Waltz My Matilda All Over Pt. 15

14 Sep

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(Dorrigo National Park)

So the journey was to continue in an unexpected direction the next day. Excited about not backtracking I burnt out of Coffs very jovial indeed. . An hour away was Dorrigo National Park, a heritage listed rainforest, in the mountains above Coffs. My first destination.

I stopped in scenic Bellingen for coffee, small town, high on charm. Tamworth was a fair drive away so I couldn’t spend too much time adoring the scenery as much as it pained me.

After Bellingen the road steepened, winding higher into a green canopy. Waterfalls would splash down above the path, streaming under the road. All the while climbing higher, winding round and round until a plateau. It was colder now, the air cleaner and crisper.

I arrived at the National Park. I did a brief yet beautiful bush walk, admiring the flora and fauna. Pure isolation, amongst trees older than time. Gorgeous views back to the Pacific, a glimpse of Coffs.

Beyond here the Waterfall Way beckoned. I travelled through some of the highest situated cities and towns in the whole country. The air whipped into my car and freshened me. The road was, narrow, winding and exhilarating. I had to remain on the ball, a far cry from the cruise control of the straight, three lanes of the Pacific Highway.

This was at Ebor Falls (below). A fine stop for lunch. I could’ve stopped at a number of places such as this but my destination was some hours in front.

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I arrived in Tamworth, the country music capital of Australia, about 4 pm. A brief beer and stroll around town then I’d go to Kate’s house for the night.

It was an awkward moment meeting her sister and mother. I’d met Kate in Portugal the previous year and we got along well, but truth be told, we didn’t know each other. So to be in her house, was strange but this is a great facet of travelling. Sustaining connections, however brief, can win you favors and I appreciated this so much. I was given dinner, wine, a clean bed and shower and her mum was ultra cool. We stayed up late, got drunk, exchanged stories then to bed I went.

Leaving early the next day, thanking her continually I was back on the road, South through the heart of NSW to the Hunter Valley. Known for it’s wine and produce, it would be here I’d gorge my senses, and observe its scenery.

The hostel was amazing (Hunter YHA). It was modern, well spread and good facilities. The only down side was it was quiet, it being winter.

I immediately booked a wine tour for the next day then explored. I drove to a few lookouts, winding dirt tracks up steep slopes to observe an absolutely amazing scene. Far away from the ocean, this was the inland view I’d salivate over. A different side of the country. Equally as amazing.

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I drove past the Hunter Zoo and thought ” fuck it why not!”. It hosted an abundance of creatures, local and exotic, many of whom I’d be able to get up close and personal with. The kangaroos, wallabies, koalas and emus were all there for show. I had to laugh at the emu enclosure adjacent to the ostrich enclosure. The big birds of the world, face to face.

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I chilled that night with the few inhabitants, drinking too much local wine and awoke still quite drunk to board the bus for the wine tour. It was a great day out, sampling wine after wine, mixing it up with cheese, olives, chocolates and vodkas. We’d finish at the brewery near my hostel. I’d stay longer and walk home, stuffed to the brim. Sleep was delicious afterwards.

The Hunter is a special place. A fine example of nature supplying an area with Goldilocks like conditions : just right. It gets hot enough, it gets cold enough, the soil is rich, and there is usually enough rain. Everything explodes with taste and and hasn’t spent hours being imported from elsewhere.

The few days I had post Coffs came about because I had made a connection with someone who was like minded and whom recommended places I didn’t think to travel to. I thank her, but mostly thank myself for trusting my intuition. The randomness of travel blows me away. I didn’t know where I was going but I liked it.

But now I was almost home. The final leg approached. And it was equally as amazing as anything is seen so far! 🙂

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(view from Audrey Wilkinson Winery)

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