On my final day in Coff’s Harbour I bagged my first ‘Big’. Australia has lots of little towns that are just pass through places on the drive to somewhere else, so in order to get people to stop and spend some money the towns build a giant statue of something. Usually its linked to the area somehow but not always. Anyway, Coffs Harbour – centre of the banana coast, has ‘The Big Banana’. There is the banana itself and then a very expensive museum or ‘voyage of discovery’, a water park, ice ring and sledge slope which are all banana themed. I did not do any of the theme park things but did go to the cafe where tradition says (though I’m not sure whose tradition it is) you have to have one of the many banana desserts on the menu. The gift shop was really odd with so many banana themed gifts its enough to make you go . . .bananas . . . I’m sure you saw it coming.
As well as all the fruit fun I also visited the Opal Centre which wasn’t too far away but wasn’t particularly easy to get to either. It turned out to be the biggest piece of false advertising I have ever known. The Opal centre is on must see lists for NSW, there are signs all the way along motorways with visitor attraction on them and there are brochures in all the information places. The Opal Centre is a shop, and not a very good one at that. The Opal Centre is one woman sat in an oversized caravan selling cut stones and little trinkets for extortionate prices. It is not a centre it is a caravan, it does not give you an ‘amazing insight into the opal industry’ it has a printed off bit of paper on the wall and it is not an ‘enjoyable afternoon’ its an awkward 5 minutes while you look in some display cabinets and then leave. I would not recommend it. After that, an hour on the beach and then back to the hostel for dinner before the onward travels of the next day
So far I’ve travelled up the coast and the view from the train has been distinctly green but now I head into the New South Wales “outback” where the scenery will be a bit less leafy. My destination is Tamworth, Country music capital of Australia and host of the country music festival every January. This is where you’ll fine “real Australians” and especially as I will be heading far inland to work on a cattle ranch.
For two weeks I’ll disappear as there is no internet and no phone signal in the true blue Australia. For a couple of weeks ill be working and training as a ranch hand while I stay onsite. Miles from anywhere, myself and a couple of others will be isolated from the world as we learn to cattle muster, sheep sheer and be proper cowboys of the Aussie outback. Well that’s the plan anyway.