Around Australia: Port Macquarie to Byron Bay

Before leaving Port Macquarie we checked out the town beach. A couple of surfers were coming out of the water and a lone fisherman stood on a rock. The most striking thing was the painted rocks of the breakwater but we also spotted the first shark of the trip in the bay.

Afterwards we drove back to the Pacific Highway and continued north with the Great Dividing Lane on the left. Today’s first diversion was Route 15 through Macksville (population 7000) towards Nambucca Heads. The guidebook describes Nambucca as a quaint town. It certainly has an interesting mosaic at the bus stop outside the police station.

We stopped for a coffee in the Bookshop Café which sells secondhand books, has outside seating for better weather and sofas inside. There are a couple of PCs for internet access. I treated myself to one book.

Before leaving we drove to the Rotary and Captain Cook lookouts with views over the beaches before it started to rain again.

It was not the weather for wandering along the boardwalks alongside the water. The rain was torrential as we drove through Coffs Harbour and then into banana plantation country. Banana growing peaked in the 1960s and now tourism is the main industry. Further on the highway diverts inland to Grafton. Many of the streets are lined with trees, especially jacaranda but of course they are not in bloom at this time of year.

We also had a quick look in the cathedral which had a rather interesting organ.

Grafton’s other claim to fame is that the first modern hang-glider was invented there and launched at the Jacaranda festival in 1963. The bridge over the Clarence River into town is about to be replaced by a new one currently under construction.

Further on much of the road is still a two-lane highway but a major upgrade is underway, all the way to Ballina and due to open in 2020. This older bridge was almost over-shadowed by the new one next to it.

Back home we seem to have eternal roadworks on our motorways and now we cannot avoid major roadworks on holiday! The road runs alongside the Clarence River for quite a few miles and we had entered sugarcane country. The temperature climbed up to 19 degrees but just as we left A1 for tourist route 30 to Ballina, the torrential rain was back with us. An accident delayed us a little further on but eventually we arrived in Byron Bay. Tomorrow we will explore the town a little more and then head inland to visit some friends. So far our mileage from days 1,2 and 3 were 121, 257 and 159. So far, the total is 542 miles. As I write this, there is another downpour outside with thunder. I wonder what tomorrow will bring?