Jervis Bay and the Kangaroo Valley Misnomer

So, after a few weeks in Sydney, it was finally time to get out and explore a bit more of what Australia has to offer. Sydney’s nice, but a city’s a city, and you only really get a feel for a country when you head out and explore. Hiring a car isn’t too expensive, and they drive on the same side of the road as back home, so it was pretty easy to pick up a car and head south for the weekend. The ultimate destination was Kangaroo Valley, a lush green valley in the Southern Highlands. It’s a place that I had heard a lot about, as Saska had been on a photoshoot there in January and was desperate to go back.

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The view along the valley from the Fitzroy Falls lookout is arguably more spectacular than the falls themselves

We picked up the car on Friday lunchtime, and set off southwards, with the aim to stop off at Fitzroy Falls on the way. After a two hour something drive we arrived at the falls in Morton National Park. There’s a charge of $4 to park for the day at the visitor centre car park, or $8 if you want to visit other parts of the national park on the same day. Make sure you have coins though, as although I’ve paid for pretty much everything else in Australia on card (I’ve only actually taken cash out once) these parking meters only take coins. There’s a visitor centre and café, but also plenty of picnic benches, where we elected to have our packed lunch. After this we followed the west rim track to the Fitzroy Falls viewpoint. Although the falls were an impressive height, it’s only really a small stream, and the dry weather in Australia over the past few months meant that not a huge amount of water was flowing. Google Fitzroy Falls and most of the photos you’ll see will have been taken just after heavy rain. Compare them to my photos of the trickle and you’ll see why visiting after rain might be a good idea. I’m not saying it’s not worth going in dry weather, as the views of the valley from the lookout are stunning, and the falls combined with sunny weather gave a nice rainbow effect. There’s also plenty of birdlife to view, and I finally saw my first Australian reptiles.

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Fitzroy Falls turns into a rainbow as the sun hits the falling water

We continued along the west rim track to the twin falls lookout, which as you guessed it, was bone dry. I don’t even know what these falls are supposed to look like as there wasn’t even a dribble of water. I assume there are two of them though! Never mind, we were entertained by a rainbow lorikeet and further spectacular views of the valley. The track has plenty of information signs about the various different plant and bird species that you can encounter along the way.

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A rainbow (lorikeet) was also present at the twin falls lookout, although unfortunately no waterfalls were! The Tree it’s sitting in is a banksia, named after the famous English botanist, Sir Joseph Banks

We headed back to the car and were on our way again. We followed the scenic drive and I was pleasantly surprised to be reminded of home as we descended into Kangaroo Valley. The green pastures and weeping willows were a strange sight in a country that is in severe drought. We carried on through the valley and eventually reached our AirBnB property in Coolangatta.

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Our AirBnB was just on the other side of the hill in the distance. Photo taken from Cambewarra Mountain lookout

The following day started off drizzly, but we decided to head out for a walk. After googling the best walks in Kangaroo Valley, we decided on the three views walking track. When we reached the carpark we were greeted by charred forest and a sign saying the track was closed. We weren’t sure what to do, as the drive to reach the start was quite long and we had noticed other people walking on the track, so we decided to risk it. By this point, the sun had broken through the cloud and the temperature was soaring. Saska had put on jeans in the morning as she was cold, and was now really regretting it. The walk itself was nothing particularly special. It was good to do a proper bushwalk, but I think we were both hoping to be walking more through the fields of Kangaroo Valley itself. Although the walk was rather monotonous, the two views (we didn’t make it to the third) were spectacular. The view of the dam was great, but the lake view was my favourite. Don’t go too near the edge of the cliffs though, as it’s a long drop if you lose your footing!

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Taking in the first of the three views
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It took me an embarrassingly long time to realise that this was in fact the empty case of a cicada and not a living creature itself!

On the Sunday we took a 45 minute drive to Jervis Bay, which I hadn’t heard anything about until I came to Australia, and haven’t stopped hearing about since arriving here! We had heard that “the whitest sand in the world” could be found at Hyams Beach, but that the limited parking meant that you had to get there very early. We decided instead to head to Greenfield Beach picnic area, to do the white sands walk, but found that carpark to be full too. No worries, we just retraced our route a little and parked up by Blenheim Beach instead. The walk was lovely, with a good number of viewpoints and different habitats. We reached Hyams Beach and by this point were rather hungry. There’s one small café that had a huge queue, so we had to sit and wait half an hour for our takeaway food, which in the grand scheme of things isn’t too bad I guess, but it might be an idea to bring a packed lunch. We ate on the beach, but decided we wanted to swim somewhere less busy, and closer to the car. The benefit of doing the White Sands Walk is that, as it says on the tin, you notice that all the beaches are the same colour, so if you want to go to a white beach you can pick any. The beaches away from Hyams Beach are also a lot quieter. We went back to Blenheim Beach, where we took in the last rays of sunshine and went for a dip. A fitting end to a great weekend.

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The white sands walk takes in some fantastic scenery and geology
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Of course, it wouldn’t be a white sands walk without white sand!
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White-bellied sea eagles are a common sight along the coastal walk

So I have described my whole weekend, but am yet to mention what I called the “Kangaroo Valley Misnomer”. Well, maybe that in itself is a misnomer, as there is an obvious explanation as to why it has its name; the Kangaroo River runs through the valley. Case closed. It’s just that I was thinking I would be surrounded by bouncing marsupials as I drove through it, but I didn’t see a single ‘roo. That’s not to say there are no kangaroos in the valley; there definitely are, as well as wombats and endangered brush-tailed rock-wallabies. I just wasn’t there at the right time of day to see them. I did however see masses of kangaroos on the way back from Jervis Bay, as they tend to come out in the evening.

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This male king parrot was a regular visitor to our AirBnB property
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Female king parrots look like a different species, and are a great example of sexual dimorphism

All in all a pleasant weekend away, and I recommend it for a nice break from city life.

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