Road trip retreat

Road trip retreat
Pacific Palms, Australia

Pacific Palms, Australia


This trip is proudly sponsored by the ever-generous Sandy Olsen without whose kindness it would not have been possible. When I mentioned in passing that I wanted to get away for a few days, Sandy pretty much flipped me the keys to her holiday house and her car and sent me on my first ever real solo road trip (I’ve been on road trips before but always with at least one other person and all my solo driving has been a shorter haul). Three hours north of Sydney, I inadvertently discovered that she’d also ‘lent’ me her handbag and purse which I found laying in the passenger side footwell.

It felt good to be out on the open road. In all the years that I’ve had my license, I’ve never actually owned a car on the grounds that I prefer to travel by plane (figuring the cost of owning and running a car is close enough to an airfare a year). My lifestyle has rarely necessitated one and when it has, I’ve been very lucky to be surrounded by willing loaners. Consequently, I’ve never developed that love of driving I’ve seen in others but I think I’m starting to get it. Driving along, I felt independent, empowered and free. I pumped up the radio – I lost Triple J a couple of times when it jumped frequencies but didn’t mind the occasional interlude of John Cougar Melloncamp, Dire Straights and The Bangels before returning to regular programming.

Before I create the impression that I drove across the Nullarbor, I should mention that my destination was Pacific Palms, a small coastal town near Forster about three and a half hours drive north of Sydney. Although I could have done the drive in a single stretch, I decided to break it up by pulling in at Bulahdelah for purely sentimental reasons. Every year of my childhood, my family would go on holidays to a town called Laurieton even further north. On the way up, we’d always stop at Bulahdelah for lunch and to stretch our legs. For me, the very name Bulahdelah is synonymous with relief although after all these years, I wasn’t even sure I’d recognise it… but I did. When I drove around the corner to see our park, I audibly gasped to see it so unchanged and familiar. It was like stepping into the set of a movie about my early life! I stretched my legs, ate lunch in the park for old times sake and hit the road again, taking the next turn off for the final half hour of my journey.

I pulled into the driveway of Boomerang Retreat and let myself inside to discover where it got its name from – it most certainly is a retreat and one that I already want to return to! It’s a two bedroom, two bathroom apartment with all mod cons (flatscreen TV, DVD, CD and iPod dock) and a better equipped kitchen than I’ve ever had plus it’s only a block from the beach! It’s furnished beautifully for a holiday home or any home at all for that matter. The good news is that when friends aren’t freeloading, it’s available to rent and cheap at twice the price.

Already getting late in the day, I thought it best to unpack the car quickly and head into nearby Forster to pick up supplies for my stay. Although this break represents a hiatus of my juicing lifestyle, I wasn’t able to leave the supermarket without at least one packet of spinach… and a tub of Homer Hudson’s Choc Chunk Cookie Dough ice cream… and maybe a block of dark Lindt chocolate with sea salt – it’s antioxidant to help clean up the ice cream!

Groceries in tow, I wound my way back to Pacific Palms where I pulled up at Elizabeth Beach for my first proper stare out to sea and it was rejuvenating. I made my way along to Boomerang Beach just in time to watch the evening clouds transition through their sunset colours. The pinks especially were so vibrant it almost hurt to look at them. As they gave way to grey, I saw something I’d never seen before – a rainbow emanating from the underside of a low slung cloud straight into the sea – it was breathtaking! I stood starring for the longest time regretting I didn’t have a better camera. I resolved to point it out to the next passers by to share the moment. A young family approached but as they got within vocal range it was as though the hatch through which the rainbow shone was sealed to preserve the privacy of the precious moment.

When the clouds had run out of pink, I returned to the apartment to unpack properly and settle in. I laid out all the projects I hoped to work on during my stay and they filled the dining room table from one end to the other. Overwhelmed, I decided to start with something a little less ambitious – series 1 of The Wire. I’ve obviously become to accustomed to sleeping on a lounge because as soon as my head hit the cushion, I was out like a light! I woke up not knowing where I was but as soon as I remembered, I made a dash for the greatest luxury of all, a big, soft, comfy bed that seems to generate its own heat and for the next few days, it’s all mine!


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