On the road again…
Part 15

Today we’re off to good old Guyra, not on the Australian coast somewhere. We are planning to visit Michelle and Robbie, who we have not seen for a while. The drive there is very pleasant and we get to go through some really lovely country-side. We stop at Bellingen and Judy manages to find a gallery where she sees and buys a large display picture frame that holds holiday snaps and the like. This means a major reshuffle of the back of Mitzi which she is not happy about. The next town is Dorigo which has the main street and all the shops festooned with bras. I’m not sure where to look. Next stop is Ebor where we stop to have a good old fashioned country soup for lunch. Not far from town is a spectacular waterfall, funnily enough called the Ebor Falls on the Guy Fawkes River. We finally arrive at Michelle and Robbie’s and spend a pleasant afternoon and evening catching up on old times. They have been here 10 months now and are really fitting in and enjoying the country life. They give us a tour of the town. We get to see a huge Meramma dog guarding his herd of alpacas. The dog easily jumps and clears the internal fences to stay between us and his herd. He could easily clear the fence between him and us but is obviously trained not to. I have not seen a Meramma in action before, but his persistence and threatening manner to keep us away from his charges is impressive. We also get to see the largest tomato farm in Australia. It is 30 hectares of glasshouses. The glasshouses are impressive and are the height of a three storey building. They definitely give a new insight to the phrase “people who live in glasshouses, should not throw stones”. When it rains, they get 1 gigalitre in their dam for every 4 mills that falls. In our travels we also get see the “Mother of Ducks Lagoon”. There is no lagoon there anymore but nobody seems to care. The “lagoon” is surrounded by an impressive golf course that seems in amazing condition. This is a real country town where the locals just drive their golf buggies to the course from their homes. Unbelievable as well is that they have driveway service at the local fuel station. Now there’s a bygone forgotten concept. The town is a bicycle friendly with the Main Street having bicycle sculptures at regular intervals that can be used as bike stands or locking up your bike. Robbie tells us that this is the highest town in Australia and gets pretty cool in the winter but on the other hand it is mild in summer. When we finally get home we go out the backyard to see Robbie’s chooks that he keeps. Their names are Schnitzel one, Schnitzel two and so on to Schnitzel five. They are so funny to watch doing their scratching and foraging. They follow Robbie around like he is their leader and even though he is the one that feeds them, they seem to really enjoy his company. It is really good to catch up with Robbie and Michelle and so it is sad to say farewell to them and head off to our final destination of Moree.

On the road again…
Part 14

We head up the coast to Nambucca Heads which is top o’ our list of the must see destinations for this trip. We are staying in a resort cabin right next to the Nambucca River sea wall at the entrance of the river. After settling in we wander down along the sea wall and take in the view. The sea wall is a vivid collection of boulders that are covered in graffiti, drawings and shrines. You cannot help but read the many inscriptions and writings that dot the sea wall. All the while we are keeping a keen eye out for spotting some whales. The whales elude us but we do get to see numerous birds and fish and a stingray as well. The next day we wander to the sea wall again and we see a guy with his dog fishing. The guy casts his line with a float that is being taken upstream by the tide. The dog (a kelpie) is leaping from rock to rock following the float and actually starts barking when there is a bite and the float gets pulled under. It is hilarious to watch. The fish seem really wary and elusive, but we do get to see him pull in a couple of fish, which by this stage the dog is barking his head off. As I said it is all very amusing to watch. The weather begins to change – rain again. We have our anoraks with us so we do a short 5 kilometre walk along the beach in the rain. For a late lunch we go to the local fish and chip shop. The young girl in the shop is on her own and it takes a while to get our lunch but it is really nice and combined with sensational views of the river and the sea, it just does not get any better. We basically just stay here for the rest of the day until we wander home for more relaxation. All I can say is it’s tough work but somebody’s got to do it.

On the road again…
Part 13

Today we are going to Tea Garden, on the Australian coast somewhere. We get there just on lunchtime and seek out our favourite restaurant (we have been here before). Unfortunately we get there about 5 minutes after the kitchen has closed. We then head to the next restaurant on the water front and end up having a sensational fish and chips dinner washed down with wine and beer and finish up with delicious cakes and coffee. Oh – I forgot to mention that it is Judy’s birthday which is why we are celebrating. We spend a while in the restaurant taking in the view of the Myall River, enjoying the ambience and celebrating another year lived to the fullest. We now have to find our digs for the night. I have booked a BnB apartment in nearby Hawks Nest, but it is really cheap, so we are a little apprehensive about it. When we track it down and move in we are pleasantly surprised and it ends up being quite a nice place to stay. First things first, we walk to the beach and go for a short stroll along the sand. We are keeping our eyes open for whales, but none sighted this time.

The next day we drive up through the Myall Lakes region. These Lakes are World Heritage listed and are truly amazing. We find some beaches were 4WD vehicles are allowed and we make full use. The first beach we get to we get stuck on the first dune to get to the beach and I have to use my shovel to get us out. First time I have used the shovel in 2 years – Yay. We give that beach a miss and head to the next beach. Pretty soon we are driving along the beach to the end only stopped by a rocky headland and a close off-shore island. We spend a bit of time here to soak in the view and best thing of all – there is no one else around at all. When we have had enough we head home and crash on the sofa. We are tired little vegemites.

On the road again…
Part 12

Today is Sunday and we decide to start the day with a brunch at the Sydney Fisherman’s Wharf Yum Cha Restaurant. Yum cha is term in Cantonese Chinese meaning “drinking tea” and refers to the custom of eating lots of small servings of different foods while drinking tea.  Here they bring around large heated trolleys of Chinese food that you can pick and choose from. There is everything that you can imagine from chickens feet to seaweed dishes. There are also the standard duck, pork, chicken and seafood dishes as well. Some of the dishes are dumplings but there are also all other types of sauces and accompaniments. We polish off as much as we can manage and wash the rest down with champagne. It’s a pretty impressive way to start off a Sunday. From here we go to Barangaroo and walk along the wharf. We make our way to Barangaroo Reserve and under the bridge at the Rocks and then head to the Orient Hotel to meet Kerry’s friend Richard. There is a band playing there which we really like, but they are so loud (like split your eardrums loud). We grab a table outside where we can enjoy the wine and beer and the music. We have a great view of the Sydney Opera House and get to watch a cruise-liner leave its berth. When Richard leaves we decide it’s time to make tracks to find our car and start the journey home. On the way home we decide that Sunday night is not the night to be making tea with Monday morning and work looming for Kerry, so we visit Kerry’s rowing club for a meal and Sunday night chill-out. It hasn’t rained all day but when we sit down it starts absolutely bucketing down with rain. Still we get to see a spectacular sunset along with great views of the Parramatta River. It is sad that our visit with Kerry has ended. We now head up the NSW coast to Tea Garden.

On the road again…
Part 11

Today we are driving to Sydney, but before we go we visit the toy and railway museum in Leura. It is housed in a early nineteen hundreds mansion with a beautiful garden. Unfortunately it is still raining and we don’t really get to see much of the garden. Inside the house is a treasure trove of trains, planes and automobiles with a few ships thrown in as well. There are artefacts that are themed on: Harry Potter, StarWars, Ken and Barbie, Noddy, Tin Tin, Winnie the Pooh, all the Disney characters – the list goes on. There are complete rooms with working railway setups. There are also working train lines in the garden that are going – even in the rain!!! The scope of the types of characters is endless. They are unbelievable well preserved and well and truly exceed my expectation of what would be displayed. I am glad that we diverted to this display.

For the drive into Sydney, all I can say is thank god for the GPS. We arrive with only getting lost a couple of times. We meet up with our dear friend Kerry who cooks us a home made pizza and we enjoy a wine and a beer or two. We met Kerry on our America eclipse trip last year. We have a wonderful time and reminisce about past and future travel destinations before settling in for the night.

The following day we drive to Manly and wander along the beach sea-wall, do the Manly Mall and wander down to the ferry terminal. Here we have coffees at Hugo’s but then because it becomes warm and sunny, we have more drinks at the Manly Wharf Hotel on their outside deck taking in the view. Kerry tells us that the adjoining Chat Thai has the most amazing dumplings and so we go there for lunch. No sooner have we walked through the door and it starts pouring with rain. If we had stayed at the hotel deck we would have been drenched it happens that fast. The meal at the Chat Thai is amazing and the staff there are friendly and engaging and so we have a really good time there. We finish off the day with a drive along the coast all the way to Govener Phillip Park and Palm Beach, where I am pretty sure that  they do the shooting of “Home and Away”. In the park is the boathouse and surf lifesaving club that features in the show, and there is a view of Barrenjoey Lighthouse. We drive home and finish the day with a game of Yahtzee and a plate of nibbles. With the Yahtzee, it doesn’t take a math’s degree to work out who’s going to win – hang-on I’ve got a math’s degree – ha ha.

On the road again…
Part 10

Rain, fog and rain. Today we drive to Wentworth Falls in the rain. We stop at Wentworth Falls Lake and take a short walk of the path along the shore until we are forced back to the car as the rain increases. We continue onto the falls and now not only is it raining pretty hard but it has closed in with fog so we now can’t see more than 100 metres in front of us. We try to wait it out a little while, but end up retreating to a park cafe and indulging in hot chocolate and scones in front of a roaring hot fire. Bliss! We finish the day with a walk on the Wentworth Falls high street and a bit of a drive around the town.

The following day has rain and fog again. We go to the Three Sisters and it is fogged out. Once again we wait in the rain to see if it clears. It doesn’t. We try one of the other tracks to see if another attraction is visible. We are only gone 5 minutes and there is a huge gust of wind go through the valley, we rush back and unbelievably there are the Three Sisters in all their glory – with the sun shining!!! After the obligatory photo shoot and selfy, we have congratulatory coffees and when we exit the cafe, once again it is raining and fogged out.

We drive to Katoomba and wander the high street. One of the shop vendors asks us whether we have visited the “Hydro”? Always up for the challenge we decide to visit the Hydro Majestic Hotel at Medlow Bath. The Hotel is located on a cliff top overlooking the Megalong Valley and the views are stunning. We find out that they do a high tea and because it’s our anniversary we decide to take the plunge and partake in a high tea complete with champagne. So, here we are sipping champagne, eating high tea tidbits and viewing stunning vistas while staring lovingly into each other’s eyes. It just doesn’t get any better.

On the road again…
Part 9

Today we are off to Leura. Never heard of it before but when we get there it is definitely an upmarket place just on the outskirts of Katoomba. We settle into our apartment which has its own secure underground garage. This means we have to drag our bags upstairs but our apartment is really nice. We are basically on the high street of Leura and so we spend the afternoon wandering the high street and getting our bearings. The following day is sunny and we decide to walk to a National Historic Trust Heritage house and garden named Everglades which is a spectacular, world-renowned garden set against a backdrop of bush and sweeping views. In the middle of it all lies a beautiful art deco 1930’s home. It is a beautiful spot to stroll along formal European-style terraces and winding paths which reveal the many moods of Everglades, from the tranquil reflection pool amongst towering trees from all over the world, to the subtle charms of the lookout and contemplative grotto pool. The gardens are divided into glades, featuring rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, tulips and pansies. The lookout provides breath-taking vistas through to Mt Solitary and the Jamison Valley. The Grotto Pool appears completely natural but is in fact man-made. It is stunning and has to be seen to be believed.
The house normally hosts a tea room but unfortunately today it is closed. When we have had enough we hoof it back to the Main Street. We get a pizza to share and a couple of drinks, just $70 all up. What did I say about this being an up-market location.

On the road again…
Part 8

The following day the rain, sleet, snow and fog is back – maybe not snow, but it is cold. This time we are driving South again and go to a farmer’s market at Berry. With all the rain around, it is amazing how many people are there. We walk up and down the high street till we figured we were too wet to do anymore. We return to Shell Harbour and retire to the golf club and enjoy a shared seafood platter for the afternoon.

The following day is not much better weather wise. Rod has me hooked on “White Rabbit Dark Ale” which I am loving but we pick it up a level when we visit a bar aptly named “The Brewery”. Here they have so many Nomad micro-brewed beers on tap that I’ve just lost count. Some of the ones I remember are: Freshie Salt and Pepper Gose, Saltpan Desert Gose, Long Reef Pale Ale, Sideways Pale Ale, Rosie’s Hibiscus Berlinerweisse, Jet Lag IPA, Granite Pale Ale, Wattella Stout, Easy as IPA, Choc-Wort Orange Imperial Stout. What is sad is there’s lots more names that I just cannot remember. Last but by no means least is they have an Illawarra Brewing Company Chuck Norris Single Hop Red Ale. Wow – what a day to remember.

Sadly this is our last day with Rod and Ainsley. They are terrific hosts and good friends and have really looked after us. Tomorrow we are off to the Blue Mountains.

On the road again…
Part 7

Sorry, too busy walking today. Even though the weather forecast is not good, surprisingly we have some really nice weather. We drive out to Bass Point at Shell Harbour and walk to all the lookouts. There are some nice vistas of the sea and even though it is fairly rough, the sea is still a vivid deep blue. Ainslie has booked a place for lunch so we travel South to Gerringong and visit the Crooked River Winery for lunch. 

The winery is elevated on a hill giving us glorious views of the lush green surrounding countryside and the sea. And what a feast they put on for us. All of us have the “Free Range Crispy Confit Pork Belly” with; truffled kohlrabi slaw, cardamom manuka honey glaze and onion soubise for entree. What a taste sensation!

Next for main, Rod and Ainslie have the “Black Angus Eye Filet” with; burnt rosemary kumera, purple kale and pink peppercorn jus.

Judy and I finish with the “Sumac Lamb Rack” with; Israeli pearl cous cous, pistachio dukkah and goats milk yogurt. All of this is combined with a nice Saddleback Mountain Red. What can I say? My diet plan has just ballooned out to March, 2047.

Back home we ditch the car and walk to Shell Harbour. Along the way we pass Rod and Ainslie’s previous house as well as seeing the area that they both grew up in. At the beach we walk along the foreshore and enjoy the ambience of the coastal setting, as well as having an ale and wine or two at the local pub. On the way home we pass The Spruce Moose, a new wine bar and guess what? We drop in for an ale and wine or two. Back home we kick back with an ale and wine or two, to rest and recover for tomorrow.

On the road again…
Part 6

We travel to Shell Harbour near Wollongong and meet our friends Rod and Ainslie. We have a relaxing time out on the patio with a barbecue tea and an ale or two. We have not seen them for a while and it is really good to catch up. The following day Rod takes us on a tour of the Shell Harbour environs (Ainslie has to work – wah!). The highlight is that we get to see quite a few whales on their sojourn South. We see blows, breaches and tail slaps. This is from the whales as well. We get to visit the Coolangatta Winery and sample their wares. More importantly, I get to have an afternoon nap and catch up with my blog. For tea we get to eat out at the local Thai restaurant. We are looking forward to getting out and about tomorrow.

Today all four of us get to go out, but unfortunately it is raining with a bit of fog and then more rain. This is actually drought breaking rain so we are not complaining. We call into Bundanoon and find an amazing combined nursery, gift and junk shop. The girls end up buying a variety of items. Our next stop is Berrima which is a quaint historic sleepy little village on the Old Hume Highway. Even though it has the Berrima Gaol and Courthouse, there are the following snack shop/eateries on the high street: Gumnut Patisserie, Magpie Cafe, Berrima Bakehouse, Mrs Oldbucks Pantry, Berrima General Store Cafe, Stones Patisserie, Lolly Swagman and Josh’s Cafe as well as the pub, Surveyor General’s Inn. No pressure to decide where to eat.

On the way home we stock up on ingredients for a nibble plate which includes a stack of prawns and Sydney rock oysters and we have a feast. Looks like we’ve go a lot of walking to do tomorrow. Until then.

On the road again…
Part 5

Today we go to the Bus Depot Markets in Canberra. The market is full of interesting items and nick-nacks and Judy ends up buying a picture frame. It only takes Judy going back to the stall about 4 times before she finally decides, that, this is the frame for her – no pressure. Next to the market is the Canberra Glassworks which has a gallery display of various works of art, but the prices are well and truly out of our price range with one priced at $14000. There are a few items with “Price On Application” signs. Surprisingly there are a number of items sold. After the gallery we visit the War Memorial and this is a poignant interlude. We also view some of the various War displays on the War Memorial boulevard. We finish the day off with a sensational dinner at the local Vietnamese restaurant.

Today we’re off to the Floriade. We have been counting down the sleeps for this special event. In fact this is the reason for our trip. Lucky we are with locals which means we get to park close by. The wander around the flower displays is simply amazing. We wander down one aisle and there is a “giraffe” is coming the other way. The “giraffe” has a handler that is guiding the “giraffe” down the aisles past all the people. Occasionally the “giraffe” was lowering his head to check out certain people. Still not sure why? It is certainly something different.

While we we’re on a roll, we spent the afternoon at the National Arboretum Canberra. Even here there were lots of people. One thing I was not expecting was their collection of bonsai housed here. Some have been grown here but most have been loaned, gifted or willed to the Arboretum. Anyhow it is a stunning collection and is made up of so many different types of trees that I have never seen before. Outside of the Arboretum centre are garden areas that contain garden displays as well as memorials to various associations. It is all lush, green and impressive. They have a huge lawned amphitheatre and there are forest picnic areas with viewing areas and sculptures. There are lots of walking, running and cycling tracks. Outside all of this is an area containing 100 forests of various trees all from giant sequoias to dragon trees. This is their long term plan for the next 500 to 1000 years or so. Oh and guess what – the whole Arboretum is a NON-SMOKING and a flame free site. No open flames or fires are permitted, just in case you were wondering…

On the road again…
Part 4

Today is a “repositioning” day where we are changing locations to Canberra. It is all highways and freeways, so no backroads today. We drive to Violet Town that featured in the ABC BackRoads program and stop for our obligatory coffee and cake. We take a short wander around the town but we really can’t stop too long, which is a shame. We also stop at a park in Holbrook for lunch. There is a miniature steam engine locomotive track around the park. I wander to the platform part of the track and look at the impressive crowd control barriers of the railway station, and intentionally cut in front of the line. Pity there is no one else there. Oh gosh, the things you can do when your retired.

We make it to Canberra and meet Judy’s longtime girlfriend Leona, and her husband Allan. Leona has cooked us a really nice meal. The journey seemed particularly long, so we are bushed and have an early night.

IT’S AFL GRAND FINAL DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We get up and go out for brunch. We then stock up on vitals (wine, beer and chips). We come home and settle on the couch. It is a blinder of a game. It is unfortunate that a team has to loose, but if a teams got to loose, it’s good if it’ s Collingwood. After the Grand Final we celebrate with more wine, beer and chips

On the road again…
Part 3

We have a leisurely lay-in today. Nothing too strenuous. We visit places where Vic and Adrienne had lived in a past life and we have the mandatory stop at another really nice coffee house. The highlight of today is a visit to the “Great Stupa of Universal Compassion). This is a sacred Buddhist monument being built in the middle of a paddock on the outskirts of Bendigo. While I was initially sceptical about visiting this place, it is nevertheless very impressive in its size and magnitude. Equally stunning is a carved Buddha statue in the main temple area. This is 4 tonnes of gem quality Jade carved into a Buddha out of a single boulder. It took 4 guys three years to carve. Apparently an American Las Vegas casino owner had bought the boulder, but had to offload it when the GFC hit and the Buddhists picked it up for a chant (song sic).

Long term (1000 years plus) this is to be a complex that includes a whole range of services, including a retreat for monks with holiday accommodation, meditation centre, education centre and extensive gardens.

Tomorrow we will bid our farewells to Vic and Adrienne and travel to Canberra.

On the road again…
Part 2

Today we are on our way to Castlemaine Markets. We drive through the Centre of Bendigo and even though it has its traffic lights it still feels like a country town. We drive past lakes and parks that are full of people who are walking, excercising and cycling. These guys really do use their parks. The buildings are stately and reflect the wealth of the town from a bygone golden era. 

Step one of our quest today is to visit “Das KaffeeHaus”; an authentic German/Austrian cafe located at the Castlemaine Markets. Vic and Adrienne have come here specifically to visit a couple of times but each time it has been closed, so the fact that it is open is great news. The “kaffee” is superb and the seemingly authentic Austrian “streuselkuchen” is outstanding. Even the Cafe staff are dressed in authentic Austrian garb. It seems we have been whisked away to Europe for the moment. Too bad about the diet. Looks like that’s starting tomorrow.

After our little sojourn to Europe, we continue to wander the market stalls. We have an incident at the market that involves the girls and some badly put together shelving. Needless to say there  is an almighty bang that wakes the whole market up and has the staff running around. I think the girls sheepishly feigned this, “it wasn’t us” look and manage to back away and leave the scene. Drama averted, we take to the high street to look through more shops and we also visit the Burke and Wills memorial. I recently got Peter FitzSimmon’s book on Burke and Will’s book so this must be a reminder to finish my reading chores. We have a great lunch at a place called Skydance Nursery. This place has great collection of garden ornaments and pots and they have all sorts of grevileas and native plants. It is just a pity we don’t have the room in the car.

We finish off a great day back at the ranch with a yummy cheese/nibble plate and a wine or two. 

On the road again…
Part 1

We’re on the road again. We’ve packed Mitzi to the gunnels. We’re on a mission to catch up with as many interstate friends as we can.

We head down the freeway on our way to Bendigo. We decide to take the road less travelled or alternate route and this means we visit places like Lameroo, Pinnaroo, Boinka, Underbool, Sea Lake, Dumosa and Wycheproof. Sounds like a place list out of “I’ve Been Everywhere”. All we need is Johnny Cash on Mitzi’s playlist. I know I’ve got some of his albums so I cant believe that we cant find any songs. Must fix that when we get home.

As said we have been on the road all of today so nothing much has really happened. Anyway the highlight of today is when we arrive at Bendigo and meet up with our friends, Vic and Adrienne and have a chin wag over a nice tea. It is great to catch up with them. Vic and Adrienne have organised a tour for us tomorrow, so stay tuned.

9 thoughts on “On the road again…

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