Ron and I stayed at the Gateway Village Holiday Park in Grafton for a couple of days and, in addition to meeting our house-sitter Susan (she will be moving from the nearby town of Lawrence to Canberra in the near future), we spent some time exploring the area.
On Thursday, and on Susan’s recommendation, we visited Maclean and to get there we drove along the Great Marlow Road and the Grafton-Lawrence Road (both of which run alongside the west bank of Clarence River) before catching the Bluff Point Ferry across the river. As the McFarlane Bridge in Maclean was closed for part of the day we completed our trip to Maclean via the Pacific Highway.
Maclean is a lovely little town with a strong Scottish influence (a highland gathering has been held there each year for more than 100 years) and more than 200 power poles have been painted with tartan patterns. We obtained a list of the tartan power poles from the Scottish Shop in Maclean and discovered that one of the poles was painted with the Leslie “Ancient” tartan pattern. Needless to say we visited the pole and took some photos (one of which included the more ancient of the two of us!). From there we visited the Maclean Lookout which offers spectacular views of the coast, bushland, cane fields, river, islands and township before returning to Grafton via the McFarlane Bridge, Lawrence Road and the Bluff Point Ferry.
On the return trip on the ferry we parked next to an old station wagon painted for the Cystic Fibrosis Great Escape charity bash and seeing it reminded me of Kathleen, my best friend from high school, who passed away as a result of cystic fibrosis (CF) almost 30 years ago. As I handed the driver a donation I also thought of my other school friends who were also affected by this terrible disease: Ann-Maree who died about 17 years ago (amazingly she wasn’t even diagnosed with CF until she was in her mid 30s but sadly, and despite a heart/lung transplant, she succumbed to the disease within a few years); Lucy, our daughter’s godmother, who lost three siblings to CF in childhood; and Claire who lost several cousins to CF. Hopefully one day soon a cure for CF will be found …
On Friday we packed up and headed for Kyogle to stay the night with my friend Georgina (she and I went to high school together) and as she was still at work when we arrived we unhitched the camper across the road from her house and headed for downtown Kyogle. After having lunch and checking out all the shops in the main street we decided to go for a drive and, after seeing a sign indicating it was only about 35kms away, we headed for Nimbin. Our route along the picturesque Stony Chute Road (complete with ‘pothole’ artwork done by a local artist) took us past a group of rock formations known as the Nimbin Rocks on the way to Nimbin.
I’d never been to Nimbin before but Ron and some of his university mates attended the Aquarius Festival that was held there in May 1973 and he had not visited the town since. Although much of the town has changed in the intervening 43 years Ron clearly remembered where he had spent his time there. It is clearly still an ‘alternative’ town and it was an interesting place to visit.
We spent an enjoyable evening in Kyogle with Georgina – she cooked us a great meal and with both of us having kids and grandkids about the same ages there was plenty to talk about. It was Georgina’s birthday on Saturday so we took her to breakfast at The Sugar Bowl Cafe and Bar for their great ‘Eggs Benny with Smoked Salmon’ before leaving Kyogle to continue our journey.
Our next stop was Mullumbimby to visit Shirley: the mother of Judy, a primary/high school friend; a lovely lady whom I’ve known for almost 50 years; and, until January 2015, our wonderful next door neighbour in Canberra for the past 33 years. Shirley, who will turn 95 later this month, moved into a lovely aged care facility in Mullumbimby in January last year and, as we had the chance to do so, we called in to see her. It was lovely to spend some time with her, and her daughters Judy and Trish who both live nearby, especially as she seemed so much better and happier than she was the last time we saw her.
After leaving Mullumbimby we continued on to Toowong, a suburb of Brisbane, to stay with my mother for a few days.