After sorting through the Henderson wine cellar, a farewell morning tea it was time to hit the road again. We enjoyed the pizza night at the Watchbox Winery, time sightseeing in Beechworth, Art galleries, Sculptures, Gem store, the bakery and much talk about sailing. A great two days. Our first stop Wodonga to fill with fuel then along the Hume highway our overnight stop Jugiong. We stayed in the Jugiong show ground, which is below the highway and on a creek, a large grassed area but no power or water not that impacts on us.
The Hume highway once went through Jugiong but now travels along the hill top leaving Jugiong isolated in a gully, one can see the traffic on the highway above.
For a while Jugiong was adversely affected by the bypass but that is now changing. The Sir George hotel the major business in the town has gone through a major renovation with the old stone hotel regaining its charm, the owners have also added a number of up market timber huts surrounding a courtyard with landscaping enhancing this complex. Complimenting the hotel is a bakery/pizza café this an old country town timber building with an open fire and wholesome food. Jugiong caters well for the traveller and those heading to the snow. There is also an historic police station and a monument to a police sergeant shot by bush rangers.
Sunday 16th June.
It was freezing last night an extra doona on the bed and hot water bottles made life a little more comfortable I think I will have to invest in a diesel heater. On our way by 9.30am our intention to stay in the North Ryde national park, which is in an ideal central location near Sydney, we have stayed there quite a few times. When near the Sydney outskirts we rang Ray & Lyn to let them know we would arrive in Sydney today, Lyn was adamant that we park the van at their home. I had some reservations as the roads to their home have tight roundabouts and they don’t have a suitable place to park a van. However, we decided to travel there and if this didn’t work out, we would go to the Narrabeen caravan park, which is close by. It all turned out well as Ray had arranged a great spot in front of the neighbour’s house, which did not impact on them, power connected now time to socialise with Ray & Lyn who are very astute people as they are supporters of the Sydney Swans. Lyn had prepared dinner, which went down well, afterwards we watched the footy on TV.
Monday 17th June.
Overnight it started to rain and by morning heavy rain had set in, earlier we had arranged to go to lunch at the Bella Vista Café at North Head meeting Peter & Meagan people we had met during our recent cruise. What a great place the café overlooks the Sydney Harbour heads only one problem it was so overcast visibility was very poor, at times we could not even see the heads, but the food and company was great. Later we adjourned to Peter & Meagan’s house in Manly interesting home the main room being octagonal with 270-degree views. Coffee, Cheese and Bickies much chatting then on our way back to R&L’s home. Although the rain had eased, Ray had to take a longer return route as many roads were flooded, the big disappointment there was not much rain in the catchment area.
Tuesday 18th June.
We bid our goodbyes. R & L who are lovely people generous and welcoming. Our objective is to travel the pacific highway to Brisbane and we set off towards Newcastle, the rain had stopped and leaving at 10am meant that the traffic through the suburbs was light. Our first stop a roadside stop on the Hawksbury River. Coffee from the mobile coffee van a stretching of the legs then on our way again. We decided to stay at the Dunlieth Tourist Park situated on Lake Tuggerah great park looking across to the town and only a short walk to the surf beach. After setting up the van we walked to the surf beach then to the entrance, which was very shallow with a strong outgoing tide. Fishermen were along the lake and standing in the water in the middle of the lake, we saw two fishermen walk from one side of the lake to the other and the water did not get passed their waist. We then decided to walk to the opposite side but taking the bridge on the highway a long walk but good exercise and it gave us a chance to get a feel for the town, this is a great summer holiday destination.
Wednesday 19th June.
As we have travelled this route before we wanted to get off the beaten track and decided to make for Old Bar a fishing / holiday village on the coast, the Old Bar caravan park is close to a surf beach but behind sand dunes, which gives protection from the wind. Another fantastic beach starting at Halliday’s Point and finishing at the Manning River approximately 10 kilometres long, lovely fine sand but I would feel dangerous for swimming particularly at present as the sea is rough. The caravan park was almost empty as such we could choose any sight. The amenities were clean, the park tidy, staff friendly a great place to stay. Considering that Old Bar is on a dead-end road we were surprised to come across a huge public school with some works in progress this a three-storey building covering a large area as we learned it is to be a teacher’s college. It seemed an unusual place to find such a large complex in a town with a population of only 4000.
When I was setting up the van, I noticed some beetles in a bush, hundreds of them and brightly coloured, vivid reds, orange and iridescent blue with small black spot and stripe markings, quite special. Google advises that they are called bright coloured beetles and can be poisonous.
Thursday 20th June.
We left Old Bar late as I needed to install a security app to my computer it took some two hours but at least it is now done. Our next stop Manning Point on the Manning river only a short drive arriving at manning point by 11.30am. We parked the van near the boat ramp and then walked to the beach, another amazing beach and like the others very few people there. We walked to the entrance of the Manning River a spectacular sight, wide with a rough sea running. This beach is again about 10 to 15 kilometres long and again a superb beach. Our walk from our entrance to the beach to the heads and back again was about four kilometres some good exercise. Now time for lunch at the water front seafood restaurant, we enjoyed calamari and flathead fillets washed down with water. Yes Water. Our next stop North Haven again hugging the coast, there were several caravan parks in the area but only one on the water’s edge, the Diamond Waters caravan park at Dunbogan. Again, the park was almost empty and we were given a large site not far from the water. This is in a rain forest area dense with Paper Bark trees, Sheoaks, Mangroves and eucalypts, a swampy area and quite special. The lake looks quite shallow and near to where we are camped there are numerous oyster farms. A nice park the only minus our site was a long way from the amenities also it had a large number of permanent sites.
Friday 21st June.
On checking the map, we decided to head to Stuarts Point a small village on the Macleay River another fisherman’s paradise. We checked into the Stuarts Point caravan park, which borders the river. Once again, we had a choice of numerous sites choosing one in the sun with a view over to the river, our intention to spend one night here. As we were setting up, I spoke with our neighbour who was returning from a fishing trip he had five very nice flathead, which he had caught with soft plastic lures. After getting all set up Pam and I went for a reconnaissance and close to our site was a boat launching ramp with a hand winch very handy for launching and retrieval. We then walked to the beach and all we can say is that this area is blessed with fantastic beaches. After our walk we went to the local café for coffee then back to the van for dinner. Over dinner watching the news we learn that tomorrow is fine but thereafter we are in for rain all up the coast. As such we decided to stay here for one more day and do some fishing so up early tomorrow, but first to watch the Swans Hawthorn match.
Saturday 22nd June.
Up early took about an hour to set up the tinny soon off fishing. We first went towards the heads the tide had just turned, the best time to land a fish, the river is shallow and finding one’s way around the sand bars was testing we were zigzagging up the river following the markers, it was bit like my golf, also there was a very cold southerly blowing. After fishing for about 90 minutes with no success we decided to head up river and get away from the wind. The water past the bridge was deeper but the wind following us however we persisted with fishing and after a long time on the water with only two bites and no fish we headed back to the park, my reputation as a fisherman intact. Now when in Tasmania I caught two lovely Squid, on our return Pam cooked up two squid flaps for lunch and they were delicious. Tomorrow we move closer to warm weather.
Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. 23rd to 25th June.
Our destination Uranga, which is at the mouth of the Bellingen River. This is our third visit here and one of our favourite coastal destinations, firstly we enjoy the Reflections Caravan Park in our opinion it is six stars, it gets better with every visit. But at $43.00 a night it is up there. Having said that there are deals and we saved $25 00 by joining the Reflections club. The caravan park is on the river about a kilometre from the entrance, pretty spot with large sites and excellent facilities. Close to the park is a board walk which traverses over a wet land area to the river mouth and another amazing beach. On the walk you can often see Kangaroo and in the swamp stingray swimming and feeding. The caravan park is also across the road from the shopping centre, very convenient. The golf course & boat ramp are just a three-minute drive away. Pam & I played golf on the Sunday a nice little 9-hole course with plenty of water hazards. On Sunday evening the promised rain was starting just a few showers to start with but building, as such on Monday we decided to go to drive along the waterfall way to the Dorrigo National Park a magnificent rain forest. The waterfall way passes two small falls the Newell & Sherrard Falls both are right on the roadside passing under the road.
On our arrival at the Dorrigo National Park we picked up a map and set off on the Wonga Walk firstly to the Crystal Shower Falls to the Tristiania Falls back to the ranger station. After the rain and with some rain during our walk the forest was just a magical wonderland the leaves on the palms, ferns and trees glistened in the sunlight, the rain had revitalised the mosses and fungi, everywhere was so green just beautiful. Magnificent Black Box gums reached for the heavens joined by Stranger Figs, Coachwood, Sassafras, Crab-apple and climbing vines all competing for the sun. This was a testing walk of some seven kilometres.
We enjoyed this walk even if rather stiff and exhausted when we arrived back at the van as such, we returned on Monday to walk the Never Never walk and it was raining steadily, now I must say that although the walk was uncomfortable the experience was well worth the effort. Our aim was to walk to the Red Cedar Falls the most challenging walk in the park. However, as we arrived to the track to the falls a tree had covered the track making it impossible to pass, we photographed the area for the parks management and marked on the map its location. Rather than retrace our tracks we headed towards the Coachwood Falls the rain now set in but not heavy thankfully, the walk was challenging but again special and not surprising we were the only people on the track. Arriving to the Coachwood falls we could see the falls through the trees a narrow stream of water making its way between a rock crevasse into rapids. Above the falls was a small lagoon the river gently flowing into the lagoon a relaxing sight before the rough and tumble of the falls.
Our return was along a rising track back to the car park by this time we were drenched and looking forward to a coffee at the ranger station. Our walk took two hours and we walked about five kilometres. Once back at the ranger station we informed them of the blocked track and of a motorhome stranded in the middle of the road they could not get traction to get up the hill the road was muddy and slippery. Back at the van warm dry clothes and now planning our next destination.