Archive for December, 2012

291. Sunday 30th December 2012. Long drive into Christmas…

30/12/2012

Monday 24th December – Christmas Eve.

Christmas Eve sunrise looking over New England ranges.

Christmas Eve sunrise looking over New England ranges.

We were on the road by 7am facing a journey of 596 klms and according to Google Maps would take 7 hours and 18 minutes. I chose the route which would take us through Armidale, Tamworth, Scone, Muswellbrook and Maitland to pick up the M1 Freeway to Wahroonga then pick up the M2 Tollway which includes a tunnel under the Lane Cove River and the tunnel under Sydney Harbour. Most of this avoided traffic until we reached Brighton Le Sands where we came to a standstill. The next two klms took twenty minutes. After stopping to change drivers twice, three fuel stops and morning coffee and lunch stops we eventually arrived at Bev n Pete’s house at Gymea 9 hours and 18 minutes after starting.

Tuesday 25th December – Christmas Day.

After breakfast with Bev n Pete, we drove the 60 or so Klms to Corrimal via the steep, winding and breathtaking views of Bulli Pass. We spent Christmas Day with Errol

Errol

Errol

and Nicole

Nicole.

Nicole.

and the two children Amelia

Amelia Christmas Day.

Amelia Christmas Day.

and Hannah. Nicoles mother, Merilyn, flew from Melbourne as did Nicole’s brother Scott and his wife Monica.

Hannah and Monica.

Hannah and Monica.

Nicoles other brother Greg flew from the Gold Coast. The day was mostly cold wet and windy but we enjoyed Christmas lunch of Turkey and Ham with trimmings. Dinner was Prawns and salad. Donnis and I drove back to Sydney for the night.

Errol and Frank

Errol and Frank

Wednesday 26th December – Boxing Day.

After breakfast we once more drove to Corrimal via Bulli Pass. At least the sun was out today but only on a casual basis. We drove to Austinmer Beach for coffee and a stroll around the north and south headlands.    http://www.visitnsw.com/destinations/south-coast/wollongong-and-surrounds/thirroul/attractions/austinmer-beach

Frank at Northern Austinmer headland

Frank at Northern Austinmer headland

More Austinmer south coastline

More Austinmer south coastline

Austinmer south Coastline

Austinmer south Coastline

Donnis braved the chill breeze to swim the two rock pools.

After dinner we all drove to Woonona to look at a street where all the houses were lit with Christmas lights.

Amelia in lights.

Amelia in lights.

Nicole, Amelia, Merilyn, Donnis

Nicole, Amelia, Merilyn, Donnis

Nicole, Errol, Monica, Scott, Frank, Merilyn, Greg and Amelia

Nicole, Errol, Monica, Scott, Frank, Merilyn, Greg and Amelia

After saying our farewells to the family we drove back to Gymea.

Thursday 27th December.

We had a big day with Bev n Pete who organised a walking tour of “The Rocks”, part of the original settlement of Australia by Europeans. The day was so big and with lots of photographs I have decided to break this post into two parts. The first being the normal weekly post followed by a post about our walking tour of The Rocks. The Rocks post will be presented within a day or two…once I have edited the photos down to an acceptable twenty or so.

In the evening another sister, Enid, arrived from the Sunshine Coast. Bev n Petes three sons David, Christopher and Mitch with his girlfriend Sam all arrived about the same time. It was a loud and lively dinner table for a post Christmas get together.

Friday 28th December.

After a leisurely breakfast and saying our good-byes to family we left Gymea and headed north. There was more traffic today with a good portion  of it heading out of town…in the same direction  as us. The traffic flowed well and we once again took the Sydney Harbour Tunnel then the Lane Cove River Tunnel and joined the M2 until the Beecroft Road off ramp. Traffic was still flowing well until we hit the Pennant Hills Road where traffic was bumper to bumper, creeping and crawling for the next seven Klms until we reached the M1 Freeway. At the Beresfield off ramp (near Newcastle) we turned left onto the New England Highway and enjoyed a reasonable run home. The traffic heading further north joined a traffic grid lock which spread for 35 Klms! We are sure glad we decided not to take the alternate route!  We stopped for dinner at a Thai Restaurant at Armidale. The trip today, including meal and fuel stops took 10 hours and 18 minutes.

Saturday 29th December

After all the travel of the previous 5 days I thought we might have a quiet day at home. However we did drive to Armidale for a top up of groceries.

Sunday 30th December

Today was officially a rest day. We are still tired from the driving this week and Donnis is suffering from hay fever. I cut the grass for a couple of hours and I suppose the grass dust did not help her condition.

The report on The Rocks should appear in a day or two.

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290. Sunday 23rd December 2012. Happy sober Christmas and a Safe New Year…

23/12/2012

This weeks heading asks that you have a sober Christmas. From tomorrow, Monday 24th December and the next five days we will be on the road in TERIOS. The more sober drivers on the road with me the happier and safter I will be.

Monday 17th December

Early morning looking across the New England Ranges.

Early morning looking across the New England Ranges.

Summer arrived today.

In the morning we joined a free Heritage Tour by bus around Armidale.

The Smiley and UnSmiley faces on the back of the bus.

The Smiley and UnSmiley faces on the back of the bus.

The guide and the driver were both good. At first we drove slowly past some historical buildings and Jennifer, our guide, gave a potted version of Armidale history. Her commentary was often interspersed with irreverent asides. Our first stop was at St. Peters Anglican Cathedral.   http://www.stpetersarmidale.org.au/history.asp

St.Peters Anglican Cathedral, Armidale.

St.Peters Anglican Cathedral, Armidale.

The church is built from what is known as “Armidale Blue” brick. Many other buildings and churches in Armidale and New England are built from this same brick. The clay used to make the bricks is no longer available so any renovations or extensions on any of the buildings will never match the original. We were greatly impressed with the architecture and craftsmanship within the church. The architect, John Horbury Hunt, was also the architect of many other buildings in the district and many were made from the same Armidale Blue brick. The foundation stone was laid in 1873 and even a quick glance reveals the church was not built in a hurry.

Inside St.Peters Anglican Cathedral, Armidale

Inside St.Peters Anglican Cathedral, Armidale

Next stop was the Armidale Railway Station Workshops and Rail Museum. http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/heritageapp/visit/ViewAttractionDetail.aspx?ID=5045736#

Armidale railway Station

Armidale railway Station

I could not help but compare the description and reality of the station and Station Masters house with the railway station at Albury. The designs are the same although Albury is on a much larger scale. The architect was the same for both stations. We were given a talk by a railway engineer on the history of rail in NSW, the bridges and the original ticketing system. It seems the stiff cardboard tickets I knew so well when I was a teenage commuter in Sydney were the same as used all over the world. The system was designed by a station master in a small rural station in the backblocks of England. Those stiff cardboard tickets have only been phased out in the last 20 years. We were each given a souvenir ticket with the date stamped on it. While the engineer was giving his talk we had tea and cake.

Next stop was Booloomimbah House within the grounds of University of New England. In fact in the early days of the Uni this building WAS the Uni. http://www.booloominbah.com.au/history.html

Rear view of the Booloomimbah Homestead now The University of New England Vice Chancellors office and Admin above and Coffee Shop, Bar, Cafeteria and Dining Rooms below.

Rear view of the Booloomimbah Homestead now The University of New England Vice Chancellors office and Admin above and Coffee Shop, Bar, Cafeteria and Dining Rooms below.

The house was built for gentleman grazier, Frederick White, his wife and the remaining 7 of 12 children.

Front view of Booloolimbah in a stitched creation of three exposures.

Front view of Booloolimbah in a stitched creation of three exposures.

Today the lower part of the building is used for functions and has a bar and dining room. The upper rooms are used by the Vice Chancellor and Secretariat of the Uni for administrative purpose. The house was designed and construction overseen, by our good friend architect, John Horbury Hunt mentioned earlier in this post. The bricks are the same “Armidale Blue” as used in prominent buildings around town and the district. Above the first landing of the giant staircase is a huge stained glass window depicting highlights in the life of General Charles George Gordon who was beheaded by the Muslims at Khartoum.   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_George_Gordon

While on our visit we saw the dining room and bar in full swing with teachers, students academics and visitors enjoying the food, ambience and views over the Uni grounds to Armidale in the valley below. We enjoyed the visit so much we returned to have a late lunch.

Dining Room at Booloolimbah.

Dining Room at Booloolimbah.

I cannot help but make a comment on the tragic events in Newtown, Connecticut, USA. The mass killings have left us numb and our hearts go out to all the families not only of the slain children and adults but the Police, Ambulance officers and Teachers. Sermon begins…When will the USA ever grow up and understand their love affair with weapons is just not acceptable in modern civilised society.  In the US alone there are something like 13,000 gun related deaths each year. By comparison there were only 30 gun related deaths in Oz last year. Even allowing for differences in population, the US figures are just outrageous. Dear US readers if you want to see more slaughter in your schools and theatres and shopping malls, do nothing. If you want to stop or at least reduce the slaughter, agitate for gun control, particularly military style automatic and semi-automatic weapons. There endeth my sermon.

Tuesday 18th December

I had an appointment with the ENT (Ear Nose Throat) Specialist today. After his examination of my left bloody nostril he said, “you have a problem”. Great! Just what I wanted to hear. He could not find the burst blood vessel and commented that it may need a general anaesthetic – read, a visit to hospital. He told me it is often difficult to locate a recalcitrant blood vessel in the upper reaches of the nostril. Today while prodding and inserting a local anaesthetic the blood vessel burst but he commented it was “around the corner and difficult to reach”. Nevertheless after stemming the bleeding he used a mild acid to cauterise the vessel. If bleeding starts again I am off to hospital.

He operates out of Taree Hospital, a four hour drive from Guyra.

Sigh!

Wednesday 19th December

Summer is still here in Guyra. I washed TERIOS under the shade of a tree in the morning. In the afternoon I started to polish TERIOS and will do the second half tomorrow. Also vacuumed the floors and cleaned the door frames. MMM! It is looking good.

The CO-PILOT spent the day, in fact she has spent several days, baking up a storm of Gingerbread biscuits, Cranberry Swirl cookies, and Peanut Butter and Chocolate biscuits. On the weekend she baked a huge rich Christmas cake and a dozen muffins from the same recipe, none of which I might add, am I allowed to taste until Christmas Day.

Grrr!

Thursday 20th December

At midnight, the witching hour, last night, a storm rolled in with the usual thunder and lightning. Lots of lightning! Woke this morning to overcast, steady rain and cool temps.

During the day I finished the second half of polishing TERIOS. I should mention the industrial duty polisher is heavy and requires two hands to control it. I needed to stand on a ladder to polish the roof and as I was a bit stretched, pulled a muscle in my left shoulder. By bedtime the pain was so bad I needed two codeine based pain killers in order to get into bed and to fall asleep. Note to self and to readers, take care if you ever use a powerful polisher and do not stretch!  Ever!

Friday 21st December

It was a quiet day for me as I was still in pain and slept a good deal of the day after taking more powerful pain killers.

Tonight, according to the Mayan Calendar and a good number of doomsday believers, the world would come to an end.  If I write about Saturday and you are reading this, the world did not come to and end.

Saturday 22nd December.

My back is feeling somewhat better today although it is still not 100%.

The world is still here and all those misguided believers are running around making revised comments about what they meant the end of the world meant. Hmmm! Strange isn’t it that they did not give their explanation of what “end of the world” meant until AFTER it was discovered the world had not come to an end.

The world is full of gullible people.

Late in the afternoon I heard a sound like many baby birds in a nest calling to be fed. In a tree beside the garage sat four Yellow Rumped Black Cockatoos. These birds are a bit rare and to see four in the yard demanded a photo. I rushed inside to grab the camera only to find the memory card was full. I wasted time deleting some photos and rushed outside only to find the YRBC had flown the coop. So to speak. On reflection I recall hearing them yesterday at the same time but then I thought the sound was from nestlings of Magpies or Currawongs. Perhaps the YRBC will return tomorrow night!

After dinner Greg and the Tribe came over for tea and coffee so for awhile we had a busy dining room with lots of conversation going on.

We have deliberately cut back on exploration this week as we are travelling to Sydney Christmas Eve and Wollongong on Christmas Day. It is a seven hour journey to Sydney and a further hour to Wollongong.

Sunday 23rd December

With back at about 90% capacity I cut grass around the house for about two hours until protests from my back convinced me it was time to stop.

About lunchtime the clouds rolled in. Some nasty black cloud rolled in from one direction while white cauliflower clouds came from another direction. A few spots of rain fell while thunder rumbled and lightning struck. Hmmm! It must be afternoon in Guyra. The almost daily storm show was in full swing. Toto does not like the sound of thunder, sliding windows or venetian blinds being opened or closed and will run around growling, barking and wimpering.

Tomorrow we start the drive to Sydney.

A Happy Christmas and a safe New Year to all. (despite the following… http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/no-merriness-here-mosque-puts-fatwa-on-christmas-20121222-2bsk2.html   )

289. Sunday 16th December 2012. A Celtic or is that a Gaelic, incfluence???

17/12/2012

Monday 10th December

Another storm rolled in this afternoon. The usual culprits, rain, wind, thunder, lightning attended. The temperature dropped and we needed the doona on the bed. Nothing exciting except for cutting the grass and beginning to harvest the garlic.

Tuesday 11th December.

I felt that today was a mirror image of yesterday except the rain started earlier, lasted longer and it was a colder night.

Wednesday 12th December

We have been planning a day trip every day this week but the lousy weather has kept us close to home. Ho hum. Garlic harvesting time. Otherwise it was a windy and wet day without the thunder and lightning but patches of sunlight in the afternoon.

It is cold especially at night and early morning. Love the doona.

In the shower tonight I got a nose bleed! I quickly pinched off the nostrils and after a minute the bleeding stopped. Hmmm! I thought the procedure last week would have stopped my nose bleeds, at least for a few months. All we can do is trust it was just a one-off bleed and there will be no more after the two weeks the specialist told me to wait.

Thursday 13th December

The day started out cold and windy but by the time we arrived at Armidale the sun made an appearance and it was a pleasant day. Pleasant enough to remove our bulky jackets while walking around town.

Have I mentioned McDonalds McCafe? They have a deal of a small cup of coffee ( I could argue the point about what they mean by “small” but why should I complain about a large cup of coffee if they want to call it small?) with a toasted ham cheese and tomato sandwich, or a slice of banana bread or a slice of cake all for $4.95. Or for $3.95 the same small cup of coffee with a muffin or a slice of raisin toast. That is my usual Thursday ritual when I go to Armidale to do the shopping and a general walk around town and sticky beak at the shops and people. As well the Armidale McDonalds actually brings the coffee etc to your table.

Donnis went inside a “health food” store and I waited outside in the mall. I was approached by two teenage girls. They asked if I had any change. No I said. No change. The smallest of the two was circling me on her Razer Skooter and started to explain why they needed money. Just an excuse really. Again I said no, I do not have any change. Their body language and language got a little aggressive. I said I am not a working man, just a pensioner but regardless I still did not have any change. They started to become abusive in their language and threatening in their stance but by now other people were walking into the mall. The taller and seemingly the elder of the two was of aboriginal descent and started yelling that she only wanted my change and she will get her brothers to teach me a lesson. They then started to saunter out the back door of the mall abusing all whiteys as they went.

Apart from that episode we had a long day in town, spending money and buying Christmas groceries.

Friday 14th December

I woke at 6am and noted a thick fog outside. That usually heralds a fine sunny day but around here we can have fine sunny days with a freezing wind. By 8 am the fog had rolled itself into a sausage shape and was filling the hollows in the valley below the house. It was warm enough to wear shorts and T-Shirt today. The same type of clothing I would wear in the summer but around here summer is a variable season.

When I say I do nothing some days I do not really mean I do nothing. Apart from normal stuff needing attention around the house I spend about an hour cutting the grass each day. The block is about an acre and with the rain and lightning followed by sunlight the grass is incredibly green and grows quickly.

This week I have been harvesting the garlic. I have been kneeling to do the job using a hand spade. That way I can get to all the garlic hidden by the companion plants without damaging either plant. After harvest I then wash off the excess soil and leave in the sun to dry.

This is the garlic after harvesting and drying ready for the next stage - stripping outer stem and leaves.

This is the garlic after harvesting and drying ready for the next stage – stripping outer stem and leaves.

Today I started the process of stripping away most of the dry leaves and revealing the fragrant bulb and removing any clinging soil.

garlic is now stripped and ready for further drying so the stem is pliable and ready for the next step.

garlic is now stripped and ready for further drying so the stem is pliable and ready for the next step.

The bulb and stalks are placed in the sunroom to dry when the roots will be cut off with a sharp knife and the garlic will be ready to plait and hanging .

The garlic in traditional plaitted hanging style.

The garlic in traditional plaitted hanging style.

The whole job is labour intensive which probably explains why the local Oz product is so expensive compared to the imported stuff from China. So far I have prepared about 100 bulbs…only 200 to go.

Saturday 15th December.

A long day, mostly satisfying but also tiring as well as trying.

OK. Let’s get the trying part out of the way first. Shortly after waking I got a nose bleed. This one was not a simple bleed. An hour later I sort of had it tentatively under control and after another hour I could move around with confidence and not have tissues in every pocket in case of an emergency. The bleed also left me tired so all that happened in the rest of the day was tempered by a bit of lethargy.

The day started sunny and bright but by lunchtime clouds had rolled in and rain was threatening.

I decided we should visit Wollomombi Gorge about 40 Klms out of Armidale on the Waterfall Way. Just out of Armidale I saw a sign to Gara Gorge, part of the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park and on the spur of the moment changed plans.

A bee letterbox seen along the road to Gara Gorge.

A bee letterbox seen along the road to Gara Gorge.

Debris from the last flood in Gara Gorge.

Debris from the last flood in Gara Gorge.

The gorge is spectacular although not as deep as say Dangars Gorge or Ebor Gorge both of which I visited recently.

Gara Gorge

Gara Gorge

The further we walked into the gorge, the more impressive it became. We also learned the first commercial hydro- electric power station was built here in 1894. http://www.armidaletourism.com.au/accom_result1/gara-gorge/

Parts of the original dams and flumes can still be seen.

Sign explaining the flume.

Sign explaining the flume.

Flume which direct and channelled water to the turbines to produce hydr-electric power.

Flume which direct and channelled water to the turbines to produce hydr-electric power.

Some walks go to the top of the range and look down across the gorge back towards Dangars Gorge but that walk is 5.5 Klm return and neither of us was prepared for such exertion today but it is on our “to do” list.

Split granite. The rock is split over millions of years by the constant action of water findings way into a tiny crevice then the water freezes and minutely enlarges the crevice. This action continues until the rock cracks.

Split granite. The rock is split over millions of years by the constant action of water findings way into a tiny crevice then the water freezes and minutely enlarges the crevice. This action continues until the rock cracks.

The hydro- electric scheme was built by and for the Hillgrove Gold Mine about 25 Klms further east along the gorge.

Typical view of the track around the rim of Gra Gorge.

Typical view of the track around the rim of Gra Gorge.

Donnis among the field of flowers.

Donnis among the field of flowers.

After leaving Gara Gorge we drove towards the east another 20 Klms looking for the original gold mining town of Hillgrove. We found a turnoff called Old Hillgrove Road and followed the gravel road until we found Bakers Creek Falls. A lookout built on a sheer precipice

Old stone wall at the lookout above a terrifying straight drop into the gorge at Bakers Creek Falls.

Old stone wall at the lookout above a terrifying straight drop into the gorge at Bakers Creek Falls.

gives a breathtaking view of the falls which tumbles into several pools before rushing off to join the Macleay River within the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park.

Bakers Creek Gorge. Soewhere below and around the first bend is the location of the original Hillgrove Mine. Can you imagine how the manged to build a railway line up that near sheer cliff face to haul the ore?

Bakers Creek Gorge. Soewhere below and around the first bend is the location of the original Hillgrove Mine. Can you imagine how the manged to build a railway line up that near sheer cliff face to haul the ore?

Wild Rivers is a good name as most of the park is within deep steep sided gorges and mostly difficult terrain.

We continued along the gravel road around a corner known as “Devils Elbow” until we reached the original gold mining town of Hillgrove.   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hillgrove,_New_South_Wales

The town no longer has any operating stores or businesses.

Old Hillgrove Post Office and Telegraph Station.

Old Hillgrove Post Office and Telegraph Station.

It now seems to have an inordinate number of rusting cars per capita.

Newer houses at Hillgrove.

Newer houses at Hillgrove.

When the original mine closed down, most of the houses and businesses were transported to Armidale.

One of the houses at Hillgrove which did not get dismantled and re-located to Armidale.

One of the houses at Hillgrove which did not get dismantled and re-located to Armidale.

Where they once stood there are now timber plaques, painted green, showing the name of the business which stood at that spot.

The original Presbyterian Church now re-badged as a Uniting Church.

The original Presbyterian Church now re-badged as a Uniting Church.

It seems there were at least 6 hotels operating in town and beside one hotel an “Oyster Bar” operated. Sheesh! How many towns these days can boast an Oyster Bar? There are a number of modern houses mixed with the old shanty dwellings which remarkably are still occupied.

Newer houses at Hillgrove.

Newer houses at Hillgrove.

The old mine has been started up again, producing gold (which was the reason for the original mine and the towns existence) and a product called antimony.    http://www.lenntech.com/periodic/elements/sb.htm

Public access down the steep range to Bakers Creek is now closed due to the mining. I had hoped to see the steep cliff up which tram cars, powered by hydro-electric power, would carry ore to the top and from there to the outside world.   http://www.nnsw.com.au/hillgrove/tourism.html#HISTORY

All in all we had an enjoyable drive and visit around the area and perhaps we can next visit another settlement, Metz, on the opposite side of the gorge and apparently with views to the original mine site.

Sunday 16th December

The sun came out today and instead of making a brief visit it stayed with us all day. In fact it was quite hot when we visited Armidale. Temperatures around Guyra are usually at least 5 degrees cooler than surrounding districts and today was 10 degrees cooler than several towns in the region.

We went to Armidale to attend a Gaelic and Celtic Music Recital at the Uniting Church.

Armidale Uniting Church.

Armidale Uniting Church.

There were about 50 people in attendance.

Gaelic and Celtic muso's at the Armidale Uniting Church.

Gaelic and Celtic muso’s at the Armidale Uniting Church.

The New England district stretching to Tenterfield in the north has a strong Gaelic and Celtic influence, so much so that a Celtic Festival is held in Glenn Innes each May. After the music we attended a market in the mall at Armidale.

Artwork made from common pieces of metal.

Artwork made from common pieces of metal.

I was a bit surprised as most markets have a lot of junk products from overseas, but today we saw more home grown, home made products. Some people came from as far away as Grafton and Lismore.

What a great way to get around for a wheelchair bound man. He rides the wheelchair up the ramp and locks the chair in place. A pull on a lever raises the ramp which is locked. Start the motor and away you go. A great deal easier than carrying a chair on the roof of a car. Not much good in wet weather though.

What a great way to get around for a wheelchair bound man. He rides the wheelchair up the ramp and locks the chair in place. A pull on a lever raises the ramp which is locked. Start the motor and away you go. A great deal easier than carrying a chair on the roof of a car. Not much good in wet weather though.

Plaque explaing the feat of faring do above Dangars Gorge.

Plaque explaing the feat of faring do above Dangars Gorge.

Tribute to John Morcom who tightrope walked across Dangars Gorge..

Tribute to John Morcom who tightrope walked across Dangars Gorge..I visited Dangars Gorge and Falls and wrote about in post 283. Have a look at the gorge photos and you cannot help but wonder how he strung up the cable and how he managed to walk on a tightrope across those falls.

Late in the afternoon I stripped more Garlic and spread it for drying.

Even after washing TERIOS earlier in the week a spider managed to decorate the taillight assembly.

Even after washing TERIOS earlier in the week a spider managed to decorate the taillight assembly.

Tonight we only required a light blanket on the bed and wore summer jammies.

Perhaps Guyra has a summer after all!

288. Doors…

12/12/2012

In our travels we have often stopped to admire and or comment on doors we see. Often we even stopped to take photos. Regretably most of the time we never had a camera handy. Although my Panasonic Lumix FZ50 is an ideal camera to obtain good quality digital photos it is a bit big to lug around everywhere. We now have the great compact Sony CyberShot HD which is easy to carry around in a pocket but like the mobile phone, we forget to keep it with us all the time. As well, keeping a camera, a mobile phone and a wallet in a pocket is a bit cumbersome. I also like to carry the iPod with Kindle readerinstalled so I can whip it out and read a book whenever I have a few minutes spare. For that reason I carry what I call a “man bag” and all these little gadgets can be carried with me along with other odds and ends I think I might need. But…I digress, this is about doors. Big doors, little doors, narrow, wide, timber steel, glass, old doors new doors. So, come on through the door and have a look at some of the doors we did photograph. Remember all these photos can be viewed full size by double clicking on them.

Knock Knock.

Come in.

Side door of the garage of the house we are currently housesitting.

Side door of the garage of the house we are currently housesitting.

During 2011 when I was conducting the Census at Eungella, near Mackay, Queensland I got to knock on many doors. Eungella is a sort of laid back community, a bit isolated, up in the clouds and many people hide from the world. A little like Nimbin on the NSW north coast (which we have yet to visit) The house below just begged to be photographed as I had so much trouble finding it in the first place as it was built into and overgrown by the jungle.

This house was almost completely overgrown by the rainforest but was still habited by an old couple and their middle aged son.

This house was almost completely overgrown by the rainforest but was still habited by an old couple and their middle aged son.

When I was house sitting at Traveston Sunshine Coast Hinterland Qld, I would drive to Noosa Beach almost every day. I had to drive through the little village of Cooran every day. This little massage hut always caught my eye.

Cool massage hut and door at Cooran, Sunshine Coast Hinterland Queensland.

Cool massage hut and door at Cooran, Sunshine Coast Hinterland Queensland.

A few weeks ago I drove to Ebor to visit the waterfalls which are part of the Waterwall Way series of waterfalls from near Armidale all the way down to the coast near Bellingen. I had a walk around town and this old house with the aged, worn, weathered door was an ideal subject for me.

Weathered, aged and personality door on an equally aged and weathered private house in Ebor New England district of northern New South Wales.

Weathered, aged and personality door on an equally aged and weathered private house in Ebor New England district of northern New South Wales.

When I stayed at Coolamon for a few nights during October this year many of the old houses were ideal for photographs. Regretably (that word will keep cropping up) the weather was cold, windy and wet and the urge to get out and about was suppressed. This old bank doorway was one which did get photographed. Perhaps in the future I should just rug up and get out there and photograph regardless of weather and time constraints.

Bank doorway in Coolamon NSW> Now used as a Building Society office.

Bank doorway in Coolamon NSW. Now used as a Building Society office.

December 2011 we were fortunate to have Lional and Maryanne drive us around the coast near Camden Haven then take us up into the mountains and the small villages in the hinterland near Wauchope which once had a thriving timber cutting and sawmilling industry. We had coffee and cake at this quaint bakery. If only we could stop at all the bakery/coffee shops we find.

In the hinterland near Wauchope NSW was the doorway to a local bakery and coffee shop at Comboyne.

In the hinterland near Wauchope NSW was the doorway to a local bakery and coffee shop at Comboyne.

By now regular readers will have noticed that in my travels around NSW I have sought out the old Commercial Bank of Australia Limited and Commercial Banking Company of Sydney Limited branches. I worked at the CBA for 11 years after leaving school. I had a love/hate relationship with bank but ovcerall it gave me a good financial platform to build on and many of the people still  still out cleary in my mind. Even the grumpy old men I often encountered.  I have sought out the CBC branches as my good friend for more than 45 years, Tony J worked at the CBC. Both banks no longer exist and both had over 100 years of history before the CBA was merged with Westpac and the CBC was merged with NAB.

Door to the original Commercial Bank of Australia Limited at Inverell NSW.

Door to the original Commercial Bank of Australia Limited at Inverell NSW.

This is a great example of the type of architecture and workmanship employed by banks 100 years ago. Especially those branches in a gold mining area. This is the CBC branch at Braidwood NSW.

Original Commercial Banking Company of Sydney at Braidwood which also contained the managers residence.

Original Commercial Banking Company of Sydney at Braidwood which also contained the managers residence.

These old timber doors and the door within a door could tell many tales of the inmates of the Old Berrima Gaol in NSW not far from Sydney. While taking this photo a big burly man stepped out of the inner door and shouted “no photography here”. Sheesh it is no longer is a place of incarceration . There should be nothing to hide. I also photographed many photos from the street using zoom.

gateway with a door built into it at the Old Berrima Gaol NSW.

gateway with a door built into it at the Old Berrima Gaol NSW.

Finally, I found the original CBA branch at Armidale and the managers residence and yard has been turned into a number of boutique shops with access via the grilled doorway.

Gateway to hairdressers on the premises of the old Commercial Bank of Australia Limited premises at Armidale NSW.

Gateway to hairdressers on the premises of the old Commercial Bank of Australia Limited premises at Armidale NSW.

I sure hope you enjoyed looking at DOORS and promise more to come in the New Year.

A few comments with words of encouragement will be appreciated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

287. Sunday 9th December 2012. A week of storms…

09/12/2012

Monday 3rd December

Last Thursday our mail caught up with us. One of the letters was a driver licence renewal notice for Donnis. Her licence expired on 2nd December (yesterday!!!) Renewal now requires a personal attendance at a Queensland Transport office as the new licence is credit card size, includes a micro-chip, a photo, a password and a couple of personal questions. Grrr! We are currently in another state and had no plans to visit Queensland until around March or April 2013. The nearest Queensland town is Stanthorpe, a two and a half hour drive from Guyra.

So it was that we drove to Stanthorpe in the morning so we can renew the license. Along the way we passed through historical and busy towns such as Glen Innes, Tenterfield and Deepwater. We saw interesting sights along the way and I suggested that as we had brought Donnis camera we would stop on the way home and take photos. Once we had the licence sorted out we decided to walk around Stanthorpe and take photos before heading home.

Grrr, Snap, Fizz, Spit, Hiss, Crackle, Buzz, Moan, Groan, Whinge and Blast!

The camera memory card was still sitting in the laptop back at Guyra waiting for me to download all Donnis photos from her trip to Canada and Mexico!!!

We stopped for lunch at Tenterfield and bemoaned our missed photo opportunities.

Next stop was at Glen Innes for some supplies for dinner. We could see a big black storm building up in the south. After shopping we could see the storm clouds were bigger and blacker and closer and just as we approached a straight stretch of road on the town outskirts we could see a wall of rain ahead. I just had time to stop the car to change from sunglasses to regular driving glasses and turn on the car headlights when the storm hit. Visibility was down to about 20 metres and some cars had pulled to the side of the road. The wipers were on the fastest speed and were just able to keep the screen clean enough to see. My driving speed was down to below 80Kph and outside it was as dark as night. Lightning flashed and we could hear thunder over the sound of the engine and wet road noises. A strong buffetting wind rocked TERIOS making driving a real challenge. About 10 minutes later we passed through the storm into brilliant sunshine on the other side. What an experience! I felt drained from concentrating so hard on driving in such conditions. On the news we heard the same storm had dropped tennis ball sized hail on Tamworth and caused lots of damage including smashed windows and roofs.

It was an occasion requiring a camera…with a memory card inserted!

Tuesday 4th December

Another day of waking early then a drive to Armidale. I had an appointment with an Ear Nose & Throat specialist. After lots of questions he examined my nose and stuck a swab with anaesthetic up my nostril and told me to wait outside. Then after 15 minutes he acid bathed the area where veins are near the surface. That was the easy part he said. The hard part is not to touch or blow my nose for two weeks. Instead I should sniff and spit. Yes disgusting it may be that that is my only chance of a successful outcome. After the procedure we went for a walk around the Armidale Mall.

This cross was erected on 12th October 1945 to commemorate the first Christian Church service held in the New England District at the courthouse exactly 100 years previously.

This cross was erected on 12th October 1945 to commemorate the first Christian Church service held in the New England District at the courthouse exactly 100 years previously.

Richardson Plaza, Armidale built in 1842 and still trading..

Richardson Plaza, Armidale built in 1842 and still trading..

 

Yesterday on the way home we saw a sign saying seasonal workers required as we drove into Glen Innes. The company makes photo products on all sorts of trinkets and gadgets and clothes. They work around the clock seven days a week. I completed an application form and thought that would be the last I hear. They called me today offering to start on night shift tonight. I said yes. Ten minutes later they called me back and said I had informed them I could not lift heavy objects. The position offered involved heavy lifting so the offer was withdrawn. I guess that will be the last I hear from them.

Wednesday 5th December

A quiet day down on the farm. The wind was blowing from the south and temperatures had dropped to 9 degrees overnight. It had snowed in the NSW Alps overnight and the wind was coming from that direction. It was nice and warm out of the wind. I started the lawnmower and cut some more grass. At least it was cool enough in that cold wind. Tonight we are back to needing more blankets on the bed and if the weather stays cold we will have to get the feather doona out of WWWGO.

Thursday 6th December

A quiet day except for a bit of shopping in Armidale.

Friday 7th December.

Another quiet day.

Saturday 8th December.

We drove through Armidale and on to Uralla on the road to Tamworth. But first we visited an orphanage

Armidale's fine Catholic Orphanage which operated from 1919 to 1976 and 1,750 children passed through its doors and dormitry's.

Armidale’s fine Catholic Orphanage which operated from 1919 to 1976 and 1,750 children passed through its doors and dormitry’s.

and the New England Girls School Equestrian Centre

New England Girls School Equestrian Centre. These very expensive under cover arena's are for the sole use of the students at the school.

New England Girls School Equestrian Centre. These very expensive under cover arena’s are for the sole use of the students at the school.

before arriving inUralla is an old town first settled around 1841 and was the scene of a gold rush in 1852. See   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uralla,_New_South_Wales

Many of the buildings are quite old and the local tourism office has a heritage walk to around 50 homes and business around the town centre.

Statue of Captain Thunderbolt on the side of a creek.

Statue of Captain Thunderbolt on the side of a creek.

Arcade in Uralla tfrom the main street to a rear stree with nothing in between.

Arcade in Uralla tfrom the main street to a rear stree with nothing in between.

The Thunderbolt Tavern at Uralla.

The Thunderbolt Tavern at Uralla.

 

The Top Pub. I guess the name came about as it is the only pub near the top of the hill.

The Top Pub. I guess the name came about as it is the only pub near the top of the hill.

One of the heritage buildings was destroyed by fire along with all the museum pieces it contained. Originally it was built to house the Loyal United Brothers Lodge of Oddfellows, District 52, which was built somewhere in the 1860’s.

Loyal United Brothers Lodge of Oddfellows, District 52, which was built somewhere in the 1860’s.

Loyal United Brothers Lodge of Oddfellows, District 52, which was built somewhere in the 1860’s.

We also visited the local old cemetery

Note the inscription on this 1896 broken headstone in the old Uralla Cemetry.

Note the inscription on this 1896 broken headstone in the old Uralla Cemetry.

and searched for the grave of Captain Thunderbolt. Another couple were also scouring the cemetery for the grave and met up with us asking if we had seen the grave. No, but I mentioned the last bushranger grave I visited was at Forbes and there was a white picket fence around the grave. Maybe we should look for a white picket fence? I did and found the grave just inside the main entrance.

Captain Thunderbolts grave at Uralla.

Captain Thunderbolts grave at Uralla.

Duh!

Gold was discovered at nearby Rocky River in 1852 so we took a drive out there only to find a scattered settlement of old and new houses but no river.

On the way home we side-tracked to visit Captain Thunderbolts Cave.

4WD track to Captain Thunderbolts Cave.

4WD track to Captain Thunderbolts Cave.

Donnis outside one of Captain Thunderbolts many caves and hideouts in the New England area.

Donnis outside one of Captain Thunderbolts many caves and hideouts in the New England area.

 

In the distance we could see another of those big storms building. The radio announced a severe weather alert, you know, thunder, lightning, tennis ball sized hail and flash flood rain for the district. As it turned out we had plenty of time to arrive home and have dinner before the storm broke around us. It was gone within an hour although in the night we could see the lightning flashes receding to the north.

Sunday 9th December

Bad storms were predicted for today so any plans we had were given a backseat until Monday or Tuesday. We drove to Guyra to buy milk and rum. Yes RUM! We have a litre of Egg Nog and last year at Christmas we had egg nog and rum and it was delicious. When we got to the main street we were surprised to find it blocked off for the annual Christmas parade. Hmmm! Interesting! We stayed to look at the market stalls and the chocolate wheels

Now this was a smart idea. Firewood in this district is required for almost 6 months of the year. For $1 you could win this trailer load of firewood.

Now this was a smart idea. Firewood in this district is required for almost 6 months of the year. For $1 you could win this trailer load of firewood.

and finally the parade came by. It included a Scottish Pipe and Drum Band from Armidale

Armidale Pipe and Drum Band.

Armidale Pipe and Drum Band.

and the local junior motorcycle club.

Junior Motorcycle Club. It was good to see them wearing their safety gear.

Junior Motorcycle Club. It was good to see them wearing their safety gear.

Gorilla on small motorcycle in the Christmas parade.

Gorilla on small motorcycle in the Christmas parade.

In the afternoon another of those pesky storms arrived. The sky was black and interspersed with jagged lightning. The rain and thunder took turns overhead. The lightning trailed off to the north and took the rain with it. Later after nightfall the wind picked up again and brought another storm with it.

The temperature dropped, requiring the doona and winter jammies again tonight.

So ends another week here in the afternoon storm capital of New South Wales.

 

286. The CO-PILOT travels to US of A, Canada and Mexico…

05/12/2012

Expect lots of photos in this post.

Waaayy back on 28th August, the CO-PILOT left Albury Airport to begin her trip to visit familiy overseas. I of course stayed behind and spent a month house sitting at Mt.Beauty in Victoria, spent a month travelling central western and southern New South Wales and another month house sitting at Guyra in the New England district in north central New South Wales.

Donnis arrived in Los Angeles on 4th September and hooked up with her daughter Alecia and her sister Linda and the three joined the audience of The Price is Right with faint hope to be called to “Come on Down”. That did not happen but they enjoyed the show anyway.

Afterwards they all flew back to Vancouver and stayed with Linda a few more days, linking up with Merlilyn from Melbourne (Merilyn is Errols,  wife, Nicole, Mum…clear? Good!) They took time to travel to Whistler the ski resort and took the travel lift to the top of the mountain. They also took the opportunity to visit some wineries.

ldd

Doug, Linda and Donnis at a winery near Vancouver.

Doug, Linda Donnis and merlyn at a Vancouver Winery.

Doug, Linda Donnis and Merlyn at a Vancouver Winery.

After a few days they travelled to Vancouver Island to stay with another sister, Joan (or Joanna as she prefers to be called) in Duncan.

View of lake from Joans Duncan Townhouse.

View of lake from Joans Duncan Townhouse.

Joan ensured Donnis and Merilyn got to visit local markets,

Joan inspecting organic crops at one of the many markets they visited on Vancouver Island and Salt Spring Island.

Joan inspecting organic crops at one of the many markets they visited on Vancouver Island and Salt Spring Island.

mill bay vanisl

Sparkling waters of the boat harbour and marina at Mill Bay, vancouver Island.

Merilyn and Joan at a Salt Spring Island Winery.

Merilyn and Joan at a Cowichan Valley, near Duncan, Winery.

wineries and other community activities including a ferry trip to Salt Spring Island.

Merilyn at the Salt Spring island markets.

Merilyn at the Salt Spring island markets.

Merilyn and Joan on the back deck of the car ferry watching as salt Spring Island falls behind in the wake.

Merilyn and Joan on the back deck of the car ferry watching as Salt Spring Island falls behind in the wake.

Merilyn then took off on a tour to eastern Canada and New York.

Donnis at a vancouver Island Winery.

Donnis at a Vancouver Island Winery.

Donnis stayed to help Joan in her health food store in downtown Duncan. Some of the highlights of her time on the island was the beginning of “Fall”, Thanksgiving and Halloween at the end of October.

Fall colours on a country lane on Vancouver Island

Fall colours on a country lane on Vancouver Island

Donnis loves carving pumpkins for Halloween and looks for the biggest pumpkin.

Donnis loves carving pumpkins for Halloween and looks for the biggest pumpkin.

Then, as times moves so quickly she flew to Mexico to join other family members for the wedding of Linda’s daughter, Jessica at Puerto Vallarta in Mexico.

Happy hour on the balcony overlooking the ocean on the 10th floor beachside hotel. l toR. Doug, Linda, Errol, Nicole with Alecia with back to camera holding baby Hannah and toddler Amelia.

Happy hour on the balcony overlooking the ocean on the 10th floor beachside hotel. l toR. Doug, Linda, Errol, Nicole, Amelia and Alecia with back to camera holding baby Hannah.

View of other hotels on the beach at Peurto Vallarta, Mexico

View of other hotels on the beach at Peurto Vallarta, Mexico

Ready for the wedding are Donnis, best friend from school days, Darlene, Donnis daughter Alecia holding Nicoles daughter Amelia and latest daughter Hannah in pram and Nicole on the right.

Ready for the wedding are Donnis, best friend from school days, Darlene, Donnis daughter Alecia holding Nicoles daughter Amelia and latest daughter Hannah in pram and Nicole on the right.

Down on the beach Donnis and daughter Alecia are ready for the wedding.

Down on the beach Donnis and daughter Alecia are ready for the wedding.

Three sisters waiting in anticipation of the wedding. Donnis, mother of the Bride Linda and Joan.

Three sisters at the wedding. Donnis, mother of the Bride Linda and Joan.

The smiliong married couple Jessica and John who flew home to Denver, Colarado a few days later.

The smiling married couple Jessica and John who flew home to Denver, Colarado a few days later.

The day after the wedding the familes spent time around the hotel pool then it was off to a local nightspot.

The newly married couple John and Jessica with aunts and cousins and other guests.

The newly married couple John and Jessica with Linda and aunts and cousins.

Alecia at a swinging nightspot with umm err Speedy Gonzales???

Alecia at a swinging nightspot with umm err Speedy Gonzales???

At thde nightclub which could be called Margharitaville. Errol, Alecia, Donnis, Doug,Linda, Nicole and Amelia.

At the nightclub which could be called Margharitaville. Errol, Alecia, Donnis, Doug,Linda, Nicole and Amelia.

The final day was spent at a Tequila Distillery…instead of a winery and a final night aboard a Pirate Ship.

While waitin g to board the pirate ship Donnis made friends with the pirate bird, a Macaw.

While waiting to board the pirate ship Donnis made friends with the pirate bird, a Macaw.

As you all know from reading my regular blog pages she arrived back in Oz on 28th November. Not a bad coincidence…leaving on the 28th and returning on the 28th.

285. Sunday 2nd December 2012. An unusual quiet week. But…the Co-Pilot is home…

02/12/2012

Monday 26th November

With all the lightning of the past week combined with almost 100mm of rain in the same period, all the plants are nourished. The grass is growing so fast it is only a day or two before it needs cutting again. The tomatoes, potatoes and corn planted only a month ago are already well advanced. Today was spent cutting the grass, de-heading the garlic and picking the snow peas. Of course that did not take all day but I did just mooch around and relaxed a little…well, a lot actually.

Tuesday 27th November

Today was not much different to yesterday except I drove into Armidale for a few essentials as the CO-PILOT is due home tomorrow and would probably like something to eat.

On the subject of “home” I should mention that “home” is where we are at the moment. Most of the time home is where WWWGO is located.

Home is not a house in Airlie Beach.

Home is not where we grew up.

Wednesday 28th November

No trips today.

Oh! Yes. I did drive to the airport to collect Donnis. As expected she was excited to be “home”. (See my definition of “home”, above.) Also as expected she was tired but would not admit she was. She managed to stay awake long enough to have a cup of tea then fell asleep until 8.30pm long enough to enjoy some of my home made veg soup and sleep all night.

She even slept through the thunder lightning and heavy rain.

Thursday 29th November

We spent a quiet day of just relaxing and unpacking from her trip and unpacking summer clothes from WWWGO.

Friday 30th November

Another quiet day and with heat wave conditions predicted for most of NSW for the next few days we stayed inside most of the day. Although the temperature reached 28° here in Guyra there is no humidity so it is a very dry heat.

I suffered a nose bleed this morning, the third this week. A visit to the doctor and I have an appointment to see an Ear Nose and Throat Specialist in Armidale on Tuesday.

Sigh!

Saturday 1st December

Another quiet day. It was also a day of heat wave conditions. Forty one degrees throughout most places around the state but here in Guyra it was 29.9°. Late in the evening we could see lightning to the east and south but nothing here.

Sunday 2nd December

Another quiet day. Donnis is just relaxing and becoming grounded after three months away. Besides it was another heat wave day best spent indoors. In the afternoon I picked some fresh snow peas and included them in a Green Chicken Curry.

Yummo.

Thunder lightning and rain rolled in around 6pm and almost as quickly rolled out again. At least it has cooled down.

This has been a, not boring exactly, but really no activity week.

I promise the coming week we have plans to get out and about.

As well Donnis has spent time in Canada and attending a family wedding in Mexico so I will post some photos highlighting her trip in a day or two.

Cheers for now…