Monday, October 15, 2012

Coffs Harbour to Brisbane.


4th October 2012.

NSW-map-A4_Dorrigo - Copy - Copy - Copy

The third night on our round trip from Brisbane to Muswellbrook was spent at a caravan park at Sapphire Beach, just north of Coffs Harbour.


Even though we were literally only a few metres from the beach, my plan to photograph the sun rising over the ocean at Sapphire Beach failed.  The sun was well and truly up before I surfaced.


IMG_5034 - Copy - Copy

I was looking out for the Golden Dog pub at Glenreagh, just north of Coffs Harbour, to add to my collection of pictures of “Pubs of Australia”.   I needn’t have worried about being vigilant - there wasn’t much chance of missing it.  My “Pubs of Australia” collection increased by 54 on this trip.  Thank you Doug for all your slowing down, stopping and driving around the block or out of your way so I could squirm across from one side of the back seat of the land Rover to the other (over mounds of luggage) to capture that elusive shot.


IMG_3276 - Copy

I thought that the golden dog was right up there with the pink wombat outside the Wombat Hotel NSW we’d seen last year.  Except that the golden dog was a lot bigger.



Here is Doug and Robyn’s Land Rover and trailer at a rest area near Casino.  We drove from Coffs Harbour to Grafton by the Coast Road (Highway 1), then took the attractively-named Summerland Way, which runs midway between the Coast and New England Highways, through Casino and Kyogle, and in to Queensland through Beaudesert.


IMG_0396 - Copy

At the rest area near Casino, we met Margaret.  Five years ago, Margaret, then 73, sold her house, bought a camper van, and has been travelling around Australia ever since.



As we left Kyogle, Mount Lindesay loomed up ahead of us.  Mt Lindesay lies on the Queensland - New South Wales border, approximately 140 km south west of Brisbane.  It is one of a number of peaks in the McPherson Range, and is remarkable for its tiered summit, the eroded remnant of lava flows from the nearby Focal Peak shield volcano.



We drove around the western side of Mt Lindesay, and near Woodenbong were treated to this spectacular view of it. 

As well as being a stunning-looking mountain (1,177 m), Mount Lindesay also claims the fame of being the site of the first known recreational climbing fatality in Australia.  In 1928, Lyle Vidler fell to his death whilst attempting a solo ascent of what is now known as Vidler's Chimney. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Muswellbrook and back

1st – 4th October, 2012.

NSW-map-A4_Dorrigo - Copy - Copy

After spending the first night of our trip in beautiful Dorrigo, we continued on to Muswellbrook and collected the Land Rover parts and they were packed into the trailer. 


IMG_4866 - Copy

Just before arriving in Muswellbrook, we passed through Scone, which describes itself not only as the “Horse Capital of Australia” but also the second largest thoroughbred and horse breeding centre in the world.  Of course we then had to take bets on which is the largest in the world (Kentucky).  Were you right?


IMG_4871 - Copy

Everything in Scone was suitably horsey.


IMG_4897 - Copy

Accommodation is fairly scarce around Muswellbrook because of the coal mining boom, so we continued on to stay at Bellbird, just outside Cessnock.

When I booked our accommodation at the Bellbird Hotel, I was told it was “out of town” (Cessnock), and the picture on the website, like this one, looked encouragingly rural.  However, when we arrived, we found that “out of town” actually meant “in the suburbs” and our pastorally named hotel was right on the main road.  If there were any bellbirds tinkling away we wouldn’t have been able to hear them for the traffic.  However, the hotel had the beautiful wrought iron lace balconies and long stairways and passages that I love in these old pubs, so I was happy!

But best of all was that my friends Kate and Steve drove over from Tenambit to have dinner with us in the Bellbird Bistro.  We hadn’t seen each other for a couple of years, so it was wonderful to catch up again!  I can’t believe I didn’t take any photos of them – must have been too excited.



Next morning we headed back north, along the coast road this time.  We stopped at Taree on the banks of the beautiful Manning River for lunch, where we were joined by some hopeful seagulls and pelicans.  I have always loved photographing pelicans (there’s just so much of them to photograph), so I spent most of my lunch break following them around:


IMG_4955 - Copy









I don’t think I’ve ever been this close to a pelican.




IMG_4984 - Copy


IMG_4986 - Copy




Then we drove to Coffs Harbour, where we visited Doug and Robyn’s friends Dave and Dee.  As the Burning Bush Band, we had played at their wedding at the Wivenhoe Dam, a momentous celebration we will always remember because of the torrential rain which came bucketing down while we were playing at their reception in a marquee beside the dam.

On our way to see them at Coffs Harbour, we were remembering that spectacular occasion and musing that it must have been ten or twelve years ago.  We were astonished to discover that they had just celebrated their 17th anniversary. 

The years seem to be going faster now – there’s still a lot I want to do.


IMG_5019 - Copy

Dave and Dee have a pond in their back yard.


IMG_5017 - Copy

Dave and Dee’s beautiful Tree Waratah Alloxylon flammeum was in flower.



Tree Waratah flower up close.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Around Dorrigo, NSW.

1st – 2nd October, 2012.

Doug and Robyn were going to Muswellbrook, NSW, to pick up some Land Rover parts, and asked if I’d like to go with them, as they know I like going anywhere.


Our first night was in Dorrigo, in the northern NSW rain forest.


IMG_4808 - Copy

We stayed in the beautiful Dorrigo Heritage Hotel, established in 1925.


IMG_4793 - Copy

The wardrobes and dressing tables were made in 1925 from Queensland maple.


IMG_4780 - Copy

The door beside my bed led onto the verandah.


IMG_4790 - Copy

Robyn with dessert in the hotel bistro.


IMG_4806 - Copy

I so love the verandahs on these old hotels, with their romantic wrought iron railings.  I think that one of the nicest things a person can do is to sit on one of these beautiful verandahs and watch the world go by (and take pictures of it).



Dorrigo in the (very) early morning, from the verandah.  No, that’s not the sunrise, it’s a street light.


IMG_4797 - Copy

This is the sunrise.


IMG_4801 - Copy

The “other hotel” in Dorrigo, basking in the morning sunlight, and taken from the verandah, of course.


IMG_4813 - Copy

You can look down on the canopy from the stunning Skywalk boardwalk, 70 metres in the air, above the Dorrigo National Park. 


IMG_4814 - Copy

From the skywalk, we could see ribbons of mist floating gently between the mountains.


IMG_4818The bird life around Dorrigo includes bowerbirds, pittas and lyrebirds.  I think we saw a bower bird, but I couldn’t be sure.



The road that links Dorrigo to the coast is picturesquely named Waterfall Way, so of course there were waterfalls.  Ebor Falls are located on the Guy Fawkes River, near, believe it or not, Ebor.


IMG_4847 - Copy (2)

Wollomombi Falls are located in the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park, 40 km east of Armidale.  The Wollomombi  Gorge was created several hundred million years ago, as rivers cut through the sedimentary rocks.  The volume of water over the falls may vary between a torrent and a trickle, depending on the amount of rain in the catchment area.  It looks as though we caught it in its trickle phase.



We stopped for a cup of tea at Bendemeer, on the banks of the very pretty MacDonald River.


IMG_4857 - Copy

St Anne’s Catholic Church Wallabadah, built in 1910.  60 km south of Tamworth, Wallabadah is an attractive little village with tree-lined streets on the upper reaches of Quirindi Creek, beneath the mountains of the Peel Range and on the eastern rim of the Liverpool Plains.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Amy and Bronagh

27th September 2012.
Amy is the daughter of Kathy, a very special friend of mine in Ireland.  Amy and Bronagh are currently in Australia, and I was delighted to catch up with them on a drive through the Glasshouse Mountains area.
Amy and Bronagh with Mt Coonowrin (Crookneck) in the background.

Cup of tea at Glasshouse Mountains lookout.

Glasshouse Mountains from the lookout.

Here they are again.

Yes, you’ve guessed it, at Picnic Creek Falls.

Picnic Creek Falls without Amy and Bronagh .

Lookout near Kondalilla Falls.

On the track.

Amy checks out alternative accommodation.

Kondalilla Falls.  Will I go in?

Maybe not.

It looks a bit cold!

Lunch at the Poets’ Cafe in Montville.

After lunch.

IMG_4670 - Copy
You’re never far from Connemara.

As we were coming back, we found that an accident had closed the road to Brisbane.  We had no way of getting Amy to work on time at 6pm, so instead drove to Caloundra on the coast, had a walk along the beach, then went to a coffee shop featuring live music.
Amy said it was the first time in her life she hadn’t reported to work when she had said she would.  I felt bad about that, but pleased to have spent some more time in the girls’ company.