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Published: February 15th 2019
Leaving the Blue Mountain we headed off to the Hunter Valley driving the Putty Road which was interesting and very windy and we were again surprised at how green everything was along the way.
We also took advantage of the fact that there was the odd winery in the Hunter Valley - what a surprise!
Our next overnight was at Port Stephens which we thought was a town but was actually an inlet of water with towns on it such as Nelson Bay.
On then to the motel then straight out to Stockton beach where Sue had her first ( and probably last) camel ride.
That evening we came across a small free festival going on, so we stopped grabbed some food from one of the catering vans & watched the acts - part of the Australia Day celebrations.
Then off to Port Macquarie via a Koala Hospital, where we had a tour and saw koalas at different stages of rehabilitation. Including one that had been hit by a train!
Walking along the waterfront in Port Macquarie we booked a sunset cruise. It was lovely watching the sun go down as we chased dolphins (while
watching Sue’s shoe fly overboard!).
Next day we continued north again to Yamba via South west rocks, Coffs Harbour and Woolgoolga - eventually arriving in Yamba to watch the sunset over the inlet before heading to our Airbnb.
Having not eaten we found out that Yamba closes at 9! Luckily we did find the only place that was open until 11.
Then onto one of our favourite spots - Byron Bay (via Bangalow - beautiful little town very arty with oldish architecture and a great feel to the place).
Byron Bay itself had fantastic beaches and the town catered better for tourists (ie it was open at night) than most of the towns we had come across. We managed to find live music both nights at the Railway Inn and on the waterfront where one of the best guitarists (a busker) I have seen was playing.
We could have stayed in Byron Bay longer, we did some very long walks along the beaches & up to the lighthouse. Then because Sue doesn’t like going in straight lines we ventured inland to find the Tweed Regional Art Gallery which as well as housing some interesting art,
it physically houses the reconstruction of local artist Margaret Olly’s old house. It reminded us of Mary Waundrush’s (famous potter) house in Surrey. The gallery was in a great spot with fab views over the valley.
Finally we get to Brisbane via Snapper Rocks & Gold Coast and met up with Joanne (Sue’s old friend Debbie’s sister) and Andrew, their girls Tilly and Hannah with their black lab Kerrie. Great to see them again and grateful to them for putting us up and showing us around for a couple of days.
Jo looked after us the following day and took us into Brisbane via the ferry which was a great way to get into town.
Alongside the river Brisbane has a beach and a series of free leisure pools with an avenue of bougainvillea
leading to eateries and craft markets. We also had a good look around the Gallery of Modern Art which had a large exhibition of Pacific Artists’ work.
That evening Jo had booked dinner and a show at The Power House (A cross between Battersea Power Station & the Electric Theatre) overlooking the river where we saw the ‘Songs and Times of Sam
Cooke’ with a very white band - so looked odd but sounded good.
Off to the north the next day stopping off at Noosa before arriving at Hervey Bay for an overnight stop ahead of our trip across to Fraser Island. This trip had been highly recommended by Fiona’s husband Jamie.
After a 45 minute boat trip we arrived on the island to pouring rain then jumped onto our tour bus. This was starting to feel like our South America journey as we slid and bounced through the forests to lake Mackenzie where, you guessed it, it rained again. Once wet however we decided to swim in the lake before getting back on the boat and then on to 70 mile beach.
At this point the weather changed, the rain stopped and we had a beautiful drive along the beach with the sea on one side and the lush vegetation on the other - all the way up to Indian Head and back. On the way we stopped at Eli Creek and checked out the wreck of the Maheno which used to be a luxury liner and eventually in WW2 a training ship for the Aussie special
forces and then a target for practice bombing raids by the RAAF.
Accommodation in the resort was ok, a quadruple room with a young Swiss couple.
Following day went to Lake Wabby a beautiful lagoon and Lake Birrabeen, even managed to swim in both & in the sun this time.
Dipped in to the Central station an old loggers station originally built when the forestry department established its HQ and amongst other things we saw the strange site of what looked like antlers growing from the trunk of the trees - the Staghorn tree fern before walking through the Pile valley.
If anything the journey to the ferry then was even bumpier than on the way in as we had been delayed by a 4x4 that got stuck and we had to make up time - my Fitbit thinks I did a workout!
A quick 4 hour drive through the rain to Brisbane and we were back and all too quickly we were saying goodbye the next morning to Joanne and Andrew before heading to the airport and New Zealand our Australia adventure over .....for now.
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