Friday, 6 March 2015

TOD Tour, Day 24 - Coffs Harbour

Our visit to Coffs Harbour, held back until our last day at Nambucca, started inauspiciously.

The much vaunted Bunker Gallery, a collection of mostly political cartoons was a scrubbing. When we arrived, we were informed that most of the cartoons weren't on display as they had been featuring a special exhibition of Chinese Restaurants. How many Mung Hings do you need to look at. I guess they have the advantage that once you have looked at one you almost immediately want to look at another.

The bunker had been to headquarters of the RAAF during the second world war, who were kept busy along the Coffs coast. In terms of attention from the Japanese, Coffs rates third in Australia during the early years of the 1940's, behind only Darwin and Sydney.

0 for 1.

Not for us so we moved on without much more than a conversation with the volunteer at the door.

As we often do, we turned to the local Art Gallery, a place who's reputation was quite good. I found a park in a busy street ... the Parking Wizard strikes again. We noted the modern architecture of the building;  the cafe on the way in; the library to our right and then arrived at the gallery door to a sign explaining that the gallery was closed while they installed an exhibition.

0 for 2.

Okay, so time to regroup, find somewhere for lunch and have a think about the week ahead, After all, for the first time in four weeks, the week ahead was determined by us, not circumstance. We had a nice chat to the husband of the local ALP candidate, a lovely chap called Bill Smith. Would you believe the candidate was his wife, June Smith (my mum's maiden name). Nothing plain about them. June was sprouting policy nearby, whilst Bill shared lots of tales from his past. Importantly, he steered us in the direction of his recommended cafe.

After an hour at the Depot Cafe, upstairs in Coffs Central, we had the best Earl Grey tea of all time. Grown locally, Sue converted from her long black and disappeared downstairs to buy our own sachet. We planned out the following week, which will see us return to bush settings, but on the coast.

1 for 3.

Lunch was panned for the Botanic Gardens but we missed the sign and drove out to the Coffs Harbour International Marina instead.

1 for 4.

After lunch in a little park behind the beach, right beside a wetland - there was a pool of water beside our picnic table - we walked out along the breakwall to Muttenbird Island. It was a warm day but the constant blow of the off shore breeze kept us cool and included a couple a over exuberant sprays from the waves crashing against the rocks of the breakwall. Flash looking yachts sat in the tranquil water of the marina, as little boys in PFDs and school uniforms tried their best to fall off the elevated wharf whilst fishing. A teacher and several anxious parents spurted from group to individual to group, adjusting bait and reminding them that the aim wasn't to fall in.

The walk up to the top of Muttonbird Island isn't far but it is steep. There is one path of cement tiles and no detours as the slopes on either side are rotten with Shearwater nests ... burrows which are cleared out every year once couples are formed. The vegetation was thicker than I remember from my last visit, although for Sue, this was all new. Having reached the top, a platform provides an excellent view back over the marina, the harbour, the city and the mountains beyond. I walked to the end of the track, to another viewing platform, this time above the rugged end point of the island which takes a battering from the Pacific Ocean. Sue had stayed near the top of the slope which descended quite quickly. New technology allowed her to still enjoy the view withheld from her by the dome shape of the island and reservations about her back's ability to cope. I got to the platform and Facetimed her images and commentary, somewhat masked by the wind.

Chip selfie
Sue made it back to the first platform before me. On my way, I spotted a Blue Tongue Lizard and a Brown Snake having a willing conversation but patiently waited until they had resolved their dispute rather than join in. Scared me enough that I forgot to take a picture.

2 for 5.

Rules were broken soon after ... hot chips and a selfie.

3 for 6.

Home ... news from Dad ... relaxing swim in the c'van park pool ... pre-packing ... bed.

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