Icklegen and I have been waiting for a window of opportunity to hit the beach, but what with her hectic social schedule and the topsy-turvy weather of late, we never seemed to get around to it. So, on Sunday morning, when the cloud cleared and the sun started to beat down, I seized the moment and ran around the house frantically packing morning snacks, swimmers, nappies, bucket and spade, and all the other paraphenalia that makes up our seaside excursions. And off we set…into the cloud, which had reappeared out of nowhere, I swear it.
The forecast wasn’t too bad for the morning, so we carried on, and soon arrived at our chosen destination: Catherine Hill Bay. This beautiful spot boasts a 2-km-long sandy beach with an iconic old coal-loading jetty at its southern end (great for photos!) There is a small local community, whose residents mainly live in the 100 or so ex-miners weatherboard cottages that line the access road on both sides. It’s a little slice of history in our neck of the woods, relatively untouched by time. That though is all set to change with a 556-lot residential development already underway, and another large building project on the horizon.
We parked in the dedicated area just before the Surf Lifesaving Club. Access to the beach from there is fairly flat and direct (and free, too). Less distance to stagger with a wriggly toddler under one arm and all the beach stuff dangling off the other. Icklegen only has to smell the sea to get fired up with enthusiasm and today was no exception. I had no sooner dropped the bags on the sand, than she took off at high speed towards the water.
We had a wonderful time: dipping our toes in the ocean, building sandcastles so they could be stamped on immediately afterwards, beachcombing for goodies, and running up and down the sand. But the weather was not on our side; the sun had all but disappeared within 10 minutes of our arrival, taking with it some much-needed warmth, and then it started to drizzle, just a touch at first, and then quite heavily, so we beat a hasty retreat. Well, as hasty as we could with all the clutter we had taken with us.
And we went to the pub, “The Catho”, just up the hill. This rambling, slightly ramshackle affair can get quite busy at peak times on a nice day, when you are presented with one of those awful your-food-is-ready-come-and-get-it-buzzers; at 10.30 am on a grey, drizzly Sunday, however, there was only a handful of customers. We settled in the “dining” area overlooking the bushland that burnt so terribly during the recent fires in our area. Icklegen tucked into her first ever chocolate milkshake (just a half, but that was more than enough) and I had a flat white (not the best in the world admittedly, but it hit the spot). I did eye up the big brekkies the elderly couple behind us had ordered, so that’s something to bear in mind next time we’re that way and ravenously hungry.