Week 24 - August 27, 2018 - September 02, 2018

We anticipated this week to be a bit of a week in travel mode as we wanted to drive along the Gold Coast (South Pacific Ocean - along the Coral Sea to the Tasman Sea), with a brief inland jaunt to Dorrigo National Park. 

Beautiful beaches were found along the way and we stopped off at Woolgoolga (Woopi) for the night.  We even found a raucous bat colony viewable from the road and a few other fun attractions.

   Differing views of the coastline coming into Woolgoolga                   Woolgoolga beaches

   Cool life in the tide pools - crustacean-like critter and unusual sea-grass          Bat (flying fox) colony

   Two of Gerson's favorite things, Bunnings and Giant Prawns

Since we were in the area, we had to stop off at the Big Banana, a rather large banana (like the Prawn) with many tourist shops and restaurants nearby.  It was a good excuse to take a break for lunch before driving Cinderoo up rather steep and windy roads to get to Dorrigo National Park.

   Big Banana photo op                  Views to Coffs Harbor and the countryside east of Dorrigo National Park

The drive to Dorrigo was along a road aptly named 'Waterfall Way' and although we did not take side trips to see the many waterfalls, the drive itself was beautiful.  The town of Dorrigo obviously supported the surrounding farms and ranches and we found it quaint and charming.  We happened upon a 'campground' that was located next to Dangar Falls and upon arrival, booked two nights as we were in love with the place.  The 'campground' was the 'backyard' of an old ranch-house-turned-lodge and overseen by Bill, the 89-year old patriarch of the family that owned the land.  Our view was of acres and acres of rolling hills, forests and the cows that grazed upon them.

  Waterfall Way was well-named             Our campsite and view (near Dangar Falls)

   Gerson enjoying his bonfire view                                     Having fun with the locals

Dorrigo National Park is a small park, yet packed with rainforest beauty and has an intimate feel that you do not usually get with national parks.  We visited the information center and we were off to take in the views from the skywalk (long wooden 'pier' floating over the valley) and to visit the Crystal Shower Falls.  Unfortunately, the famed walk behind the Crystal Shower Falls was closed (or so we were told) for unstable rocks; however, we carefully inspected the supposed dangerous area and determined it safe enough for us to enjoy our behind-the-scenes look at the waterfall.

  Very cool tiled murals at the Dorrigo National Park center                 Skywalk view did not disappoint

   Gerson lost amongst the trees                          Crystal Shower Falls and I am there somewhere (2nd picture)

   Gerson inspecting the waterfall                                  Beautiful place to be

Before we ventured a further up the Waterfall Way, we had a spontaneous lunch on the park-provided bbq situated in the middle of the forest.   It was a perfect time to break out the T-bones and salad and enjoy a delicious lunch within the rainforest.  Then, it was off to take a bit of a drive to get to the Ebor Falls and walk off our lunch.

   Master BBQ'r Gerson                          Our drive through Dorrigo National Park             
   Views along the Waterfall Way                                Ebor Falls from different viewpoints

We got back to our camp just in time to make a quick walk to our neighboring Dangar Falls and liked it so much, we returned the next morning to enjoy the falls in the sunlight.  Nothing like being able to walk from Cinderoo to a beautiful waterfall in a matter of minutes.

   Dangar Falls got a bit chilly when the sun went down               Dangar Falls from above and down the river a bit

Dorrigo National Park was a place we would return to, especially to just hang out on the ranch.  But alas, we were looking to get to Sydney by the next week so we were off heading south along the coast, once again.  And, as we have found before, some of our unplanned stops were the most enjoyable.  One of these places was South West Rocks.  South West Rocks is a place of jutting rock formations that create many bays that are outstanding for surfing and swimming.  It is also bordered by the South West Rocks Creek that creates a dreamlike environment for walkers.  And, recognizing Cinderoo's specialness (and compact size), the caravan park assigned us a cozy, 'absolute' oceanfront nook that overlooked Horseshoe Bay (aka: Ladies Bathing Bay). 

The name of Ladies Bathing Bay came about because there was a time wherein the men and women had to 'bathe' in the ocean at different beaches so this little bay was allocated for the ladies.  Although the larger, southern-neighboring beach called Trial Bay was for the men, methinks the women got the better of the beaches.  And, seeing as Trial Bay was overlooked by the Trial Bay Gaol (pronounced 'jail') where many convicts were housed, perhaps there was a subtle message to the men.

  Cinderoo's view was superb!           Walk along South West Rocks Creek and locals on an SUP

   Walk to Back Beach                     What a difference a day makes - and a little wind        Trial Bay Gaol

We trundled southward and stopped in at various beaches to confirm their translucent blue-green waters and to take in the beauty of a lighthouse or two.  You might think the beaches repetitious; however, the vision of the sun-sparkled ocean and the reflection of blues and greens that only nature can produce, creates a de-stressing sigh every time.  And, finding a native critter or two is always an exciting plus during our stops.

   A late arrival near Seal Rocks was rewarded with this sunset                            A few steps from our campground and Voila!

  View to Lighthouse Bay                                                  View to Treachery Beach               

  Sugarloaf Lighthouse standing guard over Seal Rocks and Lighthouse Bay        Diamond (Carpet) Python

   Bennett Beach near Hawkes Nest

Since we had done such a good job on seeing many beaches along the Gold Coast, we decided to reward ourselves with a little inland journey to a small town called Cessnock.  Our reward was a visit to the wine country for a local wine and cheese tour.  Needless to say, we acquired a few enjoyable souvenirs.

   Wine tour companions (from Sydney and thereabouts)                                                  A couple of photo ops        

  Spur-Winged Plover mom chasing me away from her nest                                         Gerson enjoying his cheese pairings

Another wonderful week and looking forward to next week and all about Sydney!

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