A serene fishing village on the pristine coast of NSW, Australia fights to retain its simple charms and peaceful existence.
Mention Seal Rocks in Australia and most people either say, “where?” or “Shhhh!” This is one of the country’s best-kept secrets…a location long treasured and safely guarded by locals and residents up and down the stunning eastern coastline between Sydney and Byron Bay. What makes it so special? Its location–a rocky outcrop topped with a storybook lighthouse (Sugarloaf Point) nestled between three beautiful white sandy beaches and a national park (Myall Lakes National Park)–and the fact that it is so quiet and undeveloped by the usual influx of yuppies and tourists. It’s got that good old fashioned, down-to-earth, real quality that Aussie’s love and value so much.
But a David and Goliath battle is currently underway between the local council who are eager to develop the unspoiled area, and the local community and “Sealies” (regular visitors) who are determined to protect this unique fishing and surfing haven. More than 250 supporters have joined Save Seal Rocks on Facebook urging the council to leave it alone. As one supporter writes, “I first experienced seal rocks in the early 70’s. Such a beautiful unspoiled piece of paradise with the fisho’s cottages and great surf. Have been visiting ever since; so sad to see the fisho’s houses replaced with yuppyville mansions. Please fight to save the camping area and keep it as it is. NSW’s last frontier!” A recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald highlighted the controversy as talks come to a head at the end of this month.
So tarry not and get thee to this heavenly oasis before it’s too late! There are a number of delightful places to stay ranging from the basic campsite (Seal Rocks Holiday Park) adjacent to Number One Beach (starting at AU$75 p/night), to funky beach bungalows like The Love Shack and Bob and Betty’s Boat Beach Bungalow (AU$500 p/night) with front row views of Boat Beach, available on www.pacificpalmsholidays.com.au or www.stayz.com.au. Treachery Camp is the surfer’s waterfront Mecca with bush camping (AU$13 p/night), log cabins (AU$80), surfside cabins (AU$60) and a beach lodge just steps from Treachery Beach, well known for its surfboard breaks, particularly when the nor-easters blow in the summertime.
But the most unique accommodation of all is at the Sugarloaf Point Lighthouse–three beautifully restored, self-contained and fully equipped, historic lighthouse keeper’s cottages perched above Lighthouse Beach and the sleepy fishing village below superintended by four local pelican’s who strut up and down the beach daily keeping a close watch on the fishermen. Built in 1875 the Head Keeper’s cottage and two Assistant Keeper’s cottages are heritage listed and managed by the National Parks & Wildlife Service. Winner of the 2009 NSW Tourism Awards and 2009 Qantas Australian Tourism Awards for New Tourism Development, it’s no wonder the place books out early. (Rates start at AU$270 p/night.) For reservations contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or ph: +61 2 4997 6590.
The immediate vicinity of Seal Rocks offers plenty to do with clear bays for swimming, snorkeling, boating and fishing. There’s memorable diving at local shipwrecks and grey nurse habitats. From the point you are perfectly positioned to watch pods of dolphins surfing the waves and migrating humpback whales. The coastal dunes also offer bush walking, bird watching, rivers and lagoons, as well as historic aboriginal and early settlers’ sites. At nearby Smiths Lake, visitors can rent boats, windsurfs, canoes, surf skies and catamarans to explore the waterways and stunning sandbar that buffets the Pacific from the Frothy Coffee Boatshed located at 1 Amaroo Drive. Ph: + 61 2 6554 4202.
With so much to see and do in their backyard, no wonder the Aussies are happy to stay home and keep it a secret. Support the Sealies and sign the Save Seal Rocks Petition to preserve this unique part of Australia’s heritage for them and for us!
Photos by Kate Ayrton
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