I am not a morning person. My energy levels are always higher at night, and I normally have to struggle to get to bed by midnight. However, a really long time in an airplane combined with crossing more than a dozen time zones has rendered my regular rhythms seriously disrupted. As a result, I have clearly convinced my night-owl body that early to bed and early to rise is actually a possibility. I was not only awake but up and perky at 6:15 am. I know this won’t last, but it’s convenient now, as it will enable me to make the most of daylight hours.
At 7 am, my breakfast tray was delivered, and after a break for tea, fruit, and cereal, I finished dressing and repacking. I was checked out and ready to depart by 8 am. It is an unbelievably beautiful morning, sun shining, mist rising from the mountains, a cool breeze blowing, and a few wispy, white clouds overhead.
And back to the road. Actually, staying on the left isn’t the hardest part of driving here. It’s all the little reflex things that trip you up: glancing in the rear view mirror or side mirror, using the turn signal, reaching for the gearshift. I’m on the right side of the car, so everything is backwards. I wash the windshield almost every time I want to make a turn or change lanes.
I got off the Princes Highway and turned onto the Lakes Way, through Myall Lakes National Park. It was a fabulously beautiful drive. Fingers of light reached between the trees, dappling the road, as I wound through the forested mountains before descending to the shores of the Myall Lakes. I stopped a few times to shoot photos and admire my surroundings. It was incredibly peaceful, with rare and only momentary disruption when a car passed. I could hear kookaburras, a bellbird (I think), the ha ha haaa of Australian crows (which always sound more mocking than crows elsewhere), and several other birds I could not identify.
As I continued north, the landscape flattened out. The vegetation changed dramatically as I left the mountains behind. Sand replaced soil and lower coastal vegetation replaced the gum forests. As I neared Forester, I caught glimpses of the sea.
Crossed from Forester to Toncurry on a bridge over a startlingly turquoise-blue stretch of water. I’m now seeing a lot more “up north” vegetation: Coral trees, palms, hibiscus, etc.
Crossed a bridge over the Manning River into Taree. In Taree, a block past the river, I saw a sign for Solomon’s Fruit Market. I stopped and browsed the splendid offerings, settling at last on Granny Smith apples (Granny Smith was an Aussie, you know), ladyfinger bananas, and mandarins. Then I walked over and photographed the river.
It’s getting quite hot out. I knew it would get warmer as I headed north, but it’s still winter, and I’m still fairly far south. It’s a pleasant surprise.
Legs stretched out, photos taken, and some of the fruit consumed, I got back on the road. It was about two more hours before my next stop: Kempsey.