The Storks of Böbs

The Storks of Böbs
A Very Fine Pair

Around the World (Again) Up the East Coast from Sydney


Hunter Valley to Newcastle and beyond!

Thursday
We set off from Sydney at 10:00 sharp and headed straight (ish) North towards the Hunter valley wine growing area. Once out of the Sydney traffic and suburbs it was a nice scenic drive, Linda keeping her eyes peeled for koalas and kangaroo’s (rolling eyes smiley).

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!



 A bit expensive for a pudding wine!
The Lindeman's very own Billabong (for fire fighting purposes)
 
We stopped off at Lindeman’s, it like all of the vineyards have very fancy front of house sales outlets many with restaurants attached. Very clean and very chic!

Leaving Lindeman’s behind us, we headed for the Hunter Valley Rose Garden and wine village, we visited the village, but didn’t go into the gardens. We thought it a bit too expensive for looking at flowers that we had seen for nothing in Sydney and Wellington. But they seemed to be getting ready for Christmas and Linda couldn't resist a picture at the Chocolate Factory!



 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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.



 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Saturday
Next morning we headed towards the Pacific Highway and headed North, we took a scenic route around the Great Lakes, now before you get all excited and shout “wrong Continent” these are a different set of Great Lakes and to the USA/Canadian citizens amongst you all don’t really warrant the “Great”, they are in fact not Great but shall we say Big! But none the less they are nice and they even named a one after me so maybe that is the reason to call the GREAT.
We returned to the Pacific Highway and headed through the shrub and farmlands (still no koala’s or Kangaroo’s Linda) heading for Coff’s Harbour, I visited here many years ago (well 20 is many in my books).
We stopped off for a spot of lunch at Ballalina and to have a look around the town. We discovered the town sits at the mouth of the Richmond River, so that was a few photo’s worth. Linda at the Richmond Rooms and they had even named an old barge after her!


Linda needed the loo and this was attached to the Information Centre (every Town has a one and it’s a great place to get free maps of the area and glean a bit of information (who would ever believe it) about the area, by chatting to the lady behind the info counter I discovered that today was the town’s big day, it was their annual prawn festival, and did I hear a big WOW? We decided to give it a go and walked along the river (plenty of swimming, boating and angling going on) until we arrived at the centre of festivities. I think the whole town was there and they certainly were enjoying themselves (Aussie, food and beer mean enjoyment).








If you were so inclined (I was) there was also the spectacle of grown men (I did see any women doing it) peeling a basin full of giant prawns and stuffing them down their throats, with no enjoyment (that I could see,) I noticed on the leader board that some had managed in less than 2minutes. I suppose that is one way to get a free meal. Though not very satisfying!

We wandered a bit and then had a bite to eat; I had a very refreshing prawn lime salad, nice and tasty with a bite of chilli, I took my time and savoured every last bite. I cannot for the life of me remember what Linda had, though she wouldn’t have missed out on a chance to eat one of the wonderful Prawn dishes on offer.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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.
The chicken was very large and it actually done another 2 meals in sandwiches, good value for under A$10;-.

Next morning it was off up the Pacific Highway once again, heading for Brisbane and beyond, crossing the State boundary at Tweed Heads was quite painless, just like crossing the Tweed back home, I wonder if that will change?
We passed right through the centre of Brisbane (I had been twice before and would be bringing Linda back here for her to catch her flight to Bangkok in a weeks’ time. We carried on until it was getting time to start looking for a motel for the night, we turned off the Highway at Caboolture and headed towards  Bribie Island, this looked interesting until we got closer, crossing the bridge across the Pumicestone Channel, to discover it is a an Island wildlife reserve with a scattering of retirement place villages! Not just yet thank you very much.

It was Sunday and all of the places seemed shut, well the information place was, but they had the addresses of a couple of motels on the Island, we plumped for one in Bongaree this turned out to be a very nice one. We got settled in, Linda had asked the owners about what was on offer in the way of food, she was informed that there was a few restaurants and take-away about 1km along the waterfront, she said that the Bowling club done quite reasonable meals, so as it was a very pleasant evening, we walked along the beach until we arrived at the Bowling club. We got signed in as temporary members, I know this procedure and it is used all over the world to get normal paying customers into clubs. Duly signed in we now being fully paid up members (not having paid a cent) we went up to the restaurant, a nice waitress came along and asked what we would like to drink, Linda said a Gin and Tonic and I asked for a pint, she said the wine is no problem but she would see if they still had pint glasses (we had a laugh about this but she did ask, but they didn’t). We looked at the menu, all looked very nice, but the chef had a black board with various specials on, I fancied a bit of red meat (well we guys need it now and again) so ordered a steak rare with a pepper sauce, Linda settled for the fish latter. We were not disappointed, my steak was perfect, it was actually rare (in many cases cooks do not believe that you will eat a rare steak and cook it medium rare).


Linda’s fish platter consisted of clams on the half shell, shell on prawns, prawn cutlets, fish filets, calamari and thick chips, a small mixed side salad completed the meal, it doesn’t get better than this.

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”).

Next morning was market day, just a little past the Bowling club, it seemed to be run by the Vietnam Veterans Club, they still have some left over from that terrible war. The market consisted of the normal mixed bag of junk (badly made Chinese “Original Aboriginal artifacts”), home made stuff, knitwear, jams, sauces, chocolate, cakes and also locally produced vegetables, not to forget the Veterans BBQ selling their bacon, egg and sausage breakfast rolls.

We set off in the direction of our most Northerly destination, Noosa. I have been in this “neck of the wood” (as the old American cowboy films would say) before and knew a nice place that I thought would interest Linda , the Glasshouse Mountains national park. We headed up the Pacific Highway until we hit a turn off that said Glasshouse Mountain Scenic Route, this took us up into the start of the great dividing range and into the National Park, we reached a place that I had visited twice before, it is ten years since the last time and they have done a lot of work to make it very tourist friendly, with well laid a well laid out picnic park complete with electric BBQs (you find these wonderful  installations at most resting places and watering holes along the routes in Australia, it stops the lighting of fires, they are completely free and all they ask is “leave them as you would wish to find them” and they do!

 


We too the photographs ( I believe I have a video of them somewhere in the cellar back home) of the very interesting mountain structures, that have been formed by volcanic eruptions, the outer rocks have been weathered away leaving just the hard larva plugs standing testimony to the violent geophysical past.
We decided to go for a coffee at a small café that we had passed on the way up, this is when it happened!!!


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

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