It has rained all week. On Sunday I left a bucket on a table in our back yard. The bucket is almost full. Weather reports state we have had about 300mm of rain this week. My bucket gauge supports that information.
The sun has been allowed to make brief appearances through the cloud today. Those brief appearances are important. First I was able to get a load of washing on the line and dried. More importantly it was an opportunity to get out of the house for a wind in the hair and salt air in the nostrils experience at the beach.
As I arrived at The Spit the sun broke through the clouds and shone on what I thought was a navigation beacon out of place.
Nope. It was a photo shoot with a professional model, lovely gown, flowers, hairdresser, wardrobe stylist, photographer and director. Whew! All I had was me. The sun shone just long enough to fire off almost thirty photos. Then the sun took the rest of the day off. Still the results were great so I selected the best half dozen.
Photo shoots are wonderful especially here on the Gold Coast with so many attractive background locations. Sometimes I stumble across a shoot and can get my own photos. Shoots are good in that they are not a closed set but do have several people involved often with more than one photographer. Movie shoots on the other hand are usually a closed set with lots of security. Much of the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie were shot here on the coast in 2015/2016 and all locations were closed.
Friday 16th June
I drove to Southport Surf Life Saving Club and parked i30. Then, armed with camera I set off to walk to Surfers Paradise for no other reason than I wanted to, It is a 3.2 Klm walk both ways. About halfway to Surfers I noticed what appeared to be a strange dark coloured, rounded hill in the distance where there has not been a hill previously.
The day was overcast with threatening rain and a strong southerly wind so visibility was a bit limited. As I got closer realised there was a ship where there ought not be a ship. It was spouting a huge dark arc of…sand and water slurry.
It is being thrown towards the beach. There is a distinct lack of information about this particular sand pumping ship but locals say it arrived yesterday and began pumping sand around the Miami Beach area. Within 10 minutes of me taking photos the ship stopped pumping, moved offshore and gradually moved further north to begin another pump to bring sand off the sandbars and to build up the beach.
I stopped at Hogs Breath Café for a lunch of Flathead fillets and a cold beer before walking 3.2 Klms back to the car.
It was enjoyable but I really felt the effort after I arrived home. I need to keep the walks to build up my stamina.
Sunday 18th June
Maybe I have overdone it
Went for another long walk, this time along Southport Beach.
I know its winter. It’s not summer, it’s not spring. Judging by the number of people on the beach a lot of them think it is still summer. It was a glorious day to be on the beach.
Perhaps I have taxed my capabilities to the limit and my resistance to infection is severely limited.
Up bright an early to drive Donnis to Brisbane Airport. Generally the trip is around an hour give or take 5 minutes. The flight leaves at 10.40 and she has to be at check – in 2 hours before the flight. That is peak hour traffic time so we believe leaving home by 6.30 will be enough time to allow for traffic on the M1. Hmmm! The first 50 Klms were normal traffic conditions. Lots of cars all zooming along at 110 Kph or greater but traffic was flowing. Once we reached the southern fringes of Brisbane (some say it is the northern fringes of the Gold Coast) on ramps were loaded with cars joining the M1. Five lanes became four lanes then three lanes and traffic stopped. From here until we turned off on the Gateway Bridge Motorway traffic crawled along, stop start with those usual cretins who weave from one lane to another thinking they are getting somewhere faster. All they do is push the other cars a little further back making traffic worse behind them.We wave at them as we pass them 50 metres further down the road. Ur time plan has paid off. We arrive at the airport at 8.10. By the time Donnis finds a trolley for her bags and works her way to check in it is 8.20. I have breakfast at McDonalds until I get the message that she has checked her bags and has a boarding pass. There was a complication. Last night we checked her in on line. Today the Air Canada staff told her that dual passport holders are treated differently and they have to check her in manually and there is no point checking in on line. WOT THE!
She’s leavin’, she’s leavin’, she’s on the ship now and leavin’
Standing by the gangway, tossin’ streamers over my way
I find it kinda hard believin’
(With apologies to singer songwriter Kevin Johnson)
Sob sob boo hoo.
Sunday 11th June
Nothing much to report since Monday. Just doing little jobs around the house, playing bowls, Table tennis, helping other people in the village with their computer, tablet and mobile phone problems.
This week we will have a look at some doors which caught our attention over our years of travel.
It was formerly known as Dogwood Crossing located as it is beside Dogwood Creek. That was its official name in 1844 when there was little more than a few tents scattered along the creek. Formerly named Miles in 1878 when the Post Office was opened. Originally an agricultural location growing such things as wheat, sorghum, barley and cotton ( a water hungry crop). Later it was also found to be ideal as pasture for sheep farming and so it went for the best part of about 140 years. Now it is a centre for controversial industries such as electricity generation, coal mining and thereally big controversial new industry, Coal Seam Gas and the dangers of fracking. On the one hand the town was beginning to feel a decline in wealth and population but the new industries are bringing people and businesses back to town.
Coledale and Scarborough are northern beachside (or should I say Cliffside) suburbs of Wollongong. Here the escarpment, which is part of the Great Dividing Range _which runs along the eastern Australian seaboard from the tip of Cape York all the way to Victoria – comes to the closest point to the sea. In fact the cliff edges for around 10 Klms falls sheer into the sea. Once upon a time the entire area was a maze of cola mines dug into the cliff face.
Inverell NSW is a town nearly 600 Klms northwest of Sydney.
The town is on the Gwydir Highway and the first commercial building was a trading store on the McIntyre River in 1853. Originally the area was known as the Green Swamp. Apart from sheep pastures the district owes its original wealth from diamond mining. Imagine that! When we think of diamond mining we think of De Beers in South Africa or Argyle Mines in Western Australia. Inverell NSW is not well known for diamonds since mining ceased there in 1922. However in recent years, a possible new mine is being proposed at Bingarra, not all that far from Inverell.
The Hand Made Naturals store makes and sells skin care products. In their spar time they collect fallen tree limbs and branches and make doors. If you want to know more about natural skin care products then have a look here. https://www.naturals.com.au/
Aaaah! The Ridge. I do not know why but this dry and dusty outback NSW town has a sort of charm which entices us back. All the eccentric people live here. (does that mean we are eccentric?) The Ridge is world famous for Black Opals. On this occasion we visited the site of the original shaft dug by Charles Waterhouse Nettleton in 1902. Many hundreds of shafts have been dug in the area since then. Many thousnads of shafts have been dug at The Ridge and surrounding districts since 1902. A few people have made a vast fortune. Many live on pensions hoping for a big find…one day. The builder of this house came for a visit and stayed. Looking for some of the worst roads in Australia for your next outback adventure movie? The Ridge has the worst roads umm err tracks some disappearing into the unknown becoming nothing more than dry and ancient creek beds leading I know not where.
Airlie Beach. Qld
The builders of Port of Airlie spent a lot of money, time and effort building a new first class marina and harbour. The owners of a Morrocan Restaurant went to a lot of trouble and very little expense converting modern premises into an old bazaar style eatery. On Tuesday nights diners can sit on cushions on the floor and watch old black and white movies…about Morrocco.
Uralla is an old mining town probably more famous for a bushranger who is buried here.Captain Thunderbolt terrorised the district robbing the rich and giving to the poor…Thunderbolt was poor.
Mt Tamborine Qld
First opened up for settlement in 1878. It calls itself the Green Behind The Gold referring of course to the Gold Coast. These doors are on a retail property called The Handmade Cottage. Mostly the handmade are dolls. Dolls of every description. Dolls everywhere. Some handmade timber bits and pieces but the crowning glofry are the dolls.
For the last three days we have lent support to grandson Anakin who is competing in the Mountain Bike Association of Australia Schools National Championships. His school, Mercy College from Mackay were competing in individual Time Trials on Friday at Bond University,
Individual Bush Track at the Gold Coast Criterium Circuit at Nerang located on the fringe of Nerang State Forest and Teams Relay event at Nerang on Sunday.
The team event involves 4 riders to a team and the team which completes the most circuits in 4 hours is the winner.
Anakin was hugely disappointed on his first lap of the day when he punctured a tyre midway through the course. He had to push his bike back to the finish line and his effort did not count. His second ride was much better and dissolved his disappointment from the first ride.
Lap three saw him puncture another tyre in the same place and once again his lap did not count. After pushing the bike back to the finish he was physically and mentally exhausted. Team mates and school staff rallied around him and he was soon smiling again.
The weather was very kind and the location was hard work even for spectators, officials and photographers to walk around.
The events were Boys and Girls Under 19, Under 17, Under 13. The strange system sees Anakin, for example, who is not yet 15, be placed into the Under 17 team due to birthdate.
Riders came from all over Australia but seemed to be dominated by Queensland Schools.
To close off this week I have to mention my Co-Pilot, Donnis, leaves for a two month visit to Canada tomorrow.
We drive through Sydney traffic and find it surprisingly stress free. Well kind of.
First we visit my 93 year young Aunt Gwen for morning tea and lunch. A few years ago Gwen was introduced to computing by my sister Bev. I asked Gwen how she was doing with her computer. “Oh nothing special”, she replied, “I am just coping with the basics such as sending and receiving emails and attachments.” Then she told me “Oh and I scan photos on the printer, transfer them to the computer and then transfer them to CD’s.” I commented that her wall of 300 movies on VHS tape is now empty. ”Oh that, I copied all the VHS movies to DVD” Aunt Gwen you have come so far learning about the digital world. I suspect most people half your age could not do the things you do.
We then drove to Balmain where I grew up…at least to the age of 13…and I have fond memories of another time. Perhaps easier than life is now. On the drive we travelled over the Anzac Bridge opened in 1995.
This bridge replaced two smaller bridges at Pyrmont and Glebe Island both of which were opening bridges to allow smaller ships to pass through. A statue of an Australian Soldier is on a plinth at the western end of the bridge.
We walked around those parts of the suburb I would have walked as a youngster.
That is, from my home to school, the hospital, Darling Street Wharf and Thames Street Wharf. I pointed out to Donnis that once upon a time a tram ran down the steep Darling Street to the wharf. Trams running electricity simply could not slow the tram enough for the steep descent. Conversely the tram electric motor could not generate sufficient power to climb the hill. At the top of the hill the tram would connect to a dummy counterweight (the actual counterweight ran under the roadway) which controlled the trams descent to the stoppers at the wharf. On the return journey the counterweight would pull the tram to the top of the hill. http://highriser.blogspot.com.au/2008/01/balmain-dummy.html
As a youngster I pretty much had free reign to explore my suburb and Sydney from about 10 years of age onwards. I caught the tram to Darling Street Wharf then ferry to Circular Quay. From there I could take a ferry to Milsons Point (Home of Luna Park) Taronga Park Zoo, Manly Beach, Parramatta or hundreds of wharves scattered throughout the huge impressive Sydney Harbour. I could walk to Thames Street Wharf and do the same on the suburban inner circle of wharves.
We also visited what was called Elkington Park Baths when I lived there.
Now it is named after a popular and successful Olympian, Dawn Fraser, who still lives at Balmain. Dawn won four Gold and four Silver Olympic Medals over three Olympic Games. She also won six Commonwealth Games Gold Medals. Realistically the baths do not look any different from my childhood memories. Cleaner maybe. They were closed for the winter.
Another place we visited near my School was a building known as the MBWS & S.(Metropolitan Board of Water Supply & Sewerage) The small inconspicuous building is the entrance to a huge underground water storage reservoir built in 1915 and still exists under Gladstone Park and covers an area the size of two football fields. It is no longer in use but could be used for a number of underground uses in the future. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balmain_Reservoir
We wanted to stop at one of the many iconic pubs around Balmain for a counter lunch. Parking is just too difficult in this now yuppie suburb. Instead we found a park spot near my old home and walked several blocks for a cup of coffee.
Considering the horror tales we have heard about Sydney traffic I must say our movements from Gymea to Redfern to Balmain and back to Gymea were easy and within acceptable time frames. I am almost tempted to say we had a dream run.
Tuesday 23rd May
Today we drove to Homebush Bay, home of Sydney Olympic Park and Athletes Village built for the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games and used to house 15,300 competitors.
After the games the village was reconfigured and sold off as housing units many of which have views across the Homebush Bay section of the Parramatta River. We were here to view, not the housing units but several sunken ships.
This part of Homebush Bay was granted shipbreaking approval in 1966. (In those days it was difficult to access by road, was thick with manngroves, was a flood prone area and had little in the way of habitation) For some unknown reason several wrecks were never broken up and their hulks are slowly becoming part of the bay again but in the meantime and for many years to come they are now home to a variety of aquatic wildlife.
Some of the hulks – now part of the scenery – are SS Ayrfield, (Originally launched as the SS Corrimal, the massive 1,140-tonne steel beast was built in 1911 in the UK and registered in Sydney in 1912 as a steam collier which was later used to transport supplies to American troops stationed in the Pacific region during World War II. The ship went on to serve as a collier between Newcastle and Miller’s terminal in Blackwattle Bay.) the SS Heroic, HMAS Karangi, SS Mortlake Bank (On 31 May 1942, during WWII SS Mortlake Bank entered Sydney Harbour passing through the anti-submarine boom net when the Japanese midget submarine (M-24) made entry under the ship’s keel,) Several unnamed barges and other unidentified or unlocated debris including a crane barge are also located here, all within a stones throw of each other. Just to see these wrecks in full view of modern apartment blocks, is to view a part of Sydney’s Maritime History which is largely unknown and forgotten was such a buzz.
I had a sort of Déjà vu moment or two when looking at the wrecks. When we travelled to New Guinea in February I photographed and commented on the wrecks in the various harbours we visited. Here we are, three months later, looking at wrecks in busy, wealthy and visibly populated Sydney.
Before leaving the area we took a slight detour to the Wentworth Brick Pits. This area was where millions of clay bricks were made. The area is noted as the “bricks that built Sydney”. A Ring Walk some 550 metres long and suspended 18.5 metres above the pit floor is a viewing platform with historical information embedded in the steel walls.
Actually the pit floor is probably deeper still as much of it is filled with water. All this is just a few hundred metres behind Sydney Olympic Stadium.
On our way back to Gymea we stopped for lunch at Roselands Shopping Centre once a very controversial site and the subject of much protest when it was being built in 1964. I played golf here after high school in the early 60’s. It was a shock when the golf course was bulldozed and turned into a shopping centre. Opened in 1965 it was the largest shoppingcentre in the southern hemisphere for many years. Now it does not even rank in the top 50 in Australia.
Wednesday 24th May
Back to Wollongong to visit Errol & Nicole Amelia and Hannah again.
I also had the good fortune to meet up with a workmate from our days at IMB. Peter D still looks much as I remember him from those days. We shared a lot of good memories but the one that stands out for me was that he was a darn good squash player and I was always proud to have him in my team. He, like me had the “never give up” attitude. Thanks Pete. Loved all our games in competition and training.
Thursday 25th May
My head cold has gone umm err to my head. Headaches and a general feeling of lassitude and a runny nose but nothing a day at home doing nuffink would at least not cure me but not make it any worse. I simply cannot go out in the cold evening air.
Friday 26th May
Another quiet day with a little shopping at Miranda Fair,
Bev and Pete arrived home from their swim with the Whale Sharks at Ningaloo.
I am convinced my head cold has developed into laryngitis. Loss of voice.
Saturday 27th May
We travel to Port Macquarie and stay the night with Tony & Dawn. By evening my voice was nothing more than a squeak.
Sunday 28th May
Another long day of travel. Although there were no road works in progress, the roads still have road works signs and 80 Kph speed limits. We stopped a beachside place called Woolgoolga
where a free diving spearfishing competition was being wound up.
We had what was probably the worst kebab it has been our misfortune to eat. Yuk! Given that it was around 2pm and most shops in town were closed we had no option. We drove to Woolgoolga Headland to see the Water Tower
and the Lighthouse at South Solitary Island
and noted this is an ideal headland to watch the annual whale migration beginning about now.
Further along the highway traffic came to a grinding halt. A traffic accident between a car and 4 motorcycles created bottleneck for about 10 Klms in both directions and took an hour to get past the accident scene. One woman was airlifted to Gold Coast University Hospital in a critical condition and may lose both legs. Story and video attached http://www.nbnnews.com.au/2017/05/28/motorcyclist-airlifted-after-car-collision/
Another early morning. This time I was at Wollongong Harbour (Belmore Basin) before 6am. It was quite chilly so I needed a beanie and gloves. The regular early morning walkers, runners, cyclists and pram pushers were out in umm err, a few. Hmmm! They wear lights on their backs and hats and beanies some even had lights on their arms. Curious. I left without knowing why, as none would slow down for a chat. ( I suppose if while running a man in a trakkie daks, hoodie, beanie and gloves joins you in the darkness and asks silly questions, nobody is going to stop and talk – Wollongong is security conscious – lots of security screens on doors, windows, high fences, remote controlled gates and grilles on shop fronts)
My main reason for being here at this time of day on the cusp of winter was to photograph the lighthouse and harbour with the sunrise in the background.
Yeah right! Just like yesterday the sun refused to rise. It probably did not like the cold and cloudy conditions and probably went back to bed. The apprentice made sure light was brought into the world albeit slow and not spectacular in any way. It just gradually got light.
Dinner was again $5 chicken schnitzel at the Corrimal RSL.
Tuesday 16th May
With an early morning the last two days I picked up a head cold. Dunno where I picked it up from as I prefer not to pick up somebody else’s cast offs. Damm head colds make for miserable life conditions for a few days. Harrumppf.
It was Nicoles — rd birthday today. We had a chocolate, coffee, caramel etc etc etc type birthday cake and sang happy birthday. (It’s funny how I was surrounded by adults who claim an aversion to sugar but managed sugar loaded cake for breakfast!)
Errol offered to take us all to the harbour for breakfast as he is leaving at midday to drive to Melbourne. I declined the offer as I had accepted an invitation for coffee. To me it was a special event as the other people were two past CEO’s of the IMB, the retired secretary, the retired treasurer and the retired IT manager. Wow! To me that was a power meeting with people I once worked with and respected for their business acumen. They once ran one of the biggest building societies in NSW and guided it through the process being very successful. It is now the IMB Bank. Thank you for your time and acceptance Wayne, Peter, Gordon, Ellis and Tony.
Donnis and I will be house and dog sitting for 10 days while my sister Bev and husband Peter go swimming with whale sharks at Ningaloo on Western Australia’s mid north coast.
Wednesday 17th May
Today we shopped for groceries at Miranda Fair Shopping Centre located at umm err Miranda (in the Shire of course). It was once touted as the largest shopping centre in Australia. Many years and many extensions later it is now ranked 24th!!!
Thursday 18th May
The sun was shining although the wind had a chill factor enough to ensure you did not stand in the shade. We drove to LaPerouse to visit friend Geoff and Margaret. They took us for a short drive to Molineaux Point Lookout. The Molineaux Point lookout and monument celebrates Sydney Port’s sister port relationship with Yokkaichi Port from the Mir prefecture in Japan which was formed in 1968. A delegation of about 30 Japanese dignitaries attended the opening.
The point was created by Sydney Ports Authority at around the same time as Sydney Airport Runway was extended into Botany Bay. A huge area of land was created for Port Botany where cargo ships laden with containers come and go with such frequency they even have a marine version of an air traffic control tower. Port Botany is the second busiest port behind Port Melbourne. Container shipping means lots of containers are stored here ready for use. It is amazing to see huge pyramid shaped structures stacked seven containers high.
The lookout itself gives a great view of the entire Botany Bay including aircraft landings and take-off, Kurnell, LaPerouse
and the remains of huge sandhills of Cronulla and Greenhills Beach.
Geoff and Margaret put on a fine dinner of a Chinese Steamboat
where you cook your own food in a bubbling broth. After all the meats have been eaten you then use the broth with all the vegetables swimming around adding flavour as a finishing soup. The idea is to sit around and talk and eat and drink wine over an extended period. We got back to Gymea at midnight. Thanks Geoff and Margaret.
Saturday 20th May
Nicole, Amelia and Hannah arrived for a visit. We went to a delightful spot called Gymea Bay Baths.
Very steep hills heavily wooded crowd all the way down to the water.
A friendly Japanese lady showed us how she caught Yellowtail scad. There is no minimum legal size but the bag limit is 40 per person per day. The fishing method she used was a small plastic tube with holes which is filled with a fishmeal mixture. A gang of several hooks is suspended below the “basket” the yellowtail snap at the spreading burley like fish meal and get caught on the hooks. She cleans and guts the fish, then deep fries in coconut oil or uses it for a raw fish sashimi. Amelia and Hannah were fascinated and stayed talking, in awe, with the lady.
Sunday 21sy May
Geoff and Margaret arrived early afternoon so we had a full house of visitors for a few hours. As often happens Geoff and I found ourselves involved with making improvements to laptops or swapping hints or photos.
Thanks again Geoff and Margaret. I have a steep learning curve for some new apps Geoff installed while he has a gentle learning curve from what I supplied from my library.
Woke on time to get away early and – you guessed it – got away from Port Macquarie an hour later than planned.
Still, we managed to arrive in Wollongong by 3.30 pm and managed to avoid all the school traffic as we passed through Sydney.
That was a bonus.
We joined Nicole, Merrilyn, Amelia and Hannah for $5 chicken schnitzel dinner at the Corrimal RSL Club. Hmmm! The dining room was busy. Wonder why?
Tuesday 9th May.
Today Hannah turned FIVE.
She had a birthday party and invited children from school and from around the neighbourhood.
It was fun to watch the personalities of the children shine through or sometimes push through. There were the shy ones and the painfully shy ones and the ones who listened and were polite and there were the ones who are little Cyclone Debbies leaving a trail of destruction behind them. They are the ones who hijack the games and draw howls of protest from others.
Hmmm! Sounds like adult life!
The only time when they all paid attention at the same time was when a local teenager (the babysitter) brought out her guitar and played and sang. Very accomplished she was too.
Hannah enjoyed herself immensely.
Wednesday 10th May
Today Donnis and I drove\, with Hannah, to Sandon Point where I surfed once upon a time.
In those days there were the remains of a coal loading wharf and a dozen or so old timber and corrugated iron fishing boat sheds.
Those sheds are still there today. In fact they have been standing for over 120 years as the following story tells.
FOR over 120 years the boat sheds at Sandon Point, Bulli have provided a place for anglers to store their vessels.
This is the story of fishing at Sandon Point and the boat sheds that have remarkably survived countless storms, fires, and government regulations.
The Sandon Point sheds are all that remain of the corrugated iron and timber structures that were once common on the northern beaches of Wollongong. The sheds sat on the sheltered northern side of headlands at Stanwell Park, Coledale, Austinmer, Waniora Point (Bulli), Woonona and Bellambi.
The Sydney Evening News reported on Monday August 9 1897 that “a few residents” have formed fishing clubs, and “possess their own boats”.
From about this time the first boat sheds were constructed in the shadow of the Bulli Colliery’s sea jetty. They, like now, were always at the mercy of Mother Nature.
When Bulli’s main employer, the colliery, was idle as a result of industrial disputes, or simply because of an over production of coal, the miners often fed their families from the ocean.
From three sheds in 1899, the number grew to 20 sheds in 1947, to over 30 in the 1960s. Today, in 2016, there are less than 10 of the heritage listed structures remaining.
The few remaining sheds have become a much-loved feature of Sandon Point, often photographed, and a treasured part of Bulli’s history.
I drove to Avondale in the lea of the Illawarra Escarpment to visit friends Wayne & Narelle M, whom I have known since the early 70’s and with whom we visit / they visit from time to time. The three of us all worked at The IMB (Illawarra Mutual Building Society) with Wayne becoming CEO leading the IMB from strength to strength during his tenure. The IMB is now The IMB Bank.
Saturday 13th May
Donnis, Nicole, Amelia, Hannah and I piled into the car and drove to Killalea State Park for The Farm Markets. Alas the markets are only on one Sunday per month and this months market was last Sunday.
This State Park with spectacular views and arguably the best surfing beach, if not Australia then certainly in NSW was once known as “The Farm”. (It is still called The Farm as an alternate name to Killalea)
Local surfers and surfers in the know would visit this dairy farm to gain access to fabulous surfing beach on the property.
I was one of those surfers in the know way back in the early 60’s when we paid 2 bob (20 cents) entry fee to the farmers daughter. In those days parking was anywhere along the steep hill which the car handbrake was capable of holding. Then it was a trek across cow manicured and cow manured pasture to the beach below. To us it was always The Farm.
Gradually the location became so popular with such perfect waves and clear water that it was
given the honour of National Surfing Reserve in June 2009.
“As our country and the rest of the world becomes more focused on the coastal lifestyle we must ensure we preserve and protect our unique beaches so that future generations may have the pleasure we enjoy now. The Farm is one such unique place, and deserves to be preserved as it is for our children and grandchildren.”
Mark Richards: 4 x World Surfing Champion
(As an aside, Maroubra Beach – my home beach – was named the first National Surfing Reserve in March 2006)
Today we spoke with a man preparing several boards for a surf. He has three girls and a boy all under the age of 12 and all except the youngest, are surfing with him.
After leaving The Farm we drove to Bass Point to visit Bushranger Bay a popular diving and snorkelling location in an Eco Zone.
Although the sun was shining, it was quite chilly in the shadows and the breeze. Only one brave snorkeller was in the water. All forms of fishing or gathering or collecting shellfish, even bodies of dead fish is prohibited in this Eco Zone.
I was up early – before sunrise – stumbling around in the dark looking for a photo opportunity at Bellambi Beach when the glowing ball of the sun brings light to the world and an exceptional backdrop to landscape type photographs.
Several shadowy figures stood in the inky darkness of the carpark, waiting for enough light to see the rocks before they launch themselves for an early morning surf. Gradually it got light enough to see and the boardriders got their wish. On the other hand the sun did not make an appearance being hidden by thick rain threatening cloud.
I saw a number of people walking, jogging, pushing prams and riding bicycles. However only a few people compared with those on the Gold Coast. What I thought was curious were the red lights they wore on the backs of their hats.
In the afternoon Donnis and I took a drive to Mt Kembla for a brief vist to the Moto Cross Track where practise was being held. This was once my home motorcycle location where I rode in Observed Trials – not Moto Cross. From there we continued across the escarpment to Mt Kiera with views across the Wollongong suburbs. It was too chilly to stay out of the car for more than a few minutes.
We will be in Wollongong for another two days then it is off to Sydney for two weeks where we have some adventures planned.
Wow! It is May already? Where did April go? Or for that matter what happened to those wonderful summer months of January February and March? The mornings and nights are cooler but days are still shorts and Tshirts weather. Next week we will be in Wollongong and Sydney. (By the time this blog page is posted we will already be in Wollongong.) I hear they are already in warm winter clothes and have the heaters turned on some nights.
Brrr. That is not my kind of weather but Donnis loves it.
Wednesday 3rd May
Instead of my usual bike ride or walk, this morning I drove to what I call Southport Beach and went for a walk in the surfside park and the nearby marina and park. I wanted to see the sunrise and photograph the city wakening and going about its day.
Gradually the numbers of people out and about increased. I watched the Surfers Paradise Outrigger Canoe Club members training in their canoes.
Even by the time I arrived they had already been paddling the Nerang River and Broadwater since 5am, in the dark although with the cloud cover the light still appeared dim. Across on the surf beach surfers were already catching waves and had been doing so since before it was light enough to see clearly.
Saturday 6th May
Up early for an quick start to our road trip. As usual, instead of getting away at 8am we were an hour later. First stop was over the border in NSW to the coastal town of Lennox Head. For some reason road signs to Lennox Head may have been on the bottom of the road sign budget. The signs to the caravan park were even lower on the budget. Sigh! I should have used Google Maps. Finally we caught up with friends Graham, Wenke, Laurie and Yvonne. Lennox Head looks like a nice town with a wonderful busy right hand surf break and bears another visit.
Soon we were on our way again this time with Port Macquarie as our destination. We arrived in time to have dinner with friends Tony and Dawn.
Sunday 7th May
For a reason not known to us we all slept in until the ungodly hour of 9am (I don’t suppose sitting up talking until the am had anything to do with it). By the time we got organised, breakfast was at coffee time and we did not get to see the Port Macquarie Iron Man Race until early afternoon. You have to admire these sports men and women who swim 3.8 Klms, cycle for 180 Klm and run 42.2 Klm for most of the day and the only reward for most competitors is to say you have competed the course.
We took a walk to a knoll of land at the end of Oxley Beach.
We climbed a timber staircase to Flagstaff Hill Lookout which was once a Naval Lookout Station.
It is interesting that all along the coast there are pillboxes and gun emplacements and lookouts and ammunition storage placements. All are now over 100 years old and were originally established for an expected invasion by naval fleets from Russia. Obviously it never happened but is still part of our history. As is usual with history much of it is forgotten by most of the population.
The following is an excerpt from Town and Country Journal 1885.
Russian Invasion Scares, 1885
The death in 1885 of General Gordon at Khartoum caused an upsurge in Imperial loyalty. New South Wales sent a small contingent to help Britain in her war against the Mahdi’s forces in the Sudan, the first time Australians volunteered to fight overseas as part of an official Australian colonial government initiative. Then, a few months later, fighting broke out between British troops and local people in Afghanistan, which once again raised fears of war with Russia, highlighting the vulnerability of Australian cities if faced with a naval attack.
The rumoured approach of a Russian fleet, having for its object the invasion of Australia, is evidence of a danger that we have never yet had to contemplate. During this century of our life as a British country, no powder has been burned in anger in Australasian seas, and the rude shock of war’s alarm is as unknown to Australians as though the millennium had arrived. But we are likely to be rudely awakened from this paradisiacal condition, and before we are a month older may possibly hear the unwelcome roar of Russian cannon along our coast. As a matter of course, the capitals of the various colonies will be attacked first, and Sydney being so near the coast, will probably by selected as the initial point of attack. Melbourne is well protected by the Cerberus and her torpedo boats, while Adelaide has her new gunboat, the Protector. Hobart can well defend herself by torpedoes, the approach by river affording peculiar facilities for this mode of defence. Fremantle, it is asserted, will be guarded by the Nelson, and in this case Sydney, having the most need of naval protection, will be left absolutely defenceless. For, although the harbor of Port Jackson is probably amply defended with its double line of batteries and sunken torpedoes, yet on the coastal side, save at the South Head and La Perouse, not a solitary gun could be brought to bear against a fleet. Consequently a hostile fleet could lay at its leisure, and bombard Sydney from the safe shelter of Bondi or Maroubra bays, holding the city to ransom, or destroying it, as suited the sovereign will of its commander. Or again, a force could be landed at Coogee under cover of the ships, and seizing the water works, starve the city into submission.
Under the circumstances, it is absolutely necessary that gunboats of a type suitable to deep-sea warfare should be obtained. The Nelson alone would not be sufficient; as, even if she could hold a force at bay, there would be nothing to prevent part of the fleet menacing Newcastle, the only other vulnerable city upon our coast. We can fairly request the British Government to grant this protection, having shown our patriotism in giving England help unasked. But to be of any value it must be sent quickly, and therefore the newsthat the Australian squadron is to be strengthened is welcome indeed. The fact must be stared in the face that Sydney, to an ironclad squadron even of no great strength, but armed with weapons of modern type, is absolutely defenceless.
Yesterday was an early 4am start and a long emotional day. Today was a quiet relaxing day capped off with a pleasant afternoon walk on the Southport Beach. In the morning Ken and I drove to The Spit planning on a walk on the beach but rain decided it had other plans for us. We did see a well equipped boat with strange racks set above the small cuddy cabin. Those racks can carry 6 surfboards and of course, the surf riders. The Straddie Surf Taxi https://www.facebook.com/straddiesurftaxi/ takes surf riders from The Spit across the swift current, deep water, shark infested heavy marine traffic of the Gold Coast Seaway to the South Stradbroke Island, one of the best right hand breaks on the Gold Coast. He charges $7 for the two way trip. The alternative is a long paddle and a climb, in barefeet over the northern breakwall and at the end of a session a return walk and paddle. No wonder the South Straddie break is so popular (crowded) compared to a few years ago. The popular taxi service begins at 6am on most mornings, weather permitting.
While at The Spit Ken and I pondered on why the seaway bar is now safe compared to a few years ago and where does the sand pumping station deposit the sand? The investigation revealed an unexpected answer to both questions and a dozen more besides. The history of the sand pumping station, The Spit, The Gold Coast Seaway and the southern tip of South Stradbroke Island are all explained at this wonderful web site http://www.gcwa.qld.gov.au/blog/read/?i=6
Simply, the sand is pumped off the beach, underground to a slurry pit then pumped under the Gold Coast Seaway and deposited on South Stradbroke Island. The feat of engineering, a world first, created the Gold Coast Seaway (also officially, now the mouth of the Nerang River), created all the sand hills bushland and parklands of The Spit and created a southern extension of South Stradbroke. It really is worth a read and viewing of the video. I never knew any of this history.
The results are a huge area of land gradually being made available for public and commercial use. Although the work to create this new land and river mouth, the gargantuan task was little known or understood by locals. Indeed at the time, 1983 to 1986 many locals opposed the undertaking. Now the entire new beaches and parklands, even Seaworld and its attached accommodation, the many parks and boating facilities are taken for granted. Even the man made sand island, Wavebreak Island was at the centre of a heated battle in 2015 between some locals and a proposed development to turn the island into a residential area, resort, shopping centre, casino, parklands, marina and tour ship terminal with a bridge between Labrador and the island. Alas that proposal got knocked on the head.
Thursday 27th April
We went for a drive and ended up at Burleigh Heads. As we approached Burleigh I commented it would be nice to stop and take a walk through the National Park but only if we could find a parking spot. Normally parking here is like winning the lottery. Well, today we won the lottery.
The lower walk around the foreshore to Tallabudgera Creek was closed while some works are being carried out by council. Enlarging the carpark perhaps???
The alternate walk climbs steadily through large rocks and heavily timbered woodland.
The rocks are the result of ancient lava flows creating similar formations as other basalt columns found at Fingal Head just across the border in NSW. The huge jumbled rocks are known to be unstable and walkers are advised to take care and be aware of their surroundings especially during periods of prolonged wet weather.
The Burleigh Heads is a great spot to just sit and look at the sea and Surfers Paradise in the distance. People come here to take in the ambience, to play guitar, sing, do yoga, meditate, eat and simply picnic or ooh and aah to the surf riders when the big swells roll in.
Tonight we joined Kens sister, Kirsty for dinner at Southport Yacht Club. Lovely spot looking over the SYC marina and Marina Versace a little further away..
Donnis and I had crumbed Barramundi for dinner.
Friday 28th April.
Today we met my cousin Lynne who I have not seen for at least 50 years. We have not seen each other since we lived in the Sydney suburb of Balmain. We moved to Riverwood and then to Maroubra while her family moved to Birchgrove. Our two families now lived a long way apart and we could no longer walk to each others house. From then on our families were busy with our lives and we no longer kept in touch. My most vivid memory of childhood with cousins so close was when television first came to Australia in September 1956. People would stand in the street outside an electrical store to watch grainy black and white TV.
Lynnes family was one of the first families in Balmain to own a TV. From then on we went to their house every Monday night to watch TV. I Love Lucy was our favourite. For years I kept a list of TV shows watched in date order, time and name of show in a school exercise book. That is how novel TV was in those days. We met Lynne and her husband Allan at North Burleigh Surf Life Saving Club for coffee. (Coincidence – we were at Burleigh yesterday) It was a wonderful meeting, all too short of course. Hopefully we will have many more opportunities to meet again. Another coincidence, we bumped into Wal and Lynn, friends from our village who were at the club for lunch.
I received a call from the Dept of Defence, office of Honours and Awards. Dads medals have been issued but not yet released. They first went to engraving and will be mailed in the near future.
Tonight we had Barramundi at the village Fish n Chip night. Wow! Barra, two nights in a row!
Sunday 30th April.
I was awake early and went for a bike ride around and around and around our village. I saw a hot air balloon to the west
then spied another, closer, in the south.
It seemed to be coming toward our village and falling lower. By the time I grabbed the camera it was over the village and I could plainly see and hear the gas heater which helps the balloon to rise.
Yes it rose but still looked as though it was struggling to gain or maintain height.
I lost sight of it over the rooftops near Runaway Bay.
A hot air balloon came down in a residential area of the Gold Coast on 13th April this year. Perhaps this one did the same.
In the afternoon BIL Ken arrived from Noosa. He joined a handful of men and helped us set up the shade pergolas and 100 chairs for the Anzac Day services in the morning.
Tuesday 25th April
At Dawn Service this morning I proudly wore my medals from National Service for the years 1966 to 1968.
I wore an Armoured Corps beret and regimental badge.
I had hoped to wear my fathers medals from WWII from his service in North Africa – Egypt – .His date of enlistment and service are for the years 1939 to 1946. More information about those medals appears below.
I placed a small wooden cross (with my fathers details printed on clear plastic tape) in our small Garden of Remembrance.
All four of those items has a story. Some stories are longer than others. Be prepared for a long read or skip to tomorrow.
War Service Medals.
My father had his war service medals withheld by the Department of Defence, Department of Honours and Awards since 1946.(The reason is another long story which I will not labour over in this post.) I knew nothing of this until after my fathers death in 2,000. In 2011 I was visiting Canberra and went to the National Archives and on a whim asked to see my Army record. The record was not yet available so I asked to see my father’s records. There was not much to see. A paragraph giving name, regimental number, date of enlistment and place of birth (which was incorrect and is the source of another long story which I will not post about today). Date of birth was also incorrect but that was not unusual for the time, many young men falsely declared a date of birth during the war years. The rest of the records were “Not Yet Reviewed” and not due to be released until somebody somewhere approved the release. At the time I thought “Oh well just one of those things” and apart from asking the staff at Archives how to get the record released I went no further until we stopped travelling full time and settled back into our house at Airlie Beach in 2013. I was looking for my old school records when I came across a small briefcase which held my fathers personal papers and which was given to me after my father’s death. One of the items which caught my attention was a DVA (Department of Veterans Affairs) Card. The card was for medical treatment and pension. I wondered how, if my father’s war records were locked, he managed to get a pension and DVA card. It did not make sense. I further wondered why there were no medals in his belongings and why he never went to an Anzac Service or marched in the once a year parade and never had any medals to show my brother, sisters or myself. I recalled then that at some time in the past my mother lamented my father was never able to join the RSL (Returned Soldiers League) or the RSS & AILA (Returned Sailors, Soldier and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia). Later my mother was pleased that finally Dad was able to join the RSL as an Associate Member. Clearly there was more going on than I was aware of.
I then started writing to the Defence Department asking if my father had ever been issued any medals and if not, why not. Once again I was told the records were locked etc etc etc. I wrote again advising my reasons for following up and why I wanted information about any medals which were or were not issued. A reply in 2016 advised a Parliamentary Committee was looking into the subject of Blocked or Withheld Medals and Honours and once their findings were complete, they would respond to me. On 11th April I received a letter from Department of Honours and Awards to advise the medals were now released and would be sent to me via immediate registered mail.
Regrettably those medals did not arrive in time for this years Anzac Day Services.
Armoured Corps beret and Regimental Badge.
In 1968 I was discharged from the Army (Australian Armoured Corps – A Squadron 2 Cavalry Regiment based at Gallipoli Lines, Holsworthy NSW) and took up a position working for a bank in the city of Wollongong. I shared a house with three other staff members on Mt Ousley Road, Balgownie. In October 1968 the worst bushfires in Illawarra history roared through thick dry timbered land in the hinterland. The fire was so intense it jumped the Mt Ousley four lane highway. Thirty three houses and lots of other property was destroyed. All my Army gear, other personal belongings and my surfboard which were stored in the garage were destroyed. The garage was destroyed but the main house was unsinged. The fire then raced into a gully beside the property and missed the house altogether. I was working that day and unlike my workmates in another branch, did not take the day off to rescue possessions. I believed the highway would stop the fire.
I was proved wrong.
I wanted to wear my beret and badge along with my medals and my Dad’s medals at the Dawn Service. So began a hurried search to find an ex member of 2 Cav Regiment who might still have his beret and badge. Noel who lives at Kilcoy in Qld found his beret and badge in an old cardboard box in the back of a wardrobe in his garage. They had not seen the light of day for almost 50 years. Noel agreed to mail them to me.
My service medals
I was not even aware medals had been issued for National Servicemen. Until that is, I attended an Anzac Day Dawn Service at Balgal Beach near Townsville in 2005.In fact it was the first Anzac Day Service or March had attended since being discharged in 1968. The local RSL President and organiser of the event was somebody I went to basic training at Singleton NSW and later Corps training at Armoured Corps base at Puckapunyal in Victoria. We had not seen each other since 1966. During a conversation over a quiet beer he explained his medals and how I could obtain mine. I wrote to Honours and Awards and in due course received my first medal. A few years later, unexpectedly, the second medal arrived.
Small Timber Cross.
In 2013 The Australian War Museum in Canberra had 200,000 small timber crosses made to be used as a Commemorative Project for the WWI 100th Anniversary Years 2014 to 2018.
This year honours the anniversary of the Western Front and the Charge of the Light Brigade Battle of Beersheba in Syria. (The Light Brigade Cavalry became the Armoured Corps) I received a cross and prepared service details on a clear plastic tape which was attached to the cross. I placed the cross in our small Remembrance Garden, (surrounded by Rosemary, the Remembrance floral symbol) along with another 20 or so crosses placed in the garden by other village residents.
After the service a man came up to me. He was staying with his family in the Treasure Island Holiday Resort next door and decided to come to our 11am service. It turns out he was also part of A Squadron 1 Cavalry Regiment in 1966 and early 1967 when Noel and I were both part of the Regiment. Noel and I were National Servicemen while he was Regular Army. Originally he was part of 1 Cav when they were based in Puckapunyal in Victoria. When the Regiment was moved into bush in Holsworthy he was part of the team who lived in tents while establishing a camp made from Nissan Huts. He was also on parade with Noel and I when the Regimental name was changed to 2 Cav (short story reason – our Regiment was selected to go to Vietnam and a US Armoured Corps named 1 Cav was already stationed there. It would be confusing operating two 1 Cav Regiments from the same location. So… our name was changed. At the same time our fancy yellow silk scarves, silver belt buckles, silver buttons and black tank suits were replaced by more practical green tank suits and standard army issue green scarves, brass buckles, buttons and bush hats Oooh how I loved those yellow silk scarves, black tank suits and silver badges etc. On a couple of occasions we had to parade through Sydney streets in the M113A Armoured Personnel Carriers and all drivers and crew members wore our clobber with aplomb, the yellow silk scarves blowing in the breeze, newspaper and TV showed us all at our finest)
We had not seen each other since 1968 and only had a few minutes to talk with each other as he had a function to attend and I had an Anzac Day Luncheon at the Treasure Island Holiday Resort.
Hmmm! I hurt my back yesterday while standing up after sitting in a chair. Although quite painful I thought it would be OK this morning.
Nope! No better, perhaps a little worse.
Sunday 23rd April
This week I have been resting my back. NO bike riding, no table tennis, no bowls, no line dancing. Not lifting anything heavier than a cold beer.
Rugby League season is in full swing. Today we drove to Springwood to watch grandson Chris play schoolboy Rugby League.
Sitting there in the Junior Rugby League grounds I must say I was impressed by the facilities and could not help making comparisons with when I played the game.
For a start the number of parents who make the effort to support their boys by attending games and helping in the canteen
The canteen? We never had a canteen.
In fact we had to walk to the football fields in our game clothes carrying our footy boots. Then walk home after the game. There were no showers. No electronic scoreboard. No shaded seating area. No canteen.
No trainers. No training. No medical staff. No water person. No linesperson. Nobody to collect the soiled jersey and shorts to take away and have them cleaned for the next game. Nobody to take statistics. No advertising on jersey’s.
No mums and dads to support us. Usually the teachers from the opposing team schools would co-operatively act as referees and linesperson and timekeeper and coach.
We simply showed up for the game at the appointed time and place, played the game and walked home, then put away our gear (after mum washed it) until the following week.
So, on reflection it is good to note that each year brings progressive improvements to the game, the facilities and the support services. Especially the support services.