16 October 2014

Hello Possums (said in a bad Dame Edna Everidge type accent)

Mmm, where to start...
Time for a bit of a review and catch-up. Time has kind of ran away with us really whilst on this road trip. We've covered a fair few hundred km in these last few days. So, the last time you heard from us was when we had left the Hunter Valley with beer, cheese, chocolate and wine in hand.
Now, we were givem such delightful options for turn offs during our trip up Pacifi Highway 1. Such place names as Swansea, Newcastle, Singleton, Stroud, Gloucester and Tamworth all were available, but for some reason, just didn't sound too appealing. I can't quite put my finger on why though... Leaving the Hunter, we started off towards our next stop, Tuncurry, which you may or may not find just North of Forster. Now, I say, may or may not.... we're finding that the aussie road maps we've been provided with are not really what you might call detailed, or explicit maybe. I think 'a roug guesstimate' is more appropriate. Nevertheless, Ali 'Sat Nav' Hill was on the case. Life on the Pacific Highway is much like any other dual carrigeway to be honest. With the exception of warnings for Koalas, Kangaroos, Wombats, Wild Cattle and loose horses. To make the trip a bit more pleasant, the aussies have labelled up various tourist loops that take you off the highway and out to several places of interest along the way which you wouldn't normally go visit. Generally, there will be some hidden gem or view point somehwere, some local amenities, and bit of bush and roadkill, and then back out onto the highway. It was on such a tourist loop that we made our next stop, on the shore of Wallis Lake. The exposed position of the campsite on the shore made it a windy night, and a bit rainy. Little were we to know of what had been unleashed on the residents of Sydney until we heard it on the radio the next morning and via good old FB. To think we were sunbathing on manly beach a few days before, then after we left, storms, snow, wind and lightening hit withsome ferrocity. Ah well.
Waking to this news in Tuncurry, the resolve to start heading Northwards away from such weather was strengthend. Bacon butties and coco pops consumed, we packed off and headed North.
Now, aussies and campervans.... Not so much inter-campervan waving here between the hire campervans in comparison to those in New Zealand. Not sure why, but one thing must be said. I think the locals prefer the caravan approach instead of a good old campervan. Actually, prefer is a bit weak. They love them! Not necesarily big, but millions of them around the place. Certainly seems like the holiday of choice. One good thing though, they know how to tow, and they dont hold up the traffic. I feel Jeremy Clarkson may almost be impressed even!
We rejoined the higway south of Taree and started clocking up the km. Our first stop of the day was on a tourist loop south of Port Macquarie. We had several stops around this loop, at Lake Cathie and then a nearby beach where some bloke was offering Camel rides for tourists. Thing is, it was quite out the way so who knows how he made his trade work. To be honest, we didnt see the camels. What we did see was a board in the sand and a dozen or so cycle helmets and an empty cattle waggon next to the beach. I assume that was him. Very random. Port Macquarie lighthouse was next on the agenda. Lovely spot. Very windy. Back on the highway north of the town, passed Kempsey and another detour to Scotts Head. This is where we decided to have lunch, and where, perhaps the most memorable time so far was spent.
First sigting of the day was 4 foot guana on the side of the road. He was a big lad, but unfortunatly, with traffic behind, it wasn't the best of paces to come to a screaching halt to inspect further. Gutted! Whilst eating lunch in our van, and dreaming of riding the waves like the surfers on the beach beneath us Ali looked a bit more distracted than normal. Then declared the sighting of a whale on the surface of the ocean, a mile or two out from the shore. It didnt take long for the sandwich to take a back seat, along with everything else lunch like. Binnies were scrambled for, lenses were changed on the camera and positions at cliff edge were taken up. Sure enough we saw whales. We think two distinct groups on their migration path for the summer. We couldn't see what type they were, but I think i might have picked some out on the camera. During our time looking out, we also two pods of dolphins, much closer into the coast, just beyond the surfers. Perhaps 8 or 10 in each pod. Tidy :-) Once again, back out on the highway and we made our way straight through Coff Harbour and out the other side following signs for Woolgoola, and then Emerald Beach. At this latest of the Big 4 sites, we checked in to our pitch with nothing more than a bit of bush between us and the beach. When we checked ina reception, we were asked if we had seen any Kangaroos yet. We said yes and were promptly told that we migt see a few more tonight. Well, if you can't see a 5 foot kangaroo within 4 feet of where you are sitting, then there is something wrong. It was brilliant. Two juveniles, a female who was being courted by a big male. Wherever the female went, the male followed.... and the female came right to the side of where we were sitting at our pitch. Tidy :-) Lots of photos were taken, and then came the invasion of the black turkeys, one of which prooved to be rather territorial, and some cookaburras and parakeets. Tidy :-) We look forward to more of this type action when we get to KI.
This brings us to this morning, waking up at Emerald Beach and packing the van up before driving around 200 meters around the corner for coffee on the beach. Not a bad way to start the day. We headed in land with the free way taking us towards Grafton before directing us back to the coast again. After a double brekkie this morning with one on site and another at the coffee shop overlooking the beach, we opted to give lunch a wide berth. Instead, w left the higway on another loop and headed for Evans Head just south of Ballina. At the mouth of the river, Evans Head has a lookout over more surf beaches, free to use BBQs and all sorts. Again, well out the way of any touristic trappings and just generally a nice place to chill. Then, onto our final leg for today, coming to Lennox Head, South of Byron Bay. This is the first time we have ventured off Big 4 territory, and we're not dissapointed. A good site with everything you need and a massive surf beach.
Photos here show all sorts along they way, including a banana, a prawn, beer, beaches and a windy selfie.
Stargazing last nigt was brought to me by M7 and the Butterfly Cluster in the constellation of Scorpius.

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