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/




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