Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Snowy Mountains and Beyond

From Canberra we made our way to the Snowy Mountains - but as it’s (supposedly) summer here there was no snow to be seen!  It was still a lot colder than other places we’ve been though and we had to invest in a blanket and get the fleeces out.  The campsite at Jindabyne - which had been recommended by people we met at Canberra - was fantastic.  It had a bath!!!!   And a sauna and Jacuzzi.   Total luxury.  There was also a games room where we played pool - Geoff has a bad shoulder so had real difficulty playing - but he still thrashed me.  Never mind - guess I have to let him win at some things coz he’s not winning on the fishing stakes.  (shurrup woman!)
Lake Eucumbene
We went on a tourist trail up to Lake Eucumbene way up in the mountains, round by Dalgety and the Snowy River and back to Jindabyne.   We also did a trip to Mount Kosciuszko….(pronounced Kozzyesko) … which is the highest point in Australia.  We did think about taking the chair lift and then doing the walk but the weather was really bad so we opted to drive instead.  (That’s our excuse and we’re sticking to it!!) Problem there was that we saw lots of very high mountains and weren’t 100% sure which was one was which!!  Apparently Judy, Murray and Kirsty went a few days after we’d left and they were able to climb it.  The whole place is beautiful - oh and because there’s no snow at the moment, so no skiing - guess what they do down the ski slopes instead …. ride mountain bikes!  Honestly - they must be totally off it!!  The whole place is geared for the snowy months - skiing, snow boarding etc which seems to clash with our ideas of Oz - and it has to be said that we were very glad there wasn’t any snow about while we were there.  
Mountian Biking down the Ski Slopes

Snowy River
From Jindabyne we travelled back to the coast (looking for some sun!) to Tathra where we stayed for a few nights.  The weather was still a bit cold and wet but guess that’s to be expected as we are now well south.  While we were there we met a lovely lady called Helen.  She’s in her 70’s and was caravanning on her own.  She has a farm just outside of Melbourne and has invited us to stay for a few nights, which we are planning on doing at the beginning of April, on our way to meet up with Geoff and Janelle at Healesville in the Yarra Valley in April.
Very Heavy Rain!
Geoff securing the awning to the car so the van doesn't blow away!

Perfect way to spend a rainy day!
 From Tathra to Eden - still further down the coast.  Eden is beautiful - but we had some awful weather while we were there.  Very heavy rain (300mm overnight) leading to floods - so much so that the camp site - in fact the whole of the town and coastal area - was without power for a day, roads were closed, most shops were closed and those that were open had no lighting.  We were in the neighbours good books when we got the generator out and were able to provide electricity for our 3 caravans!  Geoff and I have been fishing quite a bit - a local showed us his tactics for fishing from the wharf - and we caught about 20 Mackerel in the space of an hour or so.  Was really good fun!    
Visited a Local Village Fair

Geoff bonding with the Local Birds
After a few days in Eden we moved to Mallacoota which was just about as far away from Redcar as we can possibly get I think.
17,107kms…or 10,629 mls as the crow flies!  Had a good time there and yet again, met another lovely couple who have invited us to stay at their place near the Yarra Valley after our time with Geoff and Janelle at Easter.  

People have been so lovely!

We seem to have got into a routine of moving every 3-4 days at the moment - and Geoff and I have got quite good at packing up the van and getting organised.  We have our own jobs - Geoff tends to do the outside stuff - putting the legs up on the caravan, disconnecting water pipes etc, and I do the inside stuff - making sure everything’s secure for our travels, putting the pop top down, loading the chairs etc into the van.   Then we hook the car up to the van, check the lights and away we go.  Hmmmmm wonder how we’re going to cope when we’re back home - we’ll be wanting to move every week!!

Sunday, 13 March 2011


We left Sydney on the Tuesday morning thinking we would take a couple of days to get to Canberra, maybe a bit of free camping on the way.  However, the free campsites weren’t up to much with signs up saying “beware of the snakes” - hmmmm…enough to put us off staying there!  (We know they're about but we didn't fancy sharing a camp spot with them!)  So we phoned the campsite we were booked in for the Wednesday and arranged to go straight there.  We were meeting up with Judy (cousin from Cairns), Murray and their daughter Kirsty so it just meant we were there a night early.
Lake Burley Griffin
Canberra is the Capital of Australia and has it’s own State - the ACT - Australian Capital Territory.  Apparently when they were trying to decide where the capital city should be it was a toss up between Sydney and Melbourne - Canberra is in the middle so that’s where they put it!  It is an unusual city in that it was designed following an international competition in 1913, won by an American architect, Walter Burley Griffin.  His idea was to build the city in two halves divided by a lake and it‘s sort of built in expanding circles.  Building of the city was slow due to the two World Wars, however the old Parliament House was built in 1927 but it wasn’t until the early 1960’s that the river was damed and  lake was formed.

In 1988 a new, much larger, Parliament House was built on Capital Hill, it overlooks the old Parliament House and you can look down a long strip direct to the War Memorial and Museum.  It really is pretty impressive.
Anyway - we decided we would take the bus into the centre on the Wednesday morning - not a problem - the bus stop was just outside the camp site and we were soon in the centre (a bit of a different story coming back!)  We visited a small art gallery with paintings by Sydney Nolan … must say neither Geoff or me were very impressed - but then we’re not the ‘educated arty type’!

Because of the layout of the city it’s not the easiest of places to get about and walking from one attraction to another was not really possible.  Anyway, we had a wander around the centre; shops, lake, park etc before making our way back to the site for a cuppa with Judy and Co. On the Tuesday night we were invited along with Judy, Murray and Kirsty to have dinner with a cousin of Murray‘s.  How friendly and welcoming people have been!  We had a lovely time and again have met some wonderful people.  
The following morning Murray’s cousin, Janine and Brian, gave us a short tour to see the sites from the surrounding hills - however it was so foggy/rainy you couldn’t see anything!  What a shame.  But, we then went to the Imperial War Museum which was really moving - so much information and ‘stuff’ and a lovely Hall of Memory which homes the tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier and the Commemorative Courtyard where more than 102,000 names are engraved of those Australians who have died during wars since 1885.  The Pool of Reflection and the Eternal Flame.  We spent a couple of hours at this museum and it was well worth the visit.
Pool of Reflection
We then drove to Parliament House - an impressive building - which visitors are allowed to wander about.  Very modern, expensive, a lot of marble, and, in my humble opinion, not a patch on London’s Houses of Parliament!  (Sorry)
View from Parliament House down to Old Parliament House with War Memorial beyond
Parliament House
We had a lovely meal that evening with Judy, Murray and Kirsty before packing up the next morning to go our separate ways.  Judy and Murray to Bright in Victoria and us to Jindabyne in the Snowy Mountains.

So … Canberra … yes it’s the capital city of Australia - it was nice - but there’s really not a great deal we can say about it.  After the hustle and bustle of Sydney (and we’ve yet to experience Melbourne) I’m afraid we weren't too impressed.  
But then….we don’t have to be hey ….(Geoff) 

Anzac Parade

Friday, 11 March 2011


Well - what can we say?!!  Sydney was “Amazing”.  We stayed at a caravan park called  Lane Cove which as just outside the centre, though when you were there you wouldn’t know you were so close to the city apart from the sound of aeroplanes overhead. Lane Cove is a national park and it really felt like you were in the middle of the jungle at times with the sounds of the birds, possums, bats etc.  Lovely site.  Original plans were to stay for 4 nights but we soon changed that to 5!  
We arrived on the Thursday and had arranged to meet up with Eric and Margaret from Redcar who were staying with their daughter in Lilyfield, just outside Sydney centre, on the Friday.  A rather eventful journey to Lilyfield to meet up with Eric and Marg - toll roads - argggghhhhh!  Anyway - the sat nav got us there ok - and we went out for lunch with them.  Was lovely to see familiar faces from back home and to catch up on all the news.  We brought them back across to Lane Cove so they could see our ‘ouse (caravan) and where we were staying.  The journey back was awful - Geoff has gone grey overnight with the stress - and we’re still not sure how much we owe the toll companies.  (They’re not like England where you stop and pay your cash - you go through the tunnel or over the bridge then, if you don’t have a pre-paid tag, you have to phone up or go on-line to pay - problem being the toll roads are owned by different companies and we don’t have a clue which ones we went through … could be a fine coming up!)  Anyway we made it!  And taking Eric and Marg back we programmed the sat nav to avoid toll roads and you know what - it was a doddle!! 

Saturday we went into Sydney Centre.  We were able to get the train from Lane Cove direct into Sydney centre … hey - double-decker trains too!  One thing we have noticed in Oz is how their transport systems are so efficient.  We bought a pass for $20 each which allowed us to ride on as many trains, bus’s or boats as we pleased for the day.  So we made good use of them!  We took a boat trip over to Manly and had a wander around there - it was lovely- even though the weather wasn’t too fantastic.  
We looked around ‘The Rocks’ and the markets and the quayside.  
We’d arranged to meet up with a friend who we’d met in Lennox Head, Bill, and he took us across to The Gap to see the beautiful views from there.  
Must say though - eating out in Sydney is expensive … Geoff had a great laugh at me complaining about the cost of a salad $20 and not even any meat!  The day went so fast and we’d hardly seen any of Sydney, so we decided to stop until the Tuesday morning and spend Monday in the centre again - and arranged to meet up with Eric and Marg again.

Sunday we went to Hill Songs Church - which was fantastic.  Geoff felt it was very much stage managed - which I guess it is because it’s all filmed and recorded - but it was really good and the speaker was fantastic.

Monday - we got the train into Sydney Centre again and met up with Eric and Margaret.  As they’ve been to Sydney several times before they were able to take us around the touristy bits …
Sydney Opera House where Geoff did his Pavarotti thing on the steps! 

The Botanic Gardens where we did some tree hugging!  (and Eric and Marg rode some lions!!)

The Hyde Park Barracks Convict Museum - where Geoff tried out the shackles.  The convicts had it real tough - and many for stealing a loaf of bread or a hankerchieff!  We have decided that the Government got things totally wrong when they sent the convicts to Australia - they should have sent everyone else and left the baddies in England!

Lunch at the Sydney Art Gallery which was showing some of the Terracotta Warrior Display from China. 

And a farewell drink at the Quays before we waved goodbye to Eric and Margaret.  Was lovely spending time with them.  And a massive 10 out of 10 for Sydney - even Geoff who hadn’t particularly wanted to go to the Big City loved it!