Bluey's Beach Run via Wootton Way
03 October 2018 / Words by John Hansen, Photos by Graham Rochester
The MX-5 Mid North Coast’s mid week run started at Olivers in the Port Macquarie Service Centre complex a.k.a ‘The Donut’. Another beautiful fine Mid North Coast type of day had brought out an assortment of cars for the run. Cathy and Wayne with their burgundy NB, Pam and Allen in their vivid red ND, Peter with his Heritage burgundy NB, Judith and John in their clean NC, Peter in his sparkling black NB, Kieran in his sporty Suzuki Hatch and Graham with his blue BMW.
After a short briefing to outline the route and a reminder to take special care as this was a public holiday in the school holiday period with an expected increase in tourist traffic and a double demerit points weekend we set off down the Pacific Highway with Graham as our run leader.
Traffic was much heavier than usual, and it became far more difficult to stay in some sort of formation. Only a short way down the highway our knowledge of the latest rule about slowing down to 40 kph when emergency or police vehicle lights are flashing was tested. Coming over a hill a patrol car had its lights flashing to attend to a caravan that was in trouble as it appeared to have left the road. Those of us at the back of the group were warned about the accident which was handy as we were able to start slowing down before seeing the flashing lights and navigate safely past the scene. Then a short run down to the usual Coopernook turn off. In many ways it was quite a relief to turn off the highway as traffic was very heavy and in an MX-5 large trucks look enormous as they loom alongside!
Peter and Kieran who had been away touring for months and remarked on the deterioration of the Landsdowne road surface which has become increasingly bumpy. Also noticeable on the Landsdowne way was the effect of the drought. Previously I had written about driving through lush countryside, now it was distinctly brown and dry looking. The cattle still looked picturesque dotted around the with their black and white markings making an interesting pattern with the dusty brown background set against the blue tinged distant hinterland. However the country appeared to be crying out for rain.
The first stop in Taree was to meet and thank Manning Mazda who have recently become a club sponsor. We were shown the new service and spare parts area where members bought out the supplies of cleaning compounds, such was the enthusiasm engendered from the club’s wash and shine day! Although the Pacific Highway bypassed Taree years ago the holiday traffic was fairly intense as was the pressure on local parking. The Raw Sugar Café was our morning tea destination. Some members found parking close by whilst others of us seemed to be hiking in from Wingham! The café has an excellent choice of delectable food and mindful that this was only a morning tea stop we ordered accordingly. It was suggested that it would make an excellent luncheon spot for further excursions.
Well fortified we set off for the next stage, the Wootton Way a.k.a “The Nurbushring”. As we were parked all over the place the plan was to regroup on the other side of the Manning River. However, the traffic was very heavy and became stop start in places. This was due to only a single lane of the road being opened due to roadworks. By the time we had grouped together, pulling out into the traffic flow meant that we were separated again. It was decided to regroup at the first opportunity on the highway to make sure that we didn’t miss the turn off to the Wootton Way. In fact with very heavy high speed traffic this becomes more difficult than it sounds; finally we turned off onto the Wootton Way. Graham suggested that drivers who wanted a more spirited drive should lead off and for us to sort out a running order accordingly; and above all to drive safely. Many of us remember when this road used to be the old Pacific Highway with heavy traffic with very little overtaking placed. Today with very light traffic, the road is an interesting MX-5 drive which can be as challenging as one desires bearing in mind that its a public road with posted limits.
We rejoined the Pacific Highway turning left to turn right at the Lakes Way to Wallis Lake and Forster. Usually this is a pleasant road to drive even though there is usually quite a bit of traffic. Today however, the traffic was very heavy with many 4WDs, camper vans and the occasional caravan. The plus side was that there was plenty of time to appreciate the scenery with glimpses of shimmering water and sandy beaches. At a regrouping point a couple of us became completely separated from the rest of the group and turned off to Bluey’s Beach not realizing that the others had stayed on the Lakes Way. This was not really getting lost and in fact was like the expression ‘every cloud has a silver lining’; we had been warned that our lunch picnic spot did not have facilities, and so when I spied a blue information sign to an amenities block decided to drop in. This part of the drive became a rather amusing interlude as we kept on following the blue signs into a no through road and what seemed like kilometers later came across the facilities. It was in fact several kilometers from the initial sign! After a quick radio check and phone call however, we were on the way to the picnic spot.
The picnic spot had tables which overlooked a scenic expanse of beach and the blue waters of Wallis Lake and was a very relaxing spot, Wayne and Kieran provided some entertaining music on the ukuleles and we munched our way through the picnic with plenty of talk of cars, future runs and the world in general. As is usual, for our club runs, lunch was the finish of the formal drive leaving members free to take their own way home.
Another day in the paradise of the Mid North Coast with good driving, food and companionship. Thank you to Graham the Convenor and run leader and to Wayne, additional photographs which can be seen on his MX-5 Mid-North Coast Facebook page.
Graham Rochester Convenor Mid North Coast.
Peter McDonnell Assistant Convenor.
Peter and Keiran Rodgers.
John and Judith Hansen.
Allen and Pam Martin.
Wayne and Cathy Lang.
Staff at Manning Valley Automotive.
Nick Brooks, Sales Manager.
Danelle Elliott, Service Advisor.
Jim Kelly, Parts Manager.