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From Chris on the Gold Coast, these memoirs of her family's travels to
 Tamworth and Coffs Harbour

A familiar trip to us - If you put all the kilometres together for each time we have traveled this path, we would have done a few laps around Aus - maybe one day, but for now our familiarity and experience of this part of the beaten track may just jog someone to include this part of the world in their experience also.  With home and animals still to be catered for and these arrangements in place, car packed to the brim, we set out early heading west across the Gold Coast Hinterland, through Canungra to Beaudesert and up over Cunninghams Gap - this is where we all like to put our windows down, smell the fresh air, and hear the bell birds chime. Two hours, and at the Ampol Service Station just before Warwick, we enjoyed bacon & eggs and bottomless cup of coffee.

Continuing on the New England Highway, there are lots of country towns, each with their own character -  Tenterfield and Glen Innes - in the midst of winter and for a seasoned Gold Coaster, bitterly cold, with a wind that seems to pierce you - back to the warm car and, as our two young boys would describe more trees, trees, and more minties - and then we were in Tamworth. From the Gold Coast with 'family style' stops, around seven hours.

Tamworth  is a regional New South Wales centre with picturesque streets and parks.  Renowned for its Country Music Festival in January each year, it has loads of accommodation on offer.

 

 

 The Country Music Festival is a phenomenon that everyone should experience in their lifetime.  Ill never forget when my son and I were walking down the main street, attention totally diverted by the diverse talents of the many buskers, when behind us we realised there was a gigantic bull, huge nose ring and all, being led through the crowd most unexpected, but this is Tamworth Country Music Festival.  Tamworth is 'home-town' to me, so we spent the wintry week with family and friends, and as adults do, we ate, drank and enjoyed the merriment by the wood fire while our sons reacquainted with cousins and relived the experience of losing themselves in fun and five acres of countryside.

Recovery in the form of 'on the road again', we back-tracked to Armidale on the New England Highway, one and half hours north of Tamworth and turned off the highway towards the coast on the Armidale/Grafton Road. This is another 'must do' - on the eastern side of Ebor, the countryside is green and spectacular.  Visit the Ebor Hatchery and Ebor Falls. Heading towards 
Dorrigo - more spectacular countryside, renowned for its' beauty of valleys and rainforest. Also well  worth a stop is Dorrigo National Park. Here the Rainforest Centre has a skywalk-way and lookout platform. Further down a winding road is Belligens - trendy with its' shops and cafes.

 

Our next destination - Darlington  Beach Resort,  Coffs Harbour  A modern resort set on one hundred and ten acres of lush subtropical bushland and six-kilometres of  beach - caters for campers, carvaners, with individual bathrooms available, as well as small to the deluxe size cabins. Golf course adjoins. Ours was a spacious deluxe lagoon cabin, fully self contained with two bedrooms and two bathrooms.  We enjoyed our own private balcony, where we bathed in the winter sun and overlooked the lagoon. Darlington is a family resort with lots of activities including school holiday programs. Imagine again, the kids were off,  and my husband and I were alone!   We did venture out!  In the surrounding area, we especially liked Red Rock, on the edge of Yuraygir National Park.  Our sons' love of fishing lured us here - our luck, or skill whichever way you look at us saw us lured to the local shop for fish and chips that night!  Visit the web-site for Darlington Beach Resort 

A journey home, and almost an end to our relaxed days of R&R (rest and recreation) and P&Q (peace and quiet).  Via the Pacific Highway, through Grafton  and along the edges of the Clarence River. Just off the Highway is Yamba and Iluka, coastal towns well worthy of investigation.  Alas, for us it was forward on to Ballina, a sustenance stop to get us home to the Gold Coast.  As mentioned, the trip although spectacular in many areas from both countryside to coast, is a well-traveled on for us, and next time well spend more time at Darlington Beach Resort.

 

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