23 February 2008 - North Haven to Casino
We left North Haven at about 9 o'clock, making our way out to the Pacific Highway. The weather was good
for travelling although there was a gusty southerly wind which made the van a bit lively sometimes. Traffic on the Pacific Highway was light; the road is fair for a country road but not up the standard expected of a major highway. Between Port Macquarie and Kempsey is pretty well woodland with some cleared patches. North of Kempsey is flat, open country with grazing cattle and rolls of hay wrapped in pale blue plastic dotted around the paddocks. According to the ABC Country Hour there has been such prolific growth after recent rain in this part of the state that many farms have overflowing hay storages and hay is being put into any available temporary storage.
As we moved further north, wooded hilly slopes replaced the cattle and rolled hay. Around Coffs Harbour and towards Woolgoolga, banana plantations beside the road provided a different view. North of Woolgoolga, at the turn-off to Red Rock, the Pacific Highway swung inland leaving the coast behind and heading for Grafton. The road rises quite sharply to 132 metres after turning inland then gently descends to be 76 metres at HalfWay Creek where we stopped for petrol and lunch. Unleaded petrol here cost 129.9 cents a litre, while on the northern edge of Coffs Harbour, less than fifty kilometres away, unleaded petrol was ten cents a litre more expensive; both were Coles Express stations.
From HalfWay Creek we continued north past the edge of Grafton. Traffic had increased in volume and tended to bank up behind us at our regular 80 kph. There were quite a few overtaking lanes though, usually long enough for the whole queue behind us to get past. On the edge of Ulmarra we entered the southern edge of the sugar-growing area, sugar plantations became more common as we moved north. The Clarence River flats were well-clothed in sugar cane as was the lower part of the Richmond River valley we drove along after we turned off the Pacific highway at Woodburn for the drive through Coraki to Casino and home.