3. North Coast
Travelling North from Port Macquarie up the coast, the Pacific Highway remains some distance inland. It's not particularly remarkable for scenery, and the next major town is Kempsey. Driving through on a Saturday afternoon, it really felt quite deserted, and I suspect there could be a declining population there.
Along the coast in this area, there are a number of towns that I didn't have time to visit. They include Crescent Head, Hat Head, and South-West rocks. Each would involve fairly lengthy detours, and so I left those as candidates for a future trip.
The Highway returns close to the coast again at the town of Nambucca Heads. Here there are extensive sand-bars around the entrance of the river. It's a reasonably pretty spot by the water, but the township itself had that unkept coastal-town feel, and didn't really enthuse me.
Coffs Harbour is the big centre in the district. I was expecting something like a larger version of Port Macquarie, but it's nothing like that. Instead, I'd say it's more a bigger version of Taree. In other words, It didn't have that tourist feel, or the sense of a holiday destination. Instead it seemed more a living and working town.
The Harbour itself at Coffs harbour is worth a look, and the northern breakwall joins up to a small island which supports birdlife and nesting.
|Marina, Coffs Harbour|
Back on the main road, I was running well behind my planned schedule. Along the Pacific Hwy there are just so many things that are tempting to stop and look at.
Then just short of Grafton, I had the misfortune of a sway-bar mounting bracket breaking off on my car. It took a bit of head scratching to work out what had happened to cause the knocking sound. Anyhow, once I worked it out, I could see it wasn't going to stop the car running, and I'd have to live with it until the wrecking yards opened again on Monday. It just meant the rough roads were going to be a bit noisier and I couldn't be too enthusiastic in the cornering.
By the time the sun was setting, I was reaching Ballina I stopped briefly to watch the sun drop down over the river there.
|River Sunset, Ballina|
The Coast road between Ballina and Byron Bay is an interesting drive, though light was fading as I took it. I stopped at Lennox Head for a bit to sample the salt-laden evening atmosphere. With the fading light, I needed a steady hand to push the 1/10s or so for the exposure time.