Vitamin Sea: Yuraygir National Park

“The cure for everything is saltwater – sweat, tears or the sea.”

The sweetest words I’ve ever heard from a doctor: “you need salt. Eat it, swim in it. Just add it in any way you can into your life.”

For months, we’d (my new hubby and I) tossed around the idea of packing up and heading off camping over the Christmas/New Year holidays. I’d had a relapse of CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) start a few months before and other circumstances kept changing around plans for Christmas, so we flipped back and forth on the idea several times… that is until my new Doctor told me to get some Vitamin Sea. Decision made.

Sandon Beach, Yuraygir National Park

Sandon Beach, Yuraygir National Park

Yuraygir National Park encompasses the coastline between Yamba and Coffs Harbour in New South Wales with the Solitary Island Marine Park covering the ocean/waterways from Plover Island (Sandon River bar north), out to the Solitary Islands and south to Coffs Creek. We spent 12 days camped at Illaroo South Campground under the shade of Eucalypts and Banksias just behind Sandon Beach. A perfect little spot to easily access supplies from Minnie Water, the 4wd beach access track to Sandon, the road to Wooli or Grafton, or simply do nothing but move between beach and campsite hammock all day.

There is something about camping that suddenly makes lethargy and sloth-like behaviour socially acceptable. For 12 days it was perfectly normal to go bed when the sun went down at 8/8.30 at night and sleep for 10-12 hours. It’s fine to nap at least once during the day, if not twice, even if you only woke up an hour before hand. If you brush your teeth and had a swim in the ocean that day then you are clean. If the sun was out and you end up with hot water in your solar shower then maybe you’ll wash in fresh water too, but not for long, as you have to conserve the water in your jerry cans until you can be bothered driving out to the tap to refill your water supplies. Hair washing is definitely out of the question (well it’s not, but I was glad for the excuse not to wash hair as it’s one of those mundane tasks that lately requires between 30 minutes on a good day and over 2 hours on a bad day to recover from). For 12 days I didn’t feel guilty if I was tired. I didn’t feel as if I should be doing more. Instead, I simply enjoyed ‘being’.

For 12 days I also switched off my phone. There were no power points, laptops, TVs, microwaves, or washing machines. I disconnected from the technological world and reconnected with the natural world –  the real world. We loaded up all of our fishing gear, which we had very little idea how to use, and dropped a line in the Sandon River. My hubby puffing out his chest and feeling manly when he caught a Silver Trevally. I’m a hunter. A provider. See – he said, waving the fish towards me. After taking it off the line though neither of us knew what to do next. Slit its throat. No, just put it in the bucket with water. How do you gut it? Where do you start filleting from? We caught two more fish over the following days and ended up gutting them and baking them whole on our camp fire. It was just easier. Our campfire became our main source for cooking. Baked potatoes, baked fish, damper, garlic bread, and caramelised whole sweet potatoes. Then we’d sit around the fire reading and warding off the sandflies and mozzies through the plumes of smoke blowing onto us.

All the gear, no idea. The waterways in the Yuraygir National Park are some of the cleanest waterways in all of Australia.

All the gear, no idea. The waterways in the Yuraygir National Park are some of the cleanest waterways in all of Australia.

In the early afternoon, Black Cockatoos screeched overhead dropping empty Banksia pods on the ground. Soft thuds on the sandy grass. Goannas slowly creeping around camp, their tongues flicking out smelling for scraps of food and insects seeking shelter under the edge of our tent. I came across a baby whip snake on the path back from the toilet one night. Burnt orange and brown scales blending into the ground below. I thought it was a shoe lace, left behind by one of the kids that race around the campground on their bikes, then the end moved and a tongue poked out, head tensed into a compressed ‘S’, body ready to spring forward.  Who needs TV when Mother Nature puts on a show 24/7.

Yuraygir National Park is home to the Coastal Emu with 100 roaming through the park. Signs warn you to slow down – Emus active. But we saw none. I suppose them disappearing into the bush is no different to us heading bush to get away from the Christmas craziness. I can’t stand people lately. I prefer silence, well apart from the soundtrack provided by Mother Nature. The dolphins, on the other hand, seemed to love people. Surfer’s anyway. There is something quite meditative about watching dolphins frolic in the waves. I also felt a lot safer in the knowledge that hubby wouldn’t be eaten by a shark with a pod of dolphins chilling beside him.

Dolphins playing in the waves off Diggers Camp

Dolphins playing in the waves off Diggers Camp

More than anything, disconnecting from the material/technological world and reconnecting with the natural world reinvigorated my desire to write (something I haven’t wanted to do or been capable of doing due to mass brain fog over the past few months). I started taking photos and reading again too. Some days lying in the hammock reading until the sea breezes gently rocked me to sleep. My dose of vitamin sea may not have magically improved my energy levels, but it did inspire the creative juices to start flowing again. I could happily live in a tent beside the ocean for the rest of my life, but until that moment comes when I can shut off from the ‘civilised’ world, my mantra, my goal, for the new year is to slow down, to reconnect with nature and myself, and to simply be present. Busy is no longer a part of my vocabulary.



5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. 1world2feet
    Jan 06, 2016 @ 02:03:40

    Beautiful photos!


  2. Miriam
    Jan 06, 2016 @ 12:27:06

    In my books nothing is more therapeutic than time spent by the sea. We’ve just returned from ten days of sea air, salt, sand and sunshine. I miss it already.


    • Emma
      Jan 06, 2016 @ 22:11:41

      I hear you! We were home all of 24 hours and we were looking for places closer to home to go for a quick 4 day camping trip before hubby has to return to work. Unfortunately everywhere is fully booked for at least another week, but there are always day trips for our ocean fix!


      • Miriam
        Jan 06, 2016 @ 22:26:26

        I agree, we were totally in the same boat. Today, however, hubby has gone back to work, unfortunately, so roll on the weekends!

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