Posted by: glenswatman | April 11, 2007

200007 England Sri Lanka Australia-Qld

Saturday 1 July 2000  Leave at noon but get sleepy and pull into the motorway services for a nap.  The car park is heaving and now only available for very short stays so we cat nap.  Arrive in Stafford to visit fellow motorhome travellers John, Shirley and daughter Daniella.  We last met in Western Australia last year after they had driven their motorhome from Stafford to Bombay then shipped it to Perth.  After seeing us they continued round Australia to Melbourne so they have lots to tell us. 
Sunday 2 July  Leave to meet Kevin & Sandra for a meal at the Swan at Forton.  Arrive at 12.30pm but learn there’s no table available until 3.30pm.  Back to the Red Lion at Sutton for a 3 course lunch and more catching up news.  Return to Mums where I appreciate John & David’s efforts setting up my new/old computer kindly donated by Rod.  The weather has deteriorated to very heavy rain and even some hail stones.  Good preparation for the monsoon season in Sri Lanka!  Round to Netty & David’s for the lads to watch the football.
Monday 3 July  At Gailey we meet up with Judy & Stan in their motorhome.  They should now be travelling in Canada but sadly Stan had a mild stroke 2 days before they were due to go.  However they did have a 3 month trip to Central America earlier this year and fill us in on Nicaragua, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Honduras – more countries to add to our ever growing list.  They also give us lots of tips for Sri Lanka which they visited for 2 months last year.  In Newport we arrive early at Paul & Elaine’s just as Matthew is going out.  He looks different with shaven hair died ginger but we must look even more different as he doesn’t recognise us at all.  Paul & Elaine arrive back shortly after and following a quick change we go to Pete & Carol’s. Verity is just dragging herself out of a hangover but seems to brighten up when she sees us and becomes very chatty along with her boyfriend Richard.  Chef Pete does us proud again with roast vegetables, kebabs and pitta bread.  The use it or lose it saying is proved true when we do a general knowledge quiz.  Can’t believe how many of the questions I would have known the answer to a few years back but just can’t dig them out now.  Pete pops out to collect Rob and we all crib which leaves him puzzled by our new found intellect for about 30 seconds until he twigs.  End with a Pete & Paul head to head which is won by Paul and now logged in the annals of time!
Tuesday 4 July  Leave Paul & Elaine’s as they set off for work and we head back to Market Drayton.  It’s Nick’s sports day at school and we are standing in as cheerleaders.  He does well and comes third in the long jump but has problems in the skipping race.  The rope is short and he keeps getting tangled up and falling over it but cheerfully completes the course with us cheering him on.  Steve becomes Claire’s chauffeur for the day whilst I do some gardening.  Daniel and Natasha are used to us now and we have a laugh when Daniel comes back in the house announcing "Grandma your Granddad’s back now"!  Evening at Netty’s as a bit of a farewell do for us and a welcome to David’s Australian sister Nicole, daughter Leah and her husband Andrew whom we met last year in Adelaide. Other sisters Brenda and Anne-Marie are there and also Amy, Liam, Mum, John and Claire.  It’s a pleasant evening so we make the most of it by sitting outside.
                             Wednesday 5 July   Say our Good-byes at Mum’s then Claire’s and find it’s easier to leave this time as we                   know we will be back in 6 months and although we have had a lot of hassle many of the problems would still have been there in December if we hadn’t made a start. It’s also been great to catch up with everyone again and easier with a small car to get around in.  Our tentative plan is to arrive back in time for Natasha’s birthday on 15th December and stay at Mum’s whilst preparing Charlie.  Ideally we would then like to go up to Edinburgh for the New Year then head rapidly South towards Spain in search of sun.  Heading South on the M40 today the traffic is less congested and we reach London in 3 hours but then spend well over 1 hour covering about 15 miles to get to the Isle of Dogs where our Kiwi friends Barbara & Malcolm are renting a waterside apartment.  One roundabout is somewhat confusing having a centre piece made up of about 50 working traffic lights.  Soon find their place with the patio directly on the edge of the Thames making for interesting viewing of the water traffic.  Malcolm has taken the day off and is talked into being "Guido" for a whistle stop tour.  Pass on the bus as they will only accept correct change and we don’t want to blow 10.00.  (No pound symbol on this computer but conversions to pounds will still be in brackets).  Walk through the docklands to catch the Docklands Light Railway with an all day 2 sector bus and train ticket costing 3.90.  At Greenwich we look at the Cutty Sark before climbing the hill to stand on the Meridian Line at the Observatory.  Great views including our first sighting of the Millennium dome.  Back down to the river where a sightseeing boat is just leaving.  Normally 5.00 to go to the embankment I cheekily ask about a discount and get it for the 3.50 OAP rate – now is that a bit of an insult? Off along the river with a commentary pointing out the sights and giving historical information.  The Millennium footbridge is closed as it was found unstable but the wheel is operating with 25 people in each pod and a time of 45 minutes to turn a full circle.  Back on the tube to Canary Wharf and into a pub to wait for Barbara to finish work.  Meal at Browns where we pick up a holiday feel in the area with people milling around the waters edge.  Bus back to Malcolm & Barbara’s where Steve completes his unwinding, chilling out evening with even more wine.  He ends up alone outside on the patio nodding his head like a dog!
Thursday 6 July   Barbara leaves for work whilst Malcolm spends the morning with us as he doesn’t start until 2.00pm.  A very slow journey out to Heathrow where by luck the Alamo manager serves us, apologises for the rental problem and refunds the extra we were charged – must remember to contact our booking agents who have also agreed to refund the overcharge!  Terminal 4 is very busy, very big and full of shops.  Reckon you could now turn up at the airport with just a credit card and then buy everything you need.  Our flight to Colombo leaves on time at 1450 and I manage to fall asleep during each of the four movies.
Friday 7 July  Land in SRI LANKA at Bandaranaike International Airport near Colombo at 6.15 am (5 hours ahead of BST) with the temperature in the high 20C’s and humid.  The currency is the Sri Lanka Rupee and we get Rs116 to the pound.  Many prices are subject to 10% service and/or 12.5% tax so we find the easiest thing is to think of rupee as pence giving us 100 to the pound.  Taxi North up the coast to Negombo Rs500 (5.00). The roads are heaving with buses, cars, auto rickshaws, bikes, bullocks, people and dogs.  Had forgotten the driving system in this part of the world where you weave your way ahead with horn blasting.  If a head on collision is imminent everyone just stops and shuffles into place with no sign of road rage at all.  Judy & Stan recommended the Hotel Silver Sands on the beach.  Too tired to haggle we take the best double room available, a large one with en suite bathroom, mosquito nets, fan, balcony and sea view at Rs770 (7.00).  By 7.00am we are blotto.  I wake at 11.00am and walk along the beach to a shop to buy bottled water.  Return then both wake up properly at 2.30pm.  Stroll along the beach backed by accommodation ranging from shacks to hotels with swimming pools.  Fit in a couple of hours sunbathing before hitting the streets again.  Take a long walk along the street passing some big impressive churches and temples decorated with colourful figures in amongst dozens of roadside stalls selling a wide variety of goods.  A couple of km further on we reach the bustling main centre and get directions to Coronation Unisex hair salon again recommended by Judy.  Rs150 (1.50) for a good cut, blow dry and head massage for myself.  Feeling weary we commandeer a rickshaw  Rs100 (1.00) back.  In the hotel restaurant which overlooks the beach we both order the Sri Lankan curry, Steve with prawns and mine with chicken at Rs115 (1.15) at time.  Receive a huge plate of rice, individual bowls of prawn and chicken curry and 5 other bowls of assorted curried vegetables and sauces to share plus popodoms. Delicious and we can’t believe the price also includes fruit afterwards. It’s been a cloudy, hot and slightly humid day but with no sign of rain.  We chat to the hotel tour organiser and put together a deal. Our own air conditioned mini bus with driver to take us into the Hill Country for 2 days, our last nights accommodation at the Silver Sands Hotel plus a taxi back to the airport all for 50.00 pounds.  A little frustrating as public transport is very cheap here but we have too little time and too much heavy and valuable baggage to do it that way.
Saturday 8 July   A painful 6.30am wake up call has us ready when driver Basil arrives at 7.00am.  Off on a badly surfaced road towards Kandy with our first stop at Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage Rs150 (1.50).  At 9.15am we see the baby elephants bottle fed before the 10.00am procession down to the river to bathe.  Despite paying the admission fee one of the workers tries to charge Rs100 (1.00) for having your photo taken stroking an elephant – typical.  Basil suggests we visit a spice garden and takes us to Luckyland Spice Gardens, Dompitiya, Hingula.  Detect a trace of manipulation but we enjoy the guided tour with explanations on the medicinal properties of the herbs and spices, complimentary drinks plus a massage for each of us. Naturally this is followed by a visit to the shop where the goods have no price tags.  The medicines are very expensive so we settle for some cocoa powder and red banana essence at Rs350 (3.50) which should make a nice drink. Basil drops us for an hour and a half at the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens Rs150 (1.50).  There’s a most impressive giant Javan fig tree on the great lawn which sprawls out over 1600 sq. metres like a giant octopus.  As it starts to drizzle we retire to the Royal Gardens Cafeteria for a bite to eat.  Notice police road blocks at the entrance and exit of all the towns reminding us of the ongoing problems with the Tamils.  In Kandy we need to draw money from an ATM. but a man tells us the machine we are at won’t take foreign mastercards but he offers to escort us to H.S.B.C.- 100m down the road.  After weaving through alleyways and racing down streets after him I am starting to get concerned.  We must have covered nearer 1000m and driver Basil has no idea where we are.  Just about to throw the towel in when the bank comes into sight and kindly allows us to make a withdrawal.  Of course our guide then expects a handout and is cheeky enough to suggest enough money for a large rather than a small beer!  Although we had asked to chose our own accommodation in Kandy Basil insists he shows us a place he knows.  Blink Bonnie is on the hill with a wonderful view over the town and lake but a price tag higher than we were expecting.  Manage to haggle the price down from Rs800 (8.00) for room only to Rs700 (7.00) B&B which of course includes "free" accommodation for Basil!  (Reckon he had been out here whilst we were at the gardens and primed the owner).  After a snooze we go down by the lakeside for an evening performance of Kandyn Dancers and Drummers Rs250 (2.50).  The dancing and costumes are very familiar to us but we do cringe at the men walking on burning and flaming coals as a grand finale.  It’s a cooler evening which makes for a very pleasant walk along the lake side to The Temple of the Tooth (Dalada Maligawa), Rs100 (1.00) each plus Rs50 (50p) for the camera. In 1998 a bomb was set off here so now security is tight with 2 search areas on the way in.  Enter through an arched room with frescoes and pretty fairy lights embedded in the ceiling.  Join a queue to file past the casket containing the Buddha’s tooth (snatched from the flames of his funeral pyre in 543 BC) before exploring the rest of the temple.  Round of the day with a meal at the hotel followed by a taste of the local spirit Arrack.
Sunday 9 July   Heavy rain in the night but fine by the time we get up at 6.30am for our 7.00am breakfast.  On the road at 7.30am heading NE to Sigiriya.  Sri Lanka has many UNESCO areas and the rock fortress here is one of them.  A pass to get you into most of the cultural triangle attractions over a 2 month period costs US$32 but a one off ticket is US$15 (10.00).  We have already noticed that locals normally pay a lower admission fee which is about 10% of the tourist rate but this time the gap is wider with them only having to pay Rs10 (10p).  It does seem worth the money as we first stroll through the 473AD water gardens to reach the boulder gardens with lots of caves and rock thrones.  We start to ascend the rock which rises sheer out of the jungle.  Hundreds of steps and part way up the rock a modern spiral stairway leads up from the main route to a long sheltered gallery in the sheer rock face. Painted in this niche are a series of 5th century frescoes of the Sigiriya Damsels. Further up is the Lions Platform where archaeologists uncovered the paws remaining from a gigantic brick lion statue where you would once have climbed up through it’s mouth.  Without the modern steps access to the rock would have been extremely difficult with small foot holes hewn into the sheer sides.  Completing the last part of the climb in a fierce wind we reach the top with superb panoramic views.  Parts of the palace remain with a huge pool hewn out of the solid rock and a large throne.  Great place and well worth the climb and the money as you can see how much work was needed to make it accessible.  Lunch on the way to Dambulla where we stop to climb to the cave temples 300Rs (3.00).  At the bottom of the hill they are just completing building the largest Buddha in the world but we believe plans are already in the pipeline for an even bigger one to be built in India.  Puff and pant our way up the rock with the sun beating down on us and monkeys skipping past.  There are 5 caves with very extensive frescoes in good condition, dozens of sitting Buddhas and a number of big reclining Buddhas and other statues.  Again magnificent views and a great spot to visit.  Manage a little sleep on the 3 hour return journey between the horn hooting, the brakes being slammed on and the car bumping and swerving along the road.  Arrive back at 4.30pm to snatch an hour on the beach and a dip in the warm sea.  I retire to the room when a snake man arrives and plonks himself down in front of us, pipes his cobra out of a basket and fishes and enormous anaconda out of a sack – stuff that.  Another good meal at the hotel before an early night.
Monday 10 July  1.30am wake up call for the 2.00am taxi.  There’s almost no traffic around and we make it through the Police checks and to the airport in 20 minutes.  Delayed just a few minutes waiting for a connecting flight but a tail wind pushes us along. We have the front seats in a centre block with heaps of leg room and a chance for me to rest my feet up against the wall.  Manage quite a lot of sleep before we land a little early in Sydney AUSTRALIA at 7.30pm, 9 hours ahead of BST.  A smooth connection for our 9.15pm flight to Brisbane which lands at 10.40pm.  Ken & Kay have kindly offered to meet us and we make it back to their house in Mooloolaba just before midnight.       
Tuesday 11 July  A beautiful hot sunny day with not a cloud in the sky.  Whilst Ken plays bowls Kay & I go to the shops and Steve goes back to bed – what a waste!  After lunch they take us up to Keith & Diana’s near Tewantin where we left our van.  We have had mice which unfortunately took a liking to our red wine and nibbled into the bag of a 4 litre cask leaking the contents over the cupboard floor.  Luckily it is based with pink carpet covered in plastic but it still takes me awhile to wipe up then sweep out the droppings from almost all the other cupboards.  Set a trap before we all go out. It’s Folk music night at the Apollonian Hotel at Boreen Point and audience participation is invited.  One guy gets up to sing and play the guitar but has great  trouble co-ordinating both.  Meanwhile we have all been handing percussion instruments and feel like we are in a school band, what a laugh.  Return to find a mouse in the trap which pleases Ken & Kay also as they are sleeping in that area of our van.
Wednesday 12 July  Another glorious morning, winter here definitely seems better than summer in England.  Kay & Ken set off back home whilst Keith & Diana have packed up their camper trailer to head North with us.  Passing through Childers we are surprised to see that the burnt out Backpackers Hostel is right on the main road and has buildings butting against it on both sides.  Amazing that the fire didn’t spread further although we heard there was another fire in the same building only yesterday caused by some electrical sparks.  Opposite there are lots of flowers laid down at the spot where they are planning on building a memorial.  Lunch stop at Apple Tree Creek then it’s onward along cane field lined roads to Bundaberg famous for the rum and sugar production. Keith leads us right through the centre of town to point out the enormous "Whaling Wall" mural which reminds us of the one we saw at White Rock in Canada. Check onto nearby Bargara Beach Caravan Park $17.50 (7.50) night $93 (38.00) week for a powered site where Gerry & Anne are now living.  Last saw them in Perth in December so having introduced them to Keith & Diana we settle down in the sun with our G & T’s to chat.
Thursday 13 July  Follow Gerry & Anne for the half hour walk to Mon Repos beach where naturism is tolerated.  It’s a beautiful sandy beach and at certain times of year turtles nest here.  Stretch out to bask in the hot sun to be joined by Keith & Diana mid morning.  All get together in the evening with Steve cooking on the BBQ which came with the van.  We are joined by Vin and all end up in our van playing charades.
Friday 14 July  Another hot day and Ken & Kay have driven up to stay with us in our van so the nudie nine head to the beach.  Attempt another mass BBQ but there is a problem with a blocked jet and we end up cooking inside.  All get rather merry and end up playing ten pin bowling in Gerry’s annexe using the empty beer cans. 
Saturday 15 July  Keith & Diana leave to head North whilst the six of us hit the beach again.  Meal in our van followed by cards.
Sunday 16 July  Ken & Kay’s turn to depart today which just leaves the four of us to stake out the beach.  As they say "ain’t life a beach!".
Monday 17 July  Into Bundaberg with Gerry & Anne.  Bit of shopping at the Sugarland Mall then onto ten pin bowling.  $11 (4.50) gets you 2 hours of ten pin bowling and/or use of other activities.  Scores are Steve 156,171,154 Glen 96,152,99.  Gerry & Anne also get respectable scores and we even have time for 13 holes on the Looney Lunar Putt Putt which is luminous mini golf.  At "Across the waves" the evening buffet at $4.40 (1.80) is excellent in quality and value then we return to watch a new TV mini series "The Potato Factory" together whilst sipping port and trying to stay awake.
Tuesday 18 July  It’s hotter than ever down the beach and we make the most of it.  Back on the caravan park we see a lady feeding the rainbow lorakeets and we join in and have lots of them eating out of our hands.  Anne cooks us a lovely 3 course meal to round off the day.
Wednesday 19 July  Time to hit the road again feeling relaxed, refreshed and looking nicely tanned after our week at Bargara.  Call in to the Bundaberg Distillery for the $5.50 (2.30) one hour tour which finishes with a drink in the bar.  A 2 hour Internet session at the library brings us up to date with our mail then its out to Sharon Nature Park for an overnight free camp.  Close to the road but a lovely spot with picnic table, grassy area, toilets, water and free BBQ.  Don’t reckon much to the Gorge Walk which is through bush and comes out on the banks of the river but with nowhere to go.
Thursday 20 July   Call in to view the Mystery Craters but as we pull up to park we can see over the fence.  There’s a small area with red sandstone craters full of water and not much else so we drive on and save our money.  Jim & Liz live near Bororen and invite fellow naturists to stay on their property.  It’s a lovely spot with nice big gardens, a swimming pool and separate toilets, shower and accommodation for visitors.  They just ask for a donation towards the up keep which is fair enough.  Another cloudless sunny day perfect for relaxing.
Friday 21 July Jim takes us for a ride out starting with a visit to Lake Awoonga then dropping down to the coast to Boyne Island and finally Tannum Sands.  All nice spots but not worth returning to in the van.  Laze away the rest of the day.  Liz’s son Josh and grandson Hayden have arrived and we all get together for an evening BBQ.  They keep a few cattle on their property, a couple of dairy cows for the milk and the rest for meat.  A farm butcher slaughters and prepares the meat for them finding one cow lasts about a year.  They name them all and tonight we are dining on Fergus!
Saturday 22 July  A completely lazy day in the sun although I do manage to write 4 letters before breakfast.
Sunday 23 July  In Bororen we meet Gary and Leanne whom from last years cruise.  They live at Calliope but are in Bororen today for a pony show.  At the Hotel/Motel we enjoy the famous pie for lunch.  In the war trains full of soldiers stopped here and a man sold them pies from a tray.  They were such good pies (and still are) that they became known simply as Bororen Pies.  We head north to a rest area on the banks of the Calliope river.  It’s a lovely spot verified by number of other people camping here.  Gary and Leanne are joining us later for a BBQ.  Gary was supposed to be bringing fresh fish but instead arrives with 8 thick porterhouse steaks and a tray of lamb chops.  Leanne’s son Sheldon and his friend Mitchell cycle down from home to join us and what looked like too much food is soon demolished. 
Monday 24 July  We hear on the news of a helicopter ambulance crash just north of Rockhampton killing everyone.  As we approach Rockhampton we can see why as everywhere is shrouded in ominous low lying cloud combined with fog and cane burning smoke.  First stop is the Tropic of Capricorn tourist office which marks our transition from temperate climate into the tropics with a sculpture and signs.  After an Internet session at the library we notice a bag sale at the local charity shop.  Short on glasses and cutlery when there were 6 of us last night we call in.  For $5 (2.00) you can buy as much as you can stuff into a carrier bag and in addition to cutlery and glasses we get a dozen items of clothing, net curtains and some pillow cases to use as dusters – bargain.  Quick visit to the shops.  The cloud has burnt off and it’s a hot afternoon perfect for another naturist venue.  Trevor & Heather bought Savannah Park near Yeppoon a month ago and are busy turning into a naturist retreat.  We have difficulty up the tree lined drive and even more fun trying to find a level spot for the van.  I nearly have a fit when Steve drives at an angle up a slope as the van tilts heavily and the front wheel leaves the ground by about 6".  We make it to a level spot and a well earned beer for Steve.  A chap called Glen is working here and other visitors are Jenny & Tony who are caretakers of another club "Rosco" further down the coast.
Tuesday 25 July  The cold night and morning mist soon give way to a hot sunbathing day.  We all congregate on the terrace for happy hour which is extended when Trevor lights a fire and we bake some potatoes on it.
Wednesday 26 July  Continue on the scenic coastal loop which takes us first into the seaside town of Yeppoon where we start to notice a rattling on the van.  Examine outside and seeing nothing we continue clockwise following the coast with 13km of Queensland’s most beautiful beaches.  The noise becomes a clank and seems worse on bumps and bends.  Keep stopping and even try me jogging along beside the van but the noise can only be heard inside.  Remove the hub cab and examine everything possible when we stop for fuel at Emu Park.  Up to the lookout to see The Singing Ship sculpture designed as a monument to Captain Cook.  Sadly today there is no wind so the singing is off.  Proceed carefully back to Rockhampton where Steve drops me at the library planning to drive off and find a garage.  It seems to be "one of those days" as having booked the Internet session by phone, called and altered it to a later one because of our van problems I then find the library closed.  Attract someone’s attention and find the phone calls have been diverted to the other library which is where I must go.  Dash back and luckily find Steve where he dropped me off.  At the other library I hop on the computer whilst Steve goes to a garage.  It is just the "Roo Bars" which are lose and should have had more screws in when fitted recently.  Feel we may have loosened it a bit in our endeavour to find a spot at Savannah but the man says it was always insecure but still safe to drive.  Will speak to Mike back in Sydney.  After our planned early start it’s 2pm when we leave Rockhampton.  Want to put a few miles behind us today and target Carmila about 240 kms away as just possible before it gets dark at 5.30pm.  We hadn’t accounted for the Police road block where Steve is breathalysed and his licence inspected, 2 sets of road works, and a long stop at the Mobil station to pump in almost 200 litres of cheap fuel.  Just make it to a sea front spot at Carmila Beach where we notice it is now light until almost 6.00pm. It’s a hot evening and stays warm throughout the night.
Thursday 27 July  One of the first mornings for awhile where I haven’t needed the heating on.  At 6.45am when I get up it’s already 22C inside. Enjoy an early morning stroll along the beach.  Still not happy about the van noise we call at 3 more garages and get brakes, suspension and other things checked without finding a solution.  Our destination is Taylorwood Naturist Resort near Airlie Beach.  Linda makes us most welcome and even offers use of her car to save us moving the van.  It’s an adult couples only resort and we meet a number of other campers at the obligatory happy hour – Ollie & John from Mandurah, Elllie & Brownie from Mackay, Ell & Kevin from the Gold coast, Betty & Len from Sydney, Betty & John from Brisbane, Julie & Tyler from Canada plus Linda’s husband Rogin and her Mum Fran.   Fees are kept very low at $10 (4.00) night or $60 (24.00) a week per couple on a powered site on the understanding that you clean up after yourself to avoid extra staff wages.  There are hot showers, free use of a twin tub washing machine, swimming pool, pool table, free tea and coffee and a BBQ area.  Excellent value and to complete the picture there are lots of peacocks strutting round the grounds.
Friday 28 July  I almost feel guilty spending 2 hours putting 8 loads through the washing machine.  At least for this week we shouldn’t be creating  much more although it’s cloudy today and everyone’s lightly clothed.  No excuses left for me not to do a good clean up inside the van.
Late afternoon we take Linda’s car down to Airlie Beach to combine our need to use the phone and picking up Tony & Tracey who have been away on one of the Whitsunday Islands.  We visited Airlie Beach when we were here in 1994 but notice a big change as it has grown to accommodate the many backpackers who come here.
Saturday 29 July  It’s customary in Australia to celebrate Christmas in July and today is the day.  At $10 (4.00) you can join the Christmas party which includes lunch.  I help out by doing the decorations and make heaps of paper chains.  More people arrive, Wilma & Eric from Newcastle, and locals Godfrey & Kerrie, Rite & Han plus others whose names we can’t remember.  Dinner is at 1.30pm and comprises chicken, ham, gravy, stuffing, baked potato, roast pumpkin, garden salad and a bread roll washed down with bubbly, soft drink and orange juice. Funny poems are recited then Santa arrives wearing only the top half of the suit (can see where he would park a bike but not sure about a sleigh!).  We are all given presents having donated one male and one female gift to the value of $3 (1.20).  Christmas pudding is served with ice cream and custard followed up with chocolate bars. Quite a contrast to a British Christmas.
Sunday 30 July   Ell invites us to join her and John & Betty for a ride out.  Conway Beach makes for a nice walk and we take a couple of coconuts to smash and eat later.  Call at nearby Wilson Beach before returning to the club.  It’s sausage sizzle evening with everyone congregating to cook and eat together.  Steve and Tony are nominated to wash up and as the sink is very low everyone gets a laugh as Steve sits down on the job.  Intermittent rain from mid evening onwards.
Monday 31 July  An early rain shower precedes a cloudy day.  I tag along with Tracey & Tony to go to the shopping centre and bump into half of Taylorwood there.  Cards and games fill in the afternoon then we retire to watch more of the "Captain James Cook" which is of particular interest to us whilst travelling in this area.

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