The other Friday, I took an early mark from road and headed south on the M1 to say hi to the Family and explore new roads, old roads and roads that don’t fit as either new or old.
Mum and Grandad had planned this trip to check out the new Pacific Highway and some of the new bypasses. Aunty Margaret joined in because she wanted to see some of the rellies and some of the areas that Grandad used to hang out as a young one. I went well because it meant a chance to drive on the Tugun bypass, hang out with Grandad and see the sights.
Then we popped in on Uncle Bob and Aunty Heather at Cudgen and admired a lovley scarf that one of their granddaughters who is an Army Nurse had brought back from the Middle East as well as general catch-up. Uncle Bob is very proud of the fact that he still drives the tractor for a couple of hours a day most days of the week. Once a farmer, always a farmer.
Then it was driving down to Brunswick Heads to stay the night. We had dinner at Dominic’s, the local Italian restaurant. We shared some zucchini flowers (something I had been wanting to try for ages) for an entrÃ©e which were delightful. I had Chilli Prawn Spaghetti for my main which was just the right combination of chilli and tomato. What really stood out for me was my dessert, the most delightful Panna Cotta, oh it was bliss. After enjoying a long dinner it was time to retire to our accommodation, The Brunswick Heads Chalet Motel.
Saturday morning arrived and it was time to pack the bags and drive up the road to New Brighton (where we actually would have liked to stay the night) for breakfast at the only cafe in town “Pippis” (if you are getting the idea that there is not much to this town you would be right). As we drove through Ocean Shores South into New Brighton, Grandad started pointing out places where he used to fish or picinic. One of the first things Grandad said when we walked into the cafe was to ask the man in charge if he knew of the ex-cop who used to run the cafe twenty odd years ago. The current owner didn’t know him though. After our breakfast, we did a little drive round the two or three streets of the township as Grandad pointed out places and Mum and Aunty Margaret remembered their time spent with Great Aunts/Uncles. Then we walked down to the Beach and oh what a glorious beach it was. To Grandad it is one of his favourite beaches and when he was younger him and his family spent many Sunday arvos their with a picnic lunch after church.
After we had our stay on the Beach, it was time to hit the road and keep on moving. On our way out of town Grandad pointed into the bush where a river was and said that when the tide and light was right, he and Armand would pick up Crabs as the tide retreated. As we passed near/over creeks, Grandad would pause and look into the water and comment that the water looked dead or not as full of life and flow that it had been in the 1920’s and 30’s when he spent every possible moment in this land.
Leaving New Brighton we headed to Billinudgel on the Billinudgel Rd, a winding dirt road which used to be the main road north. Granadad recalled driving this road with his Grandmother in a horse and sulky when a train roared past below, scaring the horse and taking them for a bit of a bolt. The first building you see coming down onto the Bilinudgel flats is the house that Aunty Lil used to live in. We took a drive up past it and Mum commented that the house was full of knooks and crannies. Margaret commented that it needed re-stumping.
After a drive round Bilinudgel, we went up to the the Pocket, another area which Grandad had spent time exploring in his youth, as the farm (Souldern – named after the village in Oxfordshire from where the Stephenson’s lived before emigrating to Australia) at Yelgun was on the other side of the mountain to the Pocket. He pointed out a creek that him and Uncle Albert once pulled a sugar bag of fish out of.
After a drive round the Pocket, we headed to Yelgun and up Browning Lane to the old farm. It had been a few years since we had last driven up the road to see the farm and in that time the road has deteriorated considerably. When we got up the house “Souldern”, we were greeted by a big barking mutt who didn’t want us to be there.
After taking some more photos we, headed up the highway a bit further to Crabbes Creek where Grandad went to primary school for a quick flying visit before heading up the road to Murwillumbah for lunch with Aunty Colleen.
We had pumpkin soup for starters, then salad plates and last and very not least Aunty Colleen’s trifle. This is a trifle that well, they should probably ask to see your ID before you are served. Very good trifle.
We looked at photos. We talked about trips down to the Tweed and we talked about what everyone else is doing at the moment and Aunty Colleens impeding move down south to Gosford to be closer to her children. We collected quite a few photos to get copies of and one of the photos I picked up is of Grandmum, Grandad and Mum very pregnant with me from Uncle Armand’s funeral. It is now on my desk 😀
Then we drove to the other side of Murwillumbah to see Aunty Ena and Uncle Wally and Ian. To look at more photos, talk more talk and eat some more! The first thing Aunty Ena said to me as I walked up the stairs that looking at my face I just look like, I had thought she was going to say Grandmum but instead she said no I had thought she was going to say Grandmum but instead she said Robin, one of Mum’s cousins. I know what I am going to look like at 40 and I know what I am going to look like at 80. Grandmum had three daughters and it is Mum who resembles her the most and since I am Mum’s only daughter well I would be the granddaughter who has the resemblance. That is the fun thing though.
We talked, we ate, we looked at photos and then it was time to head off, stopping at the house at the top of the main street where Grandad boarded through high school for a quick photo. Then it was the drive home and a trip to the Cod Father for tea. So a weekend of food not prepared by ourselves, driving the roads and lots of memories new and old.