Lots of photos this week.
Monday 26th December
My best plan was an early departure of 9am expecting that as usual we would be away by 10am. I was wrong on both counts.
Alecia and Tyler were away by 10am while Donnis and I managed closer to 10.45am!!!
I expected heavy traffic and was pleasantly surprised to find traffic was heavy but it was moving at the posted speed limits.
At lunchtime we stopped at a little community called New Italy and had a lunch of leftover Christmas food.
In 1880 many Italian immigrants arrived in Australia. By 1882 about 20 families had bought up a selection of land on which to settle. They called the area New Italy which is the name of the location to this day. Some of the original fences and buildings in the area can be dated back to those early days of settlement.
Six hours later we had travelled the 420 Klms into NSW and the Pub With No Beer at Taylors Arm a small community about 22 Klms west of Macksville on the Nambucca River.
The name Pub With No Beer is interesting in that it is based on half -truths and misconceptions. The truth is and some die- hards might disagree, the original Pub With No Beer (PWNB) was at The Day Dawn Hotel, Ingham North Queensland. It seems in 1943 a bunch of American Servicemen passed through the town one day and drank the pub dry of beer. A local Australian sugar can cutter, Dan Sheahan arrived at the pub the next day and found – NO Beer. He wrote a poem called the Pub Without a Beer. In 1956 the poem fell into the hands of a singer/songwriter, Gordon Parsons, who thought the poem was public property (the original poem was published in 1944 in Queensland) Gordon Parsons was at the Taylors Arm Hotel when he took the original poem and re-worked it to the words it has today. He recorded his version, telling people the song was about the Taylors Arm Hotel. Afterwards he gave the song to Slim Dusty an up and coming singer songwriter destined to become the darling of Country and Western fans. He recorded the song in 1957 and given his popularity, the song was a hit and as it was explained to him the song was about Taylors Arm it was promoted that way. The local pub thought to cash in on the song and called their pub the PWNB. This of course annoyed the good people of Ingham, who claimed, rightly, the song was about their pub, the Day Dawn which by now had been re-named Lees Hotel (in fact the original pub was called the Telegraph Hotel and the Day Dawn was built on the same site.) The rivalry goes on to this day, both pubs claiming the song is about their pub but as the Slim Dusty version was popular and although incorrectly labelled as being about Taylors Arm the name and the location has stuck. Interestingly the Lees Hotel has an annual PWNB festival claiming their place in history.
We were in Taylors Arm to visit 100 acres of heavily timbered steep land at nearby Talarm which Errol recently bought. The pub was the cheapest and in fact the ONLY accommodation we could find in the region including as far north as Coffs Harbour and nearby Macksville and Nambucca Heads. Rooms were below basic with little to no facilities even showers and toilets were “shared”. We were grateful that some rooms had a ceiling fan.
The pub has no meals during the week and in fact close their doors at 7pm sometimes as late as 9pm. Locals and visitors can buy slabs of beer before closing and the publican kindly leaves the verandah lights turned on so drinkers can enjoy themselves until their slab is consumed. As there are only 40 permanent people at Taylors Arm it seems the entire adult population is at the pub until late. They also talk overly loudly.
Nicole had brought food from Wollongong so we all had pulled pork on breadrolls with coleslaw for dinner.
Tuesday 27th December
Today we took turns exploring via 4WD the block of land.
While each group waited on the other we swam in the confluence of the upper reaches of the Welsh’s Creek and Taylors Arm Creek which surprisingly is tidal and slightly brackish as the Taylors Arm Creek empties into the Nambucca River. There is a public creek parking, camping, picnic area here and a little beach before dropping off into deep dark water.
We were warned to walk only on the beach as a nasty fish, called an inland stonefish (or Bullrout) lurks in the reeds and weeds. Standing on any one of the seven spines produces excruciating pain and days in hospital. http://australianmuseum.net.au/bullrout-notesthes-robusta
We swam in the creek with the two grandchildren Amelia and Hannah and borrowed a little kayak for an adventure paddle up Welsh’s Creek.
Tonight Donnis cooked up a storm of pasta, homemade tomato sauce and hamburger patties. Not bad considering both meals were produced on an open verandah with just a small butane gas stove sitting atop a folding camp table. Luckily we had several camp chairs but not enough for a nine of our group.
Wednesday 28th December
All nine of our group has seen Errol’s 100 acres and given advice for the location of a house site. It is time to enjoy ourselves. We joined the phalanx of bumper to bumper traffic passing both ways through Macksville and drove to the seaside village of Scotts Head.
This is a delightful location with a high headland and a beach on each side. The town is serviced by a few shops including very good eateries. The large, neat and fully booked caravan park has a prime position on the beach. We enjoyed fish and chips from the Beach Break Café. Afterwards we walked up Scotts Head and over to Little Beach where the grandchildren played in the shallows and scrambled over the rocks just like countless hundreds of thousands of young children have done before them.
I picked up a Bluebottle https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bluebottle which is also known as a Portugese Man O War. These little air filled sacs are blue in colour and trail long stinging tentacles. They are often found on beaches in the Australian Summer. They can turn a happy day at the beach to a nightmare of pain and often a trip to hospital for a day or two. In extreme cases they can cause death. I picked up the bluebottle by the top of the air filled sac which has no stinging barbs. I used it to show the girls what to be aware of and to avoid coming in contact with them, even those lying on the beach seemingly lifeless.
We then drove along the coast to Stuarts Point a long inlet of sandhills and a tidal basin called Macleay’s Reach. A foot bridge connects the main part of town with the sandy isthmus from which can be seen the coastal town of Southwest Rocks far to the south.
The grandchildren delighted in wading in the water and digging in the sandy mud (or should that be muddy sand?) and helping fishermen pump for Saltwater Yabbies or Nippers which are used as fish bait.
The following video shows how to pump and what a yabby looks like. Oh BTW they are called Nippers for a reason. Young children should be taught the correct safe way to pick them up. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0wU2QFCUsg
After a long day in the sun we drove north to the delightful seaside town of Nambucca Heads, population 10,000 plus a few hundred more since the last census. We had dinner at the Nambucca (Pronounced NAM BUK A) Heads RSL with wonderful views along the Nambucca Rivers where the spectacular sunsets occur.
Thursday 29th December
After a late start to packing and leaving Taylors Arm we drove to Macksville, Population somewhat more than 7,000 since the last Census. We had an expensive breakfast at one of the many cafes in town. Macksville is one of only a handful of towns where the Pacific Highway still runs through the middle of town. With roadworks to build a new highway to skirt this and other towns proceeding at a snails pace, the town becomes a highway bottleneck for the major highway from Sydney to Brisbane. Three sets of traffic lights and a two lane narrow bridge over the Nambucca River does not help traffic flow. Especially in holiday traffic.
After breakfast Donnis and I travelled to Port Macquarie about 100 Klms to the south. Our friends Tony and Dawn live here and we called in for a visit. Today is the second of several days of heatwave conditions.
First we visited the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital where the staff do their best to restore Koalas to health and release them back into the wild. Koalas are often injured by dog attack, bushfire and a disease known as Chlamydia. The disease in humans is sexually transmitted whereas a different strain affects Koala’s. Usually it results in the infected animal becoming blind.
By the time we arrived at T&D’s the heatwave was kicking in with temp at 38° so a nice lunch and a snooze in the cool of the house was in order. Donnis also found energy for a swim in the clear inviting pool.
Friday 30th December
We begin the long drive home. We lined up in 38° heat for 15 minutes to join the queuing traffic on the Pacific Highway. Ten Klms from Macksville traffic came to a halt. Illuminated signs on the side of the road warned of traffic queues and to expect a delay of 90 minutes just to get through Macksville. We kept our AC working so an otherwise hot annoying aggravating road rage situation was a chance to creep along and listen to the radio in comfort.
Further north we stopped at Coffs harbour for lunch at Olivers Organic Real Food https://www.oliversrealfood.com.au/ I am still not a convert to this “organic ripoff”. The supposed real food had no flavour and was overpriced. The sign at the door advertised “Five Star Clean Restrooms”. I suppose they were too busy today to send in a cleaner but there was nothing special about the restroom particularly as it was in need of a clean and tidy. The organic coffee was no better or no worse than coffee at other places. I left feeling unsatisfied.
Back on the highway we soon joined another queue of traffic, both ways with signs warning of 90 minute delays at Woodburn on the Richmond River. The highway will eventually bypass this town which has no traffic lights or busy bridge to slow traffic. Police Radar and Cameras seem to do a good job of ensuring all traffic adheres to speed limits.
We arrived home at 7.30 pm, after driving for almost 9 hours.
Saturday 31st December
New Years Eve.
Heat wave conditions of 34°, although less than experienced in NSW was enough to keep us indoors today, eventually turning on the AC in the afternoon.
We made a delightful dinner of fresh Scallops cooked in garlic butter and a sauce made from the pan residue and cream served on a bed of rice with a simple side of sliced cucumber with a smear of Cranberry Sauce.
After dinner we drove to The Broadwater and sat on a blanket on the beach to watch the fireworks at Broadwater Parklands and Marina Mirage. Then it was home, a quick shower and joined friends at the clubhouse to ring in the new year with a bit of line dancing and the Sydney fireworks on the TV.
Happy New Year to all.
Sunday 1st January 2017.
New Years day.
We left the AC on all night. Outside it was hot enough to convince us to stay indoors all day.
The AC stayed on all day and we stayed indoors. The temp at midday was around 35°. At least there is a sea breeze blowing off the creek. No so lucky are those people out west such as Longreach where it was over 40° today. There is no sea breeze for them.
Alecia and Tyler arrive back today. Tomorrow Tyler and I will climb the QEII Tower at Surfers Paradise. It is the tallest building in Australia. Hmmm, Tomorrow is predicted to be another heatwave day.
This afternoon our village was visited by two Police officers. Our neighbour immediately behind us went to Melbourne to visit family for Christmas. He left his car at Brisbane airport. His son was asked to collect the car and drive it back here. Which he did and stayed the night. His wife was due to pick him up today. She arrived and the house was locked. The car was in the carport but there was no answer to her door knocks nor on his mobile phone. The Police were called and broke into the house. No sign of the man but his phone, wallet and money were sitting on the kitchen bench. He is now being treated as a missing person.