A week away down to NSW

I’d promised our Grandson that we’d be down to visit for his 5th birthday and no matter what else was happening both work wise and other business commitments I wasn’t going to break that promise.

We’d had a leisurely weekend in Brisbane enjoying our eldest daughter’s birthday before heading south on Monday. Decided to take a couple of days to do the stretch Brisbane to Coffs Harbour and looking at the map chose our first night to be near the Lions Road south of Rathdowney this is north of the NSW Qld border. Found a lovely spot just south of the Andrew Drynan Park plenty of room beside the fast flowing creek (deep waterhole here would be perfect for summer swimming) and grassy. After parking we went for a walk in both directions enjoying that perfect time in winter just before sunset. Some commuters passing by as well as farmers finishing their days work. A cool evening but warm enough to sit outside listening to the river as we had a wine then dinner, surprised just how many commuters passed by, they didn’t disturb us as we followed their lights on the twisty roads.

 

Our first night

Not sure if anyone lived here

Woke to a lovely winters morning and picked a route south following Running Creek Road then on to the Lions Road (this road was built by members of the Lions Club to open up the access between the 2 states, after the council rejected the proposal in 1969 the road, originally this was a gravel one lane road when it opened in 1971 but now is a good, if somewhat twisty, 2 lane sealed road). We had come this way a few times previously and always enjoyed the beautiful scenery, with glimpses of the railway track and passing under the elevated bridges. I decided not to follow the Summerland Way but to divert through small rural communities such as Lynches Creek (passing the old school house where others were camping) and Collins Creek before we skirted Kyogle driving instead along Fawcetts Plains Road and stopped for morning tea at Ray Smiths Memorial Lookout.

South east to Cawongla and then south following the Leycester Creek through to Lismore was a great drive plenty of different properties and farmers out doing what farmers do. Virtually no traffic one of the pleasures of driving when it isn’t the weekend. Strolled around Lismore which is much bigger and busier than we imagined resisting the inviting eateries knowing we had our own food in W3 ah but we’ll be back as there was definitely plenty of places to choose from.

In Lismore 

South from Lismore we took the back road to Coraki then on to Double Duke and Gibberagee State Forests. Many nature reserves in this area and hidden private properties the roads were good and mainly bitumen. Eventually we came out on the Summerland Way and continued through Grafton on to the Orara Way, this again was a road we’d travelled but quite some time ago. The day was drawing to a close so we started looking for a site to stop for the night, I noticed one at Ulong so headed off at Nana Glen through the Orara West State Forest where they are currently doing selective logging, we know this as we met a logging truck heading out, and on to Ulong.

Another great free campsite at Timms Reserve complete with toilet and shelter with an open fire and barbecue, it started to rain during the night always great for sleeping. We took the sealed road back down through the mist to Coramba and came on to the Pacific Highway at the southern end of Coffs Harbour. From here it is good highway the rest of the way to Crescent Head where our daughter is. Great fun to find such interesting back roads and explore new areas.

We had a very family oriented week with our daughter and family along with another set of grand parents. The birthday party was a huge success with the children all enjoying digging for dinosaurs and riding their bikes in the park. Next time we will no doubt find some just as interesting but different back roads.

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Pumpkin Festival at Goomeri

The last 8 weeks have just flown by, I very quickly got back into the groove at work and just as quickly decided that the life on the road was a much more favourable option. So 2 weeks after being back in my office I decided now was definitely the time to retire. We’ve known for a few years that we both didn’t need to work any longer and travelling for 12 months just confirmed that we loved the nomadic lifestyle and it was totally affordable. Due to current circumstances at the office I offered to stay longer than the required 4 week notice period and am still working under a casual arrangement. Not for too much longer though as working 55-60 hours a week is not my choice of lifestyle.

We escaped for the weekend, with me taking Friday & Monday off work, we headed north to Goomeri. Probably like many of you I’d not heard of Goomeri nor the Pumpkin Festival that happens here the last Sunday each May. A great fundraiser and the event has grown exponentially over the last few years. Just 250km north of Brisbane, we took the scenic route through Esk passing large and small dams and enjoying the golden grasses as the sun set. Travelling through old forestry towns such as Blackbutt and Yarraman with Rob reminiscing of car rallying days. We hadn’t left Brisbane until after 2pm due to some issues reinstalling our seats (the webbing on the Stratos seats had collapsed) so it was dark when we arrived, currently getting dark here about 5.45.

This was a 4wd Club Trip and one other couple had arrived earlier in the day at the Sports Ground which had been turned into a camping area for the next few day. After a lovely Thai Green Curry we were enjoying the company and a few drinks with Rinie & Anita from Burrum Heads. The actual Pumpkin Festival was on Sunday but Goomeri township continued to grow on Saturday with stalls popping up and the huge green Shannon’s Insurance truck arriving. We had a long chat with the driver of the truck he’s been doing this job for 10 years going all over Australia except the north west. By mid afternoon most of the club members had arrived so we decided to have dinner at the pub then relaxed at camp over a few drinks.

Sunday was fun wandering round the stalls checking out the various items for sale but the highlight was the competition of rolling the pumpkins down Postman’s Hill. $7 to enter & $3 a pumpkin which was then numbered. We didn’t enter but did have fun watching the many 100’s that did and cheered on the pumpkins which showed promise. 2 made it past the end of the track but none managed to stop in the lucky circle.

Sunday night we had dinner at the campsite as did most of the others in the group – 6 in total. Great to sit round both evenings getting to know the others, a nice mixed group of couples (Alan & Minna, Lorraine & John, Rinie & Anita) and singles (Rodney & Ken). Everyone left on Monday morning – we decided to take some back roads going via Elgin Vale where we stopped to look at a very old saw mill then through Linville to check out the old railway carriages.

Last days on the road

WHERE ARE WE NOW
Brisbane

TRAVELLING TALES
Heading north we pass through Rylstone and on to the Bylong Valley Way to stop at a great bush camping area at the top of the first gorge Ferntree Gully, all to ourselves and good rocks to climb to get a brilliant view down the valley and across to other escarpments. A large fireplace here so although not at all cold we took advantage of it.

Found even more great rocks in the morning to look over 12 layers of hills and took the chance to Skype with our eldest daughter have just loved being able to share these special moments with family as we’ve travelled. The Bylong Valley was lovely very green and some amazing hills to give some variety. As we headed north and into Merriwa the land became drier and flatter apparently drought season here per info centre lady it has only been raining on Sundays, just as well it was Saturday.

Pulled up for the night at Scone Golf Club, currently closed as course is being rebuilt and there has been a fire in the club rooms. Fine for camping though and a short walk to wander round the very quiet town. Met Mal and chatted about travels and life in NZ, interesting chap.

As we head north and come down in altitude it has become progressively warmer thankfully humidity isn’t too high as we are well up into the 30’s. We head south on the New England Highway going through Aberdeen and Muswellbrook before turning off at Singleton. Very surprised to see so much mining and power stations in this area but not surprised to see the smog from the cities and guess most from Sydney. East turn to Dungog via the small town of Gresford green rolling hills very pretty – roads are fairly busy being Sunday and of course many motorbikes out enjoying the twisty roads. Dungog was well worth the stop having a lovely cafe lunch then a wander round the town admiring the well kept/restored buildings.

Decided to get off the bitumen by going along the Monkerai twisty and gravel road, sadly came across an accident with the little Barinas being a write off and the young driver being badly shaken, all under control when we arrived, looked like she’d hit a motorcycle. We were looking for a campsite and although went up a couple of tracks no luck so continued on to Buckets Way. Stopped at the lovely hamlet of Stratford, 15km south of Gloucester, in their free camping reserve definitely one of the better ones we’ve stopped at and only 1 other traveller here.

After a humid night we set off north through Gloucester and then on to Wingham on the Bucketts Way although the road is bitumen we’ve been on better gravel roads, plenty of patches and even where they’d fully resealed the road was very bumpy. So it was off onto the Comboyne Road starting at about 69 meters and getting up to 728 meters what a beautiful road initially green green fields just like home (ha New Zealand) then into the old forest with signs of logging when they used boards wedged into the trunk to stand on and then used hand saws to fell the massive trees. So nice to be able to travel slowly through these amazing areas.

After leaving the forest we passed through dairy country then into Comboyne where we had lunch in the park and I picked up some produce from a roadside stall ah never fresher. Then back into the forest twisting our way along watching the odometer as we click over to 100,000 km. As we were driving we both smelt smoke and thought maybe our destination of Swans Crossing would be closed thankfully and amazingly we had internet so were able to reassure ourselves that it was a controlled burn off not near to our overnight stop. Just before turning into our camping area we both had a aha moment OMG we’ve been here before but approached from the east last time. It’s a nice spot right by a running river and grassy, popular but midweek not overcrowded.

We had a lovely last night before going to our daughters at Crescent Head even had a fire and used up the last of our wood. Bad weather was on the radar but we had fine weather taking the most direct we could in time to get to pick up the children at school & preschool before all heading to the beach while the weather remained fine beautiful swim in perfectly warm water. Amazed at how much the children have grown not only in size but in confidence particularly in the water.

We spend our last week at Crescent Head for our granddaughter and daughters birthdays before heading home to Brisbane.

Now settled into the Granny Flat in time to enjoy a family Easter Weekend and start ticking off the lists we have developed while travelling lots of cleaning up, sorting out and catching up on business stuff a year on the road sure is a long time but definitely no regrets.

We’ve kept a list of everywhere we stayed, how long, how much it cost etc and also catalogued all our expenses, happy to share the info if anyone is interested just post a comment. We travelled just under 40,000 kilometres and we agree that we had an excellent year but also that we’d never again be away travelling for this long again just missed family too much.

Wollemi National Park

WHERE ARE WE NOW
Scone

TRAVELLING TALES
After lunch and shower at the Glen Davis Reserve we decided to move on to the Coorongooba Campground in the Wollemi National Park, great decision, a huge free camp area plenty of grass, a lovely shallow stream, plenty of birds and wombats. Saw 1 wombat in the evening after dark and then what a surprise looked out my window in the morning there was another and as I was getting to know him/her I looked up and there was another passing by OMG such a special moment. This is such a good camping area the only thing missing was walks but you could easily stay a few days and make your own like a couple of other campers we spoke to here and since have done.

On leaving Glen Davis we took the north branch of the road, Glen Alice, and drove through lovely green farms and natural bush before turning off to another section of Wollemi NP. This time it was in to Dunns Swamp no green grass here lots of eucalyptus trees and plenty of space for camping although many of the best sites by the river were marked as tents only leaving caravans etc for the higher areas. We still scored a great site with not too far to carry the kayak to the water. Great location with a long deep river to paddle & swim in and great Australian bush & rocks formations to take walks. We went kayaking 3 times in all and each one was fantastic so hope you enjoy the photos. Also did all the walks in the area nothing too hard just a bit of scrambling to get to the top of the Pagoda but worth it to get phone and internet reception.

Dunns Swamp was so good we stayed 2 nights and were tempted to stay more but with less than a week to go before we finish our year long travels we decided to keep moving. Definitely a place we recommend but probably not weekends as gets very busy. We celebrated our 40th anniversary here and our lovely camping neighbors (Maddy & Mark, Lindy & Peter invited us over for drinks and then when they found out we were celebrating they insisted we stay for dinner too what amazing people we have met in this last year.

Another great surprise as we were driving out about 10 km from camp who should be heading in but Neil & Pauline who we’d last camped with at Jundah and taken their slot crossing the Simpson. Just so much to catch up on and both of us heading in opposite directions but we will join them on the road again before too long we hope.