14 January 2011

Camping at Port Jackson

Just yesterday we returned from our summer holiday - camping at Port Jackson, up on the Coromandel Peninsula. We had such a lovely time! Tell you what, it's very hard being home right now - we'd much rather be back at the beach!

This is a map of the Coromandel:

 Do you see Port Jackson Right at the top? And yes, that's right, all the way from Colville to Port Jackson is an unsealed (gravel) road! Good times.

But man, was it worth it! This is Port Jackson.

Isn't it just beautiful? The photo doesn't even do it justice. It is a calm, wide bay surrounded by beautiful green hills. It's just lovely. The beach has little rolling, lapping waves, so it's perfect for swimming because you know you and the kids will be safe. 

This is a close-up of our part of the camp ground - the site we are at is on the far left, just back from the beachfront. Do you see our green and tan-coloured tent on the left, just behind the little red dome tent? Next to us, all on the same fabulous site were our friends:  Paula and Michael, Marlene and Jono and Renee. Just across the trees to the right is a brown and orange tent: Kelly and Sarah and the kids came out on Tuesday and got a spot right next door! (Kelly is Hayden's older brother.)

So we had an absolutely lovely time together. We all set up together with the premise that we were camping together but organising ourselves separately. So each family/couple/person did their own meals and dishes and all that and we all went and did whatever we felt like doing whenever we felt like doing it. It was lovely and worked really well.

Here's a few pics of some of the things we did:

The lovely Renee doing the dishes in Brierley's little wagon at their cool tent set up. Possibly Brierley was playing in some water in their actual dish-washing tub? Renee's standing under the awning of the tent, which goes off to the right of the picture.

Elliot and Brierley played really well together - most of the time! Here they are sitting on Elliot's bed reading stories.

Here they are again swinging in the hammock. Don't they look happy and gorgeous?

This is in the back room of our tent, on Hayden and my (my and Hayden's? mine and Hayden's? Hayden's and my?) airbed. Rosie had either just woken from her afternoon sleep, or is just about ready for pyjamas and bed. Elliot likes to lie next to her when she's drinking a bottle - I think in the hopes that he might get to finish what she doesn't! This was a nice family moment. :)

This is in the hammock which we set up next to our tent. You can see the stream running next to our site off to the left. Well, you can see the dip down to the trickle of water that we called the stream, anyway.

We had a resident family of ducks that would waddle around the edges of the campsite. The day after the rest of our friends left (we ended up staying an extra day to spend more time with Kelly and Sarah and the kids, which was great), they came right into out campsite, ate the bread we threw to them, then curled up in the shade under our trailer for a bit of a nap! Cute huh?

This is the gorgeous Rosie, of course. She was being extra glamorous this day. ;) I had laid her on a towel on the grass to drink her bottle and it was very bright, so I thought instead of making her strain her eyes, I'll put my glasses on her while her hands are busy! It was very cute.

On Tuesday afternoon, Hayden and Kelly headed off for a trek up the top of the hills at the north of the campsite, which also happens to be the tip of the Coromandel Peninsula. They walked up to an old Maori pa site ( For you non-NZ readers: "The word can refer to any Maori village or settlement, but in traditional use it referred to hill forts fortified with palisades and defensive terraces and also to fortified villages." Thanks Wikipedia!) which was on top of one of the hills, then carried on to the trig station on top of the next hill, and down to the very tip of Cape Colville. (Check out where it is on the map up there.) They got some great pictures, including the first one up there of Port Jackson and our campsite. 

Here a few others:

I think this is the view from lower down the hill with the Maori pa site on it. This is looking out towards Cape Colville (the rocks at the front there). Left of the hills is Port Jackson and the Hauraki Gulf. Right and straight ahead is the Pacific Ocean. Very cool!

 Here's Kelly (L) and Hayden's (R) self portrait. Judging by the lack of anything but sea behind them, I'd say this was taken as they were perching on the rocks of Cape Colville. Nice and safe.

One afternoon we all (apart from Hayden, who was relegated to babysit Rosie and Renee and Jono's youngest, Finn, while they slept) went down to the beach to build a giant sandcastle! Jono and Mike shovelled out a big heart-shaped moat while Marlene, Paula, Renee and I consolidated the walls inside. We left it that night, intending to finish it the next morning, but alas, it was trampled by some kids (our 'neighbours') - egged on by their parents, no less - so was looking a bit sad by that evening!

But the next morning we were down there in force again, and this time lots of kids - and even some parents - joined in and helped us make a ginormous sand castle! Everyone really enjoyed the teamwork and loved seeing the water pour into the moat and flow around into the lake we created in the middle!

Not sure if you can see it in the photo above, but Jono spelt out his little motto for the adults that had egged on their kids to jump on the castle the day before: Persistence beats resistance! He arranged it nicely to face their tents on the beachfront... ;)

Here's Elliot in a mid-air jump into the moat - he had heaps of fun running around in the sand with everyone. That's Max (Kelly and Sarah's oldest) digging the trench to let the sea in when the tide started rising.

Here's Renee and her helper making tunnels and beautifying the outside of the walls. We wanted to make it look like a fortified city with built up walls. See all the little sand castles around the top and sides?

Rosie-posy came down for a beach visit too, bikkie in hand.

Here's Rosie all ready for a walk with her Papa - she loved being in the backpack. You can see her happy little expression under her big pink floppy hat.

 And here's the kids splashing in the water up at our tent site. Renee and Jono's tent is behind the picture, to the left, and Marlene's to the right. You can see our green tent on the right, and Paula and Mike's (which is actually borrowed from Jonny and Glenys) blue one to the left.

Sometimes the weariness of camping got to Paula a bit, so she had to resort to the bottle...
 (Don't worry, it's just sparkling grape juice, and she's saving on dishes!)  ;)

This is taken from the back of our site, on the stream side, looking towards the beach out the front - though I don't think you can see it in this photo. The site looks a bit of a pigsty here... Oops. You can see we tried to set up our tent awnings and the gazebo together to try and maximize on shade.

Here is a lovely picture of Kelly and Sarah walking down the beach with their three kids, Elliot running and jumping alongside and Rosie in the pram. They were so fabulous and took our kids down to the beach a couple of times so we could cook dinner, or have a break, or pack down the tent on the last morning. Aren't families so great?!

This is a picture of the tent sites - ours on the left, K & S's on the right - on the morning the rest of our friends were leaving. This was taken from the top of the rise up to the beach. The others are all packed up and ready to go!

And here's our family photo: The van Bosterbury's! (Said van boz-ter-berries) We mashed up our surnames to form a new camping family name because we were having such a great time together!
L-R: Renee, Finn, Jono, Brierley, Elliot, me, Hayden, Rosie, Mike, Paula and Marlene. And the ruins of our big sandcastle are in the background to the right.

So, van Bosterbury's and other B's, thanks for a wonderful holiday! We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves (despite Elliot not wanting to sleep) and are already looking forward to going again. Thanks for your company and all the fun and the things we did together. We loved crossword-ing together, playing cards, drinking many milos around the gas cooker, wrapping up in our sleeping bags while we chatted outside in the evenings, musical chairs, the adjective game (contradictorily was the most fun, I think), sharing cookers until the last night because we didn't have the right gas fitting, walking up and down the beach together, swimming in the beautiful sea and heaps more. 

I've never had a holiday that I didn't want to leave so much! Normally, you get to the end of your stay and you're all ready to get home again, but I think I could have quite happily stayed another week! It's been very hard to get back into things - not to mention all the unpacking and washing! - today when I so badly want to be back at the beach! But I think that's just the sign of a great holiday, so I'll look back and remember what an absolutely fabulous time we had.

Until next year, campers!

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