Day 4: Coffs Harbour

Location: Coffs Harbour

I feel like I'm actually starting to get into a bit of a routine now. I timed myself this morning (cause you know, I’m a nerd) and it took me seven minutes to get up, get dressed and rearrange the van from sleeping mode to driving mode. Even better, when I set up camp this evening I did it equally as fast – park, plug in, arrange curtains and arrange dinner. I was even able to set up my lighting system to read outside while I was waiting for dinner to be cooked. Okay, so they’re all basic things anyone could do, but still, I’m loving it. I do so love this cosy little van!

So! With my new speedy routine I was on the road by seven – of course, this was greatly aided by a lack of early morning fauna (they must have read the blog). I had decided to stay two nights in Coffs Harbour as there were a couple places that I wanted to see while I was here. First up: the Butterfly House.

It’s kind of hard to describe how excited I was about going to the Butterfly House. Do you remember the scene (I’m pretending you’re all dorky and have seen this movie) in The Librarian when Flynn throws the rock at the tree and all the butterflies fly around Nicole and it’s beautiful? Well that’s the image I had in my head. Realistically I knew that was never going to happen, and I gave myself a firm talking to the whole way there.

'You don’t live in a movie,’ I told myself.

‘But I want to!’ Brain me replied.

‘Well tough!’ I said. ‘Just be happy if you see any butterflies at all!’

Brain me sulked for quite some time while other, soul-crushing me continued on her merry way, singing to showtunes and counting bridges.

When I got there I bought my ticket ($14 for students, which I thought a little expensive actually) and listened carefully to the ladies spiel – I didn’t want to get in trouble at the butterfly house! Be careful where you step, they sometimes rest on the ground; don’t go into the gardens; if one lands on you, don’t touch it’s wings; it’s hot in there so come in and out as you need – just be careful!

After nodding attentively I walked (okay I may have skipped a little) over to the entrance. To get into the butterfly house you had to enter a kind of antechamber with three doors. It was obviously just to keep all the butterflies in their housing area, but I felt very excited about the whole thing. I kept waiting to hear the hiss of the doors being hermetically sealed and for guys in bright red hazmat suits to start running around all over the place.

Stepping inside I walked up to a little information station (sadly the only one) where a staff member explained the breeding and metamorphosis process. She explained how only moths entered cacoons, whereas the butterfly, or more accurately the caterpillar, sheds it’s skin and forms a pupa or chrysalis* wherein their body liquefies and their cells realign to form a butterfly. See edumacational!

Cairns Birdwing

Varied Eggfly

I was hovering back a little, listening to this lady explain the process and show us the pupa in their incubation chambers when she asked if I was with the older couple standing in front of me. I tried to explain that I wasn’t, but by this stage the lady was already smiling at me and the gentleman was suddenly at my side pulling me forward to join them. There was a brief moment of, ‘um, who are you? Why are you touching me? STRANGER DANGER!!!" but by then he had gone back to listening to the talk on butterfly babies and so I figured the threat was over.

Well... there wasn’t so much a threat, but they had apparently decided that I was one of them for good. The man was taking photos of the butterflies and when he saw me doing the same he kept calling me over to ‘see this here pretty one’ or the one that ‘looked like it would hold still for a good while’. Everywhere I turned there they were. Now Mum, Wendy, Lisa – anyone who’s about to start screaming stranger danger right on back to me – they were harmless enough, just a little too friendly. I heard all about their grandson – he’s fifteen and playing football for three days at Coffs Harbour so they drove him down – and was invited to join them for tea and scones. Actually that’s not entirely true: I tried to sneak out ahead of them but they were too wiley for me. The man was going past me to have a smoke outside when he pointed out the table they were sitting at and told me to ‘go on and order’. I hope they weren’t offended when I declined.

Orange Lacewing

Fellow visitors aside, the butterfly house was lovely (though not quite up to my imagination) and I spent most of my time taking photos and trying to chase the seemingly lone Ulysses butterfly, which are my favourite. I also had one butterfly land on me very early on (the staff said they were attracted to colour and I was wearing a very bright red jacket) and refused to move the whole time. At one point I shook him off and he just came right on back. I don’t know what was on my wrist, but apparently it tastes good to butterflies.

After the butterfly house, Courtney and I tackled the maze they have on the property – I walked, she directed over the phone.

From there I visited the Big Banana, which was a little disappointing. I wanted to learn about bananas, or banana farming, or SOMETHING bananaery, but all I learnt was that kids like toboggan rides and that they can justify selling anything so long as they stamp a banana on it. I did venture up to the lookout however. While there I tried to count the streets to get to the beach, which of course I promptly forgot and so just drive in the general direction till I hit sand.

Big Banana

Park Beach was nice and beachy – though I was surprised by the huge amount of stones the waves bought in. Deciding to do a small ripples photo (what is it about beaches Lisa? I don’t know) I gathered a HUGE amount of pebbles... which promptly ran out about three letters in. Sigh. By the time I had formed all the letters I had amassed something of an audience.

Park Beach - Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia

Anyways that was my day today. Looking forward to a relative sleep in tomorrow as I don’t have to be up and driving early.

*Yes Lauren, I thought it.

Kilometres travelled: 196 (720)
Bridges crossed: 41 (76)
Number of times hitting head on campervan: 0 (6)
Number of road workers whom returned my wave: 0 (3)
Number of times James completely freaked out because he thought we were bush bashing: 2 (2)

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