This is the view from the cliffs overlooking the ocean at Woolgoolga. There was a lot of smoke in the air this morning, but you can sort of see two islands that are part of The Solidary Islands, a marine park. It's special because this is where the warm and cold ocean currents mix to produce a facinating variety of marine communities. Marine life from the Great Barrier Reef and as far south as Tasmainia can be found living together.
BTW - the smoke and forest fires are getting very bad in New South Wales with an estimated 90% of the 50 current fires being suspected arson. The police have arrested one guy with mental problems that is thought to be responsible for about 4 or 5 of the fires around Sydney. In some areas today, we could not see the hills we were driving beside and in other areas, it was very clear.
We got pictures of the Big Mandarin and the Big Pineapple, so it was only fair to include the Big Banana. This is quite a big theme park with tours, a restaurant and a gift shop.
Strangely, they also have toboggan rides. Not on snow, but inside a metal channel much like a water slide without the water. We were too early to try it out, so we just looked in wonder.
And the Big Bananna also had a year round ice skating rink with lessons available. We're not sure what an ice skating rink has to do with banannas, but if it works, good for them. Reminded us of the Ice World on the Gold Coast where you could pay good money to play in an indoor ice and snow park. Guess that might be fun when the outside temperature is up to 38 C and muggy.
We've seen these signs all up and down the highway from Sydney to Cairns. Gives us the idea there is quite a bit of flooding in the wet season, but the highways are apparently not affected that often. However, when Adina (Phil's daughter) was over several years ago, the highway was flooded and the police were directing traffic through it because the water was not too deep. However, the air intake in Adinas van was too low to the ground and it ended up destroying the motor. Many of the 4 wheel drive vehicles have snorkels attached so they can "breathe" 1.5 meters above ground level to prevent that kind of problem.
This is the Trial Bay Gaol that was right out on the coast close to Kempsey. It was built in the late 1800's, but only used for 17 years before being shut down. It was used again for a few years during the first world war to intern the Germans living in Australia and then shut down again.
This is the view from the top of one of the observation towers. The jail is built on the top of a hill overlooking the bay and has a great view.
We had some great pictures of Pelicans the other day, but they were some of the ones that were accidently lost so we had to stop and get this picture. There are lots and lots of Pelicans on the coast, especially where the fishing is good.
We veered inland and took a trip through The Hunter Valley, one of the great wine making areas in Australia. In the picture below, you can see the Wine Bushes. The Hunter Valley is about 100 km north of Sydney. The area is well developed for tourists with signs everywhere to all the different wineries.
We picked up a bottle of Chardonnay at Tyrrell's Family Vineyards. At suppertime, we looked across the street from the motel before going for a drive (didn't want to make the same mistake as the other morning) and sure enough, there was a nice Italian Seafood restaurant. In Australia, many of the restaurants do not have liquor licenses, but instead you can bring your own wine, so we brought ours and drank it with our meal. No worries, it was a short walk back to the motel.
As we were coming into the town called The Entrance, the sun was setting on the salt water lake so we just had to take this picture. There water comes and goes through the salt water river here as the tides come and go. It is a very popular recreational area because the salt water lake is very calm for swimming and sun bathing, and the ocean side has great waves for surfing. Because it's quite close to Sydney, it's a very popular weekend spot with the locals.