Sunday, 11 March 2018

Day 5 return from Barrington

We woke up to so much mist that I could not see the little hut on the other side of the river. It was cold first thing this morning and again wondered if this would lift before we left. The check-out was before 10 am and so there was no rush. There were steps leading down to river which we had not ventured down due to the rain. This morning since it was dry Paul decided to venture down and have a look at the river.

River Barrington

Local Mushrooms

He returned saying it was wet and slippery and the river was in full flow this morning. Indeed every night the noise of the river woke us up at least a couple of times. But as we made breakfast we watched the mist lifting and the sun shine on the mountains as they emerged from the mists. The early morning light making for some good pics I think.

Misty Morning 

Where is the sun?

Can see the rushing river at the bottom
Hills unveiled by the emerging sunshine
And it is a beautiful morning

Light piercing through the trees 

All bags packed and stowed into the boot and one last check before we handed over the keys and got back on the road to home. Since the day before I had been unable to get the pic of the road sign to Darawank we thought maybe we should go back down The Lakes Way and drive back through Forster. There was another motive for going down this road again. Any guesses? Oh yes the gelato shop…..

At last the famous sign

One last look at the local pelican and this time the Tuncurry-Forster Bridge could be seen well and so this picture of it is my own. The one in the earlier blog was from net and it lost the colour in copying it.
Tuncurry-Forster Bridge

Going through Booti Booti National Park this time we saw a lot of sea eagles – one or two flying and three sitting on telegraph poles but there was no place to stop to take pics. I have seen sea eagles at Gosford before and it seems they are along the coast. The Lakes Way goes along the Myall Lakes and meets up with highway at Bulahdelah. Just before we reach Bulahdelah there is The Grandis, on the western edge of Myall Lakes National Park. Here is the tallest tree in Australia. It is a 400 years old Eucalyptus Grandis or commonly known as a Flooded Gum ground circumference of 11.5 metres and 76.2m high. But the turn off was hidden and we drove past before we realised it was there. Once on the highway I offered to take over the driving for a bit as I felt guilty for not doing any driving so far. When we were going the M1 seemed to seamlessly turn into Pacific Highway as you turn from Maitland to go north. But returning back we accidently got on to the road to Newcastle instead of turning towards Maitland. Ah well…. we got to see parts of Newcastle which we wound not have seen otherwise. Fortunately there was a city bypass route that took us back to M1.

We had decided to stop at Ourimbah which is the exit just before Gosford for lunch. However, with the unwanted detour and roadworks we did not get to Ourimbah till about 2 pm. Once before we had stopped here for a break and visited the garden centre that is just off the exit. It is a lovely place to stop and have a cup of tea and cake. This time it was an orange and poppy seed cake for me and Paul had raspberry one. Since we had ice creams in the morning it did not matter that we missed lunch and went straight to tea as nothing else was left in the café.

The rest of the drive was easy and routine as we have often driven down this part of the M1. We hit the school time and so the progress was slow. Reached home about 4 30 pm and waved to next door neighbour that we were back!

Day 4 at Barrington

Yesterday had been a full day but with sunshine and warm temperatures. The night had brought yet more rain with the murmuring of the river getting louder all the time. There is an odd cackle of kookaburra coming through the closed windows, with the day light attempting to lighten the gloom of the still dark clouds while I savoured my first cup of tea. It was going to be a gloomy rainy day after all? I was quite prepared to stay put as this is also the first time I am out on the day I take my chemo. Most chemo days I am kind of OK at least for the morning with some rumbling of the stomach issues. Going out today was a definite challenge and the mood was- let’s see how far I manage to stay up.

Barrington River Crossing

While having the porridge – by now Paul had mastered the ‘tucker fucker’ (I just heard this new slang for microwave and could not resist adding it here… it is funny, apt and colourful!) and so no porridge was wasted, we decided to go further up the coast as travelling longer on the highway would not take up a lot of time. So as per usual come half past nine cool bag with blood orange drink was packed; also I get pretty cold when I take Methotrexate and since it was already a cool morning I decided to add trousers and a long sleeves top and a warmer top into the bag – better be prepared than to get cold when the fever spikes; and off we went.

Low clouds over Bucketts Mountains

Thunderbolts Way from Barrington to Gloucester

By now the roads were familiar and getting to the highway was fairly quick with very little traffic on the smaller roads. From Nabiac we picked up the Pacific Highway and went north, past Possum Brush and Rainbow Flat, towards Taree. But this time we bypassed Taree and moved further up the coast passing Cundletown, Ghinni Ghinni and Jones Island. As we came up to Jones Island the heavens opened again and we feared this looked set for the day. There was not a break in the clouds but I had to have faith it would not last long. We considered the possibility that we might have to turn back as we have done a time or two when the rain did not allow us even to stop. But by the time we got to Coopernook after which we turn off on to scenic drive route to Harrington – Crowdy Head, the rain was gone and the sun back out.

This route took us to Harrington which is at the mouth of Manning River and on to the Crowdy Head that is at the headland. Harrington is a small seaside town which extends into the Harrington Beach State Park. Since it was early we decided to go up to the Crowdy Head first and look around before returning to Harrington in time for lunch. The road is through the rainforest, beautiful and peaceful. I did not realise that there was actually a small community in this place. The views from the road side are stunning and the Crowdy Bay appears never ending. There is a surfing club and of course the marina.

Crowdy Head Marina

The Lone Ranger?

We drove round the headland and the road round the few houses and saw that we could turn right and be back closing the loop. Now usually we have seen the map and got a good idea what was there but for some unknown reason we had failed to see there was a lighthouse there. Usually the lighthouses at headlands are unmissable but this one was just round the corner from where we turned off and with no signs for the lighthouse either we missed it all together. What a shame!

Crowdy Head Bay

Windy Crowdy Head 

Crowdy Head Bay

The way back along the Crowdy Head Road to Harrington took us to Beach Road where literally the beach starts. We decided to stop at the fish and chips shop right there rather than go into the town. Then we sat in the carpark at the edge of water and had our lunch washed down with blood orange drink. At this point the Manning River joins the Tasman Sea. There is a big sandbar right across the mouth and has a breakwall that goes across the water demarcating the shallow sandbar area to protect the entry channel for shipping. There is a gap in the breakwall with a bridge across which allows the water to flow into this man made lagoon.

Beautiful Pine tree


While eating we watched the pelicans and pied cormorants and the first pair of black swans in NSW. There was a wooden sculpture, which is painted instead of carved, of the man who built the first school there with flotsam.  

Black Swans
Pelican again

Sitting to avoid the wind
Who goes there?
More Pelicans Arrive

Esmond (Essie) Hogan

We decided to move the car down the road to be able to go for a walk on the causeway. There were more sculptures at the carpark here depicting the people who used this area as port. Walk along the breakwall was very pleasant. The different colours of water on both sides of the breakwall as well as over different areas of sandbar; the common tern and little tern diving so beautifully and gracefully into the water and catching fish; pelicans that were catching the wind and surprised us by gliding sideways just out of hand reach of us; and watching the rush of water through the opening in the breakwall.

The Breakwall

Sandbar with seagulls
Pilots at Pilot Hill

More sculptures

On the lookout
Are you coming?

Nope am staying put!


Waves crashing into the sandbar
The sign has its own solar panel

Water flowing though the gap in the breakwall

Bye Bye Pelicans

This short walk was I think the end of my ability to function as I totally flagged. Back in the car, I slept all the way back to the cottage. I was helped back in and spent the rest of the afternoon watching TV. Now you would think that was it for this day’s fun but no there was more to come. I had been looking forward to being out in the countryside and with little light pollution being able to see the beautiful starry skies at night. But as you know by now the rain every night had put a kibosh to that. However this night the Gods were smiling and the clouds lifted as it got darker. Oh yea we found we had a neighbour in the next cottage and of course they had the veranda lights on! But oh boy the stars… sooooo many stars….. that never get seen in the city. I always used to see Orion when I lived in the northern hemisphere and had not quite managed to see it here. It was such a joy to see it again brighter than ever seen before. I wish it had been dry outside, I would have loved to lie in the grass and just watch the stars, me thinks one could almost see that band – the milky way! Looking out of the window on to the other side of the cottage the twinkling stars through the tree there could almost be mistaken for a Christmas tree light up with twinkling lights. Closing my eyes that night with the image of the stars on my retina….blisss!

Friday, 9 March 2018

Day 3 at Barrington

Oh boy did it rain last night! I thought the roof was going to cave in with the drumming of the rain on the corrugated veranda roof. The morning sunrise never happened as the clouds were so low that the hills in front could not be seen. The river was definitely noisier than last evening. With morning tea we have a habit of looking at the news on the net and checking email as this is not checked again maybe until evening or even the next day when on holiday. Paul said it seems the net is down and checking the Wi-Fi hub - the light was red. So he spent time troubleshooting and found that our Wi-Fi had been switched off. But since there was a lead connecting the hub with the line through the wall he just pulled out the hub and plugged it directly into the laptop. Hey presto net was back on.

As usual with breakfast we pour over the maps to see where we would like to go today. Yesterday I had seen a turning off the highway for The Lakes Way, a scenic drive which at one point is literally the road with Tasman Sea on one side and lakes on the other. There are a couple of towns – Tuncurry and Forster that are historical.

This time we made proper note of the way we left Barrington and got to Gloucester just to make sure we did not get lost returning – again! We followed the road all the way to Pacific Highway like yesterday and turned to towards Taree. The exit we had to take was Failford Road turning right across the lanes. This was a smaller road and we thought let us see what road signs we come up against today. The first one was Bullocky Way and the next one was Darawank. Both were hilarious but Darawank (means dark waters) in particular as we at once thought about putting this up in Mock The Week Facebook page for Dara O’Briain to see. Shame the page does not allow us to put up the pic but a message was left! Managed to get a picture of Bullocky Way but missed out on clicking Darawank. Maybe next time……

This road ends at a T-junction with The Lakes Way. By now the sun was out and pleasant breeze was blowing – a far cry from the gloomy wet sunrise we had. Drove into Tuncurry and this is where the Wallis Lake meets the Cape Hawke Harbour and there is a long bridge connecting Tuncurry to Forster. We stopped at Tuncurry to have a look around the marina area.

Hooligans are here as well (Cockatoos)
Tuncurry Marina

Big Boat

Meeting of the Wallis Lake and Cape Hawke Harbour

Forster-Tuncurry bridge

This bridge is different for all bridges I have seen The middle was flat and the ends were raised curves.

Forster-Tuncurry Bridge

And we enter Forster and drove right across it. It is very much of a tourist town with usual shops and eating places and walking about the marina and promenade. But instead of stopping we decided to go further down The Lakes Way to the point where for a while you can see water on both sides as per the map. This area appears to be old rainforests and varied vegetation, lots of different palms about and pristine beaches without a soul on them. This is the Booti Booti National Park and it is wonderful the slightly warm salty air and sun occasionally peeping out from grey clouds. We stopped at Seven mile Long Beach and stood watching the waves. Paul even managed to get a vid clip when I was pointing to the holes in the sand and wondering if they were made by razor clams.

Enter Booti Booti

Seven Mile Beach

Alone on this windy beach

We drove a little further but realised that there is forest on either side without actual sighting of water all the way. We also did a quick stop at Boomerang Beach and turned back as it was getting to lunch time by now.

Boomerang Beach
Boomerang Beach 
Crashing waves

Trying to take off at Boomerang beach

Back to Forster and made sure we did not go to the shopping mall with its usual 74 specialist shops! But went to the town centre and found parking for 3 hours. Had a wander around for the fish and chips shop again. We could have had some fancy veggie burger with quinoa or roll with spinach and feta but chips always are the first choice at seaside. While walking the length of the high street we saw a gelato place and decided that was going to be the dessert stop. Now everyone knows we love ice cream but this gelato place was wonderful with new flavours. Paul had blood orange and dark chocolate while I had rum and raisin and fig syrup and mascarpone ice cream. Oh my it was delish! In the middle of it all I decided to see if I had mobile network and as I switched it on I saw messages pouring in with a few missed calls. Seems people were looking for me.  Indeed I got a vid call at once from my friend worried as to why I was missing for the past 2 days! I did try to take pic of my ice creams as some people I know love to see them. But I tried with my phone and the light of the sun was so strong I could not see properly and guess the pic cut off half the ice cream and top of Paul’s head…. hahahaha
Man in Forster

After lunch we wandered up the promenade to see the local pod of pelicans. Both of us are fascinated by pelicans as they are so big but so graceful even when taking off from the water. Here you find them sitting on lampposts at most seaside places.

Pelican in Forster
Came in for a portrait

Pelican pod

As we were walking past the gelato shop I spotted a kitchen ware shop and decided to have a peep in it. You see I have been trying to find a tea leaf strainer so I can do away with buying tea bags after all these years. I try being green so decided high time I gave up tea bags but did not want to buy a pot to make tea. More over its good to wander through kitchenware place as you never know what you might find. And yes there were tea strainers of all variety. I got the mesh ball and spring mesh tea infusers. The eye caught a glimpse of some crockery that was colourful. I liked a couple of bowls with patterns made in dots so we got those too.

Then it was time to start the journey back and fingers crossed to not get lost like yesterday. We saw some big bird high up but could not make out what it was. Maybe we will see it again. The galahs and rosella were out along with the wrens darting across the road. This time we found the road correctly and reached to the cottage in time for a cup of tea. The evening was pleasant but the clouds had come down again. Seems we were going to be in for some more rain. Indeed after last night the river crossing was fast flowing. Dinner was some toast and brie with tomatoes and more potato salad from yesterday and plums. Nite nite!

Clouds descending