Close Encounters of the Feathered Kind: Hastings Point and Lennox Head

Lennox Head

Lennox Head

In true mildly extreme fashion, I waited until I was driving along the motorway before deciding if our exploration would be to northern rainforests  or  southern beaches. Day trips with my grown up daughter are rare these days so I am a little obsessed with making sure they provide the most fun for both of us. The weather, my dislike of driving through city traffic, whether it’s holiday season, the presence of ticks, the amount of sleep I’ve had the night before and our general mood all come into play. Sometimes I can make detailed plans and on the actual day we do something entirely different. When it comes to leisure time with my kids, I try not to feel bound by plans. Too many other aspects of life offer no choice and I’ve had a tendency in the past to be a slave to routine

As the coast road exit loomed, our Thelma and Louise road trip dreams entered the discussion so we opted for the southern choice. For a few years we’ve dreamed of making a spur of the moment girls’ road trip south along the Pacific Motorway. We’ve dubbed it our Thelma and Louise trip but hope it will be devoid of any of the tragic elements from the movie.

Every time we approached a sign which said how far it was to Sydney we mused about not stopping. Minor details including work, lack of funds, no bags  packed, and an ancient dog at home that needed feeding  meant we had to curb our desires.  Instead, we focused on visiting a few beaches on the way to Ballina.

It was still a fantastic day out though and I got to introduce my daughter to the simple pleasure of eating fish and chips at the beach. Having spent most of her life away from the coast in outback regions, she’d missed out on this iconic Australian experience. I was horrified to learn I had deprived her of this right of passage. The experience was made more memorable by unexpected feathered guests. More on that later…

The first stop was Pottsville, a small seaside town. After seeing the crowds on the beach we got straight back into the car and headed to Hastings Point. It was here that I discovered that my daughter has never been to a beach that has much on it besides sand. Her interest in the shells and other oddments at this late age was a surprise to me. Most of the beaches I visited as a child had plenty to discover – soldier crabs, rock pools, shells, driftwood, cuttlefish and so on. I revisited one place called Shelly Beach at Hervey Bay only to discover that it’s now bare of the thousands of shells that it had originally been named after. Where are all the shells? Have they been collected in vast numbers for commercial purposes? Has the marine environment changed?

Hastings Point is a dedicated marine science reserve though, so it is a haven for wildlife and a great place to explore at low tide. On its beaches were the shells I  remembered from my youth.

  beach shells

I was also surprised to come across vast areas of pumice stones. In some rock pools at the Point there were rafts of them floating. Apparently after a volcanic eruption, large rafts of pumice can float around the ocean for many years accumulating growths of marine organisms that may end up in other countries where they could be a marine pest or a harmful invasive species.

pumice

pumice and coral

Our visit to Hastings Point started with sunshine…

blue skies

But as often happens at the coast, the weather rapidly changed.

Rain clouds 1

So we left to explore a few beaches further south near Lennox Head. Our plan was to return to Hastings Point for the much anticipated fish and chips lunch and to  see more creatures at low tide.

Boulder Beach near Ballina lived up to its name.

Boulder Beach ( small)

boulders

boulder beach3

I know I’ve included banksias in other posts but they are a favourite of mine. My children used to make stories up about the dried flower heads and call them Banksia people. Here are a few from Boulder Beach.

banksias

From the headland we watched some surfers braving the waves at the beach around the corner.

Boulder Beach cliff

I’ve never been surfing. Being pounded by large waves , lacerated by sharp rocks and munched on by sharks doesn’t really appeal but I do admire their skill and fitness level.

Surfer

Lennox Head surf

Sharpe beach with its large expanse of smooth sandy shore was indeed a sharp contrast to Boulder Beach.

Sharpe Beach

There are no pictures of me in a bathing suit (or swimmers or togs depending on where you live) as I refuse to be the target of litigation because I’ve permanently blinded and psychologically scarred people with my glaring white flesh.   I may assault you with pictures of spiders, ticks and other creepy crawlies but I’m not cruel enough to expose you to my glowing fluorescence!

Hunger pangs had us driving back to Hastings Point for the culinary delights of a seaside café. Nervous about more sunburn on our lily white flesh, we sat on towels under a pandanus tree to enjoy our “gourmet” meal. So there we were – relaxed, comfortable, eating our delicious, salt-encrusted, heart attack inducing, oblong-shaped potato delicacies, and oohing and aahing over the beautiful view.

Chips

Then the first visitor arrived. Some of you may remember that I am a fan of seagulls and had a companionable birthday sunrise with a solitary one. So I wasn’t particularly disturbed by this one joining us. My daughter on the other hand looked at it with distrust. “Mum, I’ve grown up learning to be slightly wary of all creatures no matter how benign or cute looking.”

seagull

After living on farms, I guess she has seen the cruel side more than most children – goats that viciously bully others in the mob, hens that de-feather those lower in the pecking order, crows that peck out the eyes  of sick stock animals, ants that eat an animal while it’s still alive – nature can be cruel sometimes.

Our move to a city suburb hasn’t helped build up her trust in birds as the magpies in our area become extremely territorial during breeding season. Cyclists adopt some rather strange head apparatus and techniques to avoid having their necks and faces pecked as they ride. Walkers are less able to escape as fast and my daughter has had a number of nasty encounters. None of the magpies on the farms we lived adopted this behaviour. It seems to only be where there is a more human contact that they do. On one memorable ride a magpie got its claw caught in my long hair braid while I was flying down a steep hill. Its flapping and squawking and my squealing and wobbling would have made a good video but alas I cannot afford a GoPro.

Another seagull arrived and my daughter frowned.

Two seagulls

I’ve never had one come very close though so I assured her our lunch would not be disturbed by feathered marauders.

Three seagulls

Tough Cookie continued to be sceptical though. Look at these adorable faces! How could she doubt their intentions and my wisdom?

Seagull beaks

seagull face

I’m sure all would have been well if we hadn’t had a slight accident with the gourmet food container. It was at this point that Hitchcock’s The Birds came to life for my daughter and her squealing joined the raucous sounds of a hundred evil-eyed greedy gulls fighting over a few chips spilled near our legs. As a dedicated blogger I caught a few shots on camera while leaving my poor daughter to escape this avian nightmare on her own. At least she’ll never forget this special treat we shared.

seagull crowd

After that excitement, we ventured out into the blazing sun to find a few other dangers.  Covering many of the rocks, oyster shells threatened to slice my balance-challenged body.

Oysters

The rocks alone were bad enough. These were not your smooth boulder types but textured with knife edges.

sharp rocks on beach

The risk of bleeding to death and a smashed skull were worth it though to discover a few creatures my daughter has never seen before in real life.

I recently read an article where UK engineers claimed that limpets’ teeth  consist of the strongest biological material ever tested.

limpet

Chiton (2)

Chiton

barnacles and limpets

Barnacles and limpets

shells2

water creature (2)

Empty Barnacles 1   water creature

Within the rock pools were sea anemones and variety of other creatures. My inability to balance on rocks while holding the camera still, means you miss out on these delights though.

After risking life and limb  it was time to head back to suburbia.

The promised Attack of the Killer Seagulls post has now been delivered. I may have hugely exaggerated its excitement value in the lead-up so I do apologise if I had anyone hanging onto their seats in anticipation. There was no blood loss involved in the onslaught – just an “I told you so!” from an indignant daughter. Tough Cookie was not really harmed in the process though and readily consented to being used in my blog if it alerts others to the dangers of innocent-eyed seagulls. She’s a very good sport (and is enjoying her bribe.)

For years I thought I had been a responsible mother by feeding   nature documentaries to my offspring, however Tough Cookie reminded me after the seagull incident of how gruesome they sometimes were. Full of life, death, violence and sex, David Attenborough documentaries could be a harsh, albeit realistic introduction to nature.  Her words were, “I learnt early on to be a little suspicious when cute little animals were born, as we inevitably witnessed them being torn apart by a predator later in the program!”  She hasn’t turned into a psychopath just yet though, so perhaps it hasn’t done her too much harm, although it can be difficult to tell what’s going on behind those dark glasses.

The skeptical daughter with her mum.

The sceptical daughter with her mum.

47 thoughts on “Close Encounters of the Feathered Kind: Hastings Point and Lennox Head

  1. What an interesting trip taking in sea views, shells and pebble of all kinds, nasty sharp rocks which I wouldn’t have gone near and the greedy seagulls. I agree that Fish and Chips, yours looked delicious, taste even better when eaten at the seaside. Our seaside towns always have several outlets for buying fish and chips.

    • Thanks Susan. We did enjoy the contrasting beaches although those rocks were pretty sharp in places, and I was glad to get off them! I think the Australian tradition of fish and chips at the beach is probably derived from the British settlement of Australia. I had fond memories of enjoying it as a child and was quite surprised to realise that my daughter hadn’t experienced it yet. She could have done without the gulls though! Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment, Susan. 🙂

  2. I am sorry Jane but I am with Tough Cookie about distrusting seagulls. And pelicans. They are greedy little buggers and one dropped chip or a bit of sandwich and its a flapping and squawking frenzy – one would think they are starving to death! Despite your run it with the birds it looks like you had a great day. Hastings is not far from me and I used to spend a bit of time there in my uni days. I think I will take Harry for a visit down there and for a swim in the creek this week 🙂 Lovely beaches and headlands everywhere down this way. Did you swim at Lake Ainsworth at Lennox? The tea tree tannins in the water make your skin feel so soft afterwards. Great read once again Jane.

    • Hi Amanda,
      Heheh…I will tell my daughter that you share her views. I’m sure she’ll be delighted! 🙂 I love Hastings Point so perhaps you’ll see me there one day. The creek is a lovely spot for children. No, I haven’t been to Lake Ainsworth. That could be another blog post! We did drive past the plantations though and I considered having a look. It was very much an unplanned day really and we probably missed a lot of interesting things along the way. Thanks for that tip! How lovely that you live not far from there, Amanda. Such a beautiful section of coastline. Thanks for reading and commenting. I’m glad you liked it. I hope you have a lovely outing with Harry. 🙂

  3. That’s quite an odyssey you’ve treated us to, Jane, and such a lavishly illustrated one. Much of it brings back moments from my recent jaunt around parts of New Zealand, including the knife-edge type of rocks you showed in one of your photographs (I’m happy we both came away unscathed). The British fish-and-chips tradition you invoked in Australia also thrives along the coasts of New Zealand.

    One of the great things I remember about Sydney, and something that played a role in the early part of your post, is that an hour’s drive from the city can take you either into the mountains or onto the coast. Most people have neither option that close, so you must consider yourself fortunate. Can we expect a parallel post about a mother-daughter trip into the mountains?

    • Hi Steve,
      Well, I’ve never heard my trip reports described as being an odyssey until now. I’m not sure it’s on the scale of Homer’s poems but thank you!
      The sharp rocks were not my favourite part and made me wonder how people survive being thrown about on them after shipwrecks and other accidents. Some of the surfers were not far from a section.
      We are fortunate here in Brisbane to have close access to a diversity of landscapes. One day I hope to travel to the Blue Mountains near Sydney with my daughter so you may well read about a mother-daughter odyssey again soon. A trip to Mt Warning south of here is also in the planning stages, however Tough Cookie is back at Uni again now with a challenging course so she has less time for me to torture her with such adventures.
      I’m very happy that this brought back some interesting memories of your travels here and in New Zealand, Steve. Thanks for reading and commenting. 🙂

    • Thanks John! I’m glad my little story gave you plenty of smiles. Reading that puts a smile on my face too. Thank you once again for reading and commenting. Have a lovely week. 🙂

  4. I’ve seen folks actually feeding the gulls and the resulting feeding frenzy. It seems I must agree with your daughter on that point, though I do love to watch their antics… from a distance. Great post. I love the coast. Some of the bits look pretty similar to ours.

    • Thanks Gunta!
      As I was looking at the coastal views I was actually reminded of many of the beach scenes from your blog. Secretly I may well agree with you and my daughter about seagulls a little now. 😉 I’ve never seen them in such a crazed frenzy before. The seagulls of my youth always seemed quite relaxed in comparison.
      I’ve been really enjoying the beautiful pictures and words about your recent travels when I have a chance to read them. Now that I am busier, I tend to save them up for a few days or the weekend when I can enjoy them in a relaxed setting. Thanks for reading and commenting, Gunta. Lovely to hear from you. 🙂

  5. Oh, I enjoyed reading this, and may have even had a laugh. Sorry, Tough Cookie…

    My nephew, now 18, had a seagull steal a chip from his hand when he was two. He got the best shocked face on and I still regret not being fast enough with the camera when I missed that shot.

    And have you also deprived your daughter of a kookaburra stealing sausages from an outdoors barbie? I saw one take off with a roast chook as a kid, and never got over it (but only from the point of view of watching my lunch warily in the vicinity of birds… Because we still regularly fed the one that visited us of a Sunday morning, pho noodles that we wriggled and threw in the air for it to catch.) Or the ibises in Brisbane cafes? Or currawongs on a hike?

    Brunswick Heads down that way has a great fish and chip van near the caravan park and river. There are still seagulls and pelicans for whom you must defend your lunch!

    • Thanks Oanh! I’m glad it gave you a laugh. I’m sure my daughter won’t mind. She’s used to being part of the entertainment value! I am a cruel mother sometimes. 😉
      Actually I was going to mention a kookaburra incident that also added to her nervousness. We were eating hot chips at the Lake Moogerah cafe when a kookaburra swooped and stole a chip from the plate. He then came back and sat on the top of the chair near our table in preparation for another few assaults! Wow! A roast chook! That’s a great story, although I’m sorry it has made you nervous. I know a lot of people who are wary of birds due to a childhood incident, but that’s the first time I’ve heard of a kooky taking off with something so big! The power in those beaks, hey. My neighbour’s dog took off with the roast beef from our kitchen table. That was an interesting experience mainly because of how my parents reacted afterwards.
      At the University of Queensland the Ibises are very game (and smelly) and eating lunch outside is always a little less relaxed than it should be due to their close proximity!
      There are so many great spots to explore down the NSW coast. I saw the sign to Brunswick Heads but we ran out of time. I’ll look for the chip van if I make it that way again but perhaps I won’t tell my daughter about the seagulls and pelicans there just yet! Thanks for dropping by and commenting. Your guest posts for TinLizzie were a great hit. Loved reading more about your life in classic Oanh style. 🙂

    • Yes, I am starting to understand why most people look at me oddly when I say I am fond of seagulls! Perhaps I will be a little less enthusiastic when I talk about them in the future. Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment. I must set off for work soon. I’m saving up your blog and others I follow for nights and weekends now that I have a higher workload, but I will definitely get around to reading them at some point as they are a joy to read. A much more pleasant read than the newspapers these days! 🙂

  6. Hehe…funny story about the killer seagulls. I have always been a bit sceptical to seagulls, for that particular reason! 🙂 Again, you serve us beautiful coastal scenery! lovely! And what a great idea to do a mother daughter road trip:)

    • Thanks Inger! I’m so glad you commented as it meant I checked your blog again (I am terrible at missing things in my Reader). What a great trip you had kayaking under a roaming glacier! The pictures look beautiful. Thanks for reading and commenting. So glad you got some enjoyment out of my much tamer adventures. Yes, I think I will approach the next seagulls I see with a slightly different attitude. 😉

  7. Aw Jane, once again you had me in stitches, laughing entirely too much just before bedtime. I am glad you weren’t sliced to shreds or admitted to the emergency room for risking taking those photographs. Your shots are always highly interesting and educational. I’m beginning to wonder if you always have some kind of adventure on every trip or hike you take? You seem to have a lot more fun than I do on my jaunts!!

    You are in luck… I just read an article about how you can tell personality type from sunglasses that people wear. Your daughter is an intellectual type, with very decisive views and a sharp sense of fashion and style. She’s open and honest (light tint and you can see her eyes). Actually, the shape and shade of your sunglasses have me a tad concerned… 😀

    • Thanks Lori!
      I’d have to agree with you about my daughter’s sunglasses “personality.” As for mine…perhaps you better not tell me! Actually these were a $10 purchase from a fuel station as I had lost my usual pair but really needed something for the glare. Not my favourite style so you don’t have to start panicking about my hidden murderous and deceptive characteristics just yet, Lori…or do you… 😉
      I’m so glad my waffle could give you a chuckle. As with most posts I never really know how they’ll be received so it’s a relief when someone likes them!
      Actually, I don’t think I have ever had a really standard trip in the last few years. Something always seems to go wrong or there are some unexpected discoveries. At least it gives me something to write about, I guess. 🙂 My daughter says nothing ever goes to plan on our trips.
      Anyway, so glad you enjoyed it, Lori. Thanks for the lovely comments and making me wonder about my sunglasses personality! 🙂

      • Actually, the only “shady” thing is the darkness of the lenses… hidden things. The more rectangular shape can indicate a “wide” view of life and soft corners might mean not so much rigidity in life. Smaller sized lenses are often chosen by introverts where the large lenses and frames are mostly chosen by extroverted folks. Metal frames indicate strength and a classic, defined personality while plastic and various other material tend to show expression of fashion and vanity, more along superficial lines. Of course I laughed at the descriptions… I think people ultimately choose them for eye protection!

        Regardless of what sunglasses you wear or trouble you get into on these hikes, I’m game to go out on an adventure with you any day! I’m more into laughing, learning and having a fabulous time! You seem to hit all of that on every outing!

        • Aww…thanks Lori! I’d love to have you along on a hike with me! I feel the same way about your personality. Your blogs are always interesting, often make me laugh and I always learn something.
          I do have a few secrets so the dark glasses hiding something fits, as does the introvert factor. 🙂
          You are such a character and I always love reading your stuff. Have a fabulous week! 🙂

  8. You have some very beautiful seashore there. I’ve lived on both of America’s coasts for short times and loved the water: miss it now, especially skin and scuba diving.
    Fascinating sea creatures. The variety is endless, isn’t it!
    That was quite a gathering of gulls! They are pretty bold birds!

    • Thank you. 🙂 I spent about 9 years of my youth living in coastal towns and I do miss the sea when I haven’t been back for a while. It’s very calming. I wish I was a better swimmer as I would like to be more confident checking out underwater reefs. As you probably know, we have the beautiful Great Barrier Reef in my state, but I’ve never checked it out.
      Yes, the number of gulls took me a little by surprise! My daughter was right to be suspicious.
      I always enjoy the great photos and info on your blog and I do appreciate it when you have time to read and comment on mine. Thank you! 🙂

    • Thank you! I would have shared more of these pics but didn’t know if they’d be of interest. I’m so glad you enjoyed them. I do like the contrasting textures and shapes I find on walks. Have a lovely week. 🙂

  9. What a great post! The scenery was spectacular, and the seashells were beautiful, although I’d rather not test how sharp some of them or the rocks were. 😉

    Around here, the gulls can be so bold as to steal food from people’s hands as they try to eat, and you never leave food unattended, or they will snatch it.

    • Thanks Jerry!
      I’m glad you enjoyed the story and the pictures. I sort of procrastinated about writing it. Sometimes an outing can seem like lots of fun to oneself but not so exciting for others to read and I’ve already done a few beach posts. It’s always hard to me to be objective about the interest level for others. I really loved this day out with my daughter though. We had a lot of laughs and really enjoyed the lovely views. While a bit of an unwanted surprise, my daughter and I had a good laugh about the seagulls and our lunch. It will be a funny memory for us. Perhaps I will not relay the information about your bold seagulls to my daughter. She’s nervous enough about them as it is!
      Thanks for reading and commenting as usual. I do appreciate your continued support.. 🙂

  10. Seagulls can be quite aggressive when it comes to food, even if you manage to keep it in its packaging. The big surprise of this blog is the revelation that you can get Fish’n’Chips in Australia – who would have thought? 🙂

    • Hi Rob,
      I thought everyone knew about our fish’n’chips. I suppose the “shrimp on the barby” adverts that ran on TV many years ago may have given the world a different impression. Here in Queensland at least it’s common. Or perhaps you are just teasing me about not knowing about it. 😉 Thanks for reading and commenting. Rob!

    • Thanks Shanda! It was a lovely place to explore. The scenery was so gorgeous it was very easy for even me to take photos that look ok! I hope your week is going well. All the best. 🙂

  11. Hi Jane,

    Your “blue skies” photo is fantastic! So sharp and intense, like I’m right there. Having been there helps, I suppose, but I think it’s a great photo anyway.
    I don’t mind seagulls, though they’re not my favourite seabirds. As long as we (try not!) to feed them, they aren’t generally a bother, but sometimes accidents happen! I’m impressed with your quick thinking to take a photograph of the squabble over the chips – you’ve even caught a chip falling mid-air!
    I’ve seen first hand how sharp those rocks and shells can be. We were snorkelling at Point Lookout (Nth Stradbroke Island) and dad was washed against some rocks. I think it was mainly limpet shells, but boy they really cut him badly on the foot, leg and arm. Needless to say, it put a real dampener on the holiday. I much prefer to view sealife in rockpools at low tide, while keeping dry and safe on solid rock.
    In the meantime I enjoy visiting beaches by reading your (& others) blog posts! : )

    • Thanks Dayna for your kind praise of my pictures and stories!
      I really enjoy your own blog which is superior in many ways!
      Yes, I noticed the mid-air chip later on. I think they spent a good time just stealing it off each other!
      Those sharp rocks can be deadly. Limpets, oysters and the rock edges themselves can cause some serious damage. I could have looked further but really didn’t feel safe. The tide hadn’t really got low enough for us. I have to agree with you about the dry and safe viewing! Not sure I am cut out for snorkelling among the sharks. 😉
      Thanks for reading and commenting again. Always great to hear about your own stories! 🙂

      • I think you’re undervaluing your own work, Jane. Seriously.
        If I can’t publish my next post this coming weekend I may start pulling my hair out in frustration. Not only do I want to finish and share it, but I have others I want to get going! And it’s been sooo long since my last post. Time is a precious commodity. Hope you’re well.
        : )
        P.s. lovely photo of you and Tough Cookie at the end.

        • Aw…thank you. 🙂 I always look forward to your posts but given their quality I can understand why it takes you a while to publish them. Mine really don’t need a great deal of effort to do. Plus, I am sure your life is busier than mine with your work. Yes, time is a very precious commodity. 🙂

  12. Hi Jane, I like to fossick and paddle so your photographs of the treasures to be found on the beaches of Hastings Point are bliss!
    Your account of seagulls feeding on spilt chips is highly amusing. I think Silver Gulls are handsome birds full of personality. They are also highly competitive so it is interesting watching individuals trying to establish dominance.
    I hope your daughter eventually learns to embrace the charms of Silver Gulls.

    • Hi Margaret,
      I’m very glad you enjoyed my beach wanders. I enjoyed sharing them. I must say I took many more photos of driftwood etc but thought they may bore people and I have to be careful of my data limit as soon I may have to pay for my blog. I really want to go back to Hastings Point again when it’s completely low tide and find some more treasures.
      I agree with you about silver gulls. I’m glad you think as I do that they are handsome and interesting birds. Yes, their behaviour as they exert their dominance is rather entertaining!
      I’m not sure I will ever completely convince my daughter to love seagulls as much as me, but there is always hope! Thanks for reading and adding your thoughts, Margaret. Lovely to read your comments and receive your support. I always enjoy the surprises and lovely pictures on your blog. 🙂

    • Thanks Brittany! The fries weren’t as healthy as a lot of the yummy food on your blog, but certainly nice as a treat. I think I am still hungry from looking at your pictures! 🙂

    • Thanks! Glad you enjoyed the pictures. I spent a good portion of my adult life living about 800km from the coast (in outback New South Wales and Queensland) and really missed the sea. It’s funny to watch children from the bush see the ocean for the first time. They often don’t quite know what to do first. Such a vast body of water can be intimidating at first! 🙂

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