Rain seems to be following us up the coast and was very heavy when we were breakfasting in our Newcastle hotel. Fortunately, it stopped, and the sun emerged as we drove out of town following the Hunter River to re-join the A1 Pacific Highway. The first diversion today was exploring the Hunter Region Botanic Garden which is just north of the city. It is run by volunteers and the garden covers 33 hectares surrounding the visitor centre. There are several walking trails which cover areas such was palms, wetlands, rainforest, succulents, conifers, banksias, rare and endangered plants, grasses and many others.
A boardwalk crosses the swamp and we could hear dozens of frogs but did not see any.
The gardens are also full of birds which we could hear but we only got brief glimpses of some.
Wildflowers grow in the forest areas and nearer to the visitor centre there are collections of bromeliads and orchids although unfortunately the orchid house was closed. Many of the trees and shrubs were also flowering.
After topping up our caffeine levels in the café we hit the road again, heading north and crossing the Karuah River. Shortly afterwards we saw the first koala sign warning motorists of wildlife and then unfortunately, the first dead wallaby by the side of the road. The road continues into more hilly country and crosses many rivers including the Myalla and Coolongolook. Once the A1 reached Kew, we diverted along Tourist Route 10 aka Ocean Drive which runs south of Queens Lake. A side road runs down to North Haven Beach where the tide was coming in.
Another stop was Rainbow Beach near Bonny Hills which is a popular beach and surfing spot but today, out of season, it was very quiet. I am assuming it acquired the name from the multicoloured rocks that lie on it.
Something James spotted while I was beachcombing was this traffic cone on the top of a 50m Norfolk Pine!
Further on the road descends into Port Macquarie. We passed the first camels of the trip – domesticated and standing in a roadside field. Unfortunately, there was nowhere to safely stop and take a photograph. We did manage to replace the windscreen wiper so now I can see where we are going when it is raining. After settling into our motel we walked a couple of blocks to the bowling club which our host had recommended for our evening meal and also given us some discount vouchers. After eating, we emerged to very heavy rain which soaked us on the short walk back. We should not complain because New South Wales has had a serious drought for some time. We will see if the rain follows us again tomorrow.