Archive for January, 2012

235. Sunday 22nd January 2012. Life exists in Culcairn but wherethehellisthat???

31/01/2012

Bob T and Frank G. This photo is out of order but due to problems with the laptop over the last three weeks it has not been available. The Co-Pilot and I had dinner with Bob and his wife Sharon the night before we left Wollongong.

Monday 16th January

Not so many photographs this week as it has been more of a settling in process while the CO-PILOT takes the car to work I laze around camp or take a walk into Culcairn.

Grand building which houses the School of Arts, The War Memorial, the Memorial Hall and RSL Sub Branch.

Mornings are delightful but by midday the heat is up around 36° with humidity at 34% and the wind picks up. The CO-PILOT spent her first day at work while I wandered around looking at the town, particularly the older houses and churches. Although the town is now in decline, with most shops empty and looking worn out, from the size, number and construction quality, it is obvious this was once a wealthy area.

The locals tell me the hotel was once the biggest anywhere along the train line between Melbourne and Sydney.

Culcairn Hotel has seen better days.

It certainly would have been impressive in its day but most of the rooms are closed off, layered in dust, overgrown with spider-webs and broken windows boarded up.

The Grand, The Magnificent (the old the worn out the decayed) Culcairn Hotel.

We went to the local swimming pool in the afternoon.

Tuesday 17th January

Another day of mooching around, tidying the campsite, washing, erecting more shade and mostly trying to stay out of the sun. The CO-PILOT was at work and enjoying her new surroundings and workmates. The hospital is only a few years old, having 15 beds, 12 of them high care. The remainder are set aside for emergencies.

Wednesday 18th January

Another day mooching around and taking some photos. Across the creek from our campsite is a rest area and park and behind that is the Culcairn Bowling Club. It is quite a large club with two outdoor bowling lawns and a tidy clubhouse with Chinese restaurant. We had dinner there using the opportunity to dress up for the occasion. Typically it seems we were the only people to bother. Shorts and thongs appear to be the dress code.

Thursday 19th January

Mooch Day for me. Afternoon shift workday for the CO-PILOT.

I went to a BINGO evening at the club. Nothing dramatic to report. It was an interesting evening watching and interacting with the locals.

Friday 20th January

Another mooch day.

I did a bit of digging around for information on Henty.

It seems the town was originally called Doodle Cooma or the alternate spelling for those on the other side of the tracks, presumably, is Dudal Comer. The town council felt there was too much confusion with another town in the vicinity called Cooma and decided on Henty instead.

See   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henty,_New_South_Wales

 

Saturday 21st January

Ahhh! What can I say? A mooch day for both of us!

I did manage to catch up on some of my reading. Reading helps to take my mind off the fact the laptop repairer in Wagga still has our Toshiba and now tells me it has not been put on the test bench yet…after 8 days! I was promised it will be looked at on Monday.

Yeah right! I have heard that before.

Sunday 22nd January.

In the morning we went to the local Anglican Church.

St.Paul's Anglican Church, Culcairn.

We helped make up the numbers of 6 parishioners. The service was conducted by one of the parishioners. He is 90 while a lady who seemed to be the grande dame at the service is 95 and still drives her car.

We then drove out to Walla Walla to see the bushranger Mad Dog Morgan (seems he did not like the “Dog” part of his name, preferring to be called Mad Dan Morgan. I suppose if he is holding a gun at your head you would be more likely to call him Sir!) lookout and hideout.

Entrance to Mad Dog Morgans Hideout.

The hideout is a group of huge white granite rocks in the middle of what is an otherwise flat plain.

Lonely windswept panorama at MDM Lookout

A pair of ladders enabled me to climb to the top of one of the rocks and survey the scene.

Steep slippery path to the equally steep ladders.

Although the ladders were stable, the track to them was ill defined, covered in grass and even in the dry felt slippery, especially the little granite pebbles which slid underfoot.  Note to self. Do not wear sandals when trekking and exploring. The rocks were a natural place to hide and stable a horse.

One of several rock caves.

The view from the rocks was ideal to see if the troopers were in the area.

View from the top of Mad Dog Morgans Lookout

The ladder gave access to the largest and tallest of the rocks and apart from an information board there was a NSW numbered Survey marker.

Mad Dog Sign at the top of the highest rock.

If you are at all nervous about heights, (I am ) it requires a bit of mental coaxing to get to the top. Mad Dog Morgan must have been a very strong minded man to live here, alone and to climb to the top of the rocks to survey his bushranging territory.

North view from MDM Lookout.

I wonder if he ever climbed the rocks while it was raining.

Just one of many huge white granite rocks. I am dwarfed.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dan_Morgan_bushranger

Afterwards we drove into Walla Walla, (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walla_Walla,_New_South_Wales

had a beer at the only pub and a look at a covered wagon which brought German  Immigrants, members of the Lutheran Church to the area for settlement. Today most streets are named after the early German pioneers.

Lutheran Church at Walla Walla. Note the older impressive stone hall beside the church. The hall was once the original church.

Walla Walla. The first time I saw that name I was reminded of the 50’s hit song, My Friend the Witchdoctor, it had a catchy chorus and went something like this… Oo Ee Oo Aa Ah, Walla Walla Bing Bang, Oo Ee Oo Aa Ah and so on. See  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Witch_Doctor_%28song%29

After lunch at WWWGO we drove to Holbrook about 26 klms east of our campsite. It is on the Hume Highway and is one of the few towns the highway passes through. Not for long though as the by-pass works are in full swing. We visited HMAS Otway

Impressive, hollow HMAS Otway Submarine in the Holbrook Park.

a submarine which has been gutted and the shell sits in a park in Holbrook. Some internal parts are on display in a museum nearby. See   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMAS_Otway_%28S_59%29

Holbrook Hotel, one of several old hotels in the town.

It was another very hot day so we visited the Solar Heated full Olympic sized pool at Holbrook before heading towards home and visiting the village of Morven between Culcairn and Holbrook. (There is another town called Morven in Qld and both are about the same size but the Qld town is better serviced by shops and other facilities.)

This old slab church in the bush at Morven is part of the St.Pauls Anglican Church in Culcairn and services are held here once per month.

Morven is home to the pub in the bush, the Round Hill Pub.

The Round Hill Pub located at Morven.

Seems a strange name, particularly as Round Hill Station is some 7 klms westwards and the pub is in Morven. We also stopped to see a Trig Point and John Mcleans Grave, both of which are near Round Hill Station.

Old harvester outside an old sheld and both are falling apart or down.

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234.Sunday 15th January 2012. From Corrimal on the NSW coast to Culcairn in the NSW Riverina district…

15/01/2012

This has been a big week and many many photographs were taken. It was a difficult task trolling through the photos to select those most representative of our week. Be prepared for lots of photos. Some are placed randomly.

This Diamond Python was passed around at the Simbio Zoo at Helensburgh when we visited.

Monday 9th January.

The elusive and rare Red Panda


A small but potentially deadly Salt Water Crocodile at Symbio.

While the CO-PILOT continued to help Errol I was busy doing some odd jobs in WWWGO. The CO-PILOT went to make a mocha pot of coffee yesterday but forgot to put water in the base. She went outside for a while and left it cooking on the stove. The smell alerted us to the problem. Sheesh. The stink of burnt coffee lingers longer than most unpleasant odours. Today I pulled the pot apart and spent ages cleaning out the burned on coffee and run a few pots of water and bi-carb and a few pots of water and lemon juice through it.

The delightfully graceful, powerful and also potentially deadly, Sumatran Tiger at Symbio.


The iconic, symbolic and uniquely Australian Wedgetail Eagle. This poor fellow had a broken wing and although set many years ago he cannot fly and therefore fend for himself in the wild. He will spend all his days at Symbio.

I met old work colleague, Tony A at Belmont Basin for lunch at a seafood restaurant overlooking the harbour. It was great to catch up with Tony as he was my first contact and great work friend for all the years I worked at Illawarra Mutual Building Society. Regrettably, I had to cut the meeting short as I had a dental appointment at 3pm (I broke 2 fillings on Saturday night eating…Pork Crackling). As I left the restaurant the six sports cars were parked in the courtyard below.

An albino Echidna. Just as shy and retiring as his non albino brothers & sisters.


Is Alpaca Spanish for cute?

The dentist examined my broken teeth and set up an appointment at 7am in the morning to do two new fillings.

Cute little Marmoset but not as cute as the Cotton Tops.


Amelia met lots of animals including this real real loose, long necked Goose. With thanks to the Big Boppa.


Amelia also got to meet a Joey while Roo mum and real mum watched cautiously.

At dinner we received a phone call. UhOh!!! Oh No!!! Acute red faced embarrassment occurred at this point. With so many things happening today I completely forgot we had a dinner appointment with Bob and Sharon T at 6.30. Bob, being the nice guy that he is, offered to have us to dinner tomorrow night.

I was fascinated and captivated by the Cotton Top Monkeys. I could have watched them for hours.


I get up close and personal with an Olive Python. This was the first time in my life I had touched, let alone hold, a snake. Not a bad experience and after the initial hesitation I warmed to the encounter and the snake decided to wander up my shirt sleeeve.

Reviewing our posts since leaving Mackay on 28th November has been a wonderful journey of meeting up with family and friends along the way. We thank them one and all for their time and hospitality. We have enjoyed ourselves and look forward to catching up with more family and friends over the next few months.

The Emu at Symbio was easier to photograph than those we encountered in the wild.


The Fresh SWater Crocodile. Less dangerous perhaps than the larger more aggressive and deadly Salty but intimidating nonetheless.

Tuesday 10th January

Goat. These guys have a reputation for eating anything and even ate the empty paper bags the chaff for the Roos came in.


Golden Pheasant. It sure makes the common chocolate brown Pheasants look rather drab.

A BIG day out for us, so be prepared for lots of photos.

Close-up of that long necked Goose.

We went to Symbio Wildlife Park at Helensburgh   http://www.symbiozoo.com.au/   with Nicole and Amelia and Merrilyn. We spent about four hours wandering around looking at animals most of which we have never seen, except on TV, before. From my point of view I overcame a nervousness about snakes (no not fear) and handled an Olive Python. (the largest snake in Australia) Once again we drove the coast road including the Sea Cliff Bridge and all the northern beachside suburbs.

Everybody's favourite, the Meerkat.


We got up close and personal with several Koala's at Symbio. far closer and more personal than at the Koala Hospital at Port Macquarie.


The Llama. Confused with, because it looks like the Alpaca. Or is it the other way around?


On the way home we stopped at Coledale for a bit of sea breeze.


and a bit of Coledale escarpment scenery.

Tonight we made up for our faux pas yesterday and had a wonderful dinner with Bob and Sharon T. All too quickly, time passes and it was another late night before we arrived back at WWWGO tired but happy.

Wednesday 11th January

The day started off bright and sunny but verrrry windy. We lunched with Errol, Nicole, Amelia and Merrilyn and said our goodbyes before finally getting on the road shortly before 4pm. With full fuel and water tanks and with tackling the long uphill haul of Mount Ousley we decided to drive WWWGO and TERIOS separately to the top of the pass and connect them there. The very strong winds buffeted us all the way. Once TERIOS was connected we turned off to the west to link up with the Hume Highway. From this point onwards it was one small step for Frank and a giant leap for Donnis as we headed into new territory. The CO-PILOT fell asleep as I concentrated on driving into the increasingly strong winds and the dark and forbidding clouds I could see in the distance. We pulled into a rest area called Black Bob’s Creek for the night. The temperature dropped, some big rain drops fell but not for long. The wind blew the rain away. The sound of traffic continued but we managed to get to sleep without difficulty. I suppose the hearty Beef Red Curry dinner with lots of veggies gave us a warm inner glow to fight the constantly dropping temperature.

Thursday 12th January

Woke to a cold cold morning. It was just 11° but the wind had eased overnight. We were camped about 20 klms from Goulburn where, according to the radio the temp got down to 1° overnight. The cold temps were the result of a front blowing up from the Antarctic. There was snow on the mountains around Cooma which is not that much further south of our location. We stopped at chilly Goulburn for some groceries and while we watched a reptile display where snakes, lizards and turtles were displayed and some audience were allowed to touch and handle the reptiles. Quite interesting really especially as I had just handled a giant python only two days before.

A windfarm near Gunning. Note the concrete highway.

Once more back on the Hume Highway, (incidentally the Hume Highway is a minimum of 4 lanes divided road and a glaring white concrete, the highway by-passes most towns) the CO-PILOT was keen to have some lunch and on a whim, we pulled off the highway into the town of Gunning.

Our delightful campsite at Gunning beside Meadow Creek.

That was a worthwhile decision from many viewpoints. The picnic spot turned out to also be a camp site on the banks of Meadow Creek. Lots of birds live on and around the creek and it was a delight watching and listening to them. A swimming pool was in the same park with free toilets AND hot showers. It occurred to me that my great great grandparents on my mothers side were born in Gunning in 1850.

Telegraph Hotel at Gunning, built 1914. This was a wealthy town once upon a time but everything has by-passed the town in recent years, including the highway.

Considering land in this area was not opened up until 1820 with the first streets and house blocks a decade later, my GGG were probably considered pioneers in the area. Maybe on another visit I can find an historical society to follow up my predecessor’s history.

I have no idea what significance, if any, there is regarding the dog in a bathtub reading the paper. The tub was on the roof of an old commercial building in the town of Gunning.

In the early evening a little boy came down the hill pulling a large 4 wheeled hand wagon. He pulled up beside us and looked very determined. He was also inflicted with the gift of the gab and according to him, his father tells him he has “ducks disease”. (short legs with his bum close to the ground, just like a duck) It turns out he is 10 years old but very small for his age. The little wagon was filled with bedding and clothing. I asked him if he was running away from home. He looked at me as if I should have known. “no,” he said, “I am camping here tonight and going fishing” A couple of the other campers and I asked him questions such as, does your mum know you are here. No my mum is not with us at the moment as she and dad are fighting. Hmmm. What are you having for dinner? Nothing. Dad is usually drunk and does not make dinner. The CO-PILOT convinced him to accept a chicken wing and a cup of hot chocolate. He moved his gear to the other side of the creek, under a street light, quite content with his lot.

Meadow Creek, Gunning.

The CO-PILOT warned him to be careful crossing the narrow bridge and he replied, “I am 10 you know” “I can swim”. His infectious behaviour, confidence, blonde hair and sparkling eyes reminded me of the 1956 Australian movie, SMILEY, starring Colin Peterson. See www.imbd.com/title/tt0049771/

A delightful old cottage in Gunning.

During the night, before bed time, we could hear diesel freight trains over the hill about 2 klms away. It was sort of comforting to hear.

Friday 13th January.

Another 11° morning.

I went for a walk around a few of the streets and enjoyed looking at the older houses, many of which were built using bluestone, a form of granite.

We could easily have stayed longer at this delightful spot but our destination is calling. Continuing along the Hume Highway we turned off to visit the historical town of Yass. It was only a brief visit and perhaps we will have more time later in the year if we are heading back this way. A few klms down the highway we once again turned off to visit a small town called Jugiong on the banks of the mighty Murrumbidgee River. Once set up for lunch we decided to stay the night.

Campsite at Jugiong beside the languid Murrumbidgee River.


This shows our campsite at Jugiong beside the Murrumbidgee in a better perspective.


We swam at the local half Olympic Pool and had hot showers. I asked the lifeguard on duty how such a small town could have such a grand pool, lifeguard and ablutions. It seems there were too many drowning’s in the river and representations to the government brought a grant and the rest is history.

Fine example of a Scottish Thistle on the banks of old man Murrumbidgee.


In the afternoon we drove TERIOS another 37 klms to Gundagai and viewed a couple of historical road and rail bridges, no longer in use and way beyond their use by date.

Old road bridge across the languid Murrumbidgee at Gundagai.

The kindest thing would be to send in the Corps of Engineers to use explosives to demolish the structures, eliminating a potential threat in the next flood. Before leaving we also saw the original site of where the Dog Sat on the Tucker Box. See  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dog_on_the_Tuckerbox

Sign, Five Miles from Gundagai explaining the story of the first inn in this area.


Remains of walls and footings of the original Gundagai Inn.


Five Miles From Gundagai Where the Dog Sat on the Tuckerbox.


Gundagai is also worth another longer visit.

Birdsong serenaded us until dusk and the only sounds thereafter were the occasional truck winding its way up the steep hill on the highway a couple of klms away.

One of many pieces of rusty scrap metal art on display at Jugiong.

Saturday 14th January

We continued along the Hume Highway until we reached a fork in the road and joined Highway 20, the Sturt Highway near Wagga Wagga. The laptop has been getting slower and slower this last week or so. There is a Toshiba authorised agent in Wagga Wagga so I dropped off our laptop for repairs…hopefully under extended warranty. A short distance outside Wagga Wagga we turned off the Sturt Highway onto Highway 41, the Olympic Highway and passed the turnoff to the Army Training Camp at Kapooka then through the little towns and villages of Uranquinty, The Rock, Yerong Creek and Henty before arriving at Culcairn Caravan Park which will be our home for the next few weeks.

We are camped beside Billabong Creek which is reportedly the longest creek in New South Wales. The other campers are beside the road above us and they appear to be long term, semi-permanent residents. We have a football size grassed area on the banks of the creek, surrounded by tall River Gums all to ourselves.

The Olympic Highway is about 150m away and crosses a rather large bridge over the creek. A further 100m beyond that is the railway bridge. We can hear the traffic and the trains but it did not stop us from falling asleep and sleeping right through the night.

Sunday 15th January

We woke to a warm morning on the banks of Billabong Creek at Culcairn. We spent the day slowly setting up our campsite to make it more comfortable. First priority was to get the awning and all shade cloth in place. We had been warned it can get hot in this area.

Our home campsite at Culcairn for the next 6 weeks. We have a grassy shaded site with power and water and a 50 metre walk up a small hill to the showers and toilets. It is only 16 klms to Henty for Donnis work. When Billabong Creek flooded in early 2011 this area was under 4m of raging floodwaters.

The 2006 Census states there were 1,300 people in the Culcairn district and 1,500 in the Henty district.

 

233. Sunday 8th January 2011. Still in Corrimal but not much longer…

08/01/2012

Monday 2nd January

We are still at Corrimal.

WTF! I was awake at 4.30am and no idea why. It has been several months since I woke this early.

Hmmm! Perhaps it is caused by all the rich high carbohydrate food I have been eating over the lead up to and during Christmas. It is time to put those sweet things and potatoes and rice and pasta behind me and get back to the low carbs diet. Yesterday, Merilyn made Cornish Pasties for lunch. Although they were small, I ate three (they were delicious) and they have probably added to the general feeling of malaise which descended upon me yesterday. See   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pasty

On reflection I believe it is the sugar Christmas has re-introduced into my diet which is causing this feeling of hyper whatever. For some reason we have both been indulging in chocolates, liquorice allsorts, sweet biscuits, pastries, fruit mince pies, puddings, custards and so on.

It is time we both got back onto our simple diet of low carbs and low sugar.

I have felt generally unwell for a couple of days and a bit vertiginous especially this morning.  A quick test reveals elevated blood pressure readings. Not life threateningly high but at 146 over 90 I need to keep an eye on them and determine why they are elevated.

Nuff said!

One good benefit of being awake at this time is being able to watch the sun rise and listen to the birds waking and calling to each other. Although we are in the centre of suburbia our campsite is at the back of a small residential development, beside a creek, along a bushland corridor. It is quiet, there is no traffic and we feel as if we are in a bush setting.

The house that Errol is building.

Finally found some information regarding the Police Helicopter on NYE. See here… http://www.illawarramercury.com.au/news/local/news/general/wollongong-nye-thousands-watch-dramatic-rescue-unfold/2407464.aspx

Tuesday 3rd January

Grrrr!

Yesterday our internet service was very slow. I ran diagnostics on the computer and reset the modem and re-booted the laptop, all to no avail. The service was slow yet other programmes such as Word and Excel ran quickly as normal.

What is going on?

This morning I woke at 5.30 and the Internet was, if anything, slower than yesterday.

WTF!

Then it dawned on me. It is our Internet package plan.

Let me explain.

As part of a mobile phone and mobile wireless internet modem package we have a monthly Internet allowance of 4Gb (that’s a total of 4Gb including up-load and down-load). While the CO-PILOT was studying, the allowance was 7Gb per month and we only used, on average, about 3Gb per month. After her study period I dropped the allowance back to 4Gb and it has been enough for our needs. The CO-PILOT uses Skype quite frequently, calling Canada and Somalia, using video connection for anything up to an hour at a time. Although we boastfully say the calls only cost .27cents a minute, the time spent on-line still has an up-load and a down-load cost, especially when using video. There was a huge spike in Internet usage on 23rd, 24th, 25th, 26th of December and again on 1st and 2nd of January. Once the 4Gb allowance is reached we still get a service but it is severely slowed. Our allowance has reached 106%. The good news is it is a new cycle beginning tomorrow. In the meantime we have the iPad and its Internet access as a separate account.

Still, it is a bit of a nuisance.

Early in the morning, we went to Towradgi (proper pronunciation is Toe Rod Gee) Beach and Rock Pool

Towradgi Rock Pool

. It was quite surprising to see so many people walking, cycling, Yoga-ing and TaiChi-ing as well as those doing laps in the pool, surfing and board riding. Of course having sunshine for three days in a row has been a bonus. The CO-PILOT and the rest of the family swam in the rock pool while I busied myself with photographic duties. I noticed a plaque to commemorate the shipwreck of the Barque, Queen of Nations which ran aground on the rocks at south Corrimal Beach in 1881. The ship was carrying a cargo of railway and mining equipment and despite being wrecked, only one life was lost.

Sister Bev and her husband Pete, drove down from Gymea to visit us for a couple of hours. The intention was to go to the beach for a surf but the wind had picked up dramatically and we could barely stand upright on Flagstaff Hill, site of the Wollongong Lighthouse

Lighthouse on Flagstaff Hill

above the Harbour

Lighthouse at Entrance to Belmore Basin - Wollongong Harbour.

and also overlooking Wollongong Beach.

South Wollongong Beach

After a walk around the lighthouse and scrambling around the rocks

Boys being boys by showing off to a group of girls. They would jump off the rocks into the swell and were then swept back onto the rocks to do it all over again.

we went back to the harbour for a seafood take away for lunch.

Pete Bev and Donnis on rocks at South Gong Beach.

Before buying lunch we saw a display of 6 luxury vehicles, including, probably the cheapest of the lot, a Lotus Elise.

Lotus Elise

There were BMW Cabriolet 1201, Lamborghinni,

Lamborghinni Gallardo

Maseratti,  Aston Martin, Audi R8.

Audi R8

We have no idea why these cars were on display but it was interesting to see them. Personally I would be happy driving along the coast in a Lotus Elise but the cost of Rego, Insurance and a service would be more than my annual income.

http://sportscarrentals.rtrk.com.au/?scid=35167&kw=4097992&pub_cr_id=2795248086

Sigh!

After we ate I noticed an old sandstone building across the street, about 50 metres from where we watched fireworks on NYE. Acting on a hunch I went for a closer look. Sure enough, it was the OLD COURTHOUSE mentioned in my last post on NYE.

Ye Olde Courthouse at Belmore Basin.

It was the one where the 5 year old lost boy was to find his parents. Although it was simple to find in broad daylight with no crowds, it would have been difficult for a child to find at night with 100,000 people all single minded, trying to go home and moving in all directions.

After Bev n Pete left we returned to the house where the CO-PILOT got into painting walls again and I helped Errol install ceiling material on an open air deck.

We went to the Corrimal RSL for dinner of Asian food and visit to their small but interesting war memorabilia museum.

Wednesday 4th Januaray.

YeeHar! The internet is back in full service for another 4Gb.

More work around the house. During the day a truck arrived to offload a digger to work on the house block beside where we are camped. They advised more trucks would be arriving in the morning to start work and we would need to move.

WWWGO seen through the windows of the house which Errol built.

A southerly buster blew through about 4pm but by the time we closed windows and doors it had blown itself out and the rain stopped.

Bumma!

Thursday 5th January.

A long day for all of us for different reasons. The CO-PILOT and I were up at 5.30 to pack and move. We managed to secure a powered site at Corrinal Campgrounds for two nights but check=in is not until after 2pm. The cost is gasp, shock, horror, $42 per night.  The camp is huge with around 300 sites and in the words of the check-in staff, “we are chockers”. (for any overseas readers, “Chockers” = “chock a block”, full, booked out) We drove to Bellambi Lagoon and parked in what at the time seemed an empty and little used car-park. After breakfast we drove back to the house and by now several trucks, van, utes etc had arrived and parking was at a premium. I dropped the CO-PILOT off to start work while I went for a dental appointment. (two days ago a hard gritty piece of something appeared in my mouth. Hmmm! Could be a broken filling.) The dentist did a full examination which included x-rays and declared no problems with the tooth. What fell out was an excess of scale (plaque?). I received a clean and scale then back to WWWGO which was now surrounded by cars. Hmmm. This is a popular spot especially among the dog owners as the beach is designated “off leash” between certain hours.

In the afternoon we took the last powered site in the campground. The CO-PILOT needed some documents scanned and sent off to her nursing agency for the job at Henty. We used Errol’s iPhone as a scanner and emailed the results all from the little phone. Not bad really considering there were 29 pages for a total of 10.4Mb file.

Back at the house the electrician was working, the plumber turned up at last, the man with the digger and bob cat also arrived 12 hours late. Errol was flitting from one to the other with instructions whilst the CO-PILOT and Merilyn continued to paint.

Wide hallway of the house which Errol built.

Before retiring for the night light rain started dripping and some mild thunder rumbled somewhere west of our site.

Friday 6th January

We woke to…WINTER!!! Well, not quite but it was once again overcast and a chill wind was blowing off the icy waste somewhere south of us. This is not the summer I remember. It is not the summer I expected. It is not the summer I wanted. The CO-PILOT is quite happy as she prefers the cooler weather. I noticed however she did not go to the pool for a swim, a swim she was looking forward to. By mid-afternoon the sun came out, the wind dropped away and it turned into a nice afternoon. We worked all day at the house but packed up at 4.30 to shower and drive to Avondale a little south of Wollongong. We visited and old workmate, Wayne M and his wife Narelle. Although I last worked with Wayne in 1986 we caught up by email in 2008 and visited in 2009. I had a wonderful time talking about old workmates who have either stayed at the same place for more than thirty years, have moved on to other jobs or sadly, passed away. When Wayne reached a 30 year milestone he was given a celebration dinner where congratulatory speeches and emails from various people were read out. I was fortunate to be tracked down and gave my recollection of our first meeting and early years. At the time I described him as having too much hair and if he wanted to succeed he should lose some. As things turned out he did succeed, becoming the CEO of one of the largest Building Society’s in NSW and he hardly has any hair. After leaving their home in the hills of Avondale we came across a car which appears to have been rolled and burned. There was nobody about (it was after 11pm at night) and what seemed like water was still draining out of the car.

Saturday 7th January

The CO-PILOT visited the doctor in the morning to obtain her medical clearances which enable her to work for NSW Health. At midday I met with another work colleague from my days at Custom Credit Corporation. Bob T and his wife Sharon provided a wonderful lunch. Apart from being a work colleague, Bob was also a team member in my Squash team so we had a double opportunity to reminisce.

After lunch I re-joined the CO-PILOT and her son Erro; working at the house. While she painted, Errol and I laid fibro flooring in readiness for vinyl tiles.

During dinner I broke a filling while eating Pork Crackling.

Egads. Another ASAP visit to the dentist is in order. With luck I will get to see the dentist sometime on Monday.

Sunday 8th January

Another full day working on the house, while Errol and I installed eaves and finished the floor panels, the CO-PILOT continued to paint. The eaves are now complete as is the floor panels in readiness to install the vinyl tiles tomorrow.

Tonight my neck, shoulder and arm muscles are aching.

Time for bed.

232. Sunday 1st January 2012. Happy New Year…

01/01/2012

Monday 26th December

Boxing Day

We woke to a fine sunny morning. After taking our leave of Bev n Pete we drove back to Wollongong, this time via Helensburgh and Stanwell Tops.

The view from Stanwell Tops where the hang gliders launch themselves into space. Below can be seen Stanwell Park Beach and in the top left hand corner, the Sea Cliff Bridge. Do not forget to click on the image, twice, to bring it to full screen size.

I never tire of the view of this section of coast which now includes the Sea Cliff Bridge built away from the cliffs and over the ocean.

A portion of Sea Cliff Bridge.The entire trip along this portion of road from Stanwell Tops through to Austinmer is spectacular and is often shown in commercials adverising motor cars.

Hang Gliders take off from Bald Hill and use Stanwell Park Beach, way below as their landing strip. We followed the coast through tiny towns perched on the clifftops. We stopped a few minutes to ask about vacancies at Coledale Camping Ground, a camp spot tucked into a small space between the beach, a hill and the roadside. The camp ground is operated by the Coledale Surf Club and the man laughed when I asked about vacancies. Mate, he said, we are booked out until the end of January and every weekend until winter.

Typical campers perched on a narrow hillside between the road and the beach at Coledale.

We lunched at Shellharbour

The Shellharbour Hotel, established 1929, overlooks Shellharbour Harbour.

on the south side of Wollongong and by now the weather had turned windy, overcast and quite cool. Errol, Nicole and all the family caught up with us for coffee and a walk

The family out walking around the harbour.

around the harbour.

The harbour at Shellharbour.

Windswept Errol and Frank at Shellharbour

An interesting sight was a group of people collecting Sea Urchins and eating them…LIVE!!!

Eating fresh caught RAW sea urchins. Enlarge the photo to see the spines of the sea urchins.

Tuesday 27th December

A quiet day with the CO-PILOT working on a study assignment while I pottered and fixed a few things on TERIOS and WWWGO. Late in the evening the kitchen sink refused to drain the washing up water.

SIGH!

Hmmm! Tomorrow I will have to take out the S bend under the sink. Not looking forward to that!!!

Wednesday 28th December

As things turned out, there is no S bend nor U bend for that matter, under our sink. Once the pipework leaves the sink there is a 90° bend and the pipework starts a mostly straight line heading towards the rear of WWWGO. It passes through a couple of sealed off areas and then does a couple more 90° turns to enter the grey water holding tank. Most of the joins and turns are glued together rather than being screwed together. I could not find where the blockage occurred. I managed to unscrew one fitting near the holding tank and inserted a hose as far as I was able, – about one metre – and turned it on…hard.  A large amount of gunk was flushed out but when I put the same hose into the sink there was a loud GLERK, GLUUMP, WHOOSH and the sink started to slowly drain. We then placed a cup of bi-carb soda down the sink followed by a cup of vinegar. This mixture began to bubble and hiss. Then we followed up with the hose in the plug hole again followed by another bi-carb mixture followed by the hose followed by half a bottle of drain cleaner followed by a copious hose flushing. The sink drains properly now but I still think there is a blockage somewhere. We have decided that at the end of each day a bi-carb and vinegar mixture will not do any harm and hopefully keep the pipes clear while at the same time helping to keep the holding tank from a build-up of soap scale.

The day was mostly sunny but with a strong cool wind.

The CO-PILOT continued her study and completed an on-line assignment.

No beach visits for us today.

Thursday 29th December.

2011 is quickly slipping through our fingers.

In the morning we organised for the CO-PILOT to visit a doctor, a pathology lab and the hospital to have inoculations, blood tests and confirmation her other immunisations are still within use-by date. It seems NSW Health Regulations are pretty strict with the health of health workers they employ.

I helped Errol install Cove Cornices in the bathroom before lunch.

In the afternoon we called on a workmate from many years ago (about 35 years ago) Barry H and his wife Kathleen in their wonderful house at Keiraville. We expected to have a coffee and spend a couple of hours but our hosts insisted we stay for dinner and sample some Swedish apple cider.

Donnis, Kathleen, Barry and Frank enjoy a barbecue on the patio.

Followed by some Margaret River wine. Some strawberry liqueur and a blackcurrant liqueur were also taste tested. Oh and of course a beer. Naturally I was the designated driver and had a wine and sipped the liqueur only. We had a wonderful evening, especially for me as Barry also spent two years in National Service as I did and we talked about our experiences.

Barry & Kathleen are visited by many varieties of birds encluding these King Parrots.

Friday 30th December

While the CO-PILOT continued with study and on-line exams I assisted Errol with some work on the house. He expects to be able to move in by 10th January. I have my doubts. There is just too much work to be done and so little time and money. The sun made a few appearances during the day but a cold wind seemed to be blowing (from Antarctica???) all day so it was quite cool in the shade.

For those not familiar with the geography of Wollongong I will give a potted view of its location. I still feel qualified to talk about the area as I lived here from 1968 until 1987. Wollongong and suburbs are less than 100 Klms from the centre of Sydney and most suburbs are beside the sea or Lake Illawarra. Part of the Great Dividing Range comes close to the sea at this part of the coastline with the northernmost suburbs such as Stanwell Park, Coaldale, Coalcliffe and several others being perched on a narrow ledge of land where the escarpment is buttressed against the sea. Further south suburbs are still on the coast with the escarpment being only 1 Klm from the ocean. Still further south, suburbs such as Dapto and Berkley are about 5 Klms from the ocean on one side and the mountain escarpment on the other with Lake Illawarra between them. The mountain range is always a backdrop to all the suburbs. Driving from Sydney at night, the highway swings close to the escarpment edge above Bulli and the sight of Wollongong and suburbs below, lit up at night is breathtaking.

Saturday 31st December

NEW YEARS EVE

We spent most of the day sanding walls and trim in the house in preparation for painting.

After dinner we drove to Wollongong Harbour to see the fireworks.

Hmmm! Perhaps we should have arrived at lunchtime and set up camp. My thoughts of parking a couple of blocks away did not take into consideration the other half million people arriving at the same time and looking for a parking spot. We finally found a spot about 2 klms away from the harbour at Stuart Park. We walked back to the harbour along the aforementioned humanity all going in a different direction to us. Finally found the other half of our family group with about 2 minutes to spare before the fireworks began.

Not the best quality photograph of Donnis n Frank but it was taken with an iPhone and limited lighting.

Of course after the fireworks that mass of humanity had the same idea of getting back to their car and going home.

An announcement came over the PA. There is a lost boy…Isaac… 5 years old and your parents are waiting for you. Meet them at the Old Courthouse. What the F??? Gasped the seething mass of humanity. What 5 year old boy would know where to find the old courthouse? As the throng of people walked around and beside us we could hear the topic of conversation. Everybody was talking about the strange PA announcement. A Police helicopter had arrived during the height of the fireworks and was moving around with a searchlight aimed at the ground. By now we were on a hill above the harbour. The helicopter stayed hovering with the searchlight beam pinpointing the rocks at the end of the northern breakwater. Several Police cars, Ambulance and Rescue vehicles were near where we stopped with another two joining them. A group of Police could be seen walking the breakwall toward the section highlighted by the hovering helicopter. A large group of people could now be seen at the end, most with helmet lights. It seemed as though a rescue mission was underway.

After about 10 minutes we left the unfolding drama and got swept up in the throng of people in Happy New Year mode heading somewhere else. Probably home…like us.

Sunday 1st January 2012.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

It was a fine clear sunny summers day. All of New South Wales was celebrating the new year with the first real summer day since summer began a month ago. The wind picked up around mid- morning and we spent the day a cleaning and a painting the house. I promised myself a month ago I would not paint another house. Here I am painting a house.

Sheesh!

I listened and watched the news but no reports of the lost boy Isaac or of what the rescue at Wollongong Harbour was all about.

Perhaps when the local news services get back on the job tomorrow we will hear more.

Until next week may I say, welcome to 2012 and may it live up to all your expectations.