With a loaded car and some mates, Karen Thorne rediscovered the Pacific Highway north of Sydney.
“A boy broke his back landing on a floating cow here last week, you’d best be careful.” Literally the last words I hear as I fly off a rope swing two stories high into a waterhole. Thank you, creepy old man scaring the tourists. It had taken over an hour to discover the concealed swimming hole near Ballina, plus the two days drive from Sydney. Needless to say we were swimming, dead cow or not.
Our Sydney to Byron Bay road trip began with a crocodile pie. Two friends bet that it didn’t exist; a little pie shop in Frederickton begged to differ. Fortunately, the 960km stretch of bitumen that links Sydney to Brisbane on Australia’s east coast has much more to offer than just baked goods. This coastal route, known as the Pacific Highway, passes through all the major towns, but detouring these in favour of smaller spots was our plan.
First stop, the pub. Five hours north of Sydney we roll into the sleepy surfing town of Crescent Head. A tip from tavern locals sees us driving a further 15km down a precarious gravel road until we arrive at the deserted hideaway Point Plomer in Limeburners Creek Nature Reserve. Barry’s Bay provides a clean beach break for surfing, but with limited amenities available, bringing your own board is a must. Board or no board, this quintessential Aussie beach location will have you working up an appetite for pies.
“Russell Crowe, Jon English and Bryan Brown have all stopped in to eat our pies,” I overhear a Fredo Pie employee bragging to the hungry travellers. The famous pastry shop in Frederickton, north of Kempsey, is sadly bypassed by the Pacific Highway. The menu reads like a who’s who of Australian wildlife, kangaroo, emu and of course, their biggest seller the crocodile pie. Bet won. While my friends are eating their humble pie, they’re pleasantly surprised by the subtle flavours of crocodile, “It’s like eating a fish and a chicken at the same time.”
While they’re busy tucking in I get the scoop from fellow transient voyagers, Terry and Barbara from Melbourne, on a waterhole a swift drive up the coast in Ballina.