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7 August 2019

Happy Birthday Daughter

Next stop Carey Bay (Oh! alright, Newcastle) to bring best birthday greetings to our youngest, Calinda. Happy Birthday Kiddo ( I won’t embarass you here)

Good to see things happening with the house but it does seem a slow process and we can feel Lindy’s frustration. It seems no-one wants to do much work in Newcastle.

We continue with Winnebago problems, this time another apparent inverter failure, the one that was installed after a lightening strike only 2 1/2 years ago. No 24o volt which means no ‘free’ camping as we can’t run my CPAP or the TV’s or computers etc. We can plug into mains but the system tells us we have problems and keeps ringing alarm bells – bloody annoying. It means we are relegated to caravan parks for the duration.

Couple of days in Newcastle and then on to Cobar to meet up with sister Robyn and I guess this is when the tour begins. The plan is from Cobar to move on to White Cliffs which is the last of the opal mining towns for us to see then work our way down through Broken Hill and into SA and the wine regions thence on to the peninsulars.

Can’t seem to upload pictures at present and the map isn’t working but all of this is on report to the webmaster for rectification so hopefully will be fixed soon

 

24 July 2019

One Small Step…..

Four days commemorating what is probably one of the biggest achievements in human history – man’s walk on the Moon.

In Canberra, guests of Robert and Judi Dey we have spent these four days (18 – 21 July) remembering, celebrating and recording the Australian involvement in the Moon landing as well as the event and all leading up to it. Robert worked at Honesuckle Creek tracking station, although from a period just after the landing but was directly involved in the tracking of all subsequent flights. It has been a great priveledge to be a participant in this memorable event.

We have seen movies not yet released, plaques unveiled, listened to first hand experiences of some involved, met Australias own and only astronaut Dr Andy Thomas plus others from NASA talking about the future of space flight and met many others directly involved with the original moon landing. It has been an altogether delightful, entertaining and enlightening experience.

 

 

1 September 2018

Romin’ about stilll

Monday. Coloseum tour day. Met Valentino our tour guide after a bit of confusion and spent the next 2 1/2 hours or so romin in the glomin.

This is an incredible place, given that it is 2000 years old, was abandoned in the 5th century, stripped of its decorations and its marble in the centuries following, was partially restored as a church in the 18th century (to which few Christians came because of its infamous history). The fact that it is so obviously still here is testament to the building capabilties of the ancient Romans despite the fact that much of the iron that was used to staple the building blocks together has been removed. See the holes in the walls…

Our tour guide Valentino was a character. Whilst speaking English she had a strong Italian accent which made her a little hard to understand at times but her strong desire to marry Russell Crowe was always easily understood. Even kept flashing his photo as the gladiator. We have been told via the tour bus commentaries that the Coloseum was opened in 40 AD with 100 days of games scheduled  to accommodate the unruly masses and distract them from their dissatisfaction with the ruling classes (free entry too whatsmore) and that in this period 5000 animals and 2000 gladiators met their end. Our tour guide disputed this saying that gladiators and animals were too expensive to lose and any loss of life was purely accidental. Who really knows the truth….

Valentino is in the red slacks with Monique and 7 foot son Dave to the left and rear with moi on the far left and Jude hoggin’ the limelight. Good job Valentino, you certainly know your stuff.

The floor of the  stadium was timber, covered in sand. Underneath were catacombs with elevators and trapdoors in the floor to facilitate the sudden emergence of actors or animals or other unwilling participants. Even at one stage the floor was flooded to accommodate boats to re-enact sea battles….

It remains an awsome edifice….

Then it was on to the Palatine Hills. This spot is said to have been the place where Romulus initiated Rome. In years following many Kings then Emporers chose this hill on which to build their palaces, many ruins ofwhich still exist….

some of which overlook Circus Maximus where the chariot racing took place. A bit like having an apartment on Queens Parade at the time of the Australian F1GP.

Footsore, overloaded with information and sweating like gladiators we called it a day and headed back to the hotel. Caught the peak hour rush – more footsore and sweating more like a team of gladiators we made it back for dinner.

So glad we did the guided bit – missed the 2 1/2 hour queue. Discovered though that having to remove my watch for the security scan at the coloseum and placing it in our carry-all, it didn’t make it back to the hotel with us. No-one got a good deal – it was a cheapy that had been playing up and had a cracked crystal.

Tuesday. Guided tour of Vatican City. Meet tour guide Massimo at 9.45am, jump the queue (which wasn’t all that long at this time) and join the other 32,000 daily visitors to this place. I think they were all in there before we arrived. It was packed. Fortunately after a lot of standing around we were issued with an audio pack so our guide could communicate with us. 4 1/2 hours later we were spat out the other end. Our guide spoke English but also with a very strong Italian accent and the audio equipment left a lot of words hanging so the commentary was a bit hard to follow, but I think we got the gist of it. Vatican City is over the top, demonstrably rich. 10 million visitors a year at at least 17 Euro each must help. The place houses some incredible artifacts and we didn’t actually get into the Vatican Museums – we went through one or two but didn’t stop. What we’re allowed to photograph is just some of the collected works and building features…

The Sistine Chapel is a no photo area – its also a no talkie area but the guards use loud speakers to tell you to “be quiet”. Its another model of hypocrisy, and we didn’t think much of the scupltors paintings either. Macabre, grotesque, hypocritical. But you have to see it to form your own opinion – we can’t show you pictures.

On to St Peters Basilica purportedly the largest in Italy if not the world. Yes, it is massive, it is grotesque and its over the top. It is ridiculous yet a magnificent engineering/architectural/artistic tour de force…

to give some perspective the letters over the top of the chancel are 6 feet high.

Then we got spat out into the the piazza where we at least got togawk at one  of the Swiss Guards…

then look back at Vatican City from a poor believers perspective….

What can one say!!

Next two days are catching some of Romes landmarks like the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain  the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore (purportedly the second biggest after St Peters) and  The Catacombs of San Sebastiano…

the latter a burial ground for initially pagans but then Christians and said to house the graves of 100,000 people of the 1st and 2nd centuries

Here endeth the sermon. We’re going home tomorrow and Jude says I can’t write this in Benalla – well I probably can’t write proper any where any way but youse a got what I gives ya.

31 August 2018

Roma (cont.)

Or maybe just starting.

By the time we dropped the car at the airport, worked out the trains and got back to the hotel, Saturday, our first day in Rome, was pretty much over. Besides, we needed a rest so the balance of the day was spent planning the uncommitted parts of the rest of the week.

Sunday, hop a train about a 10 minute walk from the hotel, into the city train terminus (Termini) in about 35 minutes for just $2.40 each each way, then on a BigBus for a 10  stop tour of the cities highlights (48 hours for $62.40 each hop on hop off). We stayed on to sus out what was what with a plan then to eventully hop off at each of those things which attracted us. We had Colosseum/Palatino Hill and Vatican City tour tickets (jump the queue) booked for Monday and Tuesday respectively so it became a matter of priotorising the rest. Well there are a lot of things you see on the bus tour but it actually only stops at a few of them but stops near enough that you can walk to several from the one stop. Put another way, there might be only 10 stops but there are a lot more things to see. We eventually walked and walked and walked.

Rome is an odd city. It is a mixture of old and very old. Old is renaissance,very old is Roman, as far back as 750BC. The very old is mostly ruins such as the colisseum dating back to 40BC. Some ruins are purported to be older but most we saw all seemed to be around 100 – 200BC. Rome is said to have been founded on the Palitino Hill by Romulus in around 750 BC – thats Romulus of Romulus and Remus, brothers said to have been raised by a ‘she wolf’ when abandoned to die by their uncle who wanted no usurpers to the crown (more common belief these days is that the ‘she-wolf’ was in fact a prostitute – I prefer that version) But the brothers fought and Remus died around the time of their attempts to establish Rome as a new city. You gotta love this family fellowship because the next few hundred years are full of acts of patricide, infanticide, matricide and sibling killings all for the sake of a few hills and ultimately the largest Empire the world has known. The tour guides/bus commentaries tell us that the Roman Empire lasted several 100 years until its demise in 476AD (not sure how they can be so specific although they didn’t attempt to give us the month and day) but we’re told its demise was attributable to its size, corruption or even Christianity. Nobody actually writ this so where cometh the Bible?.

Anyway there are great stories to be told and I’m guessing lots of heated debate over the facts of the matter. Nevertheless Rome is a fascinating and beguiling piece of human history. On a more positive note, it is the cleanest of the cities we’ve been to in Italy although the outer suburbs, where we’re staying, are not. There are still beggars everywhere and floggers of everything from battery chargers to hats to cold water to wooden platters at every attraction. Then there are the bloody tourists – they’re in front of everything with their f…ing selfie sticks, thousands of them. You cannot get a decent unencumbered photo for love nor money, but I tried from the height of various buses…

Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore (back side – see later entry)

guess what

no, wrong, it is a theatre built a bit later than the colisseum (Teartro Marcello)

the current seat of Government (I think) built in the 1800’s on top of old churches

the Castel Sant Angelo where popes hide out

just an interesting 1800’s building in the Piazza Della Repubblica

the ancient city walls from around 150AD

the courts and central law and order centre built around 1850 and referred to as an ugly child

the front of the current government buildings and below, several ancient ruins

the last two being a view of the Palatino Hill and the historic mansions thereon overlooking the Circus Maximus where chariot racing took place back in the Roman days.

Monday, repeat the trip, meet tour guide to do Colisseum and Palatino Hill. So pleased we got a guide – the queue was 2 1/2 hours long. 4 1/2 hours later with no waiting in queue and a lot of walking we’ve got a fabulous potted history of all that surrounds us..

Its taking ages to upload photos through the interwebby thingy and I’m tired so explanations of all the above will have to wait until the next instalment.

 

22 August 2018

Siena

From Pisa its on to Siena, mainly so we can traverse Tuscany, said to be one of the most beautiful regions of Italy. Not sure it is that much different to lots of other areas we’ve seen so far. There are certainly lots of little villages clinging to mountain sides but we’ve seen all of this everywhere else however here are a few select shots of sameo….

and are these streets tight.

And then we found Monteriggioni, an ancient walled city….

where we enjoyed some local rabbit for lunch. The whole place comes as a bit of a surprise – its free entry. They only charge if you want to walk the walls.Its pretty, it is intact and it is well maintained – this last aspect is unusual here. Most of what we’ve seen so far has been depreciated by lack of maintenance and theres heaps of rubbish everywhere.

We only anticipated Siena as a night stopover on our way through Tuscany but found we had time to go into the city to have a bit of a look. Traffic was unbelievable and a 5 km journey took us the best part of an hour. Then we had to find parking – wow! Anyway we got to walk the walls of the ancient Medici castle, now a public space and most impressive it is…

as are the views from its ramparts…

but we got caught in the rain and had to go home.

This night however we met up with Steve and Carol, Peter and Marion from Howrah in Tas. God it was good to converse in Oz over a few drinks after dinner. Next morning, over breakfast we also met John and Jan from Bacchus Marsh in Vic. We’re in danger of creating a “small(er) world”. But it was really good to hear OZ. Most of the Italians try to communicate but we have trouble deciphering.

22 July 2018

Glasgow sorta

Twas on to Glasgow we went but the day was taken up with washing and visits to the pharmacy, the doctor, the hospital, the NHS, the doctor, the pharmacy, the hospital, the doctor and finally the pharmacy to get some meds for Jude. I love the efficiency of Britains medical service. I think you’d bleed out if you were injured although they may be able to clone you back to life  – Dolly the cloned sheep lived and died near here (well a little further north but you get the picture). So, bottom line, we didn’t see much of Glasgow and we had a commitment further north so onwards and upwards we went.

Drumnadrochit was calling (What?). Its at the side of Loch Ness and it really was the Lochs that were calling us home but Drumnadrochit was where we had to stay. Lets say first up that this was the most expensive yet worst accommodation we’ve had so far – nearly $200 a night and not even breakfast included….

Now, given that these two buildings are pictured in the hotels blog as being side by side one might get the distinct impression that they are one and the same and consequentially this place looks at least interesting. Nothing could be further from the truth.We didn’t actually go into the Loch Ness visitor centre cos it cost money to do so but we did drag our weary bones up the stairs in the hotel, to find ourselves in a miserable little room with no acoustic properties whatsoever. You’ve heard the term ‘banging’, now we know what it means. Trouble is it was all next door as their bed kept hitting the adjoining wall. The only saving grace was he was a quick finisher. Then the next night 50 or 60 asians moved in and they don’t know how to be quiet let alone close a door without slamming it – all f…… night. To add insult to injury the bloody toilet wouldn’t flush properly and the one breakfast we had in their so called cafe should have been flushed first.

It was though close to Loch Ness and the village of Drumnadrochit was … interesting! We had dinner twice there, once good, once ordinary (but same place). This Loch and all others including Lomond are nonetheless beautiful, as is the countryside…

the first 3 Loch Lomond the next 2 Loch Ness. You might notice the only monster was the cruise boat and I should add we did look hard but Nessie didn’t favour us this time…

and I get the very distinct impression she doesn’t appear for just anybody.

We had determined to visit niece Renee on Skye which was another reason for staying at Drumnadrochit as it was the closest accommodation we could get. Skye, this weekend and indeed for days preceeding and after was booked solid, so a 2 1/2 hour drive (each way) was in order. Along the way we were intoduced to Eilean Doonan Castle. Billed as a fully restored 13th century castle it had to have some attraction, as indeed it did even on the most miserable and first wet day we’ve had since leaving home……

It is now a private residence although open to the public (for a cost of course) but it’s worth every penny to see…

Ah! Whoops. No photography allowed!

We did with permission get one photo, albiet not a good one as we had to look like we weren’t taking it…

as it’s not often you get a Fergusson with two s’s. Look up the connection Fergussons!

But we did get some outside shots through the rain and mist which I guess fairly accurately reflects the usual climate of the area…

It is worth a visit if you’re ever here.

On to Skye and the scenery is incredible…

and on to lunch with Renee, Matilda and Sean at their cafe at Bog Myrtle (Isle of Skye)…

Lovely lunch, good chat and catch up with niece and great-niece, but then back to the place they call Drumnadrochit (I’m fairly sure that means something unholy in Gaelic).

Moved on then to Edinburgh via Inverness and ended up spending four nights in Edinburgh because there is so much to see. I’m not sure I have effectively conveyed the beauty of the Scottish scenery here but even the drive back down south didn’t disappoint….

and whilst not strictly in sequence you get the picture.

There are many more shots I could bore you with but they’ll have to wait until you visit us at home. Uh, don’t use that as an excuse not to visit – I could just give you a USB just to piss you off.

Anyway, Edinburgh is a whole ‘nother story, a chapter in its own right so tune in to the next instalment coming soon.

2 July 2018

Orlando on

What next!

Looked at the Universal option to perhaps see the Harry Potter world thing but at $190.00 US each thought it was just too much. We had been told that Epcot as part of Disney world was good so decided on such reccommendation we should try it without knowing what its cost was so we headed off.

Drove up to the entry, joined the car queue and finally got to pay our $22.00 entry fee. Thought, this is good value. “Sir, this is just to park your car”. Parked the car with 10,000 others (in the second car park) and queued again to go through security…

then queued again to buy our tickets. $244.00US, $341.00AUS – WOW!

Anyway we’re here, committed, so be it!

OK so first up is History of the World – a big round ball on the outside and a big long queue. Well our tickets actually gave us priority entry and we got re-directed to the shorter queue…

Anyway we eventually got inside to discover a train ride up several stories inside through dioramas of the history of human communication. Interesting but not encompassing. The ride concluded with something of an interactive gallery but really aimed at the kids….

However Judes ticket didn’t work so we were directed to customer services and stood in a queue. Finally got ticket replacement with many apologies and were granted an extra ride. An extra ride? Oh yes, you can now select 3 from whats on offer, bearing in mind that you’ve already had 1 ride, 3 being the initial total of what you have paid for!!! WHAT -$341.00 for 3 rides?????. Ahh, but you can join the queue to go on the wait list for any ride at no extra cost. Oh goody!

Anyway, bearing in mind that we now have access to 3 rides lets be a little selective. I think there are about 15 different rides or shows so we select the 3 that are perhaps the least dangerous – 4D cartoons, a space ride and a hang glider ride around the world. Jude had to hold my hand and coerce me into the latter 2 but I figured if she’d go on a boat then I better aquiesce to these “scary” rides.They were fantastic albiet more than a little short. All were 4D experiences and I’d do them again but not at $170.00 odd each.

Epcot overall was disappointing – a. not good value, b. very limited food choices, c. not really that interesting. We did avoid the ‘foods of the world gallery’, mainly because it was a long walk and didn’t look to be that interesting anyway, I mean, how many ways can you do hot dogs or nachos. Mind you with only 4 rides/shows experienced, the day disappeared given the time we spent in ‘priority’ queues. Of course that didn’t apply to food or drinks or shopping venues. so it wouldn’thave mattered much if we had more rides to experience – we didn’t have time to fit them in…..

each one of those cars brought $22.00, but the monorail was free. Nice ride and bloody nice to sit down at the end of a long day and take in the sights.

Next day after deciding that we couldn’t justify more expenditure on theme parks in which we were not particularly interested we drove into Orlando city to have a look around. Like most cities these days it is a picture of ordinariness but it does have a lovely lake and garden inclusion…

and the odd squirrel and swan. It is a nice clean looking city. We spent most of the day driving to, around and from the city given the amount of traffic everywhere. I don’t know how anything gets done in these great American cities – you spend so much time commuting.

We left Orlando on Saturday to go to West Palm Beach to meet with our cruise ship. About a 3 hour drive south and an awful dependence on the sat-nav we reached the port to find queues to everything…

but finally got dockside to be confronted by this rather large ship.

Having never been on board a cruise ship before it was all a bit confronting. At some point before getting on board in one of the early queues we have our luggage confiscated – it will be waiting for you in your cabin when you get on board but ‘don’t lose that ticket’. Mind you, prior to this our rent-a-car has already been taken from us to be sent where we know not but ‘don’t  lose that ticket’ and then we’ve got to order our dinner drinks with another ‘don’t lose that ticket’ and we get issued with plastic on board credit cards with another ‘don’t lose that ticket’ and along the way we have to select our onshore activity with another ‘ don’t lose that ticket’ and then we board the ship. By this stage my pockets are bulging with tickets and they want one of them for us to board!!! Actually I’ve even forgotten to mention that  in the checking in process they take our passports with another ‘don’t lose that ticket’. So I’m hobbling under the weight of several hardwoods so the invitation to lunch on board was more than welcome. And what a surprise it was – an extravagant buffet with real food that tasted of food. And, that set the food scene for the next couple of days – the food was terrific.

On board was an experience which Jude survived admirably. Its not that the ship wobbled or anything, in fact it was very smooth but just that it was on the sea. This is something that ordinarily she would not attempt. But we got very busy over the next couple of days, eating, drinking (well one of us) and experiencing on board entertainment….

Day 2 we took the selected on shore activity which enabled us to keep our feet dry (all of the other activities involved water) by taking in a tour of Freeport on the island of Grand Bahama and its botanical garden. Freeport is a minor but predominantly  industrial township with a major dependence on oil storage and disribution. Past USA president George Bush has a controlling interest in the oil business…..

and the beer business.

Photo above is of our tour group and the guy at the back is Mikey our tour leader who wants to change his  name to “Bush” and claim  familial rights. The gardens were established by Wallace Groves an early (1950’s) investor in the Bahamas and a major influencer in the growth of Bahamian economy. Freeport does ot appear to be a thriving community though – there are many closed businesses and the overall impression is that of a third world economy….

but its tax free nature is obviously an attraction to some monied people…

The population is predominantly of African-American heritage, more so of the last century but the history of the islands dates back to Spanish occupancy of the 1600’s and thence British rule in later times hence they drive on the correct side of the road. Over these days we met with Susie and Christine and Melanie from the US, had dinner with Michelle and John and their daughter and thence with Bill and Belinda and Brian and Sarah, all good company over dinner and also all from the US. Good evenings at dinner then on to the shows. Good fun. Belinda owns and runs a pottery business in New Orleans called “chezclay”

Back to port on day 3, tired but happy to have the edge taken off by a 1 1/2 hour wait in the queue for American Immigration. A drive down south to Miami ameliorated my anger as we drove into the GIANT metropolis of Miami and Miami Beach. Despite mis-directions up closed streets by the sat-nav we eventually found our way to our hotel. Miami Beach is the centre of art deco style and our hotel was no exception – no provision for parking but very “art Deco” inside and out. It was actually quite good and reasonably priced and very central to all of the Miami Beach activities.

But, once again time has caught up with me so I’ll have to conclude our US experience in the next entry. Good night Dick!

 

11 June 2018

Lake Powell

Northish of the Grand Canyon and due north of Phoenix at the state border, Lake Powell/Page is both water supply and hydro electric power supply to lots of Arizona and abutting states. Strangely it’s also home to a massive coal fired power station and the home of the Navajo Nation.

The Colorado river is dammed here and still again further down at the other end of the Canyon. The resulting waterway (Lake Powell) is 198 miles long but only about 2 – 3  miles wide but quite a bit narrower at some points. The setting is quite stunning….

You might notice that I have actually remembered to get a photo of the two of us in situ. Also this last shot shows the smoke stacks of the coal powered electricity plant at the side of the lake. But there’s more…..

… a Linda and some very expensive houseboats and marina and “Navajo tapestries” on the canyon walls and a Bute and another very big rock and a very narrow channel to come home by.

The boat trip around a small section of the Lake took 2 1/2 hours and was most informative. You can Google the details if you’re interested enough but suffice to say it is a major tourist and holiday destination. It’s quite beautiful.

Whilst on the boat a couple of ladies showed us photos of canyon “slots”. Looked stunning so decided we best check it out for ourselves so booked an afternoon tour with the Navajos. $312.00 for four people took a bit of swallowing but after what Gary and Linda have spent on our entertainment it was the least we could cough up for. So at the appointed hour we climbed aboard our truck…(which I don’t have a photo of) and we head up country.

The photos tell it all……

Caused by water and wind over squillions of years it is really just a fissure in the sandstone but it is spectacularly beautiful.

Well all this natural beauty tired us all out so it was back to the house and a few more reds (and a water).

‘Twas back to Phoenix the next day (Tuesday) but via Gary and Lindas best mans home at Prescott (Bud and Ardene) to also see Garys brother Melvin (Mike) and wife Dee who were visiting, then on to another brother in the same area, Bruce who was entertaining other brother John and their respective wives. So, a real family catch-up then back to Sun City to re-cap on our 9 day long adventure (over a few more reds and a water)

Wednesday was washing day and getting ready to move on. Gary and Linda resumed their grandchild minding duties and we discussed our adventures over a few more reds. Thursday was off to the airport to head to New Orleans.

Gary &  Linda – Thanks! Fabulous hospitality and we hope the cementing of an enduring international friendship upon which we hope we can build with a return visit. A real joy and priveledge to meet with daughters Gina and Tiffany and their respective husbands John and Matt and all of the gremlins, Reanna, Reilyn, Ember, Ryder and Avery.

Home is where the heart is and I guess this is it for G & L …….

Downtown Sun City Arizona USA and looking back from a great height.

(That’s PM in the back yard at the BBQ, most days have so far topped 100)

21 January 2017

Bin-a-long time

Yeah its been a while since a. I’ve had the time, b. I’ve had the inclination and c. I’ve had the need to write.

Here we are in downtown Moore Park Beach, some 6 or 7 months after the last post and boy, hasn’t there been some water under the proverbial bridge since.

Back in February (thats 2016) we were just on the edge of the north east coast of NSW in Newcastle visiting dear daughter after spending some weeks travelling down the coast after the week or so in Tamworth.

Robyn was with us still and got the word that 3 caravan parks in Bundaberg were up for tender for the management rights and as her then current contract on Lake Moogerah was coming to an end soon these might represent an opportunity to move on. Well…….. what can we do but head for Bundaberg to have a look , investigate the potential. So, early March we turn around and head back north. 3 fairly leisurely days later we pull into Elliott Heads Holiday Park just out of Bundy. Up for tender were Elliott Heads, Burnett Heads and Moore Park Beach Holiday Parks, 3 of 4 owned by Bundaberg Regional Council.

After several days of inspection and introspection it was decided that Elliott Heads and Moore Park Beach together presented the best prospect of replacement for Lake Moogerah and that Robyns family company “Total Park Management” would be well served to adopt the two. There was a possible glitch – it was known that the contract on Moogerah could be extended for another year but at the time of the tenders closing there was no real indicator of the intent. So, in order to simplify Robyns decision, Jude suggested that “perhaps we could help out” if it transpired that Moogerahs contract was indeed extended, thereby tying up the rest of Robyns management team. Well, within days of the tender going in to Bundaberg a verbal nod of acceptance of the tender was given. Almost simultaneously Scenic Rim Council decided to extend the Moogerah contract. Sooooo ….. long story short, we’re here “helping out”.

I keep telling myself it is only for 12 months and here we are 5 months in and I’m only now finding time to sit long enough to recount the tale – imagine if you can working up to 15 hour days, 7 days a week with no down time and you have some idea of our experience in the first few weeks. It has got easier – we’re now down to just 10 hour days 7 days a week, but there is some quiet time during the day for the moment. In another couple of weeks the Xmas influx begins – we’re booked out for the 2 or 3 weeks around Xmas and we’re full of dear little children! I have to confess ……we’re not looking forward to it!

This Holiday Park is 20 km out of Bundaberg just to the north-east. It is right on the water, has a beautiful beach and is in fact a very nice caravan park. It must have some appeal cos dozens of Mexicans come up here for the southern winters year after year after year, staying 2, 3, 4 months.. The park has 74 sites plus 16 permanents, so its not huge but it is busy all year round. We’re at about 40% capacity presently (end November) but will hit 100% soon, drop back after Xmas but by end May be back up to 100% for the next few months. Elliott Heads is bigger though so I’m glad we’re here and not there.

Anyway this is now. Before we got here we had a few other adventures. After assessing the parks in March we returned home slowly via Lightening Ridge. Booked in for two days, stayed four – fascinating place. There are lots of opal mining towns but none quite like Lightening Ridge and I might add we have since learned that we missed a lot of what it had to offer.

One of the ways it differs from other opal mining towns is in the fact that the miners and inhabitants don’t live underground – the soil is too damp. This leads to an abundance of above ground development (if one can technically refer to it as “development”) See……

There are nonetheless some interesting above ground constructions………..

 like the corrugated iron church built for a movie set, an emu built from volkswagens and the astronomers monument.

This is the one place where I can honestly say I was impressed by the calibre of the opal. I have never liked them as gemstones but some we saw here are stunning (and expensive – about $35K)

Chambers of the Black Hand was very possibly the highlight of LR. Started out with bored miner having opened his mine as a tourist attraction and whilst waiting for said tourists began carving words and pictures into the dampish clay/rock (with a butter knife). From there in I think about 1983 it has expanded somewhat…

and I have but scratched the surface.

The man himself with Jude….

whose name without looking it up I can’t remember.

Lightening Ridge is eclectic. I think of all of the opal mining towns we have now visited it is perhaps the most interesting and the one we’re most likely to go back to as we’ve since heard we missed a lot. Jus dunno when!

From LR we wended our way slowly back home. Had to be back in time to get Midget ready for National Challenge over Easter. Another fabulous spridgety get together but most of our dear readers were there so there’s not a lot of point waxing philosogood or whatphical about the merits of spritehood here. Suffice to say it was wonderful to catch up with old friends from around the country and Midgey made it through in one piece.

Then it was on to the tour of Gippsland and what can I say about the organisation. Dear Johns briefings were exemplerary maybe even a little verbose but was his timing good or what and weren’t the roads fantastic. Nicely done old mate! We had a fabulous time.

But, then it was back to reality. Packing everything up to leave home. UGH!.

So here we are some 7 months on, still here in Bundaberg. I guess the one saving grace is that we are now over the hump. But what a hump its been. More on that another time. If I don’t get this published today I never will. By the bye, this is now beeing fed to you via new computer. The old one finally recognised my inability to clone with it although I’m not sure this new one is any better.it keepsmtelling me my fingures are too big.

Whatever -bye now!

3 March 2016

Best intent

On our southward journey down the NSW north coast we dropped in to Port Macquarie to catch up with niece Debbie King and Graham. We got a bonus – Julieann, whom we had not seen in many, many years. Dinner with Deb and Graham at their new house, lunch out the next day and then a BBQ back at the Winnie on a third night. A real pleasure to catch up with the King girls again. I did take photos but had forgotten to replace the SD card in the camera and therefore no photos. Bugger! Tried to then catch up with Barry and Suzy Houghton in Forster only to find that they have moved up to Port Macquarie  and we were now long past there. Oh well, next time.We moved on and spent a bit of time in Newcastle whilst Lindy and I demolished her carport. This in preparation for a new fence to stop the dogs getting out and to ultimately facilitate renovations to the house. We also caught up for dinner with Darryl and Yvonne. Robyn, still with us at this point, finds a call to tender for management rights to a couple of caravan parks in Bundaberg. Got to see what the prospect is, so after a trip to the tip to deposit the remains of the carport we set off for Bundaberg. Its not that far, only a couple of days travel although we make it into 3 cos the roads once we get into QLD are shocking. In fairness we did probably go the back way but the roads were slow and Winnie didn’t like them much. Mind you it was still around 1100 km. Over the past few weeks 40 – 50 km would be a big day so 3-400 a day was a bit heavy.

Anyway, whilst in Newcastle, we had a bit of a look around primarily because the Queen Elizabeth II was in town ……

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she’s a big boat! Sailed at 5.30 and there were traffic jams cos of sight-seers. We didn’t stick around.

Separately, the views of Newcastle from the ANZAC walk are fantastic, as is the walk itself…….

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The last shot of the QE II is also taken from this viewpoint so you can see how encompassing the outlook is. The commemorative walk itself is beautifully done with rusty steel profiles with family names of all participants in WWI  & WWII from the area embossed thereon. The walkway itself is made of stainless steel and a synthetic floor.

Heading to Bundaberg was a bit of an opportunity to go back to a place we missed last time – Fraser Island. Jude previously was a bit hesitant due to the ferry ride but hardened up for this one and we made it there and back with no drama. Suzi had more drama though. Towards the end of our tour she developed a problem with the ESP leading to consistent brake lock-up. Had to complete the last 20 K or so in low ratio where ESP is disengaged automatically. Got back on the boat in pouring rain (which had threatened all day), re-engaged normal drive and the ESP problem seemed to go away. On the way back to the ferry we took a few wrong turns, got lost and then got bogged. The winch saved the day (although I have no photo evidence)….

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The largest sand island in the world, unbelievably tall and large trees, amazing stock of tourists, broken ships and clear,  fresh water lakes and streams and Jude survived one and half hours on the water. Fantastic four wheel drive opportunities too.

Anyway, completed a survey of Bundaberg caravan parks, separated from Robyn and now heading for Lightening Ridge.