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.
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.
Animal exhibits are bigger, newer, cleaner and open.
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.
The bus ride back was as uncomfortable as the trip in. Bev had dinner ready for us and bedtime did not come soon enough.
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.
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.
The ferry stopped at Garden Island
Site of the Royal Australian Navy East Fleet Base and of course Pinchgut Island,
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.
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
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.
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)
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.
I visited a 200 year old set of harbourside sandstone stairs known as the Man O War Steps.
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,
Luna Park and the official Sydney Residence of the Prime Minister of Australia, Kirribilli House.
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.