After extending our Brisbane Airbnb accommodation twice and being there 3 months, it was time to venture further afield, catch up with a few people and attend some medical and other appointments in Sydney.
Celebrating in Brisbane ….
Our departure date happened to coincide with Glenda’s birthday, so we started the day with a small celebration of almond croissants from the bakery down the street and coffee from the café across the road. With the apartment decorated Parisian chic, the croissants fitted well on the matching plates. Yummy! Definitely the best almond croissants we’ve had this side of Paris!
Out in the wild ….
After 3 months in the city, we didn’t realise how freeing it would feel to be out on the open road. The drive across the scenic rim and over the ranges was spectacular. Apart from a few stops for roadworks, the road was pretty quiet.
On our way back from Sydney in December during the drought and bushfires, we had stopped in Stanthorpe for lunch in order to support the local community. It had been worthwhile as we’d discovered a bakery with the most wonderful pastries – and I don’t even like pies! At that point, the area was extremely low on water and was trucking it into the town. This time, whilst still dry, things weren’t as dire from a water perspective. But the impacts of COVID were strongly evident in the shops down the main street. The bakery had very limited seating and we had to sign in before relaxing by the window and promising to stay for no longer than 45 minutes.
We decided not to stop for another coffee given a lot of places en route were closed and it just wasn’t feeling as relaxing as usual.
Celebrating in Armidale…
It was exciting to arrive in Armidale to see our frieds after only seeing them online over the last few months. As we were earlier than expected, we chatted to Melissa whilst waiting for Michael to get home from work. Soon after, we were enjoying a celebratory bottle of bubbly. Walter had organised a birthday dinner, so we dressed up in some clean and warm clothes – it’s very cold in Armidale as it’s quite high – and headed out to the restaurant. I was thoroughly spoilt with balloons and candles and enjoyed a night to remember.
Often when people come to visit, it provides some impetus to do something different and this proved to be the case. After a relaxing Saturday morning, we took a drive out of town to the Blue Hole, also known as Gara Gorge. The Blue Hole is the remains of the header dam for the 1890s Hydro Electricity Scheme that provided power to the nearby township of Hillgrove. The Threlfall walking track, an easy 5km loop walk, turned out to be a wonderful surprise. It traces the gorge ridge and combines an historic walk with jaw-dropping views. Gara Gorge follows the route of the historic 1894 hydro-electric scheme, along old embankments and through ancient cuttings of granite. We gazed across the rugged wilderness form the Gara Gorge lookout high above the Gara River, with a backdrop of majestic blackbutt and spotted gums.
Some more buskwalking…
After zoom church on Sunday morning, we met up with some of M&Ms friends for a coffee before our rendezvous with another group of friends to venture out of town again. This time we were going a little further and a little higher.
Our lunch spot turned out to be 1563m above sea level – pretty high by Australian standards – and very. Very cold. It was good to warm up with some roast chicken and date muffins (not together) before embarking on a stroll out to enjoy the breathtaking views across the valley to the coast. Apparently there are only about 80 days a year that it is visible – and we struck one of those days.
The second walk was down a slightly slippery track to Weeping Rock where it looked as though rain was falling from the rock – in spite of the blue skies above.
We arrived home just as the sun was setting after an exhilarating day in the bush. After a quick change out of our muddy clothes, we rewarded ourselves with a G&T at a local pub (the guys had a beer).
Next stop Sydney…