Tuesday, September 28, 2010

South West Rocks

We planned our dummy run to Port Macquarie, our next stopover on our way South for the CMCA Rally to be held in October. Friday we set off and plotted our route into the venue and also the pre staging area for the Rally. We explored a little of Port Macquarie and had our standard fish & chip meal in the village green. On our return we took a detour just North of Kempsey and discovered the fishing hamlet of South West Rocks.
The local Information Centre was housed in a restored Boatman’s cottage and the gentlemen in attendance were most helpful. South West Rocks was first surveyed in 1866 as part of the town of Arakoon at Trial Bay. It is also well known for many years because of its prominent coastal geography. Trial Bay was noted from earliest times as a valuable haven in southerly gales by all shipping which plied the coast. Because of its northerly aspect and its position midway between Sydney and Brisbane, it was a convenient, sheltered and safe deep-water anchorage. There were quite a lot of holiday makers and they were making the most of the lovely weather to swim in the beach close to the town.

 Not far from one of the camping spots are the ruins of Trial Bay Gaol which stands today as a fascinating lesson in the penal history of New South Wales. From 1915 to 1918 the gaol was used as an internment camp for enemy aliens during World War 1. It has not been used since then. Trial Bay Gaol, standing proudly on picturesque Lagger’s Point, is now a popular tourist attraction.

Sunday we made the usual pilgrimage to the local markets, taking in this week the Jetty Markets at the Jetty Village Shopping Centre. Today we opted to drive over to Bellingen for a more intensive view of the town. We followed a rather scenic route through lovely farm land dotted with lush green pastures dotted here and there with the usual dairy cows. The town itself was lovely and alternative, with Cafe and bakeries popping up everywhere. We made a mad dash for home as the beautiful weather which greeted us in the morning changed dramatically for rain.

Our next stop was to the Marina and to the Fisherman’s Co Operative for some fresh fish for lunch.

 A short 4 wheel drive along the Boambee Beach tapered off our day. Now I ask you why do you need the TV remote when you go out for the day. Bill was surprised when he realised amongst his usual paraphernalia (e.g. GPS, phone etc) that he had absconded with the remote as well. Some mothers have them.  We leave this little corner of paradise on Friday to travel down to Port Macquarie, probably we will stop overnight somewhere on the way

Talk again soon

Monday, September 27, 2010

Playing Tourists

Wednesday 22nd Sept we played tourist for the day and decided to visit some of the touristy hotspots in the area.  Our first port of call was to the Clog Barn, which features a little bit of Holland, with clog making demonstrations held throughout the day. 
The barn also features many Dutch related goodies for purchase, while the Coffee House next door sold some lovely pancakes and specialised in traditional Dutch cooking.  Through the Clog Barn was the entrance to their miniature Dutch Village, beautifully set out and well worth a visit.  Our next visit on the agenda was to Carobana situated in Korora, a lovely beach side suburb. As you could probably tell by their name they feature confectionery made with Carob.  
 Here we had the most fun with their demonstrations on making honeycomb.  We were also able to taste the end result.  I had a hard time deciding which sweet I liked the most, was it the Carob dipped honeycomb? Or was it the carob ginger? Or could it be the coconut roughs or carob peppermints.  They also feature fruits dipped in Carob, even lemon myrtle creams, which I would have loved to have tried but unfortunately they didn’t have any available on this visit.  The hosts were very hospitable and the demonstrations were such fun.  We then travelled down to Urunga to try the Honey Place. 
The honey Place has working bee hives and also an Australian honey bee which apparently doesn’t sting.  I didn’t stick my hand in to test the theory though. LOL.  There also was an excellent display of dolls in the cottage behind.  We were also able to taste the many varieties of honey.  We wound up the day with a late lunch at Sawtell, and a quick visit to the beach.
Talk again soon

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Coffs Harbour NSW

Our arrival in Coffs Harbour went without incident and we settled in at the Rugby Leagues Club on Tuesday afternoon.
The cars waited patiently for us to go through
 The bridge crossing out of Grafton wasn’t too bad as we managed to tag along behind a B double Aust Post Truck and everyone got out of its way and we just followed.
Yesterday we drove over to Kempsey to our next destination to estimate our route. There is a couple of bridges here that may cause concern but we will see. On the way back we stopped at Fredrickton and sampled the famous Fredo’s pies for a quick bite. In the afternoon we had a tour of the local Crematorium, a long story. Our friend’s son is head gardener there and the gardens are a credit to him, they are in immaculate condition with rows of neatly manicured lawns and flower beds.

Admiring the view at a lookout on the way to Dorrigo
Saturday 18th we headed over to Dorrigo approx 115klms up in the mountains 764 metres above sea level. Their motto is “where the mountains reach the sky”. We travelled through lush dairy pasture into tropical rain forests.
 It always amazes me in this vast country how many beautiful scenic spots there are. We are often asked which is our favourite spot or our favourite state, but it is too hard to choose. This is just such a wonderful country and each area is unique and I feel blessed to just have been able to witness just a little bit of heaven. We drove through Bellingen which was filled with lots of cafes and hosts of visitors, it seems the odd biker or family love the drive up this mountain for a weekend retreat or day trip.

 In Dorrigo we had a lovely lunch at a local Cafe and a visit to the Patchwork shop, Misty Threads.
This Mural was in the street
 Two Kilometres further up was the Dangar Falls. Another beautiful pristine waterfall!!
 The Dorrigo National Park with its skywalk takes you out over the escarpment for a unique close up view of the rainforest canopy. The Dorrigo Rainforest Centre was hosting a challenge quilt show depicting the colours of the Dorrigo. My compliments to the makers they were excellent.
Yes! I know he needs a haircut!!!
We strolled through ancient, magical rainforests and visited the treetops via the Skywalk, the scenery was awe inspiring. From Dorrigo you can explore the natural wonders of 11 National Parks (3 are world heritage) and 6 nature reserves all within an hour’s drive. We had to drag ourselves away for the winding trip back down. We still had a little time left so we drove out to Sawtell to look out the beaches.
 The surf was magnificent it was fantastic to stand on the cliffs and watch the waves crash on to the beach with the wind blowing in your hair.
 A great finish to a lovely day out. Today we visited the two markets here in Coffs, one in town at the car park and the Jetty Markets at the Marina. We just strolled around bantering with the sellers and poking amongst the wares trying to find the ultimate bargain, but returned home with just a bit of fruit and veges.
Talk again soon

Monday, September 13, 2010

Grafton NSW

Saturday morning started out as being rather dismal and unexciting. The weather was very overcast and rain was threatening, but later in the afternoon the sun started to peak through so we decided that on Sunday we would explore Grafton and take some photos.

 We had to take a peek at the famous bridge although it doesn’t look as daunting from a distance.

 Construction of the bridge commenced in 1928 on the Wilson’s Hill site and was of a double deck type providing for rail, road and pedestrian traffic linking Grafton and South Grafton. To provide for the passage of river shipping it was necessary to install a moving span. It was designed to give an opening of approximately 27 metres. The bridge was completed in 1932. The span has now been sealed with the placing of the water mains over the bridge and the cessation of large river craft proceeding upstream beyond the bridge.
 South Grafton has a heritage Shopping precinct and there are some lovely old buildings in the area.
 The lovely serene Clarence River divides Grafton and South Grafton.

 Sunday we decided to go to the movies and enjoyed the Angelina Jolie feature of Salt. It was great viewing and she didn’t let us down with her wonderful action shots. The Saraton Cinema has just been refurbished and only reopened on 2nd of September. It was very elegant and eminent of its heyday in the early century. Today we have been busy doing all the mundane things we need to attend to before we move on and tomorrow we leave for the greener pastures of Coffs Harbour.

This is halfway through a lovely street of old Moreton Bay Fig Trees.
Talk again soon

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Grafton, Yamba and Wooli NSW

We arrived in Grafton Tuesday 31st August and set up camp in the Grafton Greyhound and Racing Track in the Caravan Park attached to it. Thursday was a very wet and overcast day and probably not a good day to visit some lovely beaches, however we set off for the day. We called in first to a lovely little township of Ulmarra, with a lot of rather quaint shops bursting with collectibles and old wares. We spent a few moments wandering in and out of the shops and admiring the goods and chatting to the shopkeepers who seemed to be in awe as to the fact that we were Sandgropers in this little part of the world.

 We drove into Yamba and spent some time exploring the town, as I said it wasn’t a very good day so the photos probably won’t show what a lovely fishing spot it really is.

I love the textures and colours in these rocks at Yamba
 We had the usual fish and chips from the Marina, this seems to be our signature dish at the moment, but we may as well strike while the iron is hot and enjoy this lovely fresh fish that is available in these fishing towns.

The Marina at Yamba
 We then continued on to another fishing town of Iluka.
On Sunday it was Father’s Day so we ventured out to the town of Wooli, again a lovely clean spot. It boasted a great riverside Caravan Park and very neat housing.

Oyster Farming is quite prominent here and they also have a shop which sells Wooli Oysters 7 days a week. Again we had another feed of fish and chips before heading off to Minnie Waters.

Most of the following week was spent with Doctor’s visits and visits to the Vampire Clinic (Pathology for blood tests is its correct title), I was allowed to drive myself to the Doctor’s Surgery, but I probably won’t be allowed to again as a bird flew into the rear vision mirror and luckily the mirror fell intact inside the car. However his lordship didn’t believe me and reckons I must have hit a pole. Not this little brown duck. Tuesday we drove over to Coff’s Harbour for our usual vigil on which way to travel and whereabouts we were going to park and luckily we have found a lovely place to camp when we move on from here. Wednesday we were joined by our friends Ali & Bruce who were on their way home to Canberra after selling their Motor Home in Noosa. We had an excellent meal at the Roche Family Hotel, which was recommended to us by the Caretaker at the park.
Grafton was established in 1859and declared a city in 1885; the area is famous for its tree lined streets which come alive each October when the purple haze of the Jacarandas come to bloom. I would have loved to have been here then as the streets are lovely even now. The 8 day Jacaranda Festival, the oldest floral festival in Australia, is held annually starting off on the last Saturday in October. The Clarence River was once the region’s main trade route and is a dominant feature of the region. The famous Grafton Bridge which joins North and South Grafton is a huge feature with narrow twists and turns, I am dreading crossing over in the bus. Although we have been assured that cars will stop and let us through, fingers crossed that will happen. It was bad enough when we had the wrong point in the GPS when we arrived in Grafton and it took us on a tour through Grafton and the CBD with several bridges with a height less than 4 metres. As you can imagine it would not be easy to reverse the bus in these circumstances. As we are higher than that we have two bridges to choose from when exiting one is 4.6 and 5metres high respectively.

Talk again soon

Friday, September 3, 2010

Glen Innes, NSW

Yesterday we decided to go up the hills to visit friends at Glenn Innes about 195km away. We drove along another picturesque but winding road up into the mountains and through the rain forest. It was rather cool up there but the drive was beautiful.

 Our first stop was Mann River near Jackadgery.

 We meandered through Bellbird’s Gully, where we were able to hear some of the famous Bellbirds, and our next stop was Heffron’s Lookout.

 This lookout was opened on the 9th December 1990 by Heffron, a member of parliament.

 After continuing along the Gwydir Highway we drove off the main Road and went into the Boundary Falls picnic Area.

Here we had to climb down a zillion steps to the base of the falls. We were well rewarded as it was lovely down the bottom, with a Chrystal clear pool hidden amongst the foliage, but I nearly died climbing back up them. We descended down the other side of the mountain and arrived at the Celtic heritage town of Glenn Innes. Here we met up with Pat & Colin at their home and also enjoyed the company of their neighbours, fellow motor homers, June and Gary for lovely fresh scones and a chat.

Glen Innes Catholic School
 Glenn Innes is a lovely town with a lot of Scottish influences abundant. The area looked a little like Tenterfield, with the stark winter trees lining the streets and very much New England. Today we drove over to Yamba for the day.
Talk again soon

Thursday, September 2, 2010

I am going to be a Great Granma

Well it's now out of the bag and it is official!!!! Remember a few weeks ago I said I had some news that I was busting my guts to tell you all!!!! This is it!!!! Our lovely eldest grand daughter is expecting her first baby ealry next year and can't you tell I am really excited. They have now got their first ultrasound pictures and everything is going really well. We are so pleased for Jess and Chris and also for their parents Bill and Brenda. There are lots of exciting times ahead. Hard to imagine that I have got a son that is old enough to be a grandfather and that we are being blessed by becoming great grandparents.

We arrived on Tuesday in Grafton and have settled down at the Greyhound Track.

Talk again soon