It was time to head home from the Gold Coast and I wanted to get as far as I could in one day. Stephanie and I set off on our next adventure after having a quick breakfast and we were soon on the highway heading south. It was a Saturday morning and the traffic was pretty light as we soon found ourselves back in New South Wales. With the new freeway you hardly notice the difference from one state to the next – there isn’t even a sign to say you’re leaving Queensland.
After crossing the Tweed River we flew past fields of sugar cane and coastal scrub. This was a trip I had done so many times as a child in the backseat of mum and dad’s car that I could nearly recite the order of towns and rivers that we passed. Of course, most of those towns are bypassed by the new freeway so it is a much quicker trip than the one I remember. ‘Just hang on until the next town,’ dad would say every time someone mentioned a toilet stop. Or my favourite, trying to catch glimpses of the sea as the road wound around the hills.
Off to the right was Brunswick Heads, then Byron Bay, Ballina, then Woodburn. After nearly three hours down the road we stopped for morning tea at Ulmarra. A cute little park by the Clarence River, complete with bats hanging from the trees and water dragons sunning themselves.
No time for sunning myself today, it was back on the highway and whizzing past Grafton, Coffs Harbour, Nambucca Heads, Macksville and Kempsey. Then another quick stop for lunch and catch up on phone messages. What would we do without technology?
After nearly eight hours on the road we were both getting tired so we decided to pull into the next town. This happened to be a little place called Karuah on the banks of the river of the same name.
The name ‘Karuah’ was based on an Aboriginal word for ‘plum tree’ and it’s another place I remember from my childhood. Back then it was a busy highway crossing over the river. We often stopped here for lunch while the traffic roared across the bridge. It was the sort of place you caught glimpses of other families lunching in the park before everyone piled back into their cars and disappeared down the highway.
Stephanie and I booked into a nice, cosy little motel for the night. It was nothing fancy but the lady in the office was friendly and that makes all the difference to me. Then we discovered the most gorgeous fish and chips I have ever had! We sat by the edge of the water and ate our crumbed flathead while I reminisced to Steph about the times we had stopped here when I was young. It is peaceful now, beautiful in a way I had never noticed before. I could have sat there by the river all night if Stephanie had let me. But we had another long drive tomorrow and I let Steph lead me back to the motel.
Until next time, safe travels