Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Grafton, Glen Innes and Guyra

Friday 8th March

We headed off towards Grafton via the Pacific Highway and stopped for a late morning tea at (24) New Italy.

 It is a lovely little spot with a fabulous museum dedicated to the Italian pioneers who settled in the area and the contributions they made. They also have a cafĂ©, shops and mandatory souvenir outlets. There is free camping in the car park area but we didn’t stay. We enjoyed a lovely Devonshire tea and spent quite a while looking about.
Also located in the complex is a Glass Artist, Ian O’Driscoll.

He did lovely work and his pieces were beautiful. I bought myself a pair of Boroscilicate Glass ear rings. They are soooooooo pretty and go with my Indian dresses perfectly!!!

After we left there we drove a further 17km south to (26) Beekeepers Rest Area. It was only a free overnighter just by the side of the road; in fact it was probably only 10 metres off the edge of the highway and very, very noisy


Saturday 9th March

Early in the morning we set off through Grafton and up over the Great Dividing Range. It was cool and drizzly. The scenery was beautiful – very lush and green but you could see the effects of the recent floods.


The Mann River was still very high in places and there was a musty, swampy smell as we drove through some of the low lying areas which still had lots of water in them, on our way up the mountain.
There had been quite a few wash-aways on the way up the range….and some were apparently still in progress!!!


The weather was a bit brisk to say the least when we stopped for our Kodak Moments at a couple of the lookouts….great views (lol).

Just as you come down off the mountains, on the outskirts of Glen Innes are the Australian Standing Stones, the National Monument to Australia’s Celtic Pioneers.
Comprising 40 granite monoliths they have a circle of 24 stones representing 24 hours of the day. There are also three central stones: The Australis Stone, this is for all Australians and symbolises the link between the old and new worlds; The Gaelic Stone, this is for Scotland, Ireland and Isle of Man; The Byrthonic Stone, this is for Wales, Cornwall and Brittany. There are four cardinal stones marking true North, East, South and West and another seven stones mark the summer and winter solstices.
There is a convenient little Tea Room situated nearby in the form of The Crofter’s Cottage. This is a replica Taigh Dubh, the small ‘black house’ of the early Celtic Peoples.
Personally, I prefer the good old Aussie Bar-b-Que……..So, is this a case of ‘art imitating life’ or ‘life imitating art’?
We decided not to stay in Glen Innes and so, after picking up some necessities in town and replenishing my wine cellar i.e. buying a couple of bottles of Amiri Sauvignon Blanc we struck south along the New England Highway to Guyra. What a lovely little town!
We pulled into (158) Mother of Ducks Lagoon Recreation and Wetlands Reserve. A much nicer free overnighter than the last one, this is on the edge of the wetlands and you walk through the golf course to get to the little bird watching pavilion.
We set up in the grass and it was perfectly level (a good omen).
I then set off across the golf course to explore.
 I have never really walked across a golf course before and was quite taken aback by the enormity of it all. Further reflection however,  caused me to realise that if each hole is about 300 metres on average and there are 18 holes, then they have to be big….duh!!!
Imagine my surprise though, when I was almost run down by a passing motorist…..on the fairway!!!!!!
Mum obviously had some last minute advice to impart to junior either about his tee shot or his being home in time for tea…..not sure which but she did earn some rather stern looks and remarks of disapproval from fellow golfers who had chosen the more conventional golf buggy as their preferred mode of transport.
Undeterred by my near brush with death, I continued on bravely towards the viewing platform in the wet lands proper.
It was sooooooooooo worth it!

There did not appear to be a great deal of bird life about in this particular area so I proceded to read the information board only to find a picture of a red belly black snake dominating the descriptions of all living things that inhabit that particular tract of water way.
  As I wandered back to camp, pondering the demise of local water fowl, I could not help but notice the lovely yellow lichen on the trees which seemed somehow reflective of Ronnie’s mellow mood (mellow yellow and all that)…..so I didn’t tell him about the snakes…..until later.
Sunday 10th March
As we headed towards Armidale, there was a sign to Thunderbolt’s Cave (17 km). Off we went. It was a dirt track and after going about 1.5 kms, it had deteriorated into almost a goat path that goats would have second thoughts about. We decided that we would turn around as soon as practicable. Ron spotted a side road that would be perfect and as he turned into it we saw a sign saying cave carpark 300 metres. The original sign must have been 1.7 not  17!!!!! After another 200 metre verticle walk we came to it. It was really tiny and would not have afforded much comfort but it obviously did the job.



  1. never knew about the rocks... you have definately found some interesting things on your journeys. John and I ..(if we ever travel) will now consult your blogs for our itinery.,

  2. Im soooo excited ... i could actually read the letters... yeh

  3. Wow, looks amazing. Soooo green! You picked a great time to head down that way.

    By the way, I will also be in Sydney at Easter. What a coincidence!! :)