Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sugar Cane Fields Forever

We don't normally start with a sunset, but as we headed north to Grafton on Friday, we were traveling on the same road that we always go on and this was the only unusual sight that we saw.  We have now become accustomed to this road and since we are adept at driving on the left, we now appreciate the views that are present all the time. 

We are beginning to try more B and B's.  This was an exceptional place and we want to share our accommodations with all of you.  Annie was our hostess.  After her children moved on to the "Uni", she rearranged the house and made at least 3 suites that she rents out.  This old home has several verandahs and this was ours.

The interior was as charming as the outside.  The bed was extremely comfortable and with the temperatures dipping into the 50's at night, we were grateful for extra blankets.  These old homes can be a bit drafty!  

 The home is old but has all the modern conveniences, but the ladder made a clever towel rack.  We are hoping to find an old ladder in Lehi to use in our modern home!  There were also old antique phones everywhere.  And you can see an old antique man brushing his teeth!  Amazing that he still has them in his mouth! :)

Saturday was our day to explore and become familiar with the area.  When we speak, we like to get to know the people and places that we enjoy Church with.  Notice the sugar cane field in the background.

 Grafton sits on the mighty Clarence River.  This is the second largest river on the eastern coast of Australia.  The sugar industry is still a major source of income today and we are certain the Americans are helping their economy.

 As we stopped to take this picture, the owner came up to the car and asked if we were lost.  We told him we were just taking photos and he assured us we were more than welcome.  This road was just wide enough for one car.  
Having never seen this before, Sister Feil, known as Sweet Tooth, jumped right in to learn more about the growing process.  Notice how tall it is.  In a month, they will cut the cane and process it.  Then they burn the stubble.  Apparently the burning is amazing to see, but not sure we have time to drive another 14 hours just for the experience.  

We stopped to take this picture and the locals were honking their disapproval.  Oh well, we will never see them again!  But isn't this shot worth the aggravation?

 We had to take the ferry twice - once going to Yamba and once coming back to Grafton. The Ferries are always a fun experience and are FREE.  One of the few things that are free here.  Also, notice the multiple signage on one pole.  Its a common thing in Australia.
This boat obviously missed the shore and is now in dry dock....

 Part of the river scenic road included a town named Maclean.  You can understand our interest considering Marion Maclean is Sister Feil's 2nd great grandparent.  The town was settled by the Macleans. In 2000, they decided to honor the various clans and paint the electric poles with names and plaids of all the local clans that settled here.

We are not sure what this has to do with the Scots, but he was a funny picture along with handsome Elder Feil.  Below is more of the plaids and we had to take this for Cameron.

 Their round abouts are much more interesting with fun sculptures in the center.  People waved at us as we took this photo.
Downtown Maclean was quaint and busy as everyone shows up on a Saturday morning.  We made a stop at the local Scottish shop and bought a few souvenirs.

There was much to see as well as read - some formal and some informal as people seek to entertain those of us who are willing to read.

The view towards the ocean from the Maclean Lookout.

We are always amazed at the amount of power lines that are still above ground.  The Clarence River from Maclean Lookout.

We made it to Yamba and knew it was time for lunch.  When you are at the ocean, you should always enjoy fish - except for Evan A.  But we enjoyed Barramundi and Calamari with chips.  They don't serve catsup with chips but they will give you some tomatoe sauce - same thing!
And a view of the ocean always involves a light house - here is the Yamba Lighthouse.  There didn't seem to be much "house" on this one.

  The view looking north from Yamba to Iluka. This is where the Clarence River joins the ocean.

We are pretty good with that camera timer as long as there is a sturdy pole to put the camera on.  We won't show you the fence that we climbed over to get this shot and the one below.  

Not sure if you can really appreciate the 30 foot drop to the ocean behind us.  But we were very careful - we are holding on to each other!  

There are numerous beaches in this area.  We spent a peaceful afternoon just wandering around on the rocks looking for seashells.  We think this will be a light weight souvenir to bring home.

The seashell find of the day - a cowra.

The ocean is pretty wild here and the waves were literally pounding the beach.

The amazing cowra shell that we found.  We have been looking for months to find this.  

We have told you of the rock pools on the beach for swimming and here you can see the surf coming in to clean and refresh the water.

This father was allowing his little baby a crawl on the beach.  No wonder the Aussies love the beach - they start at such a young age.

 The ferry came to take us back across the water.  When you are from the western deserts, you really appreciate the water activities.
Just an old farm and someone's dreams.  
Back in Grafton, we stopped to see a few of their old buildings before taking the Sister Missionaries to dinner.  
The Clarence River at Sunset.  This one may get blown up and framed.  Below are a few more old local buildings.  They have done a great job of preserving these old buildings.  

 Breakfast on the verandah.  That is hot Milo in the mugs - Aussies drink Milo, not hot chocolate.  It is a barley drink with some chocolate and very little sugar.  We have grown accustomed to it.
The Grafton Relief Society - the elderly lady in the center front will be celebrating her 90th birthday in June.  She also played the organ for Church services and did a great job!  Sister Feil has a new idol.

For some of the branches, the Church has purchased large homes and converted them to Church buildings.  This one is in a quiet neighborhood, with large lots.  It is perfect until more people start to come and then it will need to be enlarged.

 A Samoan, an Aussie, and an American - these young Sisters are fantastic with all they do and all they are learning.  
We couldn't find a place to park, until we were instructed to park on the grass at the side of the road.  We thought you were supposed to stay off the grass - but Grafton has taught us a new way to look at gutters.

 This giant dingo has a toy bear in his mouth.  He was standing next to a restaurant with lots of bikers in the parking lot.  We decided we may be too out of place to go and mingle with this group.
We think this is what you call a mini museum.  It looked smaller than our car.
Another River to cross before we get home.  We had a sweet weekend and enjoyed learning about family, sugar cane, and river life.  We want to wish Happy Birthday to all the May birthdays.  Hopefully, you all received your cards.  We are once again humbled by the diligent members that we meet in the country branches and the kindness they extend to us.  We love our missionaries and are constantly impressed with their strength and desire to serve Heavenly Father.  We were reminded of the need to endure to the end as we watched a cheerful 90 year old play the keyboard for Church and then attend all of her meetings and participate and lift others.  We hope you too can be inspired and uplifted by those you meet and associate with.  We love all of you and send lots of hugs and big sloppy kisses to each and everyone - :)  Elder Tired and Sister Sleepy