By 7:00 am we had eaten our breakfast of muesli and yoghurt that Majella brought from home, finished our coffee, and were ready to go. We’d each also managed to solve the Wordle and complete a French lesson in Duolingo to maintain our streaks.
It was 4 degrees outside so we didn’t hang around. We followed the Oxley Highway east, the route I had hoped to take in May since we had never been that way and had heard it was an interesting drive. That didn’t happen because the road was closed for repairs of flood damage from a year or more ago. It is still closed on Tuesday to Thursday for roadworks but today was Monday so the website indicated just a few spots with short delays.
Just 18 km out of Walcha we had our one planned stop at Apsley Falls. On the short drive in to the lookout we saw a couple of groups of wallabies grazing for breakfast. The air at the lookout was chilly, 6 degrees according to the car. We could hear the roar of falling water as we approached in the car and we could see clouds of mist swirling out of the gorge below the falls.
A short walk down some steps took us to the lookout platform above the gorge into which the falls drop. There was a strong flow of brown water across the width of the falls with a loud roar. We were seeing the first drop of 65 metres. The second drop of 58 metres is visible from a point on the trail that we didn’t reach. The volume of water was impressive but having walked along the river in Walcha yesterday afternoon we knew it was much reduced from what it had been recently. That would have been something to see and hear.
We walked back to the day use area along the rim of the gorge below the falls, pausing at the other lookouts that offered views down the gorge and across to the sheer cliffs on the other side. The falls are near a horseshoe bend in the river so we crossed over and returned to the car via the track above the falls, pausing to enjoy the view from the suspension bridge that takes the trail across to the other side of the gorge.
As well as the views of the river we enjoyed the blooming wattle and other flowering plants and the variety of bird life. We could have spent longer than the hour we were at the falls but needed to be back on the road.
Majella drove the 2 hours to Wauchope. We we lucky with roadworks and had just a few short delays. Some of the work looked major which would explain the 3 days of road closures each week.
The roadworks were in the middle section of our drive which started among the rolling green green hills of the New England tableland. We passed a lot of pastoral properties with grazing sheep and cattle through that portion. Beyond that was mostly eucalypt forest with tall trees and occasional patches of tangled rainforest as we snaked down the slopes. Then it was green valley country as we neared Wauchope.
At Wauchope we found a small park where we stopped to drink coffee Majella had brought in our thermos. We ate some fruit with that before I drove on.
We paused at Kew to fill up with petrol and then drove straight on south. Lunch was at Heatherbrae pie shop near Raymond Terrace. We often stop there for breakfast when driving home from Sydney. It’s popular but today it was busy with holiday crowds. Cars were queuing for spots in the car park and there was a long queue inside. Fortunately they had plenty of staff at 3 counter points and the wait was not too long.
Majella drove on from Heatherbrae toward Sydney. First stop there was to checkin at our hotel in Parramatta. Then we drove over to see Simone and check that Harry was set to leave early tomorrow. Harry was in the pool with two friends but we had a short chat which him about tomorrow. Lucas and Ben were away with an aunt and Sophie was at work. We chatted for a while with Simone and then headed off to deliver the quilt Majella had made for Karina and back to our hotel to rest and prepare for tomorrow.
Dinner was in the hotel where we settled for small meals, bruschetta for Majella and the entree sized ravioli for me. We enjoyed those with the complimentary glasses of red wine that came with our room before going back to our room for an early night.