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

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.



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