Debbie & Geoff's

Australian Safari


Travel Blog     -     September & October 2018

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Saturday 1st September – Tuesday 9th October 2018

We had a few reasons to base ourselves back in Ballina for a few weeks. First of all we still had stuff in storage down in Sydney, so we purchased a trailer and made a quick trip down to the city cleared out the stuff and bought it back up north to be stored till our home is ready. It was our final goodbye to our beautiful home of 18 years as settlement on the sale was due at the end of that week. It was sad to say farewell but onto new and exciting things. Also we had new house stuff to check on so the time was put to good use.

 Looking north from the breakwater    Trawlers heading out      Red-backed Fairy Wren
Looking north from the breakwater               Trawlers heading out                     Red-backed Fairy Wren

From Ballina we went and stayed with our friends Shelly and Stephen. First thing when we arrived was help set up for their Allisee Buy a Truck Load of Hay for the drought relief fund raiser they were having. Their apartment block organised a breakfast with a $10 entrance fee, raffle tickets and silent auction to help raise money for this great cause. With Geoff on the BBQ assisting Steve and Shelly and I doing our bit the committee raised enough money for the truck, driver, hay and fuel. Well done to all who participated. Total of about $14,000.

 Allisee Buy a Truck Load of Hay             Allisee Buy a Truck Load of Hay
Allisee "Buy a Truck Load of Hay"

We took a drive up to O’Reilly which is in the Lamington National Park and the road up the mountain was a little bit scary. As we went higher up, the narrow road hugged the side of the mountain with some one way passing lanes and we all had our fingers crossed that a tourist bus wasn’t going to come in the opposite direction. Though the scenery was spectacular we were a bit disappointed in the amount of wildlife and birds we found or should I say didn’t find. But it was a fun day out and another adventure for us four.

 Deb reading the story of O’Reilly    Looking west from O'Reilly      Looking at trees
Deb reading the story of O’Reilly               Looking west from O'Reilly                     O'Reilly rain forest

Another great day was a drive to Main Beach so we could walk along the spit and marvel at the scenery which I don’t think anyone would get tired off. With the wind whipping around us and the salt spray we certainly felt invigorated after our stroll.

 Southport Seaway                 Thai Paradise Point
Southport Seaway                           Dinner at Thai Paradise Point with friends

After our wonderful stay it was time to hit the road again and after two nights in Ballina, picking up the van and getting sorted, we were off to Bellingen staying at the showground for the night and meeting up with our friends from home. The MCCCC (Mariners Cove caravan and camping club) were together again. What a beaut little town Bellingen was but with only one night Geoff and I decided it was a place we shall return to.
Our next stop with our friends was in Smokey Cape National Park where we camped off the grid for 3 nights. Even though our first night was a bit of a wash out where the rain was so heavy we all hid in our vans instead of the usual camp fire socials. The days were fine and we explored areas that Geoff and I had previously been but still enjoyed. Trial Bay Gaol is again a must visit for anyone in the area, and as we climbed the lookout turrets we watched the whales migrating southward with their babies. Such a magical sight!

 David checking the locals     The MCCCC team watching wildlife      The MCCCC team
David checking the locals               The MCCCC team watching wildlife                     The MCCCC team

 Smokey Cape     Storm @ Smokey       Brolga near Smokey
Smokey Cape               Storm @ Smokey                     Brolga in the rain near Smokey

With the inclement weather we took a drive out of the park into South West Rocks town. Us girls went to the movie, which was an old converted hall. Poor David was the token husband who suffered through “Crazy Rich Asians”, whilst Larry and Geoff went walking around the town.

 Hat Head     Dolphins surfing @ Hat Head      Flannel Flowers @ Hat Head
Hat Head               Dolphins surfing @ Hat Head                     Flannel Flowers @ Hat Head

 Larry looking for whales @ Hat Head     Mother and calf close inshore      Coaslal walk @ Hat Head
Larry looking for whales               Mother and calf close inshore                     Coaslal walk @ Hat Head

After three nights we headed to Hat Head staying in a caravan park as the girls said, after three days off the grid power and shower were a luxury. Again we were right on the beach with wonderful views and as the rain had cleared it was pleasant to just enjoy the scenery and company.
All too soon our friends were heading south and there was a change coming up the coast as we said goodbye and headed back north.

Wednesday 10th October – Sunday 14th October 2018

With lots of showers forecasted and still being school holidays we decided to hide out at Bellingen again. Being at the Showground had its advantages that it was less than half the price compared to caravan parks on the coast, but with the rain tumbling down the grounds just became muddier and muddier which was no problems for us and me with my faithful gumboots, but we certainly pitied those in tents that had to try and find drier ground.
Another reason for staying here is that it is close to Dorrigo National Park This park is a stunning rainforest and lived up to its name. Twice we tried to go trekking there and twice the rain dampened our trip. The first time we did venture onto one of the walks but after 45 minutes it just got was too cold, you know the sort that chills you to the bone as the wet penetrates even the best wet weather gear. The next time it rained so hard we didn’t even get out of the car and had our picnic lunch sitting in the vehicle nice and dry. But with all the rain the drive up was spectacular and we had a perfect view of two wonderful waterfalls alongside of the road.

 Dorrigo dressed up     Rainforest      Bellingen River
Dorrigo dressed up               Well it is a Rainforest                     Bellingen River

 Dangar Falls Dorrigo     Road to Dorrigo      Road Sign
Dangar Falls Dorrigo               Road to Dorrigo                     I wonder if it rains in Dorrigo

The town Dorrigo was also worthy of a visit. For a start they had the whole town dressed up for Breast Cancer Awareness month with bras strung on trees, outside of shops and on street monuments. Another fascinating thing we stumbled across was the largest collection of locomotive engines and train carriages that we had ever seen. What started out as a good idea and still is to build a museum collection of these trains seems to have gotten a bit out of control and with lack of money these symbols of railway history are slowly rusting quietly on private land.

 Biggest steam engine     Steam Trains      Train Museum
Biggest steam engine               Steam Trains                     Dorrigo Train Museum


Monday 15th October – Sunday 21st October 2018

Back in Ballina again and the sun finally came back to visit. With more rain predicted we appreciate every drop of moisture that hits this country. I just wish it would make more of an appearance out west where it is desperately needed. So we had more family time, which is always fun, house stuff and a trip to the Lismore Country Show. When in the country you should always go to their country shows. Today was bull judging and we managed to see some of the biggest bulls ever, and they were very pretty too. Talked to a lady about her alpacas, had a look at the arts and crafts, watched racing pigs and jumping dogs, walked around carnival alley and generally had a fun couple of hours. The show only goes for three days and we didn’t stick around for the night events which were motor bike riding, fireworks and the wheel of death. Even though it was a lot smaller than the Sydney Royal Show, it was still interesting and great to see the support given to the area.

 Alpacas     Geoff at show      Big Bull
Not a toy an alpaca               At the show                     Winning Bull

So it’s time to leave Ballina again and head to our next destination. We are expecting our plans and contract for the house to be ready next week, so we won’t be gone long till we are back in this town. The good news is our land has gone to council for registration so things are actually starting to feel real, we are going to build a house!

Monday 22nd October - Wednesday 31st October 2018

Glenn Innes Showgroundwas our base for an overnighter and had a very spectacular sunset. Though we didn’t do much we did go for a walk into the town centre to admire a lot of very empty shops and again it seems Coles and Woolworths have pushed a lot of little shops out.

 Crossing the Gibraltar Range     Glen Innes showground      Bridge north of Moree
Crossing the Gibraltar Range               Glen Innes showground                     Bridge north of Moree

From here we headed to Moree staying on the Mehi River. We used this as a base so Geoff could go to the Bunnor bird hide located in the Gwydir Wetlands which is only open from October 1 to November 14th. Now the mud map and directions weren’t the best and even though we were out early it took us quite some time to locate the actual wetlands. Having missed the sign we kept driving and ended up visiting Boyanga South property which seemed to be deserted and the houses were empty. Geoff thought that they might have packed up and left due to the severity of the drought. We wandered around and peered into windows to see that nothing was left inside the homestead. Off again and we passed a” dead cat tree”. Now this caused a lot of comments on Facebook when I put the picture up. These are feral cats that have been killed by the land owners. I am not sure I see the value of stringing them up on the tree, but glad these cats won’t be killing any more of our wildlife.

 Cockatiel at Gwydir Wetlands     Empty farm house north of Moree      Hanging cat tree
Cockatiel at Gwydir Wetlands           Empty farm house north of Moree               Hanging cat tree

Driving back down the road towards Moree we were lucky enough to see another vehicle headed in our direction which we flagged down and asked if they could advise us where the wetlands were. Success and we finally arrived at our destination. Oh us and five million flies that is. There was a bird hide on the edge of the wetland were we could sit and watch the comings and goings of an assortment of birds. This also seemed to be a hide for swallows to make their nests and whilst sitting there the swallows would swoop in and fly around in the downstairs area. They need to eat more flies!

After our two day stay in Moree we headed to Keep It Dam . This area is a big recreational fishing and boating dam. Though at the moment the dam is very very low and we listened on the radio how they were draining it to feed cotton farmers further down the river. Lots of people were not happy as they were going to keep draining it till it was down to 2%. One couple who were parked near us said the dam had dropped 5 feet in the two weeks they had been there.

After our one night it was a quick drive to Tamworth to stay on a property with our friends Shelly, Steve and David and Margaret. The reason to bring us together was the "Hay Mate, John Farnham Concert" to raise money for all the farmers that were in drought. The property is owned by Steve and Shelly’s friends Ro and Christine, and we all so enjoyed their company and wonderful country hospitality.
The concert day dawned bright and clear and hot! As there was 8 of us going Shelly, Geoff and I decided to go when it opened and stake out our area with chairs and picnic rugs so we all could be together and be able to see the stage. With acts like Daryl Braithwaite, Guy Sebastian, the Veronicas and of course John Farnham the place was rocking from 1pm till 10pm.

 Tamworth farm      Team at Tamworth      Steve playing on the farm
Ro and Christine farm           Team on the farm               Steve playing on the farm

 Hay Mate, John Farnham Concert     Hay Mate, John Farnham Concert      Hay Mate, John Farnham Concert
Hay Mate, John Farnham Concert

Next day we all decided to go to the “Long Yard Hotel” for lunch followed by an evening at home playing pool. David and Margaret left on the Monday so the rest of us girls went to the movies then met Geoff, Steve and Ro at the horse races for the final few events. Well I’ll be, I never even thought about horse races being during the week. For some reason I just thought they ran on weekends only.

 Lay back at Tamworth     Team at Tamworth      Geoff and Ro talking hay
Lay back at Tamworth           Team on the farm               Geoff and Ro talking hay

After our wonderful time at Tamworth it was time to pack up and say goodbye to our friends, old and new, and hit the road once again. With the weather staying fine we decided to give Waterfall Way a go and headed for a night at Ebor Falls staying at the Sports and Recreation field for a donation. Getting there in plenty of time we set up camp and walked into the Guy Fawkes River National Park where we viewed an amazing waterfall and enjoyed the beautiful park. Then a stroll into town which consisted of a hotel/motel, a café and a petrol station. But they did supply a great camp site for us with green grass and flushing loos.

 Ebor     Ebor falls      Ebor falls
Ebor, camp bottom left                       Ebor falls                                       Ebor falls

Leaving early and again the sun shining we climbed further up and headed back to Dorrigo National Park. Now it was the beginning of this month that we tried to do the walk but the rain kept us away. Today the skies were clear and we finally managed to do the 5.8 km walk. Viewed some wonderful birds, spectacular waterfalls and fungi in the forest that was as pretty as any flower you could see. We even saw one fungi spawning and the fine dust drifted off as the sun shone down on it. That evening we made our way back to Bellingen for a few nights stay.

 Bassian Thrush     Rufous Fantail      Ebor falls
Bassian Thrush                       Rufous Fantail                           Cycad "Lepidozamia peroffskyana"