Friday: Stayed put for a day at Coopernook. It’s such a pleasant camping spot on thick grass, with an outlook to grazing cows and the back of a quiet country pub. Steve spent the day playing around the outside of Priscilla working out how to change the tyres and deflate and inflate the tyre pressures. I fiddled with cupboards and drawers and reorganised them. In the afternoon we brought out the fold-up bikes and rode into town for a look around. It was great to do – a nice leisurely way to view a town. We’re getting used to riding them more now too – working out the gears, etc.
The pub was noisy until quite late this evening – must make a point of not staying here on weekends in future.
Weather: sunny and hot
Saturday: The Newcastle Caravan and Camping Show is on and we have a list of a few things we want to buy so took the opportunity to go to it.
Left Coopernook at our usual leaving time of around 10am (oh how quickly we’ve fallen into these leisurely ways) arriving in Newcastle around midday. Funny thing on the way – we’d put the venue address into Priscilla’s navigator – straight down the highway until you reach Newcastle. As it so happened my favourite place for oysters, Karuah, is just off the highway. Steve doesn’t eat oysters so wasn’t keen on making the detour but reluctantly agreed, and without touching the navigation Priscilla took us off the highway and into Karuah anyway – already she knows me well!
The show was disappointing – so much smaller than Brisbane’s. We’d looked at places around Newcastle to stay anticipating they’d be shooing us out at 6pm closing time, but we’d seen all there was to see by 2pm, and not found half of what we wanted. The decision was make to keep going to Umina Beach where we’d planned to be tomorrow night anyway, ready for a short drive to Trakka’s factory on Monday.
One great find though was the Great Divide 4WD driver training which is the group that tested the Jabiru at their property outside Braidwood. We’ve decided we’ll spend a day there learning what this little baby can do.
A noisy evening at this magnet for families of pre-teen children – hopefully they’ll all leave tomorrow and Sunday afternoon will be peaceful. Oh dear, I’m beginning to sound like an old grump.
Sunday was much more peaceful. We did some grocery shopping – so convenient to drive your pantry and fridge to the shops! In the afternoon we walked the beach and generally had a relaxing day and evening.
Ocean Beach Holiday Park, Umina Beach. Saturday afternoon.
Mozzies weren’t the only problem yesterday – the 3/4G was very poor too, so we decided to go into Laurieton and sit in a park for a while and get our internet fix, and maybe an occasional coffee and something gooey at the cafe.
Before going in though we checked out the camping areas in Crowdy Bay NP with view to going there tonight. The first was just like a caravan park, even had kerb and channeling and, of course, lots of caravans. The other one was also not appealing as you couldn’t see the beach and the scrub looked like great mozzie breeding grounds – once bitten, twice shy (though it was more than once!)
Breakfast with a view – North Haven
We got a very pleasant surprise in Laurieton when another Trakka Jabiru 4×4 pulled in beside us. Jean-Claude and Veronique purchased theirs about 6 months ago and are building a ‘home base’ in the local area. As soon as that’s built their plans for travelling Australia are similar to ours. We’ve exchanged contacts and hope we’ll share some adventures with them in the future.
Boys and their toys.
We decided to head to Coopernook where we’d stayed on our previous trip – a good, mostly quiet, free camp behind the Coopernook pub where we arrived just on dark.
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.