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.
Bulli Pass was built by loggers in the 19th century in an effort to find an easier way to get their timber to Sydney.
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.
Naturally Amelia wanted to fly the kite but the wind was quite strong and it was likely to pull her along the beach.
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.
Next came the stonework around the harbour, much of it rough dressed and built around existing rock features.
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.
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
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
After lunch we drove Ken to the airport then headed back to Bev and Pete’s house for a relaxing afternoon.