Travelling memories: an unforgettable moment at South West Rocks, Australia

I started writing this article two years ago, in September 2017, but never finished it and eventually forgot it after a while, until I found it by accident a few days ago. I don’t really know why I never published it; after all, it was about what might be the most beautiful moment of my Australian East Coast trip of 2016… It was quite emotional to read it again, refreshing memories that were never really forgotten, so I decided to pick it up again and finally finish it two years later, more than three years after I spent that short time in heaven at Little Bay, next to South West Rocks. I hope you’ll have as much fun reading it as I had re-writing it!

📷 For more pictures have a look at my gallery of photos of South West Rocks & Nambucca Heads.

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It was more than one year ago, but I remember it as if it was yesterday.

I was in Australia for two months and a half already. I had bought a campervan in Cairns in the North of Queensland and since then, I was slowly travelling South, following the coast. I  had already gone to a lot of gorgeous places on my way: I snorkeled on the Great Barrier Reef, explored the Whitsunday Islands, saw koalas on Magnetic Island… I was travelling on my own, but I very often met other backpackers like me, most of the time in campgrounds where I was sleeping in my campervan.

Rainbow Beach

That’s how I met two German sisters, in a free campground next to a roadhouse close to Rainbow Beach, at the end of August 2016. They were heading North while I was waiting for my tour to Fraser Island to begin on the next day, but we decided to spend the morning together walking on the beach. We were talking about what we did during our respective trips, sharing tips and advices like travelers always do, when they told me about this place they loved called South West Rocks. I had never heard that name before and in the next weeks I was going to ask a few other backpackers about it, but none of them knew it either. I was beginning to wonder if I was wrong and had misunderstood what they said. A month later, I was in the area and decided to go there anyway as it wasn’t a big detour. As soon as I arrived, I knew they hadn’t lied to me. I was in heaven.

The day before was a Thursday. I left Byron Bay in the afternoon with the intention of being in Sydney on Saturday, 750km further South, so I could go party with friends. I don’t remember where I stopped on the Thursday night; somewhere next to the coast, but it was raining and the place wasn’t especially beautiful. Luckily the sun was shining on Friday.

The village of South West Rocks by itself didn’t have anything special so I kept on driving in the direction of the Arakoon National Park until I reached Little Bay, 4 kilometers further, the place that the German girls told me about. They described it to me as a lovely beach with lots of kangaroos around. That sounded great, but the reality was even better. The cove was the most beautiful I’ve ever been to, and there were probably more than 30 kangaroos quietly feeding on the grass around, more than I ever saw before. It was also the first time I met a “Joey”: that’s how the baby kangaroo that hasn’t left his mother’s pocket yet is called. So cute!

I couldn’t believe my eyes and what surprised me most was that I was completely alone, the only human being in front of such an incredible sight!

Little Bay, South West Rocks

That perfect beach wasn’t the only thing to see there. A few kilometers away, the Cape Smoky Lighthouse offered a gorgeous panoramic view on the coast, on both sides. It was quite similar to the famous lighthouse of Byron Bay, but with a huge difference: once again, apart from a couple of friendly retired people from Sydney, I was on my own. Back to the beach, I decided to take a path to the left which led me up to the hills of the Arakoon National Park. It was the perfect place to watch sunset, with a 360° view and the noise of kangaroos moving in the bush around me.

I spent the night in my campervan directly next to the beach, alone, soothed by the sounds of the waves, and woke up very early to watch the sunrise. The sight of the sun coming up right in between of the rocks on both sides of the beach is something that I will never forget, and the picture to the left below is now my laptop wallpaper (still in 2019!). A few kangaroos were already up as well; they looked at me for a second, maybe surprised to see someone there so early but quickly didn’t pay any attention to me anymore (apart from when I was cooking my breakfast, which they seemed to be very curious about!). When the sun was a bit higher, I walked the same path up the hills again, just in time to see a whale passing by very close to the shore. Her breath when she was coming to the surface was the only sound I could hear. I felt like the place was mine: it was a magical morning. It’s for this kind of moments of pure happiness that I love travelling so much, and I hope that reading that article was at least a little bit as enjoyable as actually being there.

When I went back to my campervan next to the beach, I saw my first human beings since I arrived: two women doing their morning run and a surfer putting his wetsuit on. I don’t know if these people realise how extraordinary the place where they live is, but I envy them. I would have loved to spend the entire day there but I eventually left and headed to Sydney. I don’t know if I’ll ever go back to South West Rocks again, but what I know for sure is that I’ll never forget this place, Australia’s best kept secret.

Have you ever lived similar brief but unforgettable moments during your travels? Share your memories in the comments below!

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