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Climbing out of our comfort zone

November 4, 2014 - Coffs Coast & Bellingen

It takes a lot to get a teenager’s head out of an electrical device. Sometimes eyes scroll up, only to quickly scroll down and glaze over. When we pulled off the Pacific Highway just north of Coffs Harbour and drove into the Opal Cove Resort we had an OMG moment followed by a lot of excited chatter.

The transformation was immediate. Our hosts Tanya and Virginia had turned the teenagers into a budding group of enthusiasts within minutes. What phone? What computer? Look at that view! Bravo, well done girls. Mind you it wasn’t too hard. The resort is … well just that, with all the trappings you’d expect and way too numerous to list. Although the teenagers insist the swimming pools, waterslides, spas, mini golf and games room need a mention.

On arrival we were showered with gifts from a bevy of talented and award winning local businesses. The choc-coated berries courtesy of Wicked Berries caused serious domestic disruption. The last hidden berry disappeared soon after breakfast the next morning. Fortunately the natives couldn’t eat the other basket from Heritage Healers which contained a number of soothing holistic skin care products perfect after a day at the beach or hanging by a thread off a cliff!

The four bedroom villa was the perfect place to chill -teenage style – offering plenty of space. The cluster of modern villas sat back across a cleared coastal reserve. At the edge of the reserve sparse vegetation dotted the dunes and beyond, the lapping shores of the Pacific Ocean. A stroll along the beach will discover signature bays and many hidden delights that makes the Coffs Coast so alluring.

Food and teenagers go hand in hand so there was an over eagerness for dinner. It’s often the people that make the places and this is the case with the team at Horizons Restaurant and Bar at the resort. The food was sumptuous and over generous. Renowned local chef Clinton Hunter had prepared a few surprises for us. We had to argue amongst ourselves about which taste sensation was the best. For me it was the Sydney Rock Oysters Asian Style and Wakame with Salmon Roe. Mind you the Marinated Quail skewers could have stolen the show.

Maitre d’ Drew Stever served up plenty of good humour and cheer especially as it was his birthday! He won me with a stunning selection of specially presented Halloween inspired Mexican craft beers.

We want for nothing and go back to the luxury of our Villa to enjoy the sound of the waves crashing on the shore. To the surfers amongst us, it is a welcoming sound, with the possibility of an increasing swell.

In the morning however there is no time for a surf with the consolation of a slow, leisurely breakfast. Horizons Restaurant takes on a different atmosphere in the morning where we can see the coastal view for miles. The swimming pool and activities again tease the teenagers but adventure beckons.

After picking up our lunch hamper we reluctantly say goodbye with hugs all around like old friends. As we pull out onto the highway, the clock is turned back a few years and a hand is smacked trying to pry open the delicious smelling picnic hamper. We all laugh.

We turn off and head inland to Glenreagh a small town rich with story and steeped in history. It’s a picturesque drive as we wind our way through the Clarence Valley. Things are about to get very, very, interesting. Needless to say there are a few butterflies in stomachs including mine.

A short drive later we pull up outside the Golden Dog Hotel and meet our man of the moment Bruce Jones and his offsider and chief bilayer from Vertical Mania Climbing. I am tempted to say to the kids, ‘Bruce will look after you, mum and I will just duck into the Golden Dog for a coffee’. But hey I am up for it…. I think.

After familiarizing ourselves with the gear and a thorough safety demonstration we are ready to throw ourselves off a cliff. Challenging, terrifying yet absolutely exhilarating. It’s a good place to start a career as a stand-up comedian as even the least funny comment is greeted with nervous laughter. I lost count of how many times Lucy asked if the rope was tied on properly.

Bruce and his offside Trevor did a great job in making it accessible and enjoyable for all skill levels. They both had a great respect and admiration for the magnificent surrounding environment. We did it. Woo!

We all felt like accomplished climbers, albeit at an entry level when we stopped beside the Orara River a tributary of the mighty Clarence. We sat on the picnic table just up from the riverbank and once again shared our meal specially prepared by catering staff at the Opal Cove. The climbing boys summed it up well when they said it was ‘the best meal they had ever had after a day’s climbing’. We didn’t disagree.





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