012. Woops. Every so often we will find one of these as explained on the page…
Woops. That’s where I discover a travel page, not a MH travel page, sitting on the hard drive, memory stick, CD or external hard drive where it went unnoticed until I had a chronological system going and suddenly I find a travel tale and where to put it. So it becomes Woops and gets put in anywhere, out of order. Hey what the heck. A bit of wry fun in an otherwise orderly site.
So this Woops kicks in Christmas Eve 2000. A Lonely time for me as Donnis was overseas in Canada visiting family and because I could not get enough time off to join her I planned a trip to Norfolk Island, hereinafter called NI, home of the famous inbred people who were naughty on Pitcairn Island and got this Island as reward. However all is not rosey in the NI history but I will not dwell on that and get into my story.
I had a flight arranged from Hamilton Island (which invloved getting a bus to Shute harbour, a ferry to Hamilton Island, a taxi to the airport lugging all my luggage) Hamilton Island, hereinafter called HI, airport was hot and crowded. First problem came when I put my hand luggage through the X-ray scanner and behold. A switchblade knife Melissa had given me a few Christmasses ago which I had unthinkingly thrown in the carry on bag to use to cut up fruit or for another reason and mission I had to accomplish. You see Dad had died earlier that year and I was carrying his ashes back to Sydney to scatter in a few places. I needed a sharp knife to cut the sealed plastic container. I could have put it in the suitcase. Anyway I got called to one side and questioned. Luckily a person on the security staff knew me and miraculously we found a way to get the knife into the suitcase already waiting to be loaded. Second piece of luck was coming up. My original flight plans was a flight to Brisbane, change, wait then fly to Sydney and arrive in time to catch a bus to Forster at 8pm. Quantas offered me a direct earlier flight to Sydney. That gave me several hours in Sydney and time to wander Central Station lugging my luggage until finally fed up I paid for a locker and walked to Chinatown for dinner. Allan was due to pick me up at a town outside Forster at midnight when the bus pulled in. Although I had my mobile I very thoughtfully turned it off as it was night and most passengers wanted to sleep and so did I. Huh. No chance I was going to sleep. At a town called Karuah somewhat South of Forster we pulled into a garage for a scheduled stop, meal and toilet break and driver change when it was discovered we had a flat tyre and of course drivers do not change tyres nor do garage night staff. When I finally arrived Allan was still waiting and annoyed I had not used the mobile to call him. He could have had an extra hour or two sleep.
So I spent a quiet but very happy Christmas with Al and Rae. Walking the beaches nearby, pippying for bait and watching Al trying to catch a fish dinner. In any event we ended up with seafood from the local Co-Op.
A couple of days later I was excited to be taking a train trip from Taree to Sydney and expecting to lunch in the Dining Car with white tablecloth and a glass of wine. Reallity check Frank. You buy a ticket for a pre determined meal then as your carriage number is called out you walk to the Buffet Car and collect your hot foil pack meal and small bottle of wine and walk back to your lonely seat put down a back tray and eat the concoction before it gets cold after walking through three carriages. Arriving in Sydney it was time to pick up a train to Sutherland where sister Bev was going to meet me. Her husband Peter had come in on an earlier train. So I had a couple of nights with the family and a bit of a drive around bfore we found the cemetry in Sutherland where Mums ashes were loacted. We finally found her little plaque. Spread some ashes, then headed over to Matraville where our step Mum Jessie was interred and spread some more ashes. Then it was over to Balmain and by pre determined agreement with brothers and sisters we went to Elliott Street Wharf and spread the remaining ashes in the water. In some respects I was disappointed as the ashes sank like a stone. We said a few words then Bev drove me to Darling Street Wharf where I caught a ferry to Circular Quay and headed up to the bridge to book a Bridge Climb Tour that night. Then back down to the rocks for a spaghetti dinner and one glass of wine before heading back for the Bridge Climb.
I dunno how to explain this. I am a bit fearful of heights but on this trip I left that fear behind as we came out a tunnel and walked across a catwalk over the road. It was dark and I was just too fascinated with the entire experience. Maybve I can write more about the Brdge Climb but this story is about NI and we have not even got there yet. Bev, Pete and the boys picked me up at 11pm and we drove back to their home. How could I sleep after a high like I just had? Next day Bev drove me to the airport where I flew to Brisbane to catch another flight to NI. More luck. Some bad weather caused delays and we had to wait for a new plane. I got bumped up to first class.
So it was I arrived in NI late on New Years eve and a bus took me to my lodgings at Colonial Inn. Dinner was a pre booked affair which I could join but it would cost $60 and was half over anyway. I opted to walk into Burnt PIne the main part of town and only shopping facility. There was a pizza place still open but they had run out of dough and finally I found a hamburger place. So hamburger, chips and a large coke was my celebration dinner alone in my tiny room on New Years Eve.
One bright note, I had bought a digital camera in Brisbane and now I had a chance to read the instruction book and try it out. So sitting in my tiny room in my pyjamas, listening to Auld Langs Sine drifting on the night from the conference centre I took my first digital photograph.
Here it is in all its glory even taken with timer feature. So there!
The next day I discovered apart from taking pre booked tours, the only way to get around is by hire car and there were none avaialble for another day. I found a supermarket and bought groceries so I could have breakfast and lunch out of my own room and not pay the big price tag for meals anywhere else. I did lots of tours in groups and eventually got a car which allowed me to get to those places not usually part of the tourist package yet many places I went I seemed to be walking slightly behind a group so I could hear a commentary.
So with my new found freedom I visited the churches, this one is the most grand,
Most of the time I was on NI is was wet and windy with some days very cold
All my photos take on a sort of damp & dismal appearance.
The ruins at Kingston harbour drew me back a number of times.
I even went at night – twice. Once on a guided tour and once in the car because I could.
Kingston Harbour was another place I felt drawn to.
The old Cemetry looked much like the regular Cemetry.
A real eye opener was Emily Bay
a local swimming and surfing beach favoured by the NI families. At holiday time they would pack all the camping equipment into the ute and drive up to 7 Klms from home and set up camp at Emily Bay. Seems the snorkelling is good, a reef just outside the beach keeps all those long bodied big toothed hungry Noahs Arks away from the safe beach.
I drove to Crystal Pool and climbed a very steep hill. Thats the hire car, a little Daihatsu Mira seen at the
bottom of the very tall and steep hill.
One morning I woke up and that was my final day. Time to go home. At the airport all the passengers had to line up to pay the departure tax – in cash. No way could you pay it beforehand or include it in the ticket price. The collection window was only open for an hour before the flight. So we lined up like schookids trying to get the exact money scraped together to pay this tax.
In a way I was ready to leave and was tired of the locals attitude towards tourists. I was also more tired of their attitude towards the state of NSW and Australia in general without whose money and aid the economy would collapse. I was tired that after all Australia does for them – they are part of Australia – they import most of their goods from NZ and give NZ their business in other ways as well. I was tired of their attitude they live under ancient laws and I was tired that if you get injured it is your fault but run over one of their precious cows and it is also your fault.
I would miss the scenery and the way the locals are tight. I would miss that they hold onto their heritage.
Now I can say I have been there, done that and leave the door open for another visit.