Monday 2nd April to Sunday 8th April
Buladelah to New Italy
Our time in Buladelah finally came to an end on Tuesday 3rd April after the madness of Easter had passed. We could now continue our journey north, via a few detours of course.
Instead of immediately taking the highway, we drove straight to the coast road through to Seal Rocks. We’d read that the walk up to the lighthouse was good and that you could often see seals on the rocks. Hence the name. A storm had been predicted but luckily it passed within minutes and it was boiling hot again. The lighthouse was situated on top of a steep climb which wasn’t great for us in our rainjackets! Unfortunately, we didn’t spot any seals either.
We drove onwards up through Booti Booti National Park with a lake one side and the sea on the other. The highlight of the park was the Green Cathedral. The land is consecrated and the pews are neatly placed within hundreds of palm trees. It would be a beautiful place for a wedding apart from the mosquitoes!
Our drive for the day was not over and we pressed on through Forster, Tuncurry and into Crowdy Bay National Park. The road in was gravel and corrugated for about 13km. It took about one hour just to get to the remote beach. We had a rest on the beach before tackling the super steep mountain of Middle Brother.
Whilst we could see the top of the mountain was shrouded in mist, we (mainly me) thought it would be a good idea to drive up. The road was fairly steep to begin with before becoming so steep we had to crawl in second gear. Then the fog came. We could barely see a metre in front of us on a single lane road and a cliff edge right next to us. Eventually it got too much so I attempted a three point turn in the pitch black fog. Out of nowhere a cyclist came steaming down the hill almost into the side of the van. What he was doing up there, I have no idea! We made our way back down the mountain eventually able to breathe again before sleeping at a free rest area.
Our next stop was Port Macquarie. We didn’t spend too much time there but the highlight was the koala hospital which looked after injured or diseased koalas. Early morning is the best time to see active koalas. They’re normally asleep for 20 hours a day.
We spent two nights in Hat Head National Park, one at the southern end of the park and one at the northern end near South West Rocks. South West Rocks was lovely and we finally managed to spend a full day at the beach.
Travelling further north, we had a beautiful breakfast at Nambucca Heads overlooking where the river meets the sea. After breakfast we decided to head inland on the Waterfall Way.
We originally wanted to travel as far west as the Dorrigo National Park but, having seen another good waterfall, we drove an extra 100-odd kilometres to see Ebor Falls. Luckily we managed to sleep for free just over the road. The waterfall was good but there was no way down to the base of the falls without abseiling or taking some crazy risks!
Dorrigo National Park is part of the Gondwana rainforests, a world heritage site. Gondwana was a supercontinent that existed hundreds of millions of years ago before it separated creating the continents we know today. The East Coast of Australia is home to a number of rainforests that are directly from that period. It was incredible to walk through rainforest that was millions of years old and past trees from Antarctica that are only found here. There were also many many waterfalls lining the road and within the rainforest itself. I’ll probably write a separate article on where to find the best and most accessible waterfalls.
We’ve managed so many free camps on this stretch of coast and we stayed for free again just outside Bellingen; a pretty little town. It’s described as the gem of the East Coast by Lonely Planet. I probably wouldn’t go as far as that but the beer was good and the high street nice.
The last day of the week was spent driving some big distances past Coffs Harbour (we stopped at a market and the Big Banana) so that we could get to Byron Bay before the Easter Holidays. On route, we stopped at a small town called Maclean which proudly shows off its Scottish heritage with tartan lampposts!
Stay tuned for next week’s update.