Over the Border Ranges (Where's Roger)
by Roger Crates
When the early settlers came north overland they began to find something truly wonderful, the Australian coastal hinterlands. I can imagine that the usual method was to follow the path of easiest resistance or as was the case in the very early exploration of the NSW interior, the intrepid ones "followed the ridges" from the area now known as the North Coast, which refers to the north coast of NSW rather than the lesser known area south of the Brisbane River.
Following along the coastal path was of course not only the one of absolute least resistance, water being easier to traverse, providing you have a boat of course, but it was also safer and with a good chance of finding succor from the sea along the ever more popular coast of the NSW.
Capt. Cook spotted Mt Warning in 1770 and named it Mt Warning as a reference to the off shore reefs from a given bearing out at sea. I will be visiting the Cloud Catcher as it was known to the Indigenous people of the area, in a further episode of Where's Roger, but for now the adventure continues over the Border Ranges.
However, if one was to wander inland from where Capt. Cook stood on his wooden deck staring inland so many years ago, you would be in sight of more than just Mt. Warning, you would be in the august presence of the Border Ranges.
The best and easiest way to traverse this wonderful scenic route is from Currumbin to Murwillumbah. From Queensland to NSW, Murwillumbah will be tomorrow's subject when I arrive there late this evening.
Along the Currumbin Creek road which winds following the path of this water course which you may recall I mentioned in the Currumbin Elephant Rock episode of "Where's Roger". In that episode I revealed my dislike for murky water and what may be below. I still owe you a story of the why and wherefore of that irrational fear, another day though. Back to the mini trip along Currumbin Creek road to Tomewin, Currumbin Creek Road, one may imagine that road naming was not a high priority of the trailblazers of the day but that's the name of the byway.
The road winds up from the valley floor (surprisingly named Currumbin Valley) in Queensland and the traveler is met with a series of 1 in 10 to 1 in 14 steep pitches along the way both up and eventually down the road to the parallel Tweed Valley in NSW.
The short trip is jam-packed with wonderful scenic viewpoints. There are a few garden stalls along the way offering bananas, avocados and a variety of fresh fruits and veggies. At some points looking to the right, you are able to see the Currumbin Valley with its distinctive treeline and meandering Creek if we look right in a northerly direction. A little further along the ridges we can see the far greater vista of the Tweed Valley with its flat plains and the much more grandiose Tweed river nestled in its heart.
The valley is a patchwork of sugarcane squares and small crops of varying hues. I often wonder about the efficiency of growing a relatively low return and low technology crop in such abundantly fertile alluvial soil. I don't suppose the ancient Egyptians grew only one crop in those same style abundantly fertile alluvial soils along the Nile.
Pushing thoughts of Cleopatra from my mind and as an aside, I have always loved this part of the world. Well, lets face it, who wouldn't. I was once thwarted from realising a dream of living here as a young man. Lots of those dreams of course have been and gone, but this one did have a twist.
Although I never did live beside or near the wonderful and placid Tweed River as I had wished, many years later my son and his family got the opportunity to buy a property just about three kilometres from the tranquil shores in the lovely valley paradise of Nunderi. I had never spoken about my own thwarted ambitions to live here and now my grandchildren enjoy the region. There was no particular reason for them choosing this very spot out of all the rest of Australia, but then it's a funny old world, isn't it?
I have written at length about these type of happenings in one's life in my autobiography, "Love, Life and Wet Fish Dancing". For those interested Wet Fish Dancing is a large part of my life and the book is available from this site.
But I digress, the road twists and turns up and down and along ridges seemingly delicate balanced between ragged peaks. Here the road transforms its title from Tomewin Currumbin Road to Tomewin Road so I guess we are in Tomewin itself. Here is something I find both rather amusing and slightly symbolistic to my cynical old mind.
As we approach the Queensland/New South Wales border from the Queensland side, the last thing one sees is a bin placed on the Northern side of an old cattle grid marking the boundaries. I would suggest it has been a long time since any cow or anything else has been mustered up here. The bin on the side of the road is a collection bin asking for help for the Volunteer Fire Fighters of the district. Sort of a last gasp attempt to get some money for that most erstwhile organisation. Five metres away on the NSW side, are an array of speed cameras along with the usual warnings that you will be fined and possibly hung, drawn and quartered if you don't have any money.
The ludicrous thing is that to cross a grid on a bend on a narrow road on the top of the world, to be confronted with very expensive speed cameras, if they are real that is and not a government bluff, to my mind is the height of folly. I am sure it is meant to convey a message only the message is probably not the desired one.
From here on it is mostly down hill, in the physical sense that is, down into the Tweed Valley where banana plantations flourish on sunny slopes. The traveler will follow the road across a couple of delightful creeks and past the hamlet of Dungay and a picturesque (almost a pun there) Art Gallery housed in an old Red Rooster train carriage. Great place to stop for a coffee, too.
The road branches west to head toward Crystal creek and the many wonderful spots I will be visiting in the coming days but for now I will continue on up the road to Murwillumbah and then to say Hi to the family and the grandkids.
By Roger Crates. Roger has seen and done a lot in his life and he writes with humor and insight mainly about Australian themes. For more travel and humor visit Where's Roger.
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