On the road again!

What a pleasure it is to head a post with the title of one of my favourite songs by one of my favourite singers, Willie Nelson. And what a buzz it was to be out on the highways and byways again with my wife and ever-wanderlusting wife after so many months being Covid-confined to just a few km from home!

We’re back at home-base now, but still tripping on the memories of six days and nights freewheeling around country and coastal New South Wales.

First heading north up the M1 to near Newcastle, then over to the New England Highway to Tamworth and finally Manilla, the small and delightfully sleepy town to which my youngest sister has recently escaped from the city.

And, as we travelers discovered, has made short work of the many travails involved in putting-down roots in her new rural environment, both figuratively in making herself at home in her newly-bought house, and literally in transforming its garden.

 In fact we felt so similarly at home hanging-out with her there inspecting her new plants and sitting out on the front porch watching the birds they’re attracting and wallowing in heaping helpings of hospitality that it was tough to tear ourselves away after just two days and three nights.

But that was all the time we could take if we were to make it to the coast for some of the salt-water swimming that my semi-aquatic spouse had her heart set on after far too many months marooned on dry land.

This quest took us on what we fancied would be a fairly easy four-hour drive, but that finished-up frightening the living daylights out of us both with some of the most death-defying hills, bends and steep ascents and descents that we were almost as burnt-out as our brakes were by the time we reached the relative safety of Taree and then our onsite-caravan accommodation at the quaintly-named coastal haven of Old Bar.

Even more quaint, indeed quite strange, was that the toilet and shower facilities where we’d booked were, as we’d been warned on the AirB&B site, unroofed and thus entirely open to the air.

And also, as it happened, to the rain that set in at dusk and persisted all night. But what the hell, dinner at one of the local Thai restaurants was great, and the drumming of the downpour on the roof of our caravan lulled us both into the soundest sleeps we’d had in living memory.

Unfortunately the wet and rather cold weather at Old Bar, and the fact that the beach, while perfectly picturesque, featured both savage-looking surf and no sign of life-savers proved something of a barrier, swimmingwise.  

So we resorted to our next pre-planned stop, Tuncurry, in high hopes that a combination of its climate and the relative calm of its rumoured seawater rock-pool would be more conducive to swimming.

In the event, however, it proved too icy for even such an indefatigable back-stroker and free-styler as my wife is, so as far as swimming was concerned, our road-trip was a bit of a wash-out.

But we consoled ourselves with another of our favourite traveling activities, which is diving into every charity shop we spot, in search of bargain wearables, books and whatever other kinds of bric-a-brac that takes our fancy, which in this case turned out to be a treasure-trove of indoor plants and pots.

With the result that now we’re back there’s so much gardening work for us to do, both indoors and out, that we’ll pretty soon need to hit the road again to recover from the effort. And this time around, I hope we’ll be taking the high road to Ipoh, Malaysia, and a long-awaited reunion with family and friends up that way.

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