Monday 26th December
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.
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.
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.
We lunched at Shellharbour
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
around the harbour.
An interesting sight was a group of people collecting Sea Urchins and eating them…LIVE!!!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.