Saturday, November 28, 2015

Nan Tien Buddhist Temple

We are currently at a place called Windang which is a suburb of Woolongong. It's not that this is a happening place to stay, although it is quite pretty as its situated on Lake Illawarra. But my reason for wanting to stay here was because its only 15 minutes from the Nan Tien Temple. A number of years ago while driving back to Melbourne from Queensland I saw this magnificent building off in the distance. From that day I have been telling myself I will get here to visit one day. Unfortunately I couldn't do the tour as this is the one Saturday they weren't conducting it, but I was still able to spend time there and soak up the beauty and peace this magnificent temple exudes. Nan Tien Temple is one of the branch temples of Fo Guang Shan, founded in 1965 by Venerable Master Hsing Yun. "Nan Tien" in Chinese, literally means "Paradise of the South" and is the biggest Buddhist temple in the Southern Hemisphere.

Nan Tien Temple

The Nan Tien Gratitude Bell - The Gratitude Bell is to acknowledge
 the gratitude we have for our parents and ancestors. 
Yes it is the year of the monkey

The Pagoda as a storm brews in the background over Woolongong
This smiling Buddha greets you as you drive in the temple driveway

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Christmas is coming

We are now having a couple of lazy days in a suburb called Toowoon Bay, situated between Sydney and Newcastle. Once again we had to stock on a few grocery items so headed to the shopping centre down the road. After lunch we wondered into a Christmas Pop Up shop. I looooove Christmas, I love decorating my house inside and out so this shop was a little bit of heaven. It wasn't a very big shop and it was absolutely jam packed with Chrissy stuff. I have never been in any sort of shop so full of stuff. I may have to go back tomorrow as the amount of stock overwhelmed me a bit and I didn't buy anything. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


The last couple of days have been spent in Tuncurry which is another coastal town, this time in the Great Lakes area, about 308km north of Sydney. It is connected by bridge to its twin town of Forster, which is the larger of the two. We decided to have a couple of lazy days while in Tuncurry with just a bit of fishing and enjoying the nice warm weather. Yesterday we decided to go for a walk along the breakwater wall. As we set off the skies were blue with not a cloud in sight. As we headed back a little black cloud started heading our way. It grew and got blacker but was still only one cloud in a totally blue sky. Then all of a sudden the huge rain drops started falling, as we ducked for cover under a tree the heavens (actually it was still the one cloud) open up!! The rain certainly didn't last long at all and we headed back to the car. That was when we noticed the steam coming up off the still hot road. It was such an eerie sight it was like someone had turned on the steam machine.

Beautiful day for a walk
Then this little black cloud developed over our heads
Who turned on the steam machine

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Slim Dusty Centre

While driving last week we heard on the radio about the opening of the new Slim Dusty Centre in Kempsey. We both like country music and Shane really loves Slim Dusty music so seeing we are sort of in the area we knew we knew we had to head down there. So this morning we headed of early for Kempsey. I would think the majority of Aussies and quite a few people outside OZ would know of Slim Dusty. Born David Gordon Kirkpatrick in 1927, he changed his name to Slim Dusty at the age of 11. His career  continued until his passing in 2003. In his long and fantastic career Slim and his wife Joy McKean released 102 albums (her was working on 103 at the time he passed), was the first Australian to get a Gold Record, the first Australian to have an international hit with "A Pub with No Beer". He was the only artist to win 36 Golden Guitar awards from 72 nominations at the Tamworth Country Music Festival. In other words he was a pretty impressive artist. This new centre I. a multi purpose facility that includes the Slim Dusty Museum, the Columbia Lane Theatre, a Travelling Exhibition Gallery ( at the moment it visited of Aboriginal art - but I wasn't allowed to take photos. There is also a function centre, cafe, general store and visitors centre. The Museum features all of Slims Gold Records, Golden Guitar awards and so much more.

Shane outside the new Slim Dusty Centre
Just one of Slims Gold Records

How many Gold Records can an artist win!!!

This is just half of the Golden Guitar Awards

Slim and Joy travelled all over Australia in Old Purple and their caravan 

Sunrise and the Big Banana

For some reason I woke very early this morning and looking out my window noticed the sun had not yet risen for the day. So up I jumped and walked all of 50 steps to get this beautiful greeting to my Friday. There were about 5 other people walking along the boardwalk but I was the only one with my camera in my hand.
Urunga Boardwalk at sunrise
Good Morning
Looking down in the water I noticed a school of about 30 fish swimming about in the shallows, a couple were a pretty good size. Of course I didn't have my fishing rod with me!!! 
Later in the morning we decided to go for a drive into Coffs Harbour which is only about 20 minutes up the highway. I haven't been to Coffs Harbour since I was in my 20's and it certainly has changed. Australia is known for lots of towns having a big statue/structure of something relevant to the area. Well seeing Coffs Harbour has alway been a banana growing area, what else would be here but the "Big Banana". So yes I had to get a photo of it. After doing some much needed grocery shopping we had a little road trip around the town. 
The Big Banana - Coffs Harbour

While in town we stumbled onto a fishing tackle shop that claims to be the biggest tackle shop in the world. Now I don't know about the world but it certainly is the biggest fishing tackle shop I have ever been in. There were so many fishing rods and other stuff I thought Shane was going to hyperventilate!!!
The biggest tackle shop in the world ??????
We were going to head off from Urunga tomorrow but have decided to have another night here as it is such a lovely spot to spend some time. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Urunga - Coffs Coast

After another very short drive we have arrived in Urunga, another delightful small seaside village. Once again we are positioned between the ocean and a river. Often described as the place where the rivers meet the sea, it is here where the Belligan and Kalang rivers flow into the Pacific Ocean. Only a few steps from where we are camped is the Urunga boardwalk which extends 1 kilometre out to the ocean between the Urunga Lagoon and the Belligan and Kalang rivers.

This regions attraction is not only the beaches but the hinterland is something to behold. Today we ventured inland along the Waterfall Way to the villages of Belligan, Dorrigo and Ebor. Belligan, affectionately referred to by the locals as "Bello" is quite an arty village with galleries, handmade arts and crafts as well an edgy music scene.

After driving up the spectacular mountain road we reached Dorrigo, which is situated on the Dorrigo Plateau. Two of the attractions in this area are the World Heritage listed Dorrigo National Park and the Dangar Falls. The Dangar Falls is a 30 metre high cascading waterfall across the Beilsdown River. 

The last village on our road trip was Ebor which is a tiny hilltop village with a population of only around 160. This beautiful location is where you can watch the Guy Fawkes River plunge 100 metres over two waterfalls that are the Ebor Falls. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Red Rock

Once again we didn't have a very big drive to get to Red Rock this morning! We drove a whole 76km and it took us just under an hour. As the crow flies it is only 12km from Wooli - but we aren't crows!!! Red Rock is once again a small seaside hamlet on the banks of the Corindi River with a population of around 270 people. Once again the caravan park we are staying at has the river on one side and the ocean on the other. This location had also been recommended to us by several other travellers and once again I am glad we have taken their advice. There are quite a few houses in the town but most are empty for most of the year and then full at Christmas, New Year and Easter.

We will give the fishing a bit of a go in the morning, weather permitting. Hopefully we have better luck than we did at Wooli. Shane got a couple of fish but they were undersized. 

Unfortunately this area has a sad history. The headland is reputedly the sight of a massacre of Gumbaynngir indigenous people in the 19th century. A memorial has been erected at the base of the headline to commemorate this. Aboriginal woman tend to avoid the area. The massacre is reputed to have started at Blackaders Creek when mounted police entered the camp. They started shooting and then pursued the survivors to the Corindi River where they continued shooting. Legend has it, some people were then driven off the headland. 

The headland may have been named Red Rock because the river went red from the blood of the indigenous people or the name may have been from the unique red rock formation. 

Tonight after yet another pretty heavy shower we were treated to an amazing rainbow. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015


Firstly I must just say how saddened I am by the events that have happened in Paris these past few days. How one human can be so cruel to another human is beyond my comprehension. Is there anything that me as one small dot in this huge world can do? Is there anything we as a country can do? Is going in and bombing them the answer? I don't know, all I know it is all wrong. My heart goes out to all in Paris, all in France and all my fellow humans who's lives will never be as innocent as we once were.

We didn't travel very far to get to our new location, I think we drove about an hour and a half!! I had never heard of Wooli, but another camper recommended we come and stay here and I am once again glad I took another travellers advice. Wooli is a tiny seaside village situated between the Wooli Wooli River and the ocean. Back on December 24th, 1861 when this area was declared a camping reserve it was called Wooli Wooli which means "two water". As the area grew in popularity houses, a public school, a hall and some small businesses were built. 
We were treated with a nice sunset on our first night in Wooli
The pristine Wooli Wooli river are acclaimed to be the most unpolluted river in Australia and its waters are  a haven for wildlife and the very yummy Wooli Oysters. The first oyster leases were established back in 1885 at a cost of 1 pound per year. These oysters are renowned as some of the best in Australia. I have eaten quite a few oysters (natural) in my time and must say after buying a dozen yesterday they are extremely tasty. 
The entrance to Wooli Wooli River was a bit choppy as the tide was going out!!
Off shore is the Solitary Islands Marine Park. The Solitary Islands Marine Park consists of five main island groups and other significant rocky outcrops and submerged reefs. According to information brochures there are over 280 different species of fish, four varieties of turtles and 90 different types of coral. During the colder months it is also a safe haven for the migrating Humpback and Southern Right Whales. It would certainly be a special place for any divers to visit although from what the locals say it is sometimes home to some large White Pointer Sharks!!! 
Windy, Windy Windy !!!
From what I can tell most travellers call into this village to do some fishing. We gave it a try yesterday and there were fish out there because something was doing a lot of nibbling on my line but alas I never caught anything. We were going to head out again this morning but the wind has picked up and it is a very strong 45km, so might wait to see what it's like this evening. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Yamba on the Clarence Coast

In our travels and while watching travel shows on TV we had often heard about Yamba and how beautiful it was. So seeing we were in the area we knew we just had to stay here and are we happy we made this decision. Yamba is 670km north or Sydney and 279km south of Brisbane on what is called the Clarence Coast. Yamba along with Iluka are situated on either side at the mouth of the majestic Clarence River. The Clarence River is the largest waterway on the east coast of Australia travelling over 400kms from it's source in the McPherson Ranges in Queensland to the Pacific Ocean. In the past Yamba has been voted the best town in Australia by Australian Traveller Magazine due to its beautiful beaches, award winning restaurants and great atmosphere. We booked into the Calypso Caravan Park for a week and wanted to stay longer but are unable to due to the Yamba Rod Run being held this weekend, when up to 400 hot rods and vintage cars ascend onto Yamba for their annual show.
Myrtle all set up for a week in Yamba
Beautiful Yamba
We are camped within walking distance to the ocean and about 50 steps from the river and each night (if it's not raining, as the first few days did) we are treated to some amazing sunsets. 
A Yamba Sunset
We have been out fishing once but didn't have any luck getting anything into our fishing bucket. As we sat there just prior to the sun setting we noticed quite close to the shore a fin gently gliding through the water. It would submerge and then surface again somewhere else. At first we were not sure if it was a shark or a dolphin but after we saw the fin quite close, decided it was most probably a shark!!! After the sun had gone done, all of a sudden I had a huge jolt on my fishing rod that had so much force it actually dragged me a few steps along the beach toward the water. After only about 20 seconds of me holding the rod and trying to keep my balance the line snapped and I almost fell back on my bum!!! So that was the end of my fishing for the night, but we are heading back out tonight. 
No whiting at whiting beach!
One day when it was quite overcast we decided to go for a drive into MacLean which is only a short drive from Yamba. Due to its Scottish roots MacLean is advertised as "The Scottish Town in Australia". The Scottish settlers to MacLean (originally named Rocky Mouth) were mainly highlanders, driven from Scotland by the Highland Clearances and famine in the 1840's. At Easter every year the town holds a Highland Gathering where the town commemorates MacLeans Scottish Pioneers. Also situated on the Clarence River it is quite a quaint little village with some beautiful historic buildings. Some of the street signs are in Gaelic as well as English and there are over 200 power poles painted with Scottish clan tartans. 
Tartan Poles

I tried but I can't pronounce MacNaughton Pl in Gaelic!!

Check out this little groovie dude I ran into today

End Note: We just got back from a couple of hours fishing. Still no luck on the fishing front but we were treated to an amazing sunset sky, a sea eagle flying above, some sort of bid diving into the water to get our fish, pelicans and the joy of watching a pod of dolphins swim only metres from the shore. 
Another beautiful Sunset sky

This is the best shot I could get of our visitors -
the dolphins moved through the water so gracefully

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Crystal Castle and Shambhala Gardens

We spent our last day in the Tweed area going for a drive to Byron Bay. When I was younger Byron Bay was always known as a "Hippy Town" with lots of people living an alternative lifestyle. I hadn't been there for many years and was interested to see how this town had evolved. Sadly I was very disappointed as the town has grown so much it doesn't seem to have that hippy feel at all. There were so many people and so many cars I felt like I was in a city rather than a country town. A good friend of mine had also told me, if I was in this area to go and spend some time at the Crystal Castle. Thank you so much for your recommendation Vicki it was one of the most magnificent places I have ever been. Back in 1985 Naren King was inspired to create a crystal business when visiting a building that was positioned where the earths energy lines, or lay lines, intersect. After a number of years and setbacks his dream was starting to take shape. He not only created a crystal business he has created a very spiritual place indeed. Crystal Castle and Shambhala Gardens is a private botanical gardens with thousands of extraordinary crystals, the magnificent "Fountain of Piece", a superb "Trompe l'oeil mural with two amazing amethyst geodes at its entrance. There is also a Labyrinth, a Damanhur Spiral, numerous Buddhist and Hindu statues and the most amazing Buddha I have ever seen. As you may all know I am a little partial to a Buddha!! But there is so much more as well, words cannot describe the magnificence of this place.
This is only a tiny example of the thousands of pieces of Rose Quartz on the property.
The Bamboo Walk
A Rose Quartz mountain surrounded by a reflexology circle

The most magnificent Buddha I have ever been in the presence off
Crystal Castle is also the home of the "Kalachakra World Peace Stupa". To explain what a Stupa is I have quoted what is written in the Crystal Castle brochure. "The World Peace Stupa" is an extraordinary construction both architecturally and spiritually. A stupa is a sacred monument built by the Tibetan Buddhists to represent universal divinity. These intricate structures are assembled under the precise guidance of a Tibetan Lama and every part of the design is endowed with special significance. Inside is a treasury filled with sacred objects and at the heart of the structure is the Tree of Life, a wooden pole covered with thousands of mantras written in gold. His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama has also visited this totally amazing Stupa.
Kalachakra World Peace Stupa
I know that if I am ever back up this way I will definitely spend some more time at Crystal Castle.