573. Sunday 15th October 2017. Packing, a visitor and rain, real rain arrives…

Tuesday 10th October

At last at last at last. All the packing at Peters house is complete. The removalists arrived. They saw.

They conquered.

Everything was packed into a container and taken away to their depot for storage. We completed the vacuuming, sweeping, cleaning and mopping.

All done.

Phew!

Wednesday 11th October

I collected daughter Averyl from Brisbane airport and drove home to the Gold Coast. We joined her for an inspection of a few units in the new tower beside us. This was followed by a drive around Surfers Paradise, Broadbeach, Miami Beach, Burleigh Heads and Palm Beach. We had dinner at Palm Beach Surf Life Saving Club and came home via a different route.

Perhaps my memory is not so good these days. We had a meal here within the last 12 months and the prices were not this high. Donnis agrees so maybe my memory is still OK.

Thursday 12th October

Averyl went for an early morning walk and invited us to join her for breakfast. I chose Café 4 U in the Aqua Building on Marine Parade Labrador. The reason for my choice? Have a look at this review on Trip Advisor.

Cheap does not always mean bad – and in this case, it is bloody awesome
$7 buys you 2 eggs, bacon, slice of buttered toast, hash brown, sausage and a serve of baked beans- really what’s not to love????
With a coffee-$10 in total – good quality, cheap and an excellent coffee all for $10 and that view is beautiful
Staff service is friendly and professional
Definitely coming back here again
https://www.tripadvisor.com.au/ShowUserReviews-g659071-d5801523-r372447819-Cafe_4_U-Labrador_Gold_Coast_Queensland.html#

 

I could not have said it better myself.

Lets put that in perspective.

A McDonalds Bacon and Egg McMuffin plus a hash brown and a coffee will cost you about the same. Without the personalised service.

The only pity is that more places do not put out a simple cheap menu like this. We see breakfasts at towns and cities and suburbs in our travels. Generally the bacon and eggs will cost about $16 to $20 extra for tea or coffee.

Another exception is the Star Coffee Co at Harbourtown Biggera Waters. The same breakfast as Cafe 4 u is only $5.90.

Hmmm! That is about almost as cheap as I can do it at home.

After that it was a lazy sort of day except Donnis and Averyl spent the afternoon shopping at Harbourtown.

Sigh!

Friday 13th October

Oooooohhh! Friday 13th!!!

Apart from a silly movie a few years back and a couple of forgettable sequels, the day was much like any normal day. Averyls friend Justine arrived and they were both on their way to Dracula’s House at Broadbeach for the dinner and the show.

https://www.draculas.com.au/gold-coast/

Saturday 14th October

So begins the rain.

Sunday 15th October

The rain continues.

Heavy and accompanied by strong southerly winds.

Wot the? It feels like winter.

 

 

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572. Sunday 8th October 2017. Packing Pete’s house, a visitor and doorways to…

Sunday 8th October

We spent three days this week driving to Mt Cotton to pack up Pete’s house ready for the removalist to collect and put into storage next week.

Iain who has been staying with us left this morning to return to Armidale.

Apart from that it has been a quiet week so I thought I would open a few doors.

Gotham City Hall. Need I say anything more?gotham

Ray White Real Estate Kiama062 ray white kiama

In fact the entire external walls and internal walls had been painted up in bright Ray White Real Estate colours.

Inverell Pioneer Village067 village inverell

Interesting displays of old buildings, artifacts, tools and especially old machinery

Onboard Bundeena Ferry operating since 1939072 bundeena boat

Just love the old timber coated with so many coats of paint built up over time whereas the   brass fittings have been polished so often they are becoming thinner.

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Notice how even the screw head slot has been worn thin with constant cleaning over 80 years.

Lightning Ridge Lockup

Interesting on the day of court sittings to men (well mostly men sometimes women) are held in this tin box awaiting trial. Lightning Ridge is hot most of the time but temperatures of 45 degrees and above are common during summer. The only shade if from a tree beside the lockup.073 lockup lightning ridge

Watchtower La Perouse

Built in 1821 and staffed by soldiers it was used as a lookout for people trying to arrive in the Colony by what was known as “the back door” at Botany Bay. Later it was used as a watchtower for a perceived invasion by Russia. No such invasion was ever planned. It was pure isolationist unconfirmed rumour.075 watchtower la perouse

Mudbrick Lightning Ridge

This old mud brick building (with a new door and windows) can be found in the main street of Lightning Ridge.mud brick lightning ridge

The Rocks

These old terrace houses in Playfair St The Rocks, Sydney were built between 1875 to 1877. They are NSW Heritage listed. It ssems strange to have doors so close together. One door for a street level residence and the other door for upstairs.066 the rocks

There is  quite a long history about these terrace houses which can be found here   http://www.shfa.nsw.gov.au/sydney-About_us-Our_heritage_role-Heritage_and_Conservation_Register.htm&objectid=138

 

571. Sunday 1st October 2017. A long drive home, Kombis and moving…

Monday 25th September.

While in Sydney we took the opportunity to visit Aunt Gwen at her flat in Redfern. She still looks so young and her mind is sharp. She has now completed a self- imposed project of converting all her collection of 500 DVD’s to her computer hard drive. I do not know too many people who could even contemplate such a task let alone somebody approaching her 94th birthday.

After morning tea we headed to La Perouse to visit friends Geoff and Margaret. Geoff is never still, always working on a new project around the house. Either that or he does lots of internet research. As usually is the case we swap ideas and discuss new computer projects we are exploring.

After leaving La Perouse (Noting it was now peak hour traffic time and pondering how we let a window of time slip away) we struggled with the Sydney traffic all wanting to be somewhere in the general direction we wanted to be. By the time we reached Gymea it was almost time for dinner. We all chose grilled Barramundi at Miranda RSL.

Tuesday 26th September

We started the long journey home and managed to get away at what is usually a safe time to avoid Sydney peak hour traffic. By and large that was mostly true. We picked up the Sydney Harbour Tunnel which joined the Lane Cove River tunnel which became the M2. We exited at Beeecroft and joined Pennant Hills Road. For some reason the traffic (mostly trucks) was still in peak hour mode here and we inched our way towards the M1 at Wahroonga. For those not familiar with the Sydney M1, it begins at Wahroonga on the north side of Sydney and runs all the way through to Beresfield, near Newcastle, 127 Klms away. The speed limit is mostly 110 KPH except for one stretch up a steep hill leaving the Hawksbury River. Here the speed is reduced to 90 KPH and all those cars I passed at 110 KPH are now passing me as I drive at the speed limit.

Sigh!

To join the MI means travelling along either Pennant Hills road battling the 12 hours of peak hour traffic or the Pacific Highway with a similar traffic problem. I spoke with Sydney Roads Authority who confirmed they are building a tunnel from the Wahroonga exit to link up with the M2 at West Pennant Hills. This they believe will take 5,000 trucks, per day off Pennant Hills Road. The tunnel should be completed by July 2019.

After leaving the M1 and joining the Pacific Highway we travelled to Heatherbrae where we stopped for a traditional Heatherbrae Pies lunch.

We arrived at Forster in the early afternoon. We have not seen my brother Allan and his wife Rae for 12 months so this was an opportunity to catch up and ogle their new Avida Motorhome.

Drool!

Wednesday 27th September.

After breakfast at the Barefoot Café on Fosters main beach we were away again. Foster has a 2 minute peak hour problem on weekday mornings but we left late enough to avoid the quiet rush.

Hee Hee Hee!

We drove all the way through to Ulmarra and had lunch at the Ulmarra Hotel on the bank of the Clarence River.270917 hotel Parked in the streets around the pub were about a dozen VW Kombis in various stages of restoration, 270917 kombi3270917 kombi2270917 kombi1some immaculately so.270917 kombi Perhaps they were on their way to or from a Kombi Rally. Unfortunately their group was leaving just as we were arriving so never had a chance to ask.

We arrive home well after dark to find a family friend, Iain looking to stay with us a few days.

All tired.

Zzzzzzz!

Thursday 28th September

On the road again. This time to Brisbane to pack up house for Donnis son Peter. All the furniture, bedding, clothes, electronics, garage stuff, everything a normal household collects has to be sorted and packed and a removalist to quote.

Saturday 30th September

Today Iain joined us to continue packing and sorting. TV’s had to be taken down off the wall mountings. The sound system dismantled and speakers packed away. Then we began on the garage while Donnis sorted the bedroom and kitchen.

Still a lot to be done as the sale settles on 16th.

Sunday 1st October.

Today is a lay day with just “doin nuffin”,

Besides, the Rugby League Grand Final is being played tonight and the fairy tale team of the North Queensland Cowboys are playing the form team all season, the Melbourne Storm. I know the Cowboys have played with heart to reach this game but it is a forlorn hope they win. They are the crowds sentimental favourites and mine too. I just have a niggling doubt they can win.

Cowboys lost 34 – 6.

Boo Hoo.

570. Sunday 24th September 2017. Long drives, birthday party and Bi-Centennial Park…

Thursday 21st September

Hi Ho it’s on the road we go.

I had set a goal to get away from home, at the latest, by 10am.  Regular readers will know that usually my target times are never achieved. We somehow drag the chain and are late by an hour or so. Today, by some miracle we were on the road by 8.30.

Another miracle occurred when we arrived in Port Macquarie 7.5 hours later.

So we spent a pleasant night with Tony and Dawn, a great dinner and too much dessert.

Friday 22nd September

Away by 9.30 and arrived in Gymea, south of Sydney by 3pm.

Saturday 23rd September

Away by 8am and arrive at Corrimal to start packing and tidying and arranging the remaining furniture and boxes of household items for Errol and Nicole who have moved to Victoria. The removalist was scheduled to arrive at 12 noon. We called him, he said he was caught in traffic and would be here by 1pm.  We were due at a 60th Birthday party for Wayne M at 2.30. By 2.15 the removalist had not arrived and was no longer answering his phone. We arranged for a neighbour to supervise the loading and left for the party. Later we found the removalist did not arrive until sometime after 4pm.

The party was a nice mix of people, friends, family, and past work colleagues. New South Wales and Queensland were in the grip of an unseasonal heat wave with temps in the low 30’s.The party was held in Wayne’s 2 story “Man Cave”. I was able to catch up with old work colleagues from 30 plus years ago. A nice afternoon. Thanks for the invite Wayne.

Sunday 24th September

Back in Gymea we went to Homebush Bay and Sydney Olympic Park for a picnic. The area is a huge park area including the Olympic Stadium (now called ANZ Stadium), Sydney Olympic Park, Sydney Showgrounds and Bi-Centennial Park on the shore of Homebush Bay.

We took a walk around Brickpit Ring an 18.5m high 550m circular raised walkway above the old Sydney Brick quarry. During construction of Sydney Olympic precinct this abandoned site (filled with rain water) was earmarked for a 300 million dollar hotel. Before construction began it was found to be the habitat of the endangered Green and Golden Bell Frog. The hotel plans were cancelled and the Ring Walk was created above the brick pits. The loss of the hotel saved the habitat of the frogs.

250917 ring walk
This was the old brick pits destined to be the underground carpark for a M$300,000,000 hotel. Then an endangered frog species, the Green and Golden Bell Frog was found in the walls around the water. The hotel development was cancelled.
250917 ring walk1
The completed Ring Walk and the flooded brickpits. The frogs love it.

Next we walked to Homebush Bay to seek out more wrecks not found on our last visit in May this year.

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Remains of the wreck of the SS KARANGI.

It is little realised that the Bay area was deemed contaminated with a range of dioxins, including Agent Orange when Union Carbide used the bay as a dumping ground. Fishing and even swimming is still prohibited. In fact at one stage Sydney Harbour itself was declared unsafe to take and eat fish. The bans stayed in place until around 2000 when just the area around Homebush Bay was declared still unsafe. Still it is a lovely bay with lots of bird and marine life including a healthy mangrove system.

Bi-Centennial Park, like Centennial Park before it, were both built on reclaimed and mostly drained swamp and is a popular place for family picnics and riding bicycles.

250917 boardwalk
Boardwalk through the remaining mangrove swamp.

 

569. Sunday 17th September 2017. Forgetfulness? Or Lazy? Or Nothing to report…!!!

Unbelievable!!! I have been doing this blog, religiously, every Sunday (or perhaps a few days later) every week since September 2010. Suddenly, twice in the space of a few weeks I have not posted at all. I start the week with all good intentions and plans go downhill from there.

Sigh!!!

Tuesday 5th September

Happy Birthday wishes came from all over then it was time to put Donnis on a jet plane bound for Sydney. She will be away for 10 days. Donnis is helping son Errol and his family move to Victoria. Nicole has been ill and needs a little help. Besides Donnis found it a good enough reason to see the grandchildre.

Perhaps I can finish the painting by myself.

Grrr! Moving furniture, drop clothes, rollers, brushes, stirring paint (I really hate that part especially with a new tin of paint. It slops everywhere) roller trays and all the cleaning associated with painting.

Am I glad I finally finished painting the rooms this week. Now all I have to do is paint the trim around windows and doors and then paint the doors.  Eleven window frames, 9 door frames and 9 doors to be painted with two coats of enamel paint.

Sigh!!!

Ok Ok! I must admit the rooms do look nice.

Sunday 10th September

Drove to Nundah on the north side of the Brisbane River to watch grandson Chris play in his grand final Under 13 Rugby League game. There was a lot of support from his mother Regelyn and father Peter, grandmother Evangeline, the other grandparents, Uncles and cousins and of course me! Chris team lost 28 – 26 in a close fought game. I say well done to have played the season and the team was good enough to get to the grand final.

Wednesday 13th September

Finally finished all the door and window frames. Now all we have to do is paint the doors.

Yahoo!

(Oops will have to wait until a couple more weeks before we begin the doors. We have too many plans)

Thursday 14th September

Donnis arrived home to Gold Coast Airport late this afternoon, just in time to repack a bag as we drive to Noosa tomorrow to celebrate Dave E 50th birthday.

Saturday 16th September.

Happy Birthday Dave.

A nice night at a B&B in the Noosa Valley with lots of loud music and dancing. Luckily there was a TV so we could zip in and out of the big room to watch the Rugby League game between Parramatta Eels and North Queensland Cowboys. The Cowboys were meant to be cannon fodder in the finals series but beat the Cronulla Sharks, last years premiers, last week. This week they were not expected to win but won 24 – 16 and have made it into the final four. Good work Cowboys and thanks for the exciting games.

Sunday 17th September.

On the drive home we stopped at Ikea Northlakes for a light lunch. Donnis usually loves the Swedish Meatballs but this time wanted Salmon. The meal was a little below average and in fact we both felt overful and a bit ill all afternoon. Ikea your meals are not as good as they once were.

We bought a giant photo and frame 2m x 1.4m.

Hmmm! That was an unplanned purchase.

No photos this week but I want to share some photos of a photo class I attended in 2014 when we had a photo excursion to a Japanese garden in the Brisbane Botanical gardens.bbgbbg1bbg2bbg3bbg4

Next week we will both go to Port Macquarie then to The Shire in Sydney, Avondale for another birthday and who knows where to after that?

568. Sunday 3rd September 2017. House painting and a long bush hike…

Friday 1st September (First day of Spring)

For the first time in a long, long, long time I did not post  last week.

Shame! Shame! Shame!

We started painting the house interior last week and it has continued all this week.

Today was a lay day.

Yahoo!

Saturday 2nd September

Met sister Enid and hubby Ken at Binna Burra a small parcel of private land within the Lamington National Park along the Scenic Rim Region in the McPherson Ranges. The car park is 800 metres above sea level. Today we took a hike along the Daves Creek Loop Trail which took us through some heavily wooded country, some open heathland and spectacular steep cliffs some 900 metres above sea level.

020917 fallen
One of the legacies of Cyclone Debbie earlier this year. Although the cyclone came nowhere near this region, it was hit by strong winds and heavy rains. We saw many fallen trees along the track.

In places we could look across deep valley floors within ancient volcanic caldera and see Mt Warning across the border in NSW. Todays 4 hour, 12 Klm up and down hike was a sort of warm up preparation for a more challenging hike/climb of Mt Warning…perhaps in October.

In places the track skirted steep cliff edges which made for a nervous bit of careful walking and to ensure there were no trips or slips on the downward slope.

020917 view
Our path follows that cliff line on the left. The track can be seenheading close to the edge. The high range in the distance is part of an ancient volcanic caldera and overlooks the Tweed Valley in NSW. Look carefully and you can see a Telstra Tower midway aling the ridge. further forward but unseen is whta is known as The Best of All Lookouts in Springbrook National park which I have written about before.

We stopped for lunch on a cliff edge overlooking the Numinbah Valley where we could see the ribbon of back road which travels over the range down into the Tweed Valley of NSW to Murwillumbah.

020917 lunch
Our precarious lunch spot.

I am nervous about heights so removing my camera, hat, walking pole and backpack was done very carefully. A playful bird flitted around us looking for a handout of small amounts of bread which it took and placed in the fork of several bushes nearby.

Somewhere along the track we crossed a small brook or creek, no more than a stride wide which had a small trickle of water struggling through the rocks. This was Daves Creek for which the track was named.

After lunch we started the climb on the return to the car park and were surprised by a sign which said Surprise Rock. It was indeed a surprise a large rock in the middle of otherwise rock free bush.

020917 surprise1
Looking across the heathland from Surprise Rock.

The rock had beautiful views across heathland to Mt Warning in the distance.

020917 surprise
Looking past Surprise Rock towards Mt Warning and the Tweed Valley of NSW.

Eventually we made it back to the car park where we stopped to finish our sandwiches but a busy cheeky unidentified bird made three passes snapping at my sandwich, taking a little bite each time. On the third pass he took what remained of my sandwich in one low flying sneaky attack. We never even saw him coming.

On the way home I stopped to watch Para Gliders take off from an impossibly high and steep hill. Now that’s what I would like to do. On second thoughts I am a little nervous about heights.

At least I can watch.

020917 para1
Preparing for a bit of time in the sky.
020917 para3
Quick take off. A few steps and this pilot was flying.
020917 para4
The carry bag doubles as a comfortable sitting harness.
020917 para2
Mt Warning is in the background.
020917 para
A gentle landing.

567. Sunday 20th August 2017. At home, painting, a dragon and a birthday boy…

Tuesday 15th August

Visited friends Ray & Lynne here in the village. They have built a Bali like garden, complete with a line of fruiting banana palms as a quiet place in their back yard. A number of bird species visits their retreat including the never still Sunbird who come into the yard looking for nectar and insects. Also constant visitors are a number of Australian Water Dragons.

150817 dragon
Australian Water Dragon is at home on the garden furniture.

Those dragons have a diet of small insects such as ants, spiders, crickets, snails and caterpillars. When they get bigger, so does their prey. An adult includes small rodents such as baby mice in their diet, although insects are still most commonly consumed.

150817 dragon2
An almost imperceptible breath or heartbeat shows these are alive and not a rubber copy.

The dragons also like being hand fed bacon or raw mince meat. They will sit for hours just for hours, looking like a carving while waiting for something to eat. Ray really does have them eating out of his hand. They are beautiful stately creatures and contrary to some beliefs they make ideal pets around the home…outside of course. Although, if you have an ant or spider problem inside, these guys will take care of it.

150817 dragon1
Getting upclose and personal. They are lovely to look at.
150817 dragon3
So close my camera beeped that I need to change to Macro and manual focus.

Saturday 19th August

It has been a quiet week apart from doing a bit of gardening, riding the bike and staying up to date with doctor, optometrist and audiologist appointments.

Today we drove to Brisbane for a 13th birthday party for grandson Chris. Chris had a couple of friend, two grandmothers and three aunts to help him celebrate.

Chris has been chosen to receive specialist Rugby League training clinics conducted by the Brisbane Broncos over a four week period in September. This is a programme set up by the Bronco’s to select potential young players. If he shows he has talent, ability and apptitude in the training session he will  then be invited to further training including social skills, money management and alcohol and drug avoidance guidlines. If he is chosen he then becomes a part of a young Broncos training scheme with assistance for schooling and further education. Chris is talented and I hope he has the focus to work with the talent.

190817 birthday
Happy birthday Chris. You look tired from all that celebrating and or football training.

Sunday 20th August.

At last, at last, at last. We started painting the interior of the house today. We bought paint from Masters Hardware a few days before they closed for good on 11th December last year. The paint has been sitting quietly waiting for us to get started. There have been a few times the pain cans have whispered to me but for the most part they have just sat in the corner while the lids have begun to show signs of early rust. Well today was the day we opened up a can of ceiling paint which goes on pink and dries white. Great stuff except I thought the pink colour would stay pink a while longer. Today we started painting the cornices in preparation to rolling out the ceiling. Tomorrow we tackle the lounge room, dining, kitchen and the master bedroom and all going well start rolling the ceiling.

That has been our week.

Cheers.

566. Sunday 13th August 2017. Donnis is home, Nuff said…

Monday 7th August

A big day starting with a 4.30am start.

I left for Brisbane Airport about 5.45 am and was not surprised by the volume of traffic on the M1. As I got closer to Beenleigh the traffic grew heavier and the speed limit if 110 Kph was down to 100 Kph. Crossing the Logan River where the official speed limit is 100 Kph.  I was soon jolted to a slow 90 then 80 and soon the traffic stopped and started until I was past the Springwood exit when suddenly the speed jumped to100 Kph and the numbers of cars reduced. Once joining the airport exit the stop start began again but soon it was back to a cruising 100 Kph. Despite the stop start and changing speeds I still managed to get to the airport at 7am and stopped for breakfast at McDonalds. I watched Donnis Air Canada plane arrive, on time, via my Samsung A3 with the FlightRadar24 App. Hmmm! The plane sat on the tarmac for 17 minutes before taxiing to the terminal. What was that all about?

Collected Donnis and she explained that 4 hours into the 17 hour flight the man in the seat behind Donnis projectile vomited at least 4 times during the flight. The plane sat in isolation on arrival while health officials boarded the plane and took the man for questioning. He claimed it must have been the tomato sauce on the past the airline served him. Nobody else got sick.

Next the cabin and passengers were sprayed with disinfectant, seat covers removed, toilet bowl was removed before the plane was allowed to taxi to the terminal and passengers could disembark. Donnis commented that the man was dry heaving during the flight and he could be heard throwing up in the bathroom. There was no sleep for passengers and it was a bad flight.

090817 crane
A big block of units were being built next door. They are finally dismantling the huge crane. The biggest crane in Oz was called in to take down the pieces.
090817 crane1
First job is to remove all the heavy concrete counterweights. These men are waiting for the hook to remove each weight, one by one. Firts they had to find a way to remove and relocate a huge eagles nest which was home for a family for the last four months.

Wednesday 9th August

Tonight we attended a Wine & Cheese night at our clubhouse where the dress was Black and White. Had a wonderful night of good company, cheeses and other accompaniments, wine and then we played some good ole Rock n Roll (and some Line Dancing) and the dance floor got crowded. A great night enjoyed by all.

 

The rest of the week has been quiet with Optometrist, Doctor and Hearing appointments as well as a walk along the beach getting back into a routine…of sorts..

090817 pelican
This Pelican was following a fisherman on the beach. The tourist with the camera kept getting in his way.

090817 pelican1090817 pelican2090817 pelican3

090817 shoes
Busloads of Asian tourists arrive at the beach daily. They take off their shoes here then run into the surf and get wet fully clothed. They have fun.

We we are planning another bush walk / climb in a couple of weeks.

 

565. Sunday 6th August 2017. Looking for a big rock…

Monday 31st July

Today we leave Coonabarabran and head back to Port Macquarie via a different route. As the route would take us through Gunnedah we thought we would catch up with Tony’s brother but he had appointments which could not be broken. We also planned to catch up with my nephew Grant but we could not reach him either.

310717 sunrise
Sunrise and on our way from Coonabarabran to Gunnedah.

So the route was through, Quirindi then on to Wallabadah.

310717 wallabadah
Clear flowing water at Wallabadah Creek.

Tony wanted to explore Wallabadah Rock or as it is also known “Rocks”. It seems this “rock is classified as the second largest monolith in the southern hemisphere. A quick Google search reveals there are several locations with rocks claiming to be the biggest or second biggest monolith in Australia. Semantics on how monoliths were formed etc aside, Wallabadah Rocks does win the title of second largest despite grudging acceptance by other contenders. Wallabadah Rocks is located entirely on private property. There is no National Park boundary within cooee so entry is by invitation only. Once more, Google came to the rescue, this time via Google Maps.

310717 farm
No sense stopping at this Chilcott Creek farmhouse for directions. The sign said Keep Out. Love the old fireplace chimney though. Corrugated iron chimneys were common in the early days of opening up of land and building a house.

It got us to within a few Klms of the location but once again we came up against private property. Tony was able to throw around a few names of people he knew when he lived in the area. The farmer gave us permission to enter his property and general directions on how to reach a nearby hill from where we could get a good view.

310717 rock
Wallabadah Rock (or Rocks depending on your location.

The Prado got us as far as it was possible to go before new growth, fallen trees, rocks, creek crossings and thick bush told us we had reached the end of the line.

310717 car
Come on Tony just a little bit further. A little bit further is about all we could take the car. From here it was up up up, boulder strewn, fallen trees and gullies. The Prado took us as far as it was able

Even hiking as far as we could go would still only give us a view of the monolith. There would be no hiking on Wallabadah Rocks today. The rainforests that snake up Wallabadah’s weather-formed gullies have never been studied by biologists, and earth scientists have only recently dated the plug of the extinct volcano at 45.5 million years. The rock would have been formed from molten material that cooled in the throat of the volcano. Still it was fun 4 wheel driving through the cattle property.

310717 rock3
Wallabadah Rock. It looks like sheer cliffs.
310717 rock2
Zoom in for a closer look. Those rock faces are actually millions of barrel size rocks. Very similar to the rock faces we saw at Bundellah Lookout on Coolah Tops which I wrote about last week. Not surprising they look similar. Although they are about 150 Klms apart as they crow flys they are both part of a chain of ancient volcanoes.
310717 rock1
Volcanic Erruptions in this area was 33 – 45 million years ago, The volcanic structures in Coolah Tops last errupted in that same time period as they are both part of the multiple volcanoes in the Liverpool Range.

Leaving the farm we joined the New England Highway near Murrurundi after driving along a back road – Chilcotts Creek Road – serving farms in the area. We continued to Singleton where once again we struck out through back roads, joining the Pacific Highway near Taree and on to Port Macquarie. It was a long day of driving having left Coonabarabran at 8.30am and arriving at Port Macquarie by 8.30 pm.

564. Sunday 30th July 2017. Surfers Sunrise, Barrington Tops, Coolah Tops and Warrumbungle climb…

LOTS OF PHOTOS THIS WEEK.

Tuesday 25th July.

I have been promising myself for weeks to get up early and visit Surfers Paradise for some sunrise photos.

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Sunrise Surfers Paradise

Every morning I wake around 7am because I am warm and cosy under the doona. Why get out of a warm bed to go to the beach? For some reason I woke at 4.30 am and was unable to get back to sleep despite the aforementioned warm and cosy. I dressed quickly. It was still dark and the temperature was 7 degrees. My clothes felt like they were frozen.

250717 morning
The sand pumping ship as Surfers paradise.

Down at the beach the sun knew I was waiting, freezing, despite warm clothes, a beanie (a Tuk actually) and snow gloves. Good old Sol hid behind horizon cloud so I would stay chilled.

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High Rise at dawn

250717 surfers1

Eventually I realised it was a choice of waiting for the sun to rise above the cloud and be chilled to the marrow or hightailing it back to the car with the heater turned on. Hightailing won.

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Dawn breaks

Thursday 27th July

After a Social Club Committee meeting I was on the road by 10am. Google Maps, as always tells me it is a 6 hour drive to Port Macquarie. Stopped just south of Grafton for some lunch which I had packed before leaving. Google Maps does not know about the roadworks which are ongoing all the way from Ballina to Port Macquarie a distance of 376 Klms. In only a few places do speed limits of 100 or 110 Klm PH apply. The rest is 80, 60, 50 (through small towns) and 40 Klm PH in School zones. I arrived at Port Macquarie at 5pm and will stay with Tony tonight then we begin our boy’s road trip in the morning.

Friday 28th July

Tony suggested we take a scenic drive through Gloucester,

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The town of Gloucester nestled in the foothills of Barrington Tops.
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Stopped at Gloucester for a coffee. In one short block Gloucester had seven coffee shops.

Barrington Tops, Merriwa and a host of even smaller places to arrive at Coolah where we will stay at the Black Stump Motel.

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The Black Stump Motel. Despite having booked two days previously and they were expecting us it took 10 minutes for somebody to show up at the office. Next day another couple arrived and were ringing the bells and nobody came, I suggested they get a cut lunch while waiting. Eventually staff did arrive. Once upon a time the end of civilisation was here in Coolah. Land grants did not extend any further west than here. In those early days some grants of land were descrided as being within a certain distance of a “black stump”. Therefore reference to a place being remote it is called beyond the Black Stump. Coolah trades on the name at many shops.

It is an average motel by good motel standards but is average by average standards. No meals. No breakfast but they do point the way to the hotel 200m up the road.

The trip up, through and over Barrington Tops was an experience. It was about 60 Klms of mostly well graded gravel road, narrow in places with several cattle grids and one very large gate to be opened to leave the park.

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To exit Barrinton Tops this gate must be opened and closed by all traffic.
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After exiting the Barrington Tops Tony waits for me, the gate closer, while parked near a very steep hill around 1,000M above sea level.

At a height of 1,500m above sea level it is quite high in the clouds. It is thickly timbered. It was very windy and cold. It snowed here three weeks ago and some of the cloud looked threatening enough to bring on snow.

It didn’t.

The narrow almost single lane along a steep ridge line wound around and down offering spectacular views across the valley and on to the next part of the Great Dividing Range.

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Exiting Barrington Tops looking across the valley.
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The slow steep descent frpm Barrinton Tops to Copeland along a narrow, winding gravel track.

There are many options of adventure in the park but we had no time to stop and look. Our first stop was Gloucester which owes its fortune to timber cutting and sheep grazing. We only had time to pick up a coffee and get on the road again and next big town was Scone where we stopped for a quick lunch. The entire trip today has passed through some wonderful country leaving the way open for future visits.

Saturday 29th July

The temperature dropped down to zero overnight. Tony had left a damp chamois in the car overnight and it was frozen this morning.

I travelled over 1,000 Klms to find an example of horizontal Basalt Columns. No, we did not find them as they were even further away. Next on the list was Lava Caves. Again not found as National Parks no longer maintains a trail or even advertises the caves. Also, not found were some basalt columns from which 200 core sample were drilled in 2011. Those core sample confirmed the last magnetic pole reversal occurred some 40 million years ago. I had packed a detailed list of how to find these locations but left them in the motel.

Sigh!

We drove to Coolah Tops National Park which is mostl;y about 1,000m above sea level. There are lots of campgrounds inside the park, one cabin built in 1937 set in what can only be described as an alpine pasture.

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Brackens Cottage built 1937 and set up for serious hikers. It contains 5 spring bed bases, a rough wooden table and bench seating and the biggest indoor fireplace I have ever seen.

Several kangaroos were grazing nearby. On the drive up the steep winding gravel road to the park saw lots of birdlife, flocks of goats, a fox, kangaroos and a wombat.

The plan today, after not finding the caves and columns was to look for The Pinnacle Lookout near which was supposed to be an ill- defined track to take us to the basalt columns and lava caves. Naturally in situations like this where we left the mud map back at the motel we took a wrong hiking trail. After an hour of walking with no sign of our objective we turned back.

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I believe these are Snow Gums but they may be Ghost Gums. Maybe an eagle eyed arborist can tell us which one they are.

On arrival at the car park we were surprised to find another three carloads of people also looking for the caves.

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Bundella Lookout looking across at ancient volcanic craters and plugs in the distance of the Liverpool Plains, breadbasket of NSW wheat growing.

This time we found the Pinnacle Lookout which basically is a rock formation with sheer 300 metre walls jutting out over a valley. In places the rough track was little more than a metre wide with the rock edge showing the fall to the valley floor below. There are no fences or safety barriers here. While Tony managed to carefully walk as far as possible and sit on a convenient rock I took photos.

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My friend Tony sits on a rock at the edge of The Pinnacle with a steep 300m drop on three sides.

Finding I had mobile phone signal I was able to call Donnis in Canada and show her a live video of our location.

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Tony returning from his perch on The Pinnacle. It was at this stage I discovered I had phone signal so called Donnis in Canda and showed her video of our location.

The Pinnacle is not a hike for the faint hearted or those nervous of heights. That said, the view of the surrounding countryside, which is all volcanic in origin, combined with the precipice all around made for a breathtaking view of the Liverpool Plains. Being so close to the drop off was also breathtaking.

Next we looked for the trail to the lava caves. NSW National Parks is not promoting the caves so there are no signs or notices to tell you how to get there. The other groups of people had no luck either despite scrambling over steep rock falls and thickly wooded hillsides and steep cliffs.

We took a long walk to Norfolk Falls which at this time of year has no water flowing except for small amount which was still loud enough show where it was located. The track was 500 steps down to a viewing platform. The 500 steps climbing back up was tiring.

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Well set up camp at Cox’s Creek where we expected to see Basalt Columns. Later we found out the waterfall (where there was no water) runs over the columns. Pity we did not search a bit further.

All up we hiked for about 4 hours today. We were so glad to get out boots off when we arrived back at the Black Stump.

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These are original telegraph lines which once upon a time were the only “modern” means of communicating in the outback.

Sunday 30th July

Wow! Wow! Wow!

We drove from Coolah to Coonabarabran

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Coonabarabran once boasted a thriving rail service as did hundreds of outback towns. Sadly most have been closed for years.
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many old stores in Coonabarabran are empty and abandonned. Most businesses are confined to the main street and a few metres down a few side streets. That said the most amazing ornate Chinese Restaurant with the biggest menu choices is right here.
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Bakery door at Coonabarabran.

where we had coffee at a newly opened, popular, funky coffee lounge called Feathers. Great coffee wonderful atmosphere, home style cakes etc.

From there we drove out to the Warrumbungles a range of extinct volcanic plugs, sometimes called “jumpups”. The Warrumbungles suffered a devastating bush fire in 2013.    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-09-28/nsw-coroner-unable-to-find-cause-of-coonabarabran-bushfire/6809016

The fire destroyed much of the National Park, destroyed farms and homes and even threatened Coonabarabran and the Siding Springs Observatory. It has taken a couple of years but new growth is taking over but evidence of the fire is still very much prevalent. The huge steep rocky plugs are part of the Warrumbungle National Park and several steep walks are available mostly for the experienced, fit, fearless and may I say foolhardy hikers. Naturally Tony and I can be described by at least one of those descriptions. We therefore chose the steepest climb called Belougery Split Rock walking track and did it in the reverse direction.

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Belougery Split Rock. Or challenge for the next 3.5 hours.

Split Rock was formed by volcanic activity about 70 million years ago. The volcano erupted through  a base of sandstone rock. The resulting dome of molten rock bubbled up to the surface clogging the source vent creating the Split Rock. Looking back we think that was a wise decision by error.

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These wild “mountain” goats are ideally camoflouged to hide in the rocks. We disturbed the entire flock of about a dozen goats within 30 metres of starting our hike. A big male with black wool was always last, ensuring the herd was safely moved before he joined them.

We walked the steepest hardest part of the climb going up.

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One of many tight steep places we had to follow.

We are doubtful how we would have coped coming down such a challenging slope.

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Not only resting but this was the point we shook hands and agreed to continue the hike as going back was now out of the question.

The distance was shown as 4.6 Klms and to allow 2.5 to 3.5 hours. It is assessed as a Grade 4 in the Australian Walking Track standard which has a maximum of 5 grades. We did it in 3.5 hours and were totally exhausted with sore muscles and aching joints. The views, when we had time to take our eyes off the rock track, were stunning.

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Getting closer but the track moved up and away and around the split.

Climbing up rock faces we could not see how steep the climb was until we stopped for water, a breather and photos.

Once on the peak we were able to see the surrounding valleys and other volcanic plugs.

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The Breadknife and Grand High Tops. Note the charred remains in trees in the foreground.
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Bluff Mountain in the Warrumbungle Ranges

We also saw the steep drop offs we had to climb down. We needed to be careful where we put our feet while at the same time we were using a hiking pole, it also had to be carefully placed. Some sections were very steep and difficult to climb from one level to another. Other sections were over steep, slippery open rock faces some as much as 10 metres tall. Even climbing up to some caves above the track where we stopped for an apple and a drink was a challenge in itself.

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Just one of dozens of caves on Belougery Split Rock. No doubt the caves are the results of air pockets in the lava.
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Tony wonders how to climb the two metre ledge to the caves.

From the caves we could see the Australian Observatory at Siding Springs. (no time for a visit on this trip)

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From the caves we were able to see Siding Springs Observatory.

The summit is 770m above sea level.

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We have finally reached the summit where we look down into the split.

Coming down some of the steep sections which were over smooth volcanic rock my knees would tremble with the sheer effort of maintaining control. We were oh so glad to finally reach a reasonably flat, obstacle free walking track leading back to the carpark.

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We were ever so pleased to find this sign at the end of our walk as we came along the track in the background. I did commence this walk, alone, in 2012 but had to stop due the heat in October and the only person in the area. The slippery rock surfaces and steep incline could lead to accidents.

For the last 800 m we talked about wanting a cold Solo Lemon drink. Tony had some in his Waeco Fridge. By the time we reached the car our clothes were drenched in sweat.

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Belougery Split Rock is dotted with dozens of caves.

Tonight we went to an ornate Chinese Restaurant in Coonabarabran. A wonderful dinner with a couple of beers and we will sleep well after two days of tough physical activity. Considering the trip was only planned on Monday this week it has all come together perfectly. Yesterday we had stunning clear blue cloudless skies. Today was overcast and a chill breeze cruising through the valleys. It needed to be cooler for our hike.

Looking forward to next year when we try some of the other hikes.