Archive for April, 2013

312. Sunday 28th April 2013. Fairfield, Anzac Day and looking at houses…

28/04/2013

Monday 22nd April

What did we do today?

I finished polishing TERIOS.

After dinner we drove to Peter and Regelyn’s to stay the night.

Tuesday 23rd April

After a hurried breakfast we drove Chris to school as Regelyn had an early start at work and Peter had an even earlier start. Afterwards we had a McDonalds coffee and joined the bumper to bumper traffic on the M3 heading to Brisbane. After lunch I caught the bus to Brisbane where I had an appointment with an Ear Nose and Throat Specialist. For some reason I thought he was going to give me a hearing test and assess my hearing to support my claim for a hearing disability with Dept of Veterans Affairs. Not so. After a preliminary quick test he declared my disability to be higher than I rated it. He then made an appointment for me to have a full hearing test – elsewhere – next month time. I then go back to him for a review!

On my way to the specialist I walked through Anzac Square, noting the huge amount of flowers in the Shrine of Remembrance beside the Eternal Flame. It seems something like 3,000 schoolchildren had their own pre-Anzac Day memorial shortly before I arrived.

230413 shrine 230413 shrine1

Wednesday 24th April.

240413 king g square

Another visit to the city for Donnis to have another dental appointment. As we were leaving we saw a large group of Unionists marching in honour of their international memorial day.

240413 rally

Thursday 25th April ANZAC DAY.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anzac_Day

Over the years I have written about how we honoured Anzac Day in locations as diverse as Rollingstone, Balgal Beachand Airlie Beach North Queensland, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Capital of Australia at the Australian War Memorial and Bridport, Tasmania.

Today we travelled by bus to Brisbane and joined 20,000 other people who lined the streets to clap and cheer our armed forces, old and young, currently serving and retired but most importantly to remember those who fell to protect our way of life.

250413 crowd

250413 cameraman

ANZAC DAY.  http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-04-25/anzac-day-parade-in-brisbane-draws-thousands/4650962 As usual it was an emotional event for me. The first sight as we left the bus was a group of older soldiers in full Lighthorse uniform walking and talking with their horses.

250413 lighthorse

The lighthorse was a cavalry division formed in the late 1800’s and gave birth to what is now known as the Australian Armoured Corps. There is a Lighthorse division within the Armoured Corps and I was proud to serve in that division, A Squadron 1st and later, 2nd Cavalry Regiments. 250413 lighthorse1

The march was due to commence at 10am and at that precise moment two Super Hornets flew over the city, seeming just higher than the buildings and so fast we only saw them for a brief moment.250413 clockWhat an amazing way to signal the march is to begin. It is such a heartfelt welcome to see the many younger people at these events as well as those from other nations and cultures embracing our lifestyle and remembrance. I wore my medal as well as an Australian Imperial Forces badge and when we walked on the bus the driver told me not to flash my card as travel for past and current servicemen and women was free today. Before leaving the city we dropped into the Town Hall in the hope we could catch a clock tower tour.

Town Hall auditorium

Town Hall auditorium

We were too tired to wait for another two hours before the tour began. To find our bus home we walked across one of the many bridges over the Brisbane River. I met two men about my age and both were wearing all their medals. I noted from the badges on their berets they both served in the Australian Armoured Corps and served a tour of duty in Vietnam. We chatted while walking over the bridge and all the way to our bus stop. It was a wonderful sunny and warm autumn day, more like a summers day in fact.

In the afternoon I drove to Dutton Park to view what was originally known as The Green Bridge  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eleanor_Schonell_Bridge which was built exclusively for buses, pedestrians and cyclists. The weather stayed near enough to picture perfect all day.

The Green Bridge.

The Green Bridge.

Crap Aint Sold Here but...

Crap Aint Sold Here but…

Friday 26th April

Today we drove to an over 50 resort near the Gold Coast  http://www.goldencrestmanors.com/ at Highland park  and spent an interesting two hours going over details of the resort options and looking at several re-sale houses and then a happy tour through their Country Club and resident facilities.

Hmmm! Tempting.

We then had a 3pm appointment at the next over 50’s resort  http://www.livinggems.com.au/ruby-gardens.html  at Eagleby about 20 minutes from the Gold Coast Beaches.  We spent two hours here as well.

Hmmm! We are greatly tempted.

On our way home along the M1 Motorway we saw a four car pileup on the other side of the barrier. Police, Ambulance and Fire trucks were arriving as we eased past in the bumper to bumper traffic. I have no idea why our side of the road was blocked.

We arrived home after dark.

Saturday 27th April.

Hmmm!

Today we drove back to Eagleby and had a second look at the house we are interested in as well as the two building sites which we prefer. As we inched along the M1 Motorway we could not understand why four lanes of traffic was bumper to bumper.  We soon found the reason. A six car pileup, in almost the same position as last nights pileup, with two cars facing the wrong direction.  Police and Ambulance were still on their way as we edged past.

At the resort we spent another two hours looking at internal fitout options.

Afterwards we drove to the coast at Jacobs Well, somewhere neither of us has been to before. Not much to report about The Well except it is a very flat area surrounded by mangroves and is a fishermans paradise.

Once again we arrived home after dark.

Sunday 28th April

Not much happened today. We visited a shopping centre at Garden City and drove to Peter n Regelyns for dinner.

Advertisements

311. Sunday 21st April 2013. A quiet week in Fairfield…

21/04/2013

Monday 15th April

Whew! This felt like a big day although on reflection it was probably a regular type of day for other people.

In the morning we had a visit from an elderly neighbor, Margaret, which we thought was kinda nice as we have only been here a week. After coffee we caught a bus into the city centre to find the University of Queensland School of Dentistry as Donnis had an appointment.

Albert Street Uniting Church, formerly a Methodist Wesleyan Chapel

Albert Street Uniting Church, formerly a Methodist Wesleyan Chapel

Inside Albert Street Uniting Church.

Inside Albert Street Uniting Church.

While she was being looked after I walked around some of the sights of Brisbane city. I visited Brisbane Town Hall

Brisbane Town Hall

Brisbane Town Hall

Brisbane Town Hall and King George Square.

Brisbane Town Hall and King George Square.

and King George Square.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brisbane_City_Hall  Then I walked to theBrisbane River

Ferris Wheel beside Brisbane River.

Ferris Wheel beside Brisbane River.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brisbane_River  ,  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wheel_of_Brisbane  then saw the Treasury Building which is now a hotel and gambling casino. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treasury_Casino

After the SOD released Donnis (sounds good huh? Released! Sort of sounds like she was a prison inmate) we had a walk around the Queen Street Mall and caught the bus home again.

Brief Petrie history.

Brief Petrie history.

There are lots of places around the south east corner of Queensland which has a Petrie related name.

There are lots of places around the south east corner of Queensland which has a Petrie related name.

We arrived before 5pm and my tired feet were looking for some relief but I must admit I had an enjoyable day. It sure beats driving into the city, fighting the traffic, trying to read the road signs and one way streets and bus lanes and so on and then looking for and paying for parking space. For less than $10 we had an easy trip to the city and back in the bus.

Tuesday 16th April

A quiet day at home. I visited Centrelink (sigh!…this is becoming a habit). When my name was finally called the man I spoke with shrugged his shoulders in direct response to my questions. In order to get any information from him was like being a dentist and extracting teeth. Eventually through my barrage of questions he confessed that in the whole office of about 50 staff, none have any direct experience or knowledge about aged pensions. In fact he doubted if in Brisbane itself or any of the suburbs would there be an “expert”. He gave me a card with a telephone number and hazarded the guess there might be an “expert” on that phone number.

Sigh!

Regular readers may recall that whilst we were camped at Coledale a few weeks ago, a house was being demolished across the road. Here in the quiet suburb of Fairfield, at the end of our street, houses and other buildings are being demolished. It is the old RSPCA site so there are lots of buildings, houses, offices, sheds, wash bays, garages, exercise yards and so on. Every day demolition starts at 7am and continues until 3pm. When we first arrived we thought the suburb was quiet with no noise. Now after settling in we hear planes circling for the airport, emergency helicopters going to one of two nearby hospitals, police and ambulance sirens, trains on the line about one Klm away, football training on the nearby football fields and of course the demolition.

Wednesday 17th April.

Today we drove to the Gold Coast to look at an “Over 50’s Lifestyle Resort” http://www.seachangegoldcoast.com.au/index.php  as distinct from looking at a ”Retirement Village”. There is a difference between the two and it is based on which legislation they are established under and what their monthly fees and exit fees are, if any. This was our second visit, the last being two years ago when only stage one had been completed. We are even more impressed on this visit. After three hours doing the VIP tour we drove to the “Spit” at Labrador and had fish n chips beside the lagoon. Friend Glenda whom we have not seen since our last trip two years ago joined us for a walk along the beach and a coffee. Can you believe neither of us brought a camera? So… no pictures of the Gold Coast waterways and the brilliant skyline.

Thursday 18th April.

In the morning I polished one side of WWWGO. Oh! Did I forget to mention why? When leaving Sydney on 2nd April, roadworks were in progess along our route. Workers had placed plastic lane dividers to funnel all traffic in to one lane. I did not allow for the extra width of the cabin and I hit about 10 of these dividers along the passenger side.

Sob!

The scrape left horrible black marks but no dents in the fiberglass. I started trying to polish out the marks.

Viola! It worked. I cannot see those horrible black marks and all I need do now is wash and polish all of WWWGO.

At lunchtime I had an appointment with the local RSL. I now have an advocate to assist me in making a claim to the Dept of Veterans Affairs for my tinnitus and hearing loss which I believe was caused by service in the Army especially in the Armoured Corps. Next week I have an appointment with a hearing specialist for the next stage of the claim.

Friday 19th April.

Donnis had another dental appointment so we went tripping off to the city once more. Donnis had her dental consultation while I scouted nearby streets to find the building for my hearing appointment next week.

This glorious old house has been owned by the exclusive United Service Club of Brisbane since 1892.

This glorious old house has been owned by the exclusive United Service Club of Brisbane since 1892.

Then we were free for the rest of the day.

Today we had a look around King Edward Park and visited “The Old Windmill”.  190413 windmill sign

The Old windmill.

The Old windmill.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Old_Windmill,_Brisbane  Then we visited the site of the former Police Headquarters 190413 police

and after walking several blocks walked into the City Botanical Gardens

Fountain with the Brisbane City Botanical Gardens.

Fountain with the Brisbane City Botanical Gardens.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_Botanic_Gardens  and on to Parliament House

Queensland Parliament House.

Queensland Parliament House.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parliament_House,_Brisbane

and back to Queen Street Mall and some lunchtime entertainment. 190413 qsm

During the middle of her statue like performance her mobile phone started to ring. She stepped down off her box and pulled the phone out of  a pocket in her apron and smiled in response to whomever was calling.

During the middle of her statue like performance her mobile phone started to ring. She stepped down off her box and pulled the phone out of a pocket in her apron and smiled in response to whomever was calling.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen_Street_Mall

Entertainers on Queen Street Mall. As a youngster growing up my parents pointed out that all Bass players have a swivel head. This one was no exception.

Entertainers on Queen Street Mall. As a youngster growing up my parents pointed out that all Bass players have a swivel head. This one was no exception.

Didgeridoo player on Queen Street Mall.

Didgeridoo player on Queen Street Mall.

Today was another of days where my feet were begging me to take off my shoes. We were both tired but happy with our day.

Saturday 20th April

Today we visited an IKEA Store. These stores are world famous and from my point of view after viewing the furniture for the first time, it is mostly cheap stuff intended to be showy. However I was impressed by how the furniture all fits together and the organizational skills within the store. The building itself is huge about the size of three or more football fields. They also have a giant canteen serving simple meals. Overall I was impressed.

Afterwards we had dinner with Peter, Regelyn and Chris.

Sunday 21st April

In the morning we visited a local church then after lunch visited a local Picnic in the Park organized by a local Lions Club. It was mostly a lazy day although we did manage to wash TERIOS and give the bonnet a coat of polish before dinner.

Next week I will start to plan more sites in the Brisbane Valley and along the coast for us to visit.

310. Sunday 14th April 2013. Fairfield, Queensland, an inner Brisbane suburb…

15/04/2013

Monday 8th April

Another mixed day of sunshine and heavy rain.

We left the Woody Head campsite and drove into nearby Iluka to seek out the Post Office. To explain the reason for the visit I need to go back to a post two weeks ago. I mentioned then that I had tried to contact my cousin Ripley – Rip – whom I have not seen for around 40 years. I had left my calling card at the diving company he once owned. As a result he called and we spoke on Saturday night and have arranged to meet in May. During the conversation he mentioned another cousin neither of us has seen for 50 years. He thought the cousin lived at Iluka. It was then I recalled another conversation with another cousin, who mentioned that Graeme A, had moved to Iluka many years ago and all contact has been lost. Therefore I went to the Post Office to ask the staff if he is known to them. He is! I left a calling card with them to drop into his mailbox.

As we got closer to Brisbane, naturally the traffic became heavier and from one lane we soon found ourselves on the Freeway with anything up to 6 lanes of traffic all rushing headlong to somewhere. By mid-afternoon we arrived at Fairfield to begin our familiarization of our house-sit. The owners leave early Thursday morning and were busily organizing packing.

It is not often you find a spiral staircase inside a private home/

It is not often you find a spiral staircase inside a private home/

Tuesday 9th April

Mike and Joan packed their cars and headed off to load their caravan which is kept in a storage area a few klms away. We moved WWWGO down the long narrow driveway into the carport. Whew! The driveway is narrow and the overhead clearance was marginal, measureable in millimetres!

WWWGO snug inside the carport.

WWWGO snug inside the carport.

WWWGO Rooftop clearance.

WWWGO Rooftop clearance.

We started to unpack and move things into the house, visited the local shopping centre and a doctor visit for me including the annual flu injection. We took the opportunity to walk around several of the nearby streets and look at some of the older houses including a number of beautifully maintained and or restored Queenslander houses. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queenslander_(architecture)  )

Wednesday 10th April

While Donnis learned about the interior house duties I filled in my day differently. First there was a visit to the doctor for an annual blood test, then a referral to an Ear Nose Throat specialist, then made contact with the specialist and made an appointment for two weeks hence. A trip to the nearest railway station and we each now have GO Passes enabling us to use trains, buses and ferries around Brisbane. Then it was off to Centrelink to claim some rental assistance and finally a visit to a local RSL Club in search of an Advocate who will assist in preparing a Veterans Affairs claim. Mike and Joan finished packing their caravan and hitched the Ford F250 so it will be ready to leave early in the morning.

As a reward for being busy Mike and Joan shouted take away Thai food for dinner.

Thursday 11th April

Mike and Joan left this morning and we drove their car back from somewhere near Forest Lake. The GPS came in handy but not until it recognised the way I wanted to go rather than the way it wanted me to go.

Within our first two hours alone we were visited by a snake in the next bedroom. I believe it was a tree snake as it was whip thin with bulging eyes but with the colouring of a brown snake. Regardless I managed to sweep it into our washing hamper and released it at the back gate. It seems the snake may have been living in the wardrobe for quite some time judging by the trail of poo along one wall and inside the wardrobe. We took everything out of the wardrobe, vacuumed and opened all cases and put them back just to be sure there are no other surprises waiting for us.

Friday 12th April

Donnis celebrated her …th birthday today. The day was overcast with rain threatening all day and we experienced a few heavy showers later in the night. We drove to the home of Peter, Regelyn and grandson Chris

It was a good opportunity to catch up with everybody and Peter treated us all to a pizza dinner at a restaurant located in a piazza at Hyperdome Shopping Town. Earlier in the day I had suggested we buy tickets to the Cowboys Vs Broncos Rugby League game at Suncorp Stadium tonight. It’s probably a good thing we did not get tickets. It rained and although those are our favourites teams we prefer the Cowboys. The Cowboys lost.

Saturday 13th April

The rain became heavier overnight  and worse during the morning.

This little Butcher bird visits every day looking for a little handout of mince meat. His little friend is a bit shy and will not come near the bowl if we stand nearby.

This little Butcher bird visits every day looking for a little handout of mince meat. His little friend is a bit shy and will not come near the bowl if we stand nearby.

Peter, Regelyn and Chris arrived in time for lunch of my signature dish…Chilli Con Carne with Red Kidney Beans. Peter had two servings and commented how much he enjoyed the meal. Regelyn reminded him he hates red kidney beans. They stayed to watch a movie as the rain continued outside.

Late in the afternoon I developed a nose bleed. Regular readers will no doubt recall the issues I have had with nose bleeds over the last few years. I had thought after the last specialist visit the bleeds would no longer be an issue.

Sigh!!!

Sunday 14th April

We woke to brilliant sunshine.

The morning was spent just relaxing much as we have spent the first week in our new surroundings and getting used to the huge space of a home once more. Next week should see us getting out and about a bit more and doing the exploring we enjoy so much. After lunch we went for a drive into the city and as we drove we watched the weather deteriorate to heavy overcast and 90% humidity. On our way home we took a wrong turn and found the notorious…Boggo Road Gaol.    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boggo_Road_Gaol

Yes, that is the correct English spelling, GAOL not the American version, JAIL.  The gaol has been closed since 2002 although guided tours and ghost tours are conducted here. It was closed when we visited and although there is not much to see from outside the high brick walls, barbed wire, bars and gates and guard towers are still imposing and chilling in the daylight.

Entrance to Boggo Road Gaol.

Entrance to Boggo Road Gaol.

Boggo Road Gaol wall with guard tower.

Boggo Road Gaol wall with guard tower.

The CO-PILOT was not interested in looking inside as just a walk around the outside walls was depressing for her. Sunday markets are held in the park like grounds surrounding the gaol. By a strange co-incidence we saw a small documentary about Boggo Road Gaol on the TV this evening

309. Sunday 7th April 2009. Gymea to Forster to Bellingen to Woody Head and progressively further north…

08/04/2013

Monday 1st April

It was a quiet day for us today. Donnis studied some more and between study helped with the process of packing everything we took out of WWWGO back inside it. It does seem strange that every time we de-pack and re-pack nothing goes back in the same way. It is a new adventure for us every time. Things get shifted around giving the appearance we have more space. Other times we have the appearance of being over packed.

Sigh!

Tuesday 2nd April

Travel Day.

We started out from Gymea nice and late. About 90 minutes behind my planned departure. Oh Well!

It was reasonably easy getting into and through the city or rather under some of it as we chose all the tunnels including the one under Sydney Harbour and another under Lane Cove River. Soon we were on the freeway heading north and the constant hum of the Iveco Diesel was a comforting sound as we chewed up the Klms. On one section of the freeway as we had driven down a steep section of road, crossed a long bridge and started the grind up the other side, a tuck started to pass us on our right. Picture this. Three lanes of freeway. We are in the left lane with another emergency breakdown lane on our left. The truck passing us was in the centre lane and another empty lane to the right of the truck. Suddenly an off road type motorcycle (including rider of course) zoomed through the narrow gap between the truck and ourselves. The space was not much wider than the bike. It all happened so quickly but was captured by our on-board video camera. Phew! Some people like to live life in the danger zone. We arrived at Forster to join Al & Rae for Happy Hour before heading off to an Indian Restaurant for dinner. We joined their son Brian, DIL Ingrid and granddaughter Mindy for dinner as she was returning to Melbourne Uni the next morning. Mindy drove us home in her B MW Convertible with the top down. Wow! It has been a lifetime since I was last in an open top sports car. Donnis now wants a convertible.

Wednesday 3rd April.

Another travel day.

Again the hum of the Iveco was a constant welcome sound as we drove. We arrived at Telegraph Point on the Wilson River and waited for friends Tony and Dawn J to arrive as we planned to camp together for the next three nights.

Telegraph Point beneath the bridge over the Wilson River. We met Tony and Dawn here.

Telegraph Point beneath the bridge over the Wilson River. We met Tony and Dawn here.

They recently bought a caravan and apart from a short weekend away have not really used it. We followed them to Bellingen our first campsite and got set up just in time before the heavens opened up and dumped a load of rain on us. The leaky hatch which was repaired back in February began to leak again.

Sigh!!!

The campsite is owned and managed by Bellingen Council and I feel compelled to comment. The nightly fee is $25 for an unlevel site, no concrete pad, on a flood zone, no, views, next to a bat colony and apart from toilets and showers, no other facilities. All in all, pretty disappointing compared to say Coledale on the beach for $22 per night and Dalmeny overlooking the beach for $20 per night, both with more facilities. It rained during the night, sometimes heavily and we waded through water to the toilet block during the night.

Thursday 4th April

Another travel day so we were off bright and late and eventually had lunch at the pub in town. Bellingen is another of those quaint old style towns managing to hold onto their old buildings and promoting themselves as a happy crafty coffee and sourdough bakery with ye-olde clothes shops type towns. Tourists just love them.

We arrived at Woody Head near the town of Iluka on the northern NSW coast. It seems a mini tornado ripped through the camp site the night before and many tents and or annexes were destroyed. Some camp sites were empty or littered with remains of tent frames. Quite a few campers had left and were in the process of packing to leave. Hmmm! We worked on the theory it was highly unlikely another storm would pass through while we are here. Camp fees here are also very expensive but being run by National Parks they try to set up sites in an ecologically friendly as well as visitor friendly manner. $28.50 per night and we were lucky to get two sites near each other. Tony had booked sites several days ago.

Early morning Woody Head and one of my favourite trees, the Pandanus.

Early morning Woody Head and one of my favourite trees, the Pandanus.

Our campsite at Woody Head.

Our campsite at Woody Head.

Storm clouds.

Storm clouds.

 

We used our Weber barbecue for the first time in over 12 months to cook up some sausages for dinner.

It rained much of the night.

Friday 5th April.

Happy Birthday Melissa.

The weather forecast was for showers clearing from the south. Instead it was showers, heavy at times with occasional sunny patches but did not clear.

Donnis on the beach at Woody Head moments before the rain came down in bucketloads.

Donnis on the beach at Woody Head moments before the rain came down in bucketloads.

Barefoot fisherman on the rocks in heavy rain at Woody Head.

Barefoot fisherman on the rocks in heavy rain at Woody Head.

Thick stand of young paperbark trees.

Thick stand of young paperbark trees.

More Pandanus.

More Pandanus.

In the afternoon we drove into Yamba on the other side of the Clarence River to buy some unneeded supplies. At least it gave us a chance to walk around out of the rain for awhile. The barbecue was put to good use again tonight cooking some steaks and a shared dinner with a couple of glasses of wine followed by a few snorts of 50 year old port. The port was bottled in 1965, a year before Tony and I met and began our long friendship.

We were lulled to sleep by the sound of waves on the beach 100 metres away although sometimes the sound of the surf was drowned out by the heavy rain.

Look closely...this is a Rhinoceros

Look closely…this is a Rhinoceros

Way back in 2011 I started photographing driftwood with what appeared to be faces. At least to me. This one looks like an old Cockatoo bird.

Way back in 2011 I started photographing driftwood with what appeared to be faces. At least to me. This one looks like an old Cockatoo bird.

A young Pelican.

A young Pelican.

Sigh!!!

Saturday 6th April

The rain eased enough for us to take a walk along the beach and as soon as we thought we were safe the rain came back and gave us a drenching. We have been having barbecue dinners Thursday and Friday and tonight was no exception. I made Tandoori Prawns as an entrée while Tony prepared pork chops and Donnis prepared buttered sweet potato for the BBQ as well as baked onion and Dawn prepared a salad. A real community effort. For dessert Donnis prepared a decadent banana boat (whole banana in their skin, with chocolate and marshmallows, wrapped in foil) cooked on the BBQ.

Sunday 7th April.

A mostly warm and sunny day. Spent walking the beach or splashing or soaking in the rock pools on the seaside.

This will be our last day here at Woody Head.

Beach path to isolated Shark Bay with 10 miles of  deserted beach.

Beach path to isolated Shark Bay with 10 miles of deserted beach.

Tomorrow we are driving north along the Pacific Highway to Brisbane.

In the afternoon Tony and I searched WWWGO roof to find the leak in the hatch. We think we have found it!!!. When the roof was repaired at the end of February, new sealant was applied over the leak. Unfortunately they closed the hatch before the sealant was dry. The first time we opened the hatch it broke the sealant and exposed the hole allowing rain to run off the hatch cover and straight into the hole. We did not have any sealant on hand so used 100 mile an hour tape as a temporary fix to cover the hole.

It rained heavily during the night and so far, no sign of a leak.

308. Sunday 31st March 2013. Sydney, the Royal Easter Show and THE HARBOUR…

01/04/2013

Monday 25th March.

Up early to see Enid off as she caught a train to the airport for an early flight to the Sunshine Coast. It is a working day for her.

After a leisurely breakfast we drove Shan and Dave to the airport for their flight back to Mackay. Donnis then suggested we have morning coffee at Brasserie Bread at Banksmeadow not far from the airport. (http://www.brasseriebread.com.au/ ) It is a bit difficult to describe this place except to suggest visiting their website. Donnis and Errol had visited here recently. It seems it is a favourite place of many Qantas pilots for an early breakfast on their way to work. OR mid-morning coffee or lunch… As we are both aficionado’s about artisan breads and rye sourdough in particular, this bakery was a wonderful place for us to visit. Viewing windows are installed in the dining area so you can see what the bakers are doing.

Donnis had a visit with a doctor as she is still unwell with what seems to be an upper respiratory tract infection. We also wandered around Miranda Fair Shopping Centre before helping Bev with a couple of household jobs. We started moving some of our gear into the house as it will be home for the next 7 days.

Tuesday 26th March

It was a mostly quiet day with several loads of washing and in the morning doin’ nuthin’.

I have been wanting to catch up with an old surfing mate but had no idea where he now lived or even if he was still in the same state or if he was overseas. I found several possible phone numbers with the same surname and first initial and after trying one number unsuccessfully decided maybe as he was a woodcarver extraordinaire he may be found using a Google search. As it turned out that is how I did eventually find him but I also found out the name I knew him by was, well, incorrect.

When we first met, friends called him “Laurie” and that is how I always knew him and called him thereafter. I heard his parents call him what I thought was “Laurence”. Now, the reason I could not easily find him in White Pages or Google was because his name is “Laurens”, in fact more correctly his real given name is “Laurentius” ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laurentius) . Today I caught up with him for a few minutes and we have arranged to meet in Brisbane late April. Today he confessed he always hated being called “Laurie”. I learned something new today.

After dinner Bev and I booked tickets for Donnis and I to attend the Sydney Royal Easter Show tomorrow.

Tuesday 27th March

It was a BIG day today.

We caught a bus to Olympic Park, site of the Sydney Royal Easter Show.

270313 sign

The trip took an hour and the seats were only wide enough for the bodies of small children.

Donnis has never been to the “Show” and I have not been since probably the early 1980’s when it was still located in the centre of Sydney at the “Showgrounds”. My first impression is that the site appears larger, has more seating, more shade and more open space.

Reptile handler.

Reptile handler.

All the visitors were so intent on viewing what was on display in the reptile pit they failed to notice the giant python resting above their heads.

All the visitors were so intent on viewing what was on display in the reptile pit they failed to notice the giant python resting above their heads.

Animal exhibits are bigger, newer, cleaner and open.

Balloon vendor at the Sydney Royal Easter Show.

Balloon vendor at the Sydney Royal Easter Show.

270313 carousel 270313 ferris 270313 slide

The beginning of Side Show Alley

The beginning of Side Show Alley

It is still just as confusing finding your way around…even with a map. We spent much of the day looking for the main Show Bag Pavillion without success. That was probably good for us as show bags are traditionally expensive. We watched some ring events at the main arena, wood chopping at the wood chop arena, some popular musical entertainment at a smaller arena, viewed the arts, photography, new products, food hall vendors, side show alley, ferris wheels and other fun scary rides and oh so many things and our feet were aching with all the walking around. Toss in a 29° day and the heat bouncing off so much concrete made us sweaty and sticky. It was a fun day, we know we missed lots of stuff but by 5.30 we were tired and ready to come home.

We could not decide if the person in the flouro green outfit was poor female impersnator or a really badly dressed woman pretending to be a really bad female impersonator.

We could not decide if the person in the flouro green outfit was poor female impersnator or a really badly dressed woman pretending to be a really bad female impersonator.

The bus ride back was as uncomfortable as the trip in. Bev had dinner ready for us and bedtime did not come soon enough.

Snzzzzz!

Thursday 28th March.

Bev and Pete left for Melbourne in the afternoon.

Donnis finally got stuck into doing some study to maintain her nursing licence.
I went to Centrelink to use their phone to talk with Veterans Affairs about damage to my ears when I was in the Army way back in 1966 to 1968. It was while I was in the Armoured Corps learning about being a gunner when I believe my Tinitus began. Early training I was in a small armoured vehicle called a Ferret Scout Car which had rocket launchers on each side of the turret. (see Post 240 for a photo) In live firing training the noise of the rockets was considerable. We were never issued with ear protection. I also did live firing training in Saladin Armoured Cars, Centurion Tanks and M113 Armoured Personell Carriers. (all are shown in Post 240) Once our corps put on a fire power demonstration for visiting officers from a south east Asian country. I was seated in an open Jeep with a Karl Gustav Bazooka mounted beside me. On one side was a Saladin Armoured Car and on the other side was a Centurion tank. All were firing almost continuously including our bazooka. The noise made my chest vibrate and I could not hear for hours afterwards and in fact it was several days before my hearing returned almost to normal but has never been normal since then. I spoke with Veterans Affairs and they said my hearing problem was a common complaint and I most likely would have a claim for financial assistance and some treatment. That claim will take some time and could be months before a full claim is lodged and considered.

Afterwards I called on Gray Diving at Caringbah. Way back sometime around 1950 my uncle Mick (actually his correct name was Bill) was a hard hat diver and started the Gray Diving company. Later my cousins Ripley and Susan joined the business. The business has been sold and they are no longer associated with it. The receptionist told me her brother worked for Ripley until the sale so passed on my details so I can make contact with Rip and Sue again.

Friday 29th March – Good Friday.

It rained last night and temperatures dropped. From shorts and T-shirt weather we are in long pants and long sleeve shirts today.  We spent the day around the house, doing a load of washing and just generally relaxing. Well, at least I relaxed. Donnis put in a big day of nursing study. To maintain her license she must have twenty hours of education each year.

On the news tonight we heard that a 74 year old South African grandfather was killed at a pedestrian crossing at Coledale at 6pm last night. His wife had safely crossed the road elsewhere a few moments earlier. The crossing is only 200mtrs outside a Primary School from where we were camped last week and I had used this crossing several times. It was so sad to hear the news. Coledale is such a small community and that section of road has a lower speed limit than other places.

Saturday 30th March

Although the sun shone all day, the scattered cloud and cold wind meant long pants and long sleeve shirts were needed. We drove to Corrimal to have Easter with Errol, Nicole and the grandchildren. This will be our last visit for some time as next week we are on our way north. To our surprise we discovered Nicole’s mum, Merrilyn had arrived from Melbourne the day before. Another surprise was that Nicole’s brother Greg was arriving by train from the Gold Coast at lunchtime. It was almost like Christmas Day again except Scott and Monica were still in Melbourne.

Sunday31st March

The day started of overcast but turned into a delightful partly sunny and warm autumn day. Just perfect for exploring Sydney.

Donnis was intent on studying so I bought a Senior Citizens excursion ticket for $2.50. This entitled me to travel by train, bus and ferry around large chunks of NSW but on this occasion I used it to explore Sydney. From Gymea I travelled by train to Circular Quay and from there a ferry ride to Watsons Bay. Once I arrived at Circular Quay I was struck by the numbers of people doing exactly the same as me.

From the Quay the ferry passed by the Sydney Opera House in sight of the Harbour Bridge and Luna Park.

Opera House sits on Benelong Point at Circular Quay.

Opera House sits on Benelong Point at Circular Quay.

Sydney skyline seen from the rear deck of the ferry.

Sydney skyline seen from the rear deck of the ferry.

One of several old ferries operating on Sydney Harbour especially to the Manly wharf.

One of several old ferries operating on Sydney Harbour especially to the Manly wharf.

The ferry stopped at Garden Island

Northern wharf to Garden Island. Part of the Australian Naval Fleet is based here although the northern end of the island is open to the public with guided tours.

Northern wharf to Garden Island. Part of the Australian Naval Fleet is based here although the northern end of the island is open to the public with guided tours.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garden_Island,_New_South_Wales

Site of the Royal Australian Navy East Fleet Base and of course Pinchgut Island,

The island fortress /prison /ammunition storage facility known as Fort Denison on maps but more popularly known as Pinchgut.

The island fortress /prison /ammunition storage facility known as Fort Denison on maps but more popularly known as Pinchgut.

so named because of the starvation rations given to the high security prisoners incarcerated there.   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Denison A movie was made on this island and it captured my imagination and attention at the time. A boyhood wish was to visit the island one day. Sigh! Still waiting.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Siege_of_Pinchgut

From there the ferry continued on to Double Bay http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double_Bay,_New_South_Wales

and then to Rose Bay   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rose_Bay,_New_South_Wales

and past Nielson Park http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nielsen_Park

and Watsons Bay at the end of the ferry route. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watsons_Bay,_New_South_Wales

Line of dinghy's along the beach at Watsons Bay.

Line of dinghy’s along the beach at Watsons Bay.

As a pre-teen I lived at the harbourside suburb of Balmain, west of the Harbour Bridge, an area around the bay with which I became familiar. As a teen and young adult I spent some time visiting the eastern suburbs but I was not so familiar with the bays, coves and beaches on this side of the harbor. Watsons Bay is famous for Doyles Seafood Restaurants.   http://www.doyles.com.au/12199+0+doyles-on-the-beach.htm  I have never eaten seafood at Doyles so today I corrected that oversight.

Doyles seafood Restaurant on the beach at Watsons Bay.The two outdoor decks to the right of the building are also part of the Doyles outdoor dining area.

Doyles seafood Restaurant on the beach at Watsons Bay.The two outdoor decks to the right of the building are also part of the Doyles outdoor dining area.

Doyles on the Wharf take away meals.

Doyles on the Wharf take away meals.

View from inside Doyles take away dining area.

View from inside Doyles take away dining area.

Also at Watsons Bay is the National Park on the northern most peninsular known as south head and along with north head are the sandstone sentinels marking the entrance to the greatest harbor in the world…Sydney Harbour. This is also the rocky headland site known as The Gap.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Gap_(Sydney)

Cliff face at The Gap, Watsons Bay comprises part of the area known as South Head. Part of North Head can be seen. Together north head and south head form the portal entrance to Sydney Harbour.

Cliff face at The Gap, Watsons Bay comprises part of the area known as South Head. Part of North Head can be seen. Together north head and south head form the portal entrance to Sydney Harbour.

The Gap at Watsons Bay

The Gap at Watsons Bay

Looking across Watsons Bay to the Sydney skyline at Circular Quay.

Looking across Watsons Bay to the Sydney skyline at Circular Quay.

In days gone by it was often used as a place to commit suicide so the area has a certain chilling notoriety. Nevertheless it attracts thousands of visitors…daily.

After I boarded the ferry back to Circular Quay where I corrected another oversight of mine. The Sydney Opera House was built in 1973 and although I have photographed and written about it, I have never visited the site nor stood on the steps. What an absolutely incredible building and surrounding parklands at the Botanical Gardens and the concourse where food and drink venues were doing a roaring trade.

On the steps of the Opera House

On the steps of the Opera House

I visited a 200 year old set of harbourside sandstone stairs known as the Man O War Steps.

The Man O War steps at Benelong Point beside the Opera House.

The Man O War steps at Benelong Point beside the Opera House.

http://www.ranveteranswelfare.asn.au/news/Man%20O%20War%20.pdf  From the Opera House there are stupendous views of the harbor including the city skyline, Circular Quay, the International Cruise Ship Terminal, Botanical Gardens, Pinchgut, Garden Island, The Harbor Bridge,

Storm clouds building over Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Storm clouds building over Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Luna Park and the official Sydney Residence of the Prime Minister of Australia, Kirribilli House.

The Australian Prime Ministers official Sydney residence, Kirribilli House.

The Australian Prime Ministers official Sydney residence, Kirribilli House.

Luna Park, Just for Fun on the shore at Milsons Point below the Harbour Bridge.

Luna Park, Just for Fun on the shore at Milsons Point below the Harbour Bridge.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Kirribilli_house.JPG  At present the Prime Minister is Julia Gillard who has called an election for 13th September 2013. Based on her antics over the last two years it is unlikely she will be in residence at Kirribilli House after 13th September.

Although I am not overly fond of cities I must admit to growing up in Sydney and I retain a certain prideful fondness for the city, especially the harbor and the beaches.

I am proud to say… SYDNEY is MY CITY.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sydney