Smithsdownunder
Our journeys around Australia

 

     
 Hawkesbury River After leaving Sydney we drove out through the historic towns of Windsor and Richmond to our next stop in the Dharug National Park near Wisemans Ferry. The area is quite picturesque with the Hawkesbury River and the surrounding hills and sandstone escarpmemts. It reminded us of the Dordogne area of France - but without the castles.

Our campsite was quite nice with the usual visitors - goannas, wombats, brush turkeys and in the morning we were woken by the kookaburras. The noise from the kookaburras kicked off all the other birds including bell birds which were all around us. We went on a bush walk near the camp site which took us through a small area of rain forest and across a couple of small creeks. We realised after a while that we had collected some visitors from the creeks - we both had leeches attached to us! The walk was only a couple of kilometres and wasn't very strenuous so we only wore our Tiva's so the leeches had an easy time finding bare flesh. It took some while to get rid of them.
There were some nice flowers there though.

(Anyone know what it is called?)

Margaret emailed to say the she thinks the flower is scaevola aemula and I recon she could be right - unless anyone knows better!!

Thanks Margaret.

Hawkesbury flower
Old Great North Road So for our next walk we stayed out of the rain forest and walked along a road that was built by convicts called the Old Great North Road. The part we walked on was cut into a rocky escarpment and was quite a feat of engineering. It runs for 264km between Sydney and the Hunter Valley and was completed in 1836 but was never really used. Read more about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_North_Road,_Australia
This is a place called Hanging Rock on the Great North Road. There were stories that it was used for hanging people but was more likely to be a shelter for the overseer's. Hanging Rock
Settlers Arms, St Albans We drove out to a settlement nearby called St Albans where we had coffee in an old pub called the Settlers Arms.
This old Fordson Tractor was beside the road near the pub. Fordson tractor
Portuguese Man-of-War

Since leaving Sydney the weather was getting steadily worse. An intense low had developed over Northern New South Wales and we were starting to feel the effects of it. As we started to break camp the heavens opened and we had to pack the tent up wet.

Our next camp spot was in the Myall Lakes National Park north of Newcastle. The rain stopped long enough to put up the tent in a nice camping location next to Submarine Beach. It was a popular camping spot for surfers and as it was Friday it quickly filled up for the weekend. The beach is a long stretch of white sand that stretches for several kilometers but the surf wasn't very good  and the beach was empty for most of the time. It didn't rain all the time and we did manage to get a swim. The rain and the sea were quite warm! There were quite a lot of Portuguese Man-of-War washed up on the beach so we had to be a bit careful in the water.

There were a family of dingos who lived in the bush close to the camp and they could usually be seen looking around for any scraps of food when the camp site was quiet. Dingo
Approaching Storm We drove out to a lookout that overlooks the lakes which covered a vast area. There were some menacing looking clouds approaching us while we were at the lookout and some flashes and rumbles of thunder so we didn't stop long.
The drive to the lookout took us along a track through the rain forest. Rainforest track
Hat Head beach Our next stop was in the Hat Head National Park. This very nice camp site was also near a long sandy beach.
The weather wasn't so kind to us here and although it was warm it was very humid and we had some torrential downpours. It provided us with plenty of water though! Our buckets were filling up in about 10-15 minutes. Heavy rain at Hat Head
Pandanis Palms There were signs that we were getting close to the tropics (apart from the rain), these are Pandanis Palms growing out of the rocks on the beach and a bit further north we started seeing sugar cane growing in the paddocks.
Because of the heavy rain we packed up a day early and headed north to camp at the Black Rock campground in the Bundjalung National Park. When we arrived there the rain was being blown horizontal and there was very little shelter from the wind. It looked like a nice camping location but as the forecast was worsening we decided to drive on to Evans Head and get a cabin for the night. The next day we drove on to Brisbane where we had arranged to stay with a friend. I think we made the right move because some of the areas we had passed through were cut off by the flood waters.