Pittwater is a huge harbour just to the north of Sydney and is where half the population of Sydney keep their yachts on mooring buoys. We sailed overnight from Port Macquarie to the entrance and waited offshore until first light when we entered passed the lighthouse, ghosted along pushed by the breeze and dropped the anchor in Morning Bay.

We were anchored in a national park so we took the dinghy to shore and headed for the hills following small trails through the bush. We were rewarded by stunning views across the boat filled waters. On the way back down we took a wrong turning and were punished by a bull ant attack. Strangely for Australian animals, the ants are not really poisonous; the sting just burns like hell. Not an experience we wish to repeat.

The next day we were visited by Paul on his sailing boat and invited round to “their” bay at Coaster’s Retreat. (We know Lucie and him from Bundaberg.) They organised us a friend’s mooring buoy and made us extremely welcome. Their hospitality knew no end and included showers, drinks, dinner, the garden wallaby, sailing on their ketch and a guided walk through the surrounding hills. They definitely get five stars if they are ever listed on Trip Advisor.

During the week, Pittwater is a beautiful area to sail but unfortunately, at the weekend, it is taken over by two types of idiots. Firstly there are the racers. They know who should give way to who but believe that being in a race allows them to do whatever they want. At least you can more or less rely on them cutting dangerously close to you. Secondly there are the common variety of idiot. It is impossible to discern if they just do not understand the laws of the seas or have a rudimentary knowledge but fail to apply it. Either way they are extremely dangerous. Taken together the weekends are a good time to stay at anchor and go for a walk.

Behind the Pittwater is the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park which starts on the shore. Luckily the forest is penetrated by long flooded river valleys which you can sail up. We followed the Hawkesbury River and then turned in to Cowan Creek before taking the narrow Smiths Creek and spending the night in Squid Bay. Here we were deep, deep in the forest and surrounded by steep, forested sandstone cliffs. Unfortunately two other boats turned up for the night but it was still beautifully peaceful.

Back down the river and across the bay, we anchored off Palm Beach and walked along the busy street to the supermarket. Two locations, about ten kilometers apart, but two worlds.

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