Tuesday, 4 May 2021


CHINDERAH : Saturday, 1st May.

It rained overnight but the good news is that our mouse problem appears to be resolved.  We have neither seen nor heard any evidence that our little nuisance had any accomplices so we can safely assume that he was working alone.  

After defrosting the fridge and completing a couple of little odd jobs, we headed off on Tourist Drive 40 to Murwillumbah through sugar cane country, which surprised us as we didn't realise that sugar cane was grown this far south.  

Murwillumbah was very quiet with very few shops/cafes open but after a wander up and down the main street, we stopped in at the Imperial Hotel

and ordered a light lunch.  On leaving town we drove along the river but were prevented from seeing it by this high wall 

which we assume acts as a levy in the case of flooding.  Further along the tourist drive, also known as Tweed Valley Way, we called into the small village of Burringbar, 

hoping to find a cafe but the only one we found was closed so continued on and a short distance along the road came to the Tweed Valley Whey Farmhouse Cheeses Shop which also housed a cafe but we decided to have a house made ice crean each instead of coffee, a good choice as they were delicious.

Passing through the quaintly named village of Mooball, we noticed an oversized motorcycle parked on the side of the road

so thought perhaps Mooball is the home of giants!

Leaving Tourist Drive 40, we crossed over the M1 to the coast at Wooyung

then followed the coast road, joining the Tourist Drive 38 at Pottsville, 

and stopping at Cabarita Beach, remembering that the last time we were here, ten or twelve years ago, there was a wedding ceremony being held on the lawn above the beach - this time there was a wedding party on the beach!

We drove through Kingscliff to Fingal Head, parked the car and walked up the path and steps to the lighthouse

The Head

and the Beach

stopping on the way 'home' to photograph the bridge to Tweed Heads

and the sunset over the Tweed River from in front of the caravan park.

In spite of the fact that it has rained on and off for most of the day, it has been a fabulous day of sightseeing and being tourists and a most enjoyable day.

CHINDERAH : Sunday, 2nd May.

Today was a family day which we spent with my aunt who lives in nearby Kingscliff.  

GOODWOOD ISLAND : Monday, 3rd May.

We left Chinderah this morning and began the the trip south via the M1 with an hour long stop at Mullumbimby.  The road in off the motorway was narrow, steep in places and winding but at only 8kms it didn't take long to reach the town, though finding somewhere to park the caravan wasn't easy.  Having done that, we walked into the centre which was busy but not crowded and stopped in at a vegetarian cafe for excellent samosas, followed by very good coffee at the next door cafe.  A walk around town revealed wide streets  

and lovely old buildings.

An hour or so later, on our way to New Italy,we noticed a car which seems to have tried to climb a tree

We stopped at New Italy which houses a museum, gift shop, cafe and glass blowing gallery (unfortunately closed today) and learnt a little of the history of the settlement, founded by survivors of an ill fated expedition undertaken in 1880 by farming families from Veneto in Northern Italy, who had been tricked into buying land in an imaginary kingdom.  Their voyage took many months and conditions were so shocking that nearly 100 died and were buried at sea.  Needing food, the ship put in at Noumea, Sir Henry Parkes subsequently sent a steamer to rescue the contingent and in April, 1881, 217 of the original 340 emigrants arrived in Sydney, destitute and in poor health.  A number of them came to this place and built a happy and prosperous settlement.

Next stop was at the caravan park on Goodwood Island, about 15kms from Iluka and on the banks of the Clarence River.  Mike tried his hand at catching a few fish but those he caught were undersize so were returned to the river to grow up a bit!

View from the caravan door

GOODWOOD ISLAND : Tuesday, 4th May.

After a sunny beginning, the rest of the day was mostly overcast but we had no rain.  We drove into Iluka late this morning, doing the tourist thing, stopped at Ol' Mates Place 

for a coffee each and a shared falafel kebab, then took the half hour each way ferry ride to Yamba and back, a very relaxing journey. 

Another lovely day!

GOODWOOD ISLAND : Wednesday, 5th May.

A tourist day today - overcast this morning and 16 degrees at 9.30am when we set off for Yamba.  We'd stayed there about 13 years ago and it is barely recognisable now.  Like so many other once sleepy coastal holiday villages, it has grown immensely but we enjoyed wandering through the Farmers' Markets, visiting the beach 

 and the town

where we had coffee and cake, sustenance for the drive to nearby Angourie Beach 

and Headland

We made a brief stop in McLean, 'the Scottish Town' which is on the banks of the Clarence River but as the rain was pelting down and didn't look like stopping any time soon, we decided to head for 'home' where we took refuge from the weather, spending the rest of the day reading, snoozing etc.

DORRIGO : Thursday, 6th May.

We were woken at 2.00 o'clock this morning by thunder and the heaviest rainfall I've ever heard, I'm sure the rain was coming down in buckets!  The noise kept us awake for the best part of some time but finally abated and we were able to resume our sleep.  By 9am the sky was clearing and when we left Goodwood Island 

at 9.30an, the sun was shining and the temperature was a pleasant 16 degrees.

Driving south along the M1, on seeing the off ramp to Ulmarra via the old Pacific Highway, we made a spur of the moment decision to investigate and so enjoyed a quiet drive away from the heavy traffic to visit that town.  Managing to find a place to park car and caravan after driving around the block and through the town, we strolled along the main street and found a cafe 

where we shared an enormous slice of hummingbird cake accompanied by excellent coffee.  

There is a Fire Control Centre based in Ulmarra and there were about 15 fire tenders plus several support vehicles parked in the street

A stroll around the small town revealed some lovely old buildings

and a local, on noting our interest in the old hotel, informed us that it featured in the film "Fields of Fire" (which we haven't seen).  There is also a superb mural on a building near where we parked

a well cared for War Memorial

and a floating jetty where the old port once stood.

A fruitful foray into the unknown!
Returning to the M1, we bypassed Grafton and on our way to the Armidale Road, which would take us to Dorrigo, we noticed a cattle sale in progress, so stopped and Mike went across to have a look.

It was a very scenic drive from then on, but we noticed a flashing sign which informed us that the Armidale Road was closed until 4pm, but didn't have time to read the whole sign so weren't sure whether we should continue on or turn back.  As turning back would have been difficult because the road was narrow and winding, we carried on, through some roadworks, until we were stopped at a barrier and told by the traffic controller in attendance that there would be a 'window' at 2.30pm when he would allow traffic through - we had two options, we could either go back 50kms to Grafton and the M1 or we could wait the almost two hours in a rest area nearby until the 'window' opened.  We opted to wait,  the rest area had a disused tennis court, an undercover picnic table, toilets and a wide expanse of lawn so we made and ate lunch after which we went for a stroll down to the river to while away the time, 

which passed quite quickly and we soon tagged on to the end of the now rather long queue to be lead through by the pilot

who/d just guided a line of traffic through from the other side.  It was very slow going until we got through the major roadworks

when the restrictions were lifted.  The road is winding and steep and narrow but the scenery is stunning.

We're staying at the Dorrigo Showgrounds and treated ourselves to dinner tonight at the Hotel Dorrigo - it's been a long, eventful day!

DORRIGO : Friday, 7th May.

Today, in glorious sunshine, we visited the Dangar Falls

which are just 2 kms out of town - the path down to the base of the falls is closed but there is a superb new viewing platform above,

folloiwed by the Upper Ebor Falls, about 48kms from Dorrigo 

along the Armidale Road - unfortunately the Lower Falls and the Valley Lookout were closed  'due to tree removal, highly dangerous'.  With little else to do, we ate our picnic lunch before heading back the 48kms to Dorrigo, with a side trip along the Fernbrook Loop which passes by several farms 

and beautiful surroundings.

Next, we visited the Rainforest Centre and were rewarded with this stunning view

from the 70metre Skywalk and did one of the short walks through the rainforest

Alas, the 'Walk with the Birds' was closed!

But!! we saved the best till last

The breathtaking view from Griffiths Lookout, about 11kms from Dorrigo, off the Dorrigo-Bellingen Road - it more than made up for the disappointing closures.
We ended the day by chatting with neighbours Karen and Mal from Singleton, a chat cut short by the arrival of a steady downpour and a mad dash for cover!

NAMBUCCA : Saturday, 8th May.

There was 11kms of steep, winding road to begin the descent from Dorrigo to the coast, stunning views could be glimpsed through the trees 

but as the road was also narrow in parts, there weren't many lookouts.  We were able to pull over a couple of times, when there was a shoulder, to allow faster traffic through and at the Newell Falls there is a rest area, so we took advantage of that - along with several other motorists who took the opportunity to stop for photos.

Further down the road there were the inevitable road works before we reached Bellingen - we did not stop there but drove straight through as it is show time today and tomorrow and extremely busy, with no parking available for caravans. 
We did stop at Urunga on reaching the coast, and after the 'inevitable' coffee and cake walked around the foreshore 

and along the jetty

which brought back memories of a previous stop over there, then walked back to the car/caravan and continued on to Nambucca where we are parked at the Bowls Club which allows free overnight camping for self contained caravans & motor homes, although a $5 membership fee is a requirement.  
In the afternoon we visited nearby Valla Beach

and Valla Beach Bridge

the view from the Rotary Lookout

and the V Wall

where visitors have painted their holiday messages, inspirational words and memories on the rocks of the break wall, providing interesting reading

NORTH HAVEN : Sunday, 9th May.

Sunrise over the Nambucca River

Early morning at the Bowls Club.

After breakfast we went walking along the riverside path/boardwalk 

and were reluctant to leave Nambucca but the Bowls Club only allows 24 hour stopovers so we set off for North Haven.  On the way, along the old Pacific Highway, we passed under the Philip Hughes Bridge to Macksville, detoured through Smithtown and Gladstone and drove under the M1 

into Kempsey.  

It was lunchtime though neither of us was terribly hungry but as it is Mothers' Day, we agreed that we should indulge in coffee and cake so found a place to park and went in search of a cafe.  We found only one that was open and it was full but two friendly ladies who'd engaged us in conversation when we parked up had told us that there was a cafe upstairs in the shopping centre so that's where we went, were able to secure a table and so satisfied our cake craving!
When we left the cafe, we discovered that it had been raining, heavily, and though we weren't very far away fron the car, 

we would have been drenched trying to get to it so waited until the rain eased.  
From then on, until we reached North Haven, the rain was relentless, visibility was poor at times and when we checked into the caravan park, we tood refuge in the caravan until it had eased sufficiently so that we could set up camp.  What began as a pleasant, though overcast day, ended up being rather miserable.

NORTH HAVEN : Monday, 10th May.

What a change from yesterday!  We've had sunshine and blue sky with not a hint of a cloud today.  Ater a barbecue breakfast, a load of washing and hot showers we drove around to local beaches, 

Pilot Beach

Washhouse Beach

stopped at a local cafe for coffee and cake (in honour of my sister's birthday) 

bought prawns for our dinneer from the Laurieton Fishermans Co-op, 

went for a drive through the countryside 

and went walking along the  river  boardwalk.  

A most satisfactory day.  We booked in yesterday for two nights and on inquiring about staying for a third, were told that someone has booked our site for tomorrow so we're being evicted!  Not to worry, there is a plethora of camping places to choose from. 

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