Month: May 2017

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.

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.

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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



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  )

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.


553. Sunday 14th May 2017. Travel, birthday party, Wollongong, Killalea and a cold morning…


Monday 8th May

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.

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Hannah’s Birthday Cake.

She had a birthday party and invited children from school and from around the neighbourhood.

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Hannah waitin for instructions to blow out the candles.

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!

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Allthe children had several turns at bashing the Pinyata. Notice the long Rapunzel hair.
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Daddy thought it was about time somebody got that Pinyata to explode as the young children simply did not have the stregth or co-ordination.

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.

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This guitarist singer kept the children quiet while food was being prepared and served.

Hannah enjoyed herself immensely.

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Hannah was dressed as a favourite Fairy Tale person. Rapunzel. She kept tripping over the hair.

Wednesday 10th May

Today Donnis and I drove\, with Hannah, to Sandon Point where I surfed once upon a time.

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Hannah likes to pose but then what young girl doesn’t

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.

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Sandon Point boatsheds. Still being used after 120 years.
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A fresh coat of paint, some iron grilles, roofing iron every 50 years or so and these sheds will last another 120 years,
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The channel in front is man made. Blasted with dynamite around 100 years ago.

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.

Fishermen from 100 years ago. You would be excused for thinking the growing of a beard and or mustache was compulsory in those days.

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.

© Copyright Mick Roberts 2016.


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Woonona Rock Pool.
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Bulli Rock Pool.
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This dad thought it was cool to take his young son and a boogie board and jump into the ocean from the rocks.
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After much manouvering they did catch a wave.

Thursday 11th May

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.

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The Farm


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)

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Killalea was once a dairy farm. This is all that remains of the old milking shed.

Local surfers and surfers in the know would visit this dairy farm to gain access to fabulous surfing beach on the property.

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I know I know. I always take photos of surfboard riders.
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,,,and another

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.

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From Killalea looking north to Shellharbour, Windang, Port Kembla, Wollongong and the escarpment in the background.

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)

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Amelia and Hannah at The Farm
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I can watch the surfers for hours.
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Nicole suggested she could make me a pair of crab earrings. We made a circle and had crab races instead.

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.

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Bushranger Bay at Bass Point.

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.

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Shellharbour Rock Pool.

Sunday 14th May

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.

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Looking west along Bellambi Creek.
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Bellambi Creek north.
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Looking east along Bellambi Creek

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.

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Bellambi Rock Pool
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Bellambi Rock Pool

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.



552. Sunday 7th May 2017. Early morning, a long day’s travel and flesh and blood Ironmen…

Monday 1st May

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.030517 broadwater 030517 broadwater1030517 broadwater2030517 broadwater4030517 marina030517 marina1I wanted to see the sunrise and photograph the city wakening and going about its day. 030517 catamaran

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Birds of a feather will flock together…

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Gradually the numbers of people out and about increased. I watched the Surfers Paradise Outrigger Canoe Club members training in their canoes.

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Single Outrigger called an OC1.
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^ person outrigger called an OC6.

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.

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Walkway to Southport Beach
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Morning has broken…
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Early morning tube.

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.

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Oh thank goodness a downhill section…
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The riders have no time to enjoy the view.
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Run leg.
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Water replenishment station.

We took a walk to a knoll of land at the end of Oxley Beach.

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We encountered a dragon on the pathway between Oxley Beach and Town Beach.

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Oxley Beach
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From Flagstaff Lookout to Town Beach, the Breakwater and the north shore beyond the Hastings River.
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Town Beach

We climbed a timber staircase to Flagstaff Hill Lookout which was once a Naval Lookout Station.

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Original flagstaff.
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A couple of birds at Flagstaff Lookout

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 news that 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.

Town and Country Journal, Sydney, 4 April 1885




551. Sunday 30th April 2017. Gold Coast Seaway, Burleigh Heads, a long lost cousin and balloons…

Wednesday 26th April

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    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

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.

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In 1983 the Nerang River mouth was a little to the right of where it is now. A new channel was dug, a sand pumping pipeline installed, twin rock walls were built and the new river mouth was opend. South Stradbroke increased in size and stabilised. The man made island Wavebreak was also created.

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.

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This is the artists impression of how Wavebreak might look if the development was approved. Note the bridge from Labrador. A secondary public use island would also have been developed.

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.

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Meditation is popular too.
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Nice location and weather to practise yoga.
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Being fit and healthy with yoga while your best friend sits and smoke a cigarette followed by a coughing fit. Amazingly the friend then did two pushups before the cough returned.

The lower walk around the foreshore to Tallabudgera Creek was closed while some works are being carried out by council. Enlarging the carpark perhaps???

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This is the explanation of the Oceanview Walk being closed.
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Beginning of the National Park walk both ways was a bit strenuous.

The alternate walk climbs steadily through large rocks and heavily timbered woodland.

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The path is well maintained including safety fencing and warning signs

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.

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The hill is giant jumble of broken columnular basalt rocks.

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.

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Surfers Paradise from the upper track of Burleigh Heads National Park.
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Surfers Paradise
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Looking south to Tallebudgera, Pam Beach, Currumbin, Kirra, Coolangatta and Tweed Heads.
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On Tallebudgera Beach there were surfing lessons being held.
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Enthusiastic students. Water temp was a bit chilly…about 19 degrees. Wetsuit time.

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

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Another balloon approaching from the west.

then spied another, closer, in the south.

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Hot air balloon drifting over the village.

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.

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Look carefully and you can see the gas flame being used to keep the balloon inflated and trying to maintain height.

Yes it rose but still looked as though it was struggling to gain or maintain height.

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Close enough to see the passengers using their phones and cameras.

I lost sight of it over the rooftops near Runaway Bay.

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Drifting slowly and loosing altitude over 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.

Next week we begin some more travel.