Uralba to Kianga via Sydney

Uralba and Ballina

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Uralba

Jenni  and I stayed in a lovely cottage in the middle of a forest in a place called Uralba. You can read a little more about it in the previous blog. It is a very peaceful place.

The weather had been sunny and warm for weeks. It was going to change soon but for the first few days at the cottage the weather was dry. Warm, sunny days and balmy starlit nights.

Clear Starry Skies
Clear Starry Skies

Sitting out by the firepit one night we saw flashing lights flying through the air in the forest. Fireflies! I didn’t know they existed in Australia until that moment.

Fireflies in the Forest
Fireflies in the Forest

I ran into the cottage and grabbed my camera, set up the tripod in the pitch black and left the shutter open for 60 seconds. The focus was off but I captured a glimpse of them. The yellow light trails are the flashing tails of the fireflies.

Fireflies
Fireflies

The Australian firefly is a male beetle that only lives for a few weeks and it’s flashing is a mating signal that it only exhibits for about 2 weeks. We were very lucky to see the spectacle.

Daily walks

As mentioned in the blogs before we try and get out and some exercise every day, if only for 30 minutes. The road next to the one we are in is called Forest Road, we walked that one day. It was a dirt road, not very long maybe 3 kilometres long, but I ended up with 20 pictures on our walk. There were wild banana trees growing at the side of the road, and a wild Jenni.

Forest Road Wild Banana Trees (and Jenni)
Forest Road Wild Banana Trees (and Jenni)

This old, overgrown, abandoned cottage was hidden in the trees. I wonder what it’s story is, I bet it’s fascinating.

Abandoned Cabin in the forest
Abandoned Cabin in the forest

Thick snake like creepers encircled trees creating organic art.

Creepers Jeepers
Creepers Jeepers

We discovered, not surprisingly, the place was a Conservation Zone.

Conservation Zone
Conservation Zone

Eucalyptus trees, their bark shining in the sunlight, were all around us. Koalas live in Eucalyptus trees. We looked in every one we saw but there were no Koalas visible.

Eucalyptus trees shining in the sunlight
Eucalyptus trees shining in the sunlight

There were, however amazing banana flowers that I’ve never seen before.

Banana Flowers
Banana Flowers

But then that’s understandable, you don’t get banana’s growing wild in Ireland.

Banana Flowers
Banana Flowers

At the end of the road we found we were at the edge of the Uralba Nature Reserve. The path deeper into the Reserve was overgrown and obviously not used often so we didn’t go any farther.

Uralba Nature Reserve
Uralba Nature Reserve

This ancient wooden sheep crush, built from logs and rough cut timber, stood guarding the end of the path.

Ancient Sheep crush
Ancient Sheep crush

In case you don’t know a ‘crush’ is a device to get animals into a trailer that don’t want to go.

At the other end of Forest Road you will find Duck Creek and more fields full of Sugar Cane and Banana trees.

Uralba is a very fertile and interesting place.

Broadwater Beach Picnic Area

One time we went to Broadwater Beach Picnic Area to work for the day.

Broadwater Beach
Broadwater Beach

It was a beautiful sunny but blustery day. We had the place to ourselves, and worked on the picnic benches for the day. Jenni cooked lunch on our picnic stove and we ate it in the picnic area. It was one of those vagabonding moments as we like to call them.

Broadwater Picnic Working Spot
Broadwater Picnic Working Spot

On the way back to the cottage after we had worked for the day we stopped at the impressive sand dunes at Broadwater Beach. It was VERY windy and the dunes were spectacular.

Broadwater Beach Sand Dunes
Broadwater Beach Sand Dunes
Broadwater Beach Sand Dunes
Broadwater Beach Sand Dunes
Broadwater Beach Sand Dunes
Broadwater Beach Sand Dunes

In the distance the Broadwater Sugar Mill pushed out smoke, processing the sugar cane that grows all around.

Broadwater Mill
Broadwater Mill
Sugar Cane Plantation
Sugar Cane Plantation

Ballina

Uralba is just 15 minutes drive from the coastal town of Ballina. Amongst other things, Ballina is famous for a couple of features, the Big Prawn and the Lighthouse.

The Big Prawn

The Big Prawn, Ballina
The Big Prawn, Ballina

Originally unveiled in 1989, a 60 tonne concrete prawn, head only, sat on top of the West Ballina transit centre and restaurant. It was a big tourist attraction. But in 2009 it fell out of favour with the locals and had fallen into disrepair and was badly vandalised.  The local council approved it for demolition, idiots! Then Bunnings, an Australian DIY giant, bought the plot the Giant Prawn was on to build their new store. They gave it a $400,000 makeover and added a tail and mounted it at the entrance of their new store in 2013. The store is very busy. I had to wait 15 minutes to get a picture without a car in it coming or going into Bunnings.

The Ballina Lighthouse

The correctly named Richmond River Light was built in 1879. It looks like this on a normal day. Without Jenni hugging it of course.

The Richmond River Light, Ballina (and Jenni)
The Richmond River Light, Ballina (and Jenni)

The first day we visited it was sunny. The next time we visited it there was a thunderstorm. The light was amazing, I risked getting the camera soaked to take this picture, but the light was so good I couldn’t help it.  I sheltered under a tree with the camera under my raincoat then jumped out quickly to snap this one shot of the lighthoue against the storm clouds.

The Richmond River Light in a thunderstorm
The Richmond River Light in a thunderstorm

Photographers love storm clouds, there’s another picture of them later in this blog taken in Sydney.

The Breakwater at Ballina
The Breakwater at Ballina

Someone has been Crochet Bombing the concrete blocks along the breakwater.

Crochet covered hoops
Crochet covered hoops

A guerrilla poet adorned this one with some thoughtful prose.

Blayne and Kasey
Blayne and Kasey

Ballina sits at the mouth of the Richmond River and the Burn’s Point Ferry takes the good folk of Ballina across it between West Ballina and South Ballina for just $4 a trip.

Burns Point Ferry
Burns Point Ferry

As we have travelled around we have seen a wide variety of novelty post boxes. I read there’s a Dalek one somewhere. I tracked it down to a farm outside Tenterfield but I subsequently read it was sold and relocated in 2015 and its location is currently unknown. However, near the place we were staying there was this interesting beast of a post box.

Novelty Post Box
Novelty Post Box

Someone put a lot of work into this.

Ballina has a craft brewery, Seven Mile Brewing.

7 Mile Brewery
7 Mile Brewery

I had a very acceptable Pale Ale but it wasn’t the best Pale Ale I’d try in this blog. Spoiler, it’s from the Black Duck Brewery.

Flat Rock

On one of our coastal walks one day we walked along the beach and found Flat Rock.

Flat Rock
Flat Rock

A lot of seagulls had found the place first.

Flat Rock's original residents
Flat Rock’s original residents

The rock pools contained a multitude of fishes and other creatures. One of those unknown creatures leaves the these intricate patterns in the sand in the pools. More alien writing I presumed trying to communicate with the land people.

Alien writing in the sand
Alien writing in the sand

The wildlife was all around. This bird, don’t know what sort of bird it is, sat picturesquely on a rock watching the weird pink creatures learning how to stay standing up on planks in the water.

Interested and Interesting Bird
Interested and Interesting Bird

Whilst some people were learning how to surf others were surfing all around.

Surf Lessons
Surf Lessons

I took some, what I thought were atmospheric studies of them. By atmospheric I mean in black and white.

Lone surfer
Lone surfer
Searching for surf
Searching for surf
Catching the waves
Catching the waves
Homeward bound
Homeward Bound

 

Belinda, who ran the AirBnB, said they hadn’t had any rain in the area for nearly 5 months and her water tanks were low. However rain was due this coming weekend and Belinda was hoping the rain would be enough to fill up the tanks a bit. As it turned out the rain was torrential and lasted 5 or 6 days.

The first rain in Uralba in 5 months
The first rain in Uralba in 5 months

Belinda’s water tanks were filled to overflowing by the end of the weekend. It was during this storm I got the Lighthouse picture displayed earlier. The rain lasted nearly a week.

North Haven

We left Uralba during the thunderstorm and drove towards Sydney in the rain.

We had a pit stop for refreshments in Tynedale at the Plantation Organic Bakery.

Plantation Organic Bakery
Plantation Organic Bakery

Next door to the bakery was this white gleaming motel with some very ornate columns.

The impressive Plantation Motel
The impressive Plantation Motel

We were scheduled to stop, after 4½ hours driving, in North Haven on the coast just south of Port Macquarie. We had stayed in Port Macquarie on the way north so we planned to stay in another location on the way back south. North Haven was chosen using the usual method of moving Google Maps up and down until you see somewhere else that looks pretty interesting. North Haven looked pretty interesting on the maps and in real life, it is actually very interesting.

North Brother Mountain, Laurieton
North Brother Mountain, Laurieton

North Haven is a small, relatively untouched village, on the coast south of Port Macquarie. Although the pictures feature a sunny outlook, the rain only stopped and the sun only came out for the 2 hours we took a walk this day. Before, after and all the rest of the time it was thunderstorms and lightning.

We were staying in an apartment with a delightful outlook over a river called Stingray Creek. If I ever start a rock band that’s going to be it’s name. It must be a very fertile creek judging by the oyster farms, plethora of bird life, fishing boats and jumping fish we saw. In fact it was an idyllic location.

We walked from the apartment along the riverbank towards the beach, stopping every so often to check in with work. We were in the middle of a large project at the time.

Work Break during the walk
Work Break during the walk

You can see from the pictures we brought our laptops and wifi hotspots with us so we could attend to our duties if we needed to.

A part of the river has been turned into a swimming pool for the locals.

North Haven River Baths
North Haven River Baths

The rocks, just above the waterline on the riverbank, were covered in what looked like oyster shells.

 

I presume they were escapees from the numerous oyster farms upriver.

The local authorities had installed this pathway, it was very popular with walkers and cyclists.

Work break on the cyclepath
Work break on the cycle path

The path took us past some really pretty scenes.

Fishing boats on the river
Fishing boats on the river
The riverbank parklands
The riverbank park lands

At the end of this walkway is the mouth of the river and huge breakwater. This is where we stopped to get a selfie.

North Haven
North Haven

And another

North Haven and the mountain
North Haven and the North Brother mountain

You can see the North Brother mountain in the background.

Weather Forecasting sign
Weather Forecasting sign

According to this that means the weather is fine.

Along the breakwater Jim Anderson’s permanent message bestows bad luck on anyone fishing who doesn’t buy bait from him.

Anderson's Rock
Anderson’s Rock

On the way back we stopped for a late lunch at the Oasis Restaurant and Bar. As well as some delicious chilli prawns and pasta I had a Pale Ale brewed by the nearby Black Duck craft brewery in Port Macquarie. If you ever get a chance to try it, do. It was damned good, one of the best I have tried.

I have already mentioned the huge variety and quantity of wildlife we see on all of our walks. While we walked by the the apartment two native birds followed us and eventually stopped messing about long enough for me to grab a quick snapshot.

Cockatoo
Cockatoo
Rozella
Rozella having lunch

Kookaburras

During our time in the cottage in Uralba we were serenaded every day at dawn and dusk by a merriment of Kookaburras. The delightful cacophony only lasted a few seconds. Kookaburras have a very distinctive call, like a thousand people raucously laughing in synchronised disharmony.

I have a recording here.

We drove 380 kilometres from Uralba to North Haven and the Kookaburras seemed to have followed us. Right outside the apartment window was a tree. The first night we were treated to another night time chorus coming from the tree. As the light dimmed I grabbed my camera, wound the ISO sensitivity up as far as it would go and tried to focus in the dark to get a picture of the birds.

Kookaburras singing goodnight
Kookaburras singing goodnight

From the noise they made I estimated there would be at least 50 of them.

There were 4.

They sure can make a lot of noise for little birds.

At night the river comes alive. Jenni and I sat on a bench on the river bank for a while that evening and watched the scene unfolding, it was more interesting than much of what is on TV. Dozens of Pelicans, looking like ghosts in the dark,  floated up and down the river grabbing fish from just below the surface.

Pelicans Night Fishing
Pelicans Night Fishing

Two fisherman in a small boat fished under the bridge for a while.

Night Fishing under the bridge
Night Fishing under the bridge

By the looks of what we could see they were very successful that night.

All too soon it was time to retire to bed. We’re driving to Sydney the next day, another 4½ hour drive. The little glimpse of North Haven we witnessed made us decide we needed to return, and next time stay a while. It is one of those magical places.

Sydney

It was Friday morning. The Kookaburras gave us our customary wake up call before dawn so we were up and away early. We had a client meeting in Sydney that afternoon and we wanted to beat the traffic.

It was still raining heavily on and off during the drive but we made it to the client without incident. The presentation went well and at 5pm we clocked off for the weekend.

We had planned to have dinner with friends Carol and Greg and Jenni’s brother Mark and partner Kathy. We were staying with Carol and Greg, who have a stunning view of the Sydney skyline from their top floor balcony. The storm clouds that had hung around all day were receding behind the lit up skyline. It looked like too good a picture to miss.

Sydney after the storm
Sydney skyline after the storm
Sydney after the storm
Sydney skyline after the storm

We had dinner at the Merton Hotel in Sydney. They had perfect Guinness and a range of delicious dishes not usual for a pub, all freshly prepared in house. I had Jamaican Jerk Chicken and Jenni had Fish Curry. Both were amazing.

I’ve covered the Merton Hotel before in this blog. It is well worth a visit.

Sydney was a pit stop, one night only. Our last destination on this leg was Kianga near Narooma which I have covered before in this blog.

In that blog we vowed to return and we did, we’re here. I am writing this part of the blog in our Airbnb in Kianga. I’m looking out of the window at the ocean. Just off shore I can see Montague Island. There are many pods of dolphins leaping out of the water and I can see the migrating whales slowly making their way back down to the Antarctic.

Montague Island
Montague Island

This will be where I pick up our Vagabonding adventure from next blog.

Till then, good luck and have fun, see you next time.

5 Comments

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s