Aah, Australia Day. The day we set aside to celebrate the birth of our nation and consider the uniqueness of our land and our people.
A day celebrated in song and dance.
A day which is a public holiday and if it falls on a Thursday many think it is quite OK to take Friday as a sickie and have a long weekend so we can drink for 4 days .
A day we can all join together as one people, our hearts swelling with pride and enjoy a barbecue on the beach, in the park, in a high rise balcony or in our own backyards. As we enjoy our barbecued sausage or beef pattie we make hamburgers topped with the Australian tradition of canned beetroot – which is grown and packed in Chile or China or Vietnam.
A day when those of us who enjoy a cold beer or twenty feel the need to consume as much beer as possible before we pass out and miss the rest of the day. Later we tell anybody who stands still long enough how we had a great day and got pissed. We think the proud tradition is to get pissed and have no interest in any other reason we may have to celebrate.
A day when we wave patriotic flags, wear clothes in our flag design or our National colours, wear hats which look like our flag, decorate our picnic table with a tablecloth which looks like our flag, serve food and drinks on paper plates and plastic cups all adorned in our flag or National colours. All around us are constant flag and colour reminders of how proud we are to be Australian. Yet, we fail to recognise all those cheap flags and clothes and throw away picnic paraphernalia are all made in China, or Pakistan, or Indonesia. None of it is made in Australia.
Yet, there are those among us who truly respect this country. Those people who were born here or arrived as an immigrant or refugee and have taken on our Nation as their home and contributed with pride and dignity. Those countless families who respect our day of remembrance, reflection and thanksgiving and contribute in their own quiet way to our one day where we can call ourselves Australian, we can celebrate and enjoy our day other than by the number of beers we can consume.
As it happens, we celebrated Australia Day with a barbecue at our clubhouse. There was a thong (and for our readers elsewhere a thong is sometimes known as “flip flops” which you wear on your feet – cheap and nasty footwear) throwing competition, a hole in one putting competition, quoits and darts. We also sang and did dances. Naturally we had a beer. A nice family type of celebration only we are a family of families.
Friday 27th January
Eldest daughter Melissa and husband Steve arrived for an overnight stay.
Saturday 28th January
For us we got an early start, that is wewere in the car and on our way by 8am. We wanted to show Melissa and Steve a little of the Gold Coast before they have to leave for their flight home to Mackay.
As we approached The Spit it was obvious something was going on. There were sailboats thick on the water all heading for the Gold Coast Seaway.
Not only sailboats but a veritable flotilla of jet skis, tinnies, power boats, Coast Guard and Police Boats. This was the beginning of the annual race called the Surf to City where boats start the race just behind the surf and depending on boat size will race inside South and North Stradbroke Islands via the Broadwater.
The larger boats generally race offshore of the islands. The official race information provided by the Southport Crusing Yacht Club probably explains the race better.
No other race in Australia consists of two fleets, an offshore and inshore fleet, both starting and finishing at the same place. The Surf to City Yacht Race is also one of a handful of races that see both monohull and multihull yachts compete against each other. Held in January, the Surf to City is now in its 24th year. In 2016, the Surf to City attracted over 110 of the most influential yachts in Queensland and northern New South Wales ranging in size from the mighty Black Jack to 7m trailer sailors. The Inshore Fleet is usually a day race. The course follows the main channel from Southport to Brisbane past all of the islands in the southern part of Moreton Bay. The Offshore Fleet is a day/night race. Starting off the Southport Seaway, the yachts head north around Cape Moreton to enter Moreton Bay and then to the finish. The race is organised and hosted by Queensland Cruising Yacht Club and run in association with Southport Yacht Club.
It was wonderful to have Melissa and Steve join us even if it was only overnight. Thanks for your visit.
Sunday 29th January
Today dawned bright and sunny much as it has for the past few weeks. As usual the temp got to around 30° and stayed there all day. The Co-Pilot and I went to the beach at Sea World Beach where Life Station 42 overlooks the surf. We swam and surfed between the flags and my Boogie Board got a workout. Water temp was 25° so I was able to cast off my cold water sookiness and leap straight into the surf. On days like today the beach is the place to be. We forgot to bring our shade tent so shortly after our swim we walked back to i30 and drove home.
The time spent st the beach was invigorating and the constant pummelling by the waves is as good as a workout at the gym.
Only 12 more days until we embark on a big adventure.
All this week most of the Eastern States have sweltered under heatwave conditions.
Yeah! Especially in the outback, where temps have been 40° plus every day. It is a dry heat and often with an even hotter drier wind blowing in off the desert. At night temperatures plummet.
On the coastal fringe and slightly inland temps get up to 38° and usually have no dry wind and humidity is around 85%
Right on the coast we have had high temps of 31° and even 32° with humidity levels at 93%. (Temps like 31 and 32 degrees to me do not mean heatwave but the news people delight in throwing that word around).
We say “isn’t it hot?” Yes, it is but the humidity makes it feel hotter so we complain. Most days we have had a delightful cool sea breeze helping to keep us if not comfortable at least not uncomfortable. At night the breeze disappears and the night-time temp drops to 28° and humidity stays at 85%. Still we spare a thought for those people further west and living and working in temps 10° hotter with no sea breeze.
Sister Enid and husband Ken dropped in for the night to break their journey from the Sunshine Coast to Sydney. It was wonderful to have them visit brief though it was.
A storm rolled in after dinner. Ken and I stood on our verandah watching the magical, scary, constant display of lightning and the heavy rain which came with it.
On a sad note today, a crazed driver ran down and killed 5 pedestrians in Melbourne and put another 20 people in hospital, several of them in critical condition. The man was already on bail for another offence last week. Before going on his rampage he stabbed his brother, beat his 76 year old stepfather, stole his car then beat his girlfriend and threw her out of the car. Some sleazy solicitor will be appointed and try to get him released back into the community again. OR Try to have any case thrown out of court due to the man’s mental state. Meanwhile there are 5 dead and probably more to come
Saturday 21st January
The rain continued overnight and temps dropped and stayed down around 24° for most of the day. A blustery southerly wind was blowing and we took a walk along main beach. The busloads of Asian tourists were standing on the edge of the water (sometimes immersed in it) while they took happy snaps of probably the first time they have visited the ocean in their lives.
Kite surfers were in their element pulling off stunts as they were blown airborne above the waves. I love watching them.
There was so much wind driven salt haze in the air it quickly coated the camera lens as well as simply filling the air. Everything took on a look as if being viewed through gauze.
Sunday 22nd January
Looking forward to the coming weeks as we have lots planned. BIG travel plans.
We drove to Brisbane Airport to collect grandchildren Shelby-Rose and Anakin who will stay with us for a few days. At the DFO (Direct Factory Outlet) at the airport Anakin bought a set of Virtual Reality goggles. Only Donnis phone is capable of processing the VR movies. Within minutes he had the Apps downloaded and watching VR movies and playing VR games. Anakin has far too much energy and it will be a challenge to keep him occupied. He went for a swim at our clubhouse pool with Donnis then after dinner joined me for table tennis at the clubhouse. At age 14 he fit in comfortably with our elderly group and learned everybody’s names quickly and talked with them and answered questions.
Shelby is quiet and was happy to stay at home with Donnis and watch a movie.
Tuesday 10th January
We went to Seaworld Beach in the morning.(Seaworld Beach is really part of the klms long Main Beach but at every location where a lifeguard station is located it is given the name of a landmark nearby.
This week the weather forecast is for heatwave conditions every day. At the beach we erected our beach shelter and took turns flying the kite
or riding the Boogey Board in the surf.
After two hours of sunshine and being battered by the surf
it was time to come home.
In the afternoon Anakin flew his new drone, while the rest of us played snooker and table tennis.
Thursday 11th January
Donnis took Shelby and Anakin to the movies in the air conditioned theatre across the road to see Assasins Creed while I stayed home and rested…in the heat.
Thursday 12th January
We took Shelby and Anakin to the airport for their flight home
The rest of the week we did wjat we normally do only at a slower pace due to the heatwave conditions. Heatwave? Not so bad here as I have installed shade awnings on all the windows which keeps the heat of the sun and the reflected heat from the roadway out of the house. While neighbours without awnings have their AC going all day we mostly have avoided turning on the AC…only three times so far this month. On the coast we usually have a cool ocean breeze. Not so lucky for those only a few Klms inland and in the outback. While we had 31° only a few Klms away they experienced 37° and in places such as Barcaldene and Longreach they had 40° plus.
Sunday 15th January
We had heavy rain, thunder and lightning in the early hours of the morning. Around 2.30am was enough to wake us.
In the afternoon we went to the movies at Australia Fair to see Passengers. Hmmm! Cleaning staff were still mopping up from the early morning brain. Water was still coming through the ceiling in several places and some walkways were closed as they were a wet hazard. After the movie we saw that water was coming through in a few new places and even in the car park as a heavy downpour had just passed over as we left the movie theatre.
The rain helped to bring the temperature down to an almost comfortable 27°but humidity levels had risen to around 90%.
As a bonus this week I thought some coastal photos from our travels are in order.
Minamurra Beach, south of Wollongong NSW June 2012.Most of the east coast is spectacular and beautiful. A new vista awaits around every corner.
Beach at LaPerouse NSW. This beach is located on the famous Botany Bay where Captain Cook landed in his Barque “ENDEAVOUR” in August 1770. Look for the lighthouse in the distance . The landing place is roughly on the beach in line with the lighthouse. Our friends Geoff and Margaret live nearby.
Greenmount Beach Qld.I recall back in the dim past some friends and I did a “surfin’ safari” from Maroubra Beach NSW to Qld.On our second day in Qld we surfed this beach along with hundreds of others enjoying a perfect wave on a perfect beach in perfect weather. (Perhaps Laurens will remember this)
In August 2012 Donnis and I visited old friend Illya and Judy at Narooma NSW This stretch of beach just to the south of Narooma is klnown as Glasshouse Rocks.
Currumbin Beach Qld. In the foreground is the imaginately named Currumbin Rock and in the distance is the skyline of Broadbeach, Surfers Paradise and Southport or as it is more collectively known, Surfers Paradise.
Crescent Head NSW headland. Donnis and I visited here in April 2009 on our way to Tasmania. I recalled then as I do now that this was another Surfin’ Safari location back in the day. The surf just below the headland seemed to be perfect all day every day.The waves rolled in across the rocky shoreline all the way into the distant beach.
Coogee Beach NSW. Of all the times I have visited this beach over many years I never encountered a real surf. The only thing about this beach which sticks in my mind is the parking police are very active and ruthless.
Cockle Creek Tas. We visited here in April 2009. This beach is in wide sheltered Recherche Bay on the extreme south east coast. The road ends at Cockle Creek and has the only vehicular road which is as far south as you can drive in Australia.
Bawley PointSouth Coast NSW. Donnis and I visited here in May 2009.
Apollo Bay on the South Coast of Vic on the famous and wonderful vista laden drive known as The Great Ocean Road. We visited here in January 2006. Incidentally the area was suffering a heat wave of 40 degrees with a blast of hot air off the inland. If you did not get sunburned the wind was so dry and hot you got windburn. The weather was a loss loss situation.Even surfers were not immune and despite wonderful surf conditions there were very few riders.
We had a small window of opportunity today. There were just two places left on the Skypoint Climb on the Q1 Building at Surfers Paradise. Rain and storms were predicted for the afternoon. Tyler and I took those last two places.
Q1, at 322.5m is the tallest building on the Gold Coast. It is the tallest building in all of Australia. In fact it is even taller than the Chrysler Building in New York. The top floor, seventy seven, is 270 m and we were going to climb another 30 or so metres on the outside of the building. The lift to level 77 takes just 42.7 seconds. A TV screen is fitted into the ceiling of the lift and we watched as the lift zoomed to the top. It was a surreal experience as there was no discernible movement of the lift. All we could see was the concrete lift shaft and suddenly we were there.
At ground level we were kitted out with lightweight overalls, cap and a heavy safety harness (after taking a breathalyser test before they would let us take the climb) As we stepped out through the glass doors we attached ourselves via the safety harness to the safety railing. The double lock harness straps have a breaking strain of 4.5 tonne so we were assured we would not fall. Well, not fall very far. In places we were challenged to lean over the edge with our harness taking our weight and leaving both hands free to wave to people below. The first ladder to access the climb is steep and only two people, with a safe distance between them can be on the ladder at any time. Once on the wide and less steep stairs we only had to contend with the wind whistling in our faces.
Once we achieved a flat part of the climb it was here we had photos and encouraged to act a little silly for the camera.
Climbing down was a little harder on the knees but when I came to the steep ladder section we had to turn around and go down backwards. A special rhythm was needed so we did not keep banging our knees on the steps. At the top was a level area where we gathered for a group photo while our lovely guide, Allie, leaning out by a pair of overhead safety lines to take our photo. I asked her how she got the job. It seems she was always afraid of heights and had never done any sort of climbing. Despite her belief she would not get the job, she did and quickly convinced herself to get over her fear. She has. Those little black dots we could see on the beach were people and too far away to see if they are waving at us.
The tour after ours was cancelled as a severe storm was approaching with lightning, wind and rain. Not a good time to be on a metal staircase beside a giant 70 metre lightning rod.
Afterwards Tyler and I caught up with Donnis and Alecia at Currumbin Beach where we dined on prawns for an afternoon snack. By then the clouds were rolling in and the wind was changing from north to south.
Our week of heatwave came to a crashing halt when the storm arrived and buckets of rain fell…after we arrived home and were eating dinner.
Tuesday 3rd January
Alecia and Tyler were up early to drive to the airport for their flight to Sydney and from there to the International Airport for their flight to Vancouver. Safe travels.
Wednesday 4th January
Today I made a little trip down memory lane, recalling my Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb on 30th December 2000.
I deliberately chose a night climb as I have been nervous of heights and believed a night climb would be a bit like a double challenge.
I passed the challenge and not once did I falter and hold up the rest of the team.
During our climb we noticed a few places which were closed off. These were the fireworks which were set up for New Years Eve the following night. There are no climbs on NYE.
The climb was fabulous and I would do it again.
I could not help thinking about the actor Paul Hogan (Crocodile Dundee) In his younger days he was a bridge painter. He was part of a team which would start painting the bridge at one end and continue across up and over. They had nowhere near the safety equipment we wore. When the painting was finished, which took about a year, it was time to go back to the start and begin again.
The rest of the week was spent doing what we normally do.
Next week, grandchildren Shelby and Anakin arrive for a few days so we have a few adventure things planned.
My best plan was an early departure of 9am expecting that as usual we would be away by 10am. I was wrong on both counts.
Alecia and Tyler were away by 10am while Donnis and I managed closer to 10.45am!!!
I expected heavy traffic and was pleasantly surprised to find traffic was heavy but it was moving at the posted speed limits.
At lunchtime we stopped at a little community called New Italy and had a lunch of leftover Christmas food.
In 1880 many Italian immigrants arrived in Australia. By 1882 about 20 families had bought up a selection of land on which to settle. They called the area New Italy which is the name of the location to this day. Some of the original fences and buildings in the area can be dated back to those early days of settlement.
Six hours later we had travelled the 420 Klms into NSW and the Pub With No Beer at Taylors Arm a small community about 22 Klms west of Macksville on the Nambucca River.
The name Pub With No Beer is interesting in that it is based on half -truths and misconceptions. The truth is and some die- hards might disagree, the original Pub With No Beer (PWNB) was at The Day Dawn Hotel, Ingham North Queensland. It seems in 1943 a bunch of American Servicemen passed through the town one day and drank the pub dry of beer. A local Australian sugar can cutter, Dan Sheahan arrived at the pub the next day and found – NO Beer. He wrote a poem called the Pub Without a Beer. In 1956 the poem fell into the hands of a singer/songwriter, Gordon Parsons, who thought the poem was public property (the original poem was published in 1944 in Queensland) Gordon Parsons was at the Taylors Arm Hotel when he took the original poem and re-worked it to the words it has today. He recorded his version, telling people the song was about the Taylors Arm Hotel. Afterwards he gave the song to Slim Dusty an up and coming singer songwriter destined to become the darling of Country and Western fans. He recorded the song in 1957 and given his popularity, the song was a hit and as it was explained to him the song was about Taylors Arm it was promoted that way. The local pub thought to cash in on the song and called their pub the PWNB. This of course annoyed the good people of Ingham, who claimed, rightly, the song was about their pub, the Day Dawn which by now had been re-named Lees Hotel (in fact the original pub was called the Telegraph Hotel and the Day Dawn was built on the same site.) The rivalry goes on to this day, both pubs claiming the song is about their pub but as the Slim Dusty version was popular and although incorrectly labelled as being about Taylors Arm the name and the location has stuck. Interestingly the Lees Hotel has an annual PWNB festival claiming their place in history.
We were in Taylors Arm to visit 100 acres of heavily timbered steep land at nearby Talarm which Errol recently bought. The pub was the cheapest and in fact the ONLY accommodation we could find in the region including as far north as Coffs Harbour and nearby Macksville and Nambucca Heads. Rooms were below basic with little to no facilities even showers and toilets were “shared”. We were grateful that some rooms had a ceiling fan.
The pub has no meals during the week and in fact close their doors at 7pm sometimes as late as 9pm. Locals and visitors can buy slabs of beer before closing and the publican kindly leaves the verandah lights turned on so drinkers can enjoy themselves until their slab is consumed. As there are only 40 permanent people at Taylors Arm it seems the entire adult population is at the pub until late. They also talk overly loudly.
Nicole had brought food from Wollongong so we all had pulled pork on breadrolls with coleslaw for dinner.
Tuesday 27th December
Today we took turns exploring via 4WD the block of land.
While each group waited on the other we swam in the confluence of the upper reaches of the Welsh’s Creek and Taylors Arm Creek which surprisingly is tidal and slightly brackish as the Taylors Arm Creek empties into the Nambucca River. There is a public creek parking, camping, picnic area here and a little beach before dropping off into deep dark water.
We swam in the creek with the two grandchildren Amelia and Hannah and borrowed a little kayak for an adventure paddle up Welsh’s Creek.
Tonight Donnis cooked up a storm of pasta, homemade tomato sauce and hamburger patties. Not bad considering both meals were produced on an open verandah with just a small butane gas stove sitting atop a folding camp table. Luckily we had several camp chairs but not enough for a nine of our group.
Wednesday 28th December
All nine of our group has seen Errol’s 100 acres and given advice for the location of a house site. It is time to enjoy ourselves. We joined the phalanx of bumper to bumper traffic passing both ways through Macksville and drove to the seaside village of Scotts Head.
This is a delightful location with a high headland and a beach on each side. The town is serviced by a few shops including very good eateries. The large, neat and fully booked caravan park has a prime position on the beach. We enjoyed fish and chips from the Beach Break Café. Afterwards we walked up Scotts Head and over to Little Beach where the grandchildren played in the shallows and scrambled over the rocks just like countless hundreds of thousands of young children have done before them.
I picked up a Bluebottle https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bluebottle which is also known as a Portugese Man O War. These little air filled sacs are blue in colour and trail long stinging tentacles. They are often found on beaches in the Australian Summer. They can turn a happy day at the beach to a nightmare of pain and often a trip to hospital for a day or two. In extreme cases they can cause death. I picked up the bluebottle by the top of the air filled sac which has no stinging barbs. I used it to show the girls what to be aware of and to avoid coming in contact with them, even those lying on the beach seemingly lifeless.
We then drove along the coast to Stuarts Point a long inlet of sandhills and a tidal basin called Macleay’s Reach. A foot bridge connects the main part of town with the sandy isthmus from which can be seen the coastal town of Southwest Rocks far to the south.
The grandchildren delighted in wading in the water and digging in the sandy mud (or should that be muddy sand?) and helping fishermen pump for Saltwater Yabbies or Nippers which are used as fish bait.
The following video shows how to pump and what a yabby looks like. Oh BTW they are called Nippers for a reason. Young children should be taught the correct safe way to pick them up. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0wU2QFCUsg
After a long day in the sun we drove north to the delightful seaside town of Nambucca Heads, population 10,000 plus a few hundred more since the last census. We had dinner at the Nambucca (Pronounced NAM BUK A) Heads RSL with wonderful views along the Nambucca Rivers where the spectacular sunsets occur.
Thursday 29th December
After a late start to packing and leaving Taylors Arm we drove to Macksville, Population somewhat more than 7,000 since the last Census. We had an expensive breakfast at one of the many cafes in town. Macksville is one of only a handful of towns where the Pacific Highway still runs through the middle of town. With roadworks to build a new highway to skirt this and other towns proceeding at a snails pace, the town becomes a highway bottleneck for the major highway from Sydney to Brisbane. Three sets of traffic lights and a two lane narrow bridge over the Nambucca River does not help traffic flow. Especially in holiday traffic.
After breakfast Donnis and I travelled to Port Macquarie about 100 Klms to the south. Our friends Tony and Dawn live here and we called in for a visit. Today is the second of several days of heatwave conditions.
First we visited the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital where the staff do their best to restore Koalas to health and release them back into the wild. Koalas are often injured by dog attack, bushfire and a disease known as Chlamydia. The disease in humans is sexually transmitted whereas a different strain affects Koala’s. Usually it results in the infected animal becoming blind.
By the time we arrived at T&D’s the heatwave was kicking in with temp at 38° so a nice lunch and a snooze in the cool of the house was in order. Donnis also found energy for a swim in the clear inviting pool.
Friday 30th December
We begin the long drive home. We lined up in 38° heat for 15 minutes to join the queuing traffic on the Pacific Highway. Ten Klms from Macksville traffic came to a halt. Illuminated signs on the side of the road warned of traffic queues and to expect a delay of 90 minutes just to get through Macksville. We kept our AC working so an otherwise hot annoying aggravating road rage situation was a chance to creep along and listen to the radio in comfort.
Further north we stopped at Coffs harbour for lunch at Olivers Organic Real Food https://www.oliversrealfood.com.au/ I am still not a convert to this “organic ripoff”. The supposed real food had no flavour and was overpriced. The sign at the door advertised “Five Star Clean Restrooms”. I suppose they were too busy today to send in a cleaner but there was nothing special about the restroom particularly as it was in need of a clean and tidy. The organic coffee was no better or no worse than coffee at other places. I left feeling unsatisfied.
Back on the highway we soon joined another queue of traffic, both ways with signs warning of 90 minute delays at Woodburn on the Richmond River. The highway will eventually bypass this town which has no traffic lights or busy bridge to slow traffic. Police Radar and Cameras seem to do a good job of ensuring all traffic adheres to speed limits.
We arrived home at 7.30 pm, after driving for almost 9 hours.
Saturday 31st December
New Years Eve.
Heat wave conditions of 34°, although less than experienced in NSW was enough to keep us indoors today, eventually turning on the AC in the afternoon.
We made a delightful dinner of fresh Scallops cooked in garlic butter and a sauce made from the pan residue and cream served on a bed of rice with a simple side of sliced cucumber with a smear of Cranberry Sauce.
After dinner we drove to The Broadwater and sat on a blanket on the beach to watch the fireworks at Broadwater Parklands and Marina Mirage. Then it was home, a quick shower and joined friends at the clubhouse to ring in the new year with a bit of line dancing and the Sydney fireworks on the TV.
Happy New Year to all.
Sunday 1st January 2017.
New Years day.
We left the AC on all night. Outside it was hot enough to convince us to stay indoors all day.
The AC stayed on all day and we stayed indoors. The temp at midday was around 35°. At least there is a sea breeze blowing off the creek. No so lucky are those people out west such as Longreach where it was over 40° today. There is no sea breeze for them.
Alecia and Tyler arrive back today. Tomorrow Tyler and I will climb the QEII Tower at Surfers Paradise. It is the tallest building in Australia. Hmmm, Tomorrow is predicted to be another heatwave day.
This afternoon our village was visited by two Police officers. Our neighbour immediately behind us went to Melbourne to visit family for Christmas. He left his car at Brisbane airport. His son was asked to collect the car and drive it back here. Which he did and stayed the night. His wife was due to pick him up today. She arrived and the house was locked. The car was in the carport but there was no answer to her door knocks nor on his mobile phone. The Police were called and broke into the house. No sign of the man but his phone, wallet and money were sitting on the kitchen bench. He is now being treated as a missing person.