Like a Rollingstone, Day 103 – A ghost tour

Day 103 Saturday 20/8/2016, Burleigh Heads to Rappville, 24 Clear

A surprise cuddle, a ghost tour and Chinese synchronised swimmers.

We cross back into NSW and the stunning Tweed Valley, houses perched on green hills, patches of sugar cane, forests and blooming wattle.

The village of Bangalow is busy with the Saturday Farmer’s Market. Gerberas, raspberries and a nice bit of guitar work. Cafes and homewares and old shops with pressed metal ceilings and lead light glass panels above doorways. We stop for a coffee on the footpath and the next thing I know I’m minding cuddling a little dachshund named Tillie while her owner places her coffee order. Woody might not think so, but I reckon that’s the best coffee of the trip.


The road to Lismore follows the ridge line and there are expansive views of macadamia farms on either side. Lismore is a total surprise to us. Parking the car in an ordinary street and feeling a little dejected we set off for our walk. We try to have a walk in each largish town to prevent ‘spreading arse’ syndrome that is common with folk of our age. This usually means that a 300 – 400 km drive includes a 3 – 4 km walk. Back to Lismore. The town is surrounded by hills, has an enormous Catholic Church complex, several other large churches, a three storey Conservatorium of music, street buskers, a post office topped with a whimsical bell tower and a pie cart. Yes, a pie cart. We succumb to a duck and mushroom pie on the footpath under the trees. What? It’s not lunchtime? Too bad these are seriously good pastries.

I’d like to tell you about Casino but the whole town had closed up being Saturday arvo.
After the constant traffic noise at Burleigh Heads, Woody had requested that I find a quiet free camp and possibly with a pub. A few kilometres off the Grafton Road and hidden in the forest is a little dot of a town called Rappville. There are a hundred or so residents and of course being in the heart of the forest it all began with timber cutting. The pub was built in 1911 to a standard “Commercial Hotel” design. We soon learn that this design was used to build pubs all over the place. There was once a railway station opposite and railway tea rooms next door. The pub looked after the needs of ‘Commercial Travellers’ who travelled by train back then.

Pete the publican offers us parking space behind the pub or across the road by the railway line. We choose to park across the road because it is nice and flat with shady trees. Pete tells us that there are a few trains, the 6:18, 7:50 and at 2:00am the XPT “which is so fast you’ll only realise it’s there when it has gone by”.

Pete is larger than life and gives us and a bunch of leather clad weekend bikers a tour of the pub, complete with tales of death in the dining room (3 possums) and a ghost upstairs. Oh and the banister, that neatly fits your thumb and forefinger. It’s just something that you have to feel to understand.

We return to the pub after dinner, it’s cosy the curtains are drawn and the locals are ribbing old Mollie for her love of bubbles. Suddenly the 6:18 rumbles past and everyone jumps up and waves toward the window (remember the blinds are drawn) then we all go back to watching the Chinese synchronised swimmers at the Rio Olympics. At 7:00 we all get thrown out ‘cos Pete and Jane want a good night’s sleep as they’ve got seventy for lunch tomorrow. It’s a long time since we’ve been thrown out of a pub.

We get cosy back in the van and wave to the 7:50 freight train as it passes…

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