Monday, 19 February 2018

The Home Leg

The final two days of our trip were just for getting home.

Mick always likes to see Mount Warning, which is the first place in Australia to see the sun each day.  It is just near Murwillumbah, where his Gran lived for many years.  He has climbed it several times and I have climbed it once.

There is a lot of road works happening on the Pacific Highway for an upgrade between Ballina and Woolgoolga, near Coffs Harbour.  Mick was asking me to take photos of all the cranes.  I don't know how many cranes we went past on our drive, but there were lots and lots of them......and they were BIG.

They were working on this when we came through in July.  At the time I took photos of the start of the bridge works on the Clarence River near Maclean. The above photo is from back then. Check out what it looks like now.....

More cranes.

They certainly have made some progress during the last seven months. 

See the men in the cherry picker basket.  It gives you an idea of the scale of this build.

I'm looking forward to seeing it all finished.

We had planned to have fish and chips for lunch by the river in Maclean, but with all the roadworks we missed the turn off.  It actually was a happy turn of events.

There is a little town called Ulmarra just north of Grafton.  It is an old river port on the Clarence River.  We had visited many years ago, but ever since we have just driven past.

There were lovely old weatherboard buildings in the main street.

We were looking for a cafe for lunch, but the only place to eat was at the pub.  You can see why.

How's this for a beer garden.  Rather pleasant it was.

Right on the bank of the river.  See that gum tree on the right of the photo......there was a bit of a racket coming from it.

It was full of bats!  Only this one tree.  They weren't in any others.  Odd.

We were kept entertained while we waited for our lunch by this fellow.  There were loads of water dragons.  They weren't the slightest bit shy.  I think they were hoping to receive a tit bit from the table.

Lunch was well worth the wait.  It was such a relaxing way to spend some time.  I can imagine spending a very nice afternoon here, but we did have to keep moving.

On the corner opposite the pub there was a book shop.  So many books.  

Here is a panorama view of the shop.  It was almost overwhelming, as most shelves were two deep.

However, when I requested a certain book, that isn't all that easy to obtain, the owner put his finger straight on it.  I have been looking for this book for several years.  Yes, I could have bought it on line and I have seen it in a book shop, but I normally just buy at op shops, church fetes, book fairs and the like.  This volume was an early copy in excellent condition and all his books were 50% of the marked price.  Sold!  I'll share soon.

Once we went through Grafton we headed inland again, towards Armidale.  We have only been on this road once before, several years ago.  It is narrow, rough and windy, but we took our time and it was rather pleasant.

We had no firm destination, but had read that the Ebor Hotel had camping out the back and a good feed.  We had expected an old pub, but it was more modern.  Apparently, the owners have only taken it over in the last few months and have had to do some major upgrading.  Well, what they are doing is working.  There was a good crowd there on a Friday night and the food was good.

There were three of us camped out the back.  It is set up just like a caravan park.  We are enjoying finding little gems like this to stay at.    Don't you just love the little cream vintage van.

We didn't realise at the time, but there is a walking path to Ebor Falls from the pub and it is only a very short distance.  We drove there the following morning.

Ebor Falls are rather well known and consist of two separate falls.  The lower falls are smaller.  It was hard to get photos with the sun and shadow.  It would be better in the afternoon.......maybe we will have to have another night here.

The upper falls are wider.  We were surprised to see how much water was in the river.

There is another waterfall closer to Armidale.  We had to travel in a little way off the main road, past these chimneys.  It must have once been a substantial house.

Wollomombi Falls are one of the highest in Australia at 260 metres.  It was rather small when we visited, but there were photo boards showing it in full flood when it really must be impressive and loud.

It is always nice getting into the northern tablelands.  The scenery is rather similar to home.  I loved the shape of this shearing shed.

What I did notice was that there were just a few trees starting to change colour.  I've noticed it here at home too.  A reminder that it won't be long until the hot weather will have passed.

We stopped in Uralla to stretch the legs when we saw another BIG thing go past.  This was the generator for a wind farm.  You don't realise how big they are when you see them on the top of a tower.

As we headed towards Tamworth and the Liverpool plains the landscape changed dramatically.  Any rain has not travelled west of the ranges. It was very dry and very hot.

Just on the outskirts of the village of Carroll, between Tamworth and Gunnedah, there was a small bushfire.  The traffic was stopped for a little while, as they extinguished the fire just beside the road.  Fortunately, they seemed to have things under control.

The obligatory windmill photo.

Once again, we had no real destination planned.  We ended up at the little town of Coolah.  They have the best little caravan park.  It is a caravan park and "Home Base".  There are quite a few relocatable homes owned by grey nomads.  It is a small home for them when they aren't on the road.  They seem to have a lovely community and it has brought extra people to a small country town. A great concept.

Dinner that night was the first real meal we had cooked since we left home.  Mick had made a very low tech pull out table for the tunnel boot of the van and it was time to test out the new Weber barbecue.  He was happy to report that both worked well....and the steak tasted great.

There is a book exchange in the camp kitchen.  I grabbed this book, after having seen a few Agatha Raisin series on TV, which are rather absurd.  It was a quick, easy read and I was able to return it to the book exchange before we left the following morning.

And one final photo of the Coolah valley, which had received a couple of storms and was looking lovely with a little green tinge.  

We were home by Sunday lunch time, which enabled us to get the van unpacked and start on the washing that always is a legacy of a trip away.

It really had been an enjoyable time away.  We packed in so much in a short time.  As I said earlier, not a chill out and do nothing holiday, but they will come another time.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

February Rainbow Scrap Challenge Blocks

The Rainbow Scrap Challenge colour and block pattern for February were announced just after we left on our holiday, so I had to wait patiently until we returned to get started.

Firstly, I had to hunt out my purple fabrics.  Like so many others, there was rather slim pickings. I'm  sure I have more purples and am guessing I will find them now that the blocks have been made.  Who'd have thought there were so many types of purple and they don't necessarily play well together.

I'm making the Squared Away Quilt designed by the Academic Quilter and this month's block is "Wishing Ring".

This is the fabrics I ended up selecting.  There were a couple that would have been fine, but I didn't want to cut into a large piece - it is a scrap challenge after all.  The colours are a pretty good representation.  However, the tiny floral on the right has quite a lot of mauve in it, which isn't showing, as well as some blue.  It is a Liberty tana lawn that I've had for years and there were some small squares already cut which were ideal.

When I went to start stitching my machine was playing up a bit.  I thought I'd better have a look under the plate.  Oops!  My Mum taught me to always keep my machine oiled and cleaned, not that newer machines need oiling.  I think I would get a slap on the wrist if she saw this.  A few minutes with the brush and it looked much better and worked just fine.

So, to my finished blocks.  The middle one looks more brown than purple in this photo, but just refer to the photo of the fabric length for the true colour.  When I first looked at them I discovered that I had done the same as last month, I had one of the corner blocks around the wrong way.  Easily fixed.  Here's hoping I get it right first time next month.

My first six blocks have come together well.  Now to wait patiently again for March's installment.

Family and Friends

The beauty of a trip north for us is that we can visit lots of family and friends.  We are fortunate in that we both have family up that way and coincidentally that is where we have some good friends.  All in all a good excuse to go for a drive.

We had the choice of a few roads to travel south and we selected the main coastal highway to start with.  The landscape is so different to what we had been through on the way up.  There were a couple of spots with lots of palms growing wild in the bush.

It wasn't long until we started to see sugar cane.

We turned off the main highway towards our night's destination - Kingaroy.  On the way we followed some lovely fertile valleys with lots of food production.  There were several mango orchards.

Look at that lovely green grass.  There were lots of cattle.  Most were Brahmans, but this herd were Droughtmasters.

As we neared Kingaroy, our destination for the night, the soil turned red and we started to see the crop they are famous for - peanuts.

Any time we pass through Kingaroy we have to call in to the Peanut Van.  Apparently they have been trading from this site since 1969.  We have a few different flavours of nuts to test out.

Our reason to visit Kingaroy was to catch up with some more long term friends.  Mick met Tony and Noreen in the mid 80s when Mick and Tony worked together in a mine in Western Australia, so they have known Mick longer than I have.  It is always lovely to get to see them.

The next day we continued on south, having morning tea at Crows Nest.  We've stopped here on several previous occasions, but had not noticed this memorial in the park before.  Obviously, we hadn't parked on that street before.

The plaque tells the interesting story to the origin of the town's name.

We had lunch with my aunt, uncle and cousin, who live just north of Toowoomba, which was really lovely.  My aunt and uncle live in the retirement village where Kris from Tagalong Teddies works at her grown up job.

It was a very social day, as we had dinner that night with Kris and her beloved Geek Boy, Fiona from BubzRugz and her Dave and Chookyblue's Fairy Girl, who we broke out of school for the evening. It was nice to finally meet Fiona face to face. I had met Kris on a previous visit. Such a pity the evening went so quickly, as there wasn't nearly enough time for chatting.

We were back on the road the next day, heading down the Toowoomba hill back to the coastal areas.

Our destination this time was Kingscliff, on the New South Wales far north coast, where we had dinner with Mick's aunt and uncle.  We were lucky enough to also catch up with one of his cousins and his wife, who we haven't seen for nearly twenty years.

The weather was much more beach like here than it had been further north.

We went for a walk and noticed a fenced off area with this sign.

I was able to zoom in and get a photo of the hen and chicks.  They are bush-stone curlews, which are an endangered species, presumably as they nest on the ground.  It was fun to see them doing fine in the middle of town.

And that was the end of all the socialising.  It really was lovely to see everyone, but it means that our holiday wasn't just chill out time.  That will come another time.  I must say, we did eat VERY well.

Next it was just two more days drive to get back home.  More soon.