Whales to wad­ing on lively coastal trail

Bouddi Na­tional Park, Cen­tral Coast, NSW

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - Escape - - TAKE A HIKE - Jen­nifer En­nion

COL­LECT­ING IMAG­I­NARY Mario Kart coins and toad­stools as I race af­ter my four-year-old son isn’t the “ad­ven­ture” I had en­vis­aged for our Sun­day hike. Search­ing for the Gruf­falo’s owl and snake in tree­tops and log piles is more my pace. But I rarely set the rules, and nor should I when I’m for­tu­nate to have my son join me on my way­ward wan­der­ings.

On this par­tic­u­lar week­end I’ve set Mait­land Bay, on the NSW Cen­tral Coast, in our sights. It’s a pop­u­lar pic­nic spot in the first half of the 8.5km Bouddi Coastal Walk, in Bouddi Na­tional Park.

The walk be­gins in the tiny town­ship of Putty Beach and ends in surfer-ter­ri­tory MacMasters Beach, and makes a great day trip (and mid­week #isoex­er­cise) from Syd­ney, an hour-and-a-half south. In win­ter, hik­ers are promised fan­tas­tic van­tage points for whale­watch­ing – the trail tracks across rock plat­forms and tim­ber board­walks (hold on to your hat – it can get blus­tery). In sum­mer, ex­pect blue skies and plenty of foot traf­fic through coastal scrub and rain­for­est. To avoid crowds, set out early or dur­ing the week, and you’ll want to bring a com­pan­ion along so you can leave a car at each end.

On my Sun­day stroll, I rope my hus­band into join­ing us so he can carry our baby daugh­ter in her hik­ing back­pack. “There’s a beach, and trail mix,” I prom­ise. He’s in.

Cer­tain our son won’t last the 8.5km, we in­tro­duce him to Mait­land Bay track, a 2km grade-three (mod­er­ate) sec­tion that leads from Mait­land Bay In­for­ma­tion Cen­tre down the moun­tain­side to Mait­land Bay, a cream­coloured cove with rocks to scale and drift­wood teepees. The bay is named af­ter the PS Mait­land, which was wrecked in the late 19th cen­tury, and it’s said that if you ar­rive at low tide you can spy the ship’s scant re­mains. I’m yet to be so lucky.

Ship­wreck sight­ing or not, the trail is a hoot. My son and I pre­tend to slide Mario Kart-style down stone steps and as­phalt paths as bell­birds sing from their hid­ing places in the canopy.

It’s both en­er­getic and peace­ful, and when we reach the sand we im­me­di­ately for­get the rest of the day’s plans, whiling away hours in rock­pools and waves.

PIC­TURE: JEN­NIFER EN­NION

Mait­land Bay track is a hoot, with plenty of scenic views on the way to rock­pools and waves.

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