When it comes to short driving escapes from the city chaos and stress, there are two or three essential boxes that need to be ticked before we take off.
The first, the destination has to be no more than 2-3 hours away, and secondly, we don’t want to arrive to find that half the city had the same idea.
Oh, and if it’s by the sea and we haven’t been there before, those are also boxes we like ticking.
The sleepy NSW hamlet of Seal Rocks, so named due to it once being the home of the northernmost colony of Australian Fur Seals, satisfied all of the above criteria, and a whole lot more.
Just 278km north of Sydney via the M1 and Pacific Highway on the Mid North Coast, there’s also only one road in and one road out, bugger all shops, and arguably the worst mobile phone coverage you could hope to find that close to a major metropolis.
Sounds like heaven to us.
Here’s what else we discovered during our two-day early winter detox.
Before you get there
Stock up on everything you need before you turn off the Pacific Highway and make the 25km final dash to the coast. There is a shop that doubles as the post office at Seal Rocks, but the provisions are basic, at best, although those in the know tell us they also serve a mean beef and curry chicken pie.
No, your best bet for a stay of two nights or more, is to bring everything you need from home, or take the 2km detour off the motorway into Bulahdelah (36 minutes from destination) and stop at the IGA.
Where to stay
We were hosted at Reflections Holiday Parks in Seal Rocks, a stone’s throw from Number One Beach. How did it get that name? The moment you crest the final rise before hitting the coast, it becomes obvious right away, as the gorgeous tableau unfolds beneath you.
There’s a sheltered sweeping north-facing stretch of sand framed by majestic rocky cliffs to the north and an interesting rocky outcrop to explore at the southern end. Oh, and the crystal clear water is about as inviting as it gets. No pesky shore dump here, just wide, hard-packed sand, gentle breaks and some of the safest swimming on the coast.
We stayed in the premium villa (no.5) that sleeps two, pictured below, so close to the beach you could throw your flip-flops on to the sand from the generous-sized deck.
This is about as flash as a caravan park cabin gets with a kitchen that wouldn’t look out of place in a much grander abode, and covered outdoor barbecue area, complete with beer fridge.
When to go
If you can, arrive outside the Friday and Saturday night peaks. The place can be rather lively at the weekends.
We stayed Saturday and Sunday night and the difference between the two was like night and day.
Saturday’s crowd was all families and screaming kids, but when they checked out Sunday, and the numbers thinned to all but a handful of older couples, it was idyllic.
We almost had the place to ourselves.
What to see and do
Land off-peak and we’re picking many will want to plonk down at the Reflections villa and never leave.
For a change of scene, wander over to the holiday park’s lounge area. Slightly elevated with a commanding view of the beach, it’s cleverly sectioned off with everything from a fire pit area to an outdoor chess board and a library.
We park up on a beach-side bar leaner and stool and settle in for a ‘sun-setter’, or two.
If you must leave the confines of the park and stunning sands just a few metres away, take a short stroll up the road for a coffee at the Single Fin coffee caravan outside the aforementioned post office.
Opening hours can be a bit hit and miss, but catch it right, and there are more stunning views to be had while downing that morning cuppa overlooking the breathtaking Boat Beach below.
When the caffeine hits, ride that surge of energy with another 15 minutes or so walk along the same coast-hugging road, you’ll come to the majestic Sugarloaf Point Lighthouse, completed in 1875.
It’s definitely worth the effort, take it from us. Time it right, and you may even spot dolphins, or whale or two, especially in spring when the whales are returning to the Southern Ocean from wintering at Hervey Bay.
- For more information and to book your stay visit reflectionsholidayparks.com.au.