Month: January 2020

621. Sunday 26th January (Australia Day) 2020. An unexpected road trip…

Monday 20th January 2020.

Went to the movies at Star Casino at Broadbeach. I went with Linda and Ngaire and we saw Judy. It is the story of the final months in the life of Judy Garland. It was very emotional.

The Star Casino! Wow! I became a member when it was Jupiters Casino way back in 2014 or 2015. I needed to update my card but that only took 5 minutes and I have all the benefits of a base member. Way back when we first joined we went with a friend who is a Gold Class member and she took us to exclusive places including a free buffet. Naturally you are expected to gamble. I suppose I am like the majority of members who go there for the cheap or free stuff the casino offers.

Lynda took a small back cushion for me to use. She was very insistent. Good thing she was too. I needed that cushion.

Friday 24th January

Today the colour of the water in Biggera Creek has changed from muddy brown to mild black tea. The reason for the massive water coming down the creek at low tide last Saturday was the release of water at Biggera Dam. The Biggera Creek Dam, or formally the Biggera Creek Flood Mitigation Dam, is a dam established for flood mitigation purposes over the Biggera Creek, located in the suburb of Arundel. It is operated by the Gold Coast City Council. The dam has a capacity of 3,700 megalitres and the height of the dam wall is 12.5 meters. Because its sole purpose is flood mitigation, the retention basin behind the dam is almost always empty of water. At times like this with exceptionally heavy rainfall, the dam is opened as the tide is going out. The idea is to avoid flooding rather than collect a domestic water supply.

Saturday 25th January

As I do every morning at around 5 or 6am, I go to The Broadwater for a walk. 250120 broadwaterIt seemed there was a light mist or haze of some sort. 250120 broadwater1The water is returning to its normal clarity and cleanliness after the heavy rain this time last week.250120 broadwater2 It’s still not pristine but is looking good.250120 broadwater3

As I watched a group of 17 Stand Up Paddleboarders paddled past. They were followed by a couple of pods of dolphins rounding up a school of fish just a few metres off the beach. I was standing with three guys who I know and who were about to go for coffee. While watching a group of ladies stopped to ask what we were looking at.


I chatted with the ladies and found the men had already left for coffee.

It is nice to be able to begin to recognise and know people on my morning walks.

Sunday 26th January AUSTRALIA DAY.

Last night I received a phone call from my grandson Anakin. Long story short, he is stranded on a farm outside a town called Bungunya about a 6 hour drive from the Gold Coast. The next nearest town is Goondiwindi a four hour drive away. It seems he has been abandoned by his drilling contractor employer. He has to find his own way to town and the next bus service from Goondiwindi (pronounced Gun Da Windy) is Monday. Well if you are gunna be stranded for a couple of days there are worse places than Gunda. I like the town.

After a troubled sleep I was on my way to Goondiwindi at 4.30 am. By the time I reached Cunninghams Gap, the steep and winding pass over the Great Dividing Range, it was full daylight but low cloud cover meant it was not only dark but constant moisture, not rain, meant I needed the wipers turned on. I caught a few glimpse of cliff faces but due to the switchbacks and low speed and poor visibility I needed to really concentrate on driving. The few glimpses I saw reminded me there would be some good photo opportunities here. Then once over the pass I was heading to Warwick and a much needed stop for coffee, toilet and walk to ease the back pain. Naturally I saw lots of photo opportunities but I was on a mission of mercy and needed to stay focused.

By now the sun was up, temperature was climbing to mid 30’s and it was apparent there had been lots of rain over the last 24/48 hours. I passed through towns which screamed photo opportunities. That is until I reached Yelarbon and making good time.260120 yellarbon The Silo Art just had to be photographed. In fact the small town is worth a day of photographing.

260120 yellarbon1260120 yellarbon2260120 yellarbon3260120 yellarbon4About this time Anakin called me and asked if I would bring his friend back to the Gold Coast. WTF! The original plan was to bring Anakin home with me for a few days until we could organise a flight. It seems his friend was also abandoned by the same employer except the friend had been injured on the job and taken to hospital with suspected broken ribs. I asked that they have the friends mother call me first. She did. I agreed to bring him back but only if I could get a copy of hospital discharge papers and details of any medication and or treatment he may need.

On arrival I found the friend in lots of pain but no serious injury, no broken ribs but bad bruising including bruised ribs. Another long story. The hospital would release him to me but by now his mother had organised air flights out of Brisbane this afternoon. This meant I was on a timetable to get them there on time. I was a bit annoyed the booking was made without consultation with me. That was a 5 hour drive including stopping for toilet breaks and fuel and food stops. The quickest route was via Toowoomba  and I dreaded the long slow drive through the main street. However just out of Toowoomba I found a new Tollway which detours the town saving us about 20 minutes. It avoids 18 sets of lights and was only opened in September last year. I have no idea how much the toll cost but by now all I wanted was to stop but still had to deliver the boys. By now my back was sending messages to stop and rest and walk around for awhile.

We arrived at the airport in plenty of time then I had another hour to drive home. By the time I arrived and tried to get out of the car my back was in spasm including the muscles in the thigh. I had trouble standing let alone walking.

Bugger it. If I am ever called upon to be a guardian angel again I am going to take time for my own needs.



620. Sunday 19th January 2019. Back pain, no job, heavy rain and Rock and Roll…

Monday 13th January

The long awaited visit to the doctor occurred this morning. I had expected that with an MRI, X-Rays and Ultrasound I might have some answers to the pain of the last 3 months. That did not happen. The doctor talked about managing my pain.

I do.

I only take Panadol when needed. He also talked about looking at a video about pain. Then suggested I take up Tai Chi and Yoga. Then after telling me I should be looking at pain management alternatives he prescribed Lyrica. I have been doing pain management and exercise for at least the last 20 years. But when my back muscles go into spasm’s no amount of exercise and walking changes that fact. I will always have Spondyliolithesis and that will never change. The vertebrae will always be out of alignment, the disc between L5 and S1 will always be compressed and pinching the nerve. So, while the muscles are in spasm I will need pain killers. When the muscles settle down I can start walking and do my special exercises again. So far that has been months and may be many more months before I am temporarily better…until the next time. In the meantime he wants me to take 25Mg of Lyrica twice a day for a week then increase it to 50Mg twice a day for another week. Then we review pain and a Care Plan with the Phsyiotherapist.

After lunch I drove to the C-Bus Stadium at Robina for a group job interview. Time will tell if I am suitable material for a Casual Customer Service Event Day Staff.

Tuesday 14th January

Today, at the suggestion of the doctor I went searching for a Physiotherapist at Runaway Bay. The idea was to discuss my needs with them and come to an agreement about costs and a treatment plan. I spoke with the head honcho. It seems that if I get a referral via the doctor for a Care Plan I can get a $53 rebate from Medicare. The head honcho drew up a diagram of what he thinks is my problem – he is yet to see the X-Rays etc and the attendant reports – and a suggested treatment plan. His fee is $120 per session, less the $53 rebate. He suggests I see him initially, he reads the reports and looks at the X-Rays, he draws up a treatment plan, commences treatment and gives me exercises to do at home. Thereafter I see one of his colleagues at $85 a session.

Friday 17th January

Received an email from C-Bus Stadium. I was unsuccessful with my job application. Oh boo hoo , sob sob. I am crying dry tears. Naah, not really. It was just an application for a job to earn some pocket money and get involved with something happening in the community. I was not depending on the job.

Now my time is free for something else.


Saturday 18th January

The forecast rain began last night about 10pm. Lightly at first then gathering intensity. I was lulled to sleep by the sound of rain.

I was woken at 4.30am by the thunderous roar of rain, then by thunder and lightning. The rain really came down with a vengeance as follows.

300mm overnight, 145 mm in just 2 hours 4am to 6am. I walked along my street which was mostly clear and drains were working as a drain should, even with torrential rain. Further along the street things were not working so well.

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Flooded Street.
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I suppose you could say the water was one foot deep in places.

The drains from the multi- story complex next door must have been blocked. Their drains were overflowing into my neighbours houses across the street. The water ran across their backyards, under the house and through their garages and any ground floor rooms and poured into the street. Along the way this torrent of water picked up any debris which in turn was too big or too many for the drain which had become blocked. The water still continued to flow into the street and backed up. Further along the street where our caravan parking are is located the water was about 600mm deep, so deep it was running through the caravans at floor level. There was some debris here but the water was so deep the drain had a whirlpool spinning in a wide circle around the drain.

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Just look at that heavy rain and the whirlpool.

The swimming pool was overflowing. Like most pools this is designed to have an overflow system so the water level never exceeds a certain depth and is drained off quickly. The rainfall was so heavy over a period of time the drain system could not cope.180120 rain1

The bowling green was a small lake with a depth of 300 mm.180120 rain2

At the end of our street is our private park which faces Biggera Creek. The creek is normally a placid water way with the only movement of the slow and steady tidal movement. Today the creek was a raging river with the current going only in one direction – flowing towards the ocean. Luckily the tide was still on its six hour run out for low tide. Had the tide been incoming over the last few hours, many houses (not in our village) which were low lying would certainly have flooded.

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Biggera Creek umm err River.

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Sister Enid arrived in time for lunch.

Tonight we had been invited to a barbecue and some music and dancing at the clubhouse by friends, Frank and Kay. It was a nice group of 18 Rock and Rollers. Although my back is still not up to performing the gyrations required for dancing, I was able to do a few line dance movements which are a bit easier. My favourite dancer was there as well but once again my back problem stops me from enjoying my night to its fullest.

I have been nicknamed music man as I supplied all the rock music for tonight. Unfortunately I did not have time to set up Playlists and apart from the line dancing, had to select each song by standing at my ancient, original, iPad.

Enid was asked to dance by some very accomplished dancers and the glowing look on her face was wonderful to see.


Somehow the night which seemed like it was only just beginning, disappeared. By the time we got home it was almost midnight.


Sunday 19th January

Although there were threatening big black clouds in the north and fluffy white cauliflower type clouds in the south the day stayed hot and humid. The expected thunderstorm and rain did not happen. Enid and I drove to The Spit. Although the Gold Coast seemed chocked with cars we found somewhere to park and enjoyed my favourite walk to The Spit Light station and back along The Gold Coast Waterway along the Doug Jennings Park walkway as far as Moondewarra Beach and back to the car.

We had fish and chips at the delightful Seaway Kiosk which serves up a huge menu of mostly seafood. We had a great long walk followed by a great lunch. My back pain permitting.






619. Sunday 12th January 2020. South West Rocks, Trial Bay, Minnie Waters, Yamba and Home…

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Port Macquarie Town Beach

Friday 10th January

After breakfast we went for a walk along the popular Port Macquarie Town Beach breakwater walk.

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Port Macquarie Breakwater.

All the rocks have been painted with messages or memorial comments or family names anmd dates of visits etc. 100120 pm breakwater1100120 pm breakwater2100120 pm breakwater3100120 pm breakwater4This was followed by morning coffee and more conversation which threatened to lead into staying another night. I was anxious to be on my way.

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Cormorant at Port Macquarie.

We eventually got on the road before midday.

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Trial Bay gaol.
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Camped beside the wall of the prison.
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The guard topwer is now a hollow shell. Even the original floor has been removed.
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The beach at Trial Bay
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Trial Bay beach

First stop was South West Rocks

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Back Creek Bridge at South West Rocks
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The further end of the original Back Creek Bridge has been closed to the public.Access to the island is via the new bridge on the right.
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Jumping off the Back Creek bridge at South West Rocks. Did I want to do this? Yes of course but my back would not enjoy climbing over the railings.

then Trial Bay Gaol, Smokey Cape Lighthouse

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Smokey Cape Beach

and finally a leap into yesteryear with an ice cream soda at Tasty Treats located at Back Creek.   We were surprised to see ice cream soda on the menu. We thought this fun treat had died out years ago. Of course we had to pretend we were teenagers by slurping with the straw when we reached the bottom. That slurping noise was when Mum would tell us not be so rude.


Back on the highway we saw a sign to Minnie Waters and as neither of us has been there we side tracked.   100120 minnie waters1There are several camp grounds here and several beaches to choose from. 100120 minnie watersOne also has a Surf Life Saving Club.

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Minnie Waters

It seems to be a popular holiday destination with many weekenders for  people who live and work in Grafton.100120 minnie waters4100120 minnie waters2

Back on the road again we took a minor road to Ulmarra where we had stopped for coffee last week. We thought dinner at the old hotel would be a nice close to the days driving. Just as we arrived we took a vote and decided to continue on to Broadwater. It’s difficult to take a vote when there are only two of you and nobody has a casting vote. Tony and Dawn had told us to go to the Broadwater Hotel for a good reasonably priced meal. We discovered Broadwater was a further 100 Klms up the highway so we decided to go to Yamba. (The next day we discovered  Tony had given us the wrong information, the hotel he recommended is at McLean!) Dinner was at Tom’s Seafood Chinese Restaurant, Yamba.      The place was packed, busy and very, very noisy. So noisy in fact we discussed leaving before being served. Eventually we were served and we are glad we stayed.

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View over Yamba from Tom’s Restaurant

The service, once the order was taken was quick and the food delightful. It was well worth the wait. We shared a Garlic Prawns entrée and a Beef in Black Bean Sauce with fried rice as our main. I had a glass of wine and on leaving Yamba at 9pm was stopped by a breathalyser unit. I told them I had one glass of wine. They tested me using a voice/breath analyser and the officer hesitated before asking again how many drinks and when. My heart skipped a few beats. He then asked me to blow in the next analyser and after a little hesitation told me to have a good night. WHAT WAS THAT ALL ABOUT? No explanation but it left me puzzled and concerned especially as I only had one drink.

The next few hours seemed to pass quickly and we were home by midnight – NSW time.


Saturday 11th January

Despite going to bed at a late hour AND after driving all day, I was awake at 5am.

Enid and I did a three Klm walk before breakfast. My back has been hurting but not necessarily because of all the driving. After leaving the car when driving for a few hours my back feels less painful than sitting in a kitchen chair. That said I have an appointment with the doctor on Monday. He now has the results of a MRI Scan carried out in November plus X-Rays and an Ultrasound taken just after Christmas. The pain and discomfort have been plaguing me since September and I really need some answers and relief. My activities have been restricted due to pain. Making the bed, putting on a load of washing, vacuuming, gardening are quiet painful.

Enid washed i30 which has been covered in soot and mud from the bushfires, dust storms and rain. It now looks like a new car again.


Sunday 12th January

We did another three Klm walk before breakfast.

Enid did a couple of loads of washing, vacuumed, cleaned house and did some weeding before heading back to Brisbane. That left me time to sit at the computer (until my back protested) and edit the hundreds of photos I have taken this week.

There is very little smoke haze around the Gold Coast.








618. Thursday 10th January 2020. Maroubra, Barangaroo, Wollongong and Port Macquarie…

Too many photos this week so I have to split the post in two.

Monday 6th January

Today was the day we planned to do the Maroubra to Malabar clifftop walk.

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The walk begins.

The weather was kind, it was overcast and a coolish breeze was blowing from the south.

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Sandstone cliffs at South Maroubra

We were ready to roll. Enid, Bev, Pete were ready. My back was not.

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Sandstone wall at South Maroubra and beginning of the Malabar walk.

I walked the first 600 metres with them on some uneven ground.060120 maroubra That was uncomfortable. 060120 maroubra3The start of the walk is on a beautiful flat walkway suspended above the coastal heath. So far I thought I could make it. Then the path finished and from there it was all rough uneven ground across rock and with tree roots and foot tripping obstacle. Regrettably I had to say goodbye to the others and watch them continue the adventure.

I returned to South Maroubra where I spent so many days surfing and laying around on the beach all those years ago. The rough almost natural rock pools were the same as was the rip beside the rocks which I used to paddle out beyond the breakers.

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Natural Rock pools at South Maroubra.

I watched as other surfers used the same rip to their advantage.060120 maroubra1060120 maroubra1

The surf cub is much larger and a raised pathway now connects South Maroubra with Maroubra. The promenade has been extended with lighting and the surf club also extended. However any fond memories I had of Maroubra were shattered when I noticed all the stains on the promenade, pathways and steps.

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Maroubra Promenade

Across the street where all the food shops. They look untidy, old and uninviting. In fact the entire area was depressing. I loved this place. Now I no longer have any feelings for it.

The others arrived back at the carpark and we had a picnic lunch. They shared their adventures and I shared my disappointment in not being to go with them and the run down state of Maroubra.

C’est la gare.   Que Sera, Sera


Tuesday 7th January

Enid, Bev and I had a long day. We took the train to Central Station and walked to our Aunt Gwen’s flat at Redfern. We had morning tea with her, talked about the past, the present and as she is 96 her desire to reach 100.

And so say all of us!

Back at Central we decided to take the Light Rail or Tram to Wynyard station.   The light rail has been operating for three weeks. Given that it has to use the same roadway as buses and cars the trip was a little slow but it was quite comfortable and had regular information about destinations and links to other transport options.

Once at Wynyard I was gob smacked by the changes that have taken place and still taking place since I was there last century.

We followed the direction signs to Barrangaroo a new harbourside park giving fabulous views across the harbour and the Parramatta River.

Barrangaroo is a huge park which I believe was created in a deal between the state government and the developer of a new high rise shopping, accommodation and gambling precinct.

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Sydney Harbour Bridge from Barangaroo.

That said we could only see a small part of the park today as there are so many walking tracks and viewing locations.

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Anzac Bridge at Pyrmont

We were a long way from a railway station and still had to finish our tourist walk.

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Tall Ship

I wanted to see Pier 1 which was once a mecca of restaurants and specialty shops.

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Darling Street Balmain.

Alas only one restaurant survives and it seems to be struggling.

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Sydney Harbour Bridge from Pier 1 at Dawes Point.

The rest of the pier development is now yuppie apartments.

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Still Life sculpture.
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Luna Park from Dawes Point.
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Construction work at Walsh Bay behind Sydney’s The Rocks area. The area is also known as Millers Point or Dawes Point. In 2009 these terrace houses sold for around $1.4 million. Now estinmated to be worth around $4 million. They have stunning views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Harbour.
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Sydney Opera Housde and Tall Ship from Dawes Point Battery.

We followed the road around the edge of The Rocks, under the Harbour Bridge and into the Rocks proper where we finally called a halt to walking while we stopped for lunch.

After lunch we visited the Museum of Contemporary Art and I had my first experience with a Mixed Gender toilets.

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User comments

For those who have not yet discovered these facilities, Men, Women, those who have decided they are another gender and those still in transition can be found in these toilets. In this facility there were several cubicles with doors but no urinals. However it was strange to say the least when you have left the cubicle to be washing your hands beside somebody who looked like a woman but may have been a male. Maybe she was a woman who is really a woman. Or a woman who is a woman but thinks she is a male or a woman who is undecided.

She probably wondered about me too.

From here we walked to Circular Quay Station and caught the train home.


Wednesday 8th January

Today I drove to Wollongong to meet up with long time friend Wayne M. Wayne has a new Mercedes A Class AMG Built A35 4Matic Turbo Hatchback. He wanted to put it through its capability by driving up Mt Kembla across to Mt Keira and back home and through to Albion Park Rail where we stopped for lunch at The Oks Hotel. The car is very sporty with uncomfortable suspension.

We stopped at Mt Kembla Moto Cross Track and watched practise for awhile.   Just as we were about to leave a 4WD towing a trailer with moto cross bikes on it came into the pit area. The driver was -1 asleep, 2 intoxicated, 3 driving too fast, 4 inexperienced or 5 all of the above. He slid over an embankment with the car finally resting on its side while the trailer was flat on the ground behind it.080120 mt kembla080120 mt kembla1

There was so much smoke haze in the sky that it was impossible to see the coastline below the lookout.

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Wollongong is down there somewhere. Normally on a clear day the city and coastline would be clearly visible. This is the smoke haze from bushfires.

I was back at Gymea in time for dinner.


Thursday 9th January.

We are heading back to the Gold Coast.

Enid and I were on our way shortly after 8am and made good time through city traffic. We reached Heatherbrae on the outskirts of Newcastle as per my projected time line. We stopped for fuel and coffee.

We arrived at the bustling town of Laurieton in time for fish and chips. This is a busy tourist town well known for its fresh seafood from the local trawlers.

After lunch we drove to Camden Haven where we walked to Pebbly Beach and Enid continued on to Camden Head and Perpendicular Point.

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Pebbly Beach near Point Perpendicular at Camden Head.
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Camden Haven breakwater inlet.
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Camden Haven Inlet.

We then travelled through North Haven to Bonney Hills, Rainbow Beach,

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Beach Staircase at Rainbow Beach near Lake Cathie.
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Rainbow Beach
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Rainbow Beach. Earlier the top of Middle Brother mountain was invisible due to cloud cover plus smoke haze plus salt haze. The haze in this photo is from the salt in the air after many days of strong winds.

Lake Cathie,  Tacking Point Lighthouse

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Tacking Point Lighthouser at Port Macquarie. Built in 1879    and Lighthouse Beach at Port Macquarie.

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Lighthouse Beach staircase.
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Lighthouse Beach Port Macquarie.
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Lighthouse Beach. All along the NSW coast, salt haze mixed with smoke from the bushfires creates thick curtain obscuring the view. The haze also clings to houses, furniture and cars. It also feels sticky and gritty on the skin.

We stayed the night with friends Tony and Dawn. As always the hospitality is first class. Thank you Tony and Dawn.

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The strong north easterly wind was trying to blow me off the hill at Tacking Point.
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Unnamed beach below Tacking Point Lighthouse. The track forms part of a rugged 8 kilometre walk along the cliffs and beaches to Port Macquarie.

617. Sunday 5th January 2019. Art Gallery, Cape Banks, Cemetry and Bare Island…

Today was a busy photograph day.

Sunday 5th January

Today we went to the Hazelhurst Regional Art Gallery

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Around Cronulla Beach in the early 60’s. to see the Southern Swell Exhibition of Surfing over the last 60 years, particularly in the Sutherland Shire.

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A range of surfboards spanning the last 60 years.

I.E. Cronulla Beach. I was expecting a small gallery with a small gift shop.

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The Holden Sandman. A popular van made especially for surfers.

Instead I found a large busy gallery with an absolutely huge coffee shop chock a block with customers and a small gift shop.

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Quirky bits of artistic presentation around the coffee shop.

I was greatly impressed.

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Dried fern fronds, sprayed with pastel colours made an interesting display in the coffee shop.

Just to go there for a coffee was a treat.

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Even to serving window ws tricked up.

Gymea is well supplied with coffee shops in the main shopping centre but the gallery coffee shop tops them all.

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Enid Sandra Bev and Pete.

Back at Bev’s place Sandi finished packing so Enid and I drove her to the airport. After dropping her at the front doors we headed out to LaPerouse to see what we could see.

There was a howling southerly wind blowing today which made our walk at Cape Banks National Park a little challenging.050120 cape banks3 The wind is blowing the smoke from the horrible bush fires on the south coast. The smoke haze is combining with the salt haze from the strong north easterlies which have been blowing for the last six days. Within the park is050120 cemetry The Coast Hospital Cemetery. More than 2,500 people were buried here, many of the graves are overgrown and are left that way to protect them. 050120 cemetry1Les than 100 graves are visible. I found one grave of a Captain who died at sea aged 39 and was buried here in 1860. His wife Janet who lived for another 42 years is also interred with him.050120 cemetry2

Further along the walking track we came across the ruins of Fort Banks built during WWII to help protect our coastline from invaders.

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Fort Banks

The ruins here are exactly that – ruins. 050120 fort banks4Much of the buildings are locked up but no information exists.050120 fort banks2

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This is curious. These sandstone blocks were used to build a retaining wall. Many of these blocks look to be headstones or part of a grave from the nearby cemetry.

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Cape Banks is located on a wild and wooly wave lashed steep cliff faces of naturally sculpted sandstone.050120 cape banks2 The wind was strong enough to blow me away from the cliff edge- which was probably a good thing. 050120 cape banks050120 cape banks1The entrance to Botany Bay can be seen as well as the southern entrance called Cape Solander.

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Cape Solander. The southern entrance to Botany Bay. Note the salt/smoke haze.

We drove to LaPerouse, found a parking spot (miraculous) and walked across the bridge to Bare Island.050120 bare island The island was an armed fortress designed to protect the entrance to Botany Bay against invaders from the sea.050120 bare island1 050120 bare island2050120 bare island3We planned to walk around the rocks at the base of the fortress. While standing at the gate a Park Ranger let a group of people out from the fort. He announced he would be conducting the last tour of the week in five minutes. 050120 bare island4We were in the right place at the right moment to have a guided tour through this old fort. 050120 bare island6I recall that, as a teenager, I had walked to Bare Island and in those days it was not locked. 050120 bare island5We could walk onto the island and roam around. That is no longer the case. National Parks has control of who goes on the island. 050120 bare island7The fort was built in 1885 to counter a perceived threat from the sea by Russia or France or even Pirates! 050120 bare island11The five cannons were never fired in anger and by 1912 the fort and the cannons was decommissioned and used as a War Veterans Home until 1962.

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That little glow in te top centre of the photo is the sun. The salt/smoke haze was enough to almost obscure it.

Three of the 5 cannons were sold as scrap metal. The remaining two cannons were too heavy to lift off their pedestals and move across the bridge. 050120 bare island10Getting those cannon onto the the fort in 1885 must have been a logistical miracle. At that time there was no bridge so everything, including the cannons had to be brought in by barge or rowboat. Imagine how an 18 ton cannon was lifted ashore, up the steep hillside and lowered into position in a firing pit and lined up correctly really plays with the imagination.

It is difficult to imagine what life was like for the 60 soldiers who manned the fort. We noticed that some National Parks Rangers live in the lower barracks on the island.050120 bare island9

Each firing pit had alcoves built into the walls for each of the cannon crew to take shelter in the event that an enemy was firing at them. That said, from the sea, the fortress was designed to look like a grassy island and no structure, apart from an observation deck, was visible from the sea. The walls can only be seen from the land or inside Botany Bay.050120 bare island13050120 bare island14

Much of the fort is carved from solid sandstone, the buildings are made with dressed sandstone blocks while some parts have been made with an early version of concrete.050120 bare island12

While the design of the fort was brilliant, much of the work, carried out by a civilian contractor was below standard and had to be re-done.

Each firing pit had markings along the wall to show the height above sea level. These markings were used to make adjustments to cannon elevation.

616. Saturday 4th January 2020. Radiology, drive to Sydney,family get together and some exploring…

I have decided to post early due to the large number of photos still to be edited.

Monday 30th December

Up at my usual time and my usual walk with the usual suspects along The Broadwater.

At 9.30 I had an appointment with the Radiologists for X-Rays of my spine and an Ultrasound of my hip. The Sonagrapher was, as expected, a little less than forthcoming with the results although he did say the Chief would review the results and have them to the doctor by Thursday. I asked specifically about Bursitis of the hip. He found some swelling although he expected some but it is not significant. More likely he thinks it could be a tear in the muscle due to the body trying to compensate for the spasm in October and the body trying to work out a new way to walk and move. He expects I may need an injection, likely in the spinal region.

I will be in Sydney on Thursday so will visit the doctor there who ordered the last lot of X-Rays. Maybe he can send them to my local doctor to compare with today’s results.

The rest of the day was spent saying Happy New Year to friends in the village. Oh yeah I had a snooze after lunch.

Sister Enid arrived late in the afternoon so we went for Yum Cha at Harbourtown.

Tuesday 31st December

After a quick breakfast we hit the road by 7.15.

Today would be interesting as I was unsure how my back would handle travelling all day.

After 4 hours we stopped the old Port town of Ulmarra NSW on the Clarence River and had a coffee and mid morning snack at the Ulmarra Hotel.

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Ulmarra Hotel – A30 photo This is a lovely old hotel on the river.

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Ulmarra Hotel formal dining room. A30.
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Ulmarra Hotel stair case to rooms. A30

Ulmarra was settled about 1857 and has now been National Trust Classified.

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Docks beside Ulmarra Hotel. A30
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View from Ulmarra Hotel across Clarence River. A30
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View of Clarence River. A30
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Delightful dining at Ulmarra Hote. A30.

Much of the hotel has been maintained as it once was. I must comment that the cakes and pastries are all cooked locally or on the premises and prices are reasonable. For two coffees, a scone and a slice of banana bread was $16. Compare that to Starcut Florists in Mackay a couple of weeks ago when I was charged $12 for a cup of coffee and a Pastizzi.

The town was originally a port to ship the Cedar as it was cut. Later when the Cedar ran out, properties were established as Sugar Cane farms.

The closer we got to our destination the thicker the smoke haze became. The outdoor temperature started to rise from about28 degrees and reached 39 degrees. On arrival the temp had dropped to a comfortable 28 degrees. We were blessed with traffic without any major delays or accidents. The only bottle neck was at Coffs Harbour. The M1 is a great road which has almost by-passed all towns but because the country around Coffs Harbour is very hilly it has taken a long time to find a route deviation.

Although we changed driving each two hours it was still an eight hour day. On arrival in Forster we went for a walk and had to walk down a steep hill with a very strong wind at our backs. That was uncomfortable.

Our other sister Sandi was here as was sister Bev and husband Peter. We were at our brother Allans and wife Rae house in Forster. It is not often we are all together like this so any opportunity to get together is welcome.

Allan barbecued a butterflied chicken for dinner.

At 9pm, those of us still awake stood outside in the cool breeze watching the fireworks from Forster sports ground.

Somehow we drifted off at various times to bed. The most brazen of us stayed awake the longest. Enid and I were awake to not see in the New Year. Ten pm and it was lights out in the household.

Any noise of NYE revellry which may have been made by neighbours at midnight were not heard. I slept all night.

Wednesday 1st January NEW YEARS DAY. Yay.

I slept on a hard futon and spent a painful night.

After breakfast we drove to the breakwater wall and walked to the end then had coffee at a very busy restaurant in Tuncurry.010120 family1

The rest of the day was spent just relaxing and talking. The strong North Easterly winds from yesterday returned. There is a strange haze hanging around. It seems a mixture of smoke haze and salt haze from 6 days of relentless winds have driven the salt mist ashore and has mixed with the smoke.

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The kitchen table an swivel chairs originally belonged to our prents. Allan has kept them and had the chairs re-upholstered. They are at least 50 years old. Back row from L-R are Enid, Sandi, Bev and Rae. Seated L-R are Me, Peter, Allan.

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Thursday 2nd January

We were up and ready to leave by 8am. Rae had an appointment for her Chemotherapy Treatment at the local hospital. Sandi came with us.

Enid and I took turns driving, stopping for fuel once and a coffee stop at Heatherbrae north of Newcastle. From there I took on the driving, over the Hunter River via the Hexham Bridge and onto the M1 all the way to Sydney.

Bev and Pete were about 30 minutes behind us, arriving just as we were finishing our lunch.

Dinner was simple but delicious. Pete barbecued some salmon steaks and I made a salad of Rocket, Baby Spinach, Shaved Parmessan, toasted Walnuts and thinly sliced Apple with a light Caesar Dressing.

There were no leftovers.

Friday 3rd January

Today we had planned to walk the new clifftop track from Maroubra Beach to Malabar Beach. Bev and Pete had child minding duties, Sandi is still unable to walk far, my back is suspect and temps were expected to be in the high thirties. Instead Enid, Sandi and I caught the train to Circular Quay where we had coffee and raisin toast then caught the ferry to Parramatta. We have been wanting to do this trip for a long time. The reality did not live up to expectations. The first half is quite interesting although we did not go via Balmain. All the suburbs are new to us. The ferry is fast and has many stops so photo opportunities were limited.

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Our ferry to Parramatta is named Pam Burridge after the Australian Surfboard campion who dominated the International surf scene from 1977 to 1990.

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Original Bond Stores at Sydney Harbour.

The day was strength sapping hot so we sought shelter inside.

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Underneath the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
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Groups of walkers on the topmost arch on both sides of the roadway.
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Spectacle Island with Sydney Skyline in background
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Cockatoo Island on left, Spectacle Island on right.
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Gladesville Bridge on the Parramatta River.

Once we arrived none of the attractions were within reasonable walking distance so we stopped to look at an old house known as Willow Grove built in 1870 which is currently undergoing a battle to save it from demolition.

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Willow Vale

Next we had lunch at a small Thai Restaurant. Prices were reasonable and serving sizes were large. I had the Beef Salad and did not notice it was served with a chilli dressing. Wow! That helped to clear the nasal passages – quickly.                      

Across the street was the old Roxy Theatre,,_Parramatta built in 1930, Heritage listed and now permanently closed. Most likely the owners cannot afford to maintain the building according to heritage rules and therefore cannot develop the site. They most likely cannot sell as any potential buyer inherits the heritage ruling.

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Roxy Theatre Parramatta

We decided we no longer wanted to return via the ferry. Instead we caught the train to Redfern and changed to the Cronulla line. That was better. The train was faster and air conditioned.

Saturday 4th January

Sandi, Enid and I walked to Gymea for a look around the shops. Then it was time for a coffee and an egg and bacon roll simply because we can. The weather forecast was for very hot conditions of around 38 ° and around 44° in the western suburbs. By the time we walked back to Bev’s place it was already uncomfortably hot and the house, especially upstairs was almost unbearable.

After a light lunch all 5 of us drove to Cronulla Beach to see the movie Jo Jo Rabbit. The beach was packed with people seeking shelter and cooling off in the ocean.

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Cronulla Beach looking north. Taken with Samsung A30.
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Cronulla Beach looking south. Taken with Samsung A30.

I fell asleep in the movie. Not once but three times. Everybody else stayed awake.

After the movie we had drinks at the Cronulla Hotel (exceedingly noisy) then walked to Cronulla Mall and had an early dinner at Kurrabar Cafe. One of the reviews said how good the Seafood Chowder is. Well, I tried the chowder before I read the review. Even while I was eating the chowder I was trying to compare it with Canadian chowder. On the east coast they tend to do a cream base while on the west coast it seems they use a tomato base. I really like the cream base. Tonight it was a cream/tomato base and honestly I loved it.

Once home I fell asleep watching TV until the predicted Southerly Buster turned up and dropped the temperature by 10 degrees within a half hour. It also deposited a fine layer of dust over everything.