A long awaited walking adventure – primarily serving as a way to get away from their demanding children for four days – has been deemed a success for Meredith and Darren Cornell, despite Husband Darren exhibiting behavioural traits best described as ranging from infantile to adolescent.
“We love our kids dearly, but we’d been dreaming of this getaway for a while, and the kids were happy to stay with Nan and Pop,” recalls Mrs Cornell, 44. “It was a beautiful morning when we set out from Mara Creek at around 7.00 am, and I was SO excited at the prospect of walking this newly refurbished coastal track, connecting with the natural beauty of Yuraygir National Park, watching the Whales and Dolphins, the Kangaroos and the Sea Eagles, maybe the rare Coastal Emu. And most of all, not having to tend to the incessant demands of bleating kidlets – who, just for the record, I do love very much.”
Approximately seven minutes into the morning’s walk, the first sign Meredith Cornell’s dream holiday might not be all she imagined appeared in the form of husband Darren requesting she re-tie his already-undone shoelaces, as he’d “never been able to get his head around the whole double-knots thing.”
By 8.00am, less than an hour into the 17 km walk from Angourie to Brooms Head, Darren, 51, had already lost his hat, scoffed down his entire day’s stockpile of snacks, complained of a pebble in his shoe, insisted on playing I-Spy for 40 minutes, thrown a moderate tantrum at not being allowed to access his iphone, and refused the offer of sunscreen on his balding noggin.
“I must admit, I thought about turning around and calling the thing off a few times” sighed a weary Meredith, “but despite Daz’s dramas, the walk was just too beautiful not to press on.
“If there’s a more gorgeous stretch of coast in Australia, I’m yet to see it. From heathland to forest, rockpools, coves, caves, sandy stretches, sea shells and starfish, stunning vantage points, shady gullies, this walk is just an ever-changing vista.”
The Cornells overnighted in a cabin in the Brooms Head Holiday Park, where its iconic onsite ‘Snacky’ posted its largest-ever sale of lollies and treats to a single customer in one trade.
“I told Daz to go get himself a treat at the Snacky, and he came back with essentially the Kiosk’s entire stock,” sighed Meredith. “He seemed inordinately pleased with himself.”
Much of the next day’s 19 km walk from Brooms Head to Minnie Water – along the most glorious and unspoilt coastal country imaginable – was spent with husband Darren simultaneously complaining of a tummy ache from the sheer volume of lollies and snacks consumed, while also proclaiming a ravenous appetite.
“By this stage, I was able to just kind of tune Daz out – 20 years of marriage makes you good at that – and let this magical walk wash over my senses.”
The couple spent the night in Minnie Water Holiday Park, ‘glamping’ in one of the onsite tents. The novelty of which was enough to keep husband Darren happy enough, and the rustic luxury of which suited Meredith down to the ground, and they had the best night’s sleep either of them had had in years (despite Darren shrieking like a banshee when encountering a Brushtail Possum while going for a wee at 2.00 am.)
Day three of the walk – 13 glorious, gobsmackingly pristine kilometres from Minnie Water to Wooli – was spent in the company of a pod of whales on the near horizon, tracking south on their migration back to Antarctica, moving at roughly the same pace as the Cornells. Seeing the calves swimming alongside their mothers reminded Meredith of her own offspring, and she realised with a lovely pang how much she was looking forward to seeing them again.
This tenderness was extended to her husband, who at that moment, after several failed attempts, had successfully applied a double-knot to his shoelaces, and was beaming proudly at her.
That night, at a gorgeous rental house on the Wooli river, they made some calls and arranged for Pop to drive the kids to Wooli in the next day or two. They’d walk the last leg – the 16 coastal clicks from Wooli to Red Rock – together.