Before we left Tweed Heads, New South Wales (see last Diary post), we visited the North Tumbulgum historic cemetery as my John and Sarah Finn family moved to Tumbulgum after they sold their farm at Nambour in Queensland. The cemetery is literally on the side of a small mountain in the middle of a rainforest and not quite 20 years ago there was an effort to reclaim the cemetery from the rainforest and signs explain the history of the area and the cemetery. However it was obvious we were the first people to visit in quite a while and the trees and other vegetation have grown even more and the mosquitoes were very hungry! It reminded me very much of Walhalla in Victoria but it's not in a rainforest.
We also took time out to visit Grafton again as another one of my families, John and Helen Carnegie moved there from Brisbane in the 1860s and early 1870s (only then they were temporarily using the surname Stanley) before they moved back to Toorbul in Queensland and restarted using the Carnegie name! Both John and Helen Carnegie are buried in the historic Toorbul cemetery and their gravestone is the only surviving one. I actually have a photograph of it before it was broken.
From there we moved on to Coffs Harbour and stopped at Boambee for the night. As Coffs gets bigger, the smaller towns around it seem to become suburbs and we nearly drove right past the caravan park as we were thinking south of Coffs not in it!
Then we arrived in Port Macquarie a place I have visited many times over the years and is now firming up as one of our options of retiring to. Although I will say it is a very busy place in the Christmas/New Year period, usually we are there outside of the holiday season. The weather was great, although a little humid some days and even a bit cool on others (but then the whole east coast seems to have been cooler this January). There is lots to do here but one of our highlights was an afternoon cruise on a real Chinese junk through the various waterways and we were even followed by a school of dolphins which was good to see.
We had to keep moving on so after four days we headed south and did the big detour around Sydney and finished up in the Southern Highlands, overnight at Moss Vale. This is another family area where my Thomas and Elizabeth Price first went to after arriving in Sydney in 1878. I can track their movements as they had a child in various towns (with my grandfather Henry Price being born in Nattai near Mittagong in 1887) before they moved down to the Shoalhaven area. As we drove down the incredibly steep escarpment via the Illawarra Highway and Macquarie Pass, I couldn't help wonder how they travelled down it in the late 1880s.
We stayed two nights in Shoalhaven Heads and spent our days exploring this very scenic area and again visiting the various places my Price family lived before they left for Charters Towers in Queensland. I also spent time speculating on the fact that if they hadn't done this, Henry Price would never have met Alice White and my mother (and me) would never have been born. It was quite chilly at night for January (although the weather reports said that it was unusual weather) but we still left with Port Macquarie our firm favourite to retire to.
After a look around Kiama where another Price child was born, we headed to Jamberoo where Max was meeting up with his brother for a bit of bush camping which is not quite my style. I am currently booked into the historic Jamberoo Pub and Motel enjoying the peace and quiet and catching up with my emails, writing some long overdue blogs and generally relaxing (although the cockatoos are a bit noisy).
I also have a lot of email newsletters to catch up on and there must be heaps of genealogy news I've missed via tweets and Facebook but I also have to say that I don't think I've been this relaxed in years. Sometimes it really is good to stop and notice the wonderful countryside in which we live and it's great to be able to visit the places my ancestors lived and try to picture what it was like for them back then. Until next time, all the best with your own genealogy searches.