We found this unique specimen on one of our family excursions to the beach. We had opted to head to Reids Reserve in Swansea Heads. Mivvy conveniently dropped off to sleep on the way there, so Ickle and her daddy went exploring, while her mummy sat in the car and played around on her mobile phone. Nothing like a bit of downtime ensconced in the driver’s seat.And father and daughter found a beautiful pathway leading to a sandy beach and honey-rock slab a stone’s throw from the ocean. And on the way there, of course, the flip flop tree.The access to this stretch of paradise is strewn with rocks so it was a bit of a scramble, but nothing like our recent rock-hopping experience. Ickle and Mivvy had huge fun playing together in the channel, with the water swooshing gently in both directions (this is definitely not the place to be when the tide comes in). And Mivvy enjoyed picking miniature shells off the rocks and examining them, while Ickle went for a climb to observe the ocean at closer range.We were tempted to pick a pair off the tree on our return to the car, but decided we’d leave the unusual blooms in situ for others to enjoy.*Well “thong tree” really doesn’t have the same ring about it. (In Australian English, flip flops are known as thongs.)
Lake Macquarie is Australia’s largest coastal salt water lake, covering some 110 square kilometres. It flows out to the Tasman Sea via the Swansea Channel and Lakes Entrance, passing Reids Reserve on its journey. The reserve was named after Captain William Reid, who, way back in 1800, sailed into the entrance to the lake instead of the Hunter River where he was due to collect coal. In fact, for a number of years the lake was known as “Reid’s Mistake”, until it was renamed in honour of Lachlan Macquarie, Governor of NSW.
Daddy Ickle suggested we plan a visit to the reserve en famille last Sunday. After aiming for a morning get-away, we eventually headed out of the door at around 4 pm. Not bad going! And we took with us all the paraphernalia needed for a toddler and baby. So you pack for a week-long holiday, and then go up the road for a couple of hours.
The reserve occupies a beautiful spot and the weather really showed it in the best light: water glistening in the sunshine, trees providing some welcome shade, and the rocks and sand warm underfoot. The whole just slightly marred by the onslaught of bush flies blown in from their breeding grounds by the hot westerly winds – aargh!
The site comprises a generous grassy area, the ubiquitous Aussie outdoor barbecue, picnic tables, an amenities block and a small, very basic playground. But hey, who needs swings and slides when you can rock hop, dodge the waves, spot a giant crab, and play in the sand on the nearby beach? Ickle had a ball, with her daddy alongside her, while Baby Lil and I pottered about. I even managed to bulldoze my way along the sandy track to the beach with her stroller.
Ah, the sea and sun where the lake meets the ocean. What a pleasant way to spend an hour or so on a Sunday afternoon.