044. “On the Road Again”, with apologies to Willie…
First stop was three klms down the road where we bought a bacon n egg mcmuffin and coffee and ate it while driving. The good news is… tomorrow we will be back on our cereal and fresh fruit for breakfast. How can people eat that maccas…stuff, on a regular basis?
Statistics will follow in weeks to come…
We stopped for morning tea at Clairview. It was while at Clairview we noticed the recent tidal surge had deposited debris up on the grass about half a metre higher than normal. Hmmm! Leftover memento from Hamish!
We also discovered there appeared to be no water in the tank and the pump would not turn off. That left us with only the filtered drinking water so we decided to top up at the next fuel stop which happened to be Marlborough, midday and stinking hot and humid. We also noticed a grove of trees devastated by a colony of bats. The bats were still there covering every inch of what was left of the trees. The stink was …stinky!
Went to fill up the water tank and it took two minutes! Turned on the pump and it kept running. It seems a flexible drain hose has been jammed up against the pump keeping it on and in the process pumping air. A moment to clear the flexible hose, a couple of minutes to run the pump and its all back to normal. Hurrah!
Next stop our campsite for the night at Calliope River.
And what a wonderful campsite it turned out to be. Council has closed the bridge across the river but in the process they developed a new campsite on the northern higher side of the river. The toilets are a bit iffy but the rest is very good. The old campsite is still accessible but only from the old highway leading out of Calliope.
We set up camp went for a walk. Showered in our very own on board shower, washing away the sweaty grit and salt and feeling normal again.
I cooked stir-fried rice for dinner and we sat out under the stars until the mozzies came. A delightful cool night after which we woke to the sun peeking over the hills, reflecting off the river. A great breakfast and we leisurely started our days travel.
Day 2 Sunday 15th March 2009.
Not a great deal to report on the travel day. Again it was hot and sweaty and uncomfortable. Fuel at Miriam Vale, Lunch – left over fried rice – in a park at Tiaro, more fuel at Gympie and arrived Noosaville at 3.30.
After a delightful walk through the National Park to Boiling Point and return.
A great shower at Sue & Kens and we headed out for dinner at Chutney Mary’s an Indian Restaurant for dinner.
Day 3 Monday 16th March 2009.
A great start to the day. The GPS power attachment point fell out of the unit and in unrepairable. !#@$.
A short walk to the Aldi store nearby and bought a new unit. Of course it is going to take a few days to learn how to use it but we are going to need it to find our way to specific addresses. After leaving the Gateway Bridge there are only two lanes edged with concrete barriers. With trucks in front, behind and beside us it felt like we were driving in a tube. Then we hit the highway a couple of hours later than planned and met Regelyn
and grandson Chris at the huge food n fuel complex at Eagleby where we ate Nandos chicken instead of maccas for lunch.
Then back on the road again. The further south we drove it was obvious a big storm was building and we were heading into it. We also need fuel. Suddenly the clouds were over us and day turned to night and summer turned to winter. We pulled off the highway to Brunswick heads for fuel and as I pumped the diesel the first big fat raindrops began to fall. Then it was a deluge. Inside the gas station they showed us a radar image of the storm and reports of golf-ball sized hail. We huddled in the protection of the gas station awning until it seem the worst of the storm was passing a little further south so we hit the road. Erk!!! Once on the highway and heading to the steep and winding road near Byron the rain came down in buckets. We stopped counting cars on the side of the road when we reached 20. Both sides of the road were littered with cars pulled over as driving became too much for them. I considered it too dangerous to do so. As we crept up the steep hill a police car came past with lights and siren blaring. Ahead on the other side of the highway was another police car pulled to the side. In a gully between the divided road were two cars in an unnatural position. About this time the rain stopped suddenly and we were over the top and descending in a lower gear and the air brakes on. We needed to turn off halfway down the hill to head to Bangalow, Lismore and our destination – Casino.
At Casino we spent the night with John and Heather Hunt who were wonderful hosts and prepared barbecue road kill for dinner. John had very kindly offered us the use of his spare E-toll transponder some months ago. It was a great feeling when driving over the Gateway Bridge not to have to stop at the tollbooths. The transponder will used on Qld, NSW and Vic roads.
Day 4 Tuesday 17th March 2009.
John suggested we travel the back road to Grafton then on another back road to Coffs Harbour thereby missing much of the coast road, the traffic and the road works. The road after Grafton was narrow and twisting but an interesting drive and worth the effort.
We stopped at a bakery in a little town called Coramba which is built on a very steep hill. Enjoyed the pies.
Once on the road south of Coffs we came across a fatal single vehicle truck accident not far south of Urungan. Hard to tell why there was an accident but seems it happened around midnight Monday. We heard it on the news this morning. A huge crew of workers were cleaning up the road and directing traffic. (We heard on the radio on Wednesday they were still closing off one lane and hoped to clear the area by Wed night)
Fuelled up at Macksville – worst prices so far – and continued on until Crescent Head.
Donnis loved the place and I must admit I like it too.
I went there to surf about 1965 but by the time I arrived I had come down with Glandular Fever and Tonsillitis and could only lift my head occasionally to look out the car window and watch the others surf.
We dined on fresh salmon, garlic rice and salad.
Day 5 Wednesday 18th March 2009.
Today I watched the sun rise over the hill and went for a walk then we both went to the beach where Donnis swam around eventually coming out feeling refreshed, invigorated and exhausted. By the time we left this wonderful surfing Mecca it was almost midday so just planned one stop for lunch and straight to Toukley. I lived here 40 years ago so booked into the Caravan Park for a night. We walked to the lake, a few metres from our door. (There are 4 lakes in the area, Tuggerah Lake, Budgewoi Lake, Lake Munmorah and Lake Macquarie) Standing on the shore we heard the unmistakable sounds of a bagpipe. It came from the bushy lakefront some distance from where we stood. We found a track through a Revegetation area and found a fellow called John McIntyre who is soon off to a competition at Maclean in the Northern Rivers district. Seems John has been going there for 38 years. We had a good chat and heard about his music.
Back at the bus we had the rest of the salmon and rice and watched the sun set across the lake.
Day 6 Thursday 19th March 2009.
What is happening with our clocks?
The sunlight outside tells me it is 6am, my body clock tells me the same but the clock on the wall and my watch say it is 7am.
We wound our clocks forward on Monday but our minds are still on Qld. Geez this will be interesting at the end of the month!
We did a small grocery shopping trip then a quick look at Norah Head
and Soldiers Point where I used to surf. What a magic sight as we pulled into the car park at Soldiers! Clear water, good breakers at the point and on the beach and about 2 dozen people in the water.
Donnis is in raptures,
pleading to be allowed to have a surf. I become the killjoy by saying we are still on a tight schedule and must be on the highway now, as we do not want to be caught in Sydney peak hour traffic.
The new GPS guides me to the new tunnels under Chatswood, Artarmon, North Sydney, the Harbour and Kings Cross. Suddenly we are at Redfern, Roseberry, Mascot and over on General Holmes Drive to Brighton Le Sands on Botany Bay where we pull into a car-park overlooking the bay and make lunch.
Donnis has time for a splash and swim and a walk along the beach before we hit the road again at 3pm and arrive at Bev & Pete’s house before the rush hour begins.
Dinner is at a club at Miranda where Errol and Nicole join us. Donnis takes the opportunity to stay with Errol & Nicole while Bev and I plan to visit our Aunt Gwen tomorrow.
Day 7. Friday 20th March 2009.
Today Bev and I visited Aunt Gwen and Uncle Eric in the Nursing Hospital. Gwen looks great for an 87 year old, still very agile, switched on and curious. Gwen visits Eric every day. They were once a very remarkable dance duo and Gwen was a dance instructor for many years. Eric has advanced Parkinson’s and recovering from pneumonia. Nuff said.
Donnis on the other hand went to Cronulla with Errol and managed a surf.
Barbecue somewhere tonight.
Oh! Fixed the toilet door handle for Bev.