 feet under water. Nice.
Luckily there was minimal casualties from the flood and we had a good laugh when our fire hissed and shot steam into the air as a wave invaded our last sanctuary. We took this as a good sign to call it a day and swim back to the boat and make our way to Spencer for our traditional end of adventure pub-grub.
The weekend didn’t exactly pan out how we planned, but it turned out to be an awesome little adventure regardless. The trick is embracing the miss-adventures and just enjoy the ride. I’ve got a couple of other mates, who, by the way, are far better climbers than I, that, after hearing of our Hawkesbury adventure, are keen to check out the climbing there. I’ll definitely be heading back for another weekend adventure soon. If there’s any more of us though, I think we’ll need to upgrade to a houseboat (luxuryafloat.com) or something if we want to avoid waking up to the incoming tide all up in our face.