A Travellerspoint blog

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Coolangatta

Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast and lots more.

Where we got off the coach it is New South Wales and just after nine. We were picked up by Jim and Maria crossed the river and it is Queensland and just after eight. The further north we go the earlier it gets dark. What I didn't expect was it getting light about four in the morning.

Jim and Maria live a short distance to the beach. Their home at one time was a beach cottage and they have built a wonderful new home on the property. You go up a short rise and turn in. On the ground floor is the granny flat and the garage. Enter the main level there is the laundry, washroom, living room dining area, tv room and a great open kitchen with a full bank of windows overlooking Kirra beach. The top floor is taken up by their roomy bedroom and ensuite and the guest room and ensuite. We are on the top with a view of the water. Their deck stretches along the front of the house. When they built the council controlled many issues such as height, design, and colours. Since then there is a proposal to build a 25 and 15 story unit in front of them which is not zoned for high rise. It is a very hurtful time as they come to terms with an uncertain future.

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We are enjoying a morning walk here followed by a swim in the crisp blue water. We have walked both directions digging our toes into the sand. I tend not to walk with Jim as my knee is playing up and and I can't walk that fast. I have headed out on my own a couple of times, using geocaches to take me to interesting sights such as the shipwreck of the Coolangatta, most likely the reason for the towns name. The 'Coolangatta' was trying to enter the Tweed River during a gale when it was driven ashore northward of the River. The captain and several of the crew were ashore at the time attempting to locate a water source. The 'Coolangatta' soon bilged and the crew members stripped the vessel of all removable gear. The crew then traveled overland to Amity Point where they were recovered by the steamer 'Tamar' and conveyed to Sydney

We drive down to Byron Bay. Captain James Cook named Cape Byron after John Byron, circumnavigator of the world and grandfather of the poet, Lord Byron.

One day we took out the bikes to ride up the Tweeds river. Maria sits bravely on the tandem bike with Jim. I had Maria's little bike with the seat raised up. A challenge for comfort and ease of peddling, but the good thing is the muscle above my knee that was causing the problem released and I can get around with ease. Roger took it for the last bit to give me a break and I got to ride a `bigger` bike.

We visited Maria's mom one morning. She is a sweet and bright 98 year old. No wonder Maria loves to spend time with her.

We drove into the Lammington Forrest to O'Riellys. There we did the treetop walk through the rain forest. This one was smaller that the Otway one, made of wood that creaks and groans as you walk. At one point you can climb a tower. A metal ladder with a cage around it in case you fall. It won't stop you, but it would make you land on the walkway rather than the Forrest floor. Here we saw two red bellied black snakes and one python. We saw bower bird, the bush turkeys that you see all over and other brightly coloured birds. We saw various little skinks and frogs everywhere. The road into this location twists and turns and for the most part is one lane only. It was quite the ride in and out.

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We explored the beach communities of the Gold Coast from Coolangatta to Surfers Paradise. A small town to the young peoples party central with lots of high rises and action. We prefer the quiet beaches by Jim and Maria.

We explore further up into the Sunshine Coast ending our day in Buderim at their son Rick's home. He, his wife Naomi, and children Nate and Eden have a lovely home on the hillside with a great view over the valley. Little Nate is in hot water! At four he has had a spate of biting people and has been banned from electronic devices and anything to do with super heroes. Eden is a sweet little girl. We connect over dinner at the Thai restaurant and I m honoured to be the adult who gets her to bed. She read me a story, I read her a chapter, then we said our prayers. Roger got to read to Nate, amusing everyone with his entertaining voices. Rick had caught a Cain toad in their pond, but it had escaped when he went to show us. We had a swim in their pool and chatted until it appeared people needed to sleep.

We set off in the morning to Noosa Heads. We walked a coast trail to Hells Gate where the water crashes into a small gorge. The ocean is calm today, so we can see a turtle below and we can enjoy the views, but the heat is rising.

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We take a swim back at the beach and watch the kids.... The Schoolies. Schoolies or schoolies week (also known as leavers' or leavers' week in Western Australia) refers to the Australian tradition of high-school graduates (also known as "schoolies" or "leavers") having week-long holidays following the end of their final exams in late November and early December.

"Toolies" or "Droolies" refers to older revelers who participate in Schoolies week but are not high-school graduates. "Foolies" or "pre-schoolies" refers to younger adolescents, who participate in Schoolies week but have not yet graduated from high school. Schoolies week is seen as a final party with schoolmates before they head their separate ways. There were two hoards that arrived while we were at the beach. They charge into the ocean fully dressed in their uniforms, shoes and all. They had a great time playing and yelling and just being exuberant. On the Gold Coast they prepare for the Schoolies by actually baricading parts of the beach off so only registered Schoolies with wrist bands can enter. They are trying to protect the kids from toolies....older kids coming to pray on the young girls who have had too much to drink.

From here we wander through the town, stop for a lamb and veggie pie, have some Copenhagen ice cream before walking down the river to catch a nap and explore more coastline. Then we head to the other side of the bay where their friend Cherrill and Bob are camped. We have a cuppa and a shower before heading to Nambour to catch the train.

It is very sad to say goodbye. They have been so good to us!

Posted by Mari Anne 19:17 Archived in Australia Tagged coast snake gold sunshine collangatta schoolies Comments (0)

Coffs Harbour

A great B&B and fine weather for wandering and exploring.

semi-overcast 19 °C

We picked up the local train in Newcastle and chummed up with Helen in Broadmeadow as we waited for our connection to Coffs Harbour. The economy seats are fine and so much quieter than the sleeper cars.

The countryside changes all the time. We have gone through some very dry area, cattle stations abound and for the last hour or so lots of smoke. We are not,sure where it is coming from. The landscape is green again with lots of bush. We should arrive in about an hour and are to be picked up by our B&B hosts, Geoff and Sue. We saw Wallabies, I guess it is like seeing deer around where we live.

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We are a little late arriving to Coffs Harbour but Geoff is waiting. We could have walked, but they like to make people welcome. The B&B is very close to the harbour. We have the garden room which has a bathtub and a little kitchen area. Yipeeeeee! We make a shopping trip to the IGA and enjoy a lasagna and salad. We head out to Muttonbird Island making our way to the top as the sun is setting. The mutton bird or shearwater nest here. We chat with a couple of people while we,wait for it to get dark so Roger can star gaze and then we begin to hear the cooing of the shearwater as they come back to nest.

Day two is sunny and warm and we enjoy our breakfast oh the deck. There are two other couple here, Steve and Miga, honeymooning from England and the other couple are just driving up the coast. Geoff and Sue are very gracious and we are soon on our way. Today we rent kayaks and head up the river. It is a restful paddle on a tidal river. A couple kayaking the other way call they saw a croc... they made me look before I realized they were kidding. After returning the kayak we do the riverwalk... There are some geocaches along the way and well as a botanical garden, and a pair sea eagles on their nest. To day is running by fast so we pick up a steak to BBQ on our hosts deck. We somehow missed part of the trail and ended up along a road, but soon found another way back to the river.

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Day three is hotter and the other couples have gone. With us now is Debbie and Pete from Mullumbimby celebrating 25 years of marriage. Today we explore the coast to the south, the jetty, and the pier before going to the far side of Mutton Bird Island to have our lunch. We see seals, but there are too many white caps to spot whales. We then head north up the coast walk. The wind is fierce, whipping the sand against our skin. We land a few more geocaches and end up on Diggers Viewpoint an excellent grassy knowledge out of the wind to enjoy the vista. The wind has calmed when we make our way back. It is late again when we get back so we just pick up a BBQ chicken.

The last day we pack our stuff and leave it at our hosts. This is the first day of sketchy weather, but it clears and and we manage to visit the local Sunday Market, we would have hung around longer but the duo singing are not all that good, so we head out to the Island to eat our lunch again before going to the beach to watch the surfers play in the surf. We head up to Beacon Hill Park for a beautiful sunny view of the coastline and a geocache. When we go back to the B&B for our stuff we are treated to a cup of tea and cookies. Then Geoff drops us at the train and we are on our next segment. Train to Casino and Coach to tweeds Head where Maria and Jim will pick us up. There is lots of rain on the train trip up, but clear when we got to Coolangatta.

Over the last while we have been watching some more Aussie movies. We have seen Castle, Picnic at Hanging Rock, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, and Proof with a very young Russell Crowe and Hugo Weaving.

Posted by Mari Anne 19:17 Archived in Australia Tagged harbour coast beach waves coffs Comments (0)

Newcastle, NSW

Train to Newcastle and three days to explore.

We board our train and settle in for the night watching another Aussie film, the Castle. Silly and funny. This car is very noisy and Roger had a hard time falling asleep. Arriving in Sydney we are able to get on the train to Broadmeadow that leaves right away rather than hang around for the one at 9:30 and we are on our way again.

We are off at Broadmeadow and back on another train to Newcastle. Newcastle is the second largest town in NSW! But it doesn't feel like it. We stop for fish and chips before heading down to our apartment. It is a newer development, fifth floor but not facing the ocean....still it is bright clean, central and has a washer and dryer!

We wend our way back along the waterfront and check out the fort, it's not open tomorrow so we'll save that for Wednesday. We wind our way down to the baths. The waves coming from the Tasman Sea are huge! Some of them breaking over the wall into the baths. Today is especially windy with a bite in the air. There are kids challenging the waves and other adults wandering out onto the rocks to take photos.

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Roger decides we have to have groceries...the store is somewhere to the south and west from where we are at the baths. We head off....but not knowing where we are going. we head to the highest point of land so Roger can get his bearings. It doesn't help as roads and house are set down willy nilly. I pull out my GPS, find the nearest geocache to the store and we make our way down to the Coles store. From there it is only 2 km home as the crow flies. However, you can't get there from here, as the train line runs through it. An hour later we make our way home and have a late supper. Our little walk became a four hour trek.

Day two includes a quick visit to the tourist info centre and then we caught the Famous Tram Tour around the city. It is only $15 and gave us some history. It is hard to imagine this is the second most populated city in NSW. The first European to explore the area was Lieutenant John Shortland in September 1797. His discovery of the area was largely accidental. He had been sent in search of a number of convicts who had seized the HMS Cumberland as she was sailing from Sydney Cove. His reports included info on the great amount of coal and this town was built to mine coal and gained the reputation as a hell hole where rough convicts were sent to do the mining. It still ships coal from here and coal prices are dropping causing unemployment....he said that Canada produces coal for half the price...the wages are huge here!

After lunch we take the ferry to Stockton. This area is very nice with more great beaches. Stockton and Newcastle are either side of the Hunter river. It is a huge area for Shipwrecks. They extended the breakwaters using the hulls of a number of wrecks. We can still see some of the wrecks although the largest one was blown up and the masts cut off by the council due to 'young boys' climbing on them.

There are a number of people here from Melbourne to get away from the Melbourne cup. The bars here are hopping. All the ladies are dressed up as are many of the men. The dress code seems to be short short dresses, tall, tall shoes and big fascinators.

Our last day started slowly - a bright sunny day. We arrived to bright skies and a cold strong wind, day two was partly sunny, less wind and warmer and day three was sunny and hot.

We walked to Fort Scratchley. There was a bus tour as we arrived and we declined to join the 22 seniors on the tour of the tunnels and said we would wait for the next one. We explored the grounds for an hour including our picnic lunch overlooking the harbour. The coal ships coming in are enormous. There was one photo of the harbour full of sailing ships in the 1800s. They said one super ship now holds more coal than all those ships together.

The breakwaters were also reinforced with rubble from the 1906 earthquake in San Fran. They would have gotten coal in exchange.

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We learned that the Japanese fired on Newcastle in the war...something like 34 bombs, but only a few exploded, they were made in England for the First World War. The sub hid in the harbour's only blind spot, thus enabling them to bomb freely.

We did the tunnel tour with our guide Bruce, a lady and her two kids, much better than 22 seniors. I've got nothing against seniors, but ...That was a lot of people for the space for the tour. The Fort was built for the Crimean war between England and Russia, but it was never used for that. It was used to keep ships from leaving the harbour without paying their port taxes and of course the only action for WWII.

Every time we turned around we had guides and the ticket staff talking to us, taking us to show us something we might have missed or unlocking a room most don't get to see. I guess it was a slow day. Thanks to Bruce, Ian, Al and David plus others. We walked down to the baths to soak our feet and slowly worked our way out the breakwater past Nobby's Beach and lighthouse.

It was fun to watch the school kids have their surfing lessons.

The beach is littered with blue jellyfish, they are different from the ones in Hawaii, but they say they are Portuguese man of war. In Australia and New Zealand, this jellyfish is known as the blue bottle, due to its colour and shape when strewn on a beach. Elsewhere in the world it is known as the "Portuguese Man o War" as it is said to look like a Portuguese battleship with a sail. We also did some geocaching… not sticking our hands in holes because of the spiders.

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From here we head towards home and tour Hunter street mall, looking for stamps. Nope, there has been a rate change and people don't have the correct ones and the post office is closed. We remember there is a place along the waterfront that has a Wednesday special of steak, fries and salad for $12. Roger ate his and part of mine, he is a happy man.

We have some wine to finish from the Hunter Valley. We did not tour there, we went to the discount place and purchased our wine there. Why not, it was cheap! Good bottles of wine from $5 and up. We did splurge on a really nice Verdelho for $17. Okay it is also because the tour company never got back to us about a tour.

We watched Ned Kelly an Irish folk hero in Australia. The details about him don't paint his as innocent as the film did.

Posted by Mari Anne 19:17 Archived in Australia Tagged birds water ocean fort train baths newcastle geocaching refuge scratchley shear Comments (0)

Melbourne

Three days of fun.

Our host Chung was waiting for us and made us some tea. I am sure he would have talked for hours. We learn he is from Hanoi and was a lawyer there. Now he is retired and they make a bit of spending money with letting out the rooms.

The place itself is very old. The Clement House, 1888 is engraved on the gable. We are on the top floor with very high ceilings. It is not fancy, but the price was right especially during the Melbourne Cup. We shall leave as the festivities start.

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Day one we wandered down through funky shops in an old part of the city to the beach where we wandered here and there towards the city. It is nice in the sun, but chilly in the shade. The winds blow fiercely here. We check out the pier where we will watch the penguins and a local quietly points into the rocks where one is peeking out.

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We pass Luna Park and it's wooden roller coaster, a lather tame affair. We wander past the Spirit of Tasmania which I had looked at as a travel option but then we would have had to cancel another part of the trip. We checked out the navigational lighthouses still used to gain entrance to the harbour. We get on a random tram towards the city and they guess as to where we get off only to find we have chosen the right stop, cross the tracks and catch our tram back to St. Kildas. Tired we opt for a walk with a stop for Souvlaki. We pop into the Anglican Church. It is the All Saints Day Service. It is a lovely old building, less than friendly parishioners, and a dead boring sermon....we popped out again. Here's to a 12 hour sleep.

Day two we rent bikes and ride away from the city. They have awesome bike trails down the never ending coast. We pass doggy beaches, sandy beaches, rough beaches and marinas. We walked sometimes and rode others, napped, ate our lunch and did some geocaching.

Friday was lovely and quiet, even Saturday morning was quiet, but Saturday afternoon as we headed back along the beach on our bikes the area exploded with people. There were people on the beaches, in the pubs, overflowed the cafés and lined the streets. The party started and was still going on at ten when we headed home. This is Derby Day part of The Melbourne Cup.

A little penguin colony established itself on the St.Kilda Breakwater in the 1970's. We sat at the wharf an hour before sunset and struck up a conversation with three girls from a hostel. One from Ireland, the most chatty, one from Hong Kong and one from Germany who got cold and left. We staked our spot along the edge as more people arrived including the Penguin Guides, there to protect them from us. The guide was very informative before and during the penguin parade. If I were to go again, I would come later as many leave quickly, and bring a flashlight covered in red cellophane. We were lucky to be right where the first penguins came ashore.

The guides have called them the Hollywood Penguins because they like to parade around for the viewers. They are fatter than the commercial penguin site at Phillips Island because these ones have no predators. Their main issues are fishing line and garbage. They swim to the shore pop out and wander a bit before heading under the boardwalk into the rocks. After a time they come out onto the rocks to preen. We are so glad we went.

The last day is a city day. After we dump our bags at Southern Cross we go to Flinders info Center. What a great set up. We get a map for the lane walk, which takes us across town and back through less traveled, but very unique lanes. Some are historic, some wall to wall with dining, some are chic shopping spots. We finally hop on the free circle tram and head to the Melbourne Museum to see the new James Bond Exhibit. It is pretty cool with story boards, Bond gadgets, models on vehicles, actual vehicles, dresses worn by the femme fatales, different costumes worn by the different Bonds, scripts, stuff about Ian Flemming and more. There is just time to wander a bit in the regular museum. We take the tram the rest of the way around the city before heading to Southern Cross Station.

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Posted by Mari Anne 19:17 Archived in Australia Tagged melbourne beach st. bike penguins kilda Comments (0)

The Great Ocean Road

Tour with Garry and the Longhorn Unique Tours

overcast 21 °C

Garry meets us we come off the train and we learn our tour for up to six people is a private tour. Can I say yippee!

How do I describe the next two days? Well amazing, exciting, wonderful, jaw dropping, you get the picture?

We make numerous stoops along the Great Ocean road, some by ourselves off the beaton path and some just before or after a bus tour and a couple with a bus tour, but we have a personal story teller with us, we have someone who cares about the environment, some one who loves the history of the area, someone who has spent hours planning these trips to be something special.

So besides the shipwrecks and the aggressive seas and rugged coast line we also detour to find some koalas and learn lots about their habits and challenges in a changing world. We visit a flock of King and Rosella parrots, who recognize Garry's truck and fly up to meet us landing on our heads and shoulders for some seeds.

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We explore the Otway lighthouse marveling at its amazing construction. We visited the tree top walk and learn more about the creatures and plants that grow at the different levels.

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We hike down a logging area to visit Triplet Falls, we drive, through Beech Forest where we see not one or two, but four black tailed wallabies. They are shier than kangaroos and live in the bush instead of the open areas. They are also found independently rather than groups. We visit and Aboriginal Center and spend a long time chatting to Ben about their history and the world. We see the Apostles, we see London Bridge, we see the Gorge, we see more as we drive just a bit further to see the limestone stacks at Bay of Martyrs.

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Lunch day one was steak for Roger and lamb for me in a funky bistro, tea had been earlier with home made muffins. The next day lunch was at a ridge top cafe with great organic home cooked meals. I had the chicken curry and Roger hadgoulash pot pie. We had overnight end at a swank B & B in Apollo Bay. It was a little chilly that night so no enjoying a sit on our deck, otherwise it was perfect. At the end of our second 12 hour day, Garry dropped us off at our B & B in St. Kildare in Melbourne

Posted by Mari Anne 19:17 Archived in Australia Tagged otway london koala ocean walk bridge great bay road lighthouse apollo treetop Comments (0)

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