563. Sunday 23rd July 2017. A quiet week apart from building a small garden deck…

Donnis is still on Prince Edward island in the Province of the same name, Prince Edward island, eastern Canada. She has lots of photos to share but they will not be available until she returns next month.

I have been doing whatever I need to do around the house to keep busy. I would like to say the deck I was building is complete. The deck is, the plants are mostly in their pots in place on the deck and I just need to complete the water trickle system, paint the black pots a clay colour and it is all done. It was a wonderul project and now that it is 95% complete I am looking around for a new project.

Taken with my trusty Samsung Galaxy A3. Those black pots on the bench seats have clumping bamboo planted in them. They will clump and give us a nice outdoor garden view from the bedroom window, The rest of the plants are various part shade herbs.
I might even have morning coffee here when spring arrives.

I am planning an outback adventure in the coming week so I should have some interesting places and photos for next Sunday.

If you like photos I have been contributing to two photo Facebook pages.

Have a look at Australian Outback Photography and Amatuer Photography.

Its a short report this week, but expect a big report next week.

562. Sunday 16th July 2016… Let’s talk about a road trip across the Trans Canada Highway…

Sunday 16th July

Last week we left Donnis when she arrived at Thunder Bay in the Province of Ontario on the shore of Lake Superior. This lake is shared by the USA and by coincidence they also have a town, called Thunder Bay on the shore of Lake Huron in the State of Michigan.

The next day following Lake Superior and the Trans Canada Highway they arrived at Sault St Marie on the US border but still within the Province of Ontario. It was at the motel here that Alecia was bitten several times by bed bugs. Hmmm!

Another long long day of travel they arrived at Ottowa, which is still in the Province of Ontario. Remember as they travel east they are moving into an earlier time zone so their travel days had to be planned so they could arrive at accommodation and restaurants at a reasonable hour and to get to bed and a good nights sleep to start it all again the next day with another time zone change.

The last two days has been through a small part of the land of a thousand lakes. In fact there are around 35,000 lakes. I am still unsure if all the lakes have a name.

Next day was much shorter, only a few hours drive to the city of Montreal, the most populous city in the Province of Quebec. Now they are in the heartland of the French speaking part of the nation. It is strange to note that Canada, a bi-lingual nation, has legislated that all public signs, labels, notices, warnings etc be printed in French and English, nation- wide. Quebec seems to thumb its nose at this legislation as very few directional signs are shown in both languages. Driving around this city you need French as your second language.

Another short drive to Quebec City capital of the Province of Quebec and definitely pro French. In 1655 there were 550 people living there in 70 houses. Hmmm! Sounds a bit crowded to me. That’s about 8 people per household but of course that was around 350 years ago so big families meant survival.

The final long day of travel brought Donnis and Alecia across the Federation Bridge spanning 12.9 Klms across the Northumberland Strait to the Province of New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island their final destination for the next week or so.

I am looking forward to seeing the photos.

On another matter, for those of you who have a Facebook account may I suggest you have a look at Australian Outback Photography. I have been posting a daily photo of our outback travels.


561. Sunday 9th July 2017. RACQ Motofest and travels in Canada…

Sunday 9th July

Along with friends Graham and Wencke we drove to the famous Eagle Farm Racecourse in Brisbane. The Queensland Motoring organisation, Royal Automobile Club of Queensland – RACQ – held a motorfest. Pretty much all things to do with motor cars, motorcycles, racing, camping etc.

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These motorcycles with sidecars provided the first RACQ Roadside Service.

The amazing thing about the fest was the entrance fee. A gold coin donation, $2 per person. There were food vendors and importantly real coffee barista’s. There were roving entertainers. We interacted with a pair of roving “Policemen” who must have had good memories because they remembered the cheek, especially Wencke gave them on arrival.

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Fake Cops.

They gave back the cheek on our second meeting. It was all in good fun. A couple of young ladies on stilts must have had their smiles frozen on earlier in the day. They never stopped smiling as they moved among the crowd saying hello.

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Very pretty, always smiling, girls on stilts.

The sun shone as we wandered among the 380 motor vehicles and cycles on display.

I really wanted to see a Ford Mustang Convertible. On my bucket list is a trip across Australia, or Route 66 in the USA or the Trans Canada Hwy in a Mustang.

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This is a Mustang Convertible and one which I would love to do a long driving trip…in the summer of course.

I also saw a Shelby Cobra which would be a fine vehicle for the trip as well.090717 maybe

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Thios is definately not on my drive across a nation bucket list. Apart from being a gas guzzler it barely has any ground clearance.

I also got a chance to see the new Hyundai i30. Even the base model was impressive along with a base price. The new top of the range comes in at double the price of the base model.

I also enjoyed seeing a Willys Knight.

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This was a luxury Willys. Our family had a Coupe. It was always breaking down giving Dad The Willys.

When I was a young boy my dad had a Willys Coupe which had a dickie seat. My Nana sat in the dickie seat.

One of the disappointments was the much lauded Poo Car.

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The Poo car. Rather dissappointingly it does not really run on Poo as the name suggests. It runs on a battery motor and the battery is charged by the process of gasses given off by Poo and coberted to electricty.

The way it was promoted in the news was it was the first car to run on, well. Poo. In fact it does not. How this one prototype works is this. Normal sewerage gives off a gas. The gas is used to create electricity most of which is put back into the grid. Some is syphoned off and storage batteries in the car are charged. Basically it is an electric car but so far can only be charged via the Poo created electricity.

Some other electric cars were also on display but they were a disappointment in that they can only be charged by plugging into a mains power source so basically you are limited to only being able to travel as far as a fully charged battery system will allow. The last southerly charging station from Brisbane is at Byron Bay in northern NSW. Most of the electric cars would need to charge once before arriving at BB. The next charging station in NSW is Sydney some 800 Klms further south. The battery cars are only good as a local area means of transport. They are expensive to buy, the batteries are expensive and only have a limited range.

On the other hand the Toyota range of electric cars were not on display. They are a hybrid of electric and a regular motor. When driving the alternator charges the battery as does the inertia when putting a foot on the brake pedal. Even the rotating wheels generates electricity to charge the batteries. Even so, the batteries are still very expensive as is the purchase price. If I was entertaining buying an electric car it would have to be one of the Hybrids.

The vehicle which I spent most time looking at was the privately owned ex Army Ferret Scout Car.

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This Ferret Scout carb brought back memories from my Armoured Corps days.

When I was in the Australian Armoured Corps I started my career driving and or crew commanding one of these. Crew commander sounds impressive but really there is only a driver and a commander who handles radio, macjing gun, grenade launchers, navigator and telling the driver where to go.

Across the Globe Donnis and her daughter Alecia are driving cross country on the Trans Canada Highway. Starting point was Calgary in the Province of Alberta. At the end of a long day they arrived at Regina the capital of Saskatchewan. Interestingly Canada has their Census years the same as Australia. Regina the capital had a population of 214,000 in 2016 whereas the Province had a population of 1,098,000. On the drive they passed through towns with interesting names. Medicine Hat, Swift Current, Moose Jaw to name a few. Day two was a a long drive through the Province of Saskatchewan and equally long drive through the next Province, Manitoba and the capital, Winnipeg, population 705,000. Another long long day where they arrived late at the city of Thunder Bay which is smack in the middle of the Great Lakes. Great Lakes! There must be thousands of them. In fact Wikipedia tells me there are 35,000 lakes. If you took all the lakes out of the Canadian land mass it would be 25% smaller.

560. Sunday 2nd July 2017. At home…

It has been a quiet week. My bad back has restricted me somewhat but getting out and going for a walk is good therapy.

With that in mind I thought I would show a little of the northern end of The Gold Coast near where I live.

I went to Paradise Point for a walk along The Broadwater foreshore. It is school holidays and family groups were everywhere and every barbecue was occupied and the smell of sausages and rissoles wafting in the breeze along the path was enough to make me weak in the knees.

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Looking south over The Broadwater from Paradise Point. Southern end of Ephraim Island can be seen.
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Ephraim Island
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Paradise Point sailing Club.

I also drove over the Ephraim Island Bridge to umm err Ephraim Island. It is a bit exclusive and has a gate controlled by security staff.

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The bridge to exclusive Ephraim Island.

Two days after visiting the island a 78 year old mother and her 54 and 53 year old daughters committed suicide in their exclusive suite.



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To the north is the equally exclusive Sovereign Island (which is a half dozen islands connected by small bridges and connected to the mainland by a long bridge.

Later in the week I walked around our village in bright warm winter sunshine. I mention the sunshine as all night a soft gentle rain fell, lulling me to sleep. By mid morning the clouds disappeared and a beautiful day followed. We live beside Biggera Creek.

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The bird life loves living around our village.
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Note how you can see right through the ducks breathing slits in its bill. (Ducks have bills not beaks.
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I am fascinated by this old Royal Palm stump. Seeds dropped by birds have sprouted within the stump and we have a Ficus Ficus (Fig) and a species of Yukka fighting for root space but seem healthy enough.
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Biggera Creek with rain drops still on the Yukka leaves.

The rest of the week was spent doing very little and avoiding annoying my back.

Next week promises to be better.

559. Sunday 25th June 2017. Brisbane War Memorial, Commonwealth Games and Canals…

Monday 19th June

Whoooee! Today I took a train trip from the Gold Coast to Brisbane. It was far cheaper than taking i30. No traffic, no parking fees, no fuel, no city traffic woes. I was able to sit back and read or use the WiFi provided by Queensland Rail.

On arrival I went to Anzac Square which lies across the street from Central Station

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Central Station is located behind this tiny facade. Buildings have been erected around and over the station. Inside it is huge with 6 platforms in constant use.

and stretches between Ann Street through to Adelaide Street.

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Anzac Square with the clock tower of Central Station in the bottom right.

The Doric Columns and most of the memorial walls and floor of the Memorial Shrine are made from a rock which looks like dressed sandstone. It isn’t. I believe it is made from a local rock known as Brisbane Tuff.

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Doric Columns of the Brisbane War Memorial in Anzac Square.

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Brisbane Tuff  is a type of rock, formed as a result of a volcanic eruption. As the name suggests, it is a type of tuff found around Brisbane. It is a form of welded ignimbrite and was quarried extensively in the early history of Brisbane at the Kangaroo Point Cliffs for use in construction of Brisbane’s earliest buildings.

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The popular Kangaroo Point Parklands. Evidence of the quarrying of Brisbane Tuff is easy to see.

Brisbane tuff comes in a variety of colours: pink, green, blue (grey) and purple. The different colours are due to the extent of oxidation of iron and manganese.

A Perpetual Flame burns in a bronze urn. Anzac Square was opened on Armistice Day 1930 and is included in the Queensland Heritage Register.

The square, the shrine, the pathways, the lawns, trees and shrubs are all specially chosen and tended as being of a place of solemn significance.190617 ice

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While ice skating is conducted in King George Square the ever popular meeting area now has a temporary food alley.

Tuesday 20th June

I attended a group hype session and a personal interview to be a volunteer driver for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

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Volunteers posed for photos.

The first thing which was obvious was the amount of planning and implementation so far. The games entire volunteer crew is planned to be 15,000 people. Almost 50,000 applications were received and this has been narrowed down to 25,000. Now comes the interview process to bring in the final 15,000. On the fleet drivers section they need a crew of 2,800 and are going through the process of bringing the 4,000 applicants down to that number. The games will have a fleet of 771 official cars which will move sports people, officials and dignitaries around on a 24/7 basis. In fact in the lead up to the commencement of the games will be a lead in period of one month when attending personnel will require transport. If I am chosen it will be a busy period during March and April year. There are about 8 different types of cars to be used from small 4 seaters to larger 6 seaters to 12 seaters and Toyota Coaster 30 seaters. I can drive all of those vehicles except the bus which requires a LR or MR type license. It was interesting to note that even in my group there were those who were nervous about driving anything bigger than a 4 seater and some were restricted to automatic cars only.

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Volunteer interviewees are encouraged to leave a paint fingerprint in a stylised aboriginal dot painting of the main area of the Gold Coast being used for the Commonwealth Games. My fingerprint is at the bottom of the photo shown by a red arrow.

Wednesday 21st June

Game II State of Origin.

What can I say about tonight’s game?

Qld lost the first game three weeks ago at home in Brisbane to NSW.

Tonight was played in the NSW home arena against the pumped up unchanged side. Qld had 4 debut players and the return of 2 key players. One from injury, the other from simply not being selected for the first game. At half time NSW led 16-6 and the game looked all but over. The NSW side was dominant until a little into the second half. Then the game changed. It changed almost suddenly. Qld scored two converted tries, the second, two minutes from full time. They looked set to put on another try but the full time siren closed the game. Qld won 18-16 setting the stage for a final decider in Brisbane in three weeks. It should be a sellout.

The star player, Jonathon Thurston injured his already injured shoulder. Medical advice is he should never play again. That means his representative career for Queensland and Australia as well as for his home team is all over. All Rugby League fans will be sorry to see Jonathon leave the game but we all believe he will be back in some capacity either as a coach or a highly paid TV commentator.

Friday 23rd June

Today I went to the Runaway Bay Shopping Centre to collect my laptop which has had a new solid state hard drive installed plus a few tweaks.

The shopping centre backs on to a canal system. For those who do not know, the Gold Coast has a huge canal system of residential land. Every house on the canals has a water frontage many of them have landing jetties and pontoons.

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A tiny part of the Gold Coast Canal system.

All canals are part of a creek or river system which flows into The Broadwater, one of the premier waterways playgrounds in Australia, if THE premier waterway. The shopping centre knows that much of its custom comes from yachties who live on their boats in The Broadwater, local home owners on the canal, visitors on hire boats and houseboats, fishermen even jet ski riders. The shopping centre provides two jetties and associated pontoon berths so boaties can land, do their shopping and return to the boat.

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Runaway Bay Shopping Centre Boat berthing facilities.

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The canal in this instance gives direct access to The Broadwater.

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Canala Entrance at unaway Bay where it merges with The Broadwater.

558. Sunday 18th June 2017. A model, a long walk a beach walk and a head cold…

Thursday 15th June

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.

I saw this model in the distance and enjoyed lots of poses.

Those building in the distance are on The Broadwater at Lands end.

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.

Despite the unpleasant weather and the confused seas I still managed this great photo of the beach, the ocean, the sand pumping station and Surfers Paradise in the background.
This sand pumping station has a small kiosk at the land entrance and charges a 42 entry fee to allow a walk to the end. Fishermen enjoy the opportunity.

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.

Sand pumping ship and the brown hill it created.

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.

You can see the sand particles suspended in the spray.

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.

The sand is ejected out of this 25mm pump.

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.

Feel terrible tonight.

I think I have a blocked node and a hed gode.



557. Sunday 11th June 2017. Guess who went to Canada so lets open a few Doors…

Monday 5th June

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.


The town is on the Warrego Highway, 340 kilometres (210 mi) west of Brisbane, the state capital.

It has a twice weekly railway service.

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Miles Railway Station located about 350 Klms northwest of Brisbane.

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.

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Old Bank Chambers at Miles Qld.


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.

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Private residnce on clifftops at Scarborough NSW.
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Private residence on clifftops at Coledale NSW.


Inverell NSW is a town nearly 600 Klms northwest of Sydney.

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Inverell Town Hall

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.


Highgate Hill

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Strange homemade door.

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/


Lightning Ridge

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 1902.260115 nettleton 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.

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Open doorway of a private residence at Lightning Ridge. The house is made from bottles and has not yet had a dor attached to the doorway.

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Airlie Beach. Qld

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The Port of Airlie Qld, Marina and Cruise boat harbour is a very modern facility opened in November 2013.

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 NSW

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Private residence at Uralla NSW.

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

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Hand Made 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.

556. Sunday 4th June 2016. National Schools Mountain Bike Championships – Nerang Qld…

Sunday 4th June

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,

Day one time trials at Bond University on the Gold Coast. Anakin happy after

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.

There is still some debate about speed on the track. Is it faster to keep the wheels on the ground at all times or become airtborne over two or three bumps. What is not under debate is the manouvre looks spectacular.
Approaching the finish this rider is no doubt airborne over the last hump is the quickest.

The team event involves 4 riders to a team and the team which completes the most circuits in 4 hours is the winner.

The incoming rider tags Anakin to sgtart his ride.

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.

Anakin comes around a steeply graded “berm”. He wears a helmet “Go Pro” camera as the schools videographer.
Anakin exits out of a series of bumps.

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.

This is what you look like when you arrive back at the “pits” after having blown a tyre for the second time and you feel you are in “the pits”.
After the first puncture, team mates and mates from Anakins previous school, Mackay Christian College come to help
This is how you look a few minutes later after encouragement by team mates, teachers and ahem grandma and grandad.

The weather was very kind and the location was hard work even for spectators, officials and photographers to walk around.

Berms and bumps, rocks and roots all add to a challenging course.
Downhill, bumps berms and tight corners maintains the challenge.

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.

The boy on the second bike is calling out “I am going to pass on your left. Move over”.
These three riders are having a toussle with the third rider desperately trying to find a safe passing section.

Riders came from all over Australia but seemed to be dominated by Queensland Schools.

There are times when I should wear this Tshirt.

To close off this week I have to mention my Co-Pilot, Donnis, leaves for a two month visit to Canada tomorrow.

555. Sunday 28th May 2017. Redfern, Balmain, Homebush Bay, North Wollongong Beach, Port Macquarie, Woolgoolga and a slow trip home…


Monday 22nd May.

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.

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Anzac Bridge
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Travelling Anzac Bridge

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.

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Anzac Bridge seen from Balmain Hospital.

We walked around those parts of the suburb I would have walked as a youngster.

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On a wall outside the Gladstone Park Bowls Club is this interesting mural. Note the bandstand with crowds of well dressed people in the centre of the painting. To the right is the bandstand remains as they are today and the more casually dressed scattering of people from the present day. My school was known as Balmain Demonstration School, Gladstone Park School or Pigeon Ground School. Gladstone Park was once used as a pigeon shooting place hence the name Pigeon Ground. Note the pigeons flying above the b andstand. Balmain Hospital can be seen in the background of the photo.
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The remains of the Gladstone Park Bandstand. The pumping station and freservoir entrance and Balmain Hospital are in the background.

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

This is a Balmain Tram on Darling Street steep decline to the wharf. The Dummy Counterweight is in front, slowing the trams descent.

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.

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My Nana’s house in Balmain. Note wonderful old sandstone foundation walls and the worn sandstone steps.
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Balmain has hundreds of house built using the local sandstone.. Depending on the budget the house was built of dressed sandstone, rough hewn part dressed sandstone or rough hewn sandstone or simply sandstone seconds.

We also visited what was called Elkington Park Baths when I lived there.

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Elkington Park Baths now known as Dawn Fraser Baths.

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.

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Whats this? The pool is closed for the winter but call security we have an intruder.
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White Horse Point
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Balmain Marine Centre Marina and moorings. The new Iron Cove Bridge and Drummoyne are in the background.
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Balmain, apart from most early houses built from sandstone are also terrace houses. These ones have a wonderful view over Dawn Fraser Baths, Sydney Harbour, Cockatoo Island, White Horse Point, Schnapper Island and the Parramatta River.

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

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This small building houses several pumps and the entrance to an underground water 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.

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In my early days growing up in Balmain we saw daily, the bread delivery van pulled by a horse. Residents hoped for a bonus manure delivery for the garden too. None were like this sdtreet baker and coffee van. A table and bench seat are set up as permament fixtures.

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.

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Walkway around Homebush Bay
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Lovely old sandstone used in decorative bridge buttress.

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.

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Decorative bridge, housing units and wrecks.

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.

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Another unknown wreck

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.

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Homebush Bay Unknown Wreck

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.

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The wreck of the SS Ayrfield. Mangroves have taken over.

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.

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Elevated walkway
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Elevated circular walkway over the Brickpits.

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.

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Last week I photographed the two l;ighthouses around the harbour at Wollongong. It was early morning and the light was not good enough for clear photos. Here is what they look like taken from North Wollongong Beach.

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

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Woolgoolga Beach

where a free diving spearfishing competition was being wound up.

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The nnual Bluwater Freedive Association Sperfishing competition. It that a Mackeral?

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

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Woolgoolga Water Tower and every radio, Tv and microwave mast they could fit on top. The painted mural is about the annual whale migration.

and the Lighthouse at South Solitary Island

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The south Solitary Island Lighthouse. One of only two Island lighthouses in NSW.

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/



554. Sunday 21st May 2017. Early mornings, meetings, a birthday and on to Sydney…

Monday 15th May

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.

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Wollongong Harbour Breakwater Lighthouse. Built in 1871 and decommissioned in 1974. Restored by public support in 2002. It is now an historical landmark and no longer provides any guiding light.

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.

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Flagstaff Hill Wollongong Lighthouse. It is still operational. Seen here at almost first 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!)

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Birthday girl Nicole surrounded by Errol, Amelia and the living vacuumcleaner, Walter keeping his eye on the cake while waiting for crumbs.

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.

By midday Errol had left, we had a quick lunch and then on our way to Gymea – in The Shire” ( it is worth a look here to understand The Shire   http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/about-town/shattering-the-shire-stereotype-20120625-20y4c.html  )

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

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Bare Island La Perouse seen from to Molineaux Point Lookout.

and the remains of huge sandhills of Cronulla and Greenhills Beach.

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Kurnell, landing place of Captain Cook in 1770 with sandhills of Greenhills in the background.

Geoff and Margaret put on a fine dinner of a Chinese Steamboat

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Steamboat sizzling and waiting for food and diners.

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.

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Gymea Bay

Very steep hills heavily wooded crowd all the way down to the water.

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Public swimming baths at Gymea Bay.
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A little bream ready to thrown back to try again another day.

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.

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Hannah loved her afternoon watching people fish,
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Happy hour at one of the hundreds of private boat sheds at Gymea Bay.
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Bush boat storage at Gymea BAy.
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Brilliant sunset colours on cloud beyond Gymea Bay.

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.

Tomorrow we begin a little Sydney exploring.