Posted by: glenswatman | April 11, 2007

200009 Australia-Qld NSW

Thursday 31 August  Got carried away with my opportunity of computer access and completed the August diary a day too soon – further confirmation that I have lost it!  Move on to Sea World which is located on the Spit slightly north of Surfers Paradise.  Near it the worlds first Versace hotel Palazzo Versace is nearing completion but just a touch out of our price range. Everything inside the hotel is Versace down to the $600 (240.00) tea cups.  Parked up and raring to go when the gates open at 9.30am we notice it is already much busier than the other three parks with lots of school children on educational visits.  Great animal shows, good rides, fun shows and also a water park area must make this the best all round park.  Start with a monorail tour around the park and then the first dolphin show of the day which is great.  The seal show is also excellent as we never knew seals were so clever.  Other highlights are the Pirates 3D show where "things" happen to the audience and the Bermuda Triangle ride into a volcano which erupts to blast you out.  Leave heading off down the gold coast proper backed by dozens of high rise hotels and apartments.  Motel rooms seem cheap with rooms as low as $20 (8.00).  The beach is a fabulous stretch of pure white sand as far as the eye can see with breakers rolling along the length of it hence a stretch being named Surfers Paradise.  We free camped with Lisa & Frank last year in Broome and now visit them at home in Burleigh Waters where their house backs onto Swan Lake.  Lisa cooks a meal whilst we chat about travel and then Lisa & I about computers and Frank & Steve about the stock market so we have a lot in common. 
BURLEIGH WATERS
Friday 1 September  Back up to Sea World to do the rides we missed yesterday and to repeat some of the shows.  It’s the first day of spring in Australia and the temperatures have jumped from the low 20’s to a predicted 26C today.  After lunch it’s hot enough for us to enjoy a spell in the water park checking out all the rides.  Return to overnight at Josh & Noriko’s on Hope Island.
HOPE ISLAND RESORT
Saturday 2 September  A very windy morning for our return to Dreamworld causing many rides to be closed and others closed when power cables are severed by the wind.  12.00pm and we still haven’t got on a ride so take a refund of $10 (4.00) each and call it a day.  3.00pm and Ken & Kay meet us on the car park ready for our evening at Draculas theatre restaurant $57 (23.00).  Park at Broadbeach on Jupiter’s casino car park then Kay & I pop to Pacific Fair shopping mall and return an hour later having both had make overs done.  Walk to Draculas for the 6.00pm start and to be greeted by a ghoulish creature who leads us into the library which turns out to be a lift.  Emerge into the bar with more staff in costumes and corpses embedded in the floor in glass coffins amongst other spooky decorations.  Buy a round of drinks (expensive) then proceed downstairs to board the ghost train with a real person who jumps out at us.  The restaurant is also superbly decked out as are the waiters, ours is called Crypt and looks suitably gruesome.  We sit on long benches and don’t know which way to look as things on the wall move and the waiters keep doing strange things and this is all before the show starts.  The stage show is definitely aimed at adults and extremely funny.  The meal is also spot on and a good time is most certainly had by all.  Emerge at 11.00pm to walk around to the casino for a couple of hours.
GOLD COAST CASINO
Sunday 3 September  Breakfast in the van parked behind the beach and then to Lee & Mita’s at Palm Beach to leave the van whilst we go out for the day with Ken & Kay in the car.  The British and Australian rowing teams are training at the Hinze Dam but we just miss their early morning practice.  In Springbrook National Park it’s a pleasant walk through the forest to the Natural Arch where water pours through the roof of a cave.  Picnic on the banks of the Tweed River in Murwillumbah before returning via the twin towns of Tweed Heads and Coolangatta.  The Queensland/NSW border runs through them so it’s a great place to be on New Years eve to enjoy it twice.   Ken & Kay drop us off to visit other friends tonight.  Lee & Mita organise a bit of a party for us and also invite Pat & Dale who we met with them on tour last year.
PALM BEACH
Monday 4 September   Cross into NEW SOUTH WALES – clocks forward 1 hour for daylight saving time (10 hours ahead of  BST). Take the coast roads where possible but only get glimpses of the lovely sandy coast.  Notice the most expensive diesel so far at $1.06 (42p) following another price increase.  That’s more than 25% more than when we arrived in June. Byron Bay is a busy place with lots of ferals (hippies), wax heads (surfies) and back packers.  Enjoy a circular walk out to the lighthouse and then the eastern most point of mainland Australia.  Follow the coast road to Ballina then inland to Grafton to visit Barry & May for the night.
GRAFTON
Tuesday 5 September   Stop on the northern outskirts of Coffs Harbour to visit Little Diggers Beach.  It’s a lovely day and worth the scramble over the rocks to reach the secluded beach.  Tear ourselves away to continue to Sawtell to visit Don & Dorothy who take us for a drive around the area pointing out everything of interest and suggest we go with them tomorrow to their holiday shack at Hat Head.
SAWTELL
Wednesday 6 September  Don has heard on the radio that the New Endeavour ship is going into South West Rocks this morning so we make an early start.  Park at their shack and then drive up to Trial Bay in the car.  It’s a fabulous spot with lots of fine beaches and the old Trial Bay Goal on the hillside.  Spot the ship in the distance but still have time for a run out to Smoky Cape lighthouse.  An aboriginal elder sets up a fire on the beach in preparation for a traditional greeting of the ships captain.  The crew come ashore in motorised dinghies but the captain is rowed ashore traditional style.  Speeches and exchanging of gifts occur and then the captain offers people over 14 the chance to look around the ship.  We’re at the front of the queue as we thought we would have to wait until Sydney and then pay $17 (6.80) to look round.  It’s quite difficult climbing on board as the side of the ship is bowed and you only have two ropes to haul yourself up the steps with.  The ship has a small regular crew supplemented by people who pay $900 (360.00) for the privilege of working their passage for 6 days!  18 miles of rope are used and it’s easy to see where.  Below deck is cramped with crawling space only in parts as we are given a glimpse of how things were.  It’s amazing that a ship so small ventured so far and we increase our awe of Captain Cook.  Back on land a sausage sizzle has been put on free of charge by the Lions club so that’s lunch taken care of.  Back to Hat Head for a walk around the hill itself with superb views and opportunity to spot some of the many whales off shore.
HAT HEAD 
Thursday 7 September  Press on towards Sydney taking the tourist drive coastal detours where possible but find them disappointing as you can’t see the ocean.  Pull into the little fishing village of Nerong to overnight in a cul de sac.
NERONG
Friday 8 September   Leave early then pull into "The Rock" rest area for breakfast.  The scale model of the rock has shops and a cafe inside but looks very neglected and past it’s best before date.  Rosco Club near Toronto is our destination and we soon find Jenny & Tony on the grounds. A busy day giving the van a thorough clean before we head into Sydney on Sunday.  Nancy & Steve stay here in a converted double decker London bus and along with another Steve and Jenny & Tony we gather round the fire for an evening BBQ.
ROSCO CLUB
Saturday 9 September  Dull morning but sun in the afternoon.  Everyone gathers in the sauna early evening which involves cooling off with a dip in the pool.  We soon warm up afterwards as everyone gathers round the big bonfire by the club house for BBQ time.
ROSCO CLUB 2
Sunday 10 September  Away at 10.00am to get back to Sydney before the city people return this afternoon.  Stop for a drink and to psyche ourselves up for the traffic.  No problems until we get to Hornsby where the narrow road lanes kick in.  We believe they used to be 2 lane roads but they have made them into 3 leaving little space.  In a wide motorhome give me Istanbul or Athens any day.  Opt to drive right over the Harbour Bridge $2.20 (88p) and sneak glimpses above where we will be climbing later in the week – good job it is all booked and paid for.  We also get our first view of the Opera House.  Having chosen to drive over the main part of the bridge we are forced from our chosen route and end up driving right through the centre of Sydney causing a few heated exchanges.  End up at the airport (in fact nearly in the airport) before picking up our planned route and arriving safely in Sutherland around 2.00pm.  Just catch Mike as he is going out to work as both he and Toni are voluntary drivers for the Olympics.  There’s lots of welcome mail for us and greetings cards which I put aside for later.  Our Olympic package is waiting and we eagerly study the tickets and accompanying literature.  It’s interesting to note that of the 199 countries taking part we have only visited 43 – bit of a challenge to do something about that before the next games.
SUTHERLAND
Monday 11 September  Trains are cheaper after 9.00am so we time our 10 minute walk to the station accordingly.  $4.40 (1.75) for a day return and 40 minutes later we alight from the double decker carriage onto the platform under the town hall.  Emerge into the magnificent Victoria Building just in time to watch the Clock perform the Royal Pageant at 10.00am.  Lots of other interesting attractions within the building including an unusual hi tech ladies toilet on the top floor. Out into the street with plenty of opportunities to play "spot the athlete"- with most wearing team jackets it’s not difficult.  Steve wants more tickets for the games but there are massive queues at the two ticket booths we visit so he will try phoning or the Internet instead.  Sydney’s main attractions are easily walkable and we cover a vast area on our exploration visit and suss out the venues of some of the big screens then pause for a pub lunch.  It’s less crowded than we expected and we are impressed by the numbers of people strategically placed to offer advice. Crystal Harmony one of the worlds largest passenger liners has just docked in Sydney Cove near Circular Quay as it was too big to go under the harbour bridge to get into Darling Harbour. It’s enormous and has balconies on all the decks giving passengers a choice of a bridge or opera house view!  The harbour bridge and the opera house both live up to expectations and we enjoy everything we see.  Footsore we call it a day around 4.00pm and arrive back in Sutherland just in time to join the crowds to watch the Olympic Torch Relay pass through – puts the crowds in Noosa to shame.
SUTHERLAND 2
Tuesday 12 September  Mike & Toni are both out working today as voluntary drivers for the Olympics.  Mike is working 5 days on then 1 off and Toni 4 on and 1 off.  They have left us with the key to the house and instructions to make use of whatever we need including the washing machine and computer – I do.  Take a walk around Sutherland town centre in the afternoon and I am delighted to stumble across a Sara Lee factory outlet which sells damaged and discontinued lines very cheaply.  Reckon I could become a regular customer over the next few weeks but for today I content myself with a caramel toffee danish delight at 95c (40p).   Steve phones up and buys more Olympic tickets, a pair for the rowing at $10 (4.00) each and hockey at $19 (7.60) – a bargain as the tickets include all day use of public transport.  Reckon if I was really keen he’d have us at an event every day as there are heaps of reasonably priced tickets left.
SUTHERLAND 3
Wednesday 13 September  So where have the last 25 years flown to since we got married?  If the next 25 go as fast we shall be onto our golden anniversary before we know it.  Heaps of mail has been arriving for us so we open and display the cards (thank you all) before heading into the city for our big day of celebrations. We begin our $150 (60.00) bridge climb with an instruction video, signing of indemnity forms and a breathalyser.  Next it’s into grey silky jump-suits (to help us blend in with the bridge structure) followed by the donning of hats, handkerchief, radio, earphone, fleece jacket in a bag, sunglasses chain and optional gloves all secured to prevent any losses. You are fastened into a safety harness and shown how to walk along a static line and climb ladders correctly.  Fully prepped we follow our guide Michael to enter the bridge structure.  Make our way over the catwalk to the pylon before setting out across the arch to the summit.  The ladders are not too difficult and the climb is most enjoyable.  Michael provides an interesting commentary about the bridge itself, the history of Sydney and the things we can see.   At 134m high the views from the summit are out of this world on this perfect day with clear skies, no wind and not too hot.  What a way to celebrate, are we on a high or what?  Having climbed the eastern arch we make our way right across the top to descent down the western arm.  Just over 3 hours later we collect our special Olympic souvenir pack with photo’s certificate and commemorative pin and also treat ourselves me with a jumper and Steve with a hat both saying "I climbed it".   Walk to Tumbalong Park to collect the Olympic tickets but there are still quite long queues for the pre paid telephone order tickets so I leave Steve and go and get my make over done at the Body Shop.  Before we know it we are heading up the AMP Centrepoint tower to the revolving restaurant for our meal booked at 6.00pm with just time to spare to duck into the toilets for a freshen up and quick change.  For $46.50 (19.00) there’s a vast smorgasbord buffet with 10 appetisers, 20 main courses, 10 desserts plus hot drinks. We are shown to our requested window seat and warned not to put our bags on the window cill as it is slowly moving past us.  The views are magnificent as the restaurant takes 1 hour to turn full circle.  We take our time enjoying great food, wine, views and naturally good company with a lot of reminiscing.  Spot the Clipper Odyssey (the ship we went on last year) arriving in Darling Harbour.  It looks very small wedged between two much larger liners.  Our second circuit is in the dark and the city lights are brilliant and we even spot a couple of fireworks displays.  2 very memorable hours later we are just leaving when we hear people talking about the Olympic flame arriving in the building.  We ask about it and one girl puts her finger to her lips and says follow me.  We sneak up some security stairs to emerge at her AMP company function on the next floor.  She suggests we mingle and try and look inconspicuous but with no name tags and Steve carrying a backpack it’s not that easy.  Notice everyone sipping drinks so I grab a couple from a passing waiter to help us blend in!   Following some speeches by athletes the flame arrives in the lift and the torch is lit for the bearer to do a circuit of the building.  Food and more champagne is brought round on  trays at which point we decide to make an exit before we are sprung!  What a fantastic and most memorable way to celebrate our Silver Wedding Anniversary which could only have been any better with family and friends to share it with us.
SUTHERLAND 4
Thursday 14 September  A late start as we took a long time to come down from our high and get off to sleep last night (well that’s my story and I’m sticking to it).  Take the train to Circular Quay and then the ferry to Watsons Bay $4.00 (1.60) one way.  It’s a popular waterside suburb and location of the famous Doyle’s seafood restaurant.  Round the back we buy our take away fish & chips $8.80 (3.50) and sit on the wall behind the beach sharing the same food and stunning city views as the restaurant proper but at a fraction of the cost.  Pick up a big prawn sandwich $4.50(1.80) for taking with us to Lady Bay Beach where nude bathing is permitted.  A tourist attraction in it’s own right with a viewing platform from the cliff top walk above and harbour cruise boats slowing as they pass.  Not quite our scene but the views back to the city are amazing and it’s interesting watching all the boats in the harbour.  Returning to the ferry we spot Daley Thompson coming out of Doyle’s restaurant and he kindly agree to pose with Steve for a photo.  He looks even leaner and fitter than ever and with 3 other guys he strolls to the jetty then boards a private water taxi.  On the ferry back we spot the British team practising wind surfing and the Americans sailing.  Circular Quay is noticeably busier and the big screen is already in place and operating.  Back in Sutherland we visit George and Dorothy (met them at Rosco’s last weekend) for a meal.  Dorothy cooks a lovely spicy meal for us all washed down by copious amounts of wine.  Good job we don’t have far to walk back to the van. 
SUTHERLAND 5
Friday 15 September   I am forced out of bed due to lack of breathable air.  Steve’s numerous beers and glasses of both red and white wine have put him in the David Spooner category!  A late start into the city alighting at Central Station and choosing the wrong exit.  Our first cloudy day in Sydney but perfect for an indoor museum.  Walk through Chinatown district calling in at Paddy’s market to buy a larger Great Britain flag at $4 (1.60).  Near the Powerhouse museum the Pie Factory outlet provides our lunch – $2.10 (85p) hot pies with sauce.  $9 (3.60) basic admission to the museum as we decline the Olympic exhibition with artefacts we have already seen in Greece.  A complicated museum but with some interesting hands on sections and enough to keep us occupied for over 4 hours.  I especially like the 1930’s replica cinema for silent films accompanied by a type of pianola with a special effects section.  There are a lot more people around now and many of our chosen routes are blocked off.  We make the long walk round Darling Harbour to see the Clipper Odyssey but Captain Frank is with his passengers at the opening ceremony.  Tumbalong Park big screen area is heaving.  The screen at the Domain isn’t open and Martin Place is full so everyone is flocking here.  The atmosphere is brilliant with frequent loud cheers.  Struggling to see much from a distance we retire to sit outside the South African sports bar at the edge of the park to watch their big screen TV. Everyone’s very friendly and we are even given some drinks when the lads we are chatting to realise the bar has stopped serving to people outside.  There’s a great big cheer when the British team file into the stadium and we shout and jump around waving the flag (well Steve just did the shouting bit).  There’s an even bigger cheer for the Australian team which is topped by the shouts when the torch is passed to Cathy Freeman (a popular choice even if somewhat political) and an even bigger one when the cauldron is lit.  Everyone goes wild with the spectacle which follows.  What little we miss in visibility is certainly more than made up for by the atmosphere.  Catch the excellent 11.05pm Aqua Spectacular on Cockle Bay where holographic laser images are projected onto two giant semi-circular waterscreens accompanied by music and with the further distraction of distant fireworks and lasers on most of the cities tall buildings. It feels like New Years eve and one great big street party.  Back in Tumbalong park the big screen has been turned off and on stage are the first live act – Monica’s spectacular Brazilian band. Now that a lot of people have dispersed it looks like a rubbish tip with abandoned blankets, drinks, food and millions of empty bottles and cans.  Anyway no one seems to notice as we dance in whatever space we can find.  Capitulate to tiredness just before midnight and stagger through the busy streets to Town Hall Station and surprisingly get a seat on the train.  Plod the last 10 minutes home and roll straight into bed just before 1.00am.  Gosh it is tiring having a good time.
SUTHERLAND 6
Saturday 16 September  Cancel our planned trip into the city to catch Vanessa Amorosi live.  All our walking and the 1000 steps of the bridge climb have left us with heavy legs and we need to rest for our big day tomorrow.  Hover by the TV watching the live games and also re caps of last nights ceremony.  I leave Steve glued to the screen and force myself to walk into Sutherland with the prospect of a Sara Lee cake egging me on.  Return with over 1kg of sticky toffee pudding in a tray for $5 (2.00) – think it’s meant to be party size!   
SUTHERLAND 7
Sunday 17 September  From St James’s station we walk into the Domain park to sit and watch the big screen for the start of the triathlon.  Once the competitors have finished the swim we run to the barriers to watch them cycle past.  We have a good view and plenty of opportunities to shout and wave the flags at the British competitors.  Unfortunately by the time they are running past us it is quite clear that we are not going to be getting any medals.  Return to the screen to watch the finish and catch up on other Olympic news.  It’s a scorching day so we cool off by spending an hour browsing round the Art Museum of NSW which if free.  Back in the Domain there are a number of Country artists appearing live and there are loads of people picnicking and sunbathing.  Another great day out and all free except for our train fare.
SUTHERLAND 8
Monday 18 September   Mike gives us a lift to the Olympic stadium where we enter at the North Gate near the athletes village.  The stadiums are magnificent and from Olympic Boulevard the cauldron can’t be missed.  There’s plenty to see and do as we make our way South for our mens hockey session at 1.30pm.  Spend time watching the big screen and wondering around Olympic Expo where I get the union jack painted on my face.  We look a real pair of hoons with our England shirts and flags!  At the hockey centre our $19 (7.60) tickets give us seats right at the top of the stand behind the goal.  It’s perfect as there is a bit of a breeze and for additional entertainment we can watch the traffic on the motorway many of whom toot and shout out "Aussie aussie aussie" as they pass.  England put on a poor performance and lose 7 -1 to Pakistan – that will have gone down well in Bradford.  Before the second match they announce temperatures of 28C in the stadium and suggest we drink lots of water.   Germany beat Canada 2 – 1 after a boring first half with no goals but the first half was fun for me as the Mexican wave went round the stands.  It’s easy getting out of the stadium and by the time they have zig zagged us between barriers we arrive at the station well spaced out and with no problem getting a seat on the train.  All very well organised and efficient.
SUTHERLAND 9
Tuesday 19 September  Steve’s birthday so I let him have a lie in.  Spot a lovely purple and red parrot on the lawn by the van, the first of that type I have seen in Australia.  Toni has a day off and offers to drop us in Cronulla to catch the ferry Bundeena in the Royal National Park.  Just make the 10.30am crossing which is great as it only goes once an hour.  $3.10 (1.25) one way for the half hour trip which takes you out through Gunnamatta Bay lined with magnificent beach side houses.  In Bundeena we check out Jibbon Beach then walk back to sunbathe in Bundeena Bay.  It’s a lovely area, very scenic and lots of nice beaches.  Lunch at the R.S.L. (returned service mens league) where they do a great Chinese meal and we are torn between watching the Olympics on the big screen or the views over the bay from the big windows.  Catch the 2.00pm ferry back to Cronulla then train back to Sutherland in time to change for our evening at the Olympics.  For the first time we fail to get a seat on the train but that’s only for the short leg from Redfern to the stadium.  Tonight it’s 7.30pm for badminton with $55 (22.00) tickets giving us seats behind the centre of the three courts.  First match starts with Danish Peter Gade ranked 3 against Fung Permadi from Chinese Taipei (14).  10 minutes later a second match starts and the third 10 minutes after that.  It’s difficult to know what to watch and it seems the only easy answer is to concentrate on just one game.  As soon as Peter has beaten Fung 2 – 0 the womens 1/4 final starts with Gong Zhichao (1) from China against Japan.  Throughout the evening we see 10 matches including the men’s number 1 Hidayat Taufik and number 2 Hendrawan both from Indonesia.  The only time a higher seed loses to a lower one is Great Britains Richard Vaughan (16) against China’s Sun Jun (35) which is a poor match despite our cheering.  Only one match goes to three games and that’s an exciting one between Hidayat Taufik of Indonesia (1) and Ong Ewe Hock of Malaysia (11) the scores going 15 – 9, 13 – 15, 15 – 3. Interesting game statistics with shuttlecocks travelling in excess of 200km.  Arrive back exhausted at 12.15 which is excellent as we only left the stadium at 11.15pm.
SUTHERLAND 10
Wednesday 20 September  No sure if it’s general exhaustion or what but despite my nose being clear I have a very bad headache again which has building up for some days.  Take the day off trying to sleep whilst Steve watches the games on TV.
SUTHERLAND 11  
Thursday 21 September  Feeling decidedly better we set off mid morning for our 2pm Badminton event.  It’s a scorcher of a day and I am not over keen to go into the event as I didn’t really enjoy the last lot.   At the stadium Steve walks up the ticket line (looking very shifty) trying to sell my ticket and soon gets a taker at the $75 (30.00) face price. Samsung are putting on a Great Britain display with a pearly King & Queen reciting all the old songs and there’s lots of things happening.  After he goes into the event I begin my afternoon at a military band concert before cooling off under the decorative fountain.  Great views from Kronos Hill over the athlete’s village, Olympic Village and also across to Sydney centre.  Walking back along Olympic Boulevard I pause to watch children having fun aiming water fountain jets at passers by.  Study the Boral Olympic Dream Pathway where thousands of stones have been laid with names and messages on them.  Having been in Sydney for our Silver Wedding anniversary and also attended the games I feel it most appropriate and order
STEVE+GLEN SWATMAN 13.9.75
It’s $50 (20.00) and they give you a certificate then mail the grid reference details when the stone has been laid after the Paralympic.  Will have to call back in November to check!   At the entrance to the aquatic centre plaques mark the achievements of all the Australian swimmers with space left for many more.  I visit the Cadbury Expo twice as you get a free bar of chocolate each time!  At 5.00pm I return to our agreed meeting point and shortly after hear Steve calling from the barrier.  The events are running late but he palms me his ticket and I manage to get in to occupy the seat which has been vacated right at the side of him.  We noticed this loop hole the other day – where events are not full and pass outs allowed it’s easily workable.  I’ve missed Simon Archer and Joanne Goode securing the bronze for Britain but get to watch the play off for Gold then the medal presentation which is enough for me.
SUTHERLAND 12 
Friday 22 September   Alarm set for 4.30am but not needed as the bin men start collecting at 4.00am.  As Sydney recycles rubbish there a numerous carts going round each collecting different items.  Give up trying to sleep.  Mike takes Toni and us to the station for Toni to go to work and us to catch the 5.10am train changing in Redfern to get to Penrith.  The sun has risen by the time we alight then hop onto a shuttle bus to the Regatta Stadium.  Our $10 (4.00) tickets are excellent value as we have already had about 100km (60 miles) of free transport just getting here and can use the trains free until 4.00am tomorrow.  We’re at the foot of the Blue Mountains which is a beautiful setting for the rowing.  There’s heaps of space and we settle on a grassy bank at the 750m mark. It soon warms up and becomes a great sunbathing spot and even pretty good for watching the rowing!  Britain are poor and Steve is frustrated as he read the programme wrongly and thought we would be seeing Steve Redgrave but that’s tomorrow and now sold out.  Leave at mid day taking the train back into the city checking out China Town en route to Tumbalong Park.  Lots of people are still gathered round the big screen with others in the background dancing to the live bands.  Following our planned rendezvous with Noel (the Kiwi from Hervey Bay) we stroll together through the Harbourside Shopping area pausing for a beer in the Heineken Tent.  Look over the Pyrmont big screen site, the wharf where the mega rich yachts are moored and the Star casino.  Back in China town we eat in one of the food halls where $6 (2.40) gets you soup, rice and a main course with literally hundreds of dishes to choose from.  A bit like a very busy noisy food kitchen with cleaners having trouble keeping up but popular with the locals and good value.  Crash down at Belmore Park big screen.  Prior to the games it was the hang out of wino’s and drop outs but now it’s an alcohol free area and a type of green carpet has been laid to make up for the lack of grass.  A great atmosphere again with people shouting and cheering as much as if they were actually at the event.  Leave after the main swimming and athletic events as it’s starting to get chilly.  Must take time out to buy some new footwear and my feet are full of blisters and we’ve lots more walking planned.
SUTHERLAND 13
Saturday 23 September  Steve’s turn to be a bit under the weather with possibly the start of flu.  Suits me to stay around home as my feet wouldn’t take me far today, one blister is as big as the toe itself.  Good to see Steve Redgrave’s performance and special award even if the Aussie’s give poor TV coverage when they don’t win!  I go to the Miranda shopping mall determined to get some new footwear but in the absence of what I want I settle for some cheapies to put me on.
SUTHERLAND 14 
Sunday 24 September  A real lazy day with neither of us venturing out.
SUTHERLAND 15
Monday 25 September  With Steve still under the weather I meet Noel as agreed and we go for a drive.  Follow the coast towards Sydney starting at La Perouse in Botany Bay directly opposite Cooks first landing place at Kurnell. There are many bays in the area all with their own character.  Some have man made beaches and salt water swimming pools, others long sweeps of lovely clean white sand.  Abandon the car by Waverley cemetery as the practice for tomorrow’s cycling road race is blocking our progress.  Proceed on foot never failing to be amazed as we view beautiful shoreline and numerous beaches.  Multi colours streak the unusual wind eroded rock formations. I’m surprised by our first view of Bondi Beach which is much bigger than I expected and dominated by the Olympic Beach Volleyball stadium in the centre.  Bondi seems like an English seaside resort with a pedestrian esplanade behind the beach then lawns separating this from shops and cafes.  Pause for lunch before returning on a slightly different route to see some of the cyclists.  Noel drops me at the station to go to Olympic Park for our evening athletics.  Arrive in time to watch the Army Military Band putting on a good show.  It’s a fair hike around Stadium Australia and then up a ramp to our $65 (26.00) seats high up on one side but almost in line with the finish mark.  Steve has beaten me to it (he’s keen) and is already studying todays programme.  Quite a few Britsh partaking offering flag waving and cheering opportunities for us.  It’s hard to know where to look as track events, pole vault, discus and long jump take place simultaneously.  However the stadium grinds to a halt for Cathy Freeman’s big race.  The atmosphere is electric as everyone is out of their seats to cheer her to victory with a good Bronze for Katharine Merry and 4th for Donna Fraser both with PB’s.  The crowds go wild as Cathy does her lap of honour in front of a record stadium attendance in excess of 112,000.  It’s almost an anti climax when American Michael Johnson retains his 400m title.  A disappointing 5th for Colin Jackson in the 110m hurdles.  In the women’s 5000m we cheer Sonia O’Sullivan from Ireland to 2nd place.  800m women’s final next with Kelly Holmes taking the lead on the last bend running for home.  She’s overpowered but hangs in there to take the bronze.  A great result in the men’s triple jump with Jonathan Edwards taking gold.  He spends ages on his lap of honour and doesn’t seem to want to leave.  Last final the men’s 10,000m won by the great Heile Gebreselassie from Ethiopia with Karl Keska of Britain finishing 8th.  By the time Jonathan Edwards’s medal is presented numbers at the stadium have depleted however along with other Brits we proudly wave our flags and sing the national anthem.  It’s almost midnight when we finally leave after 6 action packed hours giving superb value for money.  Roll into bed just after 1.00am and just before rain starts.
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Tuesday 26 September   Steve’s still a bit low having called upon all his resources to make the athletics last night.  The rain eases late morning so I go into town and buy new walking boots and sandals.  Wonder round some of the sights then meet Noel on Circular Quay at 5.00pm.  There are some excellent buskers including one 12 year old lad who plays the audience so well we end up queuing to put money in his hat.  By the time we reach Darling Harbour it has started raining so we re plan and return to Sutherland.  After we have all eaten and drunk a few glasses of wine the rain is heavier than ever and Noel decides to take up our offer of a bed for the night.
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Wednesday 27 September  Awake to heavy rain and eventual cancellation of our planned trip to Manly Beach.  Within an hour of Noel leaving the rain stops and shortly after we have blue skies and rapidly rising temperatures.  Wrong decision.
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Thursday 28 September  Set off with Noel to the Blue Mountains just west of Sydney.  It’s a misty morning but we do get a view from the lookout in Glenbrook national park.  The mountains seem more like a flat table land with sheer sides creating fantastic scenery, lots of national park areas, walks and waterfalls.  They’re named after the fine mist oil given off from the eucalyptus trees creating a blue haze.  A short walk takes us to the viewing platform over the 300m Wentworth Falls and it’s just clear enough for us to appreciate them.  After lunch at the RSL in Katoomba it’s brightened up so we make for the scenic railway.  For $8 (3.20) return you ride the train 310m down the cliff.  The steepest railway in the world at 45degrees it’s a pretty hairy ride.  Walk in both directions to find an interpretative display, miners caves and Katoomba Falls.  A short drive away we view the famous Three Sisters rock formation from Echo Point, magnificent.  Walk to a few more lookouts all offering fabulous views.  In Blackheath we check out the superb lookout of Govetts Leap with the adjacent Bridal Veil Falls.  With over 80 walks in the Blue Mountains you would certainly need a few days to do it justice so we will try and return in November with the motorhome.  Stop in Parramatta where they have two big screen areas.  It’s a warm evening and we sit out enjoying a meal whilst watching the Olympics.  Stroll around and sadly find the Motown night has been cancelled and replaced by an ordinary band.  Many streets have been closed to cars and are heaving with people sitting out eating, watching the big screens or enjoying the free entertainment.  It’s very late when we get back so Noel sleeps over again.
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Friday 29 September  Cross back over the harbour bridge in order to explore some northern naturist beaches.  The traffic is bad and time’s getting on when we arrive at Middle Head.  From the small bay of Obelisk Beach we can just see the yachts racing in the harbour.  Driving further over the spit we get superb views from Balgowlah Heights where we park to walk and scramble down to Washaway Beach.  It’s a scorcher of an afternoon and we all take a few dips in the sea.  Finally to the famous Manly (non naturist) Beach which at 5.00pm is extremely busy with a lot of people still in the water.  It’s a balmy evening and after Noel leaves to drive back we stroll the Corso and stop for a meal.  $5 (2.00) for either the fast Jet Cat or the slow traditional ferry back to Sydney so we opt for the latter.  It’s dark as we arrive and the city looks wonderful all lit up. Stroll to the side of circular quay for the 8.15pm special Olympic laser display on the opera house.  Chat to a few people and drink beer and wine whilst watching the opera house change colours.  It’s still very warm so we stroll back to the Circular Quay big screen to catch some more of the games and then the 10.00pm performance of "legs on the wall".  4 people walk down the side of a tower building and jump around the make patterns with their shadows, all very unusual and impressive.
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Saturday 30 September  Noel calls for us again and we head south into the Royal National Park $9.90 (4.00) for cars.  Park at Jibbon Beach where we came before using the ferry.  Walk east beyond the beach to Little Jibbon Beach frequented by naturists.   A nice spot but difficult for swimming because of the rocks.  Return mid afternoon as Steve is going to the athletics $95 (38.00).  Our friend Kay is going in my place as she hasn’t been to any events yet.  I was never very keen and having seen the stadium and had such a great evening at the athletics on Monday I’m happy.
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