Monday 31st December
New Years Eve!
Just another day down on the farm.
We did stay up very late…until 12.15am…to watch the New Year fireworks from Sydney Harbour. Many of the vantage points around The Rocks and Circular Quay are where we visited last week and which was the subject of a “The Rocks” post. Along with the 1.5 million people who lined the Sydney Harbour foreshore we joined millions and millions of people all over the world who watched it all on TV. Broadcasters have a certain advantage in being able to choose the best locations and being able to show the spectacle to gain maximum impact. However there is nothing like being there and experiencing it, including the noise, the ooohs and aaahs of the crowd. Instead all us TV viewers got was Kylie Minogue songs synced to the action and that just took away from the event, However it was a wonderful spectacle and we are glad we did not have to battle with those 1.5 million trying find their way home. Donnis and I agreed if we could be there we would take a doona and sleep on the grass or beach and go home later in the morning.
While watching the fireworks on and around the Harbour Bridge I was thinking of the night I did the Harbour Bridge Climb on 30th December 2000, the night before New Years Eve. I saw the fireworks in sealed containers strapped to parts of the bridge. The following night, New Years Eve, I watched the Sydney fireworks on TV from my room on Norfolk Island.
Tuesday 1st January – New Years Day 2013.
Another quiet day down on the farm. Ian from across the street joined us for a few hours in the morning, tweaking the computer backup programme on the laptop and installing some new apps on the iPad. In the afternoon Ian and his brother Justin joined me at a local cricket field where we flew my A R Parrot Drone.
Wednesday 2nd January
Today started out as just another day down on the farm. I set soaker hoses and sprinklers and looking around decided to cut the grass. I was wearing leather sandals as I had not planned anything further than the hoses. Nonetheless, I cut the grass until the mower stopped. All by itself. Hmmm! Perhaps the air filter is clogged with dust again. I went to the garage to find a screwdriver when I felt a sharp sting in my foot. Hmmm! I thought I had picked up a burr or nettle or a blackberry thorn while mowing. The sting became worse. I managed to get the sandal off but by now the pain was intense and whatever it was that stung me was under the right big toe where I could not see it. By now I was calling out in pain and Donnis said she could not see anything but ran off to get tweezers and lotions. Looking on the ground I saw a bee struggling among the grass. The pain was now so throbbing and searing in waves as far as my knee I could not concentrate but managed to hobble to a seat when Donnis arrived with tweezers. The entire ball of my foot felt like it was on fire and Donnis saw a large red area and located the bee sting and pulled it out. The muscle attached to the sting was still pumping. An essential oil, noted as being effective in treating bee stings was applied and after awhile the pain began to subside but not before a heavy duty headache arrived. Long story short the toe was still painful when I went to bed but at least I could still walk. The other blessing is that I am not allergic to bee stings. I can imagine how a person with an allergic reaction could quickly go into shock and require emergency medical treatment.
I suggested we have dinner at the bowling club but it was closed and the only place we could find was the Guyra Hotel. Against my better judgement we ordered our meals and waited. The serving window and kitchen door were closed when we sat down. I did not believe anybody could murder a salad but the woman at the Guyra Hotel proved me wrong. I will call her a woman rather than a cook. A cook would not provide the poor quality of salad which was on our plates. Chunky slices of cucumber, tomato, onion, canned pineapple and beetroot was the extent of the “salad”. Basically the tomato, cucumber and beetroot looked suspiciously like they had been sitting unrefrigerated for a day or so and the cucumber was slimey. The “salad” remained largely uneaten on our plates. No sense complaining as the people at the kitchen and the barman were in another world. (you can use your imagination as to what world they were in) We have scratched the Guyra Hotel off our list for anything in the future.
About this time every year I like to look back on our year and review our travels. On reflection our regular readers will already know the places we have visited and know our delight when we visit a new town, location, park or natural feature. When we started our journey in September 2010 the plan was to travel Australia in a meandering fashion. Part of the plan was to work a month or two as we went. Included in the travel plan was to see if any area appealed to us as a place to settle. So, in this review I will look at places we visited this year which appealed to us as a likely place to live. The difficulty with this type of review is that most of this year has been spent in New South Wales with a little time in The Australian Capital Territory of Canberra and Victoria.
Almost anywhere on the New South Wales south coast appealed to us. Wollongong and the surrounding coastal suburbs all have an appeal and the fact I lived there many years ago and retained friendships certainly has an emotional attraction for us. Errol, Nicole and the two grandchildren live there as well. Another bonus point. Plus all those beaches. Close to major airports and has its own huge choice of shopping venues. Lots of close medical facilities.
Narooma and the far south coast was another area with lots of charm and appeal therefore gets a nod. With friends in the area it also could be a place to settle. Although somewhat distant from major shopping (who really needs major shopping) and Domestic and International airports it is not all that far and has the added advantage of a pollution free environment and of course all those beaches. Lack of medical facilities is the big downside.
Canberra. We both loved the sprawl and logic of the city design. There is much to see and do but we have no family or friends in the area, it gets too cold in winter and is too far from the coast. It is well serviced by a large airport and of course has major shopping available. I think a year would probably be enough to see the sights and it would be time to move on.
Albury on the NSW/Victorian border was a surprise to both of us. Pollution free, major shopping, delightful city, close to lots of national parks and the Snowy Mountains and well serviced by air transport. Drawback is we have neither family or friends there, it is too far from the coast and gets bitterly cold in the winter.
The only place in Victoria where we spent any time was Mount Beauty. A delightful, pretty town but too far from medical services, shopping, airport and beaches.
Towns in western NSW such as Forbes, Dubbo, Tamworth, Armidale are all delightful, well serviced by air transport but limited medical facilities, too cold and too far from the coast.
Although we have not been there this year, the central coast of NSW around Toukley and the lakes is on our list to visit in 2013.
Thursday 3rd January.
Today we went to Armidale for shopping. We renewed our NSW National Parks and Wildlife Annual Pass. It entitles us to free parking in about 97% of the NSW Parks.
I have been asked about my nose. Tuesday was the end of the 14 days and so I was able to blow my nose for the first time. Have you any idea how something as simple as blowing your nose can be an enjoyable experience? So far, the good news is, no nose bleed.
Donnis bought a kilo of green banana prawns at a good price so we made garlic prawns for dinner. She is on a diet so the lovely garlic butter sauce option was excluded. The equally lovely garlic cream sauce option was also excluded. So, it was just prawns and garlic. It was a bit on the dry side and basically uninteresting…for me.
I was especially pleased to get home and removed my sneakers. The big toe was swollen and aching. Later in the day the aching was replaced by itching. Hmmm. Bee sting histamines are at work. I took an anti-histamine tablet which gave several hours relief and I was able to fall asleep without scratching at the toe.
Friday 4th January
Today was expected to be hot. Not the 41° hot expected over most of the sate but nonetheless 30° for Guyra is hot. In the morning and again in the evening it was quite cool with a chill breeze requiring winter jammies and a gown.
In the morning before it got too hot I decided to cut more grass…of course I wore my heavy duty boots. No more bee stings for me! As I mowed into a patch of long grass along a boundary fence a brown snake reared up, spun around and wriggled, slithered or snaked away. I grabbed a pitchfork and followed…at a respectable distance. Hmmm! Pitchfork prongs are about three inches apart. It is not going to be much help if the snake strikes at me but anything between me and the snake has got to be useful. Within a minute I had lost track of its course through the long brown grass just on the other side of the fence. Now is a good time to move somewhere else and cut grass. By the way, the Eastern Brown or Common Brown Snake is about number two on the worlds deadliest snakes list. OK from now on, shoes and socks with long trousers, long sleeved shirt and gloves are the order of the day when mowing.
Tonight we used the rest of the prawns for dinner. Donnis had the basic prawns and garlic. After she was served I quickly did my version. Just as the prawns turned colour to a milky white I added dollops of honey, stirred to coat the prawns and served in their sweet garlic and drippy honey sauce. Accompanied by a nice home-made coleslaw it was a wonderful meal. The prawns were succulent in texture and their own natural mild flavour was enhanced by the slightly bitter toasted garlic and the sweet honey.
Try it sometime.
Saturday 5th January.
I am currently reading a whimsical novel called A Nameless Witch by A. Lee Martinez. It is about a witch, …nameless of course… , a witches familiar…usually a cat but in this book, a duck… a magic broom, a chaste White Knight and a Troll. Oh and a wiley fox who stays mostly out of sight of the others. All these characters are on a quest. A passage in the story begins… “A worthwhile quest always involved a great deal of nothing happening. Until that is, something does happen.” So it is that our travels are a bit like the quest. Most of our days are waiting for a something to happen day.
Last night I spoke with long-time friend, Tony J.
I mentioned we had planned to drive to Dorrigo today, just because we can. Tony called this morning and said they were going to have breakfast and then drive from Port Macquarie along the coast and up the mountain range to meet us in Dorrigo. That was a three hour drive for them and a two hour drive for us.
We arrived in Dorrigo where the local markets were at the packing up stage. The CO-PILOT loves markets as she learns about a community from their markets. I learned they were packing up and most had already gone.
The CO-PILOT learned she can still find something to buy, even when most of the stalls have gone. By the time I co-ordinated our escape Tony and Dawn had arrived in town and being lunchtime, were ready to eat. Regrettably we did not have time to walk around town and absorb the community feel. We had lunch and sat around chin wagging for an hour.
Then we agreed to visit the local National Park, The Dorrigo Rainforest Centre.
A timber suspended boardwalk
took us to amazing valley views which gave views all the way to the coast.
Tony and I started on a rainforest walk but by the time we stopped to look at an interpretive map realised the shortest return walk was two hours so retraced our steps back to the rainforest centre.
All too soon it was time to have our hugs and kisses and say goodbye.
The day was predicted to be heat wave conditions but it was rather pleasant at Dorrigo on the edge of the escarpment.
Back in Guyra it was warm enough for me to wear summer jammies…the first time during this summer it was warm enough to do so. A heat wave in Guyra gets about as warm as a mild spring day elsewhere.
Sunday 6th January.
It was a quiet day down on the farm. I dressed in long trousers, long sleeve shirt, gloves, heavy boots and hat before cutting the grass for an hour.
Late in the afternoon we harvested a small bucket of Apricots.
Once rised and cut in half and the seed removed, they were placed in the dehydrator. We should know how they turn out in 24 to 36 hours.
We also spent some time discussing and making loose plans for a three day getaway in WWWGO.
When??? That is why there was time spent discussing the getaway. Nothing yet decided but we are working on it.