We eventually reached the Hunter Valley tourist route after stopping off at one of the tourist information spots (also a café) we decided to head off in the direction of Lindeman’s, that being one of the most famous, though we did pass several others that I know, if only from the shelves. The area is quite large and is covered with rolling vineyards as well as fruit orchards.
The Hunter valley wine growing started back in the late 1800’s but didn’t work out and fell away, it wasn’t until the 1960’s that it took off and really caught on in the 1980’s when the New World wines first hit the European market and then began to gain respect as wines to drink and lay down. They even showed some of the more stick-in-the mud winemakers of the Old World in particular France, that there was a “better” way of making wines. Gud on ya fellas!
We then headed towards Newcastle, I have visited Newcastle on several occasions, the first was 40 years ago when it was a dirty industrial port, though you could have a good night out and eat lobster and oysters very cheaply. I have since visited it on two occasions and each time since it has been getting better and better (even their football team). This time like the last I thought we would stop off at Stockton on the other side of the Hunter River, this is a small sleepy suburb mainly used as a holiday destination. Alas the complex had no vacancies, but did point us in the direction of a Motel, this we took and got a place for the night (while traveling we never had a bad one, but some are of course better than others, this was a one that was in the just ok bracket). There were also no half decent places to eat so we popped back to the co-op and got pies and a tin of beans, we heated these in the microwave and washed it down with a glass of pink.
We decided to leave the good folks of Ballalina to their (Giant?) Ferris wheel, swings, round-a-bouts, raft building and other revelries and head back to the car. It had been a very pleasant interlude amongst the folks of the Richmond River Bank.
We headed into Coffs harbour and found a nice Motel for the night, it was getting onto dusk and most places seemed to be shutting up. We went shopping at a massive shopping complex, but the only thing open was the Co-op, we bought a Hot cooked stuffed chicken, some salad and bread, then went to the Motel and ate it with the remains of a pink that had been rattling around in the car.
We ordered another drink this time Linda a wine, we looked at the various facilities that the club had to offer, it would seem that its main income came not from the bowling, but from the restaurant, the bottle shop and the gambling machines. We decided to head back to the motel, walking along the water front, the air filled with hunting bats, that skimmed just above our heads, passing a pair of fishing pelicans and then the air was filled with a cacophony of noise as flocks of parakeets sought out the best roosting places for the night, in unison they would settle in a tree only a few seconds later to rise as a flock screeching in the air to look for another tree.
We arrived back at the motel, well fed and weary, but not too weary for our book at bed time, a couple of series (repeats) of the “Big Bang Theory”).
Linda found a spider on the floor in the passenger side (quite a small one in reality though she will enlarge it no doubt), she screamed and seemed to go into a fit, I being the cavalier, got the map, that she was following the route on (notice I said follow, Linda does not look ahead), I flicked it out of the car, but as she hadn’t seen where it had landed she didn’t believe me, boy was that a terrible drive first down to the café, she was in two mind whether to get back into the car, until I pointed out she could stay here if she wished but I was not. Because of her looking about for the spider and brushing her clothes, she was unable to concentrate on her part of the driving, navigation, consequently we missed a turning and took a 100km detour, boy was I mad. All the time under my breath I muttered “never again-never again”. So we got back onto the Bruce Highway (the Pacific Highway changes its name after it leaves Brisbane) and from there onto Noosa