188. Heading South – the Bowen Boaties and other friends

It was still raining but not so heavily when we left Tamborine Mountain, going straight to the M1 as our proposed route via Murwillumbah was cut off by flooding. We spent a night at pricey Brunswick Heads, right on the river…..

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….. before shifting to Mullumbimby where we stayed wetly on a very muddy field for the next few days. I love that part of the NSW countryside, all hills and dales and green grass (and doubtless other types of grass), hippy country with charming little townships full of cafes and art and dress shops.

Mullumbimby itself is a popular haunt of weirdly dressed and dreadlocked inhabitants, and the “Information Centre” was a single stand inside the newsagents. Mysterious odours wafted from certain shops. Our tour of exploration was cut short by – you guessed it – more rain. We did manage one evening trip along narrow hinterland lanes to meet one of the babies I did knitting for during our earlier touring.

We made a day trip to Bangalow so I could see an osteopath about my recalcitrant neck; a pinched neck nerve or two occasionally makes life miserable.  Bangalow has streets lined with vibrant purple ‘something’ trees, as well as a lovely antique shop where it was difficult not to fall in love with all the old restored furniture. The whole area is a colonial furniture collector’s paradise.

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By then the weather had eased a little and I had a wonderful time catching up with various friends from the days when my first husband Geoff and I ran the Bowen slipway.

We lived on board our boat “Cornelius” on which my daughter spent her first five years. Geoff acted as harbour master for the numerous boaties and fishermen who came and went in the popular harbour in the late 1970s, so we were never short of new people to meet. I acquired a few more old photos …..

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It was so wonderful to see them all and visit their homes which I had not seen for many years, particularly ‘Serendipity’ deep in the bush with its abundant wildlife.

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P1140374P1140380One last evening we shared a meal with Pete and Dee sitting in the near-empty carpark at nearby New Italy, it being far too hot and humid to be in the caravan, especially since I had the bright idea to make a salmon quiche in the oven! (We nearly didn’t have it anyway as the oven went out  at an early stage, fortunately discovered in time).

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The Pacific Highway has certainly become wider since I used to beetle up and down it in my little VW in the 60s.  But the narrow opening bridges are still there.

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An important side trip was made to Evans Head, near which my Great-Uncle George lost his life at sea when the SS “Cahors” ran aground on Evans Reef in 1885. The reef cannot be seen from the shore, but here are views looking in the general direction, plus views of the modern-day breakwater.  George’s story is told in detail at https://nancyvada.me/sailing/george-johnston-sailor-boy

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P1140398A shop spotted in Evans Head:

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On to another beautiful camp at Yamba, with a  small pool where I did morning laps, something I sorely miss in NZ…

P1140477 … and another long-time friend to meet and hug and swap reminiscences with. Dave has met most of my friends over the years so was far from feeling  left out.  Kay and Peter’s home is right on the river, oriented just right to catch the sunsets.

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P1140504P1140505Like Evans Head, Yamba has a huge breakwater where the enormous Clarence River enters the sea. Pilot’s Head furnished wonderful views.

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Here’s the vista looking the other way into the extensive estuary. Aboriginal art  gives some idea of the size.P1140440

P1140471A lasting memorial (with a little camellia tree) overlooks the breakwater. It was obviously somebody’s favourite spot.

P1140436The lighthouse….P1140446

And the former pilot’s house, now restored and the home of the local radio station.

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P1140453Two local inhabitants. The second one has lost part of his/her tail.

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P1140500The views from beside and on the Yamba breakwater. Decorating the rocks seems to have become the in-thing. P1140473

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The Yamba Historical Museum is well worth a visit, with lots of well-presented exhibits. We learnt some more about the lighthouses we visited the other day…….

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….. and Dave also chatted with one of the researchers who had written about the “Cahors”, and an exchange of information resulted. It has been some time since I first researched my Great Uncle George, and lots of new information has come to light via on-line old newspapers.

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Spooky Beach (yes that’s it’s name) just south of the breakwater. The rock pools were formed after quarrying to build a railway -there’s a piece of railway line sticking out in the bottom photo.

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Yamba Prawns are justly famous. Dinner one night was simply prawns, home-made seafood sauce, fresh bread rolls and some NZ Sauvignon Blanc.  We should be drinking Aussie wines and we try to do so but all too often they are priced well out of our budget. We’ve heard the Aussie market is flooded with NZ wines and the growers are angry, yet in NZ some growers are importing Aussie wine and bottling it under their label!!

Cyclone Debbie caught up with us the evening before we were to leave Yamba. We made a rain-sodden dash 250 km or so south to Port Macquarie without mishap and are now in a small camp high on the cliffs. My brother’s ashes-scattering ceremony is tomorrow.

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