The summer came early this and so did the wonderful blue purple display of the jacarandas. Grafton has an annual Festival celebrating their 2000 wonderful trees. That was about 3 weeks ago and so I knew it was all a bit hopeful that they’d still be in full bloom now, but off we went all the same.
It’s a leisurely 3 hour drive, through cane country and the bush. Some of the farmers have switched to macadamia nuts or bananas or avocados so there is some respite from the cane, but really the view is pretty ordinary.
We stopped in at Ballina for coffee and a little tart. People in the bush really are very pleasant and they sure can make a fine coffee and the tarts – ooooh YUM. There are the large shopping malls on the outskirts of town but we went into the High street or the Town Centre cos we like to look at the old buildings. It was pretty quiet on the street, though parking was difficult to find. ‘Where the bloody hell are the locals,’ old Lara B could chirp. Seems they were all in the coffee shop and we were very pleased that we stopped to join them.
It’s an odd little place, right on the coast and on the Richmond River. There is a great deal of holiday accomm, and I am using the term very loosely. The beach that we found was ok by Uk standards and alright if you had travelled over many hundreds of miles through desert and bush and had never seen the surf before, but not a patch on the Goldie beaches. A bloke from Grafton told us that Ballina is full or pensioners and welfare people. Reckon we saw nothing tho contradict this.
There was road works for miles and miles between Ballina and Grafton. The road mostly follows the river and I wondered how the farmers along the way survived the floods, cos even though the road acts as a levee bank, it didn’t seem to me that the waters would have to rise far to be through their front doors.
So into Grafton and what a pretty place it is. The Jacarandas were mostly done. There was the odd trees still covered – must have been somewhat retarded, or just a defiant teenager, but generally they were naked. I can imagine how lovely it would be in full bloom although the guy in the ice cream shop said that even the Festival was a little late this year to celebrate their full splendour.
Steve bought a hat for golf and we had a wander up the town and thought we could easily come back for another visit - maybe next year about festival time.
We went the long way home to avoid all the road works even though we reckoned they would have packed up for the night by then and made a flying stop in Casino for petrol. I think that might be all that Casino has to offer except for its colourful history of murder and drugs and intrigue.
More than 6 hours behind the wheel and Stevie’s eyes were done in. The charm of the little country villages was worth it, well for me at least cos I just got to sit on my arse up high in the monster truck.