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On the other side of fear is freedom…apparently

November 5, 2014 - Coffs Coast & Bellingen

In case you have already forgotten, I’ll give you a hint. In hushed voice and dulcet tones, ‘last horse moving into the barrier… almost set…three thousand two hundred or two miles the journey…green light… racing… good luck punters!’ And remember where you were on the fabulous Coffs Coast … the day that stops a nation.

I am not sure if we’ll get time for a flutter. We have a memorable day coming up ourselves as we all take to the sky. Poll position, breakfast at the Park Beach Surf Club, we watch small fun waves go by unridden, almost sacrilege. I hear a voice ‘don’t eat too much or you might be sorry’.

As we head out to Aviation Drive the nerves are jangling. The two eldest Sophie and Nick are hyperventilating as they do their best to psyche themselves up for a tandem sky dive courtesy of Coffs City Skydivers. Meanwhile the more sedate members of the family are going to take in the sights of the beautiful city and beaches in a helicopter ride with Precision Helicopters. We put our headsets on and the aviation chatter begins.

‘Wind seven knots. Clear for take off.’ Our pilot Andrew fully engages the throttle and the rotors spin furiously. ‘Will let you know when we are airborne.’

It’s quite obvious to us and away we go rising majestically out over Mutton Bird Island and the harbour. It sounds corny, but what a thrill! We head north and sweep along the coast…wow! A truly remarkable experience and some of the most memorable sights ever. Unfortunately before we know it we are back on the ground and even the nervous flyers are disappointed. Mother has taken her first ‘selfie’ apparently never to be seen unless the hackers get hold of it. Meanwhile Lucy has somehow restrained herself and heeded Andrew’s warning not to put the iphone out the window to be sucked into the vortex.

As for the sky diving, it’s better if Sophie and Nick tell the story. Both are still buzzing hours after and vow to take to the air and do it all again.

Hoarse from screaming, Nick says, ‘when I plunged head first out of the plane I thought I was going to die.’

‘It’s terrifying when you first jump, it’s a sensory overload,’ says Sophie. ‘It’s a funny thing but I always felt safe.’

The quote of the day goes to tandem master Zac ‘Ballsy’ Edwards when he yells in Nick’s ear, ‘come on parachute please open’. When the chute opens Nick lets loose with a string of expletives muffled on the wind, but the lips tell the story.

Nick goes back to the hangar to retrieve his footage to document his adventure. He runs back to the car, still excited of course. It’s his new black – the altered state. He exclaims breathlessly to all, ‘the guys are just like surfers’. Between jumps Pico, Ballsy and Luke are watching skydiving movies. You’ve got to love adrenalin junkies!

We missed the race. The glamour, glitz and champagne will have to wait until next year. Lunch is rapid fire with fish, two hours fresh, from Fisherman’s Coop on the wharf then off to the pretty village of Sawtell for a much needed change of pace.

Hello water we’ve hardly missed you! Paddles push against the current as we gently glide out to the mouth of Boambee Creek. Nirvana, quite…peaceful… splash…breathe…bliss. Our guide from C-Change Adventures Matt Sparrius is a wealth of information as he points out the hidden secrets in and around this sacred place. He acknowledges the Gumbaynggirr people the traditional custodians and shows us many significant sites. A flight of cormorants swim, dive and fish in the upper reaches of the estuary only meters from our kayaks.

The gum trees stand tall behind the mangroves, casuarinas and other unique coastal vegetation. The dividing range looms large adding weight to an awesome panorama. To top it off a milky moon, almost full, rises in the late afternoon light above the sea.

I knew vaguely where I was but with no GPS I went for my sextant, oops, must have left them in my other shorts. I could only guess where I was boats, harbour and then low and behold Latitude 30 loomed into view. Was this a hint or a restaurant?

As I tuck into my blue eyed cod. I am amazed to see a lobster arrive in front of Nick. How did that happen? Meanwhile the less decadent enjoy paella. More decadence to my left, bugs for our host, fish and chips to the less discerning, still look delicious. No one is talking and Nick has devoured the tail and works through the claws with a bevy of culinary tools. Around us other diners are being delivered equally tantalising and impressive meals. In between mouthfuls we can finally relax and take in the sea and coastal views.  It doesn’t get better than this!


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