450km 5 pee breaks 7 Red Bulls and a half tank of diesel A packet of Twisties spilled on the floor Oh, and one McFlurry leaking into the cupholder. You know, the one that you really wanted at 6am, 200km ago. Sounds like a fair trade for the wild adventure afforded to you by bitumen, right? How many times have you done a highway slog like that? Ten times? A hundred times? Well, even at a minimum, you’ve missed the QLD coast’s worth of adventures. At the upper limit, you’ve missed more kilometres than the entire coastline of Australia – just let that thought marinate for a minute.
Ok, now calm down. It’s not your fault. Well, actually it is and here’s why: You’re just like us.
INDIANA JONES AND THE... WHERE ARE WE?
Right-o, so there’s a little town on the NSW coast called Bulahdelah. If you’re a New South Welshman, you’ve probably stopped there for fuel, a beer at the pub or simply dribbled at the exit sign as you’ve driven past at 110km/h. Hidden behind Buladelah are some local tracks and pretty banging campsites. However, what we didn’t realise was that hiding in the heart of all that local knowledge was a track that had not been driven in… two years? Five years? More? Trapped in time and thoroughly reclaimed by Big Mama Nature, this track was more than we ever expected to find. Winches spooled, tyres down and adventure hats firmly adjusted, we delved into the unknown at first light.
"So there I am, hacking away with a machete, scouting a path for a bloody Unimog..."
The big Mercedes’ job here was simple: bulldoze a path open for the other vehicles to follow. Having torn an air brake line out of the Mog in the first 2km of this ‘track’, however, I decided to take leave from my spotter’s position in the gun port and clear some of the thicker line-grabbing scrub. So there I am, hacking away with a machete, scouting a path for a bloody Unimog through bush so dense you’d be lost in ten steps. Was I in Bulahdelah or Borneo? Who knew? Who cared? This was unreal.
Look. Collectively we’ve crossed deserts, states and continents, but nothing yet has compared to the feeling of driving a track that’s sat dormant for so many years. A track just a few hours from my driveway, up a highway we’ve all driven a thousand times. For nearly 20km we pushed, plowed and hacked in 35-degree heat and 105% humidity. This was the definition of epic. This was wild, untamed adventure and this track had not a single hill climb, wheel rut or bog-hole in sight – and it sure as shit didn’t need them either.
BABY, DON’T GO!
As I write this, I’m looking through my window as the last sun of summer is about to set. We had to find the right way to end the season and after a scorching few days scouting that track in Bulah, we tracked down the ideal spot. Snags, beers and a crate full of fishing lures were loaded into a pontoon boat and out into Wallace Lake we powered, well, motored gently anyway. Speaking of power, that little Zego? It has none, but despite that and its ‘personal taste’ looks, the thing is more than a bit of fun for a boys’ weekend like this. Zipping around the lake on the ‘Zook Of The Sea’, rope swinging into the bath-temperature water and flinging lures at the disinterested fish, we couldn’t have asked for a more idyllic summer send-off.
We just had to go and turn that on it’s head, didn’t we.
Torrential rain, deafening thunder and a camper trailer jammed firmly against a rock being skull-dragged back up a sopping wet clay hill... What a way to shatter the peace and serenity of the lake! This track, 10 minutes from Wallace Lake in Forster is called McBrides, and similar to a cranky Scottish bride-to-be, she's scary, no-nonsense and packs a knife on her garter.
"McBrides Beach track has the ability to change subtly year to year, but those little changes influence every line, every wheel placement and make the one-kilometre track one of the best and gnarliest in the area."
McBrides Beach track has the ability to change subtly year to year, but those little changes influence every line, every wheel placement and make the one-kilometre track one of the best and gnarliest in the area. Put in the hard work though, and you’re rewarded with an absolutely stunning, secluded beach that begs to be fished, explored and enjoyed for days. Diving, spearfishing and just lazing around camp, made the next few days turned out to be nothing short of perfect. Farewell Summer, you gorgeous thing, you.
We’re all guilty of this: We get so caught up bee-lining towards big-ticket locations, that in the end we miss what’s right in front of our noses. Given the size of my nose, that’s been a lot over the years.
Sitting under the camper awning, watching the last of a summer storm blow out towards the horizon, we revelled in what we’d been able to achieve simply by taking an exit, left.