Day 5: Maclean to Brushgrove

Despite the concerns expressed by our previous pontoon neighbours there was not a sound from the park beside us last night. We slept well, though woke to find logs and branches caught up around us – all coming down from the flooding experienced last week. We’ve got a longer day today and wanted to maximise use of the tide so left Maclean as soon as we were dressed.

There are 100 charted islands on the Clarence River. Harwood is on Harwood Island and today we are heading for Brushgrove which is on Woodford Island. Woodford Is is the largest inland island in the world, it even has its own mountain range – good to remember for your next trivia night.

There’s no wind, perfectly blue skies and the river is glassy. So idyllic, if not that great for sailing! After about an hour we decided to stop the engine and drift while we ate our breakfast and had a coffee. I can tell you it was very nice.

These gantries were used to load the cut cane onto river barges once upon a time. The birds have now taken them over- see the sea eagles nest on top.

These gantries were used to load the cut cane onto river barges once upon a time. The birds have now taken them over- see the sea eagles nest on top.

Not far up the river we passed the little township of Lawrence. There’s a jetty there that you could tie up to I assume, but we didn’t stop. There was a very unusual round house though that took my fancy.

Unusual house at Lawrence. Looks like it has the machinery underneath it to turn it as they wish.

Unusual house at Lawrence. Looks like it has the machinery underneath it to turn it as they wish.

We motored on (no wind) to Brushgrove. The pontoon is just off the main Clarence, on the South Arm. On one side is Cowper, which is where the pontoon is, and Brushgrove is on the other side – a bridge joins them (too low for us with our mast up). We tied up at the pontoon, had our lunch and went for a walk around Cowper. It’s a quiet little place – no shops, just a couple of churches and the school. One of the churches has been taken over by a very talented craftsman. We wandered in to have a look – couldn’t find anyone there – the dining chairs on display are exactly what I want! If you’re around here make sure you drop in for a look. On our walk we found the Cowper Bus Crash memorial. On 20th October 1989 about 4am a semitrailer crossed to the wrong side of the road and hit a long-distance bus, killing 20 people on the bus and the semi driver.  It was found that the semi driver had 80 times the normal levels of ephedrine in his blood stream (an upper, commonly used by long haul drivers back then). As a result of the investigation into this crash these drugs were banned, rest periods mandated and a divided highway between Sydney and Brisbane was begun.

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We crossed the bridge and enquired at the hotel if we could have a shower here – yes, $5 for both of us. So just before dinner we returned and enjoyed a lovely hot shower. Until now we’d been having cockpit showers, which are good, but just not the same. Dinner at the pub was very good – I had garlic prawns, Steve the chicken parma.

At the beginning of the 19th century Brushgrove was a thriving town due to its location on the Clarence when the river was the chief form of transport  Red cedar, sugar and other agricultural goods were transported to southern ports and even New Zealand  in the late 50s the bridge was built, truck transport increased and Brushgrove declined. Today sugar and beef cattle are the major industries – and I guess, tourism. The Brushgrove Hotel, built as a single story in 1868 was raised and renovated in the early 20th century.

The Cowper-Brushgrove bridge from the lawns of the Brushgrove hotel, with Top Shelf on the pontoon on the far side.

The Cowper-Brushgrove bridge from the lawns of the Brushgrove hotel, with Top Shelf on the pontoon on the far side.

Back home to bed and a very peaceful night.

Top Shelf all prepared for a very peaceful night.

Top Shelf all prepared for a very peaceful night.

For more photos from our trip today click HERE.

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