Spent on working long hours during the week, Friday sundowns are usually a shut-off kind of day for me and the boylove. We pretty much do not move until midday on Saturdays.
But that Friday was different. Our friends were waiting for us at a camping ground, an hour’s drive south, through the winding forest of Brisbane Water National Park. Amidst intermittent mobile phone reception, one of our friends, Cristina, was somehow able to semi-bombard us with a couple of where-are-you messages.
You see, Patonga Foreshore Reserve has been something that was always planned but never realised. Well, until that Friday.
Being seasoned travelers, our whole house is pre-packed according to the type of travel activity. So even if straight after work, we still needed to load camping stuff onto our Jeep, we have had plenty of time left to sit down for a meal. Kilaban, that’s how my Ilocano husband calls a chow between meals.
We sat down on the dining table devouring a bowl of cold rice topped with leftover Bistek Tagalog (Filipino Beef Steak) while discussing what to bring and who’s gonna pack what.
FRIDAY – Day 1
It was almost sundown when we began the drive down to Patonga via Pacific Motorway, Kariong and Mount Ettalong Road. The map on our GPS showed a shorter route via Gosford, but Siri thought otherwise. As you know, what Siri wants, Siri gets.
It worked out well though, because despite the winding road, the scenic route was well worth it. It was a shame we couldn’t stop-over and enjoy the sights more. We had sunlight to beat.
When we arrived, the rest had already pitched tents. Lit only with headlamps, we somehow managed to set up a decent dwelling for the weekend.
Dinner was no problem (and so were all meals thereafter). When one is amongst Filipinos, one is guaranteed to always be well-fed.
Booze was not a problem too. As expected, the boys stayed up for beer and poker long after the camp lights were turned off.
SATURDAY – Day 2
Still half-asleep very early on Saturday, on my way back to the tent from the loo, I was greeted by a 4-ft long snake crossing the road. Because Australia.
The camping ground was located at the tip of the sandy spit jutting out from the forests of Brisbane Waters National Park. Think unicorn. How else would one describe a serene creek on one side of the shore, and a secluded beach on the other?
In between siestas and meriendas, we fed birds, took a dip in the channel and strolled around the art and craft laden town centre.
Sure, I still stood under random light posts where I get faint 3G reception. But for the most part, I was off-the-grid, and was surprisingly okay with it.
SUNDAY – Day 3
When the clock struck 12 to mark Sunday, my friends and I were gathered around a bonfire by the beach, under a moonless sky.
We knew that by sunrise, we would be back to the daily grind of the consumer world. But in that moment, we were in the very bosom of mother nature, safe and placid.
After breakfast on Sunday, we dismantled our tents, rejuvenated and fully-charged. Packing our stuff back to our trusty Jeep, Rufus, was a ceremony in itself. Whilst it marked taking on the challenges of Mondays yet again, it was also a reminder that there will forever be weekends after each manic work week.
And that, Patonga was always just a drive away.