Sunday, January 4, 2009

Day 3: From Gold Coast to Coffs Harbour


So we left paradise and continued on our journey. Next stop would be Coffs Harbour. Google map had indicated the distance from Surfers Paradise to Coffs to be roughly 317km. We expected the entire drive to take approximately 4 hours...but of course, we had given ourselves sufficient time allowance for "distractions" along the way for food, shopping and sightseeing. What we didn't plan on was to get stuck behind a mobile home for quite a long distance. As most of the roads were either 1 or 2 lanes the most and the house was an oversize load which occupied more than 1 lane, there was no way we could overtake it without causing danger to ourselves and other road users. So we just had to resign to fate and followed slowly behind the mobile home until it finally made a turn-off.

As we didn't eat much for breakfast, we decided to stop over at Ballina Fair Shopping Centre for a quick bite at Subway which had a very special breakfast deal - sandwich + coffee for only A$3.95. Although I was quite put off by the way the eggs were being cooked (cracked into a paper container & sprayed with loads of oil and then microwaved!), I must say that the sandwich was totally yummy (as compared to the Singapore versions!). The coffee (as with most Australian brews) was however just too watered down for my liking.

After breakfast, we figured we could afford to spend some time checking out the seemingly big mall. I had wanted to buy a new bathing suit without having to burn a big hole in my I headed straight for Target and managed to find a 2-pc swimsuit for less than A$40 after discounts! And since there was a sale, I just couldn't resist buying the really pretty cotton slips - ohh, in a few different colors too! =P

With much encouragement from me (the No. 1 Crocs fan!), RG finally bought his first pair of Crocs and for only less than half the retail price in Singapore. Feeling a little guilty from spending so much time/$ at the mall, we decided to make up by driving a longer distance before stopping for a later lunch.

We finally arrived in Coffs in the late afternoon....and had to cancel our original plan to visit The Big Banana as it closes quite early at 4.30pm (NSW time). We only managed to catch a glimpse of the iconic big banana on the way to our resort.

We were booked for 1 night at Aanuka Beach Resort . It was a very good deal at A$123/night and inclusive of breakfast. There wasn't much of a view but we were just a stone throw to the Diggers Beach. We just checked in, left our suitcases in the room and made our way to the harbour in the hope of catching the sunset.

We parked at the Fisherman's Co-op car park and walked along the northern breakwater. The waves were quite big and strong and the fact that there were signs that warned of waves overtopping the breakwater kinda made me a tad nervous.
However, the beautiful coastal and marina views soon made me forget my fears.
Having walked to the end of the breakwater, we continued onwards to the Muttonbird Island. It is a tiny little island and the paved walkway from one end of the island to the other is only 1km return and would take about 30min to walk. The island is the migratory home to thousands of muttonbirds that would fly to this island to breed each year. Their burrowed nests can be seen on the ground all over the island and to avoid trampling on the burrows and killing the birds, visitors are to walk only on the paved walkway and nowhere else.

The walk is a medium grade one as some parts of the track is pretty steep as shown in the above photo. But it was definitely worth the trip for us as the views from the island were amazing.

The view of the marina where the boats are moored from Muttonbird Island.

And at the end of the walkway, we came to a lookout platform where we enjoyed breathtaking views of the vast ocean and the nearby Solitary Islands Marine Park. We were also told that that was a great spot for whale watching as the humpback whales often visit from the months between June to October. As I stood there staring out into the horizon and trying to figure out the actual vastness of the Tasman Sea, I suddenly realised how small and insignificant I am....and that we are all but just a very microscopic part of a much much bigger picture.

As the sun began to set, the view towards the marina was awesome..especially with the reflections seen in the stillness of the water at the marina. And as we walked along the deck of the marina back to the carpark, we had stopped to look at the fishes in the shallow waters...and had also spotted crabs, mudskippers and many other marine creatures in the nooks and crannies of the pier.

We had a lovely time at Coffs Harbour and would recommend everyone who's passing through to make a stop here to explore its's definitely worth it!

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