Before you say it, yes, I didn’t blog about day six. That’s because most of the day was spend driving from Sydney to Port Macquarie. Because you’re all terribly interested, we stopped off to see my brother in law and his family for the night in Wauchope, a quaint little town inland a bit from Port.
The morning of day six was spent watching my nephew play soccer, so I found an excuse to pop into town to fetch some supplies for the drive back to Brisbane. I like Wauchope, it’s old rail yards and country feeling. Check out a few snaps.Day six, while spent mostly driving back to Brisbane, was a day of quiet contemplation, and if there’s two things I like, it’s quietness, and contemplation.
Over the last week, we’d cruised the nighttime peace of the Lockyer Valley. I’d taken on the foggy lofts of the Toowoomba Range, and the loneliness of the Gore Highway before dawn. We galloped across the western corridor of New South Wales, and I suspect if we’d come a day earlier, it would have been a picture of dry farmlands, aching for the rain that accompanied us on our drive. We voyaged past towns of yore, sleepy villages and tired rural centers. Gently undulating mountains and now-green farmland greeted us for many hundreds of kilometers, then offset to the murderous roads of Sydney.
We’d basked in the joy of Sydney Harbour and enjoyed what people travel all over the world to experience. That crystal harbour, the vibrant city, the Opera House and the Bridge, all stunning snapshots of that magnificent city.
But now, as we pull out of ‘the doughnut’ at Port Macquarie, I look forward to the next six or so hundred kilometers to beautiful Brisbane.
You need to understand that pretty much from Coffs through to the Ballina is God’s country, and I don’t say that lightly. In the afternoon sun, this country is about as close to the heavens as one can get.
On the west, as the sun drizzles over the mountain you’ll see see cane farm nestled in the cradle of valleys. Rivers take the path of least resistance towards the sea, carving a curvy glass mirror through the lows of the countryside. Oyster leases peak out of the water and old couples, sipping coffee out of metallic cups look into it. Fortified bridges, like church spires guide the way from south to north, forcing even the most seasoned traveler to cover the break and marvel at the still rivers underneath. I’m reminded of my time doing disaster relief after ex-tropical cyclone Oswald, in a small farming valley of the Lockyer. Old farmers talked with reverence of the waters, which provided life, death, inspiration and fear, and a local to these parts knew only too well how these currently dulcet rivers turned to fists of rage during a ‘big wet’.
To the east, much of the same. Quiet towns, abandoned churches, picket fences and farmhouses held up by ivy. The sun casts long shadows and the cane seems to arch west, aching for the last warms of the winter sun as it ducks behind the western horizon.
We inch north and run parallel to the coast. From Nambucca, we see glimpses of the Pacific, and it continues to reveal itself little by little as we head up the coast. This freeway is built for speed, the country was formed for taking it easy, and part of me thinks it’s a shame that we see this part of the earth as an inconvenience to race past. , rather than enjoy its intricate beauty. Once we hit the Byron hinterland, it’s just over an hour to home, and just over an hour until life kicks back in to its usual gears.
I continue at 110, wishing I could spend a week exploring these Northern Rivers, but aching for my own shower, my own toilet and my own bed.
It’s been a fantastic week on many levels. I’ve learned a lot about myself, my family, this country. Like any travel, it opens doors, gives you this wunderlust, makes you want to leave, and makes you want to come home again.