Outback Road Trips

Sydney to Brisbane

Saturday 12 June 2021: Sydney to Myall Lakes N.P. 265km

Every Saturday the day starts with parkrun. This time on the northern outskirts of Sydney – a challenging but scenic 3-lap course within Fagan Park, Galston with 25m of elevation gain on each lap.

Then on for about 200km mainly on the M1 Motorway to Stewart & Lloyd Campsite, Myall Lakes NP.

Galston parkrun
We had to stop at the Coles Brothers Oyster Shed at Karuah on the way
There’s dingoes at the Stewart & Lloyd Campsite …
… and a Black Cockatoo trying to attract a mate
Sand dunes at Stewart & Lloyd Campsite

Sunday 13 June 2021: Myall Lakes N.P. to Forster 120km

We travelled via the Great Lakes area and stopped at Forster to visit an old mate.

Pam enjoying a freshly made breakfast damper
Houseboats on the Myall River at Bulahdelah
Our last oysters – from the Wallis Lakes at Forster, Kilpatrick style
Forster Tuncurry bridge, 631m long, was opened in 1959
White-bellied Sea-Eagle on the bridge
Dog on paddle board crossing the Coolongolook River at Forster

Monday 14 June 2021: Forster to Trial Bay Gaol 210km

The Big Oyster, rated 1 out of 5 as a Point of Interest, sits on top of a Kia car yard
We stopped for lunch at Lake Cathie
Kempsey Post Office, 1880 with additions of 1903

Trial Bay Gaol

Trial Bay Gaol built between 1877-1886. The prisoners were there to construct a breakwater to make Trial Bay a safe harbour between Sydney and Brisbane. The scheme failed and in 1903 the Gaol was closed. During World War I it reopened as an internment camp for over 500 men of German descent. In 1922 the Gaol was decommissioned and its contents stripped but in the 1950s volunteers began its restoration.

Trial Bay Gaol built between 1877-1886
Inside Trial Bay Gaol – the kangaroos are locked in at night
Kangaroos fighting at the Trial Bay Gaol Campground
Sunset from our spot at the Campground

Tuesday 15 June 2021: Trial Bay Gaol to Woolgoolga 165km

A pair of Egrets in Black Creek, South West Rocks
Smoky Cape Lighthouse built in 1891
Smoky Cape was named by Captain Cook after he saw Aboriginal fires burning there in 1770
We were excited to spot a pod of whales from the lighthouse
South Smoky Beach
Fishing boats on Macleay River
Pelicans are getting excited as a fisherman cleans his catch
Nambucca Heads
The 1927 Ocean View Hotel at Uranga looks like a fine place for a cold beer
Uranga Boardwalk leading over the tidal Urunga Lagoon and out to the ocean
The original footbridge of 1908 has been extended over the years and now runs for a kilometer

Woolgoolga

We saw a show on ABC Back Roads about Woolgoolga (Woopi to the locals), one of the early chapters of Indian migration to Australia. Although a few Sikh arrived in Woopi in the 1890s, during WW11 many more came to work on the banana plantations as the Australian men had gone to war. These farm labourers started becoming land owners and brought their families from India. First it was banana plantations, and when that ended, blueberry farming. Woolgoolga is home to Australia’s largest Sikh/Punjabi population and the current generation are still well connected to Punjab and Punjabi culture. We ate at Woopi Tandoori Nights Indian Restaurant, delicious authentic Indian food.

For 16 years, Curryfest has transformed the streets and beach reserve of Woolgoolga, into a carnival of colour, sights, sounds and taste and it’s on again this year, in September. We’ve booked accommodation already.

Woolgoolga is home to Australia’s largest Sikh/Punjabi population, this Temple opened in 1970

Wednesday 16 June 2021: Woolgoolga to Lennox Head 205km

Lennox Head is halfway between Woolgoolga and Brisbane so we spent the last night there going via the 19th century river port town of Ulmarra. There’s a new motorway that our GPS doesn’t know about and at one place a huge Roads & Traffic Authority sign telling you to IGNORE GPS and follow the road signs!

A group of bike riders stopped to watch the dawn at Woolgoolga
The barquentine Buster was wrecked on Woolgoolga Beach in 1893
Most of the wreck was exposed in early April 2021 after extensive flooding and storms
More kangaroos
There’s plenty of green grass but these two horses are up to their knees in water eating water weed

Ulmarra

Ulmarra’s historic buildings, still in use, create an image reminiscent of the town’s past as a 19th-century river port on the Clarence River.

Ulmarra Hotel constructed in 1906, characterised by fine ironwork and a large veranda
Ulmarra Police Residence and Court House built around 1880
A rare timber police station with a wide country veranda 
14 Coldstream Street Ulmarra, a private residence, was built around 1883
(Former) Anglican Church dates from 1912 

Thursday 17 June 2021: Lennox Head to Brisbane 210km

To break away from the repetitive motorway driving we diverted inland to follow the Tweed River.

Lennox Head
Seagull and Sea Eagle on the beach

En route from Murwillumbah to the Pacific Motorway, on the banks of the Tweed River is the tiny township of Tumbulgum established in the 1880s.

1887 Tumbulgum Tavern marks the site of an old Tweed River ferry crossing
Tweed and Rous Rivers meet at Tumbulgum

After five weeks, three states, three different campervans and over 7,000km we arrived back at home thankful to have avoided the Coronavirus restrictions of Victoria and New South Wales.