Jun 2

So we just got back from a week in northern NSW, staying at a little place called Wooyung, doing some fieldwork for Rach’s PhD. You may have heard about some floods they’ve been having up north, which meant we were forced to take the New England Highway rather than the more direct Pacific Highway.

Our trip started off nicely – in Scone we had a tasty bacon & eggs breakfast – but apart from that it was a pretty tedious drive. Tamworth, Armidale, Tenterfield, Casino, Lismore – these aren’t just lyrics from Peter Allen songs, they really exist! The constantly changing speed limits – 100, down to 50, back up to 80, back down to 60 – nearly drove me to despair.

The flat tyre in Ballina was the last thing we needed, but it did mean we were able to stop at one of the region’s great landmarks, the Big Prawn! By my (admittedly rough) calculations, this monument to crustacean life-forms outdoes in terms of sheer magnitude Coffs Harbour’s so-called “Big Banana” by a factor of at least ten to one!

Our enforced stopover also meant I could relive my youth by wasting a dollar (it was 20c in my day) in their Flintstones pinball. Sadly, the machine had been belted into submission by countless long-haul truckies, and the flippers were annoyingly unresponsive. All my best pinny moves were wasted on this poorly maintained pile of junk. What’s more, with all the flashing lights I wasn’t seeing the ball too clearly after 12 hours on the road.

The rest of the week was spent in the rainforest, or driving to and from. Let me say this about whoever designed the roads in northern NSW: they should invest in a ruler. I think the longest straight stretch of road was roughly twice the length of a Toyota Hilux. If I didn’t get to have fun by running down stray hippies I would’ve been really annoyed.

I’ll end by giving you a tip. If you’re ever in a small town on the southern edge of Nightcap National Park called Rosebank (which you probably won’t be) stop at the Green Frog Cafe and try their pumpkin soup. Tell ‘em Snubian sent ya.

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