Hat Head might be a real place, or it might be a conglomeration of every beach place on the east coast of Australia. If I tell you where it is ( where it might be) , the secrets could get out and then it won’t stay one of the best kept secrets any more. Let’s just say that if you take any of these activities, presented not in any order of importance, and try them in your beach side place ( the activities are transferable) then you have the recipe for a Very Good Holiday.
Enjoy ! 

Post Script: I may or may not have spent one Christmas holiday, with my sketchbook and company, drawing and painting my way around this mythical place. The stories are from years of visiting every summer. There’s a sort of timelessness that comes from that couple of weeks going barefoot and sandy. All the illustrations in this article are from that sketchbook. All pen and/or watercolour. 18.5x9cm. None of these works are for sale : my sketchbooks are part of the personal part of my practice. I do have an idea for a “postcard” series however. I’ll let you know if it ever comes to fruition. 

Also Post Script: there are more than 17 things on this list. Just to keep you on your toes. 

At low tide, look for the hollows where the stingrays rest in the warm water. They are visible from the shore, or more easily from a kayak. 

Park up near the beach access, and watch the Pitt Street Cowboys, in their newly minted 4WD lining up to get onto the beach. Then watch them come back over later. Hilarious amounts of testosterone, and far too much money spent on toys. 

Go for a walk through the caravan park and have a sticky-beak at all the different set ups. Watch out for kids on bikes – they sure as anything won’t be watching out for you. Local etiquette says to nod to people, and say hello as you pass. 

Grab a couple of bikes and go for a treadle. 

Catch beach worms, then if you’ve been successful, go beach fishing. 

The church has services occasionally, they also have an op-shop in the building behind. Look for the signs. 

sketchbook drawing of a creek, mountain and mangroves

Go for a paddle, snorkel, or swim in the creek upstream at high tide.  At low tide go downstream to the footbridge or even out to the mouth of the creek. 

Go for a drive over to Hungry Head. But watch out for the mossies – they wear hob nailed boots !!  Drawing of a cartoon mosquito wearing red boots.

drawing and painting of a mob of kangaroos in front of the ocean

Say hello to the resident mob of kangaroos. They come into the town but mainly hang out on the mountain. 

Go for a swim at the beach. Swim between the flags please, and watch for the shark patrol helicopter when it does its daily fly over over the summer break. 

Stay in your tent and read a book – no judgement from me. 

Do the curcuit down through the caravan park, across the footbridge, around the gap, along the creek, back across the bridge, and down the main street. Approx 5 km – can take longer on a king tide. There’s a walkway along the southern part of the creek. 

Gap beach faces east. Best place to watch the sun come up over the ocean. Not the best place for swimming though. Starting point for walk to Connors and Hungry Beaches to the south. 

paitning of a green mountain headland looking along a beach and the hinterland

The Gap is also the starting point for a walk around the mountain. Pack a picnic and  follow the fishermen’s trail. It’s a bit dodgy in parts, but normal fitness is fine. Views are amazing. 

Compare the outgoing tide, that has been soaked ti-tree brown, with the incoming clarity. Snorkelling at high tide, in and around the mangroves is one of lifes great joys. 

After dark beach walk. Count the flashes from Smoky Cape Lighthouse in the distance. Watch the full moon rise over the sea. I’ve heard of bioluminescence, but not seen it myself. I’d also strongly recommend walking on the beach in the rain. Be wary of swimming on dusk, or if the water is murky – we aren’t the only ones in the water. 

painting of fishing boats resting on green grass

Go to the fisherman’s shop and get some school prawns and tuck in to the best feed ever. (Fish and chips from the shop are up there too, I might add) . I once saw one of the town’s professional fishermen skulling one of these boats around the headland. He was casting a net – we could have been in the Mediterranean. 

lady sitting under an umbrella, in summer clothes, painting a picure of a creek.

I forgot the most important one. Take your sketching gear out and do a bit of painting and drawing out in the field. It’s not about the finished product – it’s about the enjoyment of doing it. 

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