I find it so easy to get caught up in things that would never matter in the end, like keeping a clear inbox, reaching that next social media following milestone and saving enough money to buy an apartment.
When this happens, I need to recalibrate; to remember what is important to me and what brings me joy and gives my life true meaning.
Getting on the road with no concrete plan is electric. Though I had a gist of where I wanted to go, I let wanderlust be my overruling guide. I wanted to go where my curiosity led and stay where my breath caught in my throat.
I'd never spent much time up north but the mid-north coast and the Great Lakes region seemed rife with idyllic beaches and bays to explore. I knew that I'd be spoilt for choice and that no matter which way whim led me, I'd be happy.
Three hours from Sydney then off the freeway and onto a winding road through bush, it seems like the coast is worlds away. And then finally, I rounded the corner to the sweeping arc of sand and sea of Seal Rocks Bay. The light was like molten gold and the vibe was drowsy yet thrillingly charged. Late afternoon and only two handfuls of people pottering about, barefoot in the sand and grass. It felt to me as though we'd all stumbled on a secret that we wanted to keep to ourselves just awhile longer.
I was hynotised by the ocean swelling and rushing through a channel of rock down the southern end of the beach - so pretty in its ever-changing hues of blue and so ferocious in its current. The water would rise and surge as though it was going to finally reach the stretch of sand on the other side...before it was vacuumed back out to the sea.
I spent two nights in this hideaway with the most blazing of night skies to bookend my road trip. The first night, I shared the beach with a French fisherman. Our head lamps had initially wavered warily towards one another. When I'm shooting alone at night, I almost prefer to see no one than someone. Soon enough though, we crossed paths by the rocks and realised we were simply two people indulging in our favourite pastimes. At daybreak, we met again - this time, it was as though we were long time neighbours just going about our morning rituals. That's the thing I love about being out in the elements; we're instantly connected to not just the earth but each other.
My next stop, two hours north of Seal Rocks, was a diamond in the rough. Unpaved and dusty roads led me to Diamond Head Beach and how she shone.
I'd had plans to do a little hike around the headland but the vastness of this beach humbled me into being still for once. I laid down roots for the most languid of hours, spent on the sand reading, wading about in the sea and al fresco lunching and dining on the grass amongst kangaroos (I even saw a baby joey in its mother's pouch...amazing)
It's no secret that the mountains are my greatest love - but a beach just needs a bit of geography to have my full attention and at Diamond Head, the pillars of Split Rock completely captivated me. From afar, it looked unattainable and then suddenly, whilst everyone was still fast sleep, I found myself skipping over rocks to reach its base. Then, a string of cloud gleamed on the horizon and I knew the sun was coming. I sat there, bathing in that first light, listening to nothing but the ocean and inspired by these pillars and their rippled reflections.
After a few hours in Port Macquarie from Diamond Head to visit my husband's grandma, I headed back down south to Cellito Beach for my third night.
It turns out that I'd been spoilt by Seal Rocks and Diamond Head with their proximity to the beach and their dreamlike ambience.
Here, camp was ten minutes from the beach and there was a large family with all the kids and bells and whistles on the far side of the campground and a rowdy bunch of men next to me. I am brave and choose to believe in good but being a woman alone in the bush with no phone service next to a group of guys who drunk well into the night and started to become quite loudmouthed - well, my paranoia kicked in. There was no sense in it because they'd done nothing to make me feel that way - it was just my survival instincts. I knew this so I kept my anxiety at bay and woke up in the early morning to the always magical call of a kookaburra.
Down by the sea at Cellito Beach, all stresses faded away to unveil golden hour flow states - surfers, fishermen and me with my camera. We weren't there with each another; our own little worlds cruised along on their own orbits and never collided. But momentarily, we were all there connected to this one place and time and this peaceful co-existence is important to me.
I came back home to Sydney feeling refreshed and reignited, holding this beautiful mid-north region close to my heart. The startlingly stunning landscapes gave my mind space to breathe, added fuel to my fire to create and helped me navigate through the tangle of chores, obligations and expectations to come back to who I am and what I love.
I want to make one last remark.
Today in society, I regularly feel that we, as a whole, are so apathetic, scared and mollycoddled. There's this endlessly beautiful world out there and yet we can live an entire lifetime wrapped up in complacency, cowardice and mediocrity. We operate on auto-pilot, avoiding making conscious choices so that we can shirk responsibility. We live like nothing and no one is interconnected - as though our thoughts, actions and words carry weight only for ourselves so why even try, why does it all even matter.
I can't tell anyone how to live nor do I have the interest in doing so. I'm just saying this to explain why I went on this trip. It was my way of being brave, seeking connection to anything, anyone outside of myself and holding firmly onto the reins of my life. I think that only good can come from more of us chasing happier, more fulfilling and authentic lives - in whatever shape this takes for you. After all, it's hard to hate and hurt when you're in love with how you're carrying out your days. This road trip of mine was my expression of a happy and full life that is true to who I am deep down inside. I hope you feel inspired to express yours xx