First up, a small diversion to the Honey Place in Urunga which was only a couple of kilometres out of our way. The Honey Place, has a working hive behind glass. It was simply teeming with bees, amongst which Nola's keen eyes found the Queen Bee. There were also heaps of different honey varieties to taste. Needles to say, the hand went into the pocket, and we came away with a jar of White Box honey. Yum! Can't wait to try it.
Belingen is set on the Bellinger River, and was initially settled by cedar cutters in 1843, but this settlement was abandoned in 1846 and it was not until 1863 that the first land selectors arrived. The main industry from then on was dairy cattle. Now it is home to a large community of artists of all descriptions, and there are lots of galleries and places to stop for a break.
Our first port of call was the Old Butter Factory. I found this mildly disappointing as it was simply a group of galleries and shops. I guess I had thought, erroeously as it turns out, that there may have been some sort of display of butter making or some such. Nevertheless, the shops were interesting, with quite a variety of crafts. I came away with a lovely hand made leather belt from the cobbler, and a wooden puzzle from the wood turner's.
Just up the road is a small street lined with cafes and eateries leading to a look out over the valley. The locals set up with their chess boards and coffees in this pretty little street, and just ponder their moves. We had our lunch here.
There is a lovely park at the end of this street. I thought this tree looked pretty special. The Bromeliads are actually growing on the bark of the tree with ferns and cacti at the foot of it.
Turning back and on the main road again, I spied this pretty building. I am betting that it was once a bank, but have not been able to find anything to substantiate my theory. It is now an absolutely brilliant organic fruit shop. Nothing is prepacked, and David enjoyed selecting the strawberries for our dinner off the heaped tray on offer.
Marching on up Hyde Road, I found this lovely sign above the relatively modern Chemist shop. I stood there for a while debating on whether the window and display sign was a recent addition or an original. Whatever, I loved the leadlight in this window and thought it worth sharing.
Directly across Hyde Road is the Hammond and Wheatley Commercial Emporium built in 1909 by William Joseph Hammond and Arthur Edward Wheatley, by George Edward Moore. They had been trading on that site from a store called the "Reform Store" since 1900. Can you see the ornate facade and the interesting bit on the roofline - is that a balustrade? We didn't go inside, but the flyer says: "Cast iron columns support the awnings with iron lacework featuring department names. Original brass shop front framings with engraved brass sills remain. Internally a mezzanine floor is reached via a grand staircase."
Next door is the Federal Hotel with its glorious iron lace work verandah. The Federal Hotel Bellingen first opened for business in 1901, its name celebrating the Federation of the Australian States in that year. It was built by a Mrs Redstone for her daughter Alice Maude who married Mr Albert Edwin Capp.
The shop next door to the Federal Hotel is currently a Newsagency, and was built around the same time. It is beautifully restored and has gorgeous ornate iron lace on its upstairs balcony
After lunch we drove on up to Dorrigo. The drive was spectacular. On this side of the Great Dividing Range the ascent is steep and craggy, with a narrow road and hairpin bends, which follows the course of the Bellinger River. We didn't stop in the village, but continued on 2 km north to the Dangar Falls. I thought the rock face to the left of the Falls was interesting.
From here we went on to the Dorrigo National Park. At the entrance to the Discovery Centre, there was a terrific tile mosaic. It was very detailed and depicted the rainforest and the wildlife which inhabits it. This was the first panel, there was another which ran the length of the wall to the front door of the Centre.
From the Centre, there is an elevated board walk out to the viewing platform. It was quite eerie looking down on the tops of the trees. This one was a dead tree quite close to the railing. It was covered in mosses and parasitic plants, and the branches looked quite tortured.
The view was spectacular. Here is my first attempt to do a landscape photo with my phone. Pretty good eh? You can barely see the joins between the 3 photos.
We took a short walk down the Lyre Bird trail which goes down to the forest floor, but unfortunately didn't see any Lyre Birds. The rainforest was interesting - heaps of hanging vines, no Tarzan but I did find David. LOL.
Interesting buttress roots.
That was enough for the day, and we returned home to have a lovely bar-be-que dinner together in our apartment. We are staying at Smugglers on the Beach at Korora, about 5 km north of Coffs Harbour. We booked it on-line, and have really struck gold. It is absolutely lovely here.
Contrary to what you might think, we actually have played some bridge! We played in a two day pairs event in Moree over last weekend. The first day was the qualifying rounds, in which we played absolutely abysmally and did not make it through to the Finals. The second day we played in the Consolation Plate, and came in third. The Coffs Congress has already begun. We played in the walk-in pairs on Tuesday night and I am not telling you where we came in that! We decided not to play in the pairs, which is happening right now, but to only play in the Teams. That starts on Friday, and we will be playing with Andrew and Nola in that.