The brolgas flew over each evening and each morning, near touching the roof of the house.




It was June before we were able to begin exploring the new Community into which we had moved . We hadn’t even been in the house. Took it on an outside look and internet images.

Ulmarra has one hotel. It had more than that years ago as did many Australian villages and towns. Now it has one. With a very good eaterie – THE CAFE CLARENCE. The beer garden is on the banks of the river and with smoking all ousted from buildings – the Ulmarra Pub has provided the wooden seats to sit with some dignity, leisure and pleasure.

Not that I smoke nowadays, but when the banning first came in I was one of the lepers who was condemned to strange corners of strange places where I tried to look Confident and non leprous. You can do that at Ulmarra Pub.


A few kilometres down the road from here, along what I think is the Coldstream, now apparently flowing frontwards, is ULMARRA CEMETERY. Iz and I ‘do’ a lot of cemeteries and this is a dandy. Fully divided into two with a virtual paddock separating the Catholics and Us. I’m a Methodist – lapsed – although I think ‘once a Methodist always a Methodist’ is a possible.

The floods had been through on the first of our visits and that was a little uncanny. Iz and I went to the Tumbulgum Historical Cemetery on our first ‘ date’, thereby recognising   the common madness in each other.  It was before I discovered that the early Scottish side of my family was buried there. The McLeods and their connections. I had gone there following my mother’s passing in 2001 and sat on the bench at the top of the hill with wee bush creatures and one tiny shiny black bird.

We has taken the Poppy to Armidale cemetery and out to Uralla to see the grave of Thunderbolt. She shows an inclination towards graveyards as well. She says she saw a scarecrow in one of the graves. Could be skeleton and suggests to her aunt that a walk througha graveyard would be a good place to find names for the new baby.

Ulmarra Cemetery – take a look. MUCH better cared for than TOOWONG.


Back on the Western Side of the Pacific Highway, where the CBD is situated – all 10 or so shops – is the playground and the swimming pool . I didn’t know whether or not  it would be enough to sustain me in a new life.  It does when my kids are here. It does – most days.  It is GENTLE.

kiz1stvisit 009

I also found the WIDE RIVER CAFE which now is a second home to us.


I remain in a non-writing mood with no glimpses of intelligence in these fingertips so I am simply putting some links up and waiting.


BRIERFIELD 003 The houses and land gradually dried out. It took a while before cattle returned to the paddocks and months before the Ulmarra Tennis Courts were operating again.

A strange malodorous flavour came to the area and blue skies with puffed white clouds became the norm once more.

izzyscamera 036

Brolgas again. I thought they would be here forever. 4ft tall.


The Brolgas went and the black cattle came – together with the Egrets. There are ‘issues’ with ‘farming’ . I have no intention of even thinking about them let alone commenting – but I do enjoy being away from the tourism and development of the Tweed. I prefer to see a street of cottages being restored under heritage listing to seeing the top of a hill lopped off as they did on Scenic Drive, Bilambil and lego houses squished and squashed on top behind a sign saying “ The View “.


Readjusting – adjusting – whatever – involved driving about . getting to know the towns and the river. Garage Sales became a successful method of coming to know the streets and areas and culture of the town. Grafton is THE BEST town for garage sales that I have lived in. We came from the tiny Cottage to a large old house which Iz calls FOREALTY TOWERS with a goo deal of accuracy and the Garage Sales have provided much of the furnishings.

The image on the left shows CORCORAN PARK – with boat ramps and picnic areas. It was still trashed when  I first went there from the usual Villain – the Flood but is coming good now.

washer 003

With a new fridge and washing machine courtesy the Department of Community Services, and the acquired furniture we began befriending this neglected house.

2009 is the year that my daughter became pregnant. So, Celebration begins to emerge as one of the themes of the year. The move had brought me within 1 1/2 hours of her home and 2 1/2 hours of the MOB.  That’s a big improvement over 5-7 hours or more.

wide river 003

One other them is The Village. Andrew from Wide River Cafe says – VISIT ULMARRA – IT WON’T TAKE YOU LONG.

It takes me quite a long time. Just to go round the Village. The bookshop with Russell and Pam – a favourite. 


STANDING just in front of the children’s section, overlooking the classics, you’ll find the guardian of the newest second-hand bookshop in the Valley.

Russell Brownlee has opened Ulmarra’s latest shop of treasures, Ulmarra Books and Collectables.

The self-confessed bookworm has been working in books since 1972.

Until recently Russell ran a small bookshop on the highway at Broadwater.

“I knew Ulmarra would be a better place for the business because people are used to stopping here,” he said.

Unlike most book stores, Russell keeps his computer at home.

“I have to rely on my memory and other people’s patience,” he said.

But it’s all part of Russell’s desire to start a dialogue with his customers.

He enjoys it when customers come in asking for a book and describes the search as a quest.

Thousands of books line the shelves upstairs and down, covering every genre imaginable.

From the obscure to the collectable, the popular to the specific, Russell has quite an assortment for sale.

“The core of the collection is stuff I’ve been collecting for over 30 years,” he said.


West of Grafton is COPMANHURST. So far we have only done once overs on the little towns and locales. Copmanhurst featured this table and benches as well as an hotel with a fine view of the river and a general store with a very helfpul young man who filled us in on some of the history.


It has been a time evocative of the 1970s and  if I am honest – of most of my life. I was going to say it was a flashback  because that sounds more appealing than owning to a lifetime in which I have never materially gone beyond the bed being delivered on the back of a ute from the secondhand shop in town. I find Grafton to be a comfortable place in which to be not materially successful.  A few weeks of sleeping on a mattress on the floor was enough for me and so the bed arrived  on the back of the ute.


Down the end of the street, a small flock of sheep keep a backyard neat and tidy. They also , on occasion, take off to greener paddocks.  I snaffled them in here one day when they were on the move and closed the gate behind them in the hope that they would do some serious munching before their owner came looking.

vac cleaner 003

Izzy had concerns about his musical life when we moved South. Following a 2 1/2 year contract at the University of Queensland Campus at St Lucia for the Australian Literature database AUSTLIT, he had found academic doors very narrow and it was the music of his youth which began to thrive.

It wasn’t long on the Clarence before opportunities came his way including some MC roles which was a new thing for him.

He also encountered North Coast hardwoods and the stories with which I have been familiar for years but which are new to him with a Sydney and Illawarra background.


ferry 010

Coming back down to the Mid North Coast combined many factors for me most of which I have written about during the year and won’t re-hash now. I did know that if I were to handle being back on the mid north coast, I would need to develop some HOW – Honesty, OpenMindedness and Willingness.  At times I feel as if I have walked back into a trap and at other times I am glad to be almost Home. Some things are familiar and others are different – usually subtly so I truly need to be seeing in pastels which is not a forte of mine.

Ulmarra is a place of mists. Low lying foggy mists.


We bought a silver bell from JACK A DANDY. Jack a Dandy is in Coldstream Street. I bought a gift from there today. Strange and exotic gifts. Paul tells me that he and his wife, Jill, have been there for 4 1/2 years. Its the place to go for a Fez – or  Moroccan cookwear and silver bells of course. Paul has a little set up out the front – small table, 2 wooden chairs and he sits there and reads and engages in conversations with passers-by.

Jack A Dandy
8 Coldstream Street, Ulmarra 2462
Phone: (02) 6644 5881
Email: jackadandy8@bigpond.com
Introducing a cultural infusion of quality giftware, clothing, jewellery
and homewares. If its something exotic and different you’re seeking,
a wander through Jack A Dandy is sure to delight the senses.
Standard Hours: Wed. to Sun. 10am to 5pm (or by


Behind the Coldstream Art Gallery is the OPSHOP. I LOVE opshops and the Rathgar Lodge one is a ripper.  This bassinet was only $20. Today we went in and they offered us the Santa Hat for free. The monies go to the Old Person’s Village just a bit along the street to the South. Lynhaven Crescent.

We bought our lounge there. Its a strange one of a kind ( probably) click-clack day n night.



One of the visions I had in the relocation and in taking this big house – was HOUSE GUESTS. Sure enough, that’s been working. We have a Guest Register and Kati B is just one of the family members who has been to visit. That meant Yahtzee and shopping and the excitement of a new baby coming.


Down the Highway at Moonee is a shopping mall.  Moonee was just a seaside village when I was living here in the 1990s and now it has a shopping mall. Rather a nice little shopping mall but curiously unnerving to me. 

When we took Kati B back down to meet her IMM, we arranged to meet at Moonee and out front was a Car Boot Sale. I like car boot sales. I have only known what they were for a few years but having found that out, I rather like them.

I did end up with such things as a pair of gumboots with mud on and 2 sizes too big for me but that’s how Car Boot Sales affect me.

coast 003

I have been out to the Clarence  Coast only twice. As a Urunga native, I am accustomed to the sea being within easy reach and a 40km drive along narrow roads has intimidated me. I didn’t fancy Wooli or Digger’s Camp when I went there. Wasn’t crazy on Minnie Water either. Now that time is passing and the weather is warming, I am prepared to look once more and maybe even twice more. The Family from Wide River spend Sundays out there with Nippers. Long Sundays at Minnie Water with the Shade tent and friends. My friends from Lismore have a cottage at Diggers Camp.

There is a chance that my attitude might have been a little negative.  Influenced by other places and other times.

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