Yamba to Tweed Heads, NSW - 9 to 10 July 2012

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July 15th 2012
Published: July 26th 2012
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We left Moonee Beach heading north towards the Clarence Coast and decided to detour off the Pacific Highway and travel along the scenic route. Well the roads soon became extremely narrow and started to deteriorate quite rapidly with huge pot holes, well one should really say 'huge craters' and we wondered if we should have stayed on the main roads. As I have mentioned before the roads in this area of Australia are not in the best state of repair and with the top heavy motorhome it was not an easy drive. One had to decide whether to avoid the holes and have all of ones belongings spinning around inside the van or drive off the side of the road on to the waterlogged bank and get 'bogged down'...... - luckily though there were not many other travellers today so we used up most of the road space to avoid the problems - and Paul and I did manage to keep talking.

Just thought we would mention that one of the things we have been noticing this time in Australia was at most of the 'scenic lookout sites' where there were railings there would be a variety of different locks hooked on to the bars. Most of these locks had names and dates on them and we assumed were a new form of graffiti - with a twist.

We stopped for a break on the banks of the Clarence River in a small town called Maclean, namely the ‘Scottish Town in Australia’ due to the town’s early settlement by the Scots which amongst other activities hosts a highland gathering every Easter. The town’s historical buildings and museum were quite unique as well as the number of street signs which bear Gaelic translations. What was unusual though was that in the town were over 200 hundred power poles painted in Scottish Clan tartans. The bold colours and the intricate designs gave the town a bright attractive image.

So we set out to find our scottish friends ‘poles’ namely Marshall and Anderson and straight away we found the Anderson power pole which was in the centre of town but we could not get a good photo as is was too near buildings and parked cars. We stopped at the ‘Scottish Shop’ for a map to enhance our search for the ancestral colours of our friends. The chap in the shop said that there was another Anderson pole at the other end of the village and that Marshall was under the 'Keith Clan' which was located a short walk away. This little shop in the middle of a small town in Australia was totally run by volunteers and was full of Scottish memorabilia as well as Clan Histories and various clan kilts and other scottish artifacts.

We started to talking to one of the volunteers and believe it or not he came from Kirknewton, this was the very village that we had lived in for a couple of years in 1970 and where our daughter Kerry was born. Well she actually was born in Edinburgh (the main town with a hospital) as we did manage to get to the hospital just in time. All those years ago we had arrived at Kirknewton Railway Station where we had been supplied with Army Quarters as Paul had been attached to The Scots Greys in Edinburgh on a 18 month tour. We travelled from Colchester in an overnight sleeper (yes in those days it did take that long) and arrived in a snow blizzard only to discover there was no transport available. So we were set off walking up hill in deep snow to our new home with our daughter Sharon aged 3 in a push-chair, me pregnant with Kerry and a couple of suitcases - not much fun. Luck was with us though as we had only gone a little way when the local policeman drove past and stopped and picked us up and took us to the door of our new home. My lasting memories of Scotland was that it was very cold as we had arrive in a blizzard and left 18 months later in a blizzard - hope it has warmed up a little now!!!!

In any event back to the present (40 plus years later); we walked along the main street of Maclean looking at all the power posts and soon found the ones we were looking for. We though that it was such a lovely idea and certainly brought tourist into this little town but would have been much better if more of the post was painted (only the bottoms were) and if the names were vertical rather than horizontal as they would have been so much easier to photograph the whole name! We did enjoy our time in the town though which had a delightful main street with the wide Clarence River running along the length of River Street and beautifully restored heritage buildings.

We continued on and arrived in Yamba booking into a small campsite with a lagoon all around. Yamba is famous for its Yamba Prawns and Wooli Oysters so we asked at the campsite the best place to locate these and the lady said to go quickly down the road to the harbour and to find Burr’s fishing boat where they had the best prawns ever (if they had not sold out) we were lucky and they had a some left which we brought for our supper.

Later we set off for a walk around the town visiting several beaches and walking up the only hill in the area to see the lighthouse. As we walked past the lighthouse I noticed a medium sized bird on a nearby bush and thought we had seen them in Western Australia last year but could not remember what they were. I later looked them up and they were in fact the Blue-faced Honeyeater - a black, white and golden olive-green honeyeater with striking blue skin around the yellow to white eye. The blue facial skin is two-toned, with the lower half a brilliant cobalt blue which stood out in the lovely sunshine. In tropical areas It is known as the Banana-bird for its habit of feeding on banana fruit and flowers.

We continued our walk back to the campsite and although mainly flat it was a long walk and I had very sore feet later.........

Next morning we moved on to Lennox Heads a small village with many restaurants, sidewalk cafes and shops and the large Seven Mile beach extending up towards Broken Head and on to Byron Bay our next destination. We had a short walk but the weather was not good so continued on. We met a chap who said it looks better in the sunshine - we entirely agree.....but where is the sun.

We were still encountering many road works and even got lost a few times because of being directed off the road we wanted to be on! Most of these road works had manual workers operating ‘slow, stop and go signs’ and most of the older workers had long grey beards and all apprentices e.g. younger ones had a neat trimmed goatees - we wondered if it was part of the criteria for the job!!!!

So we arrived in Byron Bay and again it was still overcast so probably did not do justice to the area. The history of Europeans in Byron Bay began in 1770, when Captain James Cook found a safe anchorage and named Cape Bryon after his grandfather John Bryon. In the 1880s, when Europeans settled more permanently, streets were named after other English writers and philosophers mistakingly thinking that Cook named it after the poet! The town was busy mainly with surfers heading for one of the many surf beaches around the bay. It is said that there is always a ‘wave’ on one of the beaches so you can surf there everyday.

We parked (had to pay a parking fee first time in NSW) and took a 3 km walk around the Cape to the lighthouse which was built in 1901 and for a century alerted passing ships to the dangers of the coast around here. The walk followed the coastline with lovely views and again we saw several humpbacks swimming north. The walk was all up hill with many steps, so many I lost count and we finally arrived exhausted at the top (well I did). The Lighthouse stands high on top of a 94 metres cliff, it is also Australia’s most easterly point so we stopped and took some photographs before reaching the lighthouse. We walked around a small museum inside which had interesting artifacts and stories before the long walk back - but at least this was down hill - well most of the way.

We continued on and stopped at Tweed Heads and found a campsite for the night. We had a chat with Bronwyn and Alan to see where they were as we are hoping to meet them somewhere in Queensland....... They were currently at Mission Beach about 1700 kms away from us - not far in Ozzie terms. They were still enjoying their travels but said they had been stuck for a while with non-stop rain - so much for better weather 'up' north. On well - tomorrow we travel through Brisbane, out of New South Wales and into hopefully a sunny Queensland - see you there.

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