Saturday, October 30, 2010

The road home

Well its time to pack up and head for home. We had a great trip and had a good time rain and all. The sun is shining as we pack. From here Gaz, Shaz are heading in a different direction.  Di and I will head almost straight home while Gaz will head down the coast so we said our good byes and off we went. We had a slight change of plans early in the trip (not all by design) and went through Newcastle. We ended up going around the wharf area where the coal ships are loaded. Very interesting as was Newcastle – might be worth a closer look on a future trip. We ended up back on the Newcastle freeway near Donaldson.  After that pretty uneventful except for the rain – again. It rained from Donaldson till we got to Gundagai. We planned to stay at Gundagai over night and booked into the van park. Patto’s law kicked in as we came out of the office flat tyre on the van.  The park wasn’t bad but was almost on the Hume freeway was very noisy. Next morning we headed off after getting the tyre fixed and apart from RAIN it was a good trip.
We rated, after some discussion, the amenities at Gundagai a 4. One ply toilet paper just doesn’t cut it. And whilst the standard was good we were spoilt at Anna Bay.
Well our trip started as it ended, raining, but in the end it didn’t matter we had a great time and have seen just a little more of this great country. The pictures are of an Austin 7 and I was wondering what it would have been like to travel this country in one of these little go karts. Now that sounds like a plan!!!!!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Anna Bay – Day 4

Today Di and I had a few things we wanted to do. First point of call was the sea rescue base at Tomaree Point. There is a museum, the sea rescue operations centre, a great view and a wonderful coffee shop. We sampled all four areas and whilst the volunteers manning the station were good they could not beat the coffee and scones. Duly recharged we headed for Tomaree point for a bit of walking. You know there are comedians everywhere and this place has its fair share. The walk we chose was listed as “moderate” what they forgot to say was what that meant. Was it moderately hard, moderately easy, moderately difficult etc.

You see in Katoomba they rated the walks similarly I.e easy, moderate, hard or difficult and subtitled with a fitness level. For instance the Fergul steps were difficult and required a good level of fitness. The walk we chose was moderate so off we toddle blissfully unaware of the comedian. This walk would have rated the same as the Fergul steps in Katoomba – it had just as many blood steps and as steep. But we made it and were rewarded by the most magnificent views of the Nelson Bay area. Oh I forgot to mention the snake which slowed our progress. A 1.5 meter diamond python decided it was going to share the path with us. Di had other ideas and we nearly never made the top but Bardi Grub Patto stepped in and we coaxed the rather spectacular python to increase his distance between Di and our direction of travel and onward we went. The descent was uneventful except for a rather large monitor or goanna which we did not see but were assured by the rather excited couple, on the side of the path, existed. After that the day was rather uneventful, lunch at NSW best fish and chip shop (that’s what the sign said) back to the van and a walk up to the Buribi SLSC to see the sand dunes (because they are not your every day sand hills)

Anna Bay - Day 3

Today Gaz and I have booked an off shore fishing charter. So it was an early start to proceedings as we had to be at the wharf at 6.00 am. Everything supplied so sounded like a good choice for us. We were chauffeured to our boat by Shaz who sacrificed a sleep in for us.

We meet our other participants at the wharf which meant we had 6 on the boat plus 2 crew. We met the skipper on the wharf who turned out to be the boat owner but he didn’t come with us – chatted us up then nicked off leaving us with Gilligan (sorry deck hand Chad and the “Captain”) and we set sail (well not actually sail more the throb of a diesel engine) off into the wild blue yonder. The sun was just rising and the view as we moved out of the harbour was great. Past the coast guard station at Tomaree point and out in to the open sea. It was a reasonable successful day. I of course got nothing, zilch, zero but every one else managed a fish or two. Gaz managed a gummy shark about 1.3 mtrs which gave him some curry. We were at a depth of about 200 ft so that’s a lot of fishing line to reel in. He however had another handicap – seasickness. While yours truly was fairing exceptionally well Gaz had been violently seasick from the second marker. If you can imagine this the boat rotating between about 45 deg in the 3 mtr swell leaning over the side reeling in a foul hooked fish weighing 3 to 4 kg with gear that was just about stuffed all the while being seasick with Gilligan and the skipper providing useless advise on the probable species of an, as yet, unseen fish. He did get the fish in and managed to survive the rest of the trip albeit a bit weaker. The fish was enjoyed as an evening meal and Gaz plucked up markedly as we came through the channel into closed waters. It was however an effort worth of mention.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Anna Bay - Day 2

Well today the weather gods smiled we had a glorious day. Di and Shaz decided that they would have a girls day so Gaz and I had a blokes day (said in a very deep voice for effect). We headed out to fighter world which is attached to Williamtown air force base. They have a good collection of fighter aircraft which we could view and climb around.
 There were even a couple of cockpit sections of fuselage which you could get into and sit in the pilot seat. For someone a bit keen on planes it was all very nice. David the manager there was a wealth of knowledge on the history of each. Most of the exhibits are part of the Point Cook museum and they had planes from New Zealand, Korean and Indian air forces. We spent most of the morning poking and prodding around the exhibits. There is also a viewing platform which looks out over the airfield and today the F18 hornets were in action. They were just awesome to watch and very loud.
Di and Shaz ended up at the macadamia nut farm which was not that far from fighter world. Unfortunately it is not the right time of the season so not much was happening but I did see a photo of the morning tea and it looked pretty good and then a spot of scrap booking I believe.
After lunch it was a fishing expedition for Gaz and I. The break water looked pretty good and so we ventured on. We caught a few, which all were returned to the water (except for the ones the pelicans caught as we released our catches). These bloody pelican must have eyes in their bums they could spot a hookup from the other end of the break water and would be on top of your catch as you reeled in. They would literally be coming at you as you unhooked. No keepers for us but very pleasant. The girls had a relaxing afternoon building up their vitamin B in the sunshine.

Katoomba – Nelson Bay (Anna bay)

You know sometimes you just have to wonder who you have pee’d off so bad that they take great joy in retribution. It poured all night in Katoomba and I know it’s a long time since some of us have seen a good shower of rain and I should be grateful the drought has broken but why on the 2 weeks we decide to go away is my question. It was still raining when we got up, and after we had a wonderful breakfast as we hooked up the vans, infact it didn’t stop all the way to Anna Bay. So we pulled on to our camp site and hibernated. It couldn’t get any worse I guess (the weather that is) No photos to day didn’t even open the bag.

Nelson Bay – Day 1
Well it didn’t get worse but it didn’t get any better until lunch time. Rained and blew a gale all night and they say rain on a tin roof is romantic go figure. We headed into Nelson Bay and had a walk around the town and then drove a long the bay inland for quite a way. We couldn’t get out of the car – guess why it was pouring. The gods smiled on us about lunch time and we spied a little blue sky. We had a little cleaning and maintenance to do on the van so that was the first priority in for the fine weather. Gaz and I then had a stroll along the beach checking out the scenery (and likely fishing spots). There is an orange algae in the water up here at the moment which could account for the dozens of dead birds on the beach. The sea was quite rough and choppy and you could sea the orange tinge in the white water. Guess if we catch anything it will be catch and release. I wouldn’t fancy being in the same company as the birds. Weather is supposed to improve again tomorrow so we will see what transpires.
We have rated the ensuite an 8 which is quite high but it deserves it. Di has deducted points because it is raised off the ground and there are 3 steps to get to the landing (yes it has a landing). Di has become unforgiving of stairs or steps since her little mishap.  They are clean and quite new. There is also 2 ply toilet paper and a mop, bucket, broom, brush and shovel. Very important when half the sand in Anna Bay seems to stick to your boots.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Katoomba ­– Day 6 The Final day

Today is our last day in Katoomba although it won’t be the last time we will be here because we will come back. We have only scratched the surface of this magnificent area. Today Gaz and I decided to tackle two walks, the first around the Katoomba cascades to warm up and then we descended the Fueber Steps I didn’t take the GPS so I can't say how far we walked or through what elevations we descended and ascended all I know is I don’t want to see another step for a while.

The path (and steps) took us under the Katoomba falls then descended down the rock face. It eventually ended up at the base of the scenic rail station. We didn’t go all the way we were probably 400 or 500 mtrs short (vertically) but we had to climb all the way back and people a lot younger than me were struggling. But make it we did and not in to bad a shape I might add. We will be sorry to go but also looking forward to Nelson Bay. We have about a three hour drive tomorrow mostly on motorway so should be pretty easy – as long as my navigation holds up. The van park was almost empty until a short while ago and is rapidly filling up with maui campers some over seas club must have booked every Maui in Australia. We have just chated to a couple of the travellers and they are from Holland and will be in Aussie land for 28 day then their off to the land of the long white cloud for 28 days.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Katoomba - Day 5

What can I say today we woke to another (ho hum) reasonable day. We slacked off today and sat around talking to Gaz and Shaz till nearly 10 and then we had some tough decisions – should we go for a walk, should we go back to the gardens and walk or which track, lookout or water fall should we do today. The decisions we need to make. Before anything could happen though I had to photograph Ken the park curator. A very interesting and funny man with only one down fall he is a mad keen collingwood supporter. The photo is of his office, Ken was supposed to be in the shot with his scarf but he dodged so we only got the office. His wife tells me that most of the collingwood decorations have gone but she hasn't been able to get the collingwood donna cover off the bed. Collingwood supports what a bunch. This information is for Maxi at Kerang who unfortunately is also a collingwood supporter. In the end Di and I headed off west along the cliff road, found a dirt road and kept driving. It was a pleasant trip although we jarred Di’s jaw a few times. The picture is of the facilities they provide site seers with around here, all very civilised and comfy.
After our “off road excursion” we headed up to Blackheath to the Rhododendron Gardens again for a leisurely stroll through more of the gardens. Di made the comment that Aunty Pearl would have loved it and I’m sure where ever she is it probably resembles something like this. And the ladies at the kiosk serve wonderful scones with jam and cream as well. From there it was east again to the Leura Cascades and a stroll to the bottom. The walk brings you out at the cliff face just above the falls.
We found a few fungi which made Di happy. From the Cascade we headed for Wentworth falls. Two things happened to end our quest for yet another falls walk: 1) David’s navigation failed again and we ended up at the Wentworth lake and 2) the thunder final provided a down pour so we cut our losses and headed for Leura Township for lunch and met up with Gaz and Shaz. A pleasant fare we had and thought a walk along the shopping precinct would be good, until the heavens opened. Time to return to the camp and so ended another day of toil and sweat. Oh how the other half live.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Day 4 – Katoomba

Another great day as we rose to the birds singing and we decided that Jenolan Caves was the place to be today. So the four intrepid adventures headed off at leisurely pace. The road in wasn’t to bad. Very narrow and windy with nice scenery added in but nothing spectacular – that was until we got to the caves. You have to drive through a cave to get to the caves and that was unexpected and remarkable. On the other side I guess you could call it the Jenolan Caves village is situated. The buildings are quite old and in pretty good condition and again was very pleasant. We did the orient cave tour and I know we have been to a few caves both in Aussie land and New Zealand but they never cease to amaze and all are quite different. I think we all came out better for the experience and our guide was a very pleasant chap indeed. Lots of stairs, lots of photos and stalagmites, stalactites, etc etc etc. It was pretty steep and narrow in a number of places so it’s just as well I have lost some weight! (Di’s laughing wants to know where).  Once out of the caves we had a relaxing lunch in the village before heading back. On the way home we went to the Rhododendron Gardens which is all managed by volunteers and is big at around 45 hectares. We explored about 1 acre and took a lot of photo’s. The varied and range of plants is incredible and is such a magnificent show. We had the privilege of being serenaded by frogs which echoed strangely around the valley.
Last stop on the way home was Govertts Leap lookout and again there is the wow. I said on our New Zealand blog you become a little blasé about the beauty after  a while but there is always something incredible, picturesque or interesting everywhere.
Now we decided that coffee was in order to complete this day so we tried a place called “Common Ground” alternative would be one way to describe it but hey we are adventurous people. It was a fitting end to the day and very pleasant although I wouldn’t have been surprised if I started seeing fairies and skipping through the tulips. Ahh well we shall sleep well tonight.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Katoomba – day 3

Well if yesterday was bad today was brilliant. Gaz and Chaz turned up late yesterday and we decided if the weather was good we would do the scenic railway etc. What a fantastic morning (after a good nights sleep). After purchasing our discovery tickets, which entitled us to a return trip on each of the three modes of transport, we set off.
Our first trip was on the cable car across the Katoomba Falls Gorge. The view into the gorge was spectacular with Katoomba Falls in full flight. The cable car stretch 500 meters across the valley at a maximum height of 250 meters above the valley floor. I tested my nerve and walked across the glass floor mid way across – I have conquered another barrier. Di followed damn we are becoming dare devils. Apparently the car was used in an episode of the biggest loser when they had to descend on rope ladders. From there it was the scenic railway. At first glance a formidable structure with huge grab rails and metal mesh on the side and roof. Once we went over the edge all became apparent. At the steepest point you are 2 shades short of vertical and down you go through the bowls of the rock. In retrospect, for my liking, the tow cable should have been double the size. And then we returned – backwards. This was and is the original scenic rail that has operated since day one, albeit the carriages have been modernised and “improved”.  Pictures and words are not a justifiable means of conveying this place, not only on these engineering feats but the Blue Mountains in general – a very cathartic place and one that we will have fond memories of. Back to our third mode of transport  - the sky rail. Not dissimilar to the cable car only this doesn’t go across it goes down and up on a very steep angle. From the scenic railway and the skyrail you can get off at the bottom and there are walking trails every where around the valley. The main ones are suspended board walks and the four of us meander around soaking it all in, stopping to sit and contemplate every 15 minutes or so. We also followed the trail to the old coal mine site which gave a bit of the areas rich history. From my point of view I’m very happy the coal mines are no longer here but the mountains are.
Di on the only horse she is ever likely to ride. The other picture is of a rock formation called the 3 sisters. It is an indigenous story of three sisters but I'm not writing it here as there are a number of different versions.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Katoomba - Day one

A new day and I must say I find Katoomba very pleasant. The caravan park is quiet but busy and is very, very pleasant. I would recommend it and come back again. Ken the caretaker  talks at 100 mph but is extremely helpful. The town reminds me of a mix of Daylesford and Cuba st in Wellington. The weather is, well raining, but still not unpleasant. It’s a fine mist which just saturates everything and creates this eerie mist effect around the place we went for a drive to few lookouts etc but you couldn’t see much. We are waiting for Gaz and Chaz to arrive although that will be late today as they are driving through from Wodonga. They stayed at the “princesses” caravan park last night so will be interesting to get their thoughts. I hope the weather clears as there are loads of walks to do and we want do a few. Di is a bit sore and sorry today and has the makings of a bruise on the cheek and aches and pains. Today I think will be pretty quiet for us which is not such a bad thing. Di is probably going to do some scrap booking. Above is Di looking out over the Blue Mountains.
We have done our assessment of the ablutions block and we have given it a 7. It obviously services the whole park but is clean and neat. It also has 24 hr piped music. I can’t complain about anything so my standing as a grumpy old fart may be tarnished.
Below is the view from our annex to the cabin on the opposite camp site

Day 4 Goulburn – Katoomba Epilogue

Di was convinced as we left Goulburn that today was not going to be a good one. Her reasoning stemmed from the bad start to the day. We decided that the Maca’s McCafe just down the road would offer a treat (as if Maca’s is a treat) and we were looking forward to the morning latte. We got a capalatte which is my way of saying a cold cappuccino with enough chocolate on top to make a couple of freddo frogs. Very disappointing clown man. The” barista” was in need of a personality transplant.  So off we toddle on our way and as we neared Penrith I decided I needed a drink and we would get some fuel. It was my turn to have a melt down with another personality challenged attendant. The rest of the day wasn’t too bad or so we thought – never let your guard down. We had turned in for the night when the call of the ablutions block got to Di. In transit the ground and Di,s chin collided. I heard a faint call at the door and went to investigate to find Di with a palm covered in blood. It would be fair to say I used quite a bit of my first aid skill although I suspect Di wouldn’t use the word skill. After that there was no more excitement –just as well.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Gouburn to Katoomba

Not much to report except from Penrith there was nothing but road works. We arrived at about 12.30 after the navigator stuffed up (me) and we ended up half way to Lithgow before we could turn around. This afternoon was chill time. We think it will be pretty cold up here at night but if today is anything to go by they should be good. Photo of Camp Tranquility.

Day 3 – Wodonga to Goulburn

We woke to a reasonable day and not wishing to leave the riveting company of our hosts we managed to get away pretty quick. It was a couple of hour trip and noting much exciting happened. We went through Holbrook and Tarcutta. Holbrook didn’t look to bad lots of water on the sides of the road etc. Tarcutta coped it I would say. Pretty much anything near the river would have been flooded. There was a lot of debris on the road but it was still in pretty good nick. The pub looked in pretty bad way and I wouldn’t buy fuel from the servo for a while. The digs for the night are pretty reasonable to. The wind is blowing a gale and cold as. The owner here tells me it snowed 2 nights ago and I think we will be in for a cold night. Outside the office the owner has set up his own miniature railway. He has put a lot of work into and is quite interesting. I don’t know who the artist was that created the ant ensemble but they watch over the railway. I have rated the ensuite a 5 which was ok.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Day two – Still in Wodonga

Well we woke to the news that the Hume had been cut at Holbrook so we made the decision to stay put another night which was a small logistical issue as we had to push all our bookings out a day. The “wonderful “ proprietor told us how much extra work it had caused her and Di’s current favourite phrase almost made it out of my mouth. Suck it up princess I was thinking. I have decided on this tour I need a hobby so I am going to rate all the ablutions blocks and ensuites at the places we stay. I think a scale of 10 would be good with 1 “we would have been better with a shower tent and plastic bottle to 10 the absolute epitome of luxury”.  At our current abode I would rate 3. The garden shed they call our “ensuite” has been divided into 4 equal sections with plywood and 100 mile an hour tape. The exhaust fan is so noisy that you expect to have foot straps and seat belts so you don’t get sucked out the vent. There is a reason, I believe, for this it’s so anyone else who may be using theirs will not get embarrassed by toilet noise. On the plus side there is plenty of hot water.

The weather is still deciding what to do but we have had some blue sky. I thought I might do a bit of maintenance this morning on the van so off we toddled to get some supplies. We came across a farmers market at the info centre and a local was selling waratahs so a flower shot for Di. After lunch we headed for the Hume weir. We had been told it was nearly over the spill way so we thought we would go take a peak. It wasn’t quite there but hasn’t far to go. The rooster tail from the hydro plant was pretty impressive. As you can tell looking at Di it was hot and dusty out at the dam. Don’t care if we have to put pontoons on the van we are out of here tomorrow.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Day one - Rain

Day one of Tagalong tours epic journey and as our two brave souls left the relative comfort of home we reflected on life and its vagrancies. It pissed down raining, hardly let up and the old van we have discovered has a few leaks. But we will soldier on through the wind (head on, side on and up my bum) all the way to Wodonga. We noticed a bit of blue sky about 20 kms south of Wodonga and we rejoiced. A mite premature I might say got drowned unhooking the van. Ah well we have started our holiday and that’s all that matters. The wind and the rain have gone at the moment so we will hopefully have a restful and quiet night. We also have been told the highway could be cut or at least partially closed north of Albury. I have put up a photo of us at Wodonga just before I got drowned – again. Oh the joy.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The start of something big

Welcome to our new site (if anyone actually looked at our old one). Not long now and we head of on this years little sojourn. Blue Mountains and Nelson Bay I can't wait, although it will be interesting times. Buggered shoulder etc will  make life a little interesting and to make matters worse its my casting arm, wonder if Di would like to learn to cast? We will keep you posted on our progress and Di's casting prowess she is just gunna live that.