19 August – Just down the road from our overnight spot was a small Provincial Park with a coastal walk, so we did the 3km walk before getting on the road.
Today I felt like printing out a whole lot of Tui Beer’s ‘Yeah Right!’ posters and pinning them on each 80km speed limit sign we came across – the coastal roads in Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore have been the worst yet and getting above 50km is a bonus. When you see grass growing up in the cracks and potholes you know they haven’t been looked at for quite a long time. One little surprise was another car ferry – just a 10 minute hop across a small inlet for another $5.50 run on a cable and capable of just 12 cars.
It took a lot of perseverance to find somewhere for the night, but finally found a spot in a bit of forest which backed on to the water.
20 August – After an undisturbed night we carried on the Marine Scenic Drive – today’s roads have been much improved which made for much more relaxing travel. Lake Charlotte was our first stop and Bob got to reminisce at a village recreating village life in the 40’s and 50’s. Only a small museum but still quite well done, with a couple of early vehicles and fuel bowsers setting the scene.
Got the next blog posted with their nice strong wi-fi signal and then carried on to Oyster Pond where they had a little local walk. Next stop was at Cole Bay – a 400 acre park with a series of walks. The drive today has been really scenic; the coast as far as Lawrencetown followed a series of inlets and protected harbours before finally opening out on to the Atlantic Ocean.
Another historic walk past Cole Harbour and then at Cow Bay found a free campsite listed on one our apps – a small parking area beside the water – again a sheltered bay looking eastwards towards what should be a nice sunset, but also seems to be an evening gathering place for the local youths in their hot cars so we will see how long into the evening that lasts.
21 August – Not long as it tuned out! Just a short hop this morning to Dartmouth and found that the ferry had a park and ride carpark which was ideal. We could park for free and get the ferry across to the centre of Halifax without having to drive through city traffic for just $1.75 and a free bus transfer at the other end. Nice ferry ride across the harbour and connected with a short bus ride to take us up the hill to the 18/19th Century military Citadel. Spent most of the day looking at the exhibits and re-enactments that were happening. They had a special programme representing over a century of Canadian Military History, especially commemorating the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 between England and it’s Canadian interests against the New England states. They had volunteers recreating the 78th Highlanders and 3rd Brigade of the Royal Artillery during the period 1869-71, consequently some neat drum and piping displays as well as general military drills. Listened to a lecture given by a doctor on the medical conditions/practices going on in the late 1800’s – it was a bit dry so not as interesting as we had hoped.
Walked back down to the waterfront and after a short walk along the quayside got the ferry back to Wanda. The local show and shine for the hotrod club was just getting underway in the park & ride carpark, so while we waited for the rush hour traffic to disappear had a wander amongst the vehicles. My favourite had to be a brand new Cobra (red of course), that was some mean machine.
Made our way to the Waldorf for the night and met up with some fellow down-underians from Queensland. We thought we were good only staying at camp grounds very occasionally, but they far surpass us – 3 years without a camp ground! They had just come back from Newfoundland and found the roads there to be even worse combined with awful weather, so had not had an altogether enjoyable time – perhaps we made the right decision not to go there.
22 August– Nice lazy start to the day, swapping info with our Aussie neighbours and then on to the Atlantic Canadian Aircraft Museum. Interesting array of aircraft including a replica of the Silver Dart, a Canso (similar to the Catalina), the almost obligatory Caadian designed and built CF100 and a CF101 Voodoo fighter. We had that done and dusted by early afternoon. Pat & John had also come to the museum and we spent the rest of the afternoon having a nice time putting the world to rights and before we knew it, it was time for dinner. We decided that we would both stay at the museum for the night as everyone else had left; it was very quiet and we wouldn’t be bothering anyone so then proceeded to spend a very pleasant evening over dinner reminiscing about our respective travels and finding how many places we had both visited and the differences experienced.
23 August – Into Dartmouth to take a different ferry across the harbour into downtown Halifax and the Maritime Museum. Great displays of earlier shipping, with an awesome display of model ships – in particular a 1:48 scale model of the Mauritania. A large part of the museum was dedicated to the blast they had in 1917 which destroyed a huge area of the waterfront and killed over 1600 people. It was the largest man-made explosion to have occurred in the world until Hiroshima. It was caused by a collision between a munitions ship loaded with nitro-glycerine and a collier – the blast blew out windows 100km away and was felt 400km away. The injuries of those who weren’t killed were horrific. There was also a large display around the Titanic sinking, as Halifax was the port that received all the survivors and bodies.
Ferried back over the harbour and ventured down to another Aviation Museum – mainly Canadian naval aircraft including a Fairey Swordfish (sink the Bismark!) and a Fairey Firefly, a Banshee jet fighter and several WW2 planes under restoration. Pat and John also returned to the Waldorf after their explorations and another social evening was pleasantly passed.
24 August – Took a while to get going and say our final farewells to Pat & John. It has been such a nice couple of days meeting with such like minded folks. Continued on the Lighthouse Trail through some nice little villages and stopped at what we thought would be for the night at a small harbour similar to many we had used previously without trouble. But we later had a visit from a local who said we had parked on his private land (it wasn’t obviously private) and if we were to set his coolstore on fire his insurance wouldn’t cover it (but for a small fee of $25 that risk would miraculously disappear). Stuff that! We moved on and found a nice flat area beside a small electrical substation which was nicely off the road, for a peaceful night.
25 August – First stop next day was the UNESCO town of Lunenburg. A picture postcard waterfront town with buildings dating from the 1820’s, some lovingly restored and some a bit more rustic. The protected area is 5 blocks square from the waterfront and up the hill. We spent the morning at the fishing museum with a good talk on one of the motor/sailing fishing schooners which the museum is centred around – ‘Bluenose’ – which became very famous in the US/Canadian fishing fleet races, never having been beaten. Also moored were a couple of fishing boats which were open to wander around on and we got the tour by retired fishermen. Had a treat of lunch before meandering the streets to inspect some of the charming buildings and making our way back to Wanda parked way up on the top of hill. No decent stopping places were forthcoming on the Lighthouse Trail so ended up at Bridgewater and their small Walmart.
26 August – The Waldorf were very accommodating as they turned off the floodlights at 11pm so we had a nice quiet night. Our South Shore odyssey continued with a half hour of highway smoothness before getting back onto the “scenic lighthouse” road. Scenic yes, road, no! Our first stop was at Port Medway, a brilliant little harbour sheltered by many offshore islands. This coastline really is quite beautiful and sheltered making for what must be boating heaven. Another first for us today, we watched a couple of small boats bringing in seaweed. They harvest it from the shallow waters and it gets sent to Yarmouth about 2 hours away where it gets dried, crushed and used for many things including fertilisers, makeup and icecream, Talking to the guys harvesting it, it takes around 4-5 hours to rake in 6 tons and another hour to unload to a skip, for which they get $48 per ton, so it is a hard earned dollar for them but they have to have an income when they aren’t fishing. The locals of Nova Scotia have an interesting accent – not like mainland Canada at all.
On from Port Medway we bumped around to Liverpool and at Port Joli we went down to the Kejimkujik National Park which was out on a small peninsula. A nice 4km hike to the Harbour Rocks area was really pretty. We had views of both sides of the peninsula as we hiked through a mixture of bog and sparse forest. Once at the rocky coast we were rewarded with brilliant blue ocean, seals and birds basking on the rocks and little sandy beaches. I got to dip my toes in the Atlantic ocean for the first time on this trip – lovely, refreshing and sparkling clear.
Back on the main road for another little stint and then down on another peninsula to Little Harbour which was just that – too small to consider stopping. Not too long after that the road headed inland through the pine forests and we found a small lay-by in trees suitable for the night.
Down the road today with a stop at Shelburne for supplies; this part of the road mainly through the forest and swamps. Back down on the coast and a stop at the Port LaTour Provincial Park. Walked down to the beach – quite a rocky beach although people were swimming in quite rough water despite the warnings of tidal rips. After lunch headed back up the other side of the peninsula stopping at Barrington to have a look around their Woollen Mill Museum. Very interesting – the mill was in operation from the mid 1800’s right up until 1963. It was water powered and had the full gambit of machines right from washing, dyeing and carding through spinning to looms for the finished product. They produced material from fine shirting through to blankets and tweeds.
From Barrington headed down to Cape Sable Island, the southernmost tip of Nova Scotia and a brilliant parking spot right out on the tip overlooking the ocean. Met Brenda from Halifax and had a lovely chat with her, while watching the tide coming in. Had a little walk around the settlement after dinner, including the local bird sanctuary, and came back to watch the sun setting. As we were walking around we could hear the fog horn from the nearby lighthouse and didn’t think much of it, but as soon as the sun went down, the fog rolled in limiting visibility down to probably only about 30 metres and the air got really sticky. Had the usual stream of locals including the Mounties (sadly they don’t wear red coats or ride their horses round here!) coming down to see who was parked up.
28 August – Awoke to a very foggy damp morning. Our lovely vista from the previous was non-existent. Headed back up Cape Sable Island and as it was still pretty miserable kept to the main road all the way into Yarmouth. Not quite like it’s counterpart in Jolly England, but they did have a great little Firefighters Museum with the most stunning collection of steam firefighting engines. By the time we had been through the museum the cloud had lifted and we were back to the nice sunny weather that has been with us for most of the time.
Got back on to coastal road – this time we are following the Evangeline Trail – Evangeline was a poem written by Longfellow about the Arcadian expulsion and describes the betrothal of a fictional Acadian girl named Evangeline Bellefontaine to her beloved, Gabriel Lajeunesse, and their separation as the British deport the Acadians from Acadie in the Great Upheaval. The poem then follows Evangeline across the landscapes of America as she spends years in a search for him, at some times being near to Gabriel without realizing he was near. Finally she settles in Philadelphia and, as an old woman, works as a Sister of Mercy among the poor. While tending the dying during an epidemic she finds Gabriel among the sick, and he dies in her arms.
Stopped off for lunch at a Provincial Park at Port Maitland overlooking a lovely sweeping beach with small waves gently breaking on the shore. There was even some water available so I took advantage of that and gave Wanda a quick wash.
With plenty of time on hand we carried on to Digby and out to the lighthouse at Port Prim just in time to watch the ferry sail out of the bay over to New Brunswick. We had the faint hope that we might be able to stay there but that wasn’t to be the case so came back into the town and to the Waldorf for the night.
Digby is hosting their Wharf Rat Motorcycle Rally this weekend – they get thousands of bikers from all over for the event and they are everywhere. All we can hear is the constant roar of mainly Harleys (not that you would call them real bikes!) and if you want to take part in the tattoo competition, arm wrestling and view the custom bikes then this is the place to come.