Published: February 21st 2011January 22nd 2011
We started our day with a visit to New Italy. The name suggested more but all we could find was some public toilets with the Italian flag on the roof.
Following on the same theme we drove to Maclean. This place takes its Scottish heritage very seriously. Its twinned with Portree on the Isle of Skye and even the telegraph poles are painted tartan. We had a wander around the town and found that you could buy most Scottish things. Some of them were the more tacky items such as ornaments of Scotty dogs wearing tartan hats but some were more traditional such as kilts and haggis. We bought snorkel sets - a slightly less Scottish item but a bargain at £15 for two.
We were both hoping to find a nice beach where Andy could do some fishing while I lay in the sun. We were also hoping that there would be a campsite near by, but we didn’t want to push our luck. On route to finding this perfect beach we passed through Grafton, which had little of interest except for a very impressive double decker road and rail bridge.
We didn’t find our perfect
beach that day, but we had fun visiting all the beaches to check them out. The trouble was that all the kids were still on holiday so all the campsites were full to bursting point, with most pitches looking like they were almost on top of each other. We weren’t worried as we knew that next week most of them went back to school. Everywhere would get much quieter and much cheaper.
We spent the next few days hopping from one beautiful beach to another as we moved closer to Sydney. We spent a lot of time on out new body board which we managed to find for $12. Andy was a little better than me and he managed to catch a few waves, while I spent most of my time wiped out underwater trying not to hit my head on the floor!
We passed a few notable landmarks on the way. One was the Guru Nanak temple, which looked strange but beautiful its surroundings. Impressive in a different way and following the Australian tradition of building big things on the side of the road was the Big Banana. This is quite literally a huge banana on the
side of the road that you can walk through. Following this theme we also passed by a giant Pineapple and a giant (and frightening) Prawn.
A large amount of time was spent in search of a pie. Since reading about Australia’s love of pies and seeing that there were some Award winning pie shops listed in the guide book Andy’s new obsession was pies. He spoke of very little else. One by one we went to each place on the list and drove around in circles trying to find them. Each one was either hidden away somewhere or had closed down. I tried to lift Andy’s sadness by telling him that the pies cant have been that good if the shops were shut, but nothing I said could help. Not having a pie only made his need for a pie even greater!
Without doubt our favourite was in Newcastle which in case you’re wondering is on the way to Swansea! We stopped at Bogey Hole - Australia’s oldest Ocean bath . Military commandant Major James Thomas Morisset had the hole cut out of the rocks by convicts so that he could use it for his own private bating
purposes, but since 1869 it has been open to the public. It really is an amazing place. As you are swimming in the pool the waves crash over the top of the rocks. If you are really brave (we were) you can stand on the rocks at the edge of the pool and hold on to a metal pole. The waves crash over you head and are so strong that if you are not careful they will sweep you off your feet. We spent quite a while here. It was very invigorating and just what was needed on a baking hot day.
We spent 5 nights in a row at free campsites. It’s so much easier to camp for free in New South Wales. There are surf pleanty of surf clubs where you can have a shower for free. Free camping sometimes means sleeping in the most beautiful surroundings but on other occasions you have no choice but to sleep in a lay-by on the side of a busy road. Either way it doesn’t mean that you have to slum it. We have even managed to knock up a Thai Green Curry in a lay-by. We knew that we
would have to pay to stay on a campsite in Sydney but we hoped that we could make it from Sydney to Melbourne without paying for a site.
There are more photos below