Weather: hot – very hot!
Refuelled Grafton: odometer: 796 ; litres: 107.5 ; $/L: $1.389
Got away mid-morning after another quiet sleep with only birdsong to disturb us. We’re getting the hang of slow mornings – this is unusual for us.
Janelle suggested a route down the range via Glenreagh and on to Grafton which she said was very pretty. And she was so right. The trip from their place to Glenreagh was through rain forest and tall trees covered in staghorns and climbers – absolutely stunning.
One of the prettiest drives you could do.
We stopped at Grafton for lunch, at Corcoran Park – a lovely spot on the Clarence River. As we arrived there was a man launching a trailer sailer. Well blow me down if it wasn’t Simon Carter. I’ve been following the YouTube blog of his sailing adventures for a while now, most recently his single-handed sail from Brisbane to the Whitsundays and back. We said hello and had a cuppa and a chat under the tree for a while. He’s going to be sailing the Clarence over the next few weeks and is going to make a vlog of it – great, that’s a sail that’s on our to-do list too.
Onward to Old Bonalbo. We’d had our driving adventure for the day and decided to take the road ‘more travelled’ and went via Casino. We were briefly tempted to take a drive into the RV park, it being one of the first places we stayed at in 2007 in Helon, our previous motorhome.
Old Bonalbo is 11K up the road from Bonalbo, which is a very pleasant country town with a well-stocked Foodworks and a helpful man behind the counter from whom we bought frozen yoghurt iceblocks … really appreciated this weather. Old Bonalbo with a population of around 200 has a small general store/post office, but we drove straight through to Pioneer’s Park on the banks of Duck Creek. This park is another freebie that is cared for by the council and provides the traveller with a pleasant overnight site, grassy area to camp, a couple of shelter sheds and picnic tables and spotlessly clean toilets. Beef cattle is the main industry around here, with timber plantations being established. The district was once logged for red cedar.
We were the only ones camped here.
Another of the Jabiru’s features we love is being able to sleep with the two back doors and the sliding side door wide open, allowing the breeze to flow straight through – they’re both flyscreened. It kept us cool this evening.
Thanks Old Bonalbo – we enjoyed your hospitality.
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.