Whales to wading on lively coastal trail
Bouddi National Park, Central Coast, NSW
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.