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Old 23rd June 2015, 17:41   #1
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Wink Exploring New South Wales in a Pajero

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We've always loved the coast. It's amazing how you can quickly drive up to the beach and then laze or stroll around as the world goes by, and time stands still. Most of our trips since we arrived in Brisbane have been to the coast, save for the rare trip to the inlands.

With the school holidays on, the bug to travel intensified. It had been a while since we had done a proper road trip, and a long time since we stayed over in the place we visited. Some quick searching and i decided on Byron Bay, in the neighboring state of New South Wales.

Byron Bay with its hippie culture, and beautiful attractions didn't need much prodding. While we could have drove down in our car, i wanted something more. Something special. It was the Mitsi Pajero, as its fondly called here. Made the booking online, and went in on the designated day to pickup the vehicle. It was pretty new, and had done just about 18k kms when i got it. It was time, to Drive.

The plan was to visit the Macadamia Castle which is located in Knockrow, close to Ballina, and spend the night at Ballina. The next morning we would drive up to Cape Byron at Byron Bay to catch the sunrise, at the eastern most point of the Australian mainland. The weather forecast predicted hints of rain, but we decided to carry on unabated.

We took the M3 which continued on as the M1 and then renamed itself as the Pacific motorway. This would be our route to the Macadamia Castle which is located on this highway.
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Old 23rd June 2015, 17:48   #2
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Default Macadamia Castle - Knockrow, NSW

Situated beside the Pacific Motorway, the Macadamia Castle offers various activities for the family. We were interested in the Animal Park, where one got to see animals (some specific to Australia) up close, as well as chances to feed them, which are held at specific times.

Pics clicked along the route from Brisbane to Ballina along the Pacific Motorway
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Scenery along the way
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Highway now becomes single laned with overtaking lanes in between. Distances to the next rest stop are indicated clearly.
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Solar powered portable signs indicating traffic conditions/warnings
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We enjoyed the chance to see what a wombat looks like, as well as the chance to pet chicks and other animals.

The Wombat. Seeing one for the first time
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Last edited by benbsb29 : 23rd June 2015 at 18:00.
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Old 23rd June 2015, 18:12   #3
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Default Macadamia Castle - Knockrow, NSW (Contd)

What we enjoyed the most was the kangaroo and wallaby feeding experience. To do this, one can purchase small sachets of feed for the kangaroos at the entrance, and then walk into their enclosure and feed them in person. This sounded exciting, and one of those opportunities you don't get very often.

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There were a few other families around and seeing that we hadn't purchased the feed for the kangaroos, one family offered us an extra pouch they had bought, even without asking! Really sweet of them.

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We even saw a kangaroo with its joey. There were specific instructions on the gate asking visitors not to approach the joey, as the mother can get aggressive.
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In the wide enclosure beside, there were a couple of Emus as well, but most people were more interested in the kangaroos.

Last edited by benbsb29 : 23rd June 2015 at 18:15.
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Old 23rd June 2015, 18:27   #4
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Default Macadamia Castle - Knockrow, NSW (Contd)

Various animals spotted at the park
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Chook donning high-street fashion wear
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The pioneers of 'The punk look'
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Whatcha lookin at?!
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Another attraction for kids is the little train which runs on an hourly frequency around the park offering a guided tour. The charge is $2 per head and children under 2 years are free. In essence, the train is just a regular tractor wearing makeup. Anyway, it attracts kids, and you dont have much choice then.

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After the train ride, it was time for the rabbit petting. We were made to sit in an enclosure and provided with a towel on which baby rabbits were placed so we could pat them.

Similarly, there were other animals too, some of which were fun identifying.

Seeing the calf, i remembered how i used to enjoy being near it as my grandpa attended to it, when i visited Kerala as a kid. Brought back some memories worth sharing.

We had lunch at the little cafe at the venue. interestingly, we were given 2 free scoops of fresh macadamia ice cream just because we had to wait for our sandwich. Sweet of them.

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As the visiting hours drew to a close, we were amongst the last to leave.

Last edited by benbsb29 : 23rd June 2015 at 18:31.
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Old 23rd June 2015, 18:35   #5
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Default Re: Exploring New South Wales in a Pajero

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Travelogues section.
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Old 23rd June 2015, 21:42   #6
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Default Re: Exploring New South Wales in a Pajero

Looks like you guys had a great trip Benny. The roads reminded me of my drive in New Zealand.
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Old 24th June 2015, 07:57   #7
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Default Re: Exploring New South Wales in a Pajero

Quote:
Originally Posted by Technocrat View Post
Looks like you guys had a great trip Benny. The roads reminded me of my drive in New Zealand.
Thanks Techno. The trip was great, and the lovely weather added to the charm.

As for the drive, NSW has a lot of speed cameras, as well as timed distance sensors which means you have to be ultra-careful. When returning the vehicle after the drive i was praying to have no tickets against my name.

In a lot of sections, speed drops suddenly owing to roadworks too.
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Old 24th June 2015, 08:25   #8
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Default

Nice write up Benny.

The photos are awesome. I can imagine the joy you would have experienced while driving on those great roads in your 'Mitsi Pajero'. Beautiful weather too.

The kids seem to have had a whale of a time in the company of the animals.

Cheers!
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Old 24th June 2015, 14:58   #9
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Default Re: Exploring New South Wales in a Pajero

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hunter3077 View Post
Nice write up Benny.

The photos are awesome. I can imagine the joy you would have experienced while driving on those great roads in your 'Mitsi Pajero'. Beautiful weather too.

The kids seem to have had a whale of a time in the company of the animals.

Cheers!
Thanks Hunter3077.

I have great love for the Pajero, and so rented this one for the trip. My wife understands this passion, and enjoyed the trip in the Pajero too. As for my daughter, the large real estate in the Pajero brought back memories of our humble Scorpio back in Bangalore, and was quite sad when i had to return the Pajero.

When feeding the kangaroos, i was a bit apprehensive at first, as i have only seen/read about them in the wild, and not such an opportunity where humans could get close to them, with no support staff around! Once we started feeding them, the roos proved to be quite accustomed to having people around.

The other girl my daughter was playing with was a family who were visiting from the Netherlands.
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Old 29th June 2015, 19:34   #10
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Default Visting Byron Bay - Trip to Main Beach

We took the Pacific Motorway from Ballina to Byron Bay, and made our way to the Main beach, but not before we had some grub from the Subway outlet at Byron. Located about a km away si the Main beach. We were lucky to find a parking beside the beach, and made our way to enjoy the beautiful vistas on offer.

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The sky was a myriad of colors, with shades of yellow, orange and various other hues.

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Byron Bay lived up to its nature of being a hippie town. There were many vans with traveling gypsies, musicians, and other folk all envisaging the hippie way of life. It was like being part of a totally different world altogether.

People danced by the beach, sang songs, and joyous vibes filled the air. There was a guy who was performing various tricks with fire. Sadly, my iphone cam couldn/t capture this too well, resulting in some rather blurry images.

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About 8PM we made our way to Ballina where we had booked a room at the Coast Inn Motel for the night.

We decided to take the Pacific Motorway heading south to get to Ballina. We used a TomTom GPS navigation device as well as Google Maps on the iPhone to navigate. With road works going on, both navigation devices were confused and made us take the motorway, but in the opposite direction! Luckily, wifey was quick to notice, and on checking the navigation further, both devices signaled taking a U Turn on the motorway! Shocking to say the least. However, there was a valid U turn with lane provided on the motorway, and we made the turn, not before we had lost a few kms as well as time in the process.

Amongst the things you have to fear when driving in NSW is the speed cameras which are located at regular intervals. I was informed of these prior to starting out, and ensured these limits were maintained, inspite of the difficulty involved.

We got off the motorway and made our way along the newly constructed road, looking out for roadsigns to our destination, as the maps were quite confused when trying to guide.

Applying some common sense, as well as wifey's skills with analyzing maps, we made our way to one of the main roads in Ballina, from where the GPS device was able to help navigate. We made our way to the Coast Inn Motel, where the kind lady who runs the place was waiting for us.

She gave us the password for free wifi access, as well as the room keys and combination to the gate and we were off the room. What struck us most of the simple room was that it was complete in terms of all amenities a traveller might need, including a ironing board and iron box.

Had dinner from the nearby KFC, watched one of the movies from the Twilight series showing on TV and hit the bed. We wanted to catch the sunrise at Cape Byron the following morning, but with rain predicted through the night, we weren't sure how successful we would be. Decided to wake up as expected, and based on the situation at the time, we would decide, and proceeded to hit the bed.
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Old 29th June 2015, 19:53   #11
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Default Cape Byron at Byron Bay

The alarm on the iPhone buzzed exactly at 4:30AM, right on schedule. Slightly groggy, i climbed out of bed and analyzed the situation outside. The ground was wet owing to the rains which seem to have continued through the night, but had decided to remain dormant for now. Another quick check on the Weather app, which predicted about 30-40% chances of rain, and we decided to head out.

Made ourselves a cup of tea with the tea and milk supplied in the room, and we were out. The Pajero seemed to have had its share of rest, and was eager to get going.

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Having a slight idea of the way back owing to the unintended exploring the previous night, we made our way back onto the Pacific Motorway heading back to Byron Bay, accompanied by a slight drizzle.

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It was a Monday morning, and people were already up and about, as is quite common in Australia. Guided by the GPS, we took the route to head straight up Cape Byron to the lighthouse, a journey we had made last night under darker conditions.

As we reached the summit we realized there were a lot more people like us who had made their way here to catch the sunrise, and the parking lot was nearly full. There were quite a few cars from Queensland, which wasn't really surprising.

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We took the last available parking slot, and proceeded on the km long walk to the lighthouse. By now, it was apparent that the sun had indeed risen, and was engaging in a game of peek-a-boo, hiding behind the generous battalion of clouds.

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The long walk to the lighthouse
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It was cold up there, and i had actually ventured out in shorts and a T shirt. To add to the fun, it started drizzling as well, and people raced to take shelter in the available place beside the lighthouse.

The view was surreal, and relaxing.

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Old 29th June 2015, 20:09   #12
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Default Cape Byron at Byron Bay - Continued

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As much as we wanted to stay there longer, we had to make our way back to Brisbane, and cross the Gold Coast in the process. On a Monday morning, we were sure to encounter the morning rush hour traffic. Soon enough, we were underway, and onto the Pacific motorway as we made our way towards Brisbane.

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The best seat in the house!
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We grabbed strong hot coffee from a vendor who was a regular on this route with his van. Being his early customers, we exchanged pleasantries and he went on to ask about our trip, as well as other destinations we could look to cover the next time we headed down.

Interestingly enough, the moment we crossed the New South Wales border into Queensland, the weather seems to have changed, and we had bright sunshine! It's no wonder Queensland is heralded as The Sunshine State. In fact, it was warm and when we stopped at a McDonalds outlet after crossing the Gold Coast, people seemed puzzled to see my wife n kid in hoodies and jackets. Hehe

We inched along in rush hour traffic and made our way home, just in time to unload the luggage from the Pajero. I then rushed to tank up with diesel and back to the Fortitude Valley where the vehicle had to be returned.
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Old 29th June 2015, 20:24   #13
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Default Re: Exploring New South Wales in a Pajero

Living with the Pajero

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Positives:
  • Good road presence
  • Good grunt from the diesel mill - makes easy work of tackling steep slopes.
  • Bad roads are displaced with aplomb.
  • Easy to take around the city despite its bulk.
  • No pitching or bobbing effect, when compared with the Mahindra Scorpio i owned in India.
  • Huge fuel tank means reduced need to stop for refueling on roadtrips.
I could keep going on n on, i am a Pajero fanboy.

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Negatives:
  • Agricultural diesel mill, the MHawk on the Scorpio felt more refined.
  • Poor utilization of interior space for knick-knacks.
  • Quality of materials in the interiors is more functional than aesthetically pleasing.
  • Absence of proper bottle holders
  • Body roll, which is kinda expected
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Old 29th June 2015, 20:30   #14
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Default Re: Exploring New South Wales in a Pajero

Thanks for reading, as well as visiting this thread.
Another related thread of my travel and stay in Australia :
Chronicles (The Brisbane Chronicles EDIT : ODI @ The Gabba)
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