Sunday, January 18, 2009

Day 8: Port Macquarie to Byron Bay

8 DEC 2008, MONDAY

Today's weather was sucky. It started drizzling very early in the morning. We had to borrow an umbrella from the hotel just so to get to our car which was parked in the open public carpark. In case you don't know...I'm a fair-weather gal...and I totally hate rainy days! I know I was definitely in need of a good strong cup of coffee and a hearty breakfast to get me out of my pissy mood. As all the nearby eateries weren't opened, we decided to drive around to look for some hot food.

As we headed north, we saw numerous new property developments along the way. The houses all looked gleamingly fresh as if right out of the pages of some beautiful home magazines. Then I recalled seeing many real estate advertisements pasted on the walls along the sidewalks when we were out for dinner last night. It's indeed a very charming town so it ain't surprising that there's a good demand for residential properties in Port Macquarie...hell, even I am tempted to check out the properties there if I can afford it.

Unfortunately for us, the only breakfast that we could find was from MacDonalds. We decided on takeaway as the sky was getting darker by the minute. By the time we got back to the hotel, the drizzle had turned into a downpour. Can't say we weren't disappointed as we had hoped to explore Port Macquarie a little more since we didn't have much time to do so last night.

Despite the downpour, we had to continue on our journey to Byron Bay. The rain kept coming and going when we were on the road. One minute it seemed like the sky was finally clearing up...but the next minute further up along the highway, the raindrops came beating down again on the car.

After passing Kempsey, we saw some signs for Fredo Pies...claiming that the cafe sells over 50 different types of pies. We decided to check out the pie shop that was located in Frederickton as RG is a pie fan. There were 2 Marilyn Monroe statues being displayed at the front of the shop. And as we entered the pie shop, we saw several huge glass shelves spanning across the entire shop...proudly displaying the entire range of pies. We were totally in awe! It took us awhile to decide what pies to go for as we were totally spoilt for choice. And we picked the sausage mini rolls and crocodile pies. Well, the sausage rolls were more like minced meat rolls whereas the crocodile meat tasted kind of like chicken really.

Poor Marilyn Monroe getting wet in the heavy downpour.

The top right hand corner one is the crocodile pie. To tell the truth, I felt funny eating it 'cos I've a phobia of crocodiles and reptiles.

We were stuck at the cafe for awhile 'cos the rain was too heavy for us to get to the car which was parked a distance away. Seeing that we were stranded, the pie shop owner told his staff to find an umbrella for us. He returned with a sun umbrella so huge that he could shelter all 3 of us to the car. It was such a nice gesture and we were most grateful.

As we were nearing Urunga, the rain suddenly stopped and the sun came out. We were overjoyed and took that as a sign that we should drop by Belligen and Dorrigo as we had skipped them on our way to Sydney due to the lack of time. We were running low on fuel, so we pulled up at a strange looking gas station which looked more like a fruit market. We ended up buying both gas and some lychees.

As we pulled away from the gas station, it started to rain again to our great disappointment. We weren't sure whether or not to proceed to Dorrigo National Park as the rain was quite we decided to stop over at the Dorrigo Information Centre to request for information. The friendly staff at the info centre told us that it might still be worth a visit as the skies might clear up in the late afternoon. Just outside the info centre, we saw a big wall mosaic which looked absolutely colorful and captivating!

The skies hadn't cleared up by the time we reached Dorrigo Rainforest Centre. So we decided to grab some lunch at the Canopy Cafe which overlooked the rainforest. We ordered some hot broth and coffees 'cos we were both feeling cold and miserable having being caught in the rain earlier. The broth was just what we needed 'cos the spices and the hot comforting soup warmed us up immediately. We took our time to eat our lunch and by the time we were done, the heavy downpour had trickled down to a slight drizzle. What perfect timing!

The entire rainforest was still misty after the rain but it smelt so nice as if fresh out of a good shower. The birds that were in hidding earlier were starting to fly around from tree to tree, chirping their happy tunes.

Below was the boardwalk engulfed in mist...making it looked quite enchanting.

The plants were looking incredibly fresh after the rain.

There was this big field right outside Dorrigo Rainforest Centre and there were many black cows grazing there. I had wanted a closer snapshot of the cows so I approached the fence gently. But the minute the cows saw me approaching...they all stood up and started to snarl at me. Even though there was a fence between me and the cows, I was still scared that they were going to charge at me. I wondered if it was because I was wearing a bright red cardigan? Damn the cows sure looked I quickly snapped and left.

As we headed back to Belligen from the rainforest centre, we caught sight of the pretty roadside waterfall called Newell Falls.

Bellingen is a very small quaint town. I was told that the residents were mostly in the creative fields i.e. artists, writers, musicians. The main shopping streets were an eclectic mix of craft shops, galleries, homewares and clothings. I especially like the Hammond & Wheatley Emporium which was housed in a century old building. The things in the emporium were more high-end clothings, housewares and jewellery. Even though I couldn't afford to buy anything, I still had a great time browsing through all the products.

The below photo was taken from the second floor of the emporium.

And situated on the outskirt of Belligen, we found this place called The Old Butter Factory. Well no, you can't buy butter from there....the 100yr old factory has since been converted to an art gallery that sells all kinds of original crafts like paintings, photography, pottery, ceramics, furniture, jewellery etc.

It was getting late when we left Belligen and we had another 4+hr drive ahead of us. We aimed to get to Byron Bay before sunset so we drove non-stop for the rest of the journey.

By the time we reached our hotel - Wollongbar at Byron Bay, it was already 7pm and the reception was closed. We panicked cause we didn't want to end up having to sleep in the car as we were aware that most of the accommodations were fully booked on that day. Luckily, there was an after-office hour telephone that we could call...and we were told over the phone that a room had already been reserved for us and the key could be found under the door mat. The room was pretty decent at a price of A$145 inclusive of breakfast. It definitely wasn't fancy but it had a certain laidback hippie feel to it. My only grouse was that there were a couple of mossies which got into the room through the door gaps.

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