Nambucca Heads: memories of premier camp site and dancing

The Potts Point campground, a reference to
The Potts Point campground, a reference to "old money" in the eastern suburbs of Sydney, was ideally located for a quick dip in the ocean

BACK in the day at Nambucca Heads, it was hard to imagine anything finer than 12x12 cotton canvas tent pitched proudly on a campground called Potts Point by the locals.

This prime holiday spot was directly above the surfing beach at Nambucca Heads, and overlooked the sparkling Pacific Ocean with Monaco to the north, Hawaii to the east, Rio de Janeiro to the south and Argents Hill to the west.

This was the east side of town. A holiday playground for the aspirational well-to-do and those who had a bank overdraft extension by virtue of the fact they were best friends with the local bank manager.

A slightly forgotten part of town in modern times, this was once the hub for socialites from many parts of the Valley.

And pride of place was the Headland Palaise de Dance (danse). It was like a scene from an Al Capone film as the Willys Overlands, T model Ford's and Chevrolets pulled into the Headland carpark for the Saturday night dance.

The men with their slicked back hairstyles, double-breasted pinstripe suits and gleaming leather shoes made grand entrances as they escorted their finely coiffured lady folk with their glamorous gowns and sparkling jewellery into the dancehall. On a Saturday night this was the place to be seen wearing a white sport coat and a pink carnation, all dressed up for the dance!

They happily fox trotted, quickstepped and waltzed the the night away to the melodic sounds of the musical ensemble.

The Potts Point campground, a reference to "old money" in the eastern suburbs of Sydney, was ideally located for a quick dip in the ocean, a bit of beach or rock fishing, even a game of golf at Nambucca's answer to the St Andrews Old Course in Scotland.

Above Beilbys Beach, stretching down towards the Pilot Hill lookout and west to where Pilot St is now located, was a fine seaside links golf course with its own clubhouse and majestic views to the ocean.

It was here that the gutta percha golf ball was first struck by a hickory shafted mashie in Nambucca Heads!

At Shelly Beach, the wooden fishing boats rested permanently on the sand well above the high tide mark waiting for the Italian fishermen of the time to launch them out to sea.

Back up along the dusty dirt road towards the campground - and tucked away in the bush just out of sight of passers-by, was the ultimate beach house (shack). It had direct access to Beilbys Beach but was sheltered from the strong southerly and nor-easter coastal winds.

Here lived the The Foleys, a family famous for fishing exploits and cycling expertise.

The Foley boys were brilliant exponents of hand-line fishing. With timber reels about 10 inches in diameter loaded up with fishing line and with bare feet on the rock platform, their exploits in casting a line from the rocks around Shelly Beach were a sight to behold.

Anyone who has ever cast a line off the rocks with fishing rod will realise how easy it is for the line to get caught on a jagged rocky edge. The Foleys, though, would unwind their hand-lines in very large concentric circles on the rocks and then stand back and with a swirl of their arm, hurl the line with hook and sinker hundreds of yards out to sea.

There was a sound of "whoosh" as the line unfurled rapidly off the rocks and landed well out into the foaming whitewater.

It really was poetry in motion and one of those athletic movements once seen would never be forgotten.

Their mother, Old Mrs Foley, was well known for her cycling commonsense.In a time when few pushbike riders wore helmets and diced with death on the steep hills around town.

Old Mrs Foley would ride up the slopes and walk her bike down the steep inclines and around the perilous corners. It was thought that this technique was simply because her bike had no brakes but I will give her the benefit of the doubt!

Eventually the campground at Potts Point moved to the existing site of the Headland Caravan Park.

Directly behind the Headland Palaise, the campers built timber platforms under the shade of the paperbark trees where they would then place their 12x12 or 16x12 tents. It was lovely and cool here in summer, under canvas .

Even the thick smoke from mosquito coils and the ever present sandflies didn't deter the landed gentry from properties up in the valley enjoying their summer holidays glamping near the ocean with their families, close relatives and friends.

As times moved on, Scotts Head became a summer holiday destination for the locals from Macksville and surrounds, but for many of the dyed in the wool Nambucca Heads residents, the only good thing about Scotts Head was that you could see Nambucca Heads!

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