The Dartmouth Equivalent

9 Nov

It seems wherever you go in the world, Naval Officer training establishments are pretty blessed with their location. Granted you are almost guaranteed to be near the coast, which helps, but when we spent a weekend down at HMAS Creswell, in Jervis Bay, where James has been training for the last three weeks, it’s no overstatement to say I was blown away by the scenery.

For a start, Creswell is situated in the middle of a national park so the surroundings are not only protected but a host to some incredible birds (perhaps less so when woken by the chorus at 4.30 am), flora and fauna.

The drive from Sydney took three hours but took me through  beautiful scenery, past an area known as the Southern Highlands, due to early settlers likening it to parts of Scotland, so you can imagine the views.

One of the first things James took me to see was the beach, literally a stone’s throw from the wardroom, on the edge of the base:

Captain’s Beach and Sailor’s Beach both belong to HMAS Creswell and one of the perks to being on the naval base is that these beaches are private property and I can count on one hand the number of people we had to share them with.

There are several small villages and a couple of towns a short drive outside the nature reserve so for breakfast we went to Hyams Beach, a tiny village, further along the coast for a ‘breakfast trifle’.

Then it was on to Huskisson, the nearest small town, to jump aboard a whale watching boat. I have never done this before so was really looking forward to it but we were both very excited when we got to see a Humpback whale and her calf playing around in the water just a couple of hundred metres away. Unfortunately I’d need a telescopic zoom on my camera to have captured them in their full glory so the pictures don’t quite give you the same experience we had – but it really was fantastic.

When you’re staying in a nature reserve, you end up seeing a lot more than just whales: there was the echidna, the red-bellied black snake, the sea turtle, a huge number of birds (and I am ashamed to say I cannot name them – apart from the Australian Magpie as it tried to attack us when we inadvertently walked through ‘its’ territory), a wallaby and of course – kangaroos.

Having never seen a kangaroo before, I can now say I have seen dozens upon dozens – they are everywhere around the naval base, many with young in their pouches and joeys hopping about all over the place.

We also took a drive through what is known as Kangaroo Valley on the Saturday afternoon (via a quaint town called Berry), lying just between the coast and the Southern Highlands. For lush countryside, green fields, streams and rolling hills, you could not ask for more. At times, we felt as if we could have been back in England – and James even got to pet a horse!

We were extremely lucky with the weather – topping at 30 degrees both days – so Sunday we decided to walk along the beaches to Hyams Beach for breakfast again (it really was good!), I braved the sea for my first proper swim (still quite ‘fresh’), had a few games of Kubb on the sand (I am officially the champion for now…) and then we took out one of the kayaks, belonging to the base for a paddle up and down the beach.

I think it was about this point that I suddenly realised this is our life now, we aren’t on a holiday, this is just what life out here can offer you: Clear, turquoise sea, white sand, blue sky and a big smile on our faces 🙂

It is a different adventure every day.

All the photos from the weekend can be found in the photo gallery here.

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