Archive for January, 2015

406. Sunday 25th January 2015. Lightning everywhere else but none at Lightning Ridge…

25/01/2015

ANOTHER BIG WEEK OF PHOTOGRAPHS.

Monday 19th January
The day started overcast but the clouds soon moved away so the sun could give us another scorcher.
By the time I had a coffee at mid- morning I was packed and ready to go with hopes of some more cloud and maybe some rain along the way to Armidale.
Between Tenterfield and Glen Innes I stopped at a place called Bluff Rock

Bluff Rock

Bluff Rock

an imposing jump up of a rock formation in a sea of gently undulating hills. A memorial plaque is set in stone at a parking bay across the road from the rock. It seems there are many versions of the significance of the rock but basically a white shepherd was murdered by a group of aboriginals in 1844 at nearby Bolivia Sheep Station. (when I say “nearby it is about 40 klms away) It seems men at the station chased the tribe to Bluff Rock and threw all the aboriginals over the edge killing some and injuring many. Looking at the rock you have to wonder why all who were thrown over the edge were not killed. Then again you have to wonder how a small group of white men could throw a whole tribe of men women and children over the edge. Anyway please do not shoot the messenger. I am just repeating information found on the plaque and on several web sites. The stories are substantially the same but the size of the aboriginal group, their tribal name and how many white men chased them differ in each version I read.
I came through two heavy downpours one of which occurred just as I was exiting Guyra. The noise on the windscreen and roof of TERIOS gave me cause to ponder. Hmmm! That sure is heavy rain. Michael, another character witness, was travelling about three minutes behind. Neither of us knew the other was on the road. The storm hit Michael just as he was arriving in Guyra and noting the hail stopped to ride out the storm. I had taken off my prescription sunglasses and simply did not notice the heavy rain included hail! On arrival in Armidale I noticed a serious drop in temperature. Brrr! I had not bothered to bring warm clothes as I expected heat wave conditions for the next week.
Tuesday 20th January
Thankfully it was a sunny day – well at least it started out that way.
Michael and I walked to the courthouse and waited to be called. This was Michael’s second visit to Armidale to give evidence as a character witness.

It was my third visit.

Neither of us were called. During the lunch break I walked back to the motel to collect my heavy duty raincoat as there was some pretty large thunderhead clouds building to the east and some angry black rainclouds to the west. As we left the courthouse both met overhead and rain and lightning erupted. One lightning strike in particular was in the courthouse plaza and made me jump about a metre off the ground. Call me crazy but I walked the half kilometer to the motel whispering to myself only a few more minutes before I would be safe from the lightning. Phew I was never so glad to get inside away from the continual strikes.
Wednesday 21st January
Another day sitting in court waiting to be called.

Suddenly I heard my name and found myself in the witness box taking the oath confirming my identity. I gave answers to questions. Cross examination was a one line question to which I sort of snorted, laughed, answered no and it was all over for me. I had done my duty. Although it was midday there was no point leaving as I have a seven hour drive ahead of me so plan to leave in the morning.
After lunch I went to the Armidale Bi-Centennial Gardens and Arboretum.

Lomandria Longiafolia overlooking blue pond.

Lomandria Longiafolia overlooking blue pond.

Arboretum at the Armidale Bi-Centennial Gardens.

Arboretum at the Armidale Bi-Centennial Gardens.

Friendship Grotto in the Armidale Bi-Centennial Gardens. I can find no information what the purpose of the grotto is all about.

Friendship Grotto in the Armidale Bi-Centennial Gardens. I can find no information what the purpose of the grotto is all about.

The water in the ponds is a brilliant blue colour but I can find no information on-line why the colour is so vibrant. The arboretum was completed ready for Bi-Centennial Celebrations on 1988. I took several photos including one which includes a Lomandra Longiafolia (basket grass) in the foreground. Imagine my surprise to find a photo taken from the same location with the grass in the foreground on ABC Local Website when researching information. Have a look at the photo here https://open.abc.net.au/explore/32411
Another storm rolled in about the same time as yesterday.

Tonight I met with my friends at PJ’s Thai Restaurant in Armidale. It is located in an old house painted in bright colours.

Closeup of chimney.

Closeup of chimney.

PJ's Thai Restaurant in an old Armidale house. Note the dead climbving plant growing out of the chimney.

PJ’s Thai Restaurant in an old Armidale house. Note the dead climbing plant growing out of the chimney.

Thursday 22nd January
I started my long journey to Lightning Ridge at 8am. I passed through Inverel before 10am so continued on to the once wealthy and busy town of Warialda. The town is one of many struggling to exist. A once vibrant industry which kept this town prosperous for so long has gone. It was coffee time so I took time to walk around the two main streets and take note of the old buildings and had coffee.

Warialda Post Office built 1880.

Warialda Post Office built 1880.

Warialda Returned Soldiers Memorial Hall.

Warialda Returned Soldiers Memorial Hall.

Next stop was Moree where I refueled and bought fresh vegetables and fruit for Donnis. Both commodities are available in a well stocked IGA store but Donnis feels the prices are a bit steep but also when those fresh fruit and veggies are gone there are no more supplies until the next week. I thought that I was ahead on time when leaving Moree but soon realised I had another 269 Klms to travel which meant at least another three hours.
Next stop was Collarenebri where I stopped beside the river to make a thick breadroll and ham lunch washed down with water before hitting the road again. The temperature was in the low 30’s but tempered by a breeze off the river.
Finally arrived in Lightning Ridge in time to greet Donnis as she finished her shift at the hospital.
After dinner we collected workmate Julie and went to the hot bore pool just on sunset. There were about a dozen other people already there all doing the hot bore pool gradual immersion into the constant 40° heated water.

This is the thermal pool at midday. Note the few patrons at that time of day are sitting around.

This is the thermal pool at midday. Note the few patrons at that time of day are sitting around.

Here is how it works. First shower in either a cold or luke -warm shower. Walk over to the pool where a series of steps lead into the hot water. Sit on the top step with water around the ankles. Then after awhile slide down a step until you are sitting in the water. Gradually slide another step until water is around your shoulders then take a few careful strokes to reach the other side of the pool and return. Then reverse the process to slowly exit the pool. Shower and return to the pool. While sitting with water around our waists we watched a beautiful sunset and a little later a sliver of moon rose and Venus sparkled like a jewel in the purple darkening sky.

Artesian Bore Sign

Artesian Bore Sign

By the time we arrived back at the unit, showered and had a cup of tea I was ready for bed. The quiet dignity of the people around the pool and therapeutic properties of the water is not only relaxing but seems to wash away all bodily aches and pains. Quiet conversation with fellow pool people just adds to the atmosphere.
Friday 23rd January
I spent the morning walking around the streets and noting the many styles of housing many of which are made from found materials. A local tour guide refers to houses which are made from “recycled” materials.

This old ironstone, gravel , mud and cement hand made bricks make this a house which is cool in summer. Except of course for the unlined superheated steel roof.

This old ironstone, gravel , mud and cement hand made bricks make this a house which is cool in summer. Except of course for the unlined superheated steel roof.

Two of three cars parked at the back of a garage and were set alight by a person or persons unknown.

Two of three cars parked at the back of a garage and were set alight by a person or persons unknown.

Old car in the front yard of an old mud brick dwelling.

Old car in the front yard of an old mud brick dwelling.

Drivers eye view from the car.

Drivers eye view from the car.

Yoo Hoo the TERIOS and RALLYE together under the shelter of a cabin roof line at The Ridge.

Yoo Hoo the TERIOS and RALLYE together under the shelter of a cabin roof line at The Ridge.

The castle is made from local ironstone rocks and other re-cycled materials and has a window using an old car door with a wind up window.

The castle is made from local ironstone rocks and other re-cycled materials and has a window using an old car door with a wind up window.

The courthouse becomes a busy place during the week.

The courthouse becomes a busy place during the week.

230115 gaol

This is the courthouse lockup. Two small rooms adjoined by a small courtyard. Imagine sitting in there in mid summer waiting to be called!

 

Drainage canal through town.

Drainage canal through town.

Another house of bits n pieces materials. Note the small wind turbine to charge batteries. It supplements the solar panels just visible on the roof.

Another house of bits n pieces materials. Note the small wind turbine to charge batteries. It supplements the solar panels just visible on the roof.

A house made from re-cycled materials such as bottle, aluminium cans and local ironstone rocks.

A house made from re-cycled materials such as bottle, aluminium cans and local ironstone rocks.

230115 house2

Another up-market house made from bits and pieces. Most of the houses in the “off grid” camps are little more than rough shelters.

 

The observatory.

The observatory.

This peacock was wandering around the houses near the main street.

This peacock was wandering around the houses near the main street.

This old original miners cottage is in the centre of town "on grid". That is it is in a part of town served by sealed roads, power, water and sewerage. Back when it was firts built those services were probably not available. The shack is abandoned.

This old original miners cottage is in the centre of town “on grid”. That is it is in a part of town served by sealed roads, power, water and sewerage. Back when it was first built those services were probably not available. The shack is abandoned.

This old tram was accomodation until it began to fall apart. Where are the original owners now?

This old tram was accomodation until it began to fall apart. Where are the original owners now?

Noticed this clunky early model electric bike. Donnis claims to have seen another e-bike around town which has a small solar panel mounted on the carry rack.

Noticed this clunky early model electric bike. Donnis claims to have seen another e-bike around town which has a small solar panel mounted on the carry rack.

A video at the John Murray Art Gallery sums up the Lightning Ridge raison d’être. People come to LR and experience a certain type of freedom. Many stay, many return. Looking at the mix of people and their houses I can understand the freedom of expression and lifestyle here. I did notice a young pregnant aboriginal woman walking down the street drinking a beer at 7am.

I recommend looking at the John Murray Art Gallery (http://www.johnmurrayart.com.au/ he has a quirky way of looking at the world around him and has the freedom to express his view via his art.
After lunch Donnis went to her shift at the hospital so I went for a drive around the backblocks andf mining section of town. This is where the real adventurous, eccentric, freedom loving, creative, alternate lifestyle people live, work and play. There are no formed, sealed or named streets or roads. Houses, shacks and other forms of habitat are constructed wherever from whatever can be found or if wealthy enough, bought. Those habitats are built within the boundaries of a mining lease and winding gravel tracks pass around the claims without any sense of a plan.

Old post and wire fence.

Old post and wire fence.

Gibber desert.

Gibber desert.

Unmade, unnamed tracks though the scrub around mining leases.

Unmade, unnamed tracks though the scrub around mining leases.

Out in the arid regions around town I found a partially completed shed and behind it was this mound of used shotgun cartridges. That's a lot of wasted $$$ sitting on the ground.

Out in the arid regions around town I found a partially completed shed and behind it was this mound of used shotgun cartridges. That’s a lot of wasted $$$ sitting on the ground.

In this arid puddle covering many hectares there were a number of bleached bone bundles like this.

In this arid puddle covering many hectares there were a number of bleached bone bundles like this.

All of the dwellings in this mining area are referred to as “the camps” which are off the town grid, with no water, electricity or sewerage. Officially LR has a population of around 2,000 with an unknown number living off the grid. That population is made up of 55 different ethnic groups. The people ion these off grid camps are a secretive lot and if/when they find an opal they pack up and leave, preferring to sell their find in a big city rather than broadcast their find locally.
I really cannot explain why but we love the town with its air of decrepit poverty mingling side by side with restrained wealth. All the shops and business houses have security screens over windows and doors.

Most of the shops around town have a security grilles over windows and doors.

Most of the shops around town have a security grilles over windows and doors.

A different security version are these shutters which padlock in place. The tow outer wings fold back onto a centre panel and the top panel is used as a daytime chalkboard for daily specials.

A different security version are these shutters which padlock in place. The two outer wings fold back onto a centre panel and the top panel is used as a daytime chalkboard for daily specials.

Did I explain that it is hot? Just two or three Klms out of town you are back in the unforgiving sparse desert growth. With the midday sun beating down and a hot wind shoving its way through the spindly gnarled stunted trees it certainly reminds you to be self -sufficient.
Uh Oh I forgot to bring my water bottle!
In the afternoon the new nurse, Mick, arrived to share the cabin.
After Donnis and Julie finished their shifts the four of us went to the Hot Bore Pool for an hour of relaxing soaking.
Saturday 24th January
Another hot day here in LR. I am reliably informed that it is always hot here in LR. In the morning we drove via TERIOS 4WD to the very first black opal mining shaft on the western side of LR. It is interesting to note the different style of shacks in the old area of LR compared to the new. The old area mining leases are measured in hectares whereas the newer sites seem to be measured in hundreds of metres. The old site still has open vertical shafts with just a token gesture at providing security so nobody falls into the shaft. On the new sites it seems most of the shafts are either closed off or run 45° into the ground rather than the 90° traditional shafts. The newer shafts seem to have a small outhouse type structure built over the entrance to the shaft. The outhouse then allows the miner to be able to lock the shaft when not in use.

A lone refrigerator which once upon a time was a waterproof  mail, package and message storage chamber.

A lone refrigerator which once upon a time was a waterproof mail, package and message storage chamber.

In the afternoon I visited the LR Golf Club, Race Track

The end of the race track.

The race track finish line.

The slight arc race track at LR.

The slight arc race track at LR.

The 1200 metre start gate at the racetrack.

The 1200 metre start gate at the racetrack.

and Cemetery.

LR Cemetery

LR Cemetery

Simple white timber crosses many of which are marked ":Unknown".

Simple white timber crosses many of which are marked “:Unknown”.

The golf course is a series of dry desert like fairways interspersed with raised tees and greens. Some of the greens are small centres of green grass as are some of the tees.
The race track is somewhat unusual in that it is in a, well, not quite a straight line but a gentle arc. It is not a traditional circular race track. The length is 1200 metres and is straight out racing. There are no rail tactics on this course.
Next was the cemetery, which like the rest of the town is baked hard. Most of the gravesites are marked with a simple white cross with details of the deceased written with a marker pen. A few graves had headstones. What was sad from my point of view was the large number of “Unknown” graves.
Sunday 25th January (Australia Day Eve)
LR has four self drive tours known as the car door tours. Reed, Green, Blue and Yellow car doors mark the way. A map and explanatory guide are available from the Tourist Information Centre for a $1 donation.
Today I did the yellow car door tour. This tour includes the Chamber of the Black Hand

Entrance to the Biggest most impressive underground Black Opal mine.

Entrance to the Biggest most impressive underground Black Opal mine.

the most popular opal mine tour. The mine is on several levels each of which have chambers carved out of the solid rock. Each of those chambers has carvings of famous and infamous people and places in history. It was interesting to note that on this tour there are many open shafts with little attempt to close the openings.
Located nearby is the new excavation for the Australian Opal Centre.

Basic Earthworks for the new Australian Opal Centre.

Basic Earthworks for the new Australian Opal Centre.

It will be a two story building, Recessed into the ground and insulated by the earth.It will collect its own rainwater, generate its own power and be filled with fresh air and natural light. It will house the greatest collection of opal and opalised fossels.
Adjacent to the site is the site of a massive open cut mine called Lunatics Hill. This was an open cut mine of which there are very few in the area…hence the name. However a $2,600,000 opal was extracted from this mine in 1986. The area around LR was once part of an inland sea and the layers shown on the open cut photo show layers of sediment dated to 120,000,000 million years ago.

The open cut mine site "Lunatic Hill" showing different layers of a 120,000,000 million year old inland sea.

The open cut mine site “Lunatic Hill” showing different layers of a 120,000,000 million year old inland sea.

All the town water comes from the same subterranean source as the artesian pool. The water is cooled before being piped to houses within the town limits. It still has a slightly sulphurous smell. Most houses, including the hospital have a separate tank water supply for drinking purposes. Our water is filtered a second time through our own filters before we drink it or use it for tea or coffee.

 

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405. Sunday 18th January 2015. Nostalga again rides roughshod through my wanderings…

18/01/2015

Monday 12th January

I should mention the dog Penny. After all she is the reason I am here, house sitting or more correctly dog sitting. The house pretty much looks after itself. Penny needs to be looked after. She has one main meal a day and medication twice a day. She should go for a walk every day but she has decided not to go for a walk. So be it. Penny also sits under my feet at meal times in the hope that maybe something will drop off the table which she can eat. The other day a cracker crumb dropped on the floor. Her superfine hearing heard the sound and she quickly hoovered up the tiny morsel of cracker. She also sits at my feet while I watch TV, otherwise she sleeps.

Bev n Pete arrived home in time for us to enjoy a fish n chips n salad dinner.

Tuesday 13th January

Bev and I went to Bundeena… again! I last wrote about Bundeena at post 402. Bev Pete and I went there for a picnic on a stinking hot Sunday. It was too hot to do any exploring other than a walk along the beach with a light breeze off the bay. This time Bev n I explored a walk through a reserve scrambling down steep overgrown hillsides/cliffs to Gunyah Beach. Once on the beach it was easy to see why this is such a private place. It is not easy to reach except by the track we took or a steep weathered staircase at the other end. At low tide you could walk around the cliff face from the ferry jetty. Steep sandstone cliffs have impressive houses built with long, usually sandstone, staircases leading to the rock above the waterline. Many had boathouses or entertaining area’s built with, sandstone. All the houses have spectacular views across Port Hacking Bay to Cronulla, Wanda, Greenhills and Kurnell with the skyline of Sydney in the far distance.

Weathered sandstone layered with an unknown stone (ironstone perhaps? It seems to erode more slowly than the sandstone) at Gunyah beach looking towards Gunamatta Bay.

Weathered sandstone layered with an unknown stone (ironstone perhaps? It seems to erode more slowly than the sandstone) at Gunyah beach looking towards Gunamatta Bay.

House built over sandstone cliffs at Gunyah Beach. Note the root system of a ficus growing out of the sandstone.

House built over sandstone cliffs at Gunyah Beach. Note the root system of a ficus growing out of the sandstone.

Sandstone retaining wall forming a sandstone deck area shaded by gum trees and cooled by sea breezes. Sigh!

Sandstone retaining wall forming a sandstone deck area shaded by gum trees and cooled by sea breezes. Sigh!

Sandstone cliffs, wall and staircase at Gunyah Beach.

Sandstone cliffs, wall and staircase at Gunyah Beach.

Staircase to safe swimming hole at the end of Gunyah Beach.

Staircase to safe swimming hole at the end of Gunyah Beach.

Somehow I find dinghy's pulled up on the shore attractive as a photographic subject. These can be found on Gunyah Beach at Bundeena

Somehow I find dinghy’s pulled up on the shore attractive as a photographic subject. These can be found on Gunyah Beach at Bundeena

The houses in this area are all in the $1,000,000 plus class some being renovated to become even more impressive.

After climbing the timber staircase we walked back to the Bundeena RSL where we had a very nice lunch.

View over Port Hacking from the RSL Club dining room.

View over Port Hacking from the RSL Club dining room.

Once fed and refreshed we began part two and the most challenging of our adventure today. We parked (bad idea) at the top of a hill and walked through the bush along a little used track about 1.5Klms to Jibbons Beach.

We walked along a narrow pathway to Jibbons Beach. These twisted gum trees we3rew a feature of the semi tropical rainforest. At one end of the park the groundcover was a thin straplike native river grass. At the other end near the beach the grass gave way to a thick fern groundcover.

We walked along a narrow pathway to Jibbons Beach. These twisted gum trees we3rew a feature of the semi tropical rainforest. At one end of the park the groundcover was a thin straplike native river grass. At the other end near the beach the grass gave way to a thick fern groundcover.

Cronulla, Wanda, Greenhills and Sydney skyline from Gunyah Beach.

Cronulla, Wanda, Greenhills and Sydney skyline from Gunyah Beach.

Then along the length of the beach to another bush track and followed it along views of the hidden beaches beneath sandstone cliff ledges until we arrived at the Jibbon Point Aboriginal Rock Carvings. These carvings were intended as messages for current and future generations. The carvings were intended to depict the type of game to be found in the area including whale, shark, stingrays, kangaroo, wallaby and even dugong. Earlier in the day Bev and I had located an ancient shell midden at Gunyah Beach was somewhat overgrown but distinctly showing where molluscs and shellfish were plentiful. We had been told a shell midden was nearby and that we would have to look for it. It seems luck was on our side. The rock carvings were once maintained for thousands of years but after settlement it seems the area was all but deserted and the carvings as with the shell midden became overgrown. The carvings only came to light in 1956 when a local boy pushed through some bushes onto an overgrown rock ledge when he found the carvings. National Parks have now built a viewing platform to protect the site but without regular maintenance the carvings are beginning to fade.

Jibbon Point Rock Carvings viewing platform built by National Parks to protect and hopefully preserve the ancient rock carvings. Carvings were intended to be a sort of sign post to advise future travellers what game might be available in the area.

Jibbon Point Rock Carvings viewing platform built by National Parks to protect and hopefully preserve the ancient rock carvings. Carvings were intended to be a sort of sign post to advise future travellers what game might be available in the area.

I have several photos of these ancient rock carvings. National Parks will not allow local descendants of tribes to refresh the carvings. Nobody is sure how many thousands of years old these carvings are. They are gradually becoming indistinct.

I have several photos of these ancient rock carvings. National Parks will not allow local descendants of tribes to refresh the carvings. Nobody is sure how many thousands of years old these carvings are. They are gradually becoming indistinct.

Rocky headland at Jibbons Point where the rock carvings are located.

Rocky headland at Jibbons Point where the rock carvings are located.

Tree over the Jibbon Point cliffs. Note how the roots have bent and twisted to conform to the prevailing winds.

Tree over the Jibbon Point cliffs. Note how the roots have bent and twisted to conform to the prevailing winds.

Exactly how old the carvings are is hard to say but National Parks literature does say they are at least several thousands of years old. Sitting on a timber bench and overlooking the cliffs, rocks, sea and beach it was easy to imagine how life here would be reasonably good with a plentiful bounty of food from the sea, the shore and the land. Provided of course you knew what you were doing. We found what we believe was evidence of ancient freshwater springs and believe fresh water is still available with a bit of digging.

All in all a great and tiring day but worthwhile.

Wednesday 14th January

Today Bev and I drove south to Kiama which is about a further 40 Klms south of Wollongong. Bev went to join a gathering of husband Peter’s family. I went to re-explore Kiama.

After many years living nearby and travelling through here over the last four years it finally dawned on me the early houses and public buildings built around 1880 and earlier are made from distinctly different materials. Most of the public  buildings seem to be built from sandstone which is a little short on supply in the area whereas further north in Wollongong and Sydney, sandstone was plentiful and easily and cheaply quarried thanks to convict labour. Kiama like much of Wollongong is of volcanic origin and the stone mostly quarried was basalt but the loose rock which scattered the hills around Kiama was basalt but given the local name of Kiama Tuff. The quarried basalt was crushed to become blue metal and shipped to Sydney for road building purposes. The loose rock “Tuff” on the hills was used to construct dry rock walls on the dairy farms in the steep hills above Kiama. Most of those rock walls remain intact today.

In my wanderings around Kiama Harbour or more correctly Robertson Basin I noticed the harbor walls were constructed of dressed basalt

Robertson Basin otherwise known as Kiama Harbour.

Robertson Basin otherwise known as Kiama Harbour.

while the nearby Court House, Police Station, Council Chambers and quarrymens quarters (now boutique shops) were constructed of dressed sandstone.

Sandstone construction of the Kiama Presbyterian Church.

Sandstone construction of the Kiama Presbyterian Church.

Post Office Kiama. The sandstone obelisk stood on this corner for almost 100 years before a runaway truck collided with it.

Post Office Kiama. The sandstone obelisk stood on this corner for almost 100 years before a runaway truck collided with it.

Anglican church at Kiama.

Anglican church at Kiama.

At the top of the hill which overlooks the basin is the Kiama Lighthouse and just below it The Blowhole.

Volcanic Rock cliffs at Kiama.

Volcanic Rock cliffs at Kiama.

The blowhole was first noticed by Europeans in 1797 when  Naval surgeon George Bass recorded details in his log while the small whaleboat was anchored in a sheltered bay now known as Robertson Basin. Depending on surf, tide and wind conditions, waves push along a tunnel in the volcanic rock and erupt with a whoosh often send a spray of water up to 20 metres in the air. The blowhole was only working at less than 50% capacity today. I spent many minutes waiting for a small whoosh of spray. That was not the case at the Little Blowhole a few Klms further south which was working if not spectacularly at least well enough to put the main blowhole to shame.

The small blowhole at South Kiama was working much better than the main blowhole today.

The small blowhole at South Kiama was working much better than the main blowhole today.

I noticed an old weathered sandstone obelisk

Relocated sandstone marker obelisk at Kiama.

Relocated sandstone marker obelisk at Kiama.

in the main street. It was placed on a corner in 186, where in 1878 the Post Office was buil and was the point from which all measurements in the district were made. In 1959 a runaway truck collided with the obelisk so it was moved to a safer location in the park opposite the post office. A stainless steel barrier has been erected around the obelisk, presumably to discourage runaway trucks from hitting it.

I tried to visit an old friend Les B who lives on a family dairy farm on Saddleback Mountain which overlooks Kiama. Les was not home today but I took time to view a local dry rock wall and a small wind turbine.

The hills surrounding Kiama are cfris crossed with these fine examples of dry stone walls. Although some have been dismantled the remaining walls can be seen nfor several kilometres from the highway, the motorway and the surrounding hills. In a word- awesome!

The hills surrounding Kiama are cfris crossed with these fine examples of dry stone walls. Although some have been dismantled the remaining walls can be seen nfor several kilometres from the highway, the motorway and the surrounding hills. In a word- awesome!

Kiama is a naturally windy place. The coast is open to winds from northerly to southerly and even westerlies. The hills are remnants of long ago extinct volcano's. This is the only example of a wind turbine and a small one at that. Debate has been raging in the community for several years with pro wind farm and anti wind farm activists presenting their cases. So far the anti wind farm faction is winning.

Kiama is a naturally windy place. The coast is open to winds from northerly to southerly and even westerlies. The hills are remnants of long ago extinct volcano’s. This is the only example of a wind turbine and a small one at that. Debate has been raging in the community for several years with pro wind farm and anti wind farm activists presenting their cases. So far the anti wind farm faction is winning.

Thursday 15th January

Bev drove me to Sydney airport for my flight home. As the Boing 737 800 Jet took off over Botany Bay it banked to starboard. I was in a window seat and was able to see the places I have visited this week. Tom Ugly’s Bridge, Captain Cook Bridge, Georges River, St George Motor Boat Club, Kurnell, Cronulla, Port Hacking,  Bundeena , Wanda Beach and Greenhills Beach to name a few. I could also see roughly where Bev and Pete live. Thanks for the opportunity Bev n Pete to be able to house sit for you and spend some quality time as well.

I arrived home on the Gold Coast to a 36 degree heatwave and to a house which has been locked up for two weeks.

Sheesh!

Friday 16th January

What a waste of a day.

It was another heatwave day so I got a few loads of washing sorted out and just stayed indoors after I had the wheels rotated on TERIOS.

Saturday 17th January.

Another heatwave today so it was a matter of staying indoors and keeping cool. I did spend a few hours tidying my email. Can you believe that around 75% of all the email is junk mail?  It was a good chance to delete emails as far back as 2011!!! Maybe my email will load more quickly without so many old files.

Sunday 18th January

Another heat wave day. It was OK to keep windows and doors open until midday. Then the air conditioner was turned on.

Friends Glennis and Eric arrived with three granddaughters. They wre on their way to visit another of Glennis  daughters on Mount Warning just over the border in NSW.  Glennis and Eric live in extremes of remoteness. They have a house at Cape Tribulation on the other side of the Daintree River. They have no running water, no electricity and have to rely on their own resources. As Glennis is in her late seventies and Eric is in his late eighties they both still have to work hard at day to day living. Their other house is in remote Cockle Creek as far south as can be driven in Tasmania. Again they have no town water or electricity. Hats off to both of you for your strength and resourcefulness.

404. Church of the Wandering Photographer…

18/01/2015

Can you believe the last time I displayed a bunch of church photos was way back at post number 326 on 25th March 2013. It’s time for an up date.

St Andrews Uniting Brisbane Qld.

St Andrews Uniting Brisbane Qld.

This Church was built in 1904 to replace what was known as the Wickham Terrace Church further up the hill. The Wickham Terrace Church built in a Gothic style in 1887 had to be torn down to make way for a new railway

St.Bedes Catholic Braidwood. NSW.

St.Bedes Catholic Braidwood. NSW.

The foundation stone for this church was laid in 1858. In the photo above the church and surrounding grounds appears …cold. Well on the day this photo was taken it was a bitterly cold day in the middle of Winter August 2012. Snow had fallen the week before and a cold sleet was falling and a bitter wind was blowing. The only other time we visited Braidwood we did not stop.

Hmmm! I wonder why?

St. Johns Anglican Forbes NSW

St. Johns Anglican Forbes NSW

The first St Johns in Forbes was a timber structure built in 1861.This Gothic style building was erected between 1874 and 1877.

St. Mary's Parish Church Echuca NSW.

St. Mary’s Parish Church Echuca Vic.

This Gothic style church at Echuca was built sometime in the 1870’s to 1880’s but I can find no reliable information about who and when it was built.

St.Patricks Catholic Culcairn

St.Patricks Catholic Culcairn

St.Patricks Catholic Church at Culcairn NSW is built in a modern style clearly wanting to make a statement and stand out amongst the other more traditional churches in town.

St.,Peters Anglican Armidale.

St.,Peters Anglican Armidale.

This church built from Armidale Blue bricks had the foundation stone laid in 1873, opened for worship in 1875 and consecrated in 1886. This building replaced the original timber structure which was built in 1850. Armidale City Council has free tours of this church and other places of interest around Armidale. They provide a free bus and morning tea in the tour. It is well worth taking the tour.

Anglican Guyra NSW

Anglican Guyra NSW

I believe this is the Anglican Church at Guyra. At the time of my visit the church was being closed and I am unable to find any useful information on the internet. I am sure an astute reader will contact me to bring details up to date.

Catholic Church Gunning NSW

Uniting Church Gunning NSW built 1876

This is another church which I am unsure about the denomination or even if the name and or location  are correct. Guided by the date of the original photo and my diary entry, the photo was taken in Gunning NSW. Once again I am sure a local historian or other interested person in Gunning may be able to provide useful information.

UPDATE 21/4/2015. I am indebted to, presumably a local, Leslie Bush, for providing correct information on this church. As per my comments above I had hoped a local historian would correct my information if indeed I was incorrect. In my original post I commented I was not sure of the denomination etc were correct. I had called this the Catholic Church. Here are Leslie’s comments, in full.

Hi

Just like to mention that the Church you have pictured for Gunning is not the Catholic Church but the Uniting Church on the Cnr of Warrataw and Biala Streets at Gunning, built in 1876.

The Catholic Church is called St. Francis Xaviers Catholic Church and is located in Cullerin Street. The present building was built in 1973 on the grounds of the original Church. The Presbytery (where the Father resided) is right behind the Church and was built in 1888. Across the road from the modern day Church is the Neo-Gothic designed Catholic Schoolhouse which is now a private residence and next door to the Church is the Old Convent, also now a private residence.”

Thanks Leslie.

 

Catholic Church Collarenebri NSW

Catholic Church Collarenebri NSW

This is another church for which I can find no historical information. Obviously it is a neo modern design and construction. Historians please note.

403. Sunday 11th January 2015. Nostalgia! It’s not what it used to be OR a bit of history for good measure…

11/01/2015

Lots of text and lots of photos for you to enjoy this week.

Monday 5th January

We were up early today. Bev n Pete left at 6 am for their flight to Adelaide.

After breakfast I drove to Wollongong to visit an old workmate and squash teammate Bob T and wife Sharon. Bob had a difficult 2014 having to go under the knife and endure chemotherapy for cancer of the stomach. He is confident he has beaten the big C and apart from losing some weight, which he could afford to lose. He looks well and has a positive attitude.

Next on my visit list was Wayne and Narelle M and their adult son Jarrod. We shot the breeze and enjoyed lunch and Wayne showed me his two story garage filled with boys toys. I enjoyed looking at his latest prize, a Bathurst 1,000 Race winning Holden Torana.

Bathurst winning Torana

Bathurst winning Torana

Gee, these cars had no frills, are uncomfortable to drive, no air conditioning and no power steering. They could however cling to the racetrack while achieving incredible speeds. They were once upon a time King of the Mountain at Mount Panorama near Bathurst. Also in his toy shed was a slot car race track

Slot car racetrack

Slot car racetrack

3,2,1 Goooo!

3,2,1 Goooo!

and a genuine pinball machine. I had fun alternating between the slot car and the pinball machine. It was great for Wayne and I to turn 18 again!

Tuesday 6th January

The Government has announced heightened terrorist alerts and has warned citizens about travelling to Indonesia. Both Australia and France have issued similar warnings.

Come and join me as I make a nostalgic journey through time and space. From the time when I was a young boy, a teenager, a father and now, as  a grandfather, I wanted to explore parts of the Sutherland Shire. It is affectionately known among the locals as “The Shire”. No, not the other famous “shire” in the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings novels and movies.

Specifically today I started with the “Tom Ugly’s Bridge which spans the Georges River and links the suburbs of Blakehurst to the north and Sylvannia Waters (in the shire) to the south.

Tom Ugly's Bridge

Tom Ugly’s Bridge

You can see clear through all these bridge supports to the Sylvannia side of the river.

You can see clear through all these bridge supports to the Sylvannia side of the river.

I was always intrigued by the name and location of the bridge atop steep typical Sydney Sandstone cliffs. Years of travelling both ways and I had never stopped to have a look. Well, today I did. Originally opened in 1929 the three lane bridge began life as a toll bridge. At peak hour in the morning two north bound lanes were used. In afternoon peak hour two south bound lanes were used. A series of orange cones were used to designate lanes. The toll was discontinued in 1952. The bridge was the only link to The Shire and especially Cronulla Beach and Wollongong and the south coast apart from a car ferry operating from Sans Souci to Taren Point on the south side. This car ferry was a shorter option to Cronulla than Tom Ugly’s – if you could afford the ferry fee. Captain Cook Bridge replaced the ferry – eight lanes, no toll – was opened in 1965 in much the same location as the car ferry.

Today I took the time to stop under the Tom Ugly’s Bridge and take a walk around the area and note the detail in the sandstone buttresses.

A combination of weathering and lichen growth over 85 years has produced this strange effect. It does not occur on any of the other facets of the remaining pylons. Hmmm! Could this be the ghost of Tom Ugly?

A combination of weathering and lichen growth over 85 years has produced this strange effect. It does not occur on any of the other facets of the remaining pylons. Hmmm! Could this be the ghost of Tom Ugly?

North Wester pylon of the Tom Ugly's Bridge. Note the carving in the sandstone. The carving appears on all four sides of all four pylons.

North Wester pylon of the Tom Ugly’s Bridge. Note the carving in the sandstone. The carving appears on all four sides of all four pylons.

I have not been able to find a satisfactory reason for the name Tom Ugly’s and I guess like millions of other bridge users I will never know the origins of the name.

Sydney skyline seen from beneath Tom Ugly's Bridge.

Sydney skyline seen from beneath Tom Ugly’s Bridge.

Captain Cook Bridge spanning the Georges River from Sans Souci to Taren Point.

Captain Cook Bridge spanning the Georges River from Sans Souci to Taren Point.

This is the St George Motor Boat Club. It featured most weeks in the award winning Australian television series Packed To the Rafters with the ageless Rebecca Gibney as lead actress.

This is the St George Motor Boat Club. It featured most weeks in the award winning Australian television series Packed To the Rafters with the ageless Rebecca Gibney as lead actress.

While still in the shire I visited Wanda Beach and Greenhills Beach, both on the northern fringe of Cronulla Beach.

Cronulla Beach seen from the sandhills at Wanda Beach.

Cronulla Beach seen from the sandhills at Wanda Beach.

Extreme northern end of Greenhills Beach. A boat harbour is being built here and the operators charge $25 per vehicle per day to access the beach. Grrr!

Extreme northern end of Greenhills Beach. A boat harbour is being built here and the operators charge $25 per vehicle per day to access the beach. Grrr!

As a high school student and in my early teens I visited these beaches first to sand ski the tall and often very steep and very hot sandhills. Later I went with friends to surf the unpatrolled beach especially at Greenhills. The only access to these remote beaches was to trudge up and down and over several sandhills carrying a surfboard – without a hat!

Service access road to the Wanda Beach /Greenhills Beach sand dunes.

Service access road to the Wanda Beach /Greenhills Beach sand dunes.

Greenhills Beach tall sand dune.

Greenhills Beach tall sand dune.

Sadly progress has crept across the land and devoured much of the sandhills  leaving housing estates in its wake or shutting off access to the remaining sandhills or the beach. Now the sandhills and beach have been turned over to commercial ventures and a National Park. Standing atop one of the few  accessible sandhills I was struck by just how hot it was and wondered how we managed to trek these hills carrying a sand ski or surfboard and towel but no water. How did we survive and not collapse from dehydration?

The Charge of the Light Brigade scenes from the 1940 Black & White Australian movie, The 40,000 Horsemen  were filmed on the beaches and sandhills of Wanda and Greenhills. The sandhills were an ideal location to represent the Sinai Desert of World War I.

Finally I drove to the end of the road to far Kurnell and paid my respects to Captain Cooks landing place.

Just to the left of the plinth are the rocks where Lieutenant James Cook, later Captain landed on Australian soil, umm err rocks in 1770.

Just to the left of the plinth are the rocks where Lieutenant James Cook, later Captain landed on Australian soil, umm err rocks in 1770.

He was credited with discovering Australia in 1770 although local aboriginals had been here for around 40,000 years.

Wednesday 7th January

Today, the Government issued a travel update to now include India as a location to be avoided in respect of terrorist attacks.

Sigh!!!

Today I drove to Wollongong to visit Errol, Nicole and the grandchildren.

On the highway on the escarpment which towers 1,182 m over Wollongong is the Bulli Lookout. Today, as is often the case in the early morning, the top of the escarpment is blanketed by cloud or fog.

Wollongong from Bulli Lookout which is blanketed in local cloud.

Wollongong from Bulli Lookout which is blanketed in local cloud.

On a clear day the view would look something like this.

On a clear day the view would look something like this.

At the lookout it was brilliant sunshine and on the coast below it was also brilliant sunshine. The band of cloud hovering just below the cliffs obscured all vision of Wollongong and the suburbs below.

First up was a visit with Errol and Nicole and grandchildren Amelia and Hannah. I spent a few hours with them before moving on to visit an old workmate Barry H and his wife Kathleen. Barry was a workmate with Bob T who I visited on Monday but Barry also knew Bob when he was in the Army. Barry was diagnosed with Duodenal cancer – within a day of Bob being diagnosed. Barry’s cancer is incurable and inoperative. He has been on Chemo for most of the year and the cancer has shrunk. Unfortunately he has to eat food which has been pureed. Yuck! I came away from my visit greatly impressed by Barry’s attitude and strength of character. He and Bob are both inspirational.

Thursday 8th January

A group of three terrorists stormed a magazine office in Paris, France and killed 12 employees, critically wounding another 5.

Visited Errol N Nicole again and used my time with them to tidy the installation of venetians requiring the removal of excess slats and reducing the length of adjusting cords so they do not become a child choking hazard.

Friday 9th January

Come with me on another nostalgic traipse through my memory lane.

I was born and spent the first 14 years of my life in the Sydney Harbourside suburb of Balmain. At the time I thought Balmain was the centre of the Universe. Of course I later learned that was not the case. The centre of the Universe is wherever I happen to be at that moment in time. Of course dear reader from your perspective the centre of the Universe is wherever YOU happen to be at that moment.

The house where I spent the first 14 years of my life. It looks smaller but better cared for than I remember. The streets and houses were built long before cars were invented so the houses do not have car storage space so cars are parked in the street causing congestion. Tenants receive a two car parking permit per household. Otherwise parking restrictions apply to everybody else.

The house where I spent the first 14 years of my life. It looks smaller but better cared for than I remember. The streets and houses were built long before cars were invented so the houses do not have car storage space so cars are parked in the street causing congestion. Tenants receive a two car parking permit per household. Otherwise parking restrictions apply to everybody else.

In 1800 a parcel of land of 550 acres on the shores of Sydney Harbour was given to William Balmain, New South Wales Surgeon General and also principal surgeon of the First Fleet. Somewhere along the line the parcel of land was given to somebody else – in payment of gambling debts – and eventually parceled up in smaller lots and yet still smaller lots and yet still smaller lots. The suburb became a working class area and developers built lots of terrace type houses on small plots of land to accommodate the workers . Of course the huge harbourside houses were owned by persons a bit further up the income scale, much as they are today.

First I visited my old terrace house which seems mighty small compared to when I lived there. In fact walking from the terrace house to the corner pub and on to my old school – Gladstone Park Public School or as it was known by the locals the Pigeon Ground Public School  – everything seems smaller and closer together than I remember.

My primary school. I spent three years in the classroom at the top left.

My primary school. I spent three years in the classroom at the top left.

I digress. My old school as I discovered this morning was really the girls school! It seems of the several buildings, one of which was built in 1861, in sandstone and the newer buildings in red clay brick, were built in 1917 was an infants school and girls school. At some point the sandstone building was given over to a boys school and boys and girls were segregated until we went to high school where the segregation was maintained. No more. All those schools are now Co-educational!

Walking around the nearby streets I was reminded of how many of the original houses were built from local sandstone and are still not only standing but still habitable. I also realised how narrow the streets are, some of which are barely wide enough to admit a small truck one way. The streets are a hodge podge of no planning and the houses often reflect that lack of overall planning. Many houses were built beside factories and shipyards and sawmills etc (or vice versa)and those businesses are now gone and the reclaimed land is now called public green open space and are delightful harbourside parks. Many places in Balmain can boast harbor views including Sydney skyline, Luna Park and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I saw the bridge every day at school and thought nothing of it.

As a building material sandstone is wonderful. It can be dressed or left rugged as is the case in the retaining wall. Balmain original houses are mostly built from sandstone.

As a building material sandstone is wonderful. It can be dressed or left rugged as is the case in the retaining wall. Balmain original houses are mostly built from sandstone.

These old sandstone stairs and cast iron railings were in place when I went to school. This was the view way back then. The bridge can see seen from most locations around Balmain.

These old sandstone stairs and cast iron railings were in place when I went to school. This was the view way back then. The bridge can see seen from most locations around Balmain.

Hmmm! When I was young, school taught us to look Right then left then right again before crossing the road. Now we need reminders painted on the roadway at every corner. What the!!!

Hmmm! When I was young, school taught us to look Right then left then right again before crossing the road. Now we need reminders painted on the roadway at every corner. What the!!!

The suburb is no longer a working class domain and those houses are fetching prices well in excess of $1,000,000 (if you can find an old house for sale – one bedroom units with no car accommodation are around $900,000) and the suburb is now a trendy “IN” place with old buildings now an endless sea of bistro’s, wine shops and coffee houses with a few upmarket dress shops thrown in.

The clock tower on the old council chambers stands above all else.

The clock tower on the old council chambers stands above all else.

These old wharf timbers were saved from one of the original wharves dotting the shoreline throughout Balmain and Birchgrove.

These old wharf timbers were saved from one of the original wharves dotting the shoreline throughout Balmain and Birchgrove.

At the end of my street on the corner stood a horse watering trough. When I was young, horses were still used by bread delivery, milk delivery and ice delivery men. Rag and Bone men and other sales type people used horses. Watering troughs were needed. They have all been collected and some have been used at the end of a small mall.

At the end of my street on the corner stood a horse watering trough. When I was young, horses were still used by bread delivery, milk delivery and ice delivery men. Rag and Bone men and other sales type people used horses. Watering troughs were needed. They have all been collected and some have been used at the end of a small mall.

I visited the end of Darling street which is a bus and ferry terminus commanding grand views across the harbor and to Goat Island a once munitions storage facility.

Schooner open for tours at Goat Island.

Schooner open for tours at Goat Island.

Among its many uses was as a sandstone quarry and convict gaol and the first Sydney Water Police Headquarters to name a few. It is now taken over by National Parks who provide guided and self- guided tours.

The iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge from Darling Street East Balmain.

The iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge from Darling Street East Balmain.

Sydney skyline from Darling Street East Balmain.

Sydney skyline from Darling Street East Balmain.

Goat island. Was used in the television series The Water Rats a few years ago. It depicted daily life in the water Police. The Island was once the Water Police Headquarters.

Goat island. Was used in the television series The Water Rats a few years ago. It depicted daily life in the water Police. The Island was once the Water Police Headquarters.

A Sydney Harbour Ferry. From the age of about 10 I spent a great deal of time on these ferries travelling around Sydney Harbour. Fares were cheap and as long as you never got off the ferry the one ticket was good enough for a round trip.

A Sydney Harbour Ferry. From the age of about 10 I spent a great deal of time on these ferries travelling around Sydney Harbour. Fares were cheap and as long as you never got off the ferry the one ticket was good enough for a round trip.

From there I went to Morts Dock and nearby Thames Street Ferry Wharf. The Morts Dock which in the 1940’s built ships for the Navy. My uncle was a small sailboat builder in the area. The docks are now closed but the land and some of the docking facilities are converted to open green space and it is a welcome change to the dreary dockyards I knew. All this area was my playground but I concede it would be nicer to run around these days.

Nicholson Street East Balmain

Nicholson Street East Balmain

Harbour Bridge seen from the old Morts Dock area now given over to parkland but with some of the old structure retained for Heritage purposes.

Harbour Bridge seen from the old Morts Dock area now given over to parkland but with some of the old structure retained for Heritage purposes.

Worn sandstone steps at the old Morts Dock site.

Worn sandstone steps at the old Morts Dock site.

Adjacent to the docks is Thames Street Wharf. This was once my playground where I would scamble on and around the docks and could take a ferry ride around the Sydney harbourside for only a few cents.

Thames Street Wharf which has stood beside Morts Dock for the last century. Workers still use the ferry system t travel to work each day from as far away as Parramatta to the west and Many to the north on the other side of the harbour.

Thames Street Wharf which has stood beside Morts Dock for the last century. Workers still use the ferry system t travel to work each day from as far away as Parramatta to the west and Many to the north on the other side of the harbour.

Old weatherboard house squeezed between a hotel and other commercial premises. Note typically for Balmain. Narrow streets and no car storage facilities.

Old weatherboard house squeezed between a hotel and other commercial premises. Note typically for Balmain. Narrow streets and no car storage facilities.

The Dry Dock Hotel Balmain. The oldest pub in the suburb. Built 1857.

The Dry Dock Hotel Balmain. The oldest pub in the suburb. Built 1857.

Driving away from Balmain I felt it was a nicer, cleaner, greener and in some respects more open but more crowded than the industrial dusted suburb I left all those decades ago.

Saturday 10th January

I had planned to drive to Nowra today. The weather forecast last night was for showers/rain increasing to heavy at times and in fact flooding in some parts. Hmmm! Not a good forecast for driving for near 2 hours in the predicted rain. That plan was abandoned and I decided to stay home. Mid morning was overcast but in no way did it look like rain. In fact it looked more like a haze had settled across the city. It was dry and hot. Plan B was put into action. I decided to drive to La Perouse, Malabar, Maroubra and other beachside suburbs to Bondi and return. I had not counted on the volume of traffic and every other resident of this city, all 4.5 million of them would be on the road and going to the same places as me. At least that is the way it felt. I managed to find a parking space about half a kilometer from La Perouse and trudged my way back.

Lieutenant (later Captain) James Cook  landed in Australia in 1770 at Botany Bay on the southern shore of what is now called Kurnell. The first fleet of settlers and convicts arrived in January 1788 and found Cooks original landing place as unsuitable for a new colony. They moved a short distance further north after finding an opening in the seemingly impenetrable sandstone cliffs to what is now known as Sydney Harbour and decided this was the best place in the whole world to begin a new colony. Botany Bay was abandoned. The land was claimed in the name of the British Empire and the settlement begun. A few days after landing a small boat was dispatched to Botany Bay to scout for flora and fauna and surprise, surprise, a French ship had sailed into Botany Bay with the intention of claiming this new south land in the name of France. A meeting was arranged between the two captains, Arthur Phillip for the Empire and La Perouse for France. It seems they came to a gentlemanly agreement that as the Empire had eleven ships and crew and marines and settlers and convicts totaling 1332 persons and had already claimed the land and documented such in their logbook, the land belonged to the Empire. La Perouse only had the one ship so agreed the English had first choice and after a short stay moved on. Due to the civilized manner in which the meeting was conducted, the English declared the area on the northern area of Botany Bay where the French had landed would be called La Perouse in the Captains honour.

My trudging took me passed the cliffs above Congwong a Little Congwong Beaches where La Perouse was reportedly anchored.

Little Congwong beach at La Perouse. When I was editing the photos to include in this blog I noticed something unusual. I did a Google search. The beach is an unofficial clothes optional "gay" beach. Double click on the image twice to enlarge to see what I saw. Hmmm! Families with little children are there as well. I am glade I never walked to the beach to take photos. Thank you telephoto lens.

Little Congwong beach at La Perouse. When I was editing the photos to include in this blog I noticed something unusual. I did a Google search. The beach is an unofficial clothes optional “gay” beach. Double click on the image twice to enlarge to see what I saw. Hmmm! Families with little children are there as well. I am glade I never walked to the beach to take photos. Thank you telephoto lens.

Then I walked to Bare Island which is accessible to the mainland via a short timber bridge.

Bare Island with walkway. Entry through the locked gated is via a guided tour on Sundays (must be booked in advance - it is so popular) or by prior arrangement for approved groups.

Bare Island with walkway. Entry through the locked gated is via a guided tour on Sundays (must be booked in advance – it is so popular) or by prior arrangement for approved groups.

Double click on this image to see some of the fortifications. Yep, those fortified walls are made from dressed sandstone.

Double click on this image to see some of the fortifications. Yep, those fortified walls are made from dressed sandstone.

The island became fortified when in 1885 a Russian invasion was expected. The fort was decommissioned in 1902 and became a retirement home for war veterans home until 1963. Since then it has become an historical site. The area around the reef is especially rich in sea life and is a busy fishing, snorkeling and diving location. In certain conditions a reef wave break known as a bombie attracts surfers as well.

The Barrack Tower at La Perouse. Built in 1820 and manned to look for smugglers (from where?) stray boats and invading fleets. ( Oz is a long long way from any nearby land mass so you have to wonder where the smugglers came from and what size an invading armada of ships would have to be. Not to mention having to spend 12 months at sea from places such as France, Spain or Russia.

The Barrack Tower at La Perouse. Built in 1820 and manned to look for smugglers (from where?) stray boats and invading fleets. ( Oz is a long long way from any nearby land mass so you have to wonder where the smugglers came from and what size an invading armada of ships would have to be. Not to mention having to spend 12 months at sea from places such as France, Spain or Russia.

Next stop was Malabar where the beach rarely has a surfable wave due to the deep water and faces the wrong direction for a swell to enter.

Malabar Beach has surf only when every other beach on the coast is closed due to huge storm swells

Malabar Beach has surf only when every other beach on the coast is closed due to huge storm swells

This is a popular launching ramp at Malabar Beach. Note the sandstone blocks in the retaining wall.

This is a popular launching ramp at Malabar Beach. Note the sandstone blocks in the retaining wall.

It is a popular location for professional and amateur fishermen to launch their boats. Malabar also has a sewerage treatment works a large garbage dump and a rifle range in the hills between Malabar and Maroubra. Despite the no surf and nearby unpleasant treatment works it was still difficult to find a parking spot. Next was Maroubra Beach and even the surrounding streets were choked with parked cars. ( as a teenager I lived at Maroubra and a short walk to the beach allowed me to learn to surf both board and body surf) At this point I decided to cut short the drive to even more popular Bondi and head home. Along the way I stopped at a dreary old shopping centre at Eastlakes. This shopping centre was one of the first in Australia and at the time was a role model. Today it is decided badly designed, poorly lit, archaic parking facilities, poor building construction and with many of the shops closed presented as a sad place to be. Shortly after arriving home the forecast rain began.

Sigh!!!

Sunday 11th January

What do you do on a rainy Sunday.

Nuthin!

Oh apart from watching a movie from the collection beside the TV.

I watched a movie called “The Descendants” starring George Clooney. In a way I am pleased I could not go anywhere in the rain. The movie was released in 2012 and of the many critical comments, some good, some not so good here is an example A thoroughly rewarding assembled-for-adults dramedy that benefits immensely from both its island locale and one of George Clooney’s finest performances.”

I tried to visit the Miranda Fair Shopping Centre and after spending near enough to 30 minutes trying to (a) find a parking space and (b) try to get out of there I managed to park in the street and walk back in the rain. The food court was bedlam. Everybody else had the same idea. I betcha it was the same 4.5 million people at the beaches yesterday were at the shopping centres today!

Grrr!

 

402. Sunday 4th January 2015. Happy New Year and travels from the Gold Coast to Sydney…

04/01/2015

Monday 29th December

Grrr! I was awake at 4.30am and could not go back to sleep. Outside it had stopped raining but the forecast was for more rain. I took my bike for a ride to Broadwater Parklands.

Interesting boat on the Broadwater, early morning with Sea World in the distance.

Interesting boat on the Broadwater, early morning with Sea World in the distance.

Broadwater Sunrise.

Broadwater Sunrise.

Yet another Surfers Paradise / Southport vista with Broadwater Parklands water fun park in the foreground.

Yet another Surfers Paradise / Southport vista with Broadwater Parklands water fun park in the foreground.

Picnic Shelter.

Picnic Shelter.

Old mates out for an early morning paddle.

Old mates out for an early morning paddle.

Sunrise over Marina Mirage.

Sunrise over Marina Mirage.

As I was taking photos a few spots of rain landed on my arm. Turning around I could see big black clouds and to the north the Broadwater was obscured by a curtain of rain. Uh Oh! Time to head home but it was too late. The heavens opened into a deluge. When I arrived home I looked and felt like a soggy moggy.

Me, after getting drenched on my ride home.

Me, after getting drenched on my ride home.

I took TERIOS to the mechanic who confirmed it is a dead coil which is causing my problems so I have it booked in for tomorrow to fix that problem and carry out a service.

Tuesday 30th December

Woke at 5am…again. Geez this is getting to be a bad habit. Rode the eBike all the way to and under the Southport bridge and home again. A round trip of 14 klms on a morning looking just magic with clear skies and hundreds of walkers, joggers and cyclists enjoying themselves. The weather report on TV tonight described the day as picture perfect.

At 8am I took TERIOS to the mechanic and was asked to leave the car all day.

Well Okey Dokey, can do.

By 10.30 I received a text message to say the car was ready.

WOT THE!

So soon?

It seems they carried out the service including replacing a fuel filter, air filter and a new coil. The air con vent was retrieved and I was told it needs to be replaced. Well that’s what I told them yesterday so they could order the part. After a bit of grumbling on my part they agreed to order the replacement vent and hold it for me for later in January when I will have the tyres rotated.  They did not tackle the removal of the tow ‘hitch as it is too complex and needs to be carried out by a panel beater.

Sigh!

At least TERIOS is running smoothly again.

Mid-afternoon a storm arrived with thunder, lightning and a splattering of rain. Within an hour the clear skies and high temps and even higher humidity had returned.

Wednesday 31st December. New Years Eve

Woke at the usual, uncivilised hour of 4.30 am. Rode the eBike to the northern end of Runaway Bay where I discovered endless vistas of the Broadwater crowded with development including houses, high rise, marina’s and canals at Paradise Point and beyond as far as the eye could see.

Paradise Point on the Broadwater from Hollywell.

Paradise Point on the Broadwater from Hollywell.

It is a wonderful time of day to watch the sunrise over the Broadwater and the first few boats breaking the mirror-like surface of the water.

Early morning on the Broadwater at Runaway Bay

Early morning on the Broadwater at Runaway Bay

Early morning on the Broadwater at Hollywell

Early morning on the Broadwater at Hollywell

The water was so calm it took another five minutes for the first bow wave to break on the beach.

Yet another Surfers Paradise skyline view with our village in the foreground.

Yet another Surfers Paradise skyline view with our village in the foreground.

Tonight, after dinner, I rode eBike to Labrador and parked myself on one of several fishing platforms which gives a good view of the Broadwater to the south and the towers of Southport, Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach. Oh, and of course Broadwater Parklands.

Looking to Southport/Surfers Paradise across the Broadwater waiting for the fireworks...

Looking to Southport/Surfers Paradise across the Broadwater waiting for the fireworks…

At 9pm early fireworks on the beach at Surfers Paradise and at Broadwater Parklands, erupted.

...and the fireworks began.

…and the fireworks began.

The early fireworks were timed to last only 8 minutes so at the 6 minute mark I packed up and started the ride home to avoid the traffic. Most of my journey was on foot or bicycle paths but I did have to cross the road in several places.

Although I went to the party at the clubhouse I was too tired to last the distance to midnight and excused myself. I was in bed before 11.30. Fireworks at Paradise Point woke me at midnight.

Sigh!

Thursday 1st January 2015. New Years Day.

I was woken at 12.30 by a huge bang which rocked the house. I thought it was another round of fireworks but soon realised it was lightning and thunder as heavy rain began to accompany the noise of the thunder. I woke again at 3.30am to a constant barrage of thunder and rain, making it impossible to go back to sleep.

There is nothing on TV at that time of morning unless you want to watch infommercials, re-runs of Laverne and Shirley or Today shows from the USA. Channel surfing soon tired me enough to crawl back to bed and wake at 6.30 feeling totally washed out.

Hmmm! Perhaps it was the four Rum n Cokes I had at the clubhouse! Or a combination including a late night and being woken by fireworks, thunder and rain.

In the afternoon the usual afternoon storm could be seen building in the mountains to the west. I caught a shuttle bus to Coolangatta Airport and by the time my flight on Virgin Airlines finally took off, a half hour late, it was almost dark. The flight path took us to the west and above the cloud cover where we could see the lightning below and or in the distance.

Hmmm! That was spectacular!

Arrived at Sydney Airport where they are on Daylight Savings Time. Bev n Pete collected me and we drove to their home at Gymea in the Sutherland Shire on the southern outskirts of Sydney. This will be my home for the next two weeks as I am house sitting while Bev n Pete take a Paddle Steamer Cruise on the Murray River.

Penny the dog will treat me as a friend…once I have fed her a few times. Penny can be somewhat aloof and grumpy and wary at first. Her bark and growls can be downright threatening.

Friday 2nd January

Today we had a picnic at Oak Park near the surf beach at Cronulla.

Oak Park Pavillion, showers, change rooms, toilets and entrance to the rock pool.

Oak Park Pavillion, showers, change rooms, toilets and entrance to the rock pool.

The park is on a peninsular of land which pokes into Port Hacking near Bass & Flinders Point. From the park we can see Jibbon Point and Jibbon Beach on the southern side of the bay near Bundeena.

Right hand reef break at Oak Park near the entrance to Port Hacking.

Right hand reef break at Oak Park near the entrance to Port Hacking.

Oak Park Rock Pool.

Oak Park Rock Pool.

Bev n Pete setting up our picnic.

Bev n Pete setting up our picnic.

Jibbon Beach across the entrance to Port Hacking at Oak Park.

Jibbon Beach across the entrance to Port Hacking at Oak Park.

Most of the land from Bundeena south, almost to Wollongong, is National Park. The coastline is sandstone with steep cliffs and a number of challenging walking tracks including the Jibbon Point Trail to Otford some 27 Klms to the south. However we had no time for such exploration today. Perhaps in the coming week I can have a look at some of the interesting places along this stretch of wild coast.

Saturday 3rd January

In the morning we visited our Aunt Gwen who lives in Redfern a Sydney suburb with a mixed history of crime and violence. Gradually the old houses are being restored and torn down and new high rise built. Aunt Gwen has lived there for the last 40 years and she is comfortable and happy although some neighbours cause her some concern when their drug dealings get out of hand. I am not sure how happy I would be living under the conditions of tight security in my house. Aunt Gwen is 81 and still active and mentally sharp. Two years ago she bought a laptop and Bev taught her the basics on how to use it. Since then she has bought a program to convert all her records, cassettes and CDs to digital format and saved them to her hard drive and created her own CD’s. She taught herself how to do all of this. She has now started on her photo albums to convert to digital and burn to a CD. Again, she is self- taught.

In the afternoon I found a black spider in my clothes. I thought if I could count the eyes and configuration I would be able to identify the spider. I always knew spiders had 8 eyes and knew that different configurations could identify the spider. A Google search soon taught me there are at least 54,000 known species of spiders in the world and probably another 100,000 not yet identified. I also learnt that the configuration of eyes is different and the only true way to identify a spider is by the eye configuration, the palps on a male and the genitalia on a female and in some instances, bisection of genitalia. I was staggered how the 8 eyes can be of different sizes and shapes. After all that I believe, the now dead spider is a Black House Spider which is mildly venomous and there are no recorded deaths.

Phew!

That’s nice to know.

Sunday 4th January

Bev, Pete and I drove to Bundeena on the southern entrance to Port Hacking.

A delightful old house on Bundeena Creek.

A delightful old house on Bundeena Creek.

Bundeena Creek runs into Port Hacking at Bundeena Beach.

Bundeena Creek runs into Port Hacking at Bundeena Beach.

Family safe and friebdly Bundeena Beach.

Family safe and friebdly Bundeena Beach.

Bundeena Wharf.

Bundeena Wharf.

Bundeena Beach looking back to the Creek.

Bundeena Beach looking back to the Creek.

Bundeena Beach from the jetty.

Bundeena Beach from the jetty.

Bundeena and two nearby towns are surrounded by National Park. In fact to reach them it requires driving through the National Park entrance. There are four beaches at Bundeena and all are considered family friendly. I had never before been to this beachside location and I was impressed with the bustling little village perched on the shore with grand views across the bay entrance to Gunnamatta Bay and Cronulla – where we had picnicked two days ago. Most of the coastline here is of high sandstone cliffs weathered over millennia into an impressive fortress like buttress against the sea.

Western end of Bundeena Beach. Note the weathered sandstone formation. To me it looks like a Grey Nurse Shark. Hmmm! Or is that a Goanna?

Western end of Bundeena Beach. Note the weathered sandstone formation. To me it looks like a Grey Nurse Shark. Hmmm! Or is that a Goanna?

Parking was at a premium and we had to park two streets away and lug our picnic gear and picnic downhill to the beach. While Bev n Pete went for a swim I wandered along the beach and watched as an historic Bundeena Ferry called into the jetty disgorging more passengers intent on filling the few empty spaces on the beach.

The old Bundeena / Port Hacking Ferry.

The old Bundeena / Port Hacking Ferry.

Boys jumping off the jetty at Bundeena.

Boys jumping off the jetty at Bundeena.

Numbers of backpackers resolutely started their trek to Jibbon Point to start the much longer Jibbon Point Trail. Incidentally this walk to Otford some 27 Klms to the south passes by beautiful sandstone cliffs and some aboriginal rock art. The walk is sometimes referred to as the Royal Coastal Walk.

The day was hot (34°) and sand was unbearable to walk on barefoot. With the heat, little shade, no breeze and increasing crowds we decided to have our picnic at home.  Bev n Pete fly out to Adelaide early in the morning and still have final packing to sort out. Besides, a big thunderstorm was brewing as we could see huge cumulonimbus anvil shaped cloud forming to the west a sure sign lightning and rain were on the way. You could say crowds and clouds chased us away.