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Diary Last Updated: Jun 16th, 2015 - 16:51:13

Stage 9 - Thursday 21 August 2008 - Day 105
By Dick and Pip Smith
Aug 21, 2008, 12:17

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We departed at 8.30am, after a great morning with lots of chatting with Jan and John.
View of Surfers Paradise from John and Jan Tait's apartment
Pip, Jan and John beside the Earthroamer


Rather than head south through the fleshpots of Surfers Paradise, we drove a little further to the north to see the “Silver Star”.  The Silver Star used to be called the “Tutka” and then the “Sir Hubert Wilkins”.  This was the ship which Don and Margie McIntyre bought with our assistance in Finland.  The ship is a small 120 foot ice breaker, which even had President Ford and President Brezhnev onboard for peace talks – that was during the Cold War.  This mini ice breaker was purchased by Don and Margie and then motored from Turku, Finland to Australia.  It then performed a number of trips to Antarctica.  Unfortunately there weren’t enough expeditioners to make it economical, so the ship was sold to an 80 year old Victorian millionaire who spent a lot of money converting it.  He then took it to Canada.  It is now back in Australia for sale.  If you want a nice little ice breaker you could probably get it for $3 or $4 million.
Silver Star once named the Sir Hubert Wilkins


After leaving the Silver Star we travelled through the huge high rises of Surfers Paradise.  Unfortunately the day was cloudy, not so great for photographs.
Surfers Paradise Beach
Surfers Paradise high rise buildings


It is amazing that here we are in our first major city since leaving Perth and what a city it is.  People who live in Surfers Paradise love it.  In many ways it would be equivalent to America’s Florida i.e. wealthy retiree’s head south in America to the warm sun of Miami, Florida in Australia wealthy retirees from Melbourne and Sydney head north and live in Surfers Paradise.  Of course it is not just the wealthy retirees, lots of young people come here for the nightclub life and the wonderful surf.


We crossed into New South Wales.
Crossing into NSW - Pip captured the sign in the distance
Speed warning sign for NSW
Drug testing in NSW


We soon had Mt Warning to our west, lots of sugar cane fields in the distance and the occasional sugar mill.  There were Police with radar beside the road.  It was 66° Fahrenheit (18° Celsius).
Sugar cane fields with Mt Warning in the distance

We drove up to the lighthouse at Byron Bay, Australia’s eastern most point.    We then dropped down to Watego’s Beach to pour our Indian Ocean water into the Pacific Ocean.  This is a tradition which we think was started by the Leyland Brothers in the 60’s.  We decided we should continue with this wonderful tradition i.e. if you drive across Australia you must bring Indian Ocean water and drop it in the Pacific.
Byron Bay lighthouse - the eastern most point of Australia
A bloke surfing off Watego's Beach
We poured the Indian Ocean water into the Pacific Ocean with the surfer who came over to say hello
An interesting bird sitting in a tree at Watego's Beach
We had made it from the western most point of Australia to the eastern most point

We then headed for the Byron Beach Café and met John Wallington and Christie.  John was the co pilot in Dick’s balloon flight across Australia and also the balloon flight from New Zealand to Australia.  Christie of course is a top balloonist and she assisted in all ways.  Also at lunch was Howard Whelan, the founding editor of Australian Geographic magazine.  We talked adventure.  Howard has just returned from being expedition leader on Greg Mortimer’s Aurora Expeditions ship to the Kuril Islands and the Russian Far East.  It sounded like a great trip.
Christie and John Wallington, Howard Whelan and Dick
We had a delicious lunch at the Byron Bay Beach Cafe
The view from the cafe
We drove inland to Bangalow and looked back towards the coast of Byron Bay
A beautiful old fig tree in Bangalow

We left at 2.00pm and headed across the opening bridge on the Richmond River, past further sugar cane fields on the Pacific Highway.  What a dead loss of a road, at one stage it is 100kph then it is 50kph going through a small village.  It is amazing that in Australia, our main number one highway can be so bad.  Then again we only have a population of 20 million, so it will take a while before we get a decent road between our major capitals.
Broadwater Sugar Refinery
Sugar cane fields at Woodburn
50kph speed camera on the Pacific Highway
An attractive home in Woodburn

We crossed the Clarence River and passed the Harwood Sugar Refinery.  We crossed the Clarence River again, through Grafton where Dick, as the guest for Australia Day, has planted a special tree.  We wonder how it is going.

After a quick stop at a rest area for a cup of tea we drove through to Coffs Harbour to our house at Bongil Beach.
We stopped in this rest area near Grafton to make a cup of tea
Tall gum trees on the Pacific Highway heading towards Coffs Harbour

We are now here getting ready for the final push towards Sydney.  Let’s hope we can do it without any accidents or problems.

Total today 383 kms  39,783 kms since Anchorage, Alaska.

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