Roadtrip South || Film photographs and words by Birralee Hassen

Summer time for me is like being on a holiday. Everyone comes back to our little coastal beach town, full of stories of the past year and full of anticipation for what the next may hold. The days are long, the weather is warm, the water is clear, and quite frankly, there’s nowhere I’d rather spend my summer months. 

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Here is a snippet into one of my summer weeks, documented with my trusty disposable camera. I packed up my van, loaded with food, surfboards, art supplies, my friend from America and my friend from Denmark, and we hit the road headed south. We gave ourselves a week to get from Coffs Harbour to Sydney, stopping off at some of my favourite little coastal spots on the way down. 

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We picnicked in the promised lands, played on the slackline and practiced hula hooping, finding comfort from the scorching sun in the shade provided by the lush canopy of trees above us. When the air became too hot despite the shade we would slide down the mossy rocks (some more gracefully than others) into the cool fresh water river flowing beside us. We adventured up the stream, over rocks and fallen logs, revelling in the sheer and pure nature that surrounded us. 

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We camped near Crescent Head, setting up our own private campground on the side of a tea tree lagoon. Rhianan practiced playing her guitar, we drew, we swam, we talked, we ate, we laughed, and we went to bed with bellies and hearts full. I rose early to watch the sunrise over the lagoon, and a feeling of gratitude wrapped itself around me. The following day was much like the previous, the only difference being a change in location, this time to a beach that we had nearly to ourselves. We shared our little slice of summer with a couple of families whose young daughters played with us in the rock pools, and told us about how they had been spending their holiday days. 

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We carried on our way south, stopping for the night beside another lake, where we watched the water turn brilliant shades of orange and yellow as it reflected the setting sky above it. This was the first stop where we got out our gas cooker, and realised that we had left the frypan behind at our previous camp spot. Not to be discouraged, we started cooking up small portions one at a time in Elisabeth’s little metal bowl, and mixed them all together to make a wonderful vegetable pesto pasta vegan dip whatever else we could find and throw in there stir-fry. There really is something so satisfying about cooking and eating outdoors, washing up in the water in front of us and then lying on our backs, heads and hearts huddled together underneath the stars. We tried to flip our perspectives, and imagined that we were glued to the roof and that all the stars were passing by underneath us. 

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Our next stop was Seal Rocks, a place that for me could never get old. I have to admit that I was secretly stoked when Dana and Elisabeth shared my feeling of joy at the sheer beauty of the place. Lighthouse walks simultaneously brought back childhood memories, as well as creating wonderful new memories. Lunch was shared in the shade of a picnic area, where deck chairs sat out for us as if they had been anticipating our arrival. I warned the girls of the dangers of blue bottles on the beach and their poison tentacles, and we watched people floating about in the ocean on giant blown up pieces of pizza. 

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My disposable camera ran out at Seal Rocks, so maybe you will have to find a random stranger who passed a vanload of three girls singing their very loudest to Lana Del Ray to play witness, or you can just take my word for it that we continued to have a great time as we continued south. Another stop in the Central Coast, and then arriving in Sydney, signified an end to our little road trip. Dana to continue on to Tasmania, Elisabeth to finish her travels of Australia and head back to Denmark, myself to head back to Coffs Harbour to enjoy the rest of my summer at home. 

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Overall the week had a couple of different variables, consisting of changing location, changing companionship, changing foods – though the changing food part could be argued, as there was a near continuous supply of crackers and dip (as there always is when there are girls and wine involved). Yet the common thread of good times remained a constant, and it will definitely be remembered as another great week of another great summer.   

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Birralee Hassen