Exploring inland from Coffs
Thursday 26th May 2016
A rather grey sky this morning, with a few spots of rain earlier. We currently have Don the electrician on board, attempting to track down a problem with the shore power system. Otherwise all has been good here. We hired a car for a few days – a cheapie, $25 a day from a local second-hand car dealer - it’s been fine so far.
The wiring on the changeover switch – the cause of our power problems?
After a quiet weekend catching up on sleep, tidying the boat and wandering around the Jetty area of Coffs, we spent Monday collecting the hire car and doing ‘runaround’ jobs in town. We had to start a fresh round of doctor’s appointments and tests as Steve’s bladder infection had returned yet again, with a vengeance this time. He saw the most offhand, uncaring, unsympathetic doctor we have ever come across anywhere in our travels, who rather begrudgingly provided a lab request for a urine test, a referral for an ultrasound and a script for antibiotics. We rather begrudgingly paid his bill. The rest of the day was spent delivering the sample to the path lab – it couldn’t be collected in the usual way as the test had to be paid for - and with Steve having the ultrasound.
On Tuesday we went for a drive to Bellingen, a small town 40 km south west of Coffs, on the Bellinger River. There we wandered up the main street before stopping at one of the coffee shops. The Lonely Planet describes the town as “hippy without the dippy”, and there were certainly some rather eccentric looking characters around town. It was otherwise a fairly typical small town.
The Commercial Emporium, established 1900 – an early mall? War memorial – from WW1 to Afghanistan.
Wonder if they have a Rovers Return? Our cheapo chariot parked outside an ‘alternative’ centre. Alternative to what?
After coffee we drove onward and upward another 30 km to the Dorrigo Rainforest Centre on Dorrigo Mountain. This turned out to be well worth the drive. The centre had very informative displays and we stayed a while to watch a video about the rainforest ecosystem. After a picnic lunch during which I wished I had brought a fleece with me – it was certainly cooler up there – we wandered along the skywalk to admire the view out over the countryside. We could just make out the buildings of Bellingen, and way beyond that the blue of the sea.
Part of the Giinagay Wall at the Rainforest Centre. ‘Giinagay’ means ‘welcome’ in the language of the Gumbaynggirr Nation, the traditional owners of the land.
The view out to the coast from Dorrigo Mountain. On the Skywalk balcony.
We checked out the different walks available, and realised we should have made this a whole day visit, as we now only had time to do a couple of the short walks. With more time we could have walked to a couple of waterfalls as well, but we were happy to settle for a walk through the rainforest.
Tangles of vines were everywhere – some made interesting shapes and patterns.
A strangler fig, growing from a fork in this tree. Its roots grow downwards in their quest for food and moisture.
They surround the host tree which eventually dies, leaving a fig tree with a hollow trunk.
Buttress roots. We saw several brush turkeys who were not bothered at all by our presence.
Later we drove into the town of Dorrigo, where we followed a sign to Dangar Falls. This made up for missing the waterfalls earlier!
Yesterday we drove out of Coffs in the opposite direction and headed north towards Glenreagh. We were actually aiming for a very small place called Nymboida, 100 km inland, where we planned to visit “The Museum of Interesting Things” put together by Russell Crowe, who used to live nearby. We originally read about it in the Lonely Planet, and had checked it out online to make sure it was still open. The pub on the same site was listed as permanently closed, but there was no mention of the museum closing, so off we went. It was a beautiful day and we had a lovely drive, which was just as well because it was otherwise a fruitless journey. We found the closed coaching inn, and on the same site the museum – also closed. Enquiries at the general store confirmed that it had been closed for some time. How disappointing.
A church on stilts we passed along the way. The autumn colours were beautiful and reminded us of home.
On the upside, it meant we had time to explore a bit further, so we headed back the way we had come and then turned off towards Grafton, the main town of the Clarence Valley. As a typical big town, it held little interest for us, so we did a drive through, just stopping to take a look at a couple of historical buildings. We were aiming for Maclean, a small town on the banks of the Clarence River, which takes its Scottish heritage seriously and paints its lampposts with tartan. So we drove on along the north bank of the very wide Clarence river until we reached Lawrence, where we waited for the free cable ferry to collect us and take us to the opposite bank.
The cable ferry, now empty, awaits reloading. The wide Clarence River looking downstream towards Yamba.
As usual, Skipper looking to see how it works. The cable that keeps the ferry on course.
On the way in to Maclean we passed a vintage car, and when we arrived in town we saw several more. There didn’t seem to be a rally or club meeting, so we just assumed it must be another of the town’s idiosyncrasies. The town’s claim to be “The Scottish Town in Australia” is based on two things – a large number of the early settlers were originally from Scotland, and the town itself was named after Alexander Grant McLean, a scot who was the New South Wales Surveyor General when the town was laid out in the early 1860’s. It was a pleasant little town, but apart from the tartan poles, some painted scenes on shop windows and walls, and the “Lassies” sign outside the public loo, it was pretty much like any other Aussie town and unlike any Scottish towns I have visited. Still, it’s nice that they remember the town’s history.
On the road into town, we passed this vintage car. Waiting to cross the bridge into Maclean.
Wide roads with well-kept houses and tartan lampposts. Another vintage car.
More tartan. Scotties – our cruising friends’ nickname for us!
Tartan sign for the ladies’ loo. Yet another vintage car, this one offering rides. At a price.