Thursday 12 February
Pick up car from East Coast Rentals at Sydney Airport but surprisingly they do not know what happens to the cost when we take it back to Brisbane in a different time zone.
Find our way relatively easily from Sydney Airport to Lurine House in Katoomba and met by Peter, the owner. Our rooms have four poster beds and ours is on the ground floor – fantastic.
Set off for Echo point but it is so hot and road so undulating that I need to return to get car to take us the rest of the way.
Magnificent views of the three sisters, why didn’t we manage to see it from there last time?
John & Deirdre go off for a walk in the valley – so many steps they say, and we have a little drive around and a visit to Leura Cascades.
We all manage to return just before the heavens opened for, what a local described as a violent storm. The Blue Mountains do get storms regularly but this was exceptional.
Dinner tonight is at the Katoomba RSL club. Not our first choice but we would have got soaked walking the streets to select something different. Wow, the portion sizes though, we could have ordered two portions between 4 and still had some to leave.
Thunder and lightening continues for much of the night but doesn’t disturb sleep.
Friday 13 February
A misty start but a sumptuous breakfast – Lurline House living up to it’s reputation.
John & Deirdre go for a longer walk with us agreeing to meet them at Scenic World at 1pm whilst we go to the Toy and model Railway museum – no pictures allowed inside – which houses a vast collection of toys collected, and in some cases, used by the family who own the property.
Some interesting ones were the Barbies from all years since creation to current and some old German children’s tin toys from the NAZI era.
Fascinating model railway layouts in sheds outside but due to a recent hailstorm, the gardens were predominantly green, annuals having been shredded by the hail.
Back to Leura for a coffee and a walk around town before heading off to Scenic World. John & Deirdre arrive a bit early and we have some time for lunch fighting through the crowds of Orientals all following the group parties who then go off to the Katoomba RSL for a set lunch.
Off to Blackheath for a view of Govett’s leap lookout, great view of Bridal falls with added rainbow and then back to Evan’s look out by which time it was foggy and raining again.
Returned for another coffee, this time at Laura Gourmet, after a pass by Buttercup Barn where we stayed the previous year.
A few parrots grazing nearby were not too disturbed by our presence.
Dinner, at Peter’s suggestion, was at the Brasserie which was described as part of the Collingworth Hotel but is in fact a separate building.
Eating upstairs as downstairs occupied by the local Eukolale convention. They were all thoroughly enjoying themselves whilst we eat our Meat and Guinness pies. So much more meat the you would expect in Britain.
Saturday 14 February
A travel day but not without saying goodbye to the Three sisters.
Manage to negotiate the Sydney suburbs en route to our overnight tonight at Karuah Motor Inn.
Check in and head for two adjacent seaside towns, Tea Gardens and Hawks Bay.
Managed a walk on Hawks Nest Beach which is part of the Port Stephens – Great Lakes Marine Park area.
What a stupid name for the nearby town of – Tea Gardens!
Soft clean sandy beaches, wild sea with large breakers and at last the sun comes out.
Loads of shells in pristine condition on on the beach and a few groups of people enjoying the last of the day’s warmth.
Dinner, at recommendation of Owner- who has been to the IoM for the races and is planning another visit soon, is another RSL only this time it is within walking distance and the portions are much more manageable. Under $100 for a main course, desert and drink for four isn’t bad.
SKYPE Flic and Mel (Mel at Flic’s for the weekend) who are both well.
Sunday 15 February
Breakfast in front of the Motel, bought at Coles the previous evening, and we set off on the long drag north. Pacific Highway is quite deserted but the part to Port Macquarie now all dual carriageway.
Miss out a couple of places that are suggested by Karuah Motor Inn owner, Blueys Beach and Wallis Island. These will have to be visited another time maybe.
Coffee by the beach road in Port Macquarie but food would have taken too long and what they had was not really what we wanted.
Drive on instead to Kempsey for a Subway roll.
Bruce and Jeanette at Lily Pily just outside Belingen are most welcoming with tea/coffee and cakes and a chat.
Walk around the extensive grounds at Lily Pily whilst John & Deirdre venture further, then down to Belingen town to No.5 (where we went last year) for a good dinner and a watch the flying foxes at dusk.
Back to Lily Pily for an Internet catch up then a comfy bed! Let us hope we are midge bite free!
Possible meet up with former Coutts offshore colleague, Dave Green, when we are both in Tasmania on 3 March – possibly at Campbell Town.
How strange will that be, he is on a round Australia cruise.
Monday 16 February
After a downpour before our lovely breakfast on the verandah, we make our way to Urunga for the walk on the boardwalk out to the seafront.
Considerably more fish in the river this year as well as lots of little crabs with one claw scurrying into their hiding places beneath the muddy sand. A fabulous walk.
The increase in fish and crabs is due to the cycle of the moon and is attracting the attention of sharks further out to sea.
Back inland for lunch at the old Butter Factory where a more appropriate hat bought and then off through Belingen to the Dorrigo National Park.
The $2 entrance suggested fee is well worth it, especially if, like John & Deirdre, you do the Wonga walk to the falls.
We opt for the Lyrebird link path and then head off to Dorrigo itself ( nothing to get excited about here ) and the falls just past the town.
Once John & Deirdre are back, we return to Lily Pily for a rest pre dinner.
We had thought a pub visit would be good, special schnitzel night @ A$12.50 a head, but it was too crowded so it was back to No.5 for a different choice from the menu.
Clear night tonight so better for seeing the flying foxes and, later on, so many stars visible but you are in danger of getting bitten if you stay out too long.
Tuesday 17 February
Last breakfast at Lily Pily 😢 and after good byes, return to old Butter Factory for hats for John & Deirdre before heading off North on the A1.
In my opinion, Lily Pily must be one of the best B & Bs I have stayed at.
Lunch and a stop at Grafton and we reach Lennox Head at about 3:30. Lennox Head Beachfront apartments is not perhaps what we had envisaged but we did have a similar experience at Byron Bay last year.
It is not until you stay in a property right on the beach front do you realise how much damage the salt spray does to your fixtures and fittings.
Food for dinner purchased, I did the BBQ, a walk on the beach avoiding the jellyfish but watching the locals walking and playing cricket and most importantly, washing done.
Watch some CSI’s on TV before bed rather late tonight. Not a particularly good night sleep as waves crashing against the very nearby foreshore and poor double glazing.
Wednesday 18 February
Sunny and very hot morning so head off early after breakfast for Byron Bay Lighthouse.
No parrots today but instead, a pod of female Dolphins and their babies were cavorting underneath the lighthouse.
John & Deirdre set off on walk to be met at Captain Cook car park which they reach about 30 minutes later than anticipated due to the heat and photo stops.
Out of Byron Bay and head off for Ballina for the shoe shop we stopped at last year.
Sal buys two pairs, Deirdre one and we are then back for lunch in the apartment just in time before the rain starts.
A swim is called for, but not for non swimmer John and after we persuade the local wildlife to move, followed by a drive to Byron Bay for fish and chips at Fish Head, getting soaked on the way.
Lots of people around, mostly 20 somethings with their hippy friends.
Got to go back to Fish Heads if only for the girl with exceptionally tight and short hot pants who served us!!
Wander by the beach, still a few surfers but cloud cover not as good as last year so photos nowhere as nice as last year.
Catch up on e-mails back at apartment before an early night and a slightly better night’s sleep.
Thursday 19 February
An early start as we don’t want to miss our flight from Brisbane to Cairns, uncertain weather – Cyclone Martha is heading for land north of Brisbane but of course Cyclone’s are unpredictable and I am not 100% sure where car rental place is.
Travel through squally rain and gusting wind northwards was not too bad. Finding car rental place quite easily even though we end up on a toll road. East Coast rental assisted us in processing our toll payment on-line and we wait our plane.