Day 82 Monday 31/8/20 Darlington Beach, hot 30
With a quiet day ahead of us the boys decide that a trip up to Dorrigo would be in order. We hurriedly get ready and hit the road calling in to Urunga first as The Prado’s haven’t seen this little gem.
The Bellinger Valley is shining in the sun. We’ve been here countless times now and it always captivates us. Big old European trees shade two storey wooden houses. There are paddocks of dairy cows and poddy calves and horses in grass up to their knees.
Bellingen is bustling. There’s a whiff of smoke in the air from Rural Fire Service burn offs. It’s a year since fires were breaking out around this area when we were southbound. Bellingen is a classy town with a hint of the arty and a dash of alternate. We wander the shops and ooh over the quality of clothing in the historic Emporium. Beautiful things, soft and luxurious and tasteful but not for caravanning in. That’s for sure.
A local lady stops us in the street, “Have a look in that window” she says “It frightened the life out of me.” We walk on to the next shop window and sure enough there in the corner is a man squatting holding a lettuce and wearing a loincloth, but wait it’s not, it’s a lifelike sculpture, the only give away being that it’s unlikely that a man would be wearing a loincloth and holding a lettuce in a shop window in Bellingen.
We wander down a lane to the bistro at the back of the Federal Hotel and grab a table (after sanitising, signing in and sanitising again). This is not the first time we’ve been to this pub and it won’t be the last. A pleasant deck, a few palm trees, the busy lane way with its passing parade of people and dachshunds and great food. While we wait for our orders Woody checks the queue in the laneway then ducks out for a Hearthfire Bakery Fruitloaf, one of his favourites. My Thai Beef Salad is light yet filling and tasty, Woody chomps through a Seafood Linguine, Elle gleefully tackles a fish curry and El Prado who judges pubs by the menu then always orders a Parma, has… the Parma.
After lunch we buy meat from the Smokehouse butchery across the street.
Fed and watered we take the Waterfall Way up the Great Dividing Range to Dorrigo. The Waterfall Way is a steep and pretty road that winds up the side of the Great Divide. There are stunning views for passengers to enjoy and at each sharp inside bend a delicate waterfall. The town, perched on the plateau, is quiet but hey it is only Monday. We visit the Dangar Falls and marvel at the world’s largest railway collection. It is disconcerting to see dozens (79 in fact) of locomotives covered in protective oil residing in a cow paddock but the Dorrigo Steam Railway and Museum Ltd has 53 acres of land and owns 35kms of the Dorrigo Branch Line. The collection is formidable but at present it can only be viewed from outside the fence. Yeah, it was a good idea to drive up to Dorrigo.