6th March, 2019
Various birdsong brought us to our senses this morning. The house in Casino where we have spent the night is on acreage and rural. I sit up and notice the family golden retriever has moved to the rug on Bill’s side of the bed through the night. When we retired the night before, closing the bedroom door, the plaintive cries were so heartrendingly child-like that we had to let her in. After all, we have occupied her owners’ space, so it’s only right. I was feeling a bit smug she’d decided to settle by me. Apart from a few sighs, and the occasional licking of her chops, she has not disturbed us through the night. So I’m surprised to realise she has moved at all. We let her out and head for the en-suite. The owner has left a bucket there which we rightly guess is to capture our shower water for recycling. Another drought reminder.
The kitchen has one wall of sliding doors leading out to the patio, and we are greeted by a line-up of magpies looking hopefully through the glass. Several kookaburras are perched on nearby railings. They are relaxed and magnificent, the blue flash on their wings can be seen clearly. These kookas are not going anywhere. If you are interested, you can read more about them here, and if you click on “calls” in the right-hand bar, you will hear why they are called “laughing”.
The magpies are not going anywhere, either. Even though the children of the house have already given them a meaty treat, these guys are opportunistic and persistent. I can’t resist giving them seconds. There is one big guy who tries to muscle out all the others. I realise I have to throw several bits quickly so he is busy with one, giving the others a chance for theirs, too. If you are interested, you can read more about them here, and if you click on “calls” you will understand why Australians so love their flute-sound.
We’re feeling pretty relaxed, because our on-road driving section today should only be about three hours, maximum. But we can’t hang around forever. We load up Tamara Grace (the gorgeous white BMW convertible which I have recently inherited) and leave shortly after breakfast.
Continuing to avoid the coastal route, we again head up the Summerland Way 91 which wends through a couple of national parks and wide-open spaces, and before too long, we arrive in Nimbin.
Ahh . . . Nimbin. Well, perhaps this sign explains it best . . .
Okay, so Nimbin has been famous as a hippy destination – an alternative lifestyle capital – ever since they hosted the 1973 Aquarius Festival which attracted “students, hippies and visionaries”, turning what was a potentially-declining dairying and banana growing district into . . . something else. You can, for example, visit the Hemp Embassy where you will find information on all its various uses.
There’s lots here to interest the casual shopper and stroller, plenty of local artists, candle makers, long, flowing hippy clothes. Actually, on the subject of that clothing (I was distinctly over-dressed in my white slacks and tailored top), I once read that the progeny of that generation who tossed in their corporate aspirations and conventional lifestyle, in favour of the communal housing of Nimbin, have, in turn, rebelled against that decision, and turned to tertiary education and business suits. It’s feasible, every generation wants to throw off the shackles of the one who raised it; even if that generation thought they were breaking all the rules. (hmmm, getting a bit philosophical on account of the fabulous red I am imbibing –
Okay, leaving the alternative life-stylers of Nimbin to bring up their own kids, I’ll return to my monologue. The billboard in the first photo above depicts Nimbin Rocks which we stopped to look at on the way in to town. This a spectacular outcrop of 20 million years old volcanic rock. It is significant to traditional owners, so climbing is discouraged, but the local council could do a little better with the viewing area – a dirt pull-off on the side of the highway a long way away from the rocks, with a telegraph pole slap bang in front. This photo snapped on my mobile phone does not do justice; these rocks loom high and proud, and they would change colour several times during the day.
Note the clear, azure skies in these photographs? Oh man, was it still hot and humid. Before long I demanded a stop at the local hotel, where I knocked back a lemon, lime and bitters (I was driving Tammy) before Bill had a chance to blink.
Back in the car, we followed a local pamphlet we’d picked up from the tourist office in Nimbin – yes! – they are not so alternative that they don’t see the value in that. We passed a cafe and gallery where a farmer’s market is held every Saturday (this was Wednesday), ignored a turn-off to a dam that offers recreational facilities, had a quick lunch at the little village of Uki, pronounced “yook-eye”, which sits in the shadow of the ominously-named Mount Warning, then, a bit further down the road, decided to stop at Lyrebird Track. A 20 minute walk through palm forest brings one to a scenic viewing platform. Well worth the stop as you can see from these photos.
Our destination was a place called Burleigh Waters, on Queensland’s Gold Coast (more about that in the next post) and we had time to stop at the next main town, Murwillimbah, yet in the end we continued on. I agonised for a short while, as there was something I definitely wanted to see in this sub-tropical town that lies close to the Queensland border, 848 km (530 mi) north-east of Sydney, but I was definitely running out of puff, and frankly, getting a bit out of sorts. Probably I was dehydrated.
All I could think about was getting to the Airbnb which was to be our home for the next five nights, getting unpacked, and putting down roots. I’d only been on the road for a week, but it felt like a lifetime. I rang the owner and told him an arrival time.
I forgot that once we crossed the border, we set our clocks back an hour. Here’s a tip for new players: Queensland and the Northern Territory did not adopt daylight saving. Something about the cows won’t know when to be milked; or the curtains would fade faster. I don’t know. To be fair, Queensland occupies about 22% of Australia’s land mass, and the distance from south to north is about 3000 km (1900 mi) so it’s entirely possible that those up in Mapoon, one of the northern-most tips of this state (latitude 11° 21′ 0″ S) might find themselves getting up before they’ve even been to bed, or vice-versa. So perhaps there’s a sensible reason for that decision.
Whatever. We arrived at our destination an hour earlier than we told the host . . . They coped 🙂