Weather: sunny and hot!
We looked forward to today’s destination as it’s the first time we’ve used a Youcamp site. We got away from Coopernook without any problems and headed to Kempsey where we had morning tea and popped into the shopping centre for a few items. We didn’t like the look or feel of Kempsey. Headed to Coffs Harbour for a lovely lunch at the harbour. The park was busy with families and young people enjoying the beach. Coffs is a much nicer town.
We then turned westward towards the Great Dividing Range and up we climbed – it was a good pull with lots of hairpin bends – into 4WD again when the bitumen ran out, though it would be possible to do it in a tough 2WD. The countryside became thick rainforest with lots of bird life. Over the range we didn’t descend too far into the valley before turning off towards Lowanna where we found our host’s home. And the temperature had dropped about 4 heavenly degrees. A huge plus for the Jabiru has been its navigation system – took us directly to this place which is well and truly out of the way.
Kevin and Janelle own the property and Kevin directed us through a couple of gates and over paddocks down to the banks of Mole Creek. After deciding which direction to park the van (not an easy decision!) we explored the creek and relaxed until it was time for sundowners when Janelle, Kevin and their young son joined us. Janelle was born here – her grandfather was a bullocky and bought the property to graze his team, and her father was a gold miner. George’s Gold Mine is just up the road and marked on all the maps. Kevin enjoys panning for gold and offered to take us out fossicking – there’s gold in them thar hills! Next time!
Kevin was employed at the local sawmill until it closed down – logging has been the industry of this district for a long time.
There’s also, apparently, platypus in the creek though needless to say I didn’t see any.
Beside Mole Creek at Robbindell
Weather: stinking hot – mid 30’s
It rained in the early hours of the morning. I woke worrying about what the rain would do to the road conditions on the way back down the mountain – and also because the window was leaking and I was getting wet!
After breakfast, as we were preparing to leave, the Forestry Ranger arrived. We had a good chat to him about the district and here in particular and he reassured us our vehicle would have no problems negotiating the wet, slippery conditions on the way down – and we didn’t. While we were chatting a man popped out from the rainforest just behind where we were camped. This lookout forms a part of the Great North Walk, which is a 250K walking trail that stretches from central Sydney to downtown Newcastle. We’d walked 50 or so metres down it earlier, and I got a leech for my efforts. This chap said he does the walk from the bottom of the mountain every week, finishing at the coffee shop. That’s a good way to keep fit – we’re pretty high up here. Meeting and talking to people on our travels is one of our goals – everyone has a story and they are all so interesting.
Anyway before setting off we read the Mercedes manual and discovered some non-intuitive steps to take to put the vehicle into ‘low lock’ 4WD. Our first real test of this vehicle on roads that need 4WD and she came through with flying colours.
On the way to Coopernook we saw the turnoff for Karuah – we’ve started our own tradition with this little town now and HAVE to stop to buy fresh oysters from Cole Bros every time.
Coopernook was bypassed by the highway in 2006 and is a very pleasant, well-tended, small country town of about 350 people. The primary school was opened in 1875 so it has a pretty long history. The pub at Coopernook offers free camping to self-contained RV’s, and a lovely spot it is too – a large, grassy area within about 50 metres of the Lansdowne River. Fishing must be good in the river by the look of the Achievements Board on the wall of the pub.
We really appreciated this spot today because it was so hot – had a few cool drinks and lunch in the air conditioned pub. There was one other RV parked here – two women who now live permanently on the road and seem to be enjoying the lifestyle.
We’re camped on the grass behind the pub, right where that rainbow ends.
Weather: hot on the coastal plain, lovely in the mountains
Refuelled Umina Beach: Odometer: 131K; Litres: 65.82; $/L: $1.369
We left Umina Beach early-ish and stopped at the local Coles to buy groceries. Hmmm we are pretty long, and the normal parks are a bit short for us – something to remember.
The Jabiru has to be registered in Queensland and we were therefore duty bound to drive her home expeditiously. However, that didn’t stop me planning an interesting trip back.
Heatons State Forest is not far off Highway 1 and offers a free camp at the lookout. Most of the drive was highway driving where we learned all about the cruise control and the sound system and the warning messages and other fancy things modern vehicles do these days. It was a relief to leave the highway and trundle along quiet country roads with no other traffic.
A road less travelled – get used to it baby!
It wasn’t long though before the road started to climb, and climb some more, and the blacktop disappeared and ruts and rocks appeared …. quick lesson on how to put her into 4WD followed. That was unexpected! Note to self – study road conditions of planned itineraries.
Arrived safely and setup for the stay.
Anyway we arrived unscathed and the view was worth it: 180 degrees across the national park, farming land, Lake Macquarie to the ocean. We camped right on the cliff edge (inside the protective railing!). Delightful.
The afternoon was spent peacefully reading car manuals and going for a short walk further up the road. An early and peaceful night anticipated.
Lunchtime at Heatons Lookout.