Monday 18th February
Hugh & Shabari arrived home today. Their plane landed at midday, the same time as my brother Allan, his wife Rae and Grandson Josh arrived in Armidale to meet us for lunch. Josh was arriving for his second year at University of New England while Al and Rae were helping to bring his furniture and clothes to get him settled in.
Tuesday 19th February
We were packed and ready to leave by 10am. After saying our goodbyes to Hugh, Shabari and Toto the dog we hit the New England highway and drove towards Newcastle but turned left at the Hexham Bridge to join the Pacific Highway north to Forster. The drive took 10 hours…including me having an hour long snooze at Willow Tree where we had lunch.
Traffic became bumper to bumper from Musswelbrook all the way to Maitland but we arrived at Al & Rae’s home in time for dinner, showered and fell into bed totally exhausted.
Wednesday 20th February
Ahhh! It is so nice to be on the coast enjoying Summer sunshine and dressed in shorts and T-shirt … as I expect to be dressed in the summer. During our drive yesterday I said I would rather like to walk barefoot on a sandy beach, allowing waves to swirl around our legs, all the while the wind blowing in our faces.
I got that and more. A tropical low centered off the Queensland coast near Brisbane was whipping the seas into a frenzy and sending strong winds and heavy rain south along the coast. Today we enjoyed the sunshine, knowing the weather will change…for the worse… in 24 hours or so.
As always Al & Rae are good hosts and good company.
Thursday 21st February
The day started with Al, Rae and I taking a stroll around a few blocks near One Mile Beach. Later in the morning Al, Donnis and I walked over the Forster/Tuncurry Bridge to the Tuncurry side and then walked the length of the breakwater…and back again.
Although the sun was playing hide and seek with the clouds it was still a delightful day despite the strong wind and sea salt haze coating everything.
In the afternoon Donnis and I walked to the top of Cape Hawke (named by Captain James Cook in 1770) and the observation tower.
Of course the 880m return trip was steep going up and murder on knees and hips coming down.
If dinner and bed was on offer at the top of the tower I would have gladly stayed the night.
We then drove to Booti Booti National Park and parked at the extreme southern end of Seven Mile Beach and walked on the beach in strong winds, big confused seas and thick salt haze.
Friday 22nd February
After saying our goodbyes to Al and Rae we took off from Forster in strong winds and heavy driving rain. Al and I got soaked hitching TERIOS to WWWGO. We could see the rain coming and predicted it would arrive in five minutes. It arrived in three minutes!
Three hours down the road we arrived at Toukley and set up camp at Norah Head Holiday Park. The wind and rain increased during the afternoon and evening. The worst of the weather is still yet to arrive during the night or early morning. The strong wind and scuds of rain continued during the night. I know, I woke several times.
Saturday 23rd February
I woke to the incessant strong wind. Still dressed in shorts and T-shirt I walked the National Parks pathway to Soldiers Beach.
About twenty vehicles were in the car-park with the occupants doing the same as me. They were watching the huge swells crashing on the rocks and pounding the beach. A thick salt haze obliterated the view of the lighthouse at Norah Head.
In the morning we visited several houses and viewed another two after lunch. Although both places presented well we both came away with the feeling they are not for us.
In the afternoon we took a drive to The Entrance on the other side of Tuggerah Lake. It was about this time the rain decided to increase in volume and continued to bucket down well into the night. It was still raining when we went to bed. The winds became stronger early in the night as WWWGO was being rocked. We both commented how it almost felt like being on our yacht ASTARIA (now sold) and being buffeted by wind, swell and tide.
About 10pm I went to the ablutions block for a shower. Both hand dryers have not worked since we arrived yesterday. While enjoying a hot shower and listening to the sounds of heavy rain and strong winds, I heard a hand dryer turn on. Huhh! I had not heard anybody come into the block, no opening or closing doors, no footsteps yet the dryer turned on. Hmmm! A few moments later it turned on again. As I left the block I put my hands under both dryers…neither turned on!
Sunday 24th February
We woke to a light wind, no rain and a hint of sunshine through the cloud cover.
We spent the morning drying out raincoats and clothes which got wet during yesterday’s heavy rain. After lunch we walked to Soldiers Beach and watched the boardriders and boogie boarders reveling in the heavy conditions.
We then drove around looking at more real estate to the point of becoming disillusioned.
Late in the afternoon another storm rolled in from the north. This one included thunder and lightning with a spattering of rain.
Fingers crossed the weather is better when we leave Norah Head tomorrow.