Saturday, 8 March 2014

Week One: the Far North Coast of NSW

So we’ve been on the road a week. There have been no spectacular disasters but I attribute that to the fact we’ve been far from roughing it. Let’s face it: ‘camping’ on your parents’ front lawn is a pretty cushy way to ease ourselves into the trip. We haven’t had one meal inside the camper, I’ve managed to read the first two Hunger Games books; it didn’t even cross Marguerite’s mind that she’d be sleeping anywhere except in her room in Nana’s house. Yes, life is pretty sweet at the Uys Huis at the moment.

We drove down the M1 from Brisbane, through the sprawling back suburbs of the Gold Coast and once we crossed the Tweed River Bridge, I could feel my bones relax as the green hills of the Far North Coast of New South Wales rolled up to Mount Warning and cane fields began carpeting the flats. There it was: that comforting feeling of being home.

So we set up on the front lawn of my parents’ place (minor argument over the spirit level and whether we would be having our heads pooling up with blood through the night) and eased ourselves into life with Nana and Poppy.

I went into Bangalow one day and had a great lunch at Town Cafe, an awesome café doing lunches which I can only describe as being ‘honest gourmet’- I had pumpkin lasagna with hazelnuts which was great, topped off with the most luscious chocolate brownie ever (as my worldly friend quipped “calories don’t count when you’re ‘doing lunch!’” I am so on board with that!!) and a waitress so sweet I wanted to take her home in my handbag. Apparently they do very upmarket degustation dinners which are amazing. Aaah how Bangalow has changed from hinterland backwater into a little town with so much spunk it’s a destination in its own right- no mean feat with hipster (note: NOT hippie) mecca Byron Bay just down the road.

Fiela and I met up with friends for brunch at Harvest Café in Newrybar one morning and were reminded why it’s so important not to live a few hundred metres away from an uber awesome foodie institution- having eggs Florentine with house cured salmon gravlax wasn’t enough, I had to go next door to the deli and get a huge sourdough and house churned butter with seasalt and rosemary. Bread + butter Harvest style = fatty boombalada.

Our family.
We went to Minyon Falls for a walk- that’s in a pending post, celebrated my brother’s 40th birthday with 100 of his nearest and dearest, celebrated again the next morning when the donations they had collected on behalf of my brother for the Westpac Helicpoter Rescue Service were found, having been lost for a number of hours (much to the relief of my frantic sister-in-law). We’ve had numerous dinners with my family, extended and immediate, Fiela got a surf in at Wategoes, put the kids in the naughty corner innumerable times as they throw their weight around in what I can only imagine is a grandparent inspired rebellion at any form of disciplinary measure from Fiela and I (game on you little buggers). Culled some crap from the van, fitted the bike rack, rented out our house (biiiiiig sigh of relief) and generally decompressed after what was a fairly intense start to 2014.

Party time!
Now we have said the bulk of our goodbyes and I doubt there will be tears tomorrow as we head off, timing our departure hours before our welcome is officially worn out (jokes Mum!). Next stop a cattle station near Dalby and what feels like the actual start to this adventure. We are as ready as we are ever going to be.

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