This Easter Leanne and I drove down to Dorrigo to catch up with our good friend
Bill [from Sydney].
We left home at 5.40 am and managed to get down to the border before the traffic
got too heavy. We then followed the Pacific Hwy down to Coffs. Conditions in
northern NSW could best be described as good for ducks, and the safety wombats
were out in force [they always travel 20 kph less than the speed limit, unless
there is an overtaking lane - which means it is safe to speed up].
No interesting birds to be seen in the post-dawn half-light during the 3-4 hours
it took to traverse that part of the middle-earth [just a few pending Darwinian
types who didn't have their lights on].
It did stop raining for quarter of an hour while we stopped for coffee by the
beach in Coffs [and were serenaded by a wattle bird in the banksia]. We popped
out to one of the proms, but the rain set in again to the obvious joy of the
gulls, terns and cormorants etc.
>From there it was up the road to Dorrigo perched on the edge of the New England
Plateau. A bit of a steep and narrow ascent in places [particularly where they
were finally fixing up the bit of the road that had been washed away last year
We arrived at our cabin in time for lunch, and then enjoyed a prolonged sunny
break while waiting for Bill to arrive. The highlight was watching a brown
goshawk flashing about over the potato fields [Dangar Falls were running brown
with the soil eroding from said paddocks - I don't know if the farmers' habit of
plowing up and down the hills helps].
Bill hadn't arrived by mid-afternoon, so we wombled over to the Skywalk to take
in the views of the WHA rainforest. Certainly some interesting ecosystem types
there, but certainly not pristine as sections of Dorrigo NP were [selectively?]
logged during the forestry dreamtime [pre-chainsaw].
We then ambled around the wonga circuit [heard and seen]. It takes the not too
sedentary walker on a 5 kay stroll through some pleasant forest. We heard a
superb lyrebird calling while we was passing through the lower part of the
circuit and I managed to find the chap calling from a little 50 cm diameter
patch of cleared space in the wait-a-while. He strolled off as soon as I saw
him [albert's lyrebirds normally disappear at a higher rate of knots]. We saw a
female SLB around the top section of the circuit near the glade and eyeballed a
family of largebilled scrubwrens near the info section.
We caught up with Bill and enjoyed a Margaret River merlot with some Tasmanian
camenbert over dinner.
Saturday was a bit windy for ducks, so after a poke around the local shops, we
followed our noses down to the Nymboida River [Platypus Flat and the Cod Hole].
We saw a couple of glossies on the cod hole rd and had some close encounters
with busses towing kayak trailers up a steep, slippery and narrow section of the
road just up from the cod hole [the first bus driver got extremely animated
while I found a spot to let him squeeze past].
As the local restaurant was booked out, we stayed in Sat night and polished off
a 7 year old chardonnay from Albany and a 19 year old shiraz from the hunter
The southwesterly wind abated a bit in the night and so Sunday saw us wandering
around the tracks leading out from the Never Never picnic ground. There was
some very nice rainforest there, and the waterfalls in Rosewood and Sassafras
Cks were running nice and clear [very little erosion happening in those
catchments]. Flushed plenty of brown cuckoo doves on the road in, had a chat to
a pair of yellow tails at the picnic ground, and saw a female riflebird early
on, and a noisy pitta halfway round.
We enjoyed our thermos of freshly brewed coffee [and apple teacake purchased
from the local bakery] at Cedar Falls [one of the steepest graded tracks I have
traversed in a while] and could have enjoyed lunch and a bottle of bubbly by a
pool upstream of Casuarina Falls [if we had packed them]. Botanically, the
highlight of the walk back to the car were the 20-30 metre casuarinas by the
track [must be the rainforest environment that motivated them to grow so tall].
After lunch, we took a four year old bubbly, a choclate bilby and half a kilo of
smoked salmon out to Griffiths lookout to enjoy a break in the weather. Million
dollar views, choclate and bubbly. Saw a crow sized raptor zipping about while
we were finishing the bottle and admiring a rainbow. The rain came back and the
cloud descended, so we returned to the cabin and read the paper before heading
off to the restaurant.
The highlights of dinner were a 8 year old margaret river shiraz and a 9 year
old barossa/coonawarra cab sav, and a choclate expresso cake.
Leanne and I waved goodbye to Bill and set off under grey skies back to
Brisbane. We took the back roads, travelling first to Grafton via North Dorrigo
and Nymboida, and then up the summerland way to Casino [nice low traffic run, no
moving chicanes]. We then picked a way to Nimbin [saw a wedgie and sea eagle
along the way] - we did intend to have a look at the craft shops there, but soon
got tired of the local entrepreneurs trying to sell us 'dunjar' [every second
person we met seemed to have some for sale] and so hit the road again.
It was a bit of a slow run up to Murwillumbah [lots of wombats about] and from
there took the back road across the border via Tomewin.
The weather cleared as soon as we got back into the sunshine [oops, sorry Peter,
smart] state. The garden looked dry and the possum looked at me reproachfully
as I put the empty wine bottles in the recycling bin.
Vale Easter 2002 [and all those who sailed in it].
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