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                          Travel Blog December 2016


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Wednesday 21st December 2016 to 31st December 2016 .
How strange it actually feels that part of our journey has finished as we head the Ranger and van south towards Toukley. Though it is very exciting to be seeing my family and friends again it just feels like the time has flown and how could it have already been 6 months on the road and all the amazing places we visited.
We just seemed to have arrived when the next day we were lunching with Geoff’s cousins and enjoying a catch up at their place at Copacabana. The company was great and the time just flew way too quickly when we were again saying goodbye. The rest of December was spent with the van parked at my sister’s house as we had a wonderful Christmas day with her. The roast pork crackled in the Webber whilst the veggies sizzled away in the oven. The family arrived and lots of laughter and good food followed. It was another perfect Christmas and seemed to come together very easily. With the two sisters working as a team all went without a hitch.
Boxing day came and we headed down to Sydney to stay with our friends Steve and Shelly. I had received a mayday call from my old boss and offered my services to help them out between Christmas and New Year for those few days. I thought it would be fun – how wrong was I! Not only did I have to by a skirt to look a bit more corporate but as they hadn’t had proper receptionist for a while I had so much work to catch up on. Now I am just not used to this stuff, a bit rusty on the ”hell I have to get up and go to work” rubbish, so the first day when I arrived back to Steve and Shellys I was in total meltdown and totally exhausted. A few days into it I was back in charge and I had customers come in just to say hi and give me hugs hoping I was staying. The three days ended up being 8 and poor Nick kept trying to get me to stay longer but we had a boat to catch to Tasmania and still had a long way to go, also all this work really cut into my visiting time with family and friends.
Whilst in Sydney we had a day out in town with Shelly and Steve. With a trip to the movies to see La La Land –(not one that we enjoyed) followed by an early dinner and a walk around town to see the Christmas lights. This is the second year we have done this and we so enjoyed it. Who knows where we will all be next Christmas, but you never know we might make it a third year in a row.

Sunday 18th - 20th December 2016
Harrington is our next destination we stayed there for the 3 nights in the caravan park out of town. A friend from work her mum owned the park . We had a drive up to Crowdy Head and can you believe there is a street corner with one street called Deborah and the other Geoffrey. It was a definite picture opportunity and no Photoshop was included in this shot.
We also visited a wetland at Coopernook where I tried to do a selfie and nearly lost my hat and booklet into the water. Geoff did try to warn me and before you know it a gust just took off with both of these items that were sitting on a landing. Never fear both were rescued and only footprints were left.

Street Sign     Wetland selfie
Street sign Croudy Heads                   Selfie at Coopernook

Also the thing to do at Harrington is go for a walk out on the seawall. A wonderful stroll and great bird shots, so Geoff sat with his camera and I did a few more steps up to the lookout and heritage grave site. Now it also just happened that Stephen and Shelly were doing a car delivery up this way so it was with much fun and laughter we caught up for lunch and a drive around Harrington to do a bit of property scouting. Here again the town is only small and developers have developed areas outside of town putting up new houses, shops and waterways making a whole new settlement. Some of the places on the canals were very nice and near the so called club house. There was also a great pub overlooking the water which was our lunch venue for the day.

Thursday 15th - Saturday 17th December 2016 Past Coffs Harbour and the big banana to Sawtell. Again on the beach and another small town that had a very nice feel to it. We did lovely walks up to the lookout and along the headland also another catch up with friends who we haven’t seen for over 4 years. The days are still beautiful and the nights have a chill in the air which makes very pleasant sleeping conditions. I had to break out the long pants as the evening progresses the nip in the air was very noticeable.

Egret     Sawtell Camp
Littel Egret fishing                   New camp kitchen at Sawtell

Behind the van park was a tidal bay where many birds gathered to fish. Geoff went down with his camera one afternoon and got some amazing shots of a Little Egret fishing in shallow water. It was not afraid of us at all, couldn’t give two hoots that he was sitting there with the big camera shooting away at every opportunity. While he was doing the bird thing I took a stroll around the boutiques and interesting shops in the centre of town, no I didn’t buy anything but it is so nice just to look and take my time.

Sunday 11th– Wednesday 14th December 2016
Yamba here we come as we make our way slowly down the coast to stay at a caravan park, which there was also a friend who lived there. This is a trip to catch up and bump into people. This is another van park that is building a retirement style over 50s housing. Small houses bunched together that you buy then pay rent for the land, your electricity and water. Nyarie's house though small backs onto a creek and has a lovely outlook. The house is perfect for one or even two people as it’s a lot bigger than our van and we haven’t killed each other living in close quarters.

Osprew flying     Brother Paul's house
Two Osprey spotted from the ferry                   Geoff in Yamba

Yamba is a wonderful small fishing village. Lots of small shops in the town centre and further out they have a new modern suburban area which has more infrastructures including a larger supermarket and shopping area. We took a ferry ride across the river and again were amazed at Iluka , you can drive there but this was much more pleasant way to get there. Geoff and I walked down through the small town to the rain forest and then strolled the foreshore back to the ferry after having lunch at the one and only pub. Again another small fishing village and also like Yamba would rely quite a bit on tourists.
Another morning we went for a walk with Nyarie down to the town and along the sea wall, after coffee we visited the produce markets and stocked up on some wonderful bread and vegies to have for dinner that evening.
All too fast our few days went and we were back on the road again, still heading south for Christmas.

Friday 2nd December – Saturday 10th December 2016 Our thought of pulling the van up brother Paul’s driveway at Brooklet was a bit too daunting as it was rather steep. We knew the van would bottom out so we decided to stay at Ballina which was not far and the van park was in town and across the road from the Richmond river. Geoff was happy to work with brother Paul and pull down some trees, so that was the first three days of playing. On the Monday afternoon the guys bought Jake down and with cousin 'Crazy' Craig and we all went down to the river to try our hand at fishing. Craig had his kayak and paddled into the middle of the river, just drifting around fishing when suddenly three dolphins decided to pop their heads up to say hello. I can assure you watching from the shore line all of us just enjoyed the magical sight and we were all very envious of Craig for being so close. Just to let you know even though we tried no fish were harmed that evening.

Craig kayak     Brother Paul's house
Craig and Jake                   Geoff and Jake fishing

One day Geoff and I went exploring and took the car for a boat trip across the river to the other side of South Ballina. The ferry was only a short trip and after we landed we drove out to South Wall, another lovely beach. We then headed back via the road and passed Empire Vale that had a tiny post office, only one room with a veranda. It wasn’t open on the day we dropped past by certainly made a good photo opportunity. Oh and of course I had to take a picture of the big prawn, it is huge and right outside Geoff’s favourite shop – Bunnings.

Brother Paul's house     Brother Paul's house
Empire Vale Post Office                        The Big Prawn

More time was spent with the family and we had a wonderful meal at Kel and Pauls place with his other brother John and nephew Craig joining us for a last get together till who knows when. Craig came down on Friday evening for a fishing expedition with Geoff and even though they did manage to catch a couple of Whiteing and Flathead, they were not big enough so it was back in the swim for them and we hope they will venture on our line next time we are in town.

Brother Paul's house     Brother Paul's house
      Brother Paul's house at Brooklet NSW

Geoff and Paul had a few big days planned. Paul has a magic property at Brooklet and has been slowly clearing the backyard area where there were quite a few dead trees still standing and so the boys with the help of the Ford Ranger managed to pull quite a few of them down and then make two very very large woodpiles. This would be one bonfire that the whole eastern coast would be able to see as the piles just seemed to grow and grow. They also had help from their nephew Craig who has made his uncle Paul promise for an invite to the burning of the piles.

Brother Paul's house     Brother Paul's house
      Brother Paul's house at Brooklet NSW

Meanwhile Kelly, Jake and I had a few days of fun. Shopping at opp shops for a disco costume for Kelly, putting up the Christmas tree with Jake (their 6 year old son) going to the local swimming pool and just having a general catch up. Monday afternoon the boys all went fishing and Craig bought down his kayak. I think the highlight as no fish was caught was watching the dolphins glide past Craig sitting in the kayak and he just sat and watched them with us all in amazement on the shore. When he wasn’t playing lumberjack we did some exploring around the area and again looked at property cause we could. Long walks and drives showed a very nice town with ample infrastructure and not too busy. The afternoon storms have started which is the beginning of the wet season, so it is definitely time to think about heading further south. One night the storm was very loud and the lightning cracked in the air prior to the boom of the thunder. Not sure that either of us got much sleep with the wind howling and trying to rip the awning up from its pegs.