South West Rocks Run

09 February 2018 / Words by John Hansen, Photos by Graham Rochester

The first mid-week run of the MX-5 Club's Mid North Coast Chapter was held on Tuesday 6 February starting at the River Mark Café in Port Macquarie. The run was organised by Convenor Graham and led by Peter. Initially the sky was a checker board of differing greys with a few patches of blue with a mild sprinkling of very light rain. This was soon to be replaced with brilliant sunshine and soaring temperatures.

Our group for the day included Graham Convenor, Peter run leader, new members Pam & Allen with their new red ND, purchased from Mazda Motors Port Macquarie - notice the subtle plug for one of our clubs sponsors!, Keiran & Peter with their beautifully turned out Heritage MX-5 NB, Jenny & Barry who had made the trip up from Newcastle in their newly acquired BMW D shaped MX-5, Judith & John and Cathy & Wayne who were to meet up with us at Kempsey. After Jenny & Barry had inspected their former car, the Heritage MX-5 NB, to make sure that it was being looked after, and Keiran & Peter performed a similar inspection on their former BMW D MX-5 it was time for a route briefing and then the "off".

Peter led our group off to Kempsey to pick up Cathy and Wayne. The Pacific Highway to Kempsey has undergone major improvements and eliminated the always rather difficult turn from the end of Hastings River Drive onto the Pacific Highway. Now it is an easy right hand turn up to a new roundabout onto the highway. Incidentally this roundabout is also the turn off to the Mid North Coast’s famous Ricardo’s Tomato and Strawberry farm. However; today we pressed on to enter the Kempsey turn off. There was only a small section of highway which was not two lanes, so we were soon at the turn off where Cathy and Wayne joined us.

Usually the road to Crescent Head is quite sparsely populated and is a spirited drive, within posted limits of course, can be had; however today we were able to observe extensive grass cutting and electrical work on the power lines all from the comfort of the stop-go signs. Just to reinforce the slow trip we also had the opportunity to observe a speed check camera car as we crawled past! The wait was worth it as we trooped into the Crescent Head Bakery. It also seemed as if all residents of the town were also there. For those not familiar with this bakery it has an extensive range of delectable taste treats which have been renowned for bringing diets undone. After an enjoyable social chat and of course sampling the wares there was some serious motoring to be done on the way to the Smokey Cape Lighthouse. The road from Crescent Head and then along the river bank through towns such as Gladstone and Jerseyville must be one of the most enjoyable tourist roads in the district. The sun was well out now with the clouds having been blown away. The lush smell of the countryside and the sparkling river waters on our left with the roaring of the MX-5’s exhausts really made it worth while to be alive; far too soon we were at the turn off to the lighthouse.

The road now wound its way through lush vegetation until the climb to the lighthouse car park. We took advantage of the extensive views of the coast line from short walks from the car park. Then with trepidation we faced the steps to the stairway to heaven and the Smokey Cape Lighthouse. It was generally agreed that we should all complete the trek to get ready for lunch. However; in the end only three intrepid members undertook the climb, a walk really, up the steps. The three of us set off amidst plenty of enthusiastic encouragement from the throng who offered advice on finding medical kits, warnings that luncheon had been booked in an hour and not the next day and even an enterprising comment that in the event of a non-return could others have our cars! The view at the top was worth the effort as extensive views could be seen over the sea and along what appears to be endless beaches to the hinterland looking south. Back to the carpark and the group photograph before making our way into South West Rocks for lunch.

There are many advantages to our mid-week runs including, not as much traffic on the roads and not as many people at the eating places. We lunched at the aptly named ‘Sea Breeze Hotel’ overlooking a pleasing vista of tress and the ocean. We almost had the dining area venue to ourselves to spread out eat and chat in comfortable surroundings.

Our run officially ended after lunch and after saying good byes we were free to make our own way home or visit the shops, scenic sights and local museum. All in all a very pleasant way to spend a Tuesday, motoring along with the MX-5s, bright sunshine, varied scenery, good company good food and seeing a historic part of New South Wales.

Thanks to our Convenor Graham and run leader Peter.