I have decided to break this week into 2 parts because there are so many photographs.
Monday 24th December – Christmas Eve
While Dave went to work Sandi and I had the idea of going to the Mackay Harbour Breakwater as the drive has been opened since our last visit in September.
The first thing we noticed were the huge seas breaking along the shoreline. The best way to describe the seas, is huge, troubled, in turmoil and whipped to a froth. As we drove further along the narrow driveway we saw bits of rock which has been washed onto the road by the action of the waves. Soon we reached a point of no return where we had to go all the way to the end in order to be able to turn around. Suddenly a wave broke over the breakwall and slammed into the drivers side of the car. Grrr! I have been trying to avoid even driving in puddles of salt water and this happened. We got to the end of the breakwall with only a few minor waves splashing i30. We parked, expecting to get some interesting action photos. After two photo’s we heard a siren and flashing blue and red lights. The Harbour Master Security people cruised in with loudspeakers blaring. We must leave the area immediately as it was becoming dangerous. The harbour wall drive was being closed.
On the way back, although I drove on the wrong side of the road we were still slammed by waves breaking over the wall. Once we reached the safety of the mainland the salt water had dried on the car. We drove back to Sandi’s house and washed i30 with lots of suds and even more water. I even hosed under the car. We had fish and chips at the Lighthouse Seafood place.
Meanwhile in the near frozen north, Donnis and family and friends had a pre Christmas Dinner as Donnis would be back in Calgary on Christmas Day. Remember they are a day behind us.
Tuesday 25th December – Christmas Day
Today one of my planned activities was to drive to daughter Averyl’s house for breakfast with her and children, Shelby and Anakin. After a leisurely breakfast and sit around and talk it was time for Shelby and Anakin to drive to their Dad’s house while Averyl and I headed to Sandi’s for a few hours. After lunch we went to Sandra’s first husband house for a pool party.
However it was overcast, windy and nobody had a swim. Lots of people came and went during the afternoon and evening.
It was wonderful to re-acquaint with people I have not seen for several years. Naturally there was lots of food and Johns partner from The Phillipines cooked a huge amount of Adobo Chicken to go with the mountains of food everybody else brought.
Wednesday 26th December – Boxing Day
Up early again with nowhere to go. At least not to begin. Sandi wanted to look at furniture at a Boxing Day Sale. I drove. Afterwards we went to Slade Point to look at the raging sea from a high vantage point. I took Sandi to what I called a secret lookout and she was impressed by the total lack of other visitors.
We then visited the Slade Point Lookout at the southern end of Lamberts Beach. The wind was so strong the water has been whipped into a foam. It collected on the beach, rocks and cliff faces. Every so often a big gust of wind would whip the foam away from the beach and it would fly up the cliff face looking like sheets of paper.
The rest of the day was spent at Sandi’s editing photo’s.
For the past week or two I have been reminded of different parenting styles…by birds.
We have a little park on Biggera Creek just 20 metres from my door. Last month a pair of Masked Plovers hatched 3 chicks.
A pair of Ducks hatched 11 chicks.
The Plovers would take turns sitting on the clutch and the other would swoop and dive bomb anything or anybody who got too close…in Plover terms. Plovers have spurs on their wings designed for attack. Usually the one on the nest will squawk and attract your attention while the other silently glides in on an attack trajectory, giving a high pitched squawk at the last moment. If you fail to heed that and subsequent warnings they really attack. Plovers are the worst parents. Once the chicks are hatched and can move around the little balls of fluff on long legs run in different directions. The parents spend the rest of the day squealing and squawking to get the youngsters to stay near home. Of course the youngsters go in three directions and mum and dad can only cover two. As they round up one chick another goes in a different direction. This goes on all day and really gets annoying. They are probably the Bogans and dysfunctional family of birds.
Ducks on the other hand seem to just plant their eggs somewhere out of the way and never put up a fuss unless you get real close…then they chase you.
When the 11 chicks hatch mum and dad take them for an orderly walk and even a swim. A few quiet quacks and the chicks line up and follow the parents. No noise, no confusion just orderly parenting.
Wednesday 19th December
I was awake by 5am and off to The Broadwater for a walk.
About halfway it began to rain so it was just head down and plough forward. I heard my mobile phone “ding” with a message but l knew it could wait until I got home and got out of my wet clothes. The message was from Donnis.
Donnis had gone to Canada back in October because she wanted to spend time with her mother, believing she did not have long to live. Despite a fall and a broken hip and surgery and a move to a new nursing home, Dorothy seemed to be doing fine. Donnis had said that she now needed to ensure her mum was settled and her care plan was in place and she would be returning to Oz around New Years Eve or a day or two later.
The message on the phone was Dorothy had passed away a couple of hours earlier. RIP Dorothy.
Although Dorothy was 92 and a birthday due on Boxing Day, she was in good spirits and not ailing at all. Her death was not expected so it came as a bit of a shock.
Friday 21st December
Woke at the silly hour of 5am and went to The Broadwater for a walk. Oh what a wonderful morning, oh what a glorious day. Mornings like this make you want to breathe deeply and just keep walking. I recognise people who are out and about at the same time and on a nodding acquaintance with some. By 6am the delightful cool sea breeze is beginning to struggle with the biting heat of the sun. The heat is OK but it is the humidity, which at this time of year is uncomfortable. Still that’s what air conditioning is for. Now, where did I put the remote AC control?
In fact before midday I turned on the AC. It was becoming too humid and I think that is why I have had a restless sleep most nights this week.
Slowly I am packing my suitcase and car.
In the meantime Donnis has gone on a family road trip with daughter Alecia and Sister Joan to join niece Simone, her husband Lazar and his parents Ivan and Maia. Snow and ice all the way and the chalet has a thick coating of snow.
They will be there for Christmas and unsurprisingly they will have a White Christmas at Kicking Horse Mountain, Golden, British Columbia.
Saturday 22nd December
I left sleepy land at 5am and could not get back to sleep. I completed the packing and was away by 6.15. The plan was a 6 hour drive and I decided to leave the main highway and explore some back roads. Back roads and logic do not go well together. In some places the road was down to one lane and cars approaching each other give way by driving onto the dirt shoulder. That is not always easy. According to my logic and a few cryptic road signs if I stopped for fuel at Gayndah I should be able to connect with the Bruce Highway. Yes and No said the man at the fuel station. Yes it will connect about 200 klms further north near Rockhampton. No it will not connect anywhere near Gin Gin or Bororen. I needed to retrace my steps to Ban Ban Springs and turn there to join the Bruce.
The magic of inbuilt vehicle bluetooth meets spots of no signal along isolated pockets of the highway. Via Facebook Messenger I was able to speak with Donnis, who was in a mountain lodge surrounded by snow in Canada. Trying to talk with my daughter Shelley, about 1,000 Klms to my north was less successful via the normal mobile phone signal. The signal kept breaking up to the point we had to hang up.
I made it to Bororen about 2 hours later than planned. Oh well. At least I am here. Considering the amount of traffic on the roads I encountered about 10 idiot drivers who greatly exceeded the speed limit, passed on corners and generally displayed a lack of driving courtesy and respect for other road users. All but one were P platers.
After dinner a big electrical storm with lots of rain arrived. Grrr! I just washed i30 yesterday. The rain and light show continued for another hour after which it just rained although not as heavily.
Sunday 23rd December
Another long day of driving. Once again it was interesting to note the difference in fuel prices along the highway. How can there be a difference of twenty plus cents on a litre of fuel betKicween towns which may be only 50 Klms apart and how can small towns have cheaper fuel than the cities?
The closer I got to Mackay the more I realised I was heading into one big storm. At this point I will digress and say, If I have not mentioned this before, the drive from Rockhampton to Mackay all 380 Klms of it must be the most boring drive I have encountered. I suppose because I have driven it so many times it just gets more boring every time.
The storm I could see ahead dumped a huge amount of rain in Mackay before I arrived. All the creeks and rivers and gutters and canals were raging waterways by the time I arrived.
It was still raining when I arrived but I know that as soon as the sun comes out the humidity levels will soar. Last week Mackay had a couple of days with temperatures pushing 40 degrees.
Donnis is staying with Ivan and Maia and Simone and Lazar at the chalet on Kicking Horse Mountain. Lazar Velev sent me some photos he took while skiing in the back mountains where chair lifts and gondolas cannot take them. He and two friends use Ski Doos to take them up the mountains to the best powder snow and drop offs. They also carry back packs with gear they will need then enjoy the virgin snow. All photo credits to Lazar Velev.
Up early and drove to The Broadwater for a walk along this most magical of locations. So many other people of different ages and abilities are also walking and riding. Here it is, 5.30 am and already there are people walking or riding in both directions. I even see an elderly lady pushing a wheely walker. One of the residents here goes walking along the Broadwater pathway at 4.15am every day. By the time I arrive after 5.30 she has already finished and gone home. The only sour note this morning was a cyclist riding on the same path was trying to write a text message on his phone while weaving among the walkers. Grrr! It makes me so angry to see this. No wonder there are so many stupid people in the world who simply think it is OK to text and drive or even ride a pushbike and text.
As soon as it is light enough about a dozen people wander into the Lagoon. As the morning wears on the number of people in the lagoon will increase. High tide, low tide, mid tide makes no difference. At midday swimmers and waders have to share with a hundred or so Pelicans which come for a fishy handout. This morning there is a strange sausage shaped dark cloud suggesting it will bring rain. It does not. The sun is shining in all its glory/vengeance by the time I am ready to come home. It is Tshirt sticking to the body time of year. Mostly it is perspiration but some is humidity. Summer is here.
In the afternoon I took i30 to Bob Jane T Mart to have my tyres checked for their 5,000 Klm service. Actually I was 5,000 Klms overdue.Nonetheless I left i30 for an hour and had a stroll around The Broadwater Parklands.
Arriving back at Bob Jane, i30 was ready. Perfect tyre wear and no need for a rotation or even a wheel balance. I run Nitrogen in the tyres which means the tyres never run hot even in summer. That means no heat inflation and cooling deflation and driving habits maintain even tyre wear.
Thursday 13th December
Tonight our friend, since early this century, Glenda, accompanied me to a National Australia Bank Financial Advisors seminar. Before I explain further I should say I do not know why I received the invitation, nor the invitation last year at this time. I knew none of the advisors and none sought me out to introduce themselves. So long as I get an invitation each year I am quite happy to attend. Donnis suggested that as she is unable to be here, I should take Glenda as my guest. Instead of parking in town I drove to a shopping centre at Fairfield about 6 klms from the city. The bus starts and terminates here every 15 minutes and takes right to the door of Southbank Cultural Centre which includes the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC), Queensland State Library, Museum of Queensland, Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA). Buses to all parts of the southern suburbs, city centre and northern and western suburbs all pass through a transit hub here. A bus arrives or leaves every 30 seconds.
I fully expected a financial talk from experts in the trade. The evening was held at the Rooftop Garden Centre of the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) perched in a prominent position, surrounded by gardens, walkways and cycle tracks along and beside the Brisbane River and the Go To Bridge.
This is a really special location.
The evening started with drinks, beer, wine, champagne or orange juice plus a hors d’oeuvres or two. Instead of a financial discussion we were given a talk by two young men who started a charity, Orange Sky, about 4 years ago. https://orangesky.org.au/?gclid=Cj0KCQiAxs3gBRDGARIsAO4tqq04lFE6avLCrtn6Ok2EnfzRr1xs_a6O4oubI587p90vRhiqwc8f3IMaAvW9EALw_wcB The charity began by providing mobile washing and drying services to homeless people in Brisbane. It expanded to provide a place to sit and talk over a cup of coffee in a non- judgemental way. It expanded further to include a mobile shower and now has 22 locations around Australia. It also provides laundry, shower and talk vans for remote services and disaster relief. There is now a van in New Zealand and the first US van has been built and operational. This was a remarkably worthwhile and heartwarming presentation. There was no financial talk except for the NAB welcome and thanks for coming. It was followed by what they called drinks and canapes which was all very nice but left us, in Brisbane, at 8pm with not enough to eat and at least another 90 minutes before we got home. The drinks and canapes quickly finished. I had assumed that the talk etc was presented at mealtime for most people we would be given enough to eat. Not so. I had a beer by Burleigh Brewing Company. https://burleighbrewing.com.au/ It was called California Pale Ale 28. It was a very heavy hop tasting beer not to my liking but would suit others. They have about 8 beers in their range so it may be worthwhile trying some of the others. After all we should support locals.
After leaving GOMA we walked along the River Walk
to the Ferris Wheel at South Bank then caught a bus to Fairfield where we had left i30. I was home a little after 10pm after dropping Glenda at her home.
Friday 14th December
Our big event of the year, the Christmas Party took place tonight. In the morning three of us set up the tables in the clubhouse to accommodate 80 attendees. They had been warned NOT TO ARRIVE before 6.30 as the caterers will need to get in an out with HOT food. They all arrived on time which meant many arrived before time and a big queue snaked its way along the pathway. Our guest of honour was Sam O’Connor MP for the State seat of Bonney in the Queensland Parliament. https://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/members/current/list/MemberDetails?ID=2704686237 Sam is a personable young man and seems to be popular amongst 100% of our party attendees. Amazing for a parliamentarian, he did not eat and run. Sam stayed for most of the night, helping out, talking with people, gave a brief speech and even donated two raffle prizes of a 3 course lunch with him at the 150 year old State Parliament Members Dining Room and fully guided tour of Parliament House with him. Winners of the raffle prizes had a choice of his invitation or the $100 Christmas Hamper we provided. The first two winners chose the lunch at Parliament House. Sam further offered to attend our future events and to provide a lunch as raffle prize every time he attends. I told him to expect to be busy as we will invite him to 12 events next year. Just as an indication the Dining Room also does a High Tea …it is totally booked out months ahead and the cost is $49.50. There is also a Chef’s Table Luncheon which is only once a month and the cost is $190 per person. These are two very special prizes.
It was a great night for everybody but the noise level was astounding. You could not hear the music. If people are talking then they must be enjoying themselves. Judging by the exit comments, they did. That said, as we were the last to leave, Frank W, Maree P and I just felt worn out but pleased with way the evening unfolded. Our President Graham S went home early as he been away on holiday and just returned today and was simply too tired to stay any longer. I had planned to have some line dancing or Rock and Roll dancing but people were happy to eat, drink and enjoy themselves with conversation. Who would have thought that meeting and greeting guests as they arrive and socialising at various tables and keeping the evening running smoothly could be so tiring.
I was home by 11pm.
Saturday 15th December
Our little group of four met at 9am to clean and tidy the clubhouse. We all know what has to be done and who does what and soon the job was done. That was the last of our official functions for the year but the clubhouse is booked for a couple of private functions but they are responsible for cleaning and tidying. As well we have an unofficial New Year’s Eve party open to all residents and guests.
In the afternoon I played bowls and forsook the after game happy hour…or two… to talk with Donnis still chilling out in Canada.
Sunday 16th December
Up north, ex tropical Cyclone, Owen did a turn around in the Gulf of Carpentaria and came back over land to dump incredible amounts of rain around Cairns, Townsville and Mackay. For example Townsville a traditional dry parched city had 612 mm of rain in 24 hours. For those who still talk in the old Imperial system of measurement, that is over 2 feet of rain in a day. We had to put up with some rain here, about 30 or a little over 2 inches. It was a good day to stay home, stay dry and edit photos.
Hmmm! I start my road trip to Mackay next Saturday. I hope Owen has left and the bad weather has gone.
Christmas is on its way and I thought you might like to see this.
This morning I was up at 5am. I simply could not sleep any more.
The weather was strange. Yesterday’s fire on North Stradbroke Island meant we got a lot of smoke haze mixed with the north easterly wind which brought a salty haze off the ocean. The two combined to make a smoke smelling gritty haze which today’s south easterly did little to dispel. It keep the temperature under 30 today and for that we are grateful. No need for AC today.
I went to the Broadwater for a walk and joined all the other early risers of various ages and abilities just enjoying the morning. It’s amazing how many people there are exercising prior to 6am.
I saw a beached houseboat and recalled the news story from the day before I went on my road trip.
It seems the houseboat had a gas explosion and caught fire and started drifting. Jet skiers started doing doughnuts and spraying the houseboat in the hopes of putting out the fire and moving it towards the beach where it would be less of a navigation hazard. They succeeded in getting it to the beach and the fire was kept reasonably under control until the Fire Trucks arrived. The wreck is still laid up on the beach and has a couple of official signs on the aft superstructure.
After last weeks marathon photo shoot, edit and dialogue process for the blog was completed this morning, the rest of the day was…lazy
Wednesday 5th December.
I would like to comment on fuel prices which as far as I know is a subject most of get annoyed about. We feel that the oil companies (or somebody) is making more money out of us than is fair and proper. Prices vary so much between states, cities, rural locations and even suburbs.
Last week when I left the Gold Coast Queensland to go on my road trip I filled up at a cost of $1.17.7 per litre. At the same time along a 6 klm stretch of Brisbane Road, the average price at outlets was $1.48.9 per litre. How can there be a 31 cent per litre difference in fuel prices in the same suburb? On the same road?
Next I was over the border and stopped at Grafton for fuel. Driving into town I noticed prices started at over $1.60 but dropped to $1.57.7 at the main intersection. A little way on the edge of town I stopped and fuelled up at $1.45.7. Again the same town and the same highway but at least a difference of 12 cents a litre.
Around Port Macquarie I noticed prices were nudging $1.70 per litre but at an impossible intersection at a tyre service they had two pumps and fuel was $1.39.9. Again this was a difference of 30 cents in the same town. It was still 22 cents dearer than I had paid at home.
On my way home I stopped at Grafton again and surprise surprise while the other outlets were still around $1.60 the same outlet where I paid $1.45.7 a few days before, the cost had dropped to $1.37.7. Now it was 23 cents a litre cheaper.
Finally back home while outlets on Brisbane Road were around $1.48 a litre I paid $1.18.3 a litre. Admittedly it was a little further along Brisbane Road, near Southport but .6 cents of a litre dear than I paid when I left but still around 30 cents cheaper than anywhere else.
The entire 1,000 Klm trip cost $135.
Saturday 8th December
Today was a mixed bag weather wise. All day I thought it would rain. I went to play bowls and took an umbrella. Once bowls got under way the clouds rolled back the sun came out and made everything steamy.
Tonight, friends Frank and Kay invited some Rock and Roll friends to a BBQ at the clubhouse. I was also invited. It was a nice evening meeting dancers who were not at the Rock and Roll night two weeks ago. Although I was asked to bring music it was used as a background only. I expected there would be dancing. We played table tennis instead.
Sunday 9th December
The day was hot and sunny but with the big seas running at the moment a thin salty haze made the beaches look a bit like they are covered in gauze.
I was away from home by 11 am and drove 70 Klms to Cabarita Beach in northern NSW.
Friends Graham and Wencke are staying here for a week as part of their time share package. After lunch we drove to the beach.
Although the swells are quite large the seas are more of a confused windswept choppy swell instead of the nice regular waves surfers enjoy.
Cabarita is a wonderful beach with several choices delineated by a series of rocks and accessed by many timber staircases. The rocks and hillside are naturally pretty with lots of Pandanus and Casuarina. It helps that the swells, when coming into the beach have a strong stable sandy bottom and the waves peel in a right hand break from the rocks at the southern end.
A big grassy hill with yet another staircase leads to a whale observation platform at the southern end of the beach. I like Cabarita, it’s just a shame it is an hour away…when traffic is flowing of course.
After our photo tour of the beach we went back to the unit, played a round of Putt Putt golf and a hit of table tennis and it was all too soon to leave.
Today a chill wind was blowing and rain threatening all day.
Tony and I dropped Dawn at a shopping centre where we left his car. We then drove i30 to Flynns Beach.
We left the car and began the coastal walk with much of it along clifftops via several clifftops and beaches to Town Beach and the Hastings River mouth and long, long rock breakwater wall.
Along a steep stairway a young Water Dragon was sitting on a step. It was his step and no way was he going to move. We stepped around him and stopped for photos and he continued to pose. He is a lovely Dragon.
At town beach the strong cold south westerly wind was blowing the tops off the waves and making for some good surfing conditions at near full tide.
It was cold though as every surfer was wearing a wet suit.
At the end of our walk at the Edmund Barton Centre is a statue in honour of Sir Edmund Barton, the first Prime Minister of Australia.
It is sad to realise that the average citizen could not tell you the name of the first Prime Minister. Yet, and here is the sad part, the average US citizen can tell you the name of the first US President. Ironically the average Aussie could have a reasonably good guess as to the first US President but not the name of our first Prime Minister.
Tonight we went out to dinner for a Chinese Smorgasbord then it was back downtown to Edmund Barton Centre where the lighting of the Christmas tree and the street parade and fireworks took place.
A long and weary day.
Friday 30th November
Today started bright and sunny and the constant strong wind of the last 4 days was no longer evident.
We had a few things to take care of in the morning but after lunch we went on a road trip through Wauchope, the Kindee Valley
crossing the old Kindee Bridge,
built in 1936 as it crosses the Hastings River
and re-joined the Oxley Highway driving through Long Flat and back through Wauchope and on to Port Macquarie. As always seems to happen is we ran out of time and the weather was not suitable to explore Long Flat.
The Kindee Road is mostly gravel and winds up and down and around the hill country. We stopped a few times for photo opportunities especially when we saw an amazing storm building ahead of us. Soon that storm was dropping big fat raindrops and the sides of the road were soon filled with muddy brown running water winding down to Kindee Creek.
All in all a very nice Friday afternoon drive.
We still have not heard from the computer technician so rang them just before 5pm. They have not yet put the laptop on the test bench to look for the problem. Grrr! I know it is not my problem but this is poor service compared to what I am used to. They have had the laptop since Wednesday and promised results within 2 days.
Saturday 1st December
I was away from Port Macquarie around 9.30am. It was a lovely sunny day with a slight breeze. Later the slight breeze got a bit stronger. Coming from the north and bringing salty humidity. Of course this was not known to me as I was driving in air conditioned comfort. Once I stopped and stepped out of the car the gritty north easterly started slapping me around. The heat was tolerable but the humidity was uncomfortable.
My first stop was Shark Creek Bridge which was built around 1936 to replace an earlier bridge.
In all the years I have travelled this section of highway I have promised myself to one day stop and have a look. Today was one day. The bridge was on the main highway and its design was set as a high arch bridge to allow cut sugar cane to be sent by barge to a mill further up the Clarence River. It replaced the earlier low level bridge which did not allow for barges to pass beneath. By the late seventies cane was no longer being shipped to the mill by barge and the bridge had outlived its usefulness. It was replaced by a new bridge in 1987. Ironically there will be a new highway which will bypass the drive along the Clarence River and is due to be completed by 2020.
Back on the road once more I saw a turnoff to two locations. One is Maclean, also on the Clarence and through which the highway once passed. An old bridge also spans the Clarence here.
The other location was Brooms Head on the coast.
I have never been to Brooms Head so thought, “Why Not”. It is something like 27 Klms off the highway. It features a caravan park along a stretch of coast
with a lagoon formed by rocks and a reef along with a surf beach.
At one end is a headland with great views across the rocks and a beach in each to the north and south.
Once I stepped out of the air conditioned car the gritty salty humidity felt oppressive. Still, Donnis called me from frozen Canada and I was able to show her a video of the beach cliffs and rocks.
I still had time up my sleeve as I did not have to be home by a certain time and Queensland is an hour behind NSW.
After another 90 minutes I saw another coastal town I have never visited. Evans Head is just outside The Broadwater National Park.
This is another pretty out of the way beach town very popular with fishermen and campers. It sits at the mouth of the Evans River.
Both beaches produced a couple of Hmmm moments about a possible holiday there in the future. That said, South West Rocks a long way further south and which I visited on Monday feels more attractive and has more facilities.
Another two hours of driving, mostly at 110 Kph and I was home by 6.15pm. By the time I ate a light dinner, weariness caught up with me and I was struggling to stay awake after 8.30 pm.
Sunday 2nd December
Woke to a cool morning which was nice but it did not last long. The heatwave kicked in around mid- morning and the day just got grittier. Queensland is currently suffering over 100 bushfires and although not unprecedented was nonetheless not a usual situation. A fire was raging out of control on North Stradbroke Island and the air was thick with the smell of burning as well as a smokey haze hanging over the entire area. By mid afternoon the heat and humidity meant, stay indoors and turn on the air conditioning. Which I did. Once again by 8.30pm I was struggling to stay awake even though my bedroom was still not cooled by the AC I managed to fall asleep.
Today we drove down the coast to Laurieton on the Camden Haven Inlet.
On the way we passed through some beautiful beachside towns of Lake Cathie, Bonny Hills and North Haven. There is a Seafood Co-Op there and they sell fresh fish and chips.
You cannot get any fresher than locally caught Flathead which was my choice.
From there we drove up a steep and winding road to the top of one of three mountain peaks known as South Brother, Middle Brother and we were on North Brother.
These three peaks were sighted and named by Captain Cook in 1770.
Coming back down we stopped at small beach just below a rugged cliff face known as Grants Head.
I can just imagine being up early to catch the sunrise on the face of the cliff.
Wednesday 28th November
We watched a black and ugly storm moving in quickly from the south west.
It brought lots of lightning and thunder strong winds and brief but heavy rain. Later in the day a second storm front came through in much the same fashion. Short and sharp.
The weather was not much good to do anything. Tony was doing updates on his laptop, the first such update he has done since the purchase in 2016. Something did not go the way it orta and it would not boot. We took it to a computer repairer and will await a diagnosis.
I have taken so many photographs that the week will be split in three separate posts. There are 24 photos for today alone but they are well worth a look. As always if you have the ability to enlarge to full screen I suggest you do.
A good drive of well over 550 Klms today. I left home at 6am and stopped for breakfast at a McDonalds just over the border in NSW. The time difference is an hour later as they are on Eastern Daylight Savings Time whereas Queensland is in Eastern Standard Time. My mobile phone automatically switches time when I cross the border but the car clock remains on Queensland time. That is until further down the highway the dash clock/radio/ CD USB player and Bluetooth phone link decided to crash. I had to wait until I reached Grafton for a fuel stop that I was able to re-set the electronics. Later as I was nearing the town of Kempsey and was ahead of the mental schedule I had placed on myself, I noticed a sign to South West Rocks and Trial Bay Gaol. I have never been there and as I had some free time I turned off the highway.
I did not stop or explore the town of South West Rocks but continued through to Arakoon National Park and Trial Bay where the Heritage listed gaol ruins are located.
What first struck me was the beautiful location of the sheltered bay on one side and the open ocean on the other. The location is so picturesque with views of the rocks, ocean and beaches.
The prison construction was begun in 1887 and continued, according to financial constraints, in an on and off sort of way until prisoners were housed in 1893 when construction of a breakwater was begun. This was the first and only time in NSW when prisoners were used in a Public Works project. The breakwater, by 1903 was simply not being built as quickly as expected so the project was cancelled. It was decided at the same time to close the prison. The small spit of land was abandoned but later developers filled it with soil and shrubs and it is named Laggers Point. Hmmm! I wonder. A LAG is a name used to refer to prisoners.
The Trial Bay Gaol Beach and campground are as pretty as a picture.
Luckily I had packed a lunch and ate it in a nice picnic area at Laggers Point.
Actually I only ate half as I was so excited about the scenery waiting to be photographed and I did not have all afternoon. Defining a beach as a stretch of sand longer than 20m, the University of Sydney’s Coastal Studies Unit has counted 10,645 of them along our continent’s vast coastline. Trial Bay Gaol Beach has been voted as the best beach in NSW to go camping. I will add my vote of yes as well.
I wished I had more time here to just explore, sit and relax and even camp here. I still had to get to Port Macquarie but first…I drove to another part of the headland to look at Little Bay which is also part of the National Park.
This was another delightful stunningly beautiful location. Although it is a popular picnic and swimming place at high tide, today being Monday and low tide, nobody else was here. There is no Surf Lifesaving Patrols here but large signs warn it is an unpatrolled beach and there are treacherous rips and undercurrents.
I took another side track to the Overshot Dam which once supplied water to Trial Bay Gaol.
The views along the coast from the dam are spectacular.
The dam itself, while historically antique, is somewhat underwhelming. What fabulous sights to see in such a relatively small area. I wondered if the water back in the days of the gaol was as muddy and uninviting as it is today?
Wow! Can it get any better than this?
I also saw a sign to Smokey Cape Lighthouse and set off along the 10 Klm drive through some interesting countryside to Captain Cook Lookout where the parking area is located. Captain Cook first mentioned this cape in his log in 1770. His description is of a smokey cape and a number of fires along the headland. In one direction looks across the beach to Green Island, higher on the hill is the lighthouse and restored keepers cottages and looking to the south is the long expanse of the beach at South West Rocks all the way to
A steep pathway leads to the lighthouse. Spare a thought for the keepers who would have had to make the climb several times a day to carry out their duties. What was quite surprising there was no fee to park or look at the lighthouse. There was no restaurant or take away store or public toilets nor a rubbish bin. I was reminded that the lighthouse at Byron Bay charges a fee for parking and has all those extra’s. I was quite happy there was just a lighthouse without all the commercial activity attached.
The lighthouse construction was completed and commenced operation in 1891. It is 140 metres above sea level.
A couple of lighthouse ancillary sheds at the bottom of the steep hill are used as photographic displays.
Although this visit was only meant as a side trip of a couple of hours it whetted my appetite for a return visit.
I arrived at Tony and Dawn’s house by 4pm, New South Wales time which meant I had taken 9 hours for a 6 hour journey.