Posts Tagged ‘New England Highway’

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.

Advertisements

386. Sunday 21st September 2014. First week in new home and a couple of days in Court…

22/09/2014

Monday 15th September

…and so begins the first week in our new home.

Unpacking continues slowly. There is still not enough space in the garage to fit either car. Today we managed to free up enough space to move the two steel cabinets into the multi- purpose room behind the garage. In turn this allowed us to get many of the smaller items off the floor and into the shelves so we can reach other items and begin putting “stuff” away.

Tuesday 16th September

Unpacking and putting away continues and will do so for some days to come but at least the initial overwhelming scope of the task has diminished.

Donnis has managed to have a swim in our heated pool yesterday and today. We took a walk to Treasure Island and sorted out our site agreement. The giant caravan park has a Treasure Island, Pirate and Adventure theme activities for children (and adults) to enjoy. There are so many things to do in the park that many families arrive and just stay in the park until it is time to go home. As tenants of our village we are entitled to use the facilities when we have visitors. We then walked to Centrelink to re-register for my pension. We also managed a walk across the road to Harbourtown Shopping Centre to get a few groceries. Late in the afternoon we sorted enough “stuff” to make space for TERIOS in the garage.

Yay!

Tomorrow I have to leave Donnis for at least three days, perhaps four to cope with day to day unpacking and sorting while I travel to Armidale over the border in New South Wales to attend court as a character witness.

Wednesday 17th September

Today I travelled the number 1 highway over the border into New South Wales as far as Ballina where I turned west onto the Bruxner Highway through Lismore, Casino, the historic town of Tabulum and on to Tenterfield where I turned south on the New England Highway to Armidale. The  town of Tabulum is quite small but has a very old and rickety one lane  timber bridge over the Clarence River. The bridge was built in 1902 and still carries all the traffic from the coast to Tenterfield. Have look at the history and some photographs here. https://www.google.com.au/search?q=tabulam+bridge&es_sm=122&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=oHEdVI7GOcOC8gXo9ICoDA&ved=0CCEQsAQ and https://www.google.com.au/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=5&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CC8QFjAE&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.northernstar.com.au%2Fnews%2Fthe-fight-to-save-the-tabulam-bridge%2F1981771%2F&ei=oHEdVI7GOcOC8gXo9ICoDA&usg=AFQjCNF9Lb26IzeotoneWgBibOhtylQh7A&sig2=4BIc1s17I3KcQBG-Bu6y1A&bvm=bv.75775273,d.dGc

About 20Klm south of the little town of Deepwater I heard a siren and saw flashing lights in my rear view mirror. As I was sitting on the speed limit I pulled to the side to allow the Police to pass.

Nope!

He was not passing. He was pulling me over!!! WTF!!!  The Police officer approached me and asked for my licence. Uh huh. Can do. He then told me he was doing a Random Breath Test!

Huh! A random breath test In the middle of %#@*ing nowhere!!!  No officer I have not had a drink today. I passed the test. He thanked me for my co-operation, wished me a safe journey and went back to the patrol car. WTF was that all about???  Later young Gavin explained that my Queensland plates probably caught his attention. Why would you pull up individual cars for a random Breath Test? Surely he would capture more drink drivers by having a roadside breath test station and stopping ten or more cars at a time? Having the flashing lights and siren almost gave me a heart attack!

Once I arrived in Armidale late in the afternoon and opened the car door the cold hit me like a blast from a cool room. Wow! I had forgotten how cold it can be here compared to the coast. It is Spring after all!

Thursday 18th September.

Without providing any personal information I will comment on the bare reasons why I am in Armidale. I am here to provide a character reference for a friend who has been charged with a criminal offence. We spent most of the day sitting and or pacing the waiting area in the new Armidale courthouse. The case was in a Closed Court which means until we enter the courtroom as a witness or character reference we are not allowed to watch and or listen to anything presented. The main door to the courtroom has a narrow glass panel where we could look into the room and see some of the players including the person giving evidence on a closed circuit TV. Obviously the person was in another room somewhere in the building. We could not hear anything but once while peering through the glass panel the Sheriff came around the corner and said we are not allowed to watch proceedings and to move away from the door. This did not stop other persons such as a detective and other witnesses from coming and looking – after first checking for where the Sheriff was. located.

A long and boring day was had by all but at least it was an opportunity to talk with people I know.

Friday 19th September

Another day at court. The other character witness (he is also a character in his own right) and I fully expected to be called in the morning. By lunchtime neither of us had been called. After lunch the prosecution witnesses were called and by almost days end the other character witness was called. At that stage the judge called a halt to the proceedings and declared next sitting would be the last week of October and I was left standing and feeling like a Shag on a rock – hung out to dry. The defence barrister advised he will try to get my statement issued via an affidavit to save another trip next month.

Grrr!!!

Saturday 20th September.

At this point I feel I can mention I stayed at the White Lanterns Motel in Armidale. A motel which looks nice on the outside but the cleanliness leaves a lot toi be desired. It seems the relief manager is a one man band of front desk, cleaner, cook and general repair man. Frankly he is falling behind on most of those jobs.

Another long drive back to the Gold Coast. The route I had taken was a reverse of the one taken to arrive in Armidale. I should mention that the journey between Tenterfield and Casino involves travelling over the Great Dividing Range. Part of the trip is a 34 Klm stretch of up and down and around corners which has speed limits of 35Klm per hour and seems to be the longest slowest part of the trip. Today the traffic over the bridge at Tabulum involved stopping in queue at one end while traffic came from the other end. It is a good thing I was not still living in Airlie Beach as I would have had at least two, perhaps three, plane trips each way. It was so nice being back in my new home in my old familiar bed and let the tension of the last few days and the long drive home ease out of my mind and body.

Sunday 21st September

We visited the giant Ikea store located about 40 Klm along the motorway towards Brisbane. If you have never been to an Ikea Store it is sort of like being trapped in a maze. The maze is so well designed to pull you away from the main route – which is marked by a lighted arrow on the floor – to explore room designs Ikea also put a cafeteria at the beginning and or end of the maze to encourage you to stop and eat to recover from your ordeal.

Afterwards we drove to visit Regelyn and son Chris who agreed to come and stay with us for a few days.

Hmmm! All unpacking has come to a grinding halt and no further unpacking will occur until after Chris goes home.

291. Sunday 30th December 2012. Long drive into Christmas…

30/12/2012

Monday 24th December – Christmas Eve.

Christmas Eve sunrise looking over New England ranges.

Christmas Eve sunrise looking over New England ranges.

We were on the road by 7am facing a journey of 596 klms and according to Google Maps would take 7 hours and 18 minutes. I chose the route which would take us through Armidale, Tamworth, Scone, Muswellbrook and Maitland to pick up the M1 Freeway to Wahroonga then pick up the M2 Tollway which includes a tunnel under the Lane Cove River and the tunnel under Sydney Harbour. Most of this avoided traffic until we reached Brighton Le Sands where we came to a standstill. The next two klms took twenty minutes. After stopping to change drivers twice, three fuel stops and morning coffee and lunch stops we eventually arrived at Bev n Pete’s house at Gymea 9 hours and 18 minutes after starting.

Tuesday 25th December – Christmas Day.

After breakfast with Bev n Pete, we drove the 60 or so Klms to Corrimal via the steep, winding and breathtaking views of Bulli Pass. We spent Christmas Day with Errol

Errol

Errol

and Nicole

Nicole.

Nicole.

and the two children Amelia

Amelia Christmas Day.

Amelia Christmas Day.

and Hannah. Nicoles mother, Merilyn, flew from Melbourne as did Nicole’s brother Scott and his wife Monica.

Hannah and Monica.

Hannah and Monica.

Nicoles other brother Greg flew from the Gold Coast. The day was mostly cold wet and windy but we enjoyed Christmas lunch of Turkey and Ham with trimmings. Dinner was Prawns and salad. Donnis and I drove back to Sydney for the night.

Errol and Frank

Errol and Frank

Wednesday 26th December – Boxing Day.

After breakfast we once more drove to Corrimal via Bulli Pass. At least the sun was out today but only on a casual basis. We drove to Austinmer Beach for coffee and a stroll around the north and south headlands.    http://www.visitnsw.com/destinations/south-coast/wollongong-and-surrounds/thirroul/attractions/austinmer-beach

Frank at Northern Austinmer headland

Frank at Northern Austinmer headland

More Austinmer south coastline

More Austinmer south coastline

Austinmer south Coastline

Austinmer south Coastline

Donnis braved the chill breeze to swim the two rock pools.

After dinner we all drove to Woonona to look at a street where all the houses were lit with Christmas lights.

Amelia in lights.

Amelia in lights.

Nicole, Amelia, Merilyn, Donnis

Nicole, Amelia, Merilyn, Donnis

Nicole, Errol, Monica, Scott, Frank, Merilyn, Greg and Amelia

Nicole, Errol, Monica, Scott, Frank, Merilyn, Greg and Amelia

After saying our farewells to the family we drove back to Gymea.

Thursday 27th December.

We had a big day with Bev n Pete who organised a walking tour of “The Rocks”, part of the original settlement of Australia by Europeans. The day was so big and with lots of photographs I have decided to break this post into two parts. The first being the normal weekly post followed by a post about our walking tour of The Rocks. The Rocks post will be presented within a day or two…once I have edited the photos down to an acceptable twenty or so.

In the evening another sister, Enid, arrived from the Sunshine Coast. Bev n Petes three sons David, Christopher and Mitch with his girlfriend Sam all arrived about the same time. It was a loud and lively dinner table for a post Christmas get together.

Friday 28th December.

After a leisurely breakfast and saying our good-byes to family we left Gymea and headed north. There was more traffic today with a good portion  of it heading out of town…in the same direction  as us. The traffic flowed well and we once again took the Sydney Harbour Tunnel then the Lane Cove River Tunnel and joined the M2 until the Beecroft Road off ramp. Traffic was still flowing well until we hit the Pennant Hills Road where traffic was bumper to bumper, creeping and crawling for the next seven Klms until we reached the M1 Freeway. At the Beresfield off ramp (near Newcastle) we turned left onto the New England Highway and enjoyed a reasonable run home. The traffic heading further north joined a traffic grid lock which spread for 35 Klms! We are sure glad we decided not to take the alternate route!  We stopped for dinner at a Thai Restaurant at Armidale. The trip today, including meal and fuel stops took 10 hours and 18 minutes.

Saturday 29th December

After all the travel of the previous 5 days I thought we might have a quiet day at home. However we did drive to Armidale for a top up of groceries.

Sunday 30th December

Today was officially a rest day. We are still tired from the driving this week and Donnis is suffering from hay fever. I cut the grass for a couple of hours and I suppose the grass dust did not help her condition.

The report on The Rocks should appear in a day or two.