Intrepid traveller Dana Williamson takes a solo trip in the Barrington Coast.
The Barrington Coast is popular for many things but solo travel is a little uncommon here. I feel it’s time to change that!
Even when it comes to solo travel there are endless ways people prefer to do it. Well, whether you:
- are craving alone time
- want to get away by yourself but still be close to ‘civilisation’
- are trying to be as safe as possible on your own
- don’t have anyone to go away with but are ready to make some awesome new friends
...then the Barrington Coast is calling!
From my solo travelling around the world I’ve learnt that just because it’s called ‘solo’ travel, it doesn’t mean you have to be alone… unless of course you want to be.
To show you what I mean, here’s my recent 2-night solo getaway to the Barrington Coast.
First stop: Hawks Nest.
But not in town just yet, I recommend driving straight down the road to Yacaaba Headland. You can do the headland walking track before the sun gets too brutal during the day, unless you want to grab breakfast in town first.
Yacaaba Headland is a moderate 7km walking trail that can easily be done within 2-3 hours really depending on how many photos you want to take or how much time you want to spend at the beach.
Most of the walk is along the absolutely stunning and flat Bennetts Beach (also known as Hawks Nest Beach). When you make it to Yacaaba Headland you’ll start a moderate 1km climb to the first viewpoint. From there you have the option to take on the final 500 steep, rocky steps to the final panoramic view from the peak.
While the path is a little overgrown with ferns in some areas, overall it’s very clear where to go and safe to do on your own. However, here are a few additional tips I would consider:
Solo safety tips for hiking Yacaaba Headland Walking Track:
- Avoid going in the dark.
- If you feel safer having other people around or at least nearby, from 9am is ideal. I arrived around 8am as one of just two cars in the main carpark and I had the beach to myself. I only saw one other couple on the hike at the time but on the way down there were quite a few families and other solo hikers out and about.
- Pack water, hat and a snack
- The day I went there were bluebottles on Bennetts Beach so if you’re looking for an ideal place to cool off after your hike, head over to Jimmys Beach on the other side. It’s protected from the north-east winds that tend to blow in the bluebottles.
And that’s exactly what I did…
Jimmys Beach is the perfect beach for solo travellers: it’s easy to get to, there are people around but you have plenty of space to yourself.
Only a couple of steps from the carpark I found a spot that made me feel I had half the beach to myself, along with a few dolphins that swam by to say hello. Yes dolphins!
I could’ve spent all day here but after that hike and some time in the sun I’d worked up an appetite.
My best advice when looking for somewhere to eat in a new place is ask the locals. Or if you are a little shy, spy on where all the locals are eating. If you see a busy place, it’s a good sign.
Mumms On the Myall shone in both of these categories. Offering takeaway and dine-in, this local (including the pelicans) hotspot is perched right on the river, pairing delicious food with stunning views.
After all the rave reviews about this place, I came in with high expectations of the fresh seafood. However, the biggest surprise was the duck spring rolls with plum sauce. I still dream about them…
I was soon ready to lay down as the food coma set in. Thankfully, check-in was open at nearby Myall River Camp.
Not only did the staff make me feel safe for my entire stay, there’s extra security with boom gates to enter and exit the campground.
Driving in gave me the same feeling you get when arriving at an adventure playground; with so much to explore, a few surprises waiting for you and the excitement building every second.
The campground is easy to navigate despite being bigger than expected. My first stop was securely tucked away at the end of the campground in a space of its own. Welcome to the luxury glamping tents!
The glamping tents at Myall River Camp come with a range of bedding options from classic canopy beds, cosy nooks and even extra bunks. With all that space it’s a real treat staying here as a solo traveller.
The view alone makes these glamorous tents worth it.
However for those solo travellers looking for something a little cosier and more rustic, and feel more like they were designed for solo travel, let me introduce you to the tiny houses at Myall River Camp.
I was lucky enough to take a peek into these funky little cabins and I can confidently say these are just as awesome in their own way. And just as comfy!
Whatever accommodation style suits you, it's going to be an epic way to spend a night.
It’s morning and no alarm, just pure excitement woke me up for my Day 2 sunrise.
Everything was so calm and the reflections along the river were unbelievable. I couldn’t think of a better place to have a coffee and start the day.
My solo glamping tips:
- Myall River Camp is close enough to Hawks Nest that you can easily zip out whenever you need something but trust me when I say when you get here, you’ll not want to leave ever!
- I’d suggest stocking up on a few groceries on your way there.
- Make use of your kitchenette and the fire. Keep that in mind when checking off my above recommendation.
- You don’t have to do everything yourself even if you are solo. Don’t be afraid to call the managers whenever you need them. Example: to set the fire, help properly close/open your tent.
- Wake up early, even if you’re not a morning person. The way this place glows and the reflections in the Myall River… pure magic!
Next stop: Forster
After saying goodbye to Myall River Glamping, there was an easy one hour drive between me and the next part of my big Barrington Coast adventure. This time we are in Forster!
There are so many things I already knew and expected from Forster. It’s a place that I, along with so many others, recognise as a popular family destination. Yet there was something extra special about being here solo, especially the hidden gem of clear kayaking. This was something I never realised existed outside of places like Bora Bora, let alone that you could hire a transparent kayak right here!
At Boatshed Number One I was in Forster’s number one place for kayak hire and then out on the waters of Wallis Lake before I could even blink. The team made the process so quick and easy, even going an extra mile to explain my best paddling options with the water currents at that time.
I had to be back by a certain time to meet the next part of my exciting Barrington Coast adventure, so it was the quicker but tougher route… and my goodness it was a workout!
The current may have been against me but the sunshine and water clarity was a winner. And funnily enough, it was the stunning water conditions that gave me even more energy to make a splash here. This is the norm for paddling Forster… motivation and inspiration!
Time really does fly when you’re having fun, as do those currents. So one more tough paddle back to the boatshed plus a quick cafe lunch stop before I hit the road again.
My solo clear kayaking tips:
- These are made for 2 people and can be a little tough on your own if you end up like me: against the current. It’s something to consider but don’t let it hold you back if this is something you really want to do because it’s still possible and safe. Simply give yourself a little more time than you first think you’ll need, especially on a beautiful day.
- While you want to make the most of the kayaks, don’t forget to make the most of the gorgeous swimming spots along the way too. Paddling around Miles Island is my favourite!
- Again, wear a hat! Thank me later.
- You can bring a bag with you but I suggest make it something you don’t mind getting a little wet. Not so much from capsizing or the bag ending up in the water, it’s just so you don’t worry about the odd splashy paddling technique.
The more you travel solo, the less solo you seem to travel.
Next stop: Old Bar
The moment you get into Old Bar there’s a completely different feel compared to a lot of the coast I’d explored earlier on this trip. That ‘local feel’, in the best way possible.
Checking in to Boogie Woogie Beach House kept that local hospitality alive with the friendliest staff giving me a full tour of this funky music-themed hotel. I’d class it ‘luxury local’, and it’s a perfect option for solo travellers.
Sometimes themed hotels can be a bit over the top. Or - on the other end - not quite right but this was perfect. The attention to detail and bonus points for overall comfort won my heart and it was only about to get better from here, just you wait…
What would make a music-themed hotel even better? Music!
Downstairs from the accommodation rooms, Boogie Woogie has its very own bar and restaurant: Flow Bar. And it just so happens to have a very special live show tonight that was well worth pushing my entire trip back a day for.
But before I get too excited for the show, the Flow Bar food deserves its time to shine.
With one of the best chefs in the region bringing together a mouth-watering collection of food and beverages, it’s impossible to make a bad menu decision.
Remember I mentioned the ‘local feel’ of this entire place? Well, the friendliness explodes off the charts in the afternoons! I bring this up again because Flow Bar is the perfect place to mingle and make friends, which I highly encourage on solo trips.
Not only is making friends an awesome thing to do in general but if you’re not convinced yet let me get you thinking about one of my eating tips for solo trips: Don’t be afraid to make some friends that all want to test out the menu together! When travelling, trying new foods can be so exciting so you’ll want to make the most of it and you’ll be surprised how many others want to do the same.
Plus you’ll have a few dance buddies as the show begins!
I was lucky enough to make it to Old Bar for a special Jack Botts show. What makes it extra special is that I’d actually met Jack a few years ago on my first ever solo trip and we’d been good friends ever since.
A nice reminder that the more you travel solo, the less solo you seem to travel.
The night was nothing but good vibes; delicious food, quality cocktails, big smiles and pure happiness as we dance the night away to the golden tunes of Jack Botts and friends.
As I woke up to a gloomy day I’d usually say my luck with the weather had run out but instead it further highlighted the beauty of this coast. And it gave me another excuse to come back for the sunshine too!
Back on the road today at Old Bar for one final beach crawl of the trip.
The first thing I noticed were the viewpoints and boardwalks at every stop. I spent more time putting the car into park than I did driving because I couldn’t help but stop and explore everywhere.
When someone thinks ‘beach day’ most of us imagine sunny days under an umbrella and splashing in the waves. While I still could’ve used an umbrella, with the rain came some crazy waves meaning no swimming for me.
However, it still felt like a perfect beach day here. Overall, Old Bar is the perfect chill escape.
Next stop: Saltwater
Just south of Old Bar is Saltwater National Park. This is a very special place belonging to the Biripi people making it a popular spot for appreciating the local Aboriginal culture.
This small coastal reserve on a lagoon hugged by rainforest transports you to a whole new world.
I may have missed whale watching season this trip but I didn’t feel like I missed out on anything at all. I explored the picnic areas and little pathways that led to all kinds of incredible lookouts, kayak spots, swimming areas, camping spots and more.
My personal favourite was the headland. I could have watched from this spot all day… partly because there was a local using the current at the river mouth as one of those aquatic treadmills: swimming his heart out in the one spot and being able to jump back to the sand bank whenever he needed a break. It was fascinating!
What I love about this area in particular are the options to suit whatever your needs are: from easy walks and viewpoints to easy swimming, even to wild surfing.
Speaking of surfing, I wrapped up my trip sipping a coffee with new friends, watching the morning surfers have the time of their lives at Saltwater. A moment I will never forget.
I can highly recommend a Barrington Coast solo adventure and I can’t wait to hear about all the memories you’ll make that you won’t ever forget.