A family hike in Forster (New South Wales)

A rock face, seen from above, at the edge of the sea, with the sea taking up most of the frame.
Waves in action

In January my parents had their thirty-year wedding anniversary, and on the first weekend of February we took a short trip up north to the small town of Forster to get away for a bit. It was a pretty relaxing weekend and the main highlight was checking out the sights while going on a hike!

Nick and I drove up on the Friday evening and met my parents, and Brandon and his girlfriend, at the place we were staying in. It took us a really long time to get out of the city because of the peak hour traffic, even though we left at around 4:00pm. 😬 Normally, if not going with so much traffic, it would have taken us three hours but it took us about an hour longer than that. We arrived pretty close to 9:00pm and because we were visiting such a remote town, pretty much everything was closed. I’d eaten a handful of chicken McNuggets from McDonald’s on the way (protein!), but I was very hungry. We all were. 😆 We ended up going to the local RSL, and even though the bistro was closed, there was a bar serving some substantial meals.

In the morning my mum made us scrambled eggs. My parents had brought an entire esky of food supplies. 😄 It was nice weather (quite hot actually), and although it would have been nice to go to the beach, we didn’t end up going for a swim that weekend at all. It had rained very, very heavily on the way to Forster on Friday night, so the pool at the holiday home we were staying in was pretty gross. I didn’t actually take a look at it, but my parents said it looked pretty yuck. Other people staying at the other holiday homes didn’t seem to mind, though!

So we went on a 10-kilometre hike that day after we ate breakfast! I should admit that this wasn’t super well planned. My parents didn’t have a lot of things in mind for the trip, just wanted to spend time with us, so what we ended up doing was pretty random.

A view of rocks lining the edge of an area between grassy land and sea. The sky is blue but there are many clouds in the sky.
Along the walk down the beach
A grassy area with a grey gravel path leading into the distance. The path has ragged edges. On the left is a rocky beach leading to the sea, and on the right is a wooden bench in the foreground. A man can be seen walking on the path in the distance
My dad getting ahead of the group as he usually does 😛
The same path from the previous photo, but seen from the side. Two men can be seen walking on the path, not a far distance from each other.
Nick walking closely behind my dad
A view between some trees, at a high elevation. Some buildings can be seen in the distance, but in the foreground the path from the previous photo can be seen, with a greater view of the sea on the right.
Great vantage point 🌊

I wanted to walk along the beach and also go through some national park area, so made that part of the proposed hike. Originally we were going to go for 15 kilometres and when I proposed this to my parents I warned them… 😂 I knew they may not be up for the challenge and was happy to choose a shorter hike. But they seemed keen even though I asked, “are you sure?” several times. I knew my dad would just troop right on through – he enjoys walking. My mum isn’t very physically active, but I know she doesn’t say no to exercise that involves some kind of walking.

So we went on our way, seeing a lot of really nice views on the way. We set out with a lot of energy. We walked down a path along the beach though we didn’t get too close to the water. Damn, it would have been nice to go for a swim!

A view of the ocean, with a cloudy sky. In the foreground were some large rocks which are also partially immersed in the water.
It was indeed a bit overcast.

We came across a couple of lookouts, then reached an area of trees where a wooden path was built through. We had to walk around a golf course (almost walked through it, haha), dodging a bit of sand, and through some back streets and up some hot roads that went over hills.

A wooden bridge taken from the point of view of someone standing on it. Just ahead is a set of stairs going upwards. A man wearing sunglasses and a blue collared shirt and dark shorts is walking down the stairs. In the foreground, a large wooden pole obstructs the walkway at around hip height.
We came across a random obstacle on our hike… we all climbed over it or under it – whichever we could manage better!
A pathway through a forest area, with wooden railings on either side. The pathway takes a slight bend to the left at an angle.
This part was pretty easy to walk down, the path lead out for us.🚶🏻‍♀️
A photo of six people smiling, but also looking tired
Selfie time 📸
A dirt pathway with some trees providing shade. Leaves are scattered over the path. One the right is a high fence made of wood; on the left is a shorter one made from round logs.
We didn’t walk along the beach, so took a back street
A view of a sandy beach taken from a non-sandy area further from the beach. The sky shows many clouds. In the foreground is some weedy terrain.
Passed a lovely beach on the way!

Then we got to the national park where the terrain was far more arid than I had envisaged it to be. It was very hot. At this point my mum was starting to give up, but we knew the only way was forward.

A man from behind, wearing a blue shirt and dark shorts. He is walking down a path into a bush
Nick walking down the bush trail

Going forward was also getting difficult, because the incline became very steep through the path in the national park. It was very forest-like and full of trees. I really should have checked the incline beforehand because it went up steeply a couple of times. It’s been years since I’ve been on a proper hike; one can imagine I was not duly prepared and I will certainly keep that in mind for next time I want to go on a hike. 😆 We all slowed down since we began to get tired, my parents slowing down the most. I was enjoying the trees very much so, though, even though I was getting bitten by mosquitoes.

An area of bush with many trees, and little sunlight showing on the ground through the trees. A man just ahead is walking with his back to the camera.
We have more shade now! 🌳

I had really wanted to go all the way down to McBrides Beach, a desolate beach that I believed was at the end of the trail, or even to the lookout. Nick and I reached the end of the part of the trail that came out of the bush, and I plodded along while Nick waited for everyone else. I went down the dirt trail, realising there was only one kilometre to walk and believing that the beach was worth it.

An earth-coloured, deep dirt track leading into the distance. The track has many rocks and is uneven. Bush-like trees line the edges of the track.
The dirt track on the way to McBrides Beach
The same dirt track in the previous photo, seen from above, taken from the perspective of someone looking down. The person’s walking shoes can be seen at the bottom edge of the frame.
Not looking good 😬

We never got to see the beach. 😢 I walked perhaps a few hundred metres in and around giant holes in the ground, almost slipping, dodging puddles, and generally going on a very steep but not very smooth decline. I decided to stop and turn around and head back. It would be too much for everyone, and my Lululemon leggings and my Nike shoes were not prepared.

The same dirt track from previous photos, but further ahead, and looking deeper and more treacherous.
It never ends!

All I remembered reading about McBrides Beach was that not much was known about it and it wasn’t a common area for people to hang out. I started walking back carefully. Some areas were really muddy or full of water, and on my way back, there was a group with a four-wheel-drive trying to get their back wheel out of one of the giant potholes I’d dodged earlier.

The same dirt track from previous photos but with deep puddles of muddy water filling some deep holes.
I had to dodge these. I can’t imagine how a high clearance truck would get through.

After I returned to my family I told them about the terrain. We were all exhausted. I suggested we go up the hill in the opposite direction to the lookout that was at the end. It was just a road. But it was very uphill… It was about a kilometre as well, but my parents were far from keen. They suggested I go along. But I didn’t want to leave everyone, and running a kilometre uphill did seem just as bad as the rocky uneven terrain going downhill, so I called it.

We ended up walking back in the direction of our hotel, but having walked ten kilometres and not really keen on going another five in such heat, we ended up calling a maxi taxi to get us. 😅 I think, though, we should not see this as a story of giving up, but one in which we all persisted. 💪 I am very proud of my parents for being troopers and making it through to what we eventually decided was the end.

A road with three people walking down the right hand side. There are lush green trees and bushes lining the sides of the road. The road is on a slight decline. The sky is blue with many clouds.
Heading out of the national park

The following day we checked out of our accomodation and scouted out a rockpool nearby. I don’t think anyone really felt like going for a swim though – it would be a bit of a hassle getting showered and going back home.

A yellow, sandy beach with quite a few people standing at the water’s edge or sitting on the sand. In the foreground is a paved path with benches at its edge, and metal railings at the edge of the path before the sand.
A rockpool/beach area that we passed on the way home
A very blue body of water with a road bridge in the background, appearing horizontally. In the foreground is grass and large rocks lining the edge of the grass before the water.
Really nice, hot day

We tried to visit a national park but ended up in the middle of nowhere! It was not a family friendly park and you (again) needed a high-clearance vehicle to get through it. 😞 I had read that there were picnic areas but the park itself was well off the main road and didn’t have lush green areas I was hoping for. We didn’t really plan that one through either…!

After we drove out of Forster we drove to Port Stephens, not too far away, and had lunch.

Six people sitting at a wooden lunch table (three people on each side) smiling widely
Lunch selfie 🤳

Overall, the highlight of the weekend was the hike. It’s made me think more about hiking and nature trails, and how much I enjoy it but how little I make it a part of something I do in my spare time. I’m keen for whenever the next one is. But until then, I shouldn’t be that spontaneous with them… more planning required, haha.

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Even if you got a taxi in the end, it still sounds like a respectable hike. Massive props to your parents for pushing through as far as they did! 😃 It looks like a beautiful place to walk in too. Shame about that dirt road tho, but from the photos it looks like you made the right call. Not worth slipping in the mud and getting hurt.

If you ask me, nothing beats walking in nature. Something about it just clears the mind and puts things in perspective. It’s like meditation – but with exercise! I hope you get the opportunity to go on another hike soon. Perhaps make it a short and easy one, that allows for more spontaneity and less planning. 😊

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