Archive for April, 2016

487. Sunday 24th April 2016. A Birthday, a drive and a Wedding…

25/04/2016

Tuesday 19th April.

Happy Birthday to my sister Enid.

Thursday 21st April

We got underway a little before midday which is not bad really as I thought we would get away by 10am. We are on our way to my sister Enid’s house at Noosaville. It is a reasonably straightforward trip of about 210 Klms. Apart from the first 7 Klms and the final 20 Klms the entire trip is on the M1 Motorway with speed limits being 110 Kph or 100Kph. At the right time of day although there is always a lot of traffic it is moving at the same speed and with cruise control switched on it is an easy drive. Instead of stopping at a McDonald’s or KFC for lunch we drove to the Buderim Ginger Factory at Yandina.

Part of the tropical gardens at the Buderim Ginger Factory at Yandina.

Part of the tropical gardens at the Buderim Ginger Factory at Yandina.

This is one of a few remaining sugar cane trains which once criss crossed the fields of sugar in this fertile valley. It takes visitors on a ride in and around the factory and gardens.

This is one of a few remaining sugar cane trains which once criss crossed the fields of sugar in this fertile valley. It takes visitors on a ride in and around the factory and gardens.

We tried a Calamari rolled around a ginger filling, deep fried and served on a salad of shredded green pawpaw, shredded carrot and lotus root tossed with salad greens. The dressing was a ginger concoction and was accompanied by a ginger aioli. Yumm.  We had been to the ginger factory several times in 2011 and enjoyed its wonderful gardens and food options. Today we enjoyed our brief stop for lunch and thirty minutes later arrived at Noosa.

Friday 22nd April.

In the morning my sisters Enid and Bev and their husbands Ken and Pete, Donnis and I went for a walk along Noosa Beach before coming home for lunch the prepare for this afternoon.

On our walk before the wedding I was fascinated to see this sand sculpture busily at work creating a sand masterpiece.

On our walk before the wedding I was fascinated to see this sand sculpture busily at work creating a sand masterpiece.

Today my youngest sister, Sandi, married Dave at a simple ceremony at the Noosa Valley Manor, a B&B located in rainforest at Doonan near Noosa.

Part of the extensive gardens at Noosa Valley Manor.

Part of the extensive gardens at Noosa Valley Manor.

One of the owners of the B&B is a renowned Italian Chef and is one of the reasons Sandi & Dave chose this location for the wedding.  Sandi was given away by the adult children of her first marriage and the MC was a long- time friend.

My sister Sandi being escorted to and given away by the children from her first marriage. Luke on her right and Jo-Elle on her left.

My sister Sandi being escorted to and given away by the children from her first marriage. Luke on her right and Jo-Elle on her left.

Luke & Jo-Elle.

Luke & Jo-Elle.

The wedding was wonderful especially from my point of view as it was another occasion when my brother and all of my sisters were together again. The last time was at my birthday last September.

On this happy occasion Sandi smiles while Dave looks on.

On this happy occasion Sandi smiles while Dave looks on.

Signing the register in front of the witnesses, Sandi's lifelong friend Jo and Daves brother.

Signing the register in front of the witnesses, Sandi’s lifelong friend Jo and Daves brother.

Apart from those two occasions I cannot recall the last time we were all together. We were treated to a belly dancing exhibition by a mother and daughter pair who are also long-time friends. The guest list was an eclectic mix of family, long -time friends and co-workers from Head Space Mackay where Sandi is manager. (headspace is the National Youth Mental Health Foundation providing early intervention mental health services to 12-25 year olds.) See the facebook page   https://www.facebook.com/Headspace-Mackay-372244686210476/

Hmmm. My brother Allan pacing in fron of the camera while Bev's husband Peter paces the other way.

Hmmm. My brother Allan pacing in fron of the camera while Bev’s husband Peter paces the other way.

Sister Enid (also known as Sue) with a handful of rose petals ready for sprinkling over the newly wedded couple. Sandi's good friend Sue , belly dancer extraordinaire, looks for instructions.

Sister Enid (also known as Sue) with a handful of rose petals ready for sprinkling over the newly wedded couple. Sandi’s good friend Sue , belly dancer extraordinaire, looks for instructions.

Bev, Pete, Donnis, Enid.

Bev, Pete, Donnis, Enid.

Daughter Jo-Elle.

Daughter Jo-Elle.

Sandi n Dave

Some wedding guests. Thanks to Roscoe (in the kilt) I know what is worn underneath.

220416 wedding10

Allan, Bev, Donnis, Rae, FrankieG, Ken.

Allan, Bev, Donnis, Rae, FrankieG, Ken.

Sealed with a kiss.

Sealed with a kiss.

Saturday 23rd April

Today being recovery day, many of last night’s guests met in the nearby town of Eumundi. Some went to the famous markets

Poster for Eumundi Markets.

Poster for Eumundi Markets.

in the morning then we met up at the Imperial Hotel, built in 1911. This hotel has undergone several face changes in that 105 year period but a visitor from 1911 would still recognise the hotel.

Eumundi has done a wonderful job of re-inventing itself, maintaining links with the past, retaining almost all the old buildings while appealing to a quieter lifestyle…except on Market Days – Wednesday and Saturday when the town population explodes by about 300 percent. The markets have been established since 1979 and are growing each year. As readers know I am not a fan of markets. It takes me about 5 minutes to walk through from one end to another. The Eumundi markets can keep me mentally occupied, visually stimulated, well fed and socially active for anything up to two hours. On the other hand, market aficionados can’t get enough of the place.

Back to the recovery session. Our long table got longer and longer and made enough noise to drown out the four piece band playing downstairs. Food and drink prices at this pub are a bit on the expensive side but this is offset by generous meal sizes. Donnis and I shared a pizza and found it quite filling – or was that the bowls of hot chips being handed around our table?

Donnis inspects a Cadillac in the street at Eumundi. Donnis grew up in a family which always had a Caddie.

Donnis inspects a Cadillac in the street at Eumundi. Donnis grew up in a family which always had a Caddie.

Sunday 24th April

After a busy wedding and busy recovery day we needed this morning to recover. We joined my sister and husband Ken and my sister Bev and her husband Pete for a walk along Noosa River to the Yacht Club and back home again. We stopped at the Boat House for coffee.   http://www.noosaboathouse.com.au/

After that Donnis and I further recovered by driving back to the Gold Coast while many of the wedding guests went for a recovery of the last few days, recovery lunch at the Spirit House, Yandina.

Phew what a busy weekend.

Thanks Enid and Ken for your hospitality.

Thanks Sandi & Dave for the wedding and all interesting things you planned.

Thanks for all my siblings being together again.

 

 

 

 

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486. Sunday 17th April 2016. A drive through parts of western NSW…

20/04/2016

Monday 11th April

Heading west from Gymea we picked up the Great Western Highway. Much of the highway climbs over the Blue Mountains and passes through the fertile plains beyond the Great Dividing Range. The highway begins a steady climb through umpteen small heritage listed towns and is only one lane – both ways. Road works are an ongoing works in progress. I would call it simply the Western Highway and omit the “great”. That said the area is steeped in historical sites. More sites than we can expect to have time to see on this journey.

First up we stopped at the town of Katoomba which sits atop the range at 1050 metres above sea level. In the winter it snows here. Today however it was a pleasant 27° and winter is still around the corner.  We paid the parking fee to visit the Three Sisters

The iconic Three Sisters at Echo Point, Katoomba in the Blue Mountains. Enlarge the photo and look at the first sister on the left. You can see a narrow bridge from the cliffs to the sister.

The iconic Three Sisters at Echo Point, Katoomba in the Blue Mountains. Enlarge the photo and look at the first sister on the left. You can see a narrow bridge from the cliffs to the sister.

Three early settlers found a way to bring horses and wagons through the Blue Mountains and the plains beyond, Their endeavours opened the region to expansion. Those historic expeditioners were. Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson. Suburbs have been named after them along the road they surveyed. These statues at Katoomba are in honour of the original convict labour used to build the road, the soldiers appointed to keep the convicts working and also to the local aboriginal population who did their best to harass and stop the invasion.

Three early settlers found a way to bring horses and wagons through the Blue Mountains and the plains beyond, Their endeavours opened the region to expansion. Those historic expeditioners were. Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson. Suburbs have been named after them along the road they surveyed. These statues at Katoomba are in honour of the original convict labour used to build the road, the soldiers appointed to keep the convicts working and also to the local aboriginal population who did their best to harass and stop the invasion.

Tourists simply cannot get enough of the views.

Tourists simply cannot get enough of the views.

at Echo Point

Echo Point is the location at Katoomba where all the tourists buses and other visitors spill their passengers to gawk and go OOOh when they see this spectacular view of valleys and steep sandstone cliffs.

Echo Point is the location at Katoomba where all the tourists buses and other visitors spill their passengers to gawk and go OOOh when they see this spectacular view of valleys and steep sandstone cliffs.

This viewing platform is an on the edge experience

This viewing platform is an on the edge experience

Donnis enjoyed the scenery.

Donnis enjoyed the scenery.

Look beyond the bearded guy in the crumpled hat and note the huge sandstone cliffs of the Grose Valley.

Look beyond the bearded guy in the crumpled hat and note the huge sandstone cliffs of the Grose Valley.

and gape in awe with thousands of tourists at the huge vista which are the Grose and Jamison Valley’s. It is sort of a green version of the Grand Canyon. A very steep narrow staircase leads down to an equally narrow bridge joining the sandstone cliffs to the first of the three sisters.

Atop the first sister with the Grose Valley in the background.

Atop the first sister with the Grose Valley in the background.

Closeup of the foot bridge to the sister. For some reason the bridge is named Honeymoon Bridge.

Closeup of the foot bridge to the sister. For some reason the bridge is named Honeymoon Bridge.

On this occasion my knees failed to live up to the expectation of my mind so we left the walk to braver souls.

Next on the agenda was Scenic World where the operators provide a free multi story carpark. A good thing they do as the lines of people willing to spend big dollars to be terrified meant we would run out of daylight before being able to join the Scenic Railway

This is the end of the Scenic Railway, Note that it sits atop a steep drop to the valley floor.

This is the end of the Scenic Railway, Note that it sits atop a steep drop to the valley floor.

which offers a 52 degree incline whilst dropping over the edge of a cliff then hurtling towards the valley floor before brakes and safety cables bring you to a stop at a platform dangling over yet another cliff above a valley floor further below. See   www.scenicworld.com.au

Scenic Skyway is a cable car suspended 270 metres above the valley floor. The floor is glass!

The Skyway with the glass floor moves slowly across the chasm between to cliffs. To add a little terror it stops halfway while  controller explains something trivial.

The Skyway with the glass floor moves slowly across the chasm between to cliffs. To add a little terror it stops halfway while controller explains something trivial.

Equally thrilling is the Scenic Cableway which descends 545 metres to the floor of Jamison Valley.

Scenic world has three rides which make the strongest person feel trembly in the knees. This is Cableway.

Scenic world has three rides which make the strongest person feel trembly in the knees.
This is Cableway.

But… we had to find accommodation for the night and continued on the Not So Great Western Highway, followed the steep Victoria Pass to Lithgow, a once great Coal Mining Centre and the Military contracted Lithgow Small Arms Factory. The town still has a strong community spirit which accounts for the very modern Workies Club where we had dinner.

Tuesday 12th April – Happy ..th Birthday Donnis

Looking at a map I now realise we will have to compress our days, missing some sights, in order to use the planned route and find our way home by the weekend. We skipped the attractions at Lithgow and pushed on to Bathurst where we drove around the famous Mt Panorama Motor Racing Circuit.   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Panorama_Circuit    Most of the track and some of the pit area is open to the public.

Entrance to the Mt Panorama Race Circuit.

Entrance to the Mt Panorama Race Circuit.

The start lines for races.

The start lines for races.

...and the race is underway. Top speed of 60 Kph has been achieved.

…and the race is underway. Top speed of 60 Kph has been achieved.

At the top, Skyline Pass with terrifying steep off camber left and right bends. around the

At the top, Skyline Pass with terrifying steep off camber left and right bends.
around the

I have been watching the Mt Panorama Race, on television, in October each year for all my adult life. It was thrilling driving the same track, at 60 Klm per hour where the professionals are racing at speeds up to 300 KPH. How is it possible?

There is lots to see at Bathurst but we are on a mission to fit in as much as possible every day.

We picked up the Castlereagh Highway and drove to Sofala, an old gold mining town established in 1851.

Boot Hill, the dead centre of Sofala.

Boot Hill, the dead centre of Sofala.

Most of the original houses pre 1900 are still intact, some habited. The narrow street follows the Turon River for all the 300 metres which comprises the town.

At one time Sofala was big enough to have sufficient population to justify a gaol.

At one time Sofala was big enough to have sufficient population to justify a gaol.

Donnis looking for a book at the Sofala Book Store. It was the only store, apart from the pub, which was open.

Donnis looking for a book at the Sofala Book Store. It was the only store, apart from the pub, which was open.

This ancient building was an eatery but not open when we visited Sofala.

This ancient building was an eatery but not open when we visited Sofala.

I was a bit cruel and left Donnis hanging around for awhile.

I was a bit cruel and left Donnis hanging around for awhile.

There is so much history here but we only had time for a walk around, a quick lunch then on to Mudgee.

Mudgee is also an old gold mining town but survives today due to sheep farming. It is a wealthy town, full of attractions but many of the old historical shops and houses have been modernised and in our opinion has lost a lot of its character appeal.

We drove on to Gulgong, birthplace of Henry Lawson, arguably Australia’s greatest poet and the man who appears on the original $10 note along with some town buildings.

The Henry Lawson Centre at Gulgong.

The Henry Lawson Centre at Gulgong.

I have been a keen reader of the collective works of Henry Lawson. Regrettably while travelling my collection of books were stored in our garage. After 4 years in storage and several years just sitting on the bookshelf the books had become musty smelling. I did not feel like moving all those books once more only to sit on a bookshelf and perhaps never be looked again. I gave away my collection.

Sob sob.

For those interested in why I liked the stories  and poems by Henry Lawson, please refer to the following site.   http://www.poetrylibrary.edu.au/poems-book/verses-popular-and-humorous-0022000

The wonderful thing about Gulgong is that it is still old. The gutter/footpath edging is made from rough dressed sandstone.

Gulgong have left the original rough dressed sandstone on place for the gutters and foothpath edging.

Gulgong have left the original rough dressed sandstone on place for the gutters and foothpath edging.

I am so pleased they retained this feature. There is minimal attempt to modernise the buildings.

Musty old building in Gulgong. Despite its appearance it has been fitted out inside with a couple of flats.

Musty old building in Gulgong. Despite its appearance it has been fitted out inside with a couple of flats.

Mmmm. This buthchery has been on this site for 100 years.

Mmmm. This butchery has been on this site for 100 years.

We stayed overnight at the Prince of Wales Hotel, built somewhere around 1875 or earlier and much of the old building is retained and incorporated into a newer but still old style interior.

ONe of the dining areas at Prince Of Wales Gulgong

One of the dining areas at Prince Of Wales Gulgong

POW outside Dining area.

POW outside Dining area.

POW Fireplace for the outdoor dining area.

POW Fireplace for the outdoor dining area.

Wednesday 13th April

Today we elected to turn more northerly and miss the large towns/cities of Dunedoo, Dubbo, Orange and Wellington. I guess my driving plans were too ambitious for the time we have available.

Shortly after leaving Gulgong we turned off on the Black Stump Way, a back road in fair condition. For those unfamiliar with Oz, the Black Stump is/was a mythical/real place in the middle of nowhere with unexplored territory beyond. To say you went west of the Black Stump meant you have gone into countryside unexplored by white man. One such town is Coolah which sits squarely in the middle of Black Stump countryside.

A mechanic shop/panel beater/spray painter at Coolah had a great many old cars dating from around the 1950's. This looks like a Vanguard. Then again it could be another British motor car. Anybody know what it is?

A mechanic shop/panel beater/spray painter at Coolah had a great many old cars dating from around the 1950’s. This looks like a Vanguard. Then again it could be another British motor car. Anybody know what it is?

Trains do not run anymore  in many of the older established towns. This example in Coolah has all the bits and pieces removed from this signal post. Even the station has disappeared and only the tracks, overgrown with thick grass are the only indicators a train once came to town.

Trains do not run anymore in many of the older established towns. This example in Coolah has all the bits and pieces removed from this signal post. Even the station has disappeared and only the tracks, overgrown with thick grass are the only indicators a train once came to town.

In fact Coolah calls itself the Black Stump capitol.    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Stump   It is a small town and like many small towns is struggling to retain is character and to stay alive in the 21st century. It is sad to see many closed shops and knowing young people have to leave town to find work. By coincidence Donnis worked at the hospital here for three months in the winter of 2014.

The road eventually joined the Newell Highway at Gunnedah. (By taking this route we also cut out other towns such as Gilgandra (where I have a cousin – Hi Lance) and Coonabarabran. We stopped for lunch then decided to stop for the night at Tamworth, famous for the Country Music Festival in January each year. We arrived earlier than expected and drove as far as Bendemeer where we stopped for the night.

i30 parked outside Bendemeer Hotel.

i30 parked outside Bendemeer Hotel.

The old pub was built in 1864 and apart from a few modern touches still looks and smells like 1864. The old highway which ran through the town brought traffic and customers to the small town was diverted in 1983/84 and the town is trying to re-invent itself and find new ways to attract customers off the highway.

During dinner tonight we received terrible news. Our good friend Glennis passed away last Friday. Glennis was diagnosed with tongue cancer only a few months ago. She made the decision not to have radiation therapy so she could enjoy her remaining time as best she can.

 

No longer will we meet at various country locations while travelling in our motorhomes. Last Thursday she and partner Eric were married in a simple ceremony on their property in the Daintree Rainforest. Glennis died the next day.

Vale Glennis.

We also heard from my cousin Bob, he has three types of cancer and has elected not to take any radiation treatment as it will only detract from his quality of life and may not give him any longer to live.

Sigh!!!

Thursday 14th April

Woke to a chillier morning than we are used to and drove to Armidale. Wow! It is even chillier here. Having lived at nearby Guyra for 5 months back in 2013/2014 I realised at this altitude (just on 1,000 metres for Armidale and over 1,300 metres for Guyra) it can be cold all year round. Two days ago we were at Katoomba also on 1,000 metres and on first getting out of the car noticed a chill in the breeze. Here the chill occurs without any breeze.

We stopped here to visit friend Greg T who is in a nursing home. Greg is only a few years older than me but has suffered Parkinsons Disease for about 10 years. Recently he acquired Alzheimers Disease. Doctors believe he now has Lewy Bodies, another degenerative disease and he needs constant care. While visiting he stayed awake long enough to recognise our presence but fell into a deep sleep and could not speak with us. His wife Linda and two of their sons, Jason and Gavin spent a good hour with us. I am sure in Greg’s subconscious he knew we were there.

Sigh!!!

Passing through Guyra we stopped to speak with Greg’s third son, Justin, before we travelled the New England Highway to Warwick in Qld before taking some back roads through to Beaudesert and Canungra and arrived home after 10 hours on the road.

Gee it was wonderful falling asleep in our own bed.

485. Sunday 10th April 2016. Corrimal, Gymea, a wedding a big walk and Aunt Gwen…

15/04/2016

Lack of Internet facilities while we are travelling has delayed this weeks Post.

Monday 4th April

We woke to a dull overcast morning with just a chill in the air. By chill I mean the temperature was about 22°. After a summer and an autumn with 32°, 22° seems positively chilly.

The rain woke us several times. The rain was heavy. Geoff was amazed to find 100 mils of rain in the gauge overnight. On the news we were informed it was the heaviest rain for several years, achieving a month’s supply of rain overnight.

During the morning, rain fell in little drizzly gasps never really getting to the heavy falls experienced during the night.

We drove to Wollongong via the Princes Highway taking the infamous Bulli Pass from the top of the escarpment.

The pass looking much like it does now.

The pass looking much like it does now.

Bulli Pass was built by loggers in the 19th century in an effort to find an easier way to get their timber to Sydney.

Bulli Pass as it was almost 150 years ago.

Bulli Pass as it was almost 150 years ago.

Horse drawn cargo carriage in readiness to take on the trip down Bulli Pass.

Horse drawn cargo carriage in readiness to take on the trip down Bulli Pass.

The road has been improved by a fence.

The road has been improved by a fence.

The pass is now sealed and cyclone wire safety fencing has been installed.

The pass is now sealed and cyclone wire safety fencing has been installed.

The alternate routes were via the vagaries of ship or Mt Keira or Mt Kembla roads. Both were much longer and steeper. Bulli Pass is noted for car and truck accidents and land slip in prolonged heavy rain. It is still only two narrow lanes hugging the escarpment while the bulk of traffic to and from Wollongong travels via Mt Ousley a long and not so steep two lanes each way. (I recall as a boy when as a family we travelled to the south coast my parents speaking in awe about having to take the Bulli Pass – in those days there were no safety barriers on the edge of the road.) We arrived in Corrimal to spend a few days with Errol, Nicole, Amelia and Hannah. Errol was not well having caught a bug either at work or passed on to him by his daughters Amelia and Hannah. Nicole was not feeling 100% either.

Tuesday 5th April – Happy Birthday to my daughter Melissa.

Woke to a sunny morning. Yay!

Nicole is still in bed…sick. Boo Hoo!

In the afternoon we went to the beach to take Walter the dog for a run and to fly my kite.

Hannah, Errol and Amelia enjoying time on the beach. Oh and Walter the dog is too.

Hannah, Errol and Amelia enjoying time on the beach. Oh and Walter the dog is too.

A couple of Whippets on the loose on Bellambi Beach.

A couple of Whippets on the loose on Bellambi Beach.

FrankieG, Amelia and Hannah on the beach at Bellambi.

FrankieG, Amelia and Hannah on the beach at Bellambi.

Naturally Amelia wanted to fly the kite but the wind was quite strong and it was likely to pull her along the beach.

Errol and Amelia flying a kite.

Errol and Amelia flying a kite.

FrankieG flying kite.

FrankieG flying kite.

Errol concentrating hard on flying the kite in windy conditions.

Errol concentrating hard on flying the kite in windy conditions.

Several kite surfers were in the water, one, when walking past with his board and kite commented that it was about time I graduated to a bigger kite.

Wednesday 6th April

Hmmm. Errol & Nicole still not well, Amelia at school and Donnis wants to stay at the house to be useful.

Sooo. Today I have decided to get out and about to visit Wollongong Harbour (also known as Belmore Basin named in honour of The then NSW Governor, The Earl of Belmore in 1868) and take an historical walk around. Many years ago I worked in Wollongong and often at lunchtime would visit the harbour and daydream about sailing away – who doesn’t? I did end up with a yacht but most of my sailing was done around Mackay and The Whitsunday Islands.

The first item which caught my eye is the last remaining original timber bollard used to tie sail cargo ships to the harbour. If this was the U S of A the bollard would be preserved in glass and given due reverence.

The only remaining timber bollard at the harbour. It has not been treated in any way to preserve the timber.

The only remaining timber bollard at the harbour. It has not been treated in any way to preserve the timber.

Next came the stonework around the harbour, much of it rough dressed and built around existing rock features.

Part of wall at Wollongong Harbour,

Part of wall at Wollongong Harbour,

Although giving the appearance of sandstone it is definitely not. I cannot find any records on what rock was used. Most of the coastline from around Coledale to the north to Gerringong in the south is volcanic in origin. I believe the rock is from a volcanic source quarry. The nearby escarpment is definitely sandstone and is quite different to the rock in the harbour wall. (I believe it could be basalt latite over sandstone found around Kiama / Minnamurra) Perhaps a knowledgeable reader can pass on the information. Many of the boats in harbour are old fishing trawlers and I do mean old. One with a for sale sign is lucky to still be afloat.

Old and rotting fishing trawler listed for sale.

Old and rotting fishing trawler listed for sale.

Fishing trawler being prepared for going to sea.

Fishing trawler being prepared for going to sea.

I love seeing dinghy's and canoes line up at Wollongong Harbour (Belmore Basin)

I love seeing dinghy’s and canoes line up at Wollongong Harbour (Belmore Basin)

Wollongong is the only harbour I am aware of which has two lighthouses. (Both of which are de-commissioned) One sits on the edge of the harbour wall

Entrance to Wollongong Harbour secondary lighthouse.

Entrance to Wollongong Harbour secondary lighthouse.

while the other was more for ships at sea and sits atop Flagstaff Hill. Just below the Flagstaff Hill lighthouse are the two 68 pound muzzle loading cannons installed in 1879.

Main lighthouse on Flagstaff Hill.

Main lighthouse on Flagstaff Hill.

The lighthouse on the harbour mouth was used as a symbol of safety icon by the Illawarra Mutual Building Society (a safe place to borrow or invest savings)  for many years.

On the western hill above the harbour is a gun emplacement which was called Smith’s Hill Fort, comprising two 36Kg muzzle loading cannons.

Gun emplacement on Smiths Hill.

Gun emplacement on Smiths Hill.

Built in 1891 in response to feared attack from Russia, the guns are still in place but the underground bunkers and magazines are sealed off to the public. Original timber is beginning to rot.

Below the fort are two salt water rock pools. One was known as the men’s bathing pool (the women’s bathing pool was at the base of cliffs below Flagstaff Hill and was accessed by a steep pathway).

The original Men's Pool between North Wollongong Beach and Belmore Basin. The water is replaced at least twice a day by incoming tides and wave action. Excess water is drained via an overflow valve on the seaward side of the pool. The Women's Pool is located approximately 500 metres away at the base of cliffs below Flagstaff Hill. It could only be accessed by entry through a timber dressing shed and timber staircase. Further around the cliffs via steep steps cut into the cliff are the remains of what was known as The Nuns Pool.

The original Men’s Pool between North Wollongong Beach and Belmore Basin. The water is replaced at least twice a day by incoming tides and wave action. Excess water is drained via an overflow valve on the seaward side of the pool. The Women’s Pool is located approximately 500 metres away at the base of cliffs below Flagstaff Hill. It could only be accessed by entry through a timber dressing shed and timber staircase. Further around the cliffs via steep steps cut into the cliff are the remains of what was known as The Nuns Pool.

The other rock pool is in fact two Olympic sized pools side by side. Saltwater is pumped into the pools unless big seas pound over the concrete wall faster than any pump.

The later pools (Continental Pools) have been in use for 90 years. First opened in 1926. These pools  have water continually replenished either by a pump or the action of tide and waves. They also have overflow valves.

The later pools (Continental Pools) have been in use for 90 years. First opened in 1926. These pools have water continually replenished either by a pump or the action of tide and waves. They also have overflow valves.

A cutting through the cliffs once was used as a railway line by Mt Pleasant Coal and Coke Company to bring their product to the harbour for shipping to Sydney. The railway lines have been removed and the path is now a walking and cycling track.

Cutting through the hillside originally created to allow train lines to be laid and coal and coke trains had access to the harbour.

Cutting through the hillside originally created to allow train lines to be laid and coal and coke trains had access to the harbour.

Phew!!! What a day. The temperature was about 32°

Thursday 7th April

Today we drove the 50 or so Klms from Corrimal to Gymea where we will spend the next few days with sister Bev and husband Pete. In the afternoon sister Sandra arrived from Mackay and sister Enid arrived from Brisbane while her husband Ken flew in from the Sunshine coast. We are all attending the wedding of Bev’s eldest son David, an IT guru, to Jacqui.

Four fifths siblings. From left, Enid, FrankieG, Bev and Sandra. The painting on the wall are of Flamenco Dancers. This was mum's favourite paintings and now hangs on the wall at Bev's house.

Four fifths siblings. From left, Enid, FrankieG, Bev and Sandra. The painting on the wall are of Flamenco Dancers. This was mum’s favourite paintings and now hangs on the wall at Bev’s house.

Friday 8th April

With much manouvering for bathrooms and last minute wardrobe decisions we somehow managed to get seven of us away on time. Pete had hired a small bus for us to collect the youngest son Mitchell (an Air Traffic Control officer at Melbourne Airport) and his girlfriend Sam to arrive at Belgenney Farm at Camden for the wedding.

The youngest of three brothers, Mitchel with his long time girlfriend, Sam

The youngest of three brothers, Mitchel with his long time girlfriend, Sam

The farm is an historical estate, listed on the National Heritage Register, and is now owned by the NSW State Government. The land, of 5,000 acres was granted to John & Elizabeth MacArthur by Lord Camden in 1805. John MacArthur brought the first Merino Sheep to Australia and with specific breeding created a wool of superior quality and quantity. That stock spawned a world renowned  industry demanding this superior wool. The Australian climate also proved conducive to growing lamb for meat. Many of the original buildings, built by convict labour, are still in place today, some being used as originally intended. For example, the stables.

Eldest brother David with his bride, Jacqui.

Eldest brother David with his bride, Jacqui.

Flowergirl April.

Flowergirl April.

David with his groomsmen.

David with his groomsmen.

The four bridesmaids, three sisters on the left and best friend of Jacqui on the right.

The four bridesmaids, three sisters on the left and best friend of Jacqui on the right.

Proud Dad Pete, with brothers Mitch, Groom David and middle brother Chris and just as proud Mum, Bev.

Proud Dad Pete, with brothers Mitch, Groom David and middle brother Chris and just as proud Mum, Bev.

Bride Jacqui with her sister bridesmaids.

Bride Jacqui with her sister bridesmaids.

The wedding went well with about 80 guests and the reception was held within the old Grainery building. The historic buildings provided a great backdrop for wedding photos. Considering the wedding started at 4pm, with a wonderful buffet style meal, dancing and drinks. The last guests left at 11pm. Pete drove us all home and it was well past midnight when our tired heads hit the pillows.

 

Saturday 9th April

For a change of pace today we all walked to the nearby railway station and caught a train to Cronulla Beach then a ferry to Bundeena. Cronulla Ferries operate a small fleet of specialist vessels. The MV “CURRANULLA”operates an hourly return trip 365 days per year.

The delightful old timber ferry which took us from Cronulla to Bundeena.

The delightful old timber ferry which took us from Cronulla to Bundeena.

The delightful old timber ferry has been in constant use since 1939. Tickets are only issued on board and only one way tickets are available. The deckhand is also the ticket issuer. The leather conductor’s pouch he wears around his neck has also been in use since 1939.

On arrival we trudged to Jibbons Beach and followed the beach and track above the cliffs to arrive at Jibbon Point about 3.2 Klms return. We stopped to look at the Aboriginal Rock Carvings (reported in Post 405 January 2015) Today’s walk was every bit as taxing as the walk last year. This time there were seven of us to share the walk. This area of National Park is wild and the sandstone cliffs are open to the winds and waves. Looking around with nothing but steep cliffs, ocean to the horizon and thick bush it is hard to image there is a town less than a Klm away and a city of near five million people just across the bay.

Once we were back to Gymea and after a hot shower we just about had enough energy to enjoy dinner at a Thai Restaurant. Donnis was so tired she ordered soup. When it arrived the rest of us wished we had done so as well. Huuh! Too tired to eat? We were.

Sunday 10th April

Today we visited our 93 year old Aunt Gwen in the small flat she has lived in for the last 27 years.

Included from left to right sister Enid and husband Ken, sister Sandra, sister Bev sitting on husband Pete's knee, Aunt Gwen and FrankieG.

Included from left to right sister Enid and husband Ken, sister Sandra, sister Bev sitting on husband Pete’s knee, Aunt Gwen and FrankieG.

After lunch we drove Ken to the airport then headed back to Bev and Pete’s house for a relaxing afternoon.

 

484. Sunday 3rd April 2016. On the road again. Port Macquarie, Forster and La Perouse…

04/04/2016

Wednesday 30th March

Hmmm! I got myself tangled up in the plans we had made for this week. In my mind I thought we would leave home on 31st March which I thought was Friday. Not so. Thursday is 31st March and that is the day we travel south.

The i30 was booked in for a 15,000 Klm service. As well as the service the good people at the car yard washed the car and blackened the tyres.

We partially packed i30 before going to bed as we planned to be up early and on our way by no later than 8am.

Thursday 31st March.

Grrr!

As usual the departure time came and went and we were still madly packing the car with last minute stuff. We got away by 8.30 so considering we had been awake since 5.30 we were almost on time. We drove onto the M1 motorway and continued on the Pacific Highway once we crossed into New South Wales. We encountered some rain and for the most part the first half of the journey is on wonderful newly opened highway but dreaded roadworks slowed us somewhere north of Coffs Harbour. Roadworks continued off and on for the rest of our journey slowing our average speed and stretching the time of arrival at Tony and Dawns house at Port Macquarie.

Thank you, Tony & Dawn for your hospitality, dinner and wine. You know you always have somewhere to stay when you are in the Gold Coast area.

1st April – April Fools Day.

We had a relaxed breakfast with T&D then packed i3o followed by coffee and we were on our way by mid -morning. I had fuelled i30 before leaving the Gold Coast. Cost was 99.9 cents per litre. Petrol stations in NSW yesterday were between $1.14.9 to $1.18.9. Some fuel prices in Port Macquarie this morning were even higher, up to $1.22.9 per litre. We still had enough fuel to get to Forster, our next destination but past experience has shown fuel prices are higher on the coastal town which is off the Pacific Highway. After travelling over 500 Klms on the one tank of fuel we pulled off the highway a few Klms to a little town called Kundletown. Fuel here was $1.08.9, the cheapest we have seen in two days.

Arriving in Tuncurry, the sister town to Forster we bought a take away lunch and took it to the northern arm of the breakwater. After lunch Donnis took a swim in the enclosure formed by a break in the umm err breakwater. A net is placed across the gap and is intended to keep nasties out.

This is the swimming enclosure at Tuncurry breakwater wall.

This is the swimming enclosure at Tuncurry breakwater wall.

I wandered around enjoying the late summer sun knowing it is Autumn and a change in the weather will not be far away.

I believe this is a young Wandering Albatross. Can anybody positively identify it for me?

I believe this is a young Wandering Albatross. Can anybody positively identify it for me?

A natural feature at the southern end of Forster Beach is this natural rock pool.

A natural feature at the southern end of Forster Beach is this natural rock pool.

After arriving at Al and Raes house on a hill at Forster, we unpacked and Al and I went to nearby One Mile Beach to fly my stunt kite at the foot of Giant Sandhill. There was plenty of quirky wind to teach Al how to fly. I forgot the camera!

Forster (pronounced Foster) and its twin, Tuncurry are both situated on a spit of land bounded on one side by the Pacific Ocean and on the other by Wallis Lake. The mouth of the Wallamba River splits the two towns. Both are popular holiday destinations and provided the sun is shining, which it does most of the year, the water always seems an impossible shade of Turquoise Blue and the sand whiter than white. Forster and Tuncurry are linked by a long straight bridge with humps at either end to allow larger boats to pass beneath.

The Forster Tuncurry long bridge with humps at each end to allow larger vessels to pass beneath.

The Forster Tuncurry long bridge with humps at each end to allow larger vessels to pass beneath.

To the south there are several more lakes, all picturesque and just waiting to be explored and exploited.

Saturday 2nd April

This morning we drove to Al & Rae’s son Brian and his wife Grid house on Forster Keys a canal type suburb on Wallis Lake. They own a pair of Hobie Mirage Revolution II canoes.

Getting our safety training and launch from Brian and Grid.

Getting our safety training and launch from Brian and Grid.

Getting ready to pedal the Hobie canoe.

Getting ready to pedal the Hobie canoe.

Allan on a Hobie practise pedal.

Allan on a Hobie practise pedal.

Aaaah.Alone at last.

Aaaah.Alone at last.

These canoes are propelled primarily by foot pedals connected to a pair of feathering fins. Many light years ago, in my surfing days, Hobie was known as a quality surfboard maker. Over the years through research and development, Hobie also makes a range of Stand Up Paddleboards, kayaks, canoes, sailcraft – single hull, catamarans and trimarans – all with innovative designs. After an hour of exploring a tiny part of the canals and lake we headed back. Both of us suffer from back problems and we both know our canoe and kayak days are long behind us.

The afternoon was devoted to resting.

In the evening Brian and Grid arrived for a barbecue and a promise of a breakfast treat tomorrow.

Sunday 3rd April

Brian collected us at 7am and soon we were driving along a sandy bush track to Tuncurry Beach.

Catamaran in early morning sunlight seaward of Tuncurry Beach

Catamaran in early morning sunlight seaward of Tuncurry Beach

Forster seen from Tuncurry Beach.

Forster seen from Tuncurry Beach.

After driving onto the beach a table and chairs were set up, a barbecue fired up and we were soon eating bacon and egg on breadrolls.

Brian cooking up bacon and egg rolls while Donnis waits for breakfast.

Brian cooking up bacon and egg rolls while Donnis waits for breakfast.

Just pull up anywhere on Tuncurry Beach put out tables and chairs and start cooking breakfast.

Just pull up anywhere on Tuncurry Beach put out tables and chairs and start cooking breakfast.

Brothers Frank and Allan.

Brothers Frank and Allan.

Rae and the Gillings, Brian, Frank and Allan hamming it up.

Rae and the Gillings, Brian, Frank and Allan hamming it up.

Back at Al & Raes we packed, had coffee and were on our way by mid- morning.

Thank you Al & Rae and Brian& Grid for your hospitality over the last two days. It was a great visit with you and we look forward to seeing you soon.

We continued on the Pacific Highway through to Sydney and joined the M2 into the Lane Cove Tunnel and the tunnel under the Harbour and Sydney Harbour Bridge. On arrival at La Perouse we took a little detour before arriving at Geoff and Margarets house. We took the road to what must be one of Australia’s premier golf courses, the NSW Golf Club.

Fairways and Greens at NSW Golf Club.

Fairways and Greens at NSW Golf Club.

On one side the course proper skirts the spectacular sandstone cliffs overlooking the ocean. The other side overlooks, LaPerouse, Congwong Bay, Bear Island, Kurnell, Botany Bay, Mascot Airport and the container ship terminal at Port Botany.

From the Golf Club can be seen La Perouse, Congwong Bay, Bear Island,Kurnell, container ship and beyond.

From the Golf Club can be seen La Perouse, Congwong Bay, Bear Island,Kurnell, container ship and beyond.

I have an affection nicely quarried sandstone blocks on many early houses, banks and Government buildings around Sydney. As well there are many many samples of quarried sandstone retaining walls around the suburb. This old club has used unquarried sandstone rocks for a retaining wall in the carpark. The wall appears to have been in place probably as long as the club. Although the wall has a haphazard appearance I still enjoy the use of rock in this wall.

Lovely old sandstone retaining wall at exclusive NSW Golf Club. Normally I like to see dressed sandstone in walls but this wall, probably 50 or more years old is eye catching.

Lovely old sandstone retaining wall at exclusive NSW Golf Club. Normally I like to see dressed sandstone in walls but this wall, probably 50 or more years old is eye catching.

Beside the gold course is a protected piece of land controlled by NSW Parks and Wildlife called the Botany Bay National Park. Inside the park is a cemetery with lots of old graves dating back more than 100 years.

National Park sign.

National Park sign.

Site of the cemetery within Botany Bay National Park

Site of the cemetery within Botany Bay National Park

Lack of maintenance shows in all the headstones.

Lack of maintenance shows in all the headstones.

A nice pair of side by side graves being slowly absorbed by the encroaching bush.

A nice pair of side by side graves being slowly absorbed by the encroaching bush.

The walk continues to and along the sandstone cliffs with breathtaking views across Little Bay, Long Bay and beyond.

Cliff views looking north to Little Bay, Long Bay and Henry's Head.

Cliff views looking north to Little Bay, Long Bay and Henry’s Head.

It is an easy walk and can be traversed all the way to Maroubra Beach at least 10 Klms to the north. The full walk from Bear Island off LaPerouse is now on our “to do” list for sometime in the future.

We finally arrived at Geoff and Margarets in time for happy hour followed by a walk to Frenchmans Bay

Frenchmans Bay at La Perouse.

Frenchmans Bay at La Perouse.

to watch the sunset and the gathering heavy rain clouds approaching from the south.

Fisherman Silhouted by setting sun beyond the Port Botany Fuel storage.

Fisherman Silhouted by setting sun beyond the Port Botany Fuel storage.

030416 ship

Sunset over Port Botany.

Sunset over Port Botany.

These girls are totally uncoordinated trying to paddle to friends waiting on a yacht in Frenchmans Bay.

These girls are totally uncoordinated trying to paddle to friends waiting on a yacht in Frenchmans Bay.

As always Geoff and Margaret looked after us. Thank you.