Oct 6, 2000

Today, we spent the morning with Phil and Marg having a late breakfast, discussing Windward issues and saying goodbye and then started to head south towards Sydney.

Jacaranda trees are in bloom everywhere. They have bright purple leaves and are very distictive. While they are not native to Australia, they grow extremely well and are very popular. In the town of Grafton in New South Wales, they have an annual Jacaranda festival near the end of each October. Near the end of the day, we drove through Grafton, but because it was almost dark, we didn't get a picture of that town but we could see Jacarandas everywhere.

However, in Grafton we did see thousands of flying foxes flying in from the west. Flying foxes are basically bats on steriods - huge with wing spans from 1 to 1.5 meters. They flew in, swooped down and around and landed in the trees and hung upside down. We thought that bats were silent and used only the very high frequencies, however these flying foxes were squawking much like a cross between a crow and a chicken might sound.

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When we first saw these signs we thought, well Duh....of course speed zones are enforceable and there would be fines for speeding. However, Jean then read in her book on Australia that in some areas, especially the northern territory, there were no speed limits and no enforcement.

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We took a different route to Byron Bay and came in over the top of a hill looking down on the lighthouse and the town. Spectacular scenery around here with rolling hills and the ocean in the distance. The smoke haze that was around near the beginning of our trip was mostly gone and we had some clear views.

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As we were leaving Bryon Bay to the south along the ocean road, we saw these hang gliders. The wind was quite strong coming in off the ocean and up the cliffs and giving a steady updraft. At times, the gliders just hung over one spot, not going up or down or forwards or back. They made it look quite easy.

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Damn!

Price of gas in Ballina was very high and it was getting late. Price was as low as 85.9 in Brisbane and in most cases we have been paying from 78 to 94 cents per litre with the average being around 88 cents. This is the worst it's been so far, and we had no choice but to pay the price.

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Lots of fires around the sugar cane fields around harvest time. Smoke was so black to start with it made us stop and have a second look as it almost looked like a building going up in smoke, but it was not.

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After the visit to Grafton and watching the flying foxes, we made it south to Woolgoolga, just north of Cofts Harbour. Found a very nice motel for just $50 Australian and it was better than many of the other places we have stayed at.