Friday, 6 July 2012

Yamba - Day 7

Almost to the halfway mark of the holiday and rain threatened for the first time today.

With Sue feeling better every sunrise, we made our way to Pippis for breakfast. Delicious Bircher Muesli for me and eggs, bacon and mushrooms for Sue.

It was Mandy, Joel and the kids last day on a shortened tour of duty for them this year, so with Rose in tow, we undertook a car convoy to revisit starting points and explain some of them to Jack and Ava, the youngest Gibbens. Driving inland through Maclean, we crossed the bridge across the south arm of the Clarence and onto the largest riverine island in Australia, Woodford Island. Skirting down the western side of the island, out trip took us across the Lawrence vehicular ferry and the north arm of the Clarence. The crossing created a deal of excitement in the youngsters.

Lawrence lies on the other side of the ferry ride and it was a few hundred metres to the tavern. There was a chilly wind blowing from the south so we ordered lunches and ate inside. The only bar has an interesting attraction: hanging above and behind the bar on a high wall stretching up to an extended ceiling, must have been a hundred hats. Most were battered and beaten, first into shape and then into history. The vast majority were broad brimmed Aussie work hats made from pelt, leather, canvas and other tough materials. There were a few caps, a hard hat and the odd variation but mostly they had been the shade structure of honest, Aussie bushmen. The selection hanging to the right had been grabbed when left on or in the bar but it was the mob on the left which hung with poignancy for their owners could not longer claim them and sat up n the wall as a permanent reminder of mates lost but not forgotten.

After lunch, we crossed the Clarence again and a few kms after retracing our steps towards Maclean, turned off on the Roberts Creek Rd and headed to the heart of the island. The road follows Roberts Creek, which is not as it seems. After weeks of generous rain, "Roberts Creek" is a series of deepening puddles in depressions which will join only in times of flood. The "creek" flows at no other time. Towards the end of Roberts Creek Rd, we turn down a single vehicle dirt road which enjoys the traffic of tractors and farm machinery more than it does cars. It was along this narrow road, Gibbens Lane, that Rose, Mandy and Sue once travelled to and from the family farm which fronted the lane about half way along its length. They travelled it again today, with a more family tread than previous times in the adult lives, to stand outside the fence line and imagine the house on brick piers which were never high enough to keep snakes from floating in the house during a flood. I was told again where the dairy used to stand and anecdotes which were subsets of that fact. I love going back there even though my eyes can only see the farm buildings and five bare foot kids, their burdened mother and the straight back and honest sweat of their father through their recounts. Its more than enough.

Leaving Gibbens Lane, we made brief stops at the site of what had been the South Arm School and the remains of their house, modified and moved from the flood prone flats, up to Red Hill. We followed the road along the South Arm and soon found ourself back at the McFarlane Bridge which joins Maclean to Woodford Island. Afternoon tea was a combination of milkshakes, coffees, babychinos and red spiders, in a cafe in Maclean.

The return journey was marked by rain as we drove into Yamba.

In the evening, we had a meal out at Sol's Cantina, making the Sydney mob's departure in the morning. It was noisy and I don't do noisy very well but the food was fair and the company I could hear was good.

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