Monday 4th October 2010
Our first night without our Newcastle safety net and it was a nightmare. We had a massive downpour in the night, with driving rain hitting the back of the van soaking the pop up which caused it to leak and run down on to the bed. At 1am in the morning we were mopping up water and wringing out saturated pillows. Not the best of starts. The rain didn't stop all night and it was still lashing down when we got up the next morning. It was such a shame as most of the Kombi’s from the festival the day before had camped here for the night too and the atmosphere had been great before the rain hit. Now there were just soggy tents and ground sheets being piled in the back of the vans by bedraggled hippies and VW lovers.
Mark had suggested staying in Harrington which was only 45mins away, a great little beach town, but with the weather being as bad as it was we fancied getting some miles under our belts and heading further north to Coffs Harbour and hopefully out run the rain. The journey up was treacherous, the water poured out the sky and sat on the roads like a river. Luckily it was bank holiday Monday and hardly any trucks on the road as the spray was blinding when the big boys over took.
Weather Rain - 21 degrees
We arrived in Coffs Harbour at lunch time and set up our new camp. The rain still poured down so we had no choice but to get comfy in the van and read our books in hope of a reprieve in the weather. When no break came and our stomachs let us know it was dinner time, we braved the wet and headed over to the camp kitchen to cook chilli con carnie. The Kitchen is a brick building with hobs, an oven, microwave, and BBQ’s in. It also has the TV and a Kids room just off it. We rustled up a quick chilli and then ran back through the rain to cook the rice and eat in the van. Nothing left to do in the rain but get the TV out and watch some DVD’s.Tuesday 5th October 2010
We slept with the roof down which helped with the leaking, but it was still raining when we got up the next morning and continued to rain all day. Today was laundry day and my first use of the camp facilities. All campsites have a laundry, usually a few washing machines, dryers and ironing boards (whatever they are, not something I have seen for a while). This one was no different, $3 to use the washing machine and $2 to use the dryer, there are rotary driers outside but with the weather tumble drying was the way to go. There is a certain skill to getting your laundry washed and dried in a camp laundry. Firstly you have to make sure no one is using the machine you will growled at if you push in. Top loaders are not something I am use to but I have had a bit of practice at Diane’s, so I didn’t embarrass myself. Now once your load finishes you have to grab a drier, now be careful here, there is a rule that says if your wet laundry is on top of a dried then you are next in line.....even if you are not in the room. You place your clothes in the dryer and then you can leave the area as it take about 30-40 min for them to dry. If you think this is bad try ordering a bag of chips in the chippy.....I’ll get on to that.
The camper van came with a TV aerial and was not something we had tested yet, but as we had some time to kill we dragged it out from its storage hole and plugged it in. It is a plastic pole with a T section at the top which is the aerial.....we weren’t holding out for much. To our surprise the picture was excellent but not just on the TV channels but on top of that we picked up the FreeView channels from the campsite so got to watch all our favourite TV shows which we had started to watch at Mark and Diane’s. With little else to do in the rain, we spent the evening flicking channels.Wednesday 6th October 2010
It was only drizzling when we got up and the sky looked brighter, we had extended our stay in Coffs Harbour for one more night as we still hadn’t left the campsite and really didn’t fancy driving around to look at sights in the rain. The news was the nice weather was coming so we hung on for one more day. As it was dry and warm we went for a walk to find the shopping mall, we had been told there was a huge one with a Cinema only 10 mins walk away. We wanted to check out which day they did the cheap tickets, usually $15 each on one day a week they do them for $9. It turned out we were a day too late so we went and had a looking round the shops.
We were still looking to get a couple of bikes but didn’t want to pay mega bucks for them. Big W always had a few cheap bikes on offer but never has them in stock, so whenever we see a store we go in and check. As luck would have it Coffs Harbour Big W had the perfect bikes at the perfect price and loads in stock, so we arranged to come back the next day and pick them up. We then did some food shopping and walked back to the campsite. The rain had held off which had been lucky for us, the rest of the afternoon was spent chilling outside the van reading.Thursday 7th October 2010
Time to leave Coffs Harbour, we packed up the van and headed out to see the harbour and have a walk out to Muttonbird Island (I know a few of them). The weather was fabulous, is was so hot I was cooking in my jeans and had to change into a skirt. The sky was blue and the water was perfectly flat in the marina. We took some photos and walked up the breakwater which links the island to the main land. There was a lookout point at the top of Muttonbird Island but as we both got halfway up the flies (they may have been flying ants) swarmed us and drove us crazy so we came back down again.
Back in the van again and off to buy our bikes, first stop was a shop called Repco to buy a bike rack for the towbar. We have had a few problems with the tow bar as it sticks out quite far, so on more than one occasion it had hit the ground which had burred the locking nut underneath making it impossible to get off. We needed to get it off to get the bike rack on. The helpful man in Repco suggested that we take it to the garage next door that might be able to help. The even more helpful men in the garage took the nut off with great effort and no charges....bless 'em. Back at Repco we bought our rack and then went over to Big W to buy the bikes and helmets (law). The bikes come part assembled so we loaded them into the back of the van and headed towards our next destination Woolgoolga (easy for you to say).
On the way out of Coffs Harbour there is the Big Banana, it is one of many BIG objects that litter Australia. We have a list of them all and are going to see just how many of them we can photograph on the way round. The Big Banana is one of the more famous ones, the Australian post office did a set of five stamps with the big things of Australia on, The Big Banana at Coff Harbour being one of them, the others were The Big Golden Guitar at Tamworth, The Big Lobster at Kingston SE, The Big Merino at Goulburn, and finally The Big Pineapple at Nambour. Keep a look out in our photos.
Weather Sun - 26 degrees / Rain - 21 degrees
We arrived in Woolgoolga and checked into our site. After a quick toilet stop we dragged the bikes out and started putting them together. ‘Five simple steps which should take 25mins’ or so the box says. It took that long just to get all the packaging off. Gary set about putting bits together while I sat and read the instructions and then corrected the bits he had already gone ahead and done without waiting.....the second bike was easier! The breaks caused us a few problems but then a read of the owner’s manual sorted that problem out and they were ready to go. The bikes cost us $98 and are pretty good for the money, although mine does have a small dent in the frame and the wheel is a bit wonky but what do you want for 50 quid!! We’ll see tomorrow just how good they are.
It had been a glorious day and the evening was lovely and warm, we set up the stove outside and tried out one of Diane’s recipes, mince Chow Mein. This is the weather we had been waiting for, the pleasure of sitting outside cooking and eating without being huddled in jumpers was bliss. Friday 8th October 2010
The nice weather didn’t last long, it rained all night and we didn’t put the guy ropes on the awnings so it constantly creaked keeping us (well me) awake. It was dry by morning but overcast, so we decided to still go for the bike ride and if we got wet well so be it. As it turned out it was the perfect temperature for our first bike ride, I think the heat would have killed us. We rode through town and up to the view point (our first hill) and then down to the beach and along to the lake. On the way back we passed a noisy tree, when we looked up it was full of bats, on closer inspection every tree on that side of the road was bursting with fruit bats. They were fascinating to watch, most of them asleep, upside down, arms crossed over their bodies like the vampire bats sleep in the movies. The younger, noisier ones flew from tree to tree arguing and tussling with fellow bats as they landed. They were remarkably agile, climbing along branches and up the trunks like little monkeys. We studied them for a while and then moved on to a bike route that we had spotted on the way down.
The route took us down by the river and over wooden bridges, through the bush and alongside parks. As we passed the Woolgoolga High School Gary spotted Roos chilling in the school field, we went over to take a look. The great thing about urban kangaroos are that they are use to humans and don’t run off when you go near, which was lovely for us as one of them had a Joey in her pouch and I could just get close enough to see his ears and a foot hanging out. Just as we were leaving he popped out her pouch but I couldn’t get a picture of his head as the second he came out his head went straight back in so he could continued his suckling. We couldn’t believe how big he was, more than half the size of his mum, poor love.
We took a track back through the bush and re-traced our route back to the campsite, as it was nearly lunch time we popped in the local chippy for a bag of chips.....big mistake! I have always wondered why Diane always phones her ordered through for fish and chips and then goes and picks them up, even for a $3 bag of chips. It all came clear as Gary waited for 25mins for one bag of chips because the person in front had placed a big order. It seems that orders are completed in order of being served no matter how big and they won’t give you your food until the person in front of you has had theirs... even though they are waiting for theirs to be cooked. Rules.....Australia is full of rules!
Back at the camp we sat down to chip butties and watched as the sky’s opened, perfect timing. The afternoon was a wet one, but we have got use to that lately, we spent it reading and chatting about our day. After dinner Gary went over to the kitchen to do the washing up, on the way back he pointed at the sky which was full of bats on their way out to dinner.