Location: Manning Valley
Date: February 2008

February 24, 2008. Tough Titties is back on the road, I'm happy to say, so I choofed off up the Pacific Hwy toward Port Macquarie, turned right at Kew, through Laurieton and then North Haven where I stopped to take a few pics of Queens Lake. There I spoke to a little boy's father about the mountain in the background. Yes, it is North Brother (one of three 'Brother' mountains in the area, south, middle and north). North is the one I climbed (with TT's assistance) the last time I visited Laurieton and got great shots of the immense lakes area. The boy's father pointed to the cleared area at the summit - a light green patch - where I was that day. Click here for the photo album or read on and click the link at the end of this article.

From North Haven, a quiet little holiday village, I traveled further north along Tourist Drive 10 for a peek at some of the beaches along the way. I experimented with a few surfer shots but did the hand-held trick... one of these days I'll get serious with a tripod and telephoto extension. I have both always at the ready in the car. Hmmm. And I must remember to use 3-frames-per-second burst mode. I missed a couple of spectacular shots today because I failed to think of it. One rider took a high-speed invisible elevator to the sky at the end of one ride. I met two of the surfers and thanked them for aiding my practice performance. "No worries, mate."

At Lake Cathie (pronounced Cat-eye) I relaxed with a cuppa and found a lovely yacht,  Lamb Chops Two. The lake is only knee-deep in parts - great for kids - and there were some people fishing from the bank, including two little girls. I noticed one woman collecting bark from the paper bark trees and spoke to her. She's a primary school teacher and wondered what her young pupils might create from the easily peelable strips, which are very attractive and interesting in texture. We had a good old natter about this and that, and traveling, etc. She wants to visit Alaska before global warming stuffs up the environment for polar bears.

On the return trip, I decided to retrace my tracks to check out Queens Lake Sailing Club, which I missed before, but it was a disappoinment... all but abandoned like the old winch rusting away there. The clubhouse has been vandalized with tags and the loos are permanently locked. I'll never understand the mentality of vandals. Anyway, back at Camden Haven I saw a dozen or so pelicans surrounding a couple if fishermen scaling and fileting their catch of dolphin fish, and hung around to get a few pics. The beauty of digital photography is happily snapping away without worrying about wastage of film. I scrapped about half the pelican shots (as I did the surfing shots) when I arrived home. The whole point of the exercise is to take more images than you need in the hope that you'll get some goodies... or at least something reasonable.

So that was today. Not spectacular but worth the time and effort. All of that area is very pretty country, a great place to hang out and do very little except enjoy the scenery and leisure activities available. Click here for the photo album

February 17, 2008. Tough Titties' brakes went kaput the other day so she's grounded for a few days. No Odyssey today folks... hopefully next weekend. It's wet and cloudy today anyway so I wouldn't have gone anywhere in any case. Meanwhile, Oregon Richie's sojourn to Tierra del Fuego has been written and the photos are on the way to me. His Deep South America Adventure will be published on AO sometime during the week.

February 10, 2008. Whew! Long day! But I made it to Tapin Tops National Park and Dingo Tops Picnic area during cloudy but fine weather. West to Wingham from Taree, then north west along Elands Rd and left along Dingo Tops Rd via Wherrol Flat. First I visited Potoroo Picnic Park on Little Run Creek, which ain't so little after all the recent  rain! Turns out the track to Potoroo Falls is along the creek bed, upstream. The brochure warns that you "might get your feet wet". Well, at the moment, you'd get a lot more than your tootsies damp. It's at least knee deep and probably waist in parts. So I elected to remain dry. I'll have another go after a long dry spell... very long! Click here for the photo album or read on and click the link at the end of this article.

I was a little confused at the time (can't read signs or a map for nuts) and took the WRONG "track" which I thought was a 15 minute hike. I'd read about a 45 minute track and figured, after a while, that I was hoofing that one. No! I was on a road that climbed the other side of the gorge all the way to Dingo Tops... ON FOOT. After two and a half hours of climbing - with LOTS of rest periods - I simply could not go on. I was severely pooped, and even the thought of "almost" being at the top was not enough to convince me to continue. A hundred times I must've thought "just around the next curve, surely the road will level out". So, after being disappointed for the 101th time, I turned around and walked back to the Potoroo picnic area (which, itself, took over an hour) and back to Tough Titties for a well earned cuppa and rest.

During that marathon, I managed to attract a leech. It was a persistent bugger and took at least 6 determined flicks to convince it to leave my big toe alone.

I drove back to the Potoroo turnoff and followed Rusty Rd, which led me to a fallen tree. Actually, I encountered quite a few fallen trees that had been loosened by above-average rainfall, however, all except the one on Rusty Rd were negotiable, including one I had to manhandle myself to clear passage.

Next, I rejoined Dingo Tops Rd and followed it through Tapin Tops National Park to Dingo Tops Rest Area, a former Forestry Work Camp. To one side of the picnic shelters, toilets and camping area is a small collection of machinery once used for logging during the pioneering days.

There I met fellow travelers George and his wife Anne. George, a former Sydney cop, was a builder most of his life (following in his father's footsteps) and still wields a hammer and saw to keep himself busy. He thought I was about his age, 73. Grrrr. So I let him know in no uncertain terms ("Gimme a bloody break!") that I was 10 years younger! Maybe I looked considerable worse for wear after my 3 1/2 hour trek on foot.

Anyway, George was very knowledgeable about the machinery. The spoked-wheel contraption is a road grader pulled by horse (or more likely, bullock). The two yellow wheels, turn the blade one way or the other. It must've been a two-man operation, with a bloke up front steering the horses/bullocks while the other bloke stood on a platform at the rear to operate the blade controls.

Next is the log jinker made of solid iron. A felled log is attached behind the iron plate, with the far end left to drag along the road. The plate stops the log from moving forward downhill to protect whatever is the prime mover - horse/bullock or, later, tractor. The iron tire to one side (set in a lump of concrete so that it can't be wheeled away by a thief) once fitted the spoked wheel of the grader. When the spoked wheel was fashioned and fitted with a rim, the iron tire was heated and fitted to the rim while expanded, then hosed with water to cool it quickly. The iron contracted and fitted the rim perfectly with a tight grip.

Then comes the "portable power source", an old steam engine (probably made in England). It must weigh 20 tons if it weighs an ounce. It would have used wood as fuel because wood is what logging is all about, and is plentiful. In one pic, you can see the holes for the boiler pipes behind the front end. Inside the other end, I noticed another kind of fuel... a trashed carton of Tooheys Beer.

George and Anne took a different route home whereas I backtracked the way I came in. It wasn't until I arrived home that I discovered I had a blood-filled thong. No, it wasn't a leech (like on a previous Odyssey), I'd been attacked by a stick. I remember having accidentally kicked a stick on my wanderings but, at the time, didn't think anything of it. Brave little me! Click here for the pic album.

February 3, 2008. I planned to visit Tapin Tops today... the word tapin is Aboriginal for 'dingo', the native Australian dog. But the weather is unsuitable, as it will be for most of the week. What a bummer. I'll just have to wait. This is the wettest summer I can remember! 


← Older posts      Journal Index      Newer posts →
Return to Home Page