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With the owners of our Valla Beach house sit about to return and Charli’s parents visiting for a month we packed Winifred and looked to the road map for inspiration.

Our plan was to travel up the coast of northern NSW and into QLD where we would look to stay in a chalet in either Hervey Bay or Noosa but the Australian winter weather was not on our side and the forecast was for a lot of grey skies and rainy days.

Leaving Valla behind we hit set off towards Dorrigo National Park, picking up The Waterfall Way we drove to Bellingen where we took the opportunity to stretch our legs and browse the wonderful vintage shops and boutiques that line the main street.

The area is home to many artisans and it is evident that they have a huge influence on the community offering painting, sculpture, pottery and yoga classes to name a few the area has a creative streak through each street.

Driving north to Dorrigo we called in at the Dangar Falls one of the many waterfalls along the route, it is easily accessed from the road with a great viewing platform with views over the falls.

If you are feeling brave you can take the track down to the base of the falls and go for a dip, unfortunately the weather was a little bleak when we arrived so none of us felt brave enough to strip off and dive in although on a warm sunny day I am sure the opportunity would be inviting.

With the weather preventing us from exploring the National Park the next day we drove further north to Grafton, home of the Art Gallery of NSW.

I had read a lot about the vibrant collections present at the gallery and was keen to see the current Aboriginal Art Prize currently, the competition was open to any aboriginal artist over 18, born in NSW and belonging to a NSW language group.

The wealth of entries was impressive with painting, sculpture and indigenous arts and crafts all depicting both historical and modern aboriginal life. My favourite work was a series of staged historical photographs showing Aboriginal man with European settlers out in the bush, the juxtaposition of the European’s white skin and tailored clothing against the rugged environment and the almost dishevelled Aboriginal wearing only animal skins was a stark reminder of the savage history of this country.

After a wander around the three exhibitions the sun had finally pushed through the clouds and we sat out in the courtyard for a spot of afternoon tea. How thoroughly British!!

Over the course of the following days we continued to explore the NSW coast, fishing, rock climbing and beach walking along the rugged beaches as we drove further north. that is until we hit the Gold Coast.

Again this was another tourist trap that we had received mixed reviews from those we had spoken to, some raved about its vibrancy while others likened it to a high rise eyesore blighting the otherwise picturesque coastline.

For us the visit was not one we will repeat or that we would recommend to others, the overpriced and over rated accommodation immediately put us off. Coupled with the concrete monstrosities and over crowded beaches we decided to give the region a miss and continue north towards Brisbane.

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