Posts Tagged ‘Canungra’

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.

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330. Sunday 18th August 2013. Kingscliff, Mt Tamborine and QUT Robotronica…

18/08/2013

Monday 12th August

This last week or more I have been reviewing our travels since 2005. I sort of went down memory lane. This prompted me to go back over the pages and posts of this blog to see where we were and what we were doing at this time of year.

2005. We attended a motorhome rally at the base of the Ross River Dam in Townsville and met with the occupants of 200 other motorhomes and did all the things people do at rallies. It was here that we met visiting NZ couple Jerry and Sue P who had bought a motorhome and had just kicked off their round Australia trip. We caught up with J & S at Coolangatta a few weeks ago and wrote about it at post 324 dated 14/7/13.

2006. There is no post for August 2006.Hmmm! Mid-winter, is an ideal time in the tropics to get out and about bush camping. I am surprised we did not have an entry for August.

2007. We attended the Gemfest at Rubyvale, Anakie and Sapphire in the dry and dusty back country over the Great Dividing Range behind Mackay. We camped in our then motorhome, a converted Toyota Coaster bus, on an infrequently used Sapphire mining lease owned by a friend. Beside our motorhome were two excavations which had been dug by hand in the search for Sapphire.

2008. On-line friends, Cuppa and Mrs T came to visit for a week while on their 18 month around Australia trip. We bush camped at O’Connell River, midway between the city of Mackay and the country town of Proserpine.

2009. Mid-winter in the tropics usually means long dry spells and the grass begins to brown off and become dry and crackly. We spent most of the month at home working or painting the house.

2010. I worked my last week and had a dinner with all the staff and said my goodbye’s and felt absolutely wooden. (I had handed in my notice of retirement exactly one month previously) I was severing a life where I was paid every week and was now about to step out and face an unknown financial future.

2011. Strange how the fickle finger of fate dishes out twists and turns in our life. Almost 12 months had gone by since we left our home in Airlie Beach and our stopover at Finch Hatton before ascending the pass through the Great Dividing Range to begin our adventure on the other side of the mountains. We found ourselves back in Finch Hatton while Donnis worked as a nurse and I worked on the Australian Census. So here we were back at our starting point and making plans to leave again.

2012. This week 12 months ago we were in the Eurobodalla Shire on the south coast of New South Wales. It was cold overnight but the days were sunny and if you could find a spot out of the chilly wind, quite warm. We were at a favourite freedom camp site at Potato Point.

2013. Here we are, housesitting at Fairfield in Queensland and exploring around Brisbane and the Gold coast.

Tuesday 13th August

Donnis had a small lump removed from her shoulder this morning. The tissues have been sent to a lab for analysis and the results should be back in a few days.

In the afternoon, long term friend Greg T with two of his sons arrived from Guyra. Regular readers will recall I house sat in Guyra from November 2012 until end of Feb this year. By coincidence Greg, wife Linda their four sons and one daughter lived across the street. We had a big pasta dinner of spaghetti bolognaise with sourdough rye bread lathered with garlic butter. Greg brought a home baked date and fruit loaf and we had fruit and ice cream for dessert. Yummo. It was the first time we have eaten bread, cake, ice cream and pasta for a couple of months. My body did not like all those carbs as I weighed a kilo heavier when I went to bed.

Sigh!!!

Wednesday 14th August

Greg, Ian and Justin stayed another night.

Thursday 15th August

Greg and sons followed us onto the motorway. We headed to Kingscliff  in NSW near the Queensland border while Greg continued to Grafton northern NSW then headed over the mountain range to their home in Guyra.

Donnis and I went to an Over 50’s Lifestyle Resort to view the facilities and a couple of villas which are for sale.   http://www.noblelakeside.com.au/k_welcome.htm   The resort is built around a small lake but large enough for a small catamaran to spend many happy hours sailing around. Hmmm! My imagination was getting a bit ahead of our visit. The facilities are quite nice, the grounds tidy and the villa prices reasonable, the two villas we saw were comfortable and a good size but just did not grab my attention with a wow factor. The resort is only a couple of Klms from the surf but on the day of our visit a southerly change, including strong winds came roaring along the coast, dropping the temperature and winds so strong we had trouble standing upright and the wind blown sand stung our legs.

Pandanus at Kingscliff Beach

Pandanus at Kingscliff Beach

VMR (Volunteer Marine Rescue) Station on the Cudgen Creek Point at Kingscliff Beach, NSW.

VMR (Volunteer Marine Rescue) Station on the Cudgen Creek Point at Kingscliff Beach, NSW.

Osprey nest atop a pole beside the VMR Station at Kingscliff Beach.

Osprey nest atop a pole beside the VMR Station at Kingscliff Beach.

http://tweedbirdobservers.wordpress.com/projects/tweed-osprey-group-report/

I thought this man was in trouble with his hand raised for help. I immediately pulled off my Clark Kent clothes and before I could perform a Superman rescue he rolled over and completed a flopping swim to the shore. What did he do next? He did a flopping swimming style back to the other side and included a few more raised hands. When he reached the other side he turned around and came back.

I thought this man was in trouble with his hand raised for help. I immediately pulled off my Clark Kent clothes and before I could perform a Superman rescue he rolled over and completed a flopping swim to the shore. What did he do next? He did a flopping swimming style back to the other side and included a few more raised hands. When he reached the other side he turned around and came back.

Pelicans at Cudgen Creek near Kingscliff NSW.

Pelicans at Cudgen Creek near Kingscliff NSW.

We are seeing more of these lizards lately. This one was found sunning itself on the rockwall of Cudgen Creek which empties into the sea at Kingscliff Beach.

We are seeing more of these lizards lately. This one was found sunning itself on the rockwall of Cudgen Creek which empties into the sea at Kingscliff Beach.

Friday 16th August

Another un exciting day but I had my final dental appointment in the afternoon. The southerly change from yesterday was evident in the cool winds despite brilliant sunshine.

Saturday 17th August

Today we had planned to take grandson Chris to the Planetarium but he did not want to go. Instead Donnis and I decided to have a picnic at Mount Tamborine which is included as part of the Gold Coast.   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamborine_Mountain    Instead of taking the longer but quicker Motorway 1 route we decided to travel inland to Canungra, a shorter trip but passing through more suburbia.

Part of the small village of Canungra.

Part of the small village of Canungra.

The small hut used by local Canungra painter, Edwin Bode,  1859 - 1926.

The small hut used by local Canungra painter, Edwin Bode, 1859 – 1926.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canungra,_Queensland   After a short stop in Canungra we started the steep and winding one lane road to the top. The road has a steep drop to the valley floor and part way up the mountain the road becomes so narrow there are traffic lights so traffic only flows in one direction. There is no way cars could pass on this ever narrowing road. There is simply nowhere to back up and the drop off is a bit frightening.

Incidentally the Australian Army has a Jungle Warfare Training facility in the steep rainforest covered hills. Back in the Vietnam war days this training facility was the final training centre before heading overseas. It had a reputation for being a tough course.

Once at the summit of Mt Tamborine we could see the Gold Coast spread out far below.

House perched atop the steep valley looking over the Gold Coast.

House perched atop the steep valley looking over the Gold Coast.

View of the Gold Coast from beside the house.

View of the Gold Coast from beside the house.

There are many walking tracks in the National Park but today we were running out of time and besides, it was a bit chilly.

We decided to drive home via the M1 and once at the bottom of the range realised our friend Glenda B lives at Nerang so we took a small detour to drop in for a coffee.

Sunday 18th August

Today I took a bus into the City and walked to the City Gardens, Government House and the Queensland University of Technology.

Projected aquarium display at QUT. from the ground floor the display looks like one complete viewing panel but is in fact two right angle walls.

Projected aquarium display at QUT. from the ground floor the display looks like one complete viewing panel but is in fact two right angle walls.

Today only,was a festival called Robotronica   http://www.robotronica.qut.edu.au/demos/  and I was caught in the thick of the crowds of people all wanting to see and touch displays. All the demos, tours, talks and displays were simply booked out or overcrowded. I am sure the organisers were not expecting such overwhelming crowds…neither was I.

Active robot in the Governors House

Active robot in the Governors House

One display I particularly wanted to see was a heavy duty quadricopter (in fact this version had 6 rotors) but the display was overwhelmed and no flying displays were scheduled. Pity as I have an AR Drone quadricopter and wanted to see how this version performed.

While on the QUT grounds I took time to visit the original Government House where, of course, the Governor lived from 1862 to 1910. This is such a beautiful and elegant building, maintained as part of the QUT Campus

.180813 gov

The Queensland Governors office.

The Queensland Governors office.

Governors Library.

Governors Library.

I had a little luck here as one lifelike robot was on active display wandering in and around the crowds inside the Governors house, When approached the robot would back up or change direction, never touching a person although many people had to pat the robot.