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. I wanted to see the sunrise and photograph the city wakening and going about its day.
Gradually the numbers of people out and about increased. I watched the Surfers Paradise Outrigger Canoe Club members training in their canoes.
Even by the time I arrived they had already been paddling the Nerang River and Broadwater since 5am, in the dark although with the cloud cover the light still appeared dim. Across on the surf beach surfers were already catching waves and had been doing so since before it was light enough to see clearly.
Saturday 6th May
Up early for an quick start to our road trip. As usual, instead of getting away at 8am we were an hour later. First stop was over the border in NSW to the coastal town of Lennox Head. For some reason road signs to Lennox Head may have been on the bottom of the road sign budget. The signs to the caravan park were even lower on the budget. Sigh! I should have used Google Maps. Finally we caught up with friends Graham, Wenke, Laurie and Yvonne. Lennox Head looks like a nice town with a wonderful busy right hand surf break and bears another visit.
Soon we were on our way again this time with Port Macquarie as our destination. We arrived in time to have dinner with friends Tony and Dawn.
Sunday 7th May
For a reason not known to us we all slept in until the ungodly hour of 9am (I don’t suppose sitting up talking until the am had anything to do with it). By the time we got organised, breakfast was at coffee time and we did not get to see the Port Macquarie Iron Man Race until early afternoon. You have to admire these sports men and women who swim 3.8 Klms, cycle for 180 Klm and run 42.2 Klm for most of the day and the only reward for most competitors is to say you have competed the course.
We took a walk to a knoll of land at the end of Oxley Beach.
We climbed a timber staircase to Flagstaff Hill Lookout which was once a Naval Lookout Station.
It is interesting that all along the coast there are pillboxes and gun emplacements and lookouts and ammunition storage placements. All are now over 100 years old and were originally established for an expected invasion by naval fleets from Russia. Obviously it never happened but is still part of our history. As is usual with history much of it is forgotten by most of the population.
The following is an excerpt from Town and Country Journal 1885.
Russian Invasion Scares, 1885
The death in 1885 of General Gordon at Khartoum caused an upsurge in Imperial loyalty. New South Wales sent a small contingent to help Britain in her war against the Mahdi’s forces in the Sudan, the first time Australians volunteered to fight overseas as part of an official Australian colonial government initiative. Then, a few months later, fighting broke out between British troops and local people in Afghanistan, which once again raised fears of war with Russia, highlighting the vulnerability of Australian cities if faced with a naval attack.
The rumoured approach of a Russian fleet, having for its object the invasion of Australia, is evidence of a danger that we have never yet had to contemplate. During this century of our life as a British country, no powder has been burned in anger in Australasian seas, and the rude shock of war’s alarm is as unknown to Australians as though the millennium had arrived. But we are likely to be rudely awakened from this paradisiacal condition, and before we are a month older may possibly hear the unwelcome roar of Russian cannon along our coast. As a matter of course, the capitals of the various colonies will be attacked first, and Sydney being so near the coast, will probably by selected as the initial point of attack. Melbourne is well protected by the Cerberus and her torpedo boats, while Adelaide has her new gunboat, the Protector. Hobart can well defend herself by torpedoes, the approach by river affording peculiar facilities for this mode of defence. Fremantle, it is asserted, will be guarded by the Nelson, and in this case Sydney, having the most need of naval protection, will be left absolutely defenceless. For, although the harbor of Port Jackson is probably amply defended with its double line of batteries and sunken torpedoes, yet on the coastal side, save at the South Head and La Perouse, not a solitary gun could be brought to bear against a fleet. Consequently a hostile fleet could lay at its leisure, and bombard Sydney from the safe shelter of Bondi or Maroubra bays, holding the city to ransom, or destroying it, as suited the sovereign will of its commander. Or again, a force could be landed at Coogee under cover of the ships, and seizing the water works, starve the city into submission.
Under the circumstances, it is absolutely necessary that gunboats of a type suitable to deep-sea warfare should be obtained. The Nelson alone would not be sufficient; as, even if she could hold a force at bay, there would be nothing to prevent part of the fleet menacing Newcastle, the only other vulnerable city upon our coast. We can fairly request the British Government to grant this protection, having shown our patriotism in giving England help unasked. But to be of any value it must be sent quickly, and therefore the 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