|An entirely new meaning to|
If this description appeals to you, Tamborine Mountain National Park (just north of NSW, in Queensland) will easily entice you out of your car and into a world of eucalyptus and cycad trees stretched along an abundance of easy walks and magnificent views. Don't miss the Mount Tamborine Skywalk where, if you are lucky, you might even find yourself face to face with the elusive platypus.
|Cape Byron Lighthouse|
It wasn't remotely possible for me to visit NSW without checking out some of my ancestral homes which explains how we got to Maclean. Dubbed 'the Scottish Town in Australia', here you will discover a nod to its history in the Gaelic found on many of the Town's street signs and tartan-clad streetlamp posts. While this is delightful, we were charmed the most by the small town warmth of its residents. As we had made a rule about driving at night, and our accommodations was outside of the town proper, we were unsure how we would find our evening meal. Have no fear: one call to the local Returned and Enlisted Services League (RSL) and a van arrived, not only to deliver us to the club but also to take us home whenever it pleased us. When we offered to pay for our fare, we were first met with surprise, after which we were solemnly advised that this town not only takes care of its own, but of its visitors as well. Yet again, we found our offer of monetary compensation rejected.
Our next stop was Coff's Harbour. While one might consider us to be a wee bit biased (my great grandparents were community founders; you can learn more about it here https://hpdsinc.blogspot.ca/2016/07/in-footsteps-of-my-ancestors.html) I have to say, we were duly impressed. In fact, we are still wondering whatever possessed my great grandparents to pull up stakes and move to the Canadian prairies. As, that's a question we will never have an answer to, let's get back on track. Coff's is unique in the fact that nowhere else in Australia doe the sub-alpine, sub-tropical and sub-marine ecosystems co-exist in one place. Nearby Dorrigo National Park is World Heritage listed and Coff's stunning beaches introduce one to myriad marine opportunities. Originally inhabited by the Gumbaynggirr Aboriginals, the area's fertile soils, temperate climate, many rivers and rich marine life provides a wealth of resources including timber, gold and tin mining, ship building, banana plantations and dairy farms.
|Bacon & Poached Eggs|
Funny story. . . by this time we are on the last leg of our one month tour of Australia and still we had not discovered how to order breakfast. By now we were well versed in ordering Long Black and Flat White coffees, undoubtedly some of the best coffee we have had in our travels. We are still trying to comprehend just how big a pig grows in Australia; from the size of the bacon strips, they have to be whoppers but you know what they say: everything is bigger in Australia. It was the eggs that were throwing us off. Our requests for 'over easy' or 'sunny side up' were not exactly ignored but, when our breakfast arrived, it would not be what one might have expected. It was here, in Bellingen, a mere few days before leaving the continent for home, that we discovered that eggs come in 'soft', 'medium' or 'hard'. . . and they are ALL poached! I admit, we had quite a chuckle over the perfectly poached eggs we received that morning for breakfast as they were faintly reminiscent of a part of the male anatomy that men are extremely protective of. . . if get my drift.
|Itsy Bitsy Spider Went Up the Water Spout|
|See how high that door knob is!|
|Swansea War Memorial|
A word about Australia's various clubs. It would seem that most clubs are open to the general public for a meal. In Lorne, it was suggested that there was an excellent chef at the local lawn bowling club. We weren't disappointed. In Maclean, it was a van from the local RSL that delivered us to the door of its restaurant. I would suggest they are similar to Canadian Legions but significantly more popular. The two we were in were very large and appeared to cover everything including fine dining, family dining, pub style and gambling. Both had a considerable area for display of its local war history and respect for its veterans; in fact, at the 2nd one, at 6pm sharp, we were asked to stand for a minute of silence. The daughter of a veteran myself, it warmed my heart.
|City viewshed from under the bridge|
And just in case we weren't completely bedazzled by her City (we were), as the final piece de resistance, she invited us to tag along on a family birthday dinner. While we gorged on wine and pizza (one of the best meals we had on our month-long vacation) we stoically accepted the jibes given all in fun and hopefully gave a few back of our own. Sadly, we were at a disadvantage, not being fully conversant in Australian slang. . . but one thing we do know. . . if you are ever called a bogan, it's likely not a compliment!
So, now we know why everybody rants and raves about Australia. I would certainly go back but next time, I would do it quite differently. Rather than hopping all over the place, I think I would plant myself in a nice room somewhere that could be used as a base, and make trips from there. Airfare is inexpensive and the continent is very well connected. And I think I would rather go for two months. . . at least. Until next time. . .