When we approached Bulahdelah we had to go on the Pacific Highway again. They were constructing a bypass, it was raining and there was very much traffic. Not nice to be on that road at all. The weather was so gloomy and wet and the caravan park was not any better, so we stayed in a motel. Nice and comfortable.
In the Visitors Information Centre we were given an advice for an alternative route. So the next day we rode in the direction of the coast again over the Boombah road. Some 10 k dirt (gravel) road. Eveline is, to say it mildly, not fond of such roads. But it appeared to be not bad at all and at the end of it there was a restaurant where we had a coffee and cake. We had to wait for the ferry anyway, it went every 30 minutes for a 5 minute crossing. Then a long and absolutely quiet road followed for 25 k to Tea Gardens, a nice little place on a big bay. There we boarded a ferry boat that was built in 1940 and still was in its original state. The crossing of the bay took nearly an hour and was a comfortable and nostalgic cruise across beautiful water, for some time accompanied by dolphins that were playing in the wave made by the boat. Nelson Bay, on the other side of the water, is a beautiful seaside resort with all the amenities coming with it. A nice conclusion of a beautiful and sunny day.
The day after that we rode to Stockton. Again a place on a river- and sea front. Quite different from Nelson Bay though. The road to get there was busy again and the thermometer read 38˚C. Fortunately we had a rear wind, so it took us not too long to do the good 50 k. Stockton lies on the north bank of a big river, that is the big coal port of Newcastle. There is a passenger ferry from Stockton to his “old” harbour city. In the river's mouth you see big see ships manouvering in and out, always assisted by 3 pushing and pulling tugboats. Newcastle has changed its waterfront from an industrial area into a area where it is nice to walk around, sit on a terrace of one of the many cafés, bars and restaurants and watch the traffic on the river. The industrial past is nicely altered in a modern and pleasant environment. We spent a nice day here in this second oldest city of Australia.