Norah Head Revisited – Making the Most of Where I Am.

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.”
― Henry David Thoreau

Covid is no longer just a thing belonging to 2020. Rather, it’s leaped out of the bag, looked back at us dumbfounded humans and chirped: “Catch me if you can!” Unfortunately, at this point in time, Covid has the upper hand and has taken off down the street before we’ve even put our joggers on, let alone done up our shoe laces. It is affecting everybody differently in all sorts of ways, and it seems quite trite to complain about not being able to travel when much of the planet is chronically ill and so many people have died and they are sorely missed.

The Rockpool, Norah Head. Isn’t it glorious?!!

Yet, at the same time, what about us in the land of the living? What are we supposed to do? Do we still carpe diem seize the day to our very utmost within the limitations we are personally experiencing? Or, perhaps we even break the rules, and there have been some spectacular examples of this in the news. Or, do we retreat?

Retreat, at least in my mind, is different to giving up, and is a legitimate response to covid, especially if you’re living in a country where it’s rampant, and even more so if you’re in a high risk category. My approach varies, mostly in accordance with the infection rates. I’m trying to be flexible, but one thing we did take a hard stance on was travel. We’d planned to visit Geoff’s sister and family near Byron Bay, which is about a 10 hour drive away. We usually go up once a year. However, right when we needed to make a decision, the numbers were starting to rumble, and since we didn’t have to go right now, we decided to put it off.

However, this hasn’t stopped our friends from travelling. Or, from posting their holiday snaps on Facebook. I’m not going to lie. It hurts. I also wanted to have fun, good times and swing from the chandelier. Moreover, just to add salt to the wound, we’ve spent most of Geoff’s two weeks of annual leave doing jobs around the house. Yes, they’re long overdue, and some would argue that improving the house and giving us a great start to the year might be worth more than a fancy holiday. Moreover, it is strangely satisfying to be dropping car loads of stuff at the charity shop, instead of going shopping and bringing a car load home. Yet, at the same time, there’s that old phrase:

“All work and all play

makes Jack a dull boy”.

Yes, I was definitely losing my shimmer, and needed to claim it back.

Well, this isn’t always as easy as it sounds. We have dependents. Yesterday, we drove dependent from camp no 1 to camp number 2. Afterwards, we went on a detour to Newcastle to go out for lunch together, and then on to catch up with my cousin and family, we covered about 500kms.

However, although we were moving and we were in the car and covered quite a distance, that’s not what I consider travel. It was more what I would call “work”, “duty”, “obligation” even though we made the most of the long drive and added in some fun for ourselves.

We hadn’t even left Newcastle to drive home, when our daughter rang from camp and said she wanted to come home. She’s been on this camp before. She doesn’t get homesick, but she is a teenager, and it appears she had outgrown the camp. We left her there overnight, and I ended up driving up today and picking her up a day early. It made no real difference to me. However, I wasn’t just going to drive an hour up and then drive an hour straight back. I warned her we were going on a detour to Norah Head. She’s used to me and my detours which usually involve food and photography.

Norah Head was probably about a 30 minutes drive South from the camp, and in my head, I decided it was going to be our surrogate for missing out on our trip to Byron Bay. You see, Byron Bay has a light house and Norah Head has a lighthouse, and while it might not have been a perfect correlation, I could almost make it fit.

As it turned out, visiting the lighthouse at Norah Head actually had a lot of advantages over visiting the light house at Byron Bay. It was much, much closer to home and only an hour’s drive away. it’s much less crowded. Lastly, we could easily get a parking spot, and parking was free…Win! Win! Win!

However, Norah Head isn’t just about the light house for me. It’s also about the memories. I first went to Norah Head as a very young child with my family, and I had a vague memory of have gone to the lighthouse before when I went up to Norah Head for a slumber party when I was 12 at my friend’s place. That was repeated the following year, and we slid down the sand dunes on big green garbage bags, and also had her birthday cake in the dunes. It was such a special thing to go on a holiday with friends when I was 12, and I’ve never forgotten it.

I returned to Norah Head about 10 years ago for the first time since school, and couldn’t find the sand dunes anywhere. I wanted to show them to the kids. However, it turned out they’d regenerated the dunes and they were now hiding under thick scrub and even rather tall paperbark trees. It was hard to understand how they could’ve grown so tall in such a short time. I popped back about 6 months ago and wandered around taking photos. It still had that special sense of magic and all those memories.

The Island Cafe,, Norah Head where my daughter and I had lunch looking out across the the breakers, and that’s my red car across the road.

Anyway, today I wasn’t on my own. It was me and my girl and we kicked off our adventure with lunch at the Surfside Cafe.

How relaxing. I didn’t actually sit in this chair, but I wanted to.

Then, we drove round to the lighthouse. Although the lighthouse itself is very striking and had strong appeal, I was actually more drawn towards simply watching the mighty waves surging into the rocks which such incredible power. It was breathtakingly beautiful.

We actually spotted a couple getting married on the rocks down below surrounded by their attendants and family. The waves weren’t quite breathing down their necks, but they were close enough, and from certain angles through the lens, they certainly seemed precarious enough.

Next, we retraced our steps and walked down a long and very steep flight of stairs to the rockpool. I wondered whether I’d be able to make it back up. However, being able to get up Neil’s stairs encouraged me, and I thought if I just took my time and had a few breaks, I’d be right. Well, I wasn’t quite right and my heart was racing but I made it, and it was certainly worth the effort. It was really quite festive down on the beach and there was so much colour what with the coloured beach umbrellas, assorted swimming costumes, towels etc. It was beautifully sunny as well and the sky was an intoxicating bright blue and it was like one of Ken Done’s beach paintings, and boy was I glad to be amongst it!! Yahoo!

Almost died getting up these stairs and it was tough going with my dodgy lungs, but well worth it, and I took them very slowly heading back up.

I hadn’t been back to the rockpool since I was there as a 12 year old snorkelling with my friends, and as I followed the beach around, I had no idea that I’d come across the most wonderful view of the lighthouse. An angle I hadn’t seen before and it was rather breath-taking. I’m sure you’ve had that experience yourself where there’s a place you really love, but you know it from that postcard perspective, but then you see it from an entirely different angle, and it’s like it’s been reborn. Moreover, when you’re really into photography like me, these fresh perspectives are even more valued. It’s like you’re seeing this place for the very first time and your gobsmacked with awe and wonder.

I could’ve stayed there for hours, except my passenger was getting tired and needed to get home, but not without picking up my Danish pastries from the bakery.

Clearly, I highly recommend you check out Norah Head some time, which as we all know, is not all that easy atm, but in the meantime, at least you can enjoy my photos.

Best wishes,


PS Here are two cute dogs I spotted at the beach:

Doesn’t he just know he’s too handsome!
I thought this dog was actually wearing swimmers. However, it turned out the stripes were just his harness.

10 thoughts on “Norah Head Revisited – Making the Most of Where I Am.

  1. Tails Around the Ranch

    What beautiful images! I’m with you on feeling travel envy but then realize it’s just too dangerous to hang out with loads of people in close touristy locales. Better to stay safe and travel again once it’s safe.

  2. New Journey

    Hello my friend, I am tryin to get back at my blog and be more present in the moment than just being a slug and sitting around. Can’t wait for covid to die out, its time to make the most of where and what we have now!.
    Nice light house, we did a light house tour up the West coast a few years back in the motorhome. Alot of fun.
    Hope this finds you doing well, I read you were having trouble breathing hope that has resolved itself! Being sick is no fun. Life is okay, staying home and keeping away from everyone. Enjoying the cooler air, even a little snow for a few hours, LOL very windy today exoecting more rain tomorrow, fingers crossed. NOt much else to day… seems the same ole BS day in and day out. At least you have the kids to keep you busy, I just have the ol man and a busy border collie. LOL xxxkat

  3. Rowena Post author

    Kat, it must be so tough for you over there. It’s been hard enough for us here, although we’re being more cautious than most. Having the kids around does create this hive of activity and driving them around is a bit of a mixed blessing. I sometimes feel like a teenager again and of course I fancy myself as being the cool mum. They probably think I’m the biggest dag on the planet so at least I enjoy my delusions.
    It was really hot for a few days and and now it’s been rainy for a few days. My breathing is better. I hyperventilate as well as having the fibrosis and muscle weakness. I ended up seeing whether breathing into a paper bag helped and it really did. Simple solution that one. Breathing is such a fundamental thing, but so complicated whether it’s not going well. I feel like going into suspended animation for awhile so I don’t have to think about it.
    Retail therapy helps. I had a few good finds this week at the op shop. I’ll have to post some photos. I’m currently wearing a tailor-made Thai silk skirt which is orange with a white pattern through it and a streak of pink on the hem. It only cost me $6.00 and has a real swish to it.
    A friend’s son and his girlfriend are in an apartment in NY with very little work happening and it’s really tough. They’re barely going out so not a lot to update the family on. They’re creative and doing a lot of reading but work’s dried up and times are really tough.
    I wonder how this is all going to pan out and what history is going to say about this period of time. I’m not expecting the vaccine to be a magic fix but hopefully it will make a dent in it.
    I feel for you and Peter and the people I mix with over there who have my auto-immune disease. I can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like. I was going out of my mind when it was on the increase here just under a year ago now, but we went into lock down and improved.
    What do you think of all the Bernie Sanders photos. They’re hilarious!
    Best wishes,

  4. New Journey

    Greetings my friend, glad to hear your doing a little better, brown paper bags and simple remedies are amazing when they work. And don’t you love it when you find a soft, silky to wear. Sounds very alluring and feminine, I imagine it looks fantastic on you! And yes you are the cool mum, no question s asked!! You are the best, always there for the kids no matter what the need it. I love all the Bernie Sanders photos. Nice to have have something to smile at on the social sites for a change. I was just talking with Peter about how nice it is to turn on the news and not have a disaster being talked about. Well I guess the republican party has quite a lot of problems, LOL but hey they created them!!! Nice to hear a president speak with his heart and soul and to let the scientist talk about the virus and give us the details. I am not sure about the vaccine anymore, I was excited but with all the new strains I am afraid that we will have to have more than a few boosters to help fight against this virus. I hate vaccines in general and only got my second flu shot ever this year only because I was scared for the 2 of us. never been a fan of injecting a foreign substance into my body! But if I was offered the vaccine in the next few months I probably will take it. As soon as its announced that we have vaccine availability here its gone and I am not holding my breath for it to get easier to get. Life is boring to say the least at out house. I am so desperate to do something I have started to spring clean, and I have never in my life done that, LOL I have all the closest already organized and cupboards in the kitchen are done as well. My husband just watches me fuss about and shakes his head, lol I can’t say I excited about spring to come as the heat will be right on its tail. Well Chika is sitting here with a pile of stuffed animals for me to throw, LOL so I better get at it. She really is like having a toddler under foot. LOL she just turned 4 mon Jan 15th and she is living up to her age!! Oh well it isn’t boring with here around to keep after us. Looks like its going to get up to 70 today so I will be out playing in the yard for awhile. . Keep that bag close and know I am thinking of you all. XXkat

  5. Rowena Post author

    HI Kat,
    I’m just giving you a quick reply because it’s 3am and I’m supposed to be asleep. You and I have a lot in common so I can just imagine how bored you are to take on the Spring cleaning. Increased prednisone doses also does that to people. However, I don’t waste my prednisone surge on cleaning. I write instead.
    I go round and visit a friend most Monday nights. She gets a delivery of bread from a local bakery and I grab a few loaves for us and a few for a few neighbours. It becomes an excuse to see if they’re okay as well.
    Anyway, she has a Sydney Silky terrier pup called Shadrach. He’s about 2 months old and full of beans. He gets this really cheeky look on his face of wicked defiance but in a really cute way. He chews on my shoes, even though he’s not supposed to. I call myself his naughty aunty. He is rather gorgeous. My friend is sight-impaired and so he has a little bell on his collar and it’s so cute hearing him scampering along with the little bell ringing.
    I’ve been thinking of you and Peter. A friend here had his brother die of covid in the states and their son is living in New York so I’m hearing a bit from them about what’s going on.
    Are people wearing masks and taking precautions? We’re not perfect at it here, but we haven’t had the incidence either.
    Anyway, long overdue for bed.
    Love and best wishes,

  6. New Journey

    I can’t believe how bad I have been at answering your lovely notes. My sister had a yorkie, and she was full of hell. cute as a button but she had an attitude and was the top dog not matter. LOL Great personalities. In Arizona the mask mandate has been lifted and you just have to follow the rules of the individual stores. All MD offices make you wear a mask and some stores are asking, but most state that if you have had the vaccine you can come in without a mask, It depends how full the store is whether I mask up. Now with the new strain of covid I think I will go back to masking up in all stores. I have always used my hand sanitizer and will probably do that for ever, My kids flew her and the airports were full of people, but most of them were masked and my daughter double masked on the plane and went and changed her clothes as soon as she got off. She was really careful. We are still not going out to eat, sometimes we go to our local diner for breakfast if we have an early appointment, but otherwise all meals at home. I am thinking that this virus is going to be around for a long time. Still so many people here still don’t believe it was real, all a hoax, crazy thinking. Sending good wishes and thoughts..XXXKat

  7. Rowena Post author

    Hi Kat,
    I’m so sorry for my delayed response. Things for me nose-dived over the past two months. Well, not exactly for me, more for four very close friends who passed away. One of them was 76 and had had a stroke a few months ago. So, in a sense, his passing was a relief. He had a grave side service, which I’ve really come to appreciate and that’s come to represent all four “burials” as one was cremated and I don’t know what happened to the other two. They just seemed to disappear. I’m not sure about the dying business these days. It all seems too camouflaged although I remember the clumps of clay hitting the top of the coffin in the past and that was too brutal. I think I was worried about falling into my grandmother’s grave for some reason. Perhaps it was wet. I’m not sure. There was definitely a huge rainbow across the sky as we drove home.
    I listened to sad songs for over an hour and had a bit of a cry. The funeral was the first time I’d actually cried about Jennifer even though we used to be so close that she held my heart in her hands. I’m not sure that she knew that. She went back to work and as a single parent whose ex was overseas and a close family, she didn’t have much, if anything, left. I came to accept that, but that sense of loss never left. I found out she died from a mutual friend and didn’t know she’d been fighting cancer for 2.5 years. I’d invited her over for a birthday, and she simply said she’d been “feeling unwell”. Understatement. She was never one to talk about stuff like that. It was hard being left out of the loop, although I had work through that and respond how I would respond and I wrote a poem and went off and printed 250 6 x4s and stuck them in an album. I screwed up things with the machine and they didn’t print. So I was back yesterday afternoon reordering them and getting them into an album and dropping it off at her mum’s place in pitch black darkness I’ve dropped by there three times lately, twice in the dark and for the life of me I’ve struggled to find their house, even though it’s on a straight stretch of road. I struggle with direction, but I have no sense of direction in the dark. So there I was trying to be this quasi angel trying to get those photos in the album and getting lost dropping it off and sheepishly knocked on the door. Initially, there was no answer but then her sister appeared and we had a good chat. A very good chat and she was so like y friend and there was that sense you have of almost having the one you’ve lost return to you, but not quite. We’re back in lock down here, and while there’s a seemingly generous allowance of 100 people for a funeral, However, with social distancing requirements, that was down to 40 people inside and 60 outside watching via a screen. It’s Winter here and while it’s not cold like some folks know it, it’s cold to us and it’s hibernation time, especially with the added situation of being in lockdown. So, I stayed home. Mostly watch it on my computer screen and tried intermittently to watch it on TV and had numerous technical hitches.
    It was a very touching and creative funeral with poems read out and at the start, they’d stitched together Super8 footage her dad had taken. It was beautiful and close with a photographic slide show and one of the photos I’d taken of her at the beach with her son was on there. Of course, it brought her back to life and I didn’t know she’d ridden a motorbike or gone hang gliding. We need to have more of these things when people are alive, and not just find out more about them when they’ve gone.
    Anyway, that’s where my head is today and it’s really therapeutic to share it with you. Geoff put Zac up on my lap and held me. However, he’s working today and also managed to get the side of the house painted. Why he’s doing that today, I don’t know. Maybe, the painting helps him feel better. Distraction. I don’t know. I go the other way….inward. I’d rather share my thoughts with myself rather than have someone else break the moment. I’m not at the point I want to feel better yet and just get over it. Press the fast forward button. I can sit with this for at least a few days without falling apart. That’s probably the true meaning of that much misused term “resilience”.
    It’s been strange losing four people close to me during covid when there’s been so little Covid here in Australia and my friends died of other causes. One of them, who I wasn’t so close to but is very close to some of my other friends was so and healthy and had just turned 50 when she died from a deep veined thrombosis in her leg. Really freaky.
    I am always trying to make sense of life and death, myself and the people (and dogs) around me and beyond. I’m sure I must’ve made progress, but I still feel mystified.
    Meanwhile, while I’ve been pouring my heart out here, Rosie and Zac have been harassing me to throw the ball. That seems to be the one constancy in life.
    Anyway, I have another story to share yet, but I’ll do that in response to your other message.

  8. New Journey

    Hello, Sorry about your loss’s, I too am mystified about death, I can say for certain that It really is final, after I lost my sister I kept looking for her, calling her and wondering why in the hell she hadn’t called me!! Took several years to put her death in that space by my heart where I can tell its there but the sadness is easier to handle. I try no to think about it much, its over whelming if I do. I can’t beleive its been over a month since I was on her. ITs not like I am doing anything important here, we are not on lock down but covid is back and really high in our county so I am staying home. We have an idiot for a governor and he acts like there was never problem when were still in the middle of a pandemic. Politicians!!!

  9. Rowena Post author

    Hi Kat,
    So sorry to hear about your sister. I only have a brother and we barely keep in touch, although he still lives with my parents so we have that connection.
    My Mum lost her sister when she was 36 and it was such a shock through the family and a space that will never be filled. I was very close to her as a small child but Mum wasn’t good at keeping in touch and I barely saw her and she also lived halfway between Sydney and Brisbane and off the radar.
    I have found losing these friends very hard and I miss them in my daily life in a way you have with friends that’s quite different to when say a grandparent or older family member dies. I think about them when I alk along the beach and where we used to hang out or even doing something as simple as taking my daughter to McDonalds and thinking they won’t be taking their kids there again.
    One of my friends has worked as a hospital chaplain and she has some interesting insights into dying. It is life’s ultimate mystery.
    Sorry to hear about your Governor. I noticed there’s still a lot of Covid in the states.
    All of NSW is now in lockdown. There is some spread of the virus but it’s largely precautionary, especially s we’ve got the delta variant.
    In some ways I’d say the lock down doesn’t make a lot of difference to me, especially as I’m usually sick with a nasty chest infection this time of year. However, no doubt thanks to isolation at home and all the mask and sanitization measures, I’ve been quite well. That has its own frustrations. So, clearly I am not as cool about it after all.
    If you’re looking for a book to read, I’m re-reading Ethel Turner’s “Seven Little Australians” written in 1894.Have you read it? I think you’d really enjoy it and you can get it online. It was written as a young adults’ novel but Ilove it just as much now.
    Anyway, I’d better get Zac off my lap and check on the dinner. I’m making Apricot chicken.
    Love & best wishes,

  10. New Journey

    Hi, yes death is a mystery for sure, like you, I think of my family that has passed in the oddest places, even a smell can bring up a familiar memory for me. I know that I will carry the pain with me till I pass but it is easier to deal with as time goes by, Life !!! I will check out the book, thanks for thinking of me. I am sitting here on hold for the pharmacy to see if we can go down and get out booster shots. Fingers crossed. Like you I need to go start lunch, funny were having ham with pineapple and peaches. LOL I love certain meat with fruit. Hope alls well with you. XXkat

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