Monday 9th July
A quiet day for us. We polished the last remaining sections of GRP on the passenger side wall on WWWGO and started cleaning the under surface of the roll out awning. Over several months, particularly with the awning rolled up and lots of rain, mildew has built up so the awning, when unrolled looks dirty and smells musty. We used a spray bottle with water and a few drops of Oil of Cloves. With a little scrubbing the mildew is killed and removed. We will try to finish the external part of the awning tomorrow then turn WWWGO around so we can polish the back wall and the remaining parts of the repaired drivers side wall.
Tuesday 10th July
The work did not go as planned. The GRP on the passenger side and trim around both doors is now polished and all that needs doing is the back wall of WWWGO and part of the drivers side. The stubborn stains on the underside of the awning need another application of oil of cloves and a bit of a scrub. Only a portion of the top of the awning has been cleaned, the part which is easy to reach with a broom. Clouds rolled in with a cool breeze blowing it was becoming uncomfortable outside. When the fat raindrops started to fall it was time to stop work. It was also an opportunity to visit a new housing estate. Although the site office was closed and not one display home has been completed, enough material was left outside the site office to answer most questions. In fact there was so much written material and three CD’s all packed into a presentation carry bag it satisfied our curiosity.
The estate, called Brooks Reach is along Bong Bong Road which when followed to the end, high in the hills under the brow of the escarpment above Dapto brought us to the old Huntley Colliery site. The colliery was closed in 1989 and two sets of 4m high padlocked gates leaves no doubt this is the end of the road. See http://www.illawarracoal.com/huntley.htm
Tuesday 11th July
Wednesday 12th July
A tourist road, the Grand Pacific Drive starts near Sutherland in Sydney, through the Royal National Park and follows the escarpment and the northern suburbs of Wollongong, following the coast through Port Kembla and Lake Illawarra, Shellharbour, Kiama, Gerringong and still following the coast to Bomaderry where the road ends at the bridge across the Shoalhaven River to Nowra. Our drive today picked up the GPD just south of Albion Park Rail where we followed the drive to South Nowra to look at, of all things, a couple of display homes. The day started out OK but quickly became overcast and rain was threatening. As we left Nowra the rain began and made for some pretty poor photographic light. We stopped at Gerroa to look at the view along Seven Mile Beach to Coolangatta.
Back home I spoke with daughter Melissa who recently competed in a marathon endurance ride in Cairns. This was the same ride last year where she was leading and on the home stretch when she fell from the horse and was unable to complete the ride. This year she completed the ride and won the event. So, she won in 2010, DNF in 2011 and won in 2012.
Good win Melissa.
Also called daughter Averyl but she has not yet returned from Lithuania. Her flight left Brisbane bound for Mackay but was turned back as the airport was closed due to the sheer volume of rain over the last day or so. She and Shelby-Rose will stay in Brisbane overnight.
Thursday 12th July
I enjoy fruit cake. Almost any sort of fruit cake will do. I know I know if it becomes a showdown between Devils Food Cake, Black Forest Cherry Cake or Fruit Cake I go into stall mode and you can hear my computer brain saying “that does not compute”. Luckily the three options never appear at the same time to compete against each other. Fruit cake can be a pain and time consuming to make. It can also be relatively simple and for best results start planning the night before. Here is a nice easy, tasty fruit cake recipe with only a few ingredients and even if you have not planned 24 hours ahead can still be whipped up, baked, cooled and ready to eat with a couple of hours.
500 gr mixed fruit. Now it seems the people who make mixed fruit package it in 375gr packs or 1 kg packs. I buy the 375gr pack and add whatever I have on hand to make it up to 500 gr. A small handful of walnuts – crushed. Some fresh cherries pitted and chopped. Glace cherries, extra sultanas, some banana. Any combination to make up the total 500gr of mixed fruit.
300ml carton of iced coffee
I cup self raising flour. Some people like to sift the flour – usually most flour is already triple sifted – so if you are a sifter, by all means sift the flour.
1 egg (optional but I always add an egg)
A teaspoon or two of cinnamon (again optional)
Rum, brandy, port of your choice in whatever slurp measure you use. Again this is optional. Soaked overnight with the fruit and iced coffee is the best.
Soak the fruit in the iced coffee overnight if possible. It works ok without overnight soaking but the fruit absorbs the coffee overnight and makes the fruit plumper and juicier.
When ready mix all ingredients (flour, sifted or otherwise added last)
Line a loaf tin with baking paper, spoon in the mixture and place in a moderate (I really mean moderate) oven for an hour. Check with the old skewer trick. Stick the skewer in the middle and remove. If cake sticks to the skewer, more cooking is required. Leave in pan for five minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool. Give it a good hour. In this time the cake will firm up to an easily sliced loaf.
Enjoy. It is hard to stop at one slice so be warned.
Friday 13th July
Shiver Shiver Shiver. Friday the Thirteenth. Ghosts n Goblins and all that scary stuff!
I think not!
In fact we did not even realise it was the 13th until it was mentioned on the news in the evening. The sun woke in the morning and stayed with us all day. In fact it was warm enough to polish WWWGO and wash TERIOS and polish its bonnet all while I only wore a Tshirt.
In the afternoon we drove across the other side of Lake Illawarra to Windang Beach.
Once upon a time the lake would silt up at the entrance to the ocean beside Windang Island. Some years ago a pair of break-walls were built to stop the silting and to keep the lake open. Now when a good swell is running, small surfable waves break inside the break-wall channel.
We first explored the northern wall and beach and saw the intrepid beach
and break-wall fishermen enjoying the warm mid-winter conditions. We were enjoying the warmth as well, knowing it would not last long and cold wet conditions would return.
We then drove around to the southern break-wall and walked to Windang Island. At high tide the narrow sand and rock bar crossing to the island is flooded making the island truly an island.
Today we crossed just before high tide and were able to walk to the island and back after removing our shoes.
Scattered among the rock shelf and in the sand are a number of rail carriage bogey wheels succumbing to the ravages of salt water, wind and rust.
Remains of rail lines are also visible at certain times. In 1890 a scheme was developed to transport coal by rail to ships at the island. The project was abandoned in early 1900 and much of the bogey wheels, axles and rail lines are still scattered across the sand and rocks.
Atop the highest point on the island is another of those now obsolete trig points.
I did not walk the narrow overgrown track to the trig as I had left my shoes on the dry sand on the other side of the narrow isthmus joining the island to the mainland.
Saturday 14th July
We were Happy Little Vegemites today. Busy Vegemites too. In the morning we washed and partially polished TERIOS. We also completed another section of polishing the back of WWWGO. We will be so pleased when all this washing and polishing is finished.
In the afternoon we drove to Minnamurra Falls, a NSW Parks & Wildlife National Park. We used our All Parks Pass (purchased last November) at the entrance otherwise entry was $11. The park has a loop walk to the upper falls, mostly uphill, rated as medium difficulty, length of 2.6 klms and two hours return. The walks are on paved paths or raised walkways made of either timber or metal.
The raised walkways serve a number of purposes, they keep hikers off the ground, keep hikers on the track and most wildlife (read snakes) can be easily seen. There are none of the old tracks where you climbed over rock, tree stumps, fallen trees, tree roots, overhanging vines
and slippery creek crossings. The timber walkways are showing signs of the common problem of all timber within a rainforest. Damp rot is slowly winning the battle and it will not be too long before the timber will need to be replaced with steel walkways. Creek and river (the Minnamurra River begins here on the edge of the escarpment) crossings are either solid bridges or a couple of suspension bridges.
A welcome number of seats are placed at strategic places along the walk. Donnis struggled for most of the hike and I must admit to breathing heavily as the path became steeper. Prior to 1989 the original path led to the lower falls and was an obstacle course of rocks, fallen trees, tree roots and hanging vines.
Access to the upper falls was via an ill-defined climbing track use of which was discouraged by the park rangers. Heavy rainfall in 1989 caused a landslide which closed off access to the lower falls.
The Minnamurra River carved out a slot gorge which is totally different to other waterfalls in the Illawarra District. Once thousands of years ago, the area was filled with a volcanic rock known as dyke. Being softer than the surrounding rock the dyke was eroded over many thousands of years by the Minnamurra River as it poured over the escarpment as it rushed towards the sea.
The place sure has changed since my last visit umm, cough, splutter years ago. In those days there was a rough unsealed car-park and a small covered information booth which sometimes had brochures. A new Visitor Information Centre, souvenir store, modern toilets, café and picnic grounds and sealed car-parks welcomes visitors.
Instead of driving home the way we came we drove through the Jamberoo Valley much of the time following the Minnamurra River then turned off onto Swamp Road which twisted and meandered through a side valley containing many dairy farms, eventually joining the highway south of Albion Park Rail near Dunmore. We enjoyed the walk immensely but are paying the price in aching muscles tonight.
Sunday 15th July
I woke with a headache and very sore leg muscles and knee joints. As expected.
We are blessed with not one but two bluesteel crepe pans. Blue steel is very user friendly and can be treated any way you like and does not require special cooking methods, cleaning regime or storage or future seasoning care. The pans are ideal for an omelette for one person. Want to know my secret omelette? It can be cooked in a conventional frypan but be aware that pans with a coating or a plastic handle might not be ideal. This omelette is for one person and is mighty satisfying at breakfast.
Tablespoon or so of water
One bacon rasher sliced or chopped.
A slice (or two if you like) of onion, chopped
A small handful capsicum, chopped
A handful of button mushrooms sliced into quarters
A handful of chopped baby spinach leaves
A handful of grated parmesan cheese or any other grated cheese to your liking.
4 slices of tomato.
A handful of fresh chopped coriander or if using the refrigerated tube stuff, about 25mm or whatever your tastebuds prefer.
Pepper and salt to your preference.
Place the bacon, onion, capsicum and mushrooms and a little oil in the pan and cook until the bacon is crispy. Cook on high then reduce to medium when everything is cooking nicely. While those ingredients are cooking whip up the egg in a bowl with a fork and when nicely whipped add the water (not milk). Add pepper and salt and the coriander and whisk again until frothy. (a couple of drops of Sesame Oil adds an extra dimension)
Ensure none of the ingredients are stuck on the bottom of the pan. Add a little more oil if required then re whisk the egg mixture until frothy again and immediately add to the pan. Add the chopped spinach leaves. Then add the grated cheese. Finally put the sliced tomato on the top.
Reduce the heat to low and wait until the edges of the omelette start to lift away from the sides. Turn off the heat and turn on your grill to highest heat and put the pan under the grill. Keep a close eye on it as this will only take a few minutes. While this is cooking put a slice of bread in your toaster (my preference is rye, sourdough rye is even yummier)
When the top of the omelette bubbles and the cheese is melting and starting to brown take the pan out of the grill (do not forget to use a mitt as the handle will be hot) use an egg lifter to lift around the edges of the omelette and it should slide off the pan onto the plate.
Butter the toast and enjoy.
A cup of tea, brewed while the toast was toasting is an excellent accompaniment.
See you next week.