Made our way back to the coast, via Banana (no big Banana?) and Gympie (to check out a possible house-sit), to Hervey Bay. Back on the coast the weather had mainly cleared and this was our last chance to swim without fear of stingers and crocs (well just about). The beach was lovely but there is definitely no surf from here on. I think it was actually calmer than Adelaide beaches but there were still flags up which seemed almost comical. Mike has been quite taken by Hervey Bay and was examining the real estate; he had taken an interest in it even before we started our travels. Hervey Bay seemed like an idyllic spot for yoga but despite my best efforts I was unable to find a class (hmm.. methinks an opportunity).
The esplanade had a fantastic bike and fitness track which Bryce and I rode a few times. The boys had a ball at the Whale Water Park and Mike was in heaven as the park had a car wash bay with a high pressure hose, even Bryce joined the ritual. Tom hit a milestone, after less than a week of practicing riding without training wheels, I was able to let go and he was riding by himself, albeit a little shaky. By the end of the day he told me to stop running next to him. Yay!! He was so proud of himself.
A short hike to explore the bunkers
Some of the best spots we have found are through word of mouth, just like this one! We pulled into the town of Miles for supplies and to stop for the night. With its 2 caravan parks wedged between the railway line and HWY it was far from inviting. As we got talking to the IGA manager he told us to drive out 20km to Possum Park. It was great! A quite park in the bush with over 20 ammunition bunks from WW2. Some had been converted into cabins, the first one was the owner's house and park office. The games room was literary like taking a step back in time while others were left open just to have a gander.
Our view every morning
Narrabri was our next stop, apparently known as the sportiest town in Australia because it has more sport clubs and ovals per head of population than anywhere else in Australia! Not that we actually saw much being played....?? We enjoyed a few nights at the showgrounds where we met a lovely family from the sunshine coast with boys the same age as ours (bonus), watched horses being trained in the mornings and amazing colourful sunsets in the evenings. We visited the “Compact Array of Radio Telescopes”; while the telescopes were impressive the centre was very tired and out-dated. So what we had thought may be a day event, disappointingly turned into an hour stop -Oh well!
Sunshine coast number plate...?
Something I have found quite interesting through NSW, due to their large population comes much larger towns and with this, heaps of fast food outlets. Where the west coast had a roadhouse; NSW has MACAS. The amount of signage for fast food outlets between the large outback towns and along the coast is amazing. The advertising telling you how many kms to the next KFC or Macas in the coming town, were enough for the Highways not to bother with theirs! And even I, who never touch the stuff, found myself thinking “a burger might be nice?!?” The evil power of advertising!
We travelled along the coast, first stop was gorgeous Port
Stephens and we camped in Fingal Bay for a few nights. It easy to see why this is a popular weekend getaway for those in Sydney. We swam at many of the beautiful beaches, ran through the huge sand dunes at Stockton Beach, I went to a great Yoga class and we ate ice-cream at the Nelson Bay marina as we watched the world go by.
Our next sea-side town was Nambucca Heads, it had the most incredible art along the break water, more beautiful beaches and great surf. It was here the weather came in and the forecast looked a bit dreary for the next week. So instead of getting wetter, we decided to change our route from following the coast to driving inland over the Great Dividing Range. With so much rain it was slow going and we passed a few landslides, but once on the other side the sun was shining. Yay!!
great flying fox
We left Canberra in the rain, driving on the main hwy, which was on the only road open due to flooding, as we neared Sydney the rain finally relented. We stayed with friends George and Sue and their sons (now young men) Ben and Steven. It was wonderful to see you guys and thanks heaps for making us feel so welcome in your home. Ben and Steven were so patient and happy to give their time to the boys, it was wonderful to watch. Steven’s pet Python, Sparky, was beautiful and a huge hit, for Bryce and I. After a week of handling Sparky he had virtually stopped biting!! After 2 months of working with and handling snakes in Darwin and only now I get my first snake bite! The girls back at Croc Cove would be so proud! Bryce was bitten as well but disappointed that there was no blood! That’s my boy!
We managed a day trip out to the Blue Mountains just before the flood water rose and the roads were blocked off again! And Tom finally lost one of his two front teeth, but was a bit shy to show anyone for a few days. The other one is very wobbly.
We stay and caught up with my cousin Amanda, her hubby Peter and their son Lachlan; it had been years since we had last seen them. We enjoyed a few nights chatting over dinner and many wines together. Lachlan had a morning off of school allowing the boy’s time to play together before they flew to Adelaide for the weekend. We stayed in their home and were able to make the most of being so close to the city. Thanks so much guys it was great to see you.
After living in Sydney for a few years it was a very nostalgic coming back 10 years later, it still felt like I had come home as we sat in Milson Point and looked over the harbor. We wondered the rocks and climb the Harbor Bridge Pylon which had an incredible view over this amazingly beautiful harbor and city. Mike enjoyed reminiscing to, but we lost track of time and got caught in peak hour trying to get back over the bridge!! After 30minutes of not moving more than a car length his blood pressure was at boiling point and he said “now I remember why we left this F@**ing place.” And that was the short version!! After a bit of reasoning we turned around and ended up in Double Bay where we stopped for pizza at an Italian café, it was extremely expensive and I remember why we only came out this way for very special occasions, I think this was one of those occasions.
The ferry rides around the harbor and out to manly for a swim were a highlight and Taronga Zoo's bird show was a very entertaining, check out the pics.
We caught up for BBQ lunch in Cronulla with old friends, Bridget and Greg, and their gorgeous little girl, Evie. Bridget (a fellow yoga teacher) and I did a yoga class together which I loved. Bridget and her teacher gave me some great adjustments and pointers on the one pose I seem to dread shoulder stand. Thanks Bridge
one very happy 10yr old
We finished Sydney with a bang, celebrating Bryce's 10th Birthday
and another package from Grandma and the family full of surprises. He received just what he wished for, one to be in Sydney and two for Grandmas cake which he decorated it himself. It was extra special to be among friends to share the occasion and Tom got extra birthday wishes. What a wonderful way to finish our time in Sydney.
click on pics below for slide show
Left the coast and headed to our nation’s capital to visit our travel mate Margie. With rain forecast over the whole east coast of Australia it was quite fortuitous to be in Canberra visiting museums and parliament house. We camped out the front of Margie’s house for a week and had a great catch up with her; the boys loved playing with her gorgeous dogs Jack and Bundy (some favourite drinks from younger days in Bredbo!). We were in Canberra at the time of Julia Gillard’s leadership challenge and it made for quite interesting discussions, explaining to the boys about the world of politics. It was very interesting to listen to ourselves and how cynical we are of our government and polies. We went to see question time and the boys got to see them in all their glory!!
The war museum was truly amazing and with heaps of interactive stuff for kids and adults it was easy to get lost in there for the day and still not see everything.
Tommy's 8th Birthday was on Saturday and he was lucky to receive many Birthday phone calls. He particularly enjoyed the Happy Birthday sung to him on Skype by his Auntie's and cousin Amy, they had a candle and cake that she blew out for him. He had received a package a few days earlier from Grandma full of goodies including cake and was quite insistent that it wasn't to be cut till his Birthday. We had a Birthday breakfast and went toy shopping and he spent some of his Birthday money on Lego and Mighty Beans.
Thanks heaps Margie we will see you in Adelaide! Pet friendly accommodation.