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Hunter Valley - Part 1

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A few weeks ago we spent a weekend in the Hunter Valley to celebrate our 3rd wedding anniversary (my, doesn't three years fly). Instead of visiting the same old wineries, we decided to branch out and explore the wineries near the town of Broke. Even though these towns was only 20-odd kilometres, they were worlds apart.

Broke

Broke was a sleepy backwater compared to the tourist hub of Pokolbin with nary a car in sight - perhaps how Pokolbin was before it became a wine mecca. The wineries we visited in Broke were the kind that we liked - small places producing great drops, with the cellar door being manned by the winemakers themselves. They were always happy to explain away their wines and methods. Mount Broke Wines let cattle graze among the vines in the winter months to keep the weeds down.

Broke

Sawtell

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One last beach to visit on our trip to the Mid North Coast. Boambee Beach stretches north from Sawtell all the way to Coffs Harbour, almost 6km away.

Sawtell

Once again, it was a leash-free beach, so Bridie enjoyed another scamper through the sandbanks. She certainly was spoilt by all the leash-free beaches on this trip.

Sawtell

There were many sniffs, but she behaved well, unlike a beagle x poodle dog we saw, who stole a lady's chips while she sunbathed! Thankfully, Bridie was happy just to feel the wind in her ears.

Sawtell

That's the end of our Northern NSW journey. We'll once again go closer to home next time.

Knitting Interval

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One more toddler vest for a friend's daughter, the appropriately named Ruby.

Ruby's Milo

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Urunga - Part 3

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As we approached the beach.

Urunga Lagoon Walk

We could look back and see how far we'd come.

Urunga Lagoon Walk

We watched the river's last run to the sea.

Urunga Lagoon Walk

Before heading back to shore.

Urunga Lagoon Walk

Urunga - Part 2

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Let's start our board walk.

Urunga Lagoon Walk

First, we crossed the sandbar.

Urunga Lagoon Walk

Where there were birds of all types.

Urunga Lagoon Walk

Then on to the break wall, with a lovely view upstream all the way back to the hills.

Urunga Lagoon Walk

Where we got close up to a hunter.

Urunga Lagoon Walk

And its prey.

Urunga Lagoon Walk

Urunga - Part 1

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We are exploring another seaside place - Urunga, some 30km south of Coffs Harbour. A great feature of the town is its boardwalk, which runs for 1km over the lagoon from the town to its ocean beach. It was originally built in 1908, restored in 1988, and extended to its current length in 2010.

Urunga Lagoon Walk

It follows the Kalang and Bellinger Rivers as it winds past mangroves...

Urunga Lagoon Walk

And sandbanks.

Urunga Lagoon Walk

The photos I took haven't done it justice - it's a gem.

Floral Interlude

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The next day we headed back to the coast to the town of Urunga, just a few k's away from Mylestom. But before we start exploring, how about a little floral interlude. We found this bottlebrush right by the estuary. It must be a real salt-loving variety.

Urunga Lagoon Walk

To the Sea

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We ended the day with a quick detour to the mouth of Bellinger, at the village of Mylestom.

Mylestom

As you can see, the escarpment isn't so far away on this part of the coast, so one can easily go from the mountains to the sea in an hour or so.

Mylestom

We'll take another wander around this coast line in my next post.

Mylestom

Bellingen - Part 4

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North of Gleniffer wound the Promised Land loop. A name like that generates high expectations. Let's see what we found.

Rolling pastures and rainforested hills.

Promised Land

Old wooden bridges over a clear, cold stream.

Promised Land

Never Never Creek that would be a perfect place to cool off on a steamy summer's day.

Promised Land

It was obvious even after a quick drive-through why the early settlers thought this vale the land of fairy tale. Enchanting.

Promised Land

Bellingen - Part 3

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Ten kilometres north of Bellingen lies the hamlet of Gleniffer, in the vale just below the Dorrigo escarpment. It's a good place to go on a leisurely drive or cycle. Last time I was here was over 10 years ago, but it hasn't grown much since.

Glennifer

The community was built on dairy, and there were still a few cows grazing although they were more beef cows.

Glennifer

There was a cute church.

Glennifer

And a hall. And not much else. But everything was well-kempt, meaning that there must be an active community hereabouts.

Glennifer

Bellingen - Part 2

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Elsewhere on the mainstreet, the architecture ranged from art deco...

Bellingen

Through to country.

Bellingen

But on a weekday the entire community seemed to congregate along cafe alley - a short street full of coffee shops!

Bellingen

In the summer, I would think that people would go down to the Bellinger River. It was flowing quite placidly when we were there, but is quite prone to flooding.

Bellingen

Bellingen - Part 1

autumn, leaf
Next stop for us was the Mid-North coast. We visited the river town of Bellingen. The main street was quite impressive for a place built on timber and dairy.

Bellingen

The pub was beautifully preserved and was built in a style that's really different to the pubs inland. It's also the hangout of David Helfgott, who lives nearby.

Bellingen

Next door was the old general store, now trading as a clothes shop.

Bellingen

The town was full of residents in the winter, and even though it had a bit of a hippy feel, wasn't as inundated by tourists as those towns further north.

Brunswick Heads - Part 3

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Bridie was happy to be on the beach at Brunswick Heads as it was an off-leash area.

Brunswick Heads

She could check out every single bit of flotsam.

Brunswick Heads

As well as run herself completely silly.

Brunswick Heads

It was another glorious afternoon for everyone.

Brunswick Heads

Brunswick Heads - Part 2

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After a lunch of fish and chips (what else), we visited the beach. Looking to the south, you can see Cape Byron looming. Unlike Cape Byron, there was hardly anyone to be seen.

Brunswick Heads

Like the evening before, the swell was definitely up, producing some spectacular waves.

Brunswick Heads

Not surprisingly, there was a bit of flotsam on the beach, most noticeably (for a geologist anyway) pumice stones. There were some big chunkers high up on the beach. Someone thought that they would make a good sculpture.

Brunswick Heads

Hubby thinks these might have been washed in from a recent volcanic eruption in the South Pacific, perhaps all the way from Vanuatu.

Brunswick Heads - Part 1

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Up the road from Byron, and a thousand miles away in every other respect, is Brunswick Heads. It's a quiet fishing village that perhaps Byron was aeons ago.

Brunswick Heads

As you can see, there were no crowds here, and the shops were gentrified, but not too extensive.

There were some local touches, like this mural in the park.

Brunswick Heads

The pub though was very grand, indicating that it's been a spot popular with holidaymakers for a long while. Or perhaps of a very successful fishing industry in times gone by?

Brunswick Heads

Byron Bay - Part 4

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I hope you're not sick of these beach photos yet as I have a few more coming.

Belongil Beach

There's not quite enough female surfers around, so here's one for you.

Belongil Beach

Actually, the rolling waves by themselves makes for a compelling scene.

Belongil Beach

Bridie certainly had her fill of beachcombing that afternoon.

Belongil Beach

And so did we. It made all the other hassles of Byron worth it.

Belongil Beach

Byron - Part 3

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As someone who likes to photograph the outdoors, I often have to make the best of what's on offer. Much of the time it's not ideal, whether due to time of day/light conditions/weather/wrong position/difficult subject matter. That's why I get really excited when everything aligns, like it did that afternoon on Belongil Beach. The light was absolutely perfect for photography, whether it be photographing a surfer and the waves.

Belongil Beach

Or a fisherman casting a line into the misty surf.

Belongil Beach

Just when you think it doesn't get any better, the light changes, and the same view becomes even more beautiful.

Belongil Beach

Sometimes I wish that moments like this would have more often, but then you wouldn't quite appreciate it in the same way, would you?

Byron - Part 2

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I would have to say that Byron Bay is a town that has been loved to death. It is a beach town that has grown into a tourist mecca, minus the high rises. The shopping strip in particular is amazingly long and traffic-jammed any day or night. We came in winter and (slightly) out of festival time. I'd hate to think what it would be like in festival time or in mid-summer. A shame when the town's setting is spectacular.

Belongil Beach

Belongil Beach at least was a good kilometre or two out of town. There are still condos here, but no crowds as the sun, sea and sky put on its final show for the day.

Belongil Beach

And just when you thought it couldn't get any better, it did.

Belongil Beach

Byron - Part 1

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Bridie was certainly happy to be at Byron Bay. She had the run of the house, and mild, almost tropical temperatures meant that she could sunbathe once again.

Genie House

She was even happier to be taken to the dog-friendly Belongil Beach. The North Coast towns seemed really good that way - each town seemed to have its share of off-leash beach areas.

Belongil Beach

She took advantage of the open spaces and did what she did best - explore the scents.

Belongil Beach

She even got friendly with this old Labrador Retriever, somewhat a rare occurence for her since she isn't the most social of dogs, usually only tolerating a doggy 'hello'.

Belongil Beach

Down to the Coast

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After exploring the Granite Belt, we backtracked to Tenterfield, and then down the Bruxner Highway towards the Far North Coast. The first hour or two were doozies, with the road twisting this way and that down the plateau. This is one of the straighter bits.

Bruxner Highway

After the village of Drake, the road straightened a little bit as it wound its way down the foothills, and the temperature was at least 5C warmer than the tablelands. Past Mallanganee, we saw the icon of the region, Mount Warning, on the horizon.

Bruxner Highway

We travelled through the Northern Rivers towns of Casino, Lismore, and Bangalow, to the tourist mecca beach town of Byron Bay. Luckily, we had this little oasis to ourselves.

Genie House

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