Monday 18th March
Since we arrived at Coledale last week we watched a house across the road being systematically dismantled by protective clothing garbed workers. The reason? Asbestos! Once the suspect parts were safely removed the demolishing crew moved in. Today I watched as the house became rubble.
A lovely sunny day but Donnis was still not well so decided to visit a doctor. Of course we knew she had a heavy cold and were afraid it was moving into her chest and thought she may get some antibiotics. She also had a painful shoulder and could not raise her arm and had trouble dressing herself. Pretty simple stuff really. Somewhere, somehow, the doctor found something else that may be wrong and wrote a referral for her to visit the Emergency Ward at Wollongong Hospital. Whoa!!! What is this all about? After presenting at the Emergency Ward Donnis had X-Rays taken of her chest and then we waited amongst a horde of suffering humanity. One woman collapsed in the waiting room and started hemorrhaging. Lots of staff came rushing out for her. I tell you there were a lot of sick and sicko people in that waiting room and the cavalcade went on for 4 hours. Ambulances arrived and unloaded people on stretchers all afternoon. When we finally saw a doctor she said, “so, why are you here?” Of course our reply was “we were hoping you could tell us as the referring doctor did not say.” After some blood samples were taken and a further wait we were allowed to leave. After talking with the lovely doctor it seems the referring doctor saw Donnis, noted the flu like symptoms, the sore arm and her answers to his questions and thought she may be having a STROKE. I suppose it was better to be sure but we both feel an afternoon on the beach would have been more fun.
Afterwards we drove back to Corrimal for dinner with Errol n Nicole.
Tuesday 19th March
The rubble makers were back again today creating a feeling of waste in my mind. For example those good bricks were wasted. The aluminium window frames and the glass sliding doors, the glass safety panels on the deck, the timber framework, all destroyed, all wasted.
Nicole has now succumbed to the cold symptoms raging through their household and was up most of the night looking after sick babies. Errol went to work, himself still not 100% healthy. Donnis was press ganged into looking after the babies while Nicole caught up on her sleep. I elected to stay at Coledale and explore around the beach and the rocks.
Aaah! I could spend all day wandering the beach and rocks and headland, with sand between my toes, wind in my face and hair, salt water lapping around my legs and breathing salt laden air. At night just hearing the sound of the waves breaking is a restful lullaby I never get tired of.
We have been at Coledale just over a week and have another three days before we move again. I have been using the camp kitchen to wash our dishes as it is a great place to meet other campers, especially the overseas visitors in their little campervans. I have met couples from USA, Belgium, Switzerland and The Netherlands (they agreed it used to be called Holland). What impressed me about the visitors from non English speaking countries was their enthusiasm. They all have excellent English, able to speak clearly and I can understand them, as well they can understand me. They all researched Australia and where they would go and for how long. In fact in our travels over the years, particularly the last 30 months, we have met many delightful young people from Europe. On reflection I consider that English speaking people seem to have a certain arrogance when visiting overseas. We rarely bother to learn another language and I suspect do not put in the same research about the places we go.
Tonight in the tiny camp kitchen there were two overseas couples, a lady camped in an old caravan while she renovates an old house at Port Kembla and myself. We were all talking at once when two girls arrived with different accents and they started talking as well. The scene was one of a crowded noisy room with lots of laughter.
Wednesday 20th March.
Another glorious sunny day on the Leisure Coast of NSW under the lee of the Illawarra Escarpment. Early this morning I took a walk along the beach, three laps in fact and was disappointed to see that more and more kelp has washed up on the beach clogging the water to the first line of breakers. This kelp, torn off the reef by the two big storms three weeks ago will continue to roll up on the beach forming a greenish/yellow/brown lump of decaying plant matter. Over the next week or so the kelp and other weed will turn dry and black and start to break down and being covered by sand by successive tides. The decaying matter will contribute to nutrients which in turn will be a source of nourishment to crabs, worms and those microscopic animals which live beneath the sand tidal zone. Nicole, Errol and the grandchildren arrived for a late morning coffee and left at midday.
Donnis and I drove along Lawrence Hargrave Drive through the tiny suburbs of Wombarra, Scarborough, Clifton, the wonderful Sea Cliff Bridge, Coalcliffe and Stanwell Park where we stopped for lunch and a wander along the beach. The beach sits under the brow of a large, steep, mostly grassed hill – Bald Hill to be precise. It is from Bald Hill that hundreds of thousands of people have taken their first flight in a hang glider. The landing zone is on Stanwell Park Beach way below.
Most people are not aware that the first stable human flight was made here by Lawrence Hargrave in 1894 in what is best described as a box kite.
We drove around the suburb and marveled at the houses perched on the cliff top, one in particular had a long narrow road, without a safety fence to its front driveway. The road skirts the cliff edge which has a sheer drop to the rocks at least 100m below. It made for a bit of nervous driving I can assure you.
Thursday 21st March
Another fine sunny morning so I went for a brisk walk along the beach and edge of the water almost as far as Sharkey’s Beach. Just love it.
In fact I walked along the main road to Sharkey’s Beach and late in the day another walk along the beach. By evening the sky was overcast and the unrelenting strong north easterly wind was becoming just a little too much.
At midday I heard an Ambulance blast along the road above our campsite. A helicopter had crashed at Panorama House at the top of Bulli Pass on the escarpment above our campsite. Four people died in the fiery crash.
Donnis spent the day with Nicole and the Grandchildren attending an Easter Bonnet parade in the morning.
Friday 22nd March
While I packed WWWGO, Donnis drove to Corrimal to do some final baking and washing. Once WWWGO was ready I drove the long distance – about 500metres – to Sharkey’s Beach and parked beside the beach.
I then took a walk around the meandering clifftop pathway to Brickyard Point and the old Headlands Hotel perched on the cliffs above Austinmer Beach.
This iconic pub closed in 2011 and has been for sale ever since. Plans by potential buyers run into trouble when asking for plans to be approved by Council. All plans submitted by all developers have been rejected by Council. Based on that information it could be many years before it is sold and re-development takes place. The current building will continue to deteriorate and will only be worth bulldozing. (www.abc.net.au/news/2012-06-12/council-considers-headlands-hotel-site/4065842 )
We then drove to Gymea Bay via Lawrence Hargrave Drive which faithfully follows the coastline until it reaches Stanwell Tops. From there we turned left to Helensburgh and then on to the F6 Freeway to Sydney. It was while climbing the steep section of road through Stanwell Park to Stanwell Tops our low fuel warning light turned on and I noticed our fuel gauge which was showing a little under quarter full was now showing empty! I became nervous about running out of fuel before we reached the top of the steep, narrow, winding road. WWWGO performed well and we continued another 20 klms before stopping for fuel at Heathcote.
We prepared dinner and dined with Bev n Pete.
We travelled the grand distance of 41 klms today.
Saturday 23rd March
A little rain fell overnight but it was glorious sunny day. In fact it was like a summers day.
Bev n Pete left just after lunch. They have a wedding to attend in Manly on Sydney’s northern beaches, a good 2 hour drive from Gymea.
Donnis and I joined traffic going into Sydney to visit Chinatown in the Haymarket area.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinatown,_Sydney The intention was to wander around for an hour or so until 6pm. We wandered the famous Dixon street which was alive and bustling with people from around the globe. It was noisy, busy, vibrant and pulsing with energy and sounds. Donnis was in a queue to a small window where Emperors Puffs were being sold.
These are small pastries filled with creamy custard, served piping hot. The price was 4 for $1 and so the queue was constantly growing. In fact even at 10pm there were more people lined up for these tasty little puffs than there were at 5pm! http://www.empowernetwork.com/prischew/blog/scrumptious-cream-puffs-in-sydney-emperor-puffs-chinatown-australia/ While waiting for Donnis I felt a hand clamp itself to my shoulder. It was my sister Sandra with boyfriend Dave. We had planned to meet them at a nearby pub at 6pm. Although we were early we had a beer at the hotel until our other sister Enid arrived. We then went for dinner in a Chinese Restaurant nearby. The restaurant was huge with hundreds of people already enjoying dinner. We all ate cooked Jellyfish except none of us knew what it was until afterwards. It is not something I would order for myself but the experience was worthwhile. It was wonderful to catch up and spend time with Sandra especially as it was her birthday. She and Dave had just completed the Harbour Bridge Climb an hour earlier. http://www.bridgeclimb.com/
After dinner we walked through the Dixon Street crowds,
enjoyed an ice cream and squeezed all 5 of us plus luggage into WWWGO and drove back to Gymea Bay. We all had a wonderful night and would do it again in a heartbeat.
Sunday 24th March
We woke to a clear sunny hot day which stayed with us all day. It was also a big day.
Bev was ill with a migraine headache but asked us to continue with our plans. We first drove to Kurnell where Captain James Cook first stepped ashore on Australian soil in April 1770. Dave has never been to Sydney before so we tried to give him as much of a tour in one day as we could.
From there we drove to Bald Hill at Stanwell Tops.
Normally the area is buzzing with hang gliders but not today. We then drove down the escarpment to Stanwell Park where we had lunch.
By coincidence Errol and Nicole were in Cronulla in the morning and were on their way home so joined us for a late lunch. Afterwards Enid joined Donnis and I for a walk along the cliff-tops at Coalcliff then on the Sea Cliff Bridge.
We took a leisurely drive back to Gymea via the Sutherland Royal National Park. The weather was kind to us all day with a picture perfect summer day in the midst of Autumn.
It was wonderful to catch up with Enid, Bev and Sandra again. It is a shame brother Allan was travelling in his motorhome and was unable to be with us.