A warm welcome to the Camden Haven Region
Trip Start May 01, 2010
58Trip End Oct 03, 2010
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Where I stayed
Brigadoon Holiday Park
First thing Thursday morning we drove an interesting route through residential areas on the outskirts of Coffs Harbour to avoid the morning city traffic. The GPS guided us down side streets and up and down hills till we eventually arrived at the South Pacific Highway. We entered the highway a short distance from the Cunningham’s Fresh Fruit stall which has a huge bunch of bananas that we had seen on Tuesday afternoon. We couldn’t possibly leave without a tasty bunch of small Coffs Bananas similar to the ones they grow in Carnarvon.
There are so many new roads around the Coffs Harbour area that the GPS became totally confused because as far as it was concerned we were driving through the bush but eventually it found the road we were travelling on. We drove through beautiful tall, straight gum trees, now all we need, is to see a koala in one of them, especially as we had seen so many signs telling us that they were living in the area. We crossed a bridge over the beautiful wide Nambucca River from where in the distance we could see the river flowing into the ocean. Our journey took us through small but pleasant country towns surrounded by green hills, tall gums and flowering wattle trees with happy cows munching contentedly in green pastures with wide rivers meandering their way down to the sea.
A long way before we reached Frederickton we couldn’t help but notice the big billboards advertising Fredo Pies, 50 varieties and the best in Australia. With mouths watering at the thought, we managed to park the van across the busy road from the pie shop and made our purchases. The pepper steak pie and the mongolian lamb pie certainly were very tasty but whether they are actually the best in Australia may be open to debate. Mid-morning, feeling satisfied from our Fredo Pies, we drove through Kempsey and were soon on the outskirts of Port Macquarie which seems to be another seafood (including oysters and prawns) town. We stopped at the Port Macquarie Harvey Norman to buy a new flash card to save our photos and it felt as if we were back at the shopping area on Albany Highway in Perth - they must have used the same plans. Driving out of town through the Macleay Valley we began to recognize more and more NSW town turnoffs such as Armidale, Tarree, Newcastle etc. Such pretty scenery in New South Wales as we drove along the Tourist Drive towards Laurieton. Just a couple more attractive country towns to drive through before our destination, one being Cathie Lake with the lake separated from the ocean by a sandbar surrounded by parkland and picnic spots. The second is Bonny Hills overlooking beautiful sandy, white beaches.
Soon after noon we arrived at the Brigadoon Caravan Park in North Haven which is on a rural property with the air filled by the sounds of many different birds singing. When we booked in we were handed a big fruit basket, with a kind welcoming card, which Lynne had kindly dropped of before we arrived. We phoned to thank Lynne and she invited us to dinner on Friday night when her parents Di and Bruce would also be there. She gave us the contact details of the garage where they take their Mitsubishi so that we could book our car in for a service
The caravan site we have here is a good site and, unlike the last, we have a short concrete path to the amenities. Alongside the path is a giant chess set, well equipped camp kitchen and putt-putt course. After setting up camp and having lunch, we drove towards town to find the garage and were pleased to see it is just over a kilometre from where we are staying. As we wouldn’t have a car the next morning, we continued into town to check out the layout so that we could organise where to meet Lofty Gannaway, from Mike’s PTC days, after we take the car in for a service the next day.
We found most of the shops and businesses are on the main street so after parking, it didn’t take long to walk through the town admiring the views between the buildings towards the river and the ocean. We noticed many retired folk on the streets and when we went into the small shopping centre, we walked passed a tea room packed with ladies partying and all wearing purple and red hats chatting happily.
Back in the car we drove around the residential areas including some sub divisions with new luxury homes. We came across the turn-off to NTM (New Tribes Mission) and drove up the driveway to see the layout. We noticed behind Laurieton a large heavily wooded hill and found the road that took us to the top where the North Brother Summit Lookout, sitting at an elevation of 490 metres above sea level, is found. The lookout is in the Dooragan National Park and the road passes through areas of impressive ferns, white flowers, tall gum trees and fern trees. The wonderful panoramic views over the river that flows into the ocean as well as multiple lakes and trees makes you understand why people pick this area to spend their retirement. The sun was shining but we didn’t stay long as there was a biting cold wind up there. We made our way back home to our caravan park just over the bridge from Laurieton in North Haven where at low tide the oyster beds could be seen dotted all over the inlet that is surrounded by mangroves. Thankfully even though they have mangroves here, we are told that the sandflies are only active in the summer unlike further north where it never gets too cold for the little blighters even in the winter.
Friday morning arrived and Mike was up bright and early, ready at 7am to take the car in for the service booked for 8am at the garage 1.4kms away - one never knows, one could get a puncture on the way, he says its better to be an hour early than a minute late!
At 11am we started a leisurely walk into town and shortly before noon we sat on a bench in town and watched Lofty Gannaway ride into town on his Harley. We went for lunch at the local hotel and sat on the sunny verandah while Mike and Lofty reminisced about their PTC days and the whereabouts of the various people with whom they had worked. Mid afternoon the call came that our car was ready to be picked up and it was also time for Lofty to ride back to his home at South West Rocks which is about half way between Coffs Harbour and Laurieton.
In the evening we found the Castilijn’s house and enjoyed a lovely meal and a pleasant evening with Lynne, Albert, little Stevie and Lynne’s parents Di and Bruce. Lynne fetched Philip and Bec from youth group later on in the evening. It was so interesting to see the work Albert has done building his new office and en suite bedroom and the progress he has made on the storerooms under the house from where he had dug out heaps of soil. It is still a work in progress, which he does in between his bible translating, and at least he doesn‘t need to join a gym to get his exercise.
The next morning we had a sleep in, hung the laundry on the washing line in the sun and then at midday drove to Di and Bruce Charsley’s house as they had kindly invited us for lunch. They have a lovely home close to parks and the river and we sat on their balcony from where we enjoyed the view up the hill to the Dooragan National Park. We enjoyed our time of talking and getting to know each other better and then went for a walk along the river in the warm winter sunshine.
They live in lovely surroundings and as they suggested, after returning to the house, we drove across the bridge and over to Dunbogan. We had already had a laugh about that name when we noticed it on the sign three kilometres from Laurieton. There are many lovely houses there with wonderful views over the wide inlets and creeks as they flow into the ocean.
By the time we arrived back at the caravan, it was time to get the laundry in, have supper, then watch the seemingly endless election broadcasts on TV and read. The nights are cooler now that we are further south and we occasionally have to make use of the reverse cycle air conditioner to take the chill out of the caravan but generally the insulated walls keeps the temperature at a reasonable level during the day.
On Sunday morning it wasn’t necessary to get up too early as the church service at North Haven Baptist church is held at 9.30am and we are staying only five minutes away. We arrived early and found that there were already many people around who made us feel very welcome. We were soon joined by Di and Bruce with whom we sat, and Lynn, Sarah and Philip sat behind us. They sang songs that were familiar to us, and the Youth Pastor preached his sermon before we were invited for morning tea on the verandah. We were introduced to many of the retired folk there, some of whom had also travelled like ourselves around Australia. At midday about fourteen of us met at the nearby Bowls Club for a roast dinner, followed by dessert and coffee. We enjoyed our time at the table with the Castelijn family getting to know them a little better. After coffee, we said goodbye to Di and Bruce with the promise to give all their friends in Perth their love and a big kiss from them both.
We then drove back to Lynne and Albert’s home to get a family photo of them outside their house. Their home is in a perfect location right on the corner of the road that goes up to the Dooragan National Park. They have only a neighbour on the one side of their property and around them on the other side are the bush and birds for them to enjoy.
Back at the caravan it was time to start putting our outside tables and chairs back in their bags and into the car in preparation for an early start tomorrow.
It has been a very pleasant three days here and a real pleasure meeting up with Lynne and Albert again and getting more insight into their work as missionaries in the jungles of Mindanao. Their children have grown so much over the 17 years that we have known them and developed into friendly polite young people. We leave looking forward to seeing the big city of Sydney which will come as a bit of a shock after so long in small towns with very little traffic to contend with. Next stop Lane Cove in Sydney!!