Travelling Australia
Wayne & Pam BENTLEY

Sunday 22nd October 2006 to Tuesday 24th October 2006

Sunday 22nd October 2006

Talk about being friendly around here.... Last night they even put a parade on right near our caravan (Pammys 75 steps away) with a band and a whole lot of fire fighters marching past carrying burning flame torches. Then as though that was not enough, around 9:p.m. right at the end of the caravan park they put on a fireworks display that provided a multitude of colours and effects and lasted about twenty minutes. This was a bit of a surprise to us because we hadn't told any of the local officials we were here. Surely these events would have had anything to do with the NSW Firefighters State Championships that are taking place this weekend in Port Macquarie would they?

This morning we woke to a dark overcast sky and rain to dampen our spirits a little, however after a walk of about 300 metres (in the rain, with brolleys up) to the end of the the breakwater, we were able to overlook the beach and quite a few surfers that were even wetter than us whilst they were riding the waves in toward the shore. What a great caravan park this is as far as location, just a pity about the weather whilst we have been here.

On our return to the caravan it was time to cook up a breakfast of Bacon toasted sandwiches and after a little preparation, at about 10:15a.m. we piled into the Patrol and headed out on a drive down the coast on a bit of a sight seeing expedition.

This drive took us through Lake Cathie, Bonny Hills and on to North Haven where we pulled in to the local beach and took a couple of photographs before moving on. From here we passed through Laurieton and headed West over the Pacific Highway and out through Kew and along the Lorne valley before climbing into the mountains. Before long we found ourselves on a rather wet dirt road that was very sound, but very good at spreading mud over the patrol and making it look like a real 4 wheel drive. This road lead us to Comboyne through some very pretty mountain and forest country with the occasional grazing pasture, one paddock had a pig and a cow grazing side by side like old mates.

After driving through Comboyne we turned north east and made our way down off the Comboyne Plateau and onto the Oxley Highway before driving through Wauchope, over the Pacific Highway again and back into Port Macquarie. This proved to be a very interesting drive and kept us busy for around three hours.

As we were moving on tomorrow, we found a Woolworths Service Station and filled the Patrol up with diesel before making our way to the local Coles Store where we dispatched about $107 from our wallet to the store cash register before returning to the Caravan at about 2:15p.m. Pammy particularly likes this store as it is open 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, so if the 'Other One' finds her missing in the middle of the night, the first place to look will be the Coles Supermarket in the town centre, about 500 metres from the caravan.

We don't expect to be entertained tonight like we were last night, so we will have to just be happy with Happy Hour which we are looking forward to as last night was another AFD. That is getting a bit of a habit... that is the second one since we left home!!!

Tomorrow we head off to Cessnock where we will be staying until Friday morning and enjoying what the Hunter Valley is famous for!!!!!!

North Haven Beach
North Haven Beach

View over the Lorne Valley
View over the Lorne Valley

One of the many rivers on the PComboyne lateau
One of many rivers on the Comboyne Plateau

Monday 23rd October 2006

With 266 kilometres to travel today, we were up and ready some time before we managed to drive out of the caravan park as there seemed to be a lot of people who came over to us and asked if we were leaving today (maybe the fact that we were packing up gave them a hint0 and then wanted to chat about where they had been and where they were going and where they wanted to go. The last visitor we had was still talking as we started to hitch up, but we finally managed to get out of the caravan park and on the road by about 8:45a.m.

We made our way out to the Pacific Highway and turned south and made our way through Kew, Johns River, Moorland, Nabiac then (get these two) Coonlongolook, Bulahdelah and Heatherbrae before turning west on the New England Highway through Oak, Kurri Kurri, Weston and Neath before we arrived in Cessnock, pulling into the caravan park at about 12:10p.m.

The caravan park is a Big4 park but does leave a little to be desired as far as the powered sites went as there was a distinct lack of grass but that is not unusual due to the extreme water restrictions in the area, however there are a lot of green grape vines not far away in the Pokolbin area. We set up for the next four nights and then after a bite of lunch we drove into Cessnock and were a little amazed at the size of the town, or maybe we should say City as the signs do say 'City of Cessnock'. We found a BigW, Woolworths, Coles, Target and even a Bunnings store in the shopping precinct. After our visit to BigW and Bunnings where we bought a broom and a brush, we set off out to the Pokolbin area, which is an area, not a town or community.

On arrival in the area we called in to the Visitors Centre where we picked up some more pamphlets on the vineyards and attractions around the area, with the intention of visiting the vineyards and doing some wine sampling another day. At this time Pammy disappeared from the information room and was later found breasting the bar in the tasting area with a glass in one hand and chatting up the young bar staff member. We had been in the Hunter Valley for only about two and a half hours and she had already tried out the shopping centres and was busy ensuring the wine was up to standard. It couldn't have been too bad because she walked out of the tasting area with a bottle in tow.

It was then time to return to the caravan, arriving there about 4:20p.m. and starting the preparations for the evening, including Very Happy Hour and a steak on the BBQ for dinner.

Tomorrow we will work out our activities for the next three days but they should include a visit to the Hunter Valley Gardens in Pokolbin as well as a drive around the winerys and maybe even a visit to Maitland. But there is a visitors guide in the caravan with tick marks over a lot of attractions that have been deemed as well worth a visit. Not sure which ones will be included considering the time we have, but a bit of cramming may be necessary.

The Information Centre at Pocolbin in the Hunter Valley
Information Centre at Pokolbin - Hunter Valley

Pammy couldn't wait to taste the wine
Pammy couldn't wait to taste the wine

Tuesday 24th October 2006

Chocolate, Cheese and Wine - Where else would Pammy be
Chocolate, Cheese and Wine - Where is Pammy
Oakvale Winery in the Hunter Valley
Oakvale Winery (and Pammy) in the Hunter Valley
Broke Ridge Ranges looking over the Hunter Valley
Broke Ridge Ranges over the Hunter Valley

Our first morning in the Hunter Valley started with a beautiful blue sky, a warm sun and a washing machine churning away cleaning our bed clothes. Of course this meant that Pammy was up early and the 'Other One' had a choice of getting up or ending up in the washing machine with the bedding. He believes everything she says so that really only left one option so he enjoyed the warmth of the sun as well.

With the washing on the line and the morning duties completed, we drove out of the caravan park at about 10:15a.m. and headed straight for the Pokolbin area where Pammy spotted a little centre that had a Chocolate shop, the Smelly Cheese Shop and a wine sales area so the brakes were applied and after screeching to a stop (a fair bit of that screech came from Pammy!) we pulled into the car park and she was out of the car like a rocket and made it straight into the chocolate shop. After a close examination of the contents, we exited that shop leaving it a little less stocked than when we walked in. Next it was into the 'Smelly Cheese Shop' where a taste or two was made and a purchase transaction or two was made. We won't even mention the wine shop but we did manage to get away after about twenty minutes at that centre.

From here we continued out Broke Road and wound around a few other small roads before we stopped at Oakvale Cellars and sampled a wee drop of white wine and just a touch of a good full bodied shiraz. And we walked out of Oakvale almost eighty dollars poorer.

We continued our drive and found ourselves out on the New England Highway so we turned left and made our way out toward Singleton. Just prior to arriving in Singleton we saw a sign that pointed to the army base and an Infantry Museum so we made our way out to the entry to the base, only to find that the museum was closed on Mondays and Tuesdays so we couldn't gain entry. We then returned to the highway and continued on to Singleton where we drove around the town and through the main shopping centre before heading back down the New England Highway toward Maitland.

We passed through Braxton, Greta and Lochinvar before arriving on the outskirts of Maitland at a place called Rutherford, which was where a Blue Light National Conference was held way back in around 1998 and the motel and Service club were located and pointed out to Pammy as the 'Other One' was in attendance at the time.

We then drove around Maitland which is the town that was flooded out way back around 50 years ago and was the subject of the film 'Newsfront' which had a lot of the original Moveitone newsreel footage from the flood used in it. At the time of the conference the Information Centre had a very good display of the flood available for public viewing so we went looking for the Information Centre and followed the signs into the centre of town but then they disappeared, so we really had a good look around the town centre before eventually stumbling (not because of the vineyard visit) onto it when we had given up looking. Unfortunately the display that was on then was long gone and there did not appear to be any information about the floods available in Maitland, other than from a visit to the library. It was then time to make our way back to Cessnock so we headed out of Maitland and drove back through the HunterValley once more, on different roads and passed many different winerys this time.

Just prior to arriving back in Cessnock we called in to the Hunter Brewing Company where a couple of their brews were sampled and a purchase was made before making the last part of the journey back to the caravan, arriving there at about 3:05p.m.

We will not mention how old she is but tomorrow is a special day as it is Pammy's birthday and we intend to visit the Hunter Valley Gardens. However she will not be celebrating quite like she did last year at her 60th birthday party.

The Old Maitland Train Station
The Old Maitland Train Station

Hunter Brewery just out of Cessnock
Hunter Brewery just out of Cessnock


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