More Scottish than the Scots!
Jun 14, 2016
As we travelled across northern NSW we came across a little piece of Scotland. The Scottish Highlanders who were driven from their homeland during the Highland Clearances settled in northern NSW and these Scottish pioneers, settlers and their clans are celebrated by monuments and cairns (a stack of stones) in many towns along the Gwydir Highway. In Glen Innes there is a ring of standing stones inspired by the Ring of Brodger in Orkney, Scotland. The idea was to honour the towns Celtic heritage and to celebrate the Australian Bicentennial. The stones have been erected in a lovely spot, on top of a hill overlooking the town, but I thought it a very odd thing to see here in the southern hemisphere!
We then drove into Maclean, said to be the most Scottish town in Australia, where we were woken in the mornings by the moving sound of the bagpipes! The town's power poles are decorated with clan tartans which makes everywhere look very festive. I found my family tartan, 'Sinclair' and gave the pole a hug. I also found a Scottish butcher in Maclean that sold 'Square Sausage', a Scottish delicacy (!) and one of my favourites. The minced meat is very pink so you just don't ask what is in it, just fry it up and enjoy, yum!
We have been driving through the Clarence Valley following the Clarence River, which is a very wide, steadily flowing river that ambles its way through Grafton, Maclean and Yamba to the coast. We took the motor home on a car ferry across the river so the 'Clarence's were on the Clarence'!
Being camped on the banks of the Clarence River Paul through a line in. His first catch of the day was a nice sized tailor and just as I was cooking the fish on a neighbours camp fire his line gave another tug and after a bit of a fight he eventually brought a stingray to the bank. Not surprisingly he let that one go.
There are so many businesses around here named after us – Clarence Wholesalers, Clarence Refuse Disposal, Clarence Seafood Co-operative, Clarence Skin Clinic – to list a few. Do you think we are entitled to royalties?
One of the most violent storms in years hit the east coast of Australia. It raged for a couple of days but we were ok, just a little damp. Many other people didn't fair as well. Rivers burst their banks, towns flooded, waves towered over harbour walls and peoples homes were in danger of being washed away. There is a lot of cleaning up to be done in towns and communities all along the coast from Southern Queensland, through NSW, Victoria and across the Tasman Sea to Tasmania.
As the sun had broken through we took a drive to Evans Head. The after effects of the storm were still evident by the debris all around and the angry churning sea. The waves pounded the beach, rolling in on a raging torrent yet in this bubbling cauldron surfers were still out there trying to catch the perfect wave!
Paul wanted to visit Byron Bay where he hoped to find a hippy commune where all the girls are long limbed, with long blond hair, offering peace and free love. He was a tad disappointed! The town is still very quirky after its hippy days of the 1970's and there is still the smell of joss sticks and other burning substances (!) wafting on the breeze but the town has been taken over by people trying to escape the rat race of city life.
As Paul had no luck with any 'free love' he took a nap while I walked along the beach to Cape Byron, mainland Australia's most easterly point and on my return I indulged in a vanilla and caramelised pecan ice cream, bliss!
We have now reached the Queensland border, the sunshine state where they say 'its beautiful one day and perfect the next' and its raining!
That's about all our news for now folks.
Take care and we hope all is well
Liz and Paul x