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Leave Brisbane early to spend a bit of time at places along the way. Most days it is a 400km drive over a full day. Share driving.
Brisbane is fast becoming a pleasant city with a lovely ambience along the city waterfront. Take the city cat up the Brisbane River. Go to the Southbank area in town which is beside the Museum. It is about 1 1/2>2 hours drive south to the Gold Coast from town and along the same highway before the ocean is the Dreamworld, Movie World and Waterworld complexes. Beaches north 1 1/2 hrs> 2hrs are Caloundra, Maroochydore, Mooloolaba and further on Noosa. Nice drives into the hinterland from there also around the Glasshouse Mountains.
Driving via Warwick to this area is about a two hour or so drive. Stanthorpe is one of the coldest places in Queensland especially in winter when at times it has snow. The land elevates as you drive towards it. A small town with a few old hotels and sitting on Port Quot Creek which has a small park, this is well known wine country. It is possible to stay here over the weekend and go on wine tours around the various estates. Brass Monkey Season ( winter of course) brings people to enjoy the entertainment around the area. Stone fruit grown here includes apples, peaches etc as well as berries. Girraween National Park on the way to Tenterfield has nice walking tracks and is pretty with wildflowers in spring.
See my review also
Stanthorpe... A place of four seasons
This historic town in New South Wales has some nice architecture. See the School of Arts where Sir Henry Parkes made a speech in 1889 which led to the Federation of the Colonies in 1901 "Birthplace of our Nation". The Historic Railway Museum C 1886 closed in 1989 and now houses railway items including restored vans and rail motors.
The Post Office C1881and when the son of the foreman supposedly stood on his head on the top of the tower when the building was finished. The Tenterfield Saddler shop which was where Peter Allen the late entertainer's great grandfather was the saddler. It is 130 years old and shows this in the conditions inside.
This town can be very cold in winter. It is known for the Celtic Festival where you could watch the parade and bands, games or yard dog trials or listen to the poets at the poet's breakfast. There are market stalls, fun runs and haggis dinners. Not far from town people fossick for sapphires, emeralds, topaz among other stones and minerals.
467km from Brisbane.
This pretty town especially in Autumn when the foliage is splendid, has a population of 26,000 with 53 nationalities. First settled in 1830, this is where the oldest regional university in Australia is situated, the University of New England. This town has more distinct seasons than most areas on the continent.
Another route from here would be "Waterfall Way"" Highway 78, which winds it's way to just north of Urunga on the coast. This road has waterfalls and the picturesque Dorrigo National Park. Another time perhaps.
This small town 20 minutes from Armidale is known for the bushranger Thunderbolt who rode around the area in the 1860's robbing hotels and stores and stealing horses. There is a statue of him atop of his horse in the main street. It was drizzling rain by the time we arrived here and to see this man water dripping from him and his horse seemed like the right come-uppence! The town puts on the Thunderbolt Country Fair and Talent Quest where there are horse and carriage rides, perhaps a mechanical bull ride, fireworks, a parade, the talent quest inluding bands in competition. There is also a museum with Thunderbolt collection.
"Stand and deliver or I'll blow your bloomin head off!"
600km from Brisbane
This town with a population of 36,000 swells in January when 50,000 visitors come to Australia's Country Music Capital to enjoy the 800 artists who perform 2500 acts at about 120 different venues. This is the Tamworth Country Music Festival. We did not stay long in the town but called into the Big Guitar where there were souvenirs.
440 km to Sydney
This is a booming wheat and cattle district.
This small town of 9,000 in the heart of the black soil of the Namoi Valley, is self proclaimed koala capital of the world! We called into the Information centre where we found a female koala up in a gum tree who had been residing there for three years alone! The tree was standing alone and in the park where two busy roads met! She was a big and healthy girl!
This town of 38,000 on the Macquarie River is in a wheat and wool producing area. The main street of town is pretty with nice trees either side of the street. The Old Dubbo Gaol C 1871 is also there and is now a museum of the penal system in bygone days. It is possible to go on the heritage trail to see old historic pubs, turn of the century cottages, sandstone churches and the courthouse.
We had booked into the Western Plains Zoo which is 2 km out of town and on 300 hectares. We were to be taken by a zooligist to feed the giraffes at 4pm but we just made it into the site with little time to throw our luggage into our upmarket safari tent.
We spent some time going around the zoo and then joined others for a three course dinner. Our tent was near the "Savannah" where african animals were able to roam freely at night...so help me if I heard a lion roar I would have been out of there then and there. The night was silent...perhaps the animals are dead tired from all the visitors! We enjoyed breakfast and drove around the zoo for a few hours before we had to leave for the Hunter Valley. We really enjoyed this stop-over.
This is a small perhaps two street town on the highway 84 heading towards the Hunter Valley. It's about 92km from Dubbo. What I recall most is the old large corner hotel where we stopped for lunch in the dining room. We only asked for chicken schnitzel and salad but when it arrived I think it was the nicest we tasted and had the juicy iceberg lettuse and carnation milk mayonnaise. Oh I think there was a very large "Dunney" being built across the road. For those who are not in the know this was the good old Aussie outdoor toilet in times goneby!
This valley is covered in well known and not so well known wineries. This is a weekend jaunt for Sydneysiders. We arrived at the Hunter Country Lodge for the night.This is an unusual place to stay and we had a twin room with ensuite and sat on the verandah outside our room having a wine and nibblies while the kangaroos came up on the expansive lawn in front of us. The restaurant on site (Shakey Tables) was run by female chefs and the three course dinner was supberb as was the whole atmosphere. We also enjoyed breakfast there in the morning. We went out in the afternoon and visited McGuinan's vineyard amongst others. There are also some arts and crafts shops and across the road is a very nice botanical garden.
This was a very pleasant area especially for we girls and we even bought the menfolk a bottle of 50 year old port to take home!
168km north of Sydney and only 5km north east of Maitland.
This small riverside town is listed with the National Trust and was once an important river port with much of the Hunter Valley produce passing through here and onwards to Newcastle and Sydney.
Today it is all about tourism with it's arts, crafts, antique and curio shops in the small historic buildings along the street. Try a walking tour of the lovely old buildings including the Arnott Bakehouse where they make sourdough bread.
This was an interesting afternoon where we browsed through the shops and found a little old restaurant where we could sit on the old verandah up over the streetscape and among the rooves while we imagined the ladies in a bygone era swishing their long skirts through the mud along the road below!
We had to hightail it from Morpeth across through Raymond Terrace and out to Port Stephens where we found a motel and then went down to the waterfront and decided that we just must have lobster mornay! We found an old building on the waterfront and upstairs a basic restaurant that overlooked the water and boats below. Here we really enjoyed the large lobster mornay so much so that my friend took a photo of the meal!
Port Stephens is about 23 km out on Nelson Bay. This is mainly a fishing area and we really didn't have enough time to see the whole area.
This is really two towns either side of Wallis Lake along the coast north of Port Stepehens. We crossed over to Tuncurry and just over the bridge we stopped and had lunch of fish and chips on the waterfront . The sea gulls loved us more than we loved the fish.
On the way to the "Port" as it is fondly called, we took the coast road around Kendall area and drove out through Laurieton, North haven, Bonney Hills and Lake Cathie.
Port Macquarie is renown for it's beaches. I think 9 in all but with only 3 having surf clubs. This is a nice place to stay for a beachside holiday. We only stopped here and looked around the beaches, had a coffee and left for South West Rocks.
Incidentally, since this trip I have been back through North Haven and the Bowls Club there has reasonable priced buffet meals at lunch time.
See my review of Port Macquarie....Beaches, beaches, beaches
32 km out and back from Kempsey.
This is sure a nice holiday spot sitting out on Smokey Cape which has a lovely lighthouse of the same name and a nice B & B . Worth a visit but steep walking. Akaroon National Park has walking tracks and the Trial Bay Gaol is located there. This is a museum now and once was a penal settlement which closed only to reopen to house German people during WW1. The shopping area is not very big but the caravan park was full and campers abounded. I really like this little beachside town.
See my review...although raining...This is ONE place I shouldn't tell you about
17. Taylor's Arm
We decided to drive into Taylor's Arm. The only reason we did this as it is supposed to be the original "Pub with No Beer" a well known Aussie icon, poem, song.
The road in was pretty as Jacaranda trees were in full flower(Oct) on the dairy farms. We were sadly disappointed in the sight of the hotel out on it's own that probably had been changed over the years. Anyway we ventured in and had a lemon lime and bitters ( bit of a let down as we were driving) and a nice talk with the friendly publican. This may not be for all to do in this itiniery!
We stopped in Urunga on the south side of the river where we found a small restaurant and gift shop on the river with a outdoor area looking over the muddy river and across to the railway bridge. This was a nice break in driving.
Arriving in Coffs Harbour we were quite tired as adding Taylor's Arm to our itiniery extended our daylight hours into the early evening. We drove around looking for a motel and were fortunate to find one with the restaurant still serving dinner. We spent the next morning looking around Coffs harbour taking photos. we went out to the marina to see if any boats where going out whale watching but the wind blew up and the trip was cancelled. We decided to chase the good weather northward and left for Ballina.
This is a little scottish orientated town with all the telegraph posts in town painted in tartan. Before the turn off into town on the Pacific Highway is a large Information Centre where there are arts and crafts and a cafe on a balcony overlooking the Clarence River. It is possible to hire houseboats here and book river cruises. This area and eastward along the river is worked by prawn trawlers. Yamba another well liked fishing and beachside town is 19km north and east from here.
People like to retire to Ballina. We went to the Maritime Museum which has an interesting balsa raft that came across the Pacific from South America. Actually the building was built around the raft! There is also about a half hour video on this daring feat which is interesting. Well worth a look. We did some shopping and went to the Ballina RSL Club for lunch. It had a nice setting overlooking the Richmond River.
Once called the Hippy capital this is a popular beach town. In summer it takes ages to drive in off the main highway and can be bumper to bumper. In town where we would like to shop the parking metre only lasts for 1 hour. Nevertheless the town has restaurants, arts and crafts and bikini shops filled with incense! The beaches are great and the lighthouse up on the Cape Byron is a popular spot. Do sit and have breakfast or a coffee and cake and watch the passing parade.
This was a short side trip off the highway.This is a small village a few kilometres north of Murwillumbah once was a small river port and it's name is derived from the Aboriginal word meaning meeting of two rivers, namely the Tweed and Rous. The small port was established in 1869 and the hotel in 1870. This hotel still stands and across the road and the river Mt Warning stands proudly in the background.
This has been a long and interesting driving holiday. I would suggest that perhaps another day or two could be added to make it a bit more leisurely and perhaps take in any of the other beachside areas along the New South Wales Coast. Stretch it as long as you would like! The beaches are beautiful.
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