Posted by: glenswatman | April 11, 2007

200011 Australia-Vic NSW ACT

Wednesday 1 November 2000  A late start as we’re rather sleepy.  Into Hamilton for a big shop at Safeway, called Woolworth’s throughout the rest of Australia. Get the 6c (2.4p) a litre fuel discount coupon for spending over $50 (20.00).  Our tanks hold about 250 litres of diesel and 80 litres of gas so it saves us a lot and Safeway fuel prices are always reasonable anyway. Now in the hilly Grampians region we need info on the roads so Lew and Cath have arranged for us to visit their friends Graham and Zilla who live near Cavendish.  At least sitting chatting to them the intermittent heavy rain doesn’t affect us.
CAVENDISH
Thursday 2 November  Into the tourist office in Dunkeld to find out about a bus tour around the Grampians.  Figure the hills might be too much for this motorhome.  Another couple are inside seeking information and hear my conversation.  Outside they ask if we would like to join them in their car to get to the first walk.  Between Mount Sturgeon and Mount Abrupt the Piccaninny hill should reward us with views of Dunkeld and both mountains but we have to be content with glimpses between the showers. Gabrielle and Peter are from the Czech Republic and have spent a year here studying and working but are now enjoying the last few days as holiday.  They are finding it too wet for camping and accommodation expensive.  They invite us to join them for the rest of the day doing the tour of the Grampians and we invite them to spend the night in the motorhome saving us both about $50 per couple.  Move the motorhome to Borough Huts Camp a national park site near Halls Gap, the main centre for the Grampians.  Share the fees of $10.20 (4.10) per site for up to 6 people.  After lunch we start the tour at Silverband Falls which entails a brief walk.  Driving further into the park the heavens open up so we pass the lookouts to continue to McKenzie Falls.  It’s dry so we first explore the nearby Broken Falls then climb down many steps to McKenzie, the largest falls in Victoria. Get drenched on the return but it’s dried up when we visit nearby Lake Wartook. Arrive at Reed Lookout just in time to see a sheet of rain racing towards us across the valley.  Attempt the walk to the Balconies but people are returning with reports of the path flooded out.  Steve continues whilst we return to later listen to his report of the balconies themselves being spectacular but the view non existent.  Don’t even bother to get out of the car at Boroka Lookout as the visibility is so poor.  Whilst traversing Victory Road we have had glimpses of the surrounding countryside and know the views would be excellent.  Last stop Wonderland Park and it’s fine.  Set out intending to just look at this end of Grand Canyon but it is one of those places with twists and turns which keeps inviting you to walk further.  The "path" follows and frequently crosses the stream and we often need the assistance of the rail provided.  The granite rocks are magnificent, shiny grey with lots of layers and frilly edges.  For us it’s the best part of the day.  Climb ladders to continue up above the waterfall.  It suddenly feels cold and starts to rain so reluctantly turn back.  I’m the only one with a waterproof jacket and as the slowest walker I keep going leaving the others sheltered under a rock. The stream is rapidly swelling and flowing very fast.  One crossing is now so wide I have to shuffle across the hand rail but slip and give my bottom a dunking.  I’m concerned about the possibility of a flash flood but figure I could be more help if I get myself back. Despite my waterproof jacket I arrive back drenched and sit in the hut to wait.  After about 15 minutes the others appear soaked to the skin having realised the stream was filling and they needed to get out .  They have had even more problems getting back but the most annoying thing is that it now stops raining.  Back at the camp site Gabrielle is surrounded by colourful red and blue parrots when she gets the food out.  Changed into warm dry clothes we get down to the serious business of eating and drinking.
GRAMPIANS,
Friday 3 November  After a dry night we part company and head into Halls Gap to look around the interesting and informative Parks Visitor Centre.  On to Stawell where we hover until 11.00am to see the town hall clock with animated figures of gold diggers and a gold washing cradle.  We are now in the Goldfields region and like many other towns Stawell was founded on a gold strike in the mid 1800’s.  On the southern outskirts of town are the Sisters Rocks, a series of large boulders covered in interesting graffiti.  A little further on at Great Western we catch the 1.30pm tour at  Seppelts winery. The guide tells of the different champagne (sorry must now say sparkling wine to keep the French happy) making processes before we venture underground.  Miners dug over 2km of tunnels where champagne is still stored.  We are given many samples including one from which the cork is ungorged the traditional way.  In "The Brandy Nook" past Prime Ministers are offered their own niche to store wine.  In the same area company executives often hold intimate dinner parties which must be very atmospheric as it looks like the Adams Family house with a cobweb strewn chandelier and black mould dangling everywhere.  Final stop for the day Mount Buangor National Park with free camping.  Settle on a spot at Middle Creek camp with our own bench, table, fireplace and fire well.  Shame all the wood provided is too wet to burn.  There are a number of families already here and the younger kids are having great fun on push bikes whilst the older ones race around the forest tracks on dirt bikes.
MOUNT BUANGOR NATIONAL PARK
Saturday 4 November  A fine morning so after dinner we set out to walk to the top campsite where the Waterfalls Nature Walk starts.  The track is often boggy and in parts we have to collect wood to step across.  It’s an attractive area with lots of ferns and eucalyptus trees but not much wildlife.  It feels much like a damp cool Autumn day in England but we stride it out and enjoy the exercise.
MOUNT BUANGOR NATIONAL PARK 2
Sunday 5 November  Our planned walk to the caves is rained off.  Day of festering.
MOUNT BUANGOR NATIONAL PARK 3
Monday 6 November  1 hour to Ballarat the largest city in the Goldfields.  Lovely old buildings including the railway station where we are offered a group saver ticket to Melbourne for 2 – 4 people at $28 (11.20) return.  With the addition of zone 1 passes at $4.60 (1.85) each we can connect all the way out to Flemington racecourse tomorrow for the Melbourne Cup.  Sovereign Hill is the major tourist attraction in Ballarat.  On the outskirts of town they have re-created a gold mining town from the 1850’s.  $67 (26.80) buys you a combined ticket for Sovereign Hill museum, an evening meal, Blood Under The Southern Cross evening show and admission to the gold museum across the road.  It’s mid day and getting late to fit in everything at Sovereign Hill so we talk the girl into selling us a ticket for the meal and show tonight but to visit the museums on Wednesday.  Check onto the Goldfields caravan park opposite $15.70 (6.28) unpowered site.  I am delighted to find they have a family bathroom complete with bathtub and enjoy a long soak in the bath, my first since leaving England back in July confirming the Aussies opinion of English washing habits.  Walk back to Sovereign Hill in time for our 7.30pm meal at the Charles Napier Hotel in the main street.  We’re rather disappointed to find a basic carvery meal having been led to believe the meal was traditional camp food of the 1850’s.  8.45pm we troop out to wind our way through an interpretative centre and into the theatre.  The Battle of the Eureka Stockade was fought in Ballarat on 3 December 1854 when miners rebelled about gold licences. 150 men were sleeping in the stockade when twice as many armed soldiers and police charged it.  A brief and bloody battle ensued.  For the first time on Australian soil men fought and died together under their own flag the Southern Cross. The resulting revoking of the licences became a turning point in Australia’s history.  After the explanatory film we move out onto the Goldfields to watch a sound and light show of the events.  We are transported by a futuristic train to another area depicting the stockade for the final battle.  We feel the whole show is lacking in special effects and animation and along with the meal overpriced. Breaking the prices down you pay $18 (7.20) for the show and $22.50 (9.00) for the meal but booking the show alone would cost $26.50 (10.50)
BALLARAT, GOLDFIELDS CARAVAN PARK
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Tuesday 7 November  Decked out in our Sunday best we catch the 8.30am train which arrives in Melbourne at 10.00am.  It’s a bank holiday only in Melbourne but lots of other people take the day off.  Almost everyone on the train are off to the races judging by the ladies in hats, men in smart jackets and the number of picnic hampers heaved into the compartment.  Connect through to Flemington and pay $28 (11.20) each basic admission to the racecourse. The place is heaving with estimations of over 100,000 here.  It’s a glorious hot sunny day and we explore the area and pose for a photo with the famous Phar Lap horse. Having missed the first race Steve is keen to get his bets on the second one and the rest of the 10 races being run today.  Steve studies form and I look at names and pick the winner with my first bet.  Sit up in The Hill terraces with little time to spare between betting, watching the race, sometimes collecting the winnings and then repeating the cycle.  Treat ourselves to a bottle of bubbly $17 (6.80) which we thought was excellent value until we notice from the label it was on sale at Seppelts winery at $5.50 (2.20).    People watching is very interesting and I conclude you could arrive here dressed in literally anything and no one would bat an eye lid.  Ladies stroll in obviously exclusive and very expensive outfits in amongst youths in outrageous fancy dress and men in scruffy shorts and sandals.  The big event of the day is the Melbourne Cup itself for which most of Australia grinds to a halt.  We have bet on 5 different horses and we end up having chosen the first 3. Shame we hadn’t backed them together on a trifecta which would have paid out $3500 (1400.00) for a $5 (2.00) bet. Finish the day covering almost all our costs with our winnings and having had a great day out.  Move onto Eureka caravan park $12 (4.80) unpowered site.  I spot something crawling on the ceiling and when Steve squashes it with a tissue he gets bitten.  It’s a red spider and unsure of what type we take the necessary precautions.  Pack the van for a quick departure, check the location of the hospital, note the time, keep the spider.  False alarm.
BALLARAT, EUREKA CARAVAN PARK
Wednesday 8 November  A hot bright breezy start, perfect for washing.  Back to Sovereign Hill where we start in the Gold museum.  More interesting than we expected and with additional exhibitions including one about the 1956 Olympics as the rowing event was held in Ballarat. Into Sovereign Hill proper which is bustling with tourists and "inhabitants". Volunteers dress in traditional costume and appear to go about their business or do talks.  We tag onto one of the many free tours explaining the history.  On the Chinese tour I’m chosen to receive the fortune telling ritual in the temple.  Stick number 38 pops out but the guide tells me even numbers are not often lucky numbers in China.  He’s not Chinese but says one of the Chinese people around will translate the paper but not to take it seriously.  There are lots of schools and churches here and school children come for 1 – 3 days.  They wear traditional clothing and learn by 1800’s methods which is fun to watch.  Complete a couple of different mine tours, play traditional 9 pin bowling, watch a theatre show and wonder in and out of the active shops and businesses. A Chinese tourists tells me my fortune paper is very bad news indicating a death amongst other thing but when he finds it’s mine and where I got it says it’s only a bit of fun.  A Chinese guide interprets it as mainly bad news but that I am going to have a son – mainly bad news, is she kidding!   Round the day off watching the troops firing muskets and lowering the flag. You could certainly fill in a full day if you watched all the demonstrations and visited every attraction and tour.  Shortly after getting back to the campsite the "Browns" arrive. Dave Spooners sister Nicole, husband George and daughter Paula along with visiting sister Daphne from England. They’ve driven over from Adelaide to combine a meeting with us and a tour for Daphne. Drop lucky at the Bakery Hill Motel where the $7.50 (3.00) special meals are excellent.  Lots of catching up to do since we saw them in Adelaide last May although we did see Nicole in Market Drayton in June this year.  
BALLARAT, EUREKA CARAVAN PARK 2
Thursday 9 November  A humid but drizzly morning.  All walk to Ballarat wildlife park $12.50 (5.00) so Daphne can see all the typical Australian animals.  The kangaroos are especially friendly and they even have a Tasmanian tiger on display.  It brightens up when we get back so we pack a picnic and go to Lake Wendouree (venue of the 1956 Olympic 2000m rowing).  We’re surrounded by swans with really cute fluffy chicks.  Quick walk through the botanical gardens and the city centre then back to start the BBQ.  Round the evening off with Daphne, George, Steve & I playing cards.
BALLARAT, EUREKA CARAVAN PARK 3
Friday 10 November  Couldn’t get Claire on the phone on Monday and have since lost her number so phone Netty.  Bad news that Trevor is in hospital with what now sounds like a minor stroke.  The Browns are off to Melbourne today and we’re heading North so say our farewells then drive into town to buy more phonecards.  Speak to Netty Keen and Mavis to hear Trevor is a little better but still not good which is a worry but there’s nothing we can do from here.  First stop the spa town of Daylesford where you can sample the waters at Central Springs.  There are some wells beside Wombat Creek and also hand pumps but the water tastes rusty and awful.  Castlemaine is where the original XXXX beer came from but the only thing we find of interest is the Market Hall which is an interesting building housing the tourist office and good displays about the gold industry.  Nearby Maldon is a lovely town with almost all the buildings original from the 1850’s.  No particularly outstanding individual ones but the numbers and sheer concentration makes it look like Sovereign Hill.  Bendigo is a fine town with big impressive buildings and again a good free historical display at the tourist office.  Pall Mall area is particularly nice with a wide boulevard with a tram running in the centre, gardens on one side and impressive buildings on the other. We’ve heard about a cinema in the suburb of Eaglehawk and head out for the 7.00pm screening.  Star Cinema $11 (4.40) is held in the town hall and aimed at couples with nice food available and seating on comfy sofas.  Watch the Aussie movie "Bootmen" the story of steel workers turned tap dancers.  The dancing is very modern and of the style featured in the Olympic opening ceremony but the story line is rather thin.  Settle for the night in Whipstick Forest Park.
BENDIGO – WHIPSTICK FOREST PARK
Saturday 11 November   Leave Bendigo after an Internet session, stroll through the mall and a glimpse of the servicemen at the remembrance service.  It’s a warm day with occasional dry spells but lots of drizzle interspersed with heavy downpours.  Echuca is a lovely port on the Murray River.  The historic port area is free to enter and again we find ourselves in a traditional street of old buildings.  There are many weddings here today with receptions being held on the old paddle steamers. Only a third of the original port remains and it was built on 3 levels to cater for the fluctuating river depth.  The river is very high at the moment and flooded in parts eliminating the free riverside camping areas along its length.  When it starts to rain we abandon any plans for a river cruise and press on to visit friends near Cobram.  Phil & Pat are waiting for us with the BBQ fired up and the hot spa tub in action. Much home brewed beer is supped before we all hop into the spa.  The relaxation process is completed when Steve phones and hears his Dad is improving and they are talking of sending him home.
COBRAM
Sunday 12 November  The rain has caught up with us here with a steady flow through the night.  However it becomes a dry warm cloudy day which is good for doing the washing and playing "Phase 10" card game with Pat.  After the spa we feast on fish, delicious yellow belly perch which Phil caught in the local river.
COBRAM 2
 
Monday 13 November   A beautiful sunny morning.  Convince myself that exercise will do me more good than sunbathing and join Pat for the local Aqua aerobics class.  Set off after lunch following the Murray River.  A section has been dammed creating Lake Mulwala which is full of ghostly dead trees.  Park in a rest area near Browns Plains.
BROWNS PLAINS REST AREA
Tuesday 14 November  Wodonga and Albury are one of many sets of twin towns straddling the Murray River also the border between Victoria and NEW SOUTH WALES which we now cross into.  At over 2400km long it’s the longest river in Australia.  Marathon swimmer Tammy van Wisse is swimming the length and last night arrived in Albury.  We catch her setting out for the day and have a chat.  She’s highlighting the sorry state of the river whilst trying to set a record and complete the swim in 88 days but has had problems already with snakes in the water, submerged trees and a stomach upset.  She’s a friend of Allison Streeter the British channel swimmer whom we met when Claire swam long distance.  Good news that Trevor is now home and sounds to be recovering well. Lake Hume is full and it’s quite a sight to see some of the gates open allowing flumes of water to spray out.  Bowna picnic reserve is a quiet spot on the lakes edge and perfect for us to sit out and enjoy the high temperatures and then camp overnight.  We’re surprised when we spot Steve on the local TV news chatting to Tammy before her swim.  The report talks of a small but enthusiastic crowd for her send off.
LAKE HUME – BOWNA PICNIC RESERVE
Wednesday 15 November  First stop in Holbrook to scramble over the submarine HMAS Otway which is now "docked" in the park. Arrive just before 11.00am to sit and wait for the library to open on the hour.  By 10 past we are getting frustrated until we finally figure out that today is Wednesday not Tuesday and it doesn’t open until 2.00pm.   In Tarcutta we are shocked by the Truck drivers memorial listing hundreds of truckies killed on the road with lads as young as 15.  Gundagai made famous by an Aussie song "Along the road to Gundagai" is also home to Rusconi’s marble masterpiece.  For $2 (80p) you can view the miniature cathedral which took him 28 yeas to build using 20,948 pieces of marble.  Also in the town is the longest wooden bridge structure ever built in Australia and pretty impressive it is too.  Just North of the town at Snake Gully is the famous (well famous in Australia) Dog on the Tuckerbox memorial statue also by Rusconi.  As if that’s not enough there’s also the "Dad & Dave" bronze statues depicting the quintessential Australian characters Dad, Dave, Mum and Mabel from Steele Rudd’s "On our selection" – any wiser?   Pull off the Hume Highway to park for the night in Bowning village figuring it will be more peaceful than the rest areas – got it wrong again as the railway rattles through.
BOWNING
Thursday 16 November  A surprisingly quiet night with few trains. Cross into ACT (AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY) to visit Canberra the capital of Australia.  It’s a lovely city full of gardens and very well designed with wide streets and plenty of free car parks.  The Australian Institute of Sport is where the elite athletes train and for $10.80 (4.30) you get a behind the scenes tour guided by a current athlete.  Our guide is a gymnast originally from Russia called Pasha. We are shown the gym, volleyball, boxing, archery and basketball areas some with people in training.  The swimming pool is unusual with a window on one side for the coach to watch the swimmers and a mirror under one lane for the swimmers to watch themselves.  Finish up in the Sportex interactive centre with opportunities for you to test your skills or in my case realise the lack of them.  It’s a rainy day but with lots of museums in the city it’s no problem finding something to do.  The Australian War Memorial and museum (free) is most impressive and it would be easy to spend the whole day wandering round the exhibitions.  ANZAC Parade is lined with large monuments to the different forces and draws your eye across the Lake to Capitol Hill with Parliament.  In Lake Burley Griffin there’s a huge jet of water called the Captain Cook Jet which on windy days wets people on the bridge.  The National Capital Exhibition (free) on the shores tells of the development of the city and after a brief visit to the biggest library in Australia we return to spend the night in the car park.
CANBERRA    
Friday 17 November  Catch the 9.30am tour of the new Parliament building.  Inside is modern and unexceptional but the view from the roof over the deliberately designed government triangle is brilliant.  There are lots of big impressive buildings in Canberra and wide boulevards with outstanding buildings at the head of them.  Questacon science museum $10 (4.00) has heaps to meddle with including a "side show" funfair area complete with simulator ride.  This is my scene, the sports centre was Steves.  In the National Gallery (free) most of the paintings look like they were done by playschool children.  A matching pair of huge "paintings" are plain white canvas with a thin red border. I cheekily ask one of the curators if the pictures out of the middle are missing or is it me missing something.  He explains that’s it and they cost the gallery $80m (32m) because they are done by a famous artist, he grins at me and shrugs.  So Art Galleries neither of our scenes but good for a laugh. It’s a hot day so we stroll along ANZAC Parade to take a closer look at some of the 10 memorials.  Korea, Vietnam and the Royal Australian Navy particularly impress us and we notice more in the making.  A drive through the heart of the city proves easy with little traffic around.  There are many embassies and consulates on the South Bank and we are amazed by the size of the Chinese one which is like a miniature Forbidden City.  Also check out the British Consulate (plain), Papua New Guinea which offers an exhibition, American (big old colonial style mansion) and Indonesian and Thai in national style. In addition many new ones are being built or with land ear marked. It’s a very hot and muggy afternoon so we set out to Kambah Pool about 20km out of the city on the banks of the River Murrumbidgee.  Part way there the heavens open up with a terrific downpour.  4.00pm and with the air clear and the rain stopped we park up on one of the terraced car parks and Steve explores Kambah Pool.  He reports of a pretty spot with an official nude beach with sand, a muddy river and a bit of a climb to it.  It’s hot again but with the sand very damp we choose to stay by the van and sit out on the table provided and play games until it cools down just before 7.00pm. 
KAMBAH POOL
Saturday 18 November   A hot humid cloudy morning.  Clamber down to Kambah Pool for me to have a look and find a small sandy beach in pine forest just downstream from the waterfalls.  Although it’s hot there seems no break in the clouds so we take our leave.  Back in NEW SOUTH WALES we visit the ACT Nudist Club $15 (6.00) powered site, $12 (4.80) unpowered which seems cheap considering the facilities offered.  The guide book says there is a paddling pool, outdoor pool, indoor pool, sauna, restaurant, shop, bar, canoeing, rock climbing, surfing and other things to do.  Wrong, it’s really a small member owned club with just an outdoor pool. The book must have information for another club misplaced under the ACT heading.   However the lack of facilities is made up for by the small club welcome the people give us and they make a big joke about trying to find "alternatives" for all the other things we thought were here.    Tonight for $10 (4.00) they are putting on a fish and chip supper and quiz in the club house. We make decidedly better progress with the fish & chips than the quiz but we are in teams (Steve & I separated) and can offer help with overseas questions and some travel related Australian ones. 
ACT NUDIST CLUB
Sunday 19 November  The clouds slowly drift away and by mid afternoon I’m in the pool powering my way up and down like Claire Swatman. Hey if the book can exaggerate so can I.  By late afternoon everyone has left and we have the place to ourselves, amazing how trusting naturists are.
ACT NUDIST CLUB 2
Monday 20 November  Snatch a couple of hours sunbathing then head towards Sydney on the Hume Highway.  The small town of Berrima is full of craft shops and cafes but more importantly for us they offer a free camping site by the river with cold showers, toilets and BBQ.  Mary-Ellen and Ollie from Perth are already here with their caravan and we hit it off straight away and sit around the campfire.  What we thought would be a nice quiet spot isn’t.  Villages walk their dogs or just drive out here to see who is visiting.  A couple of cars full of youngsters dressed to kill arrive to take photographs of themselves but we eventually get time to chat until rain forces us inside.  Learn that Ollie has come here for the highly recommended Berrima Diesel company where German owner Rheinhart is the countries expert on diesel engines. Surprisingly people travel thousands of kilometres from NT and WA to visit him but unfortunately it would be too far for us to bring our motorhome to him.  I struggle to sleep as I hear strange sawing sounds and the van keeps wobbling.  I must doze off because we are both woken by the van violently rocking and the sounds of some grunting and sawing.  I’m quite frightened when shouting and banging on the walls have no effect.  Steve grabs a torch to explore then calls me out to see an enormous wombat ambling out from under the van.
BERRIMA
Tuesday 21 November  Mary-Ellen explains to us that wombats always take the same route to go places and will not detour so it would have been trying to push us out of the way. They are big heavy animals with short legs making them like powerful little tanks. They once built a house in a wombats path and he often pounded at the door and if they left it open he would stroll right through the house.  Fortunately they are completely harmless.  In the village the impressive old prison detains convicted police and "rock spiders" (paedophiles).  There’s a craft shop selling some lovely things made by them. The weather is poor so we press on to Sydney planning to camp for a week at Sun Valley Club.  After 8 days continuous rain in Sydney the club grounds are very muddy and uninviting.  Change plans and call Mike who says we are welcome to return to them in Sutherland.
SUTHERLAND
 
Wednesday 22 November  The barometer rises rapidly and although clouds hover it’s a good day for cleaning the outside of the motorhome.  I walk into Sutherland and on impulse get a haircut at the barbers $15 (6.00).
SUTHERLAND 2
 
Thursday 23 November  Just miss the 9.00am train so take the next one to Cronulla, $3.20 (1.25) return, leaving us time to check out the northern beach where lots of people are out surfing enjoying the early morning sunshine.  10.30am ferry to Bundeena in the Royal National Park, $3.10 (1.20) one way.  A half hour walk brings you to Little Jibbon Beach where we are soon in club uniform basking in the sun.  It clouds over later afternoon and having caught the 4.00pm ferry back to Cronulla we stroll the pedestrian area which is very nice and similar to Manly with lots of cafes.
SUTHERLAND 3
Friday 24 November  A cloudy hot humid day during which I complete my annual Christmas diary and get it in the post to our Aussie and New Zealand friends.  A BBQ with Toni and Mike in the evening during which we discuss possible routes for their European tour next year.
SUTHERLAND 4
Saturday 25 November  Rain through the night with light drizzle throughout the morning.  Mike confesses they may have a business problem which could make it difficult for them to do the exchange next year and asks if they can postpone it until 2003.  No problem for us as we hadn’t decided what to do ourselves anyway. It brightens up after lunch so we take the train to the city and start at Paddy’s market where with over 800 stalls it’s not difficult to find what we need.  It feels like you are in Asia with most of the stalls Asian owned and many products from abroad.  Emerge into blazing hot sunshine.  Amble over to Hyde Park which is heaving and still resembles an Olympic Live site.  It’s both the Food & Wine festival and Aids awareness day.  Transvestites are putting on a show on one stage and a live band on the other with dozens of food a drink stalls in between. It’s not difficult to spot who has come to support which with very open homo sexual relationships on display. Finally move on to the Domain park then out and around the headland to Mrs Macquaries’s Chair with superb views which we plonk on the grass to enjoy.  We are looking right across the busy harbour and on our left are the Opera House and harbour bridge.  Continue round Farm Cove and through the botanic gardens for a glimpse at the impressive old Government House before taking the train back from Circular Quay.  Yes Sydney is still friendly, vibrant and interesting even post games.
SUTHERLAND 5
Sunday 26 November  A hot sunny day and by 8.30am we are on the train on a mission to discover another naturist beach.  Arriving at Wynyard station our plans are foiled as the bus we want doesn’t run on weekends.  Plan B and a walk over to Martin Place then onto bus 394 in Elizabeth Street to take us to La Perouse – $3.10 (1.20) one way.  We travel through the gay district of Kings Cross with men strolling hand in hand and snogging in the street.  Steve stays firmly tucked in his seat.  I visited La Perouse before with Noel in the week on a dull day when there was only one other car.  After 40 minutes we arrive to find the car park heaving and bodies everywhere.  Walk across Congwong Beach then along the cliff top footpath to reach Little Congwong.  A lovely fine white sandy beach with easy sandy access into the clear turquoise waters of Botany Bay.  Dominated by couples and families this has a much nicer feel than some of the other naturist beaches dominated by gays (well I’m sure that’s what they were hoping for).  It’s a scorcher and we take lots of dips in the cooling sea.  Steve casually asks if I would like an ice cream which I ignore as I think he is torturing me until I spot a boat which has come into the bay selling ice creams and drinks – very enterprising and rewarded with about 100 sales (not all to me).  Taking our leave we spot a crown gathered round an enclosure and find Canns Sunday Reptile Show in full swing with Mr Cann displaying snakes in exchange for a donation, pass.  $3.70 (1.45) to get back on the bus even though we didn’t ask for the scenic detour through the housing estate.   
SUTHERLAND 6
Monday 27 November  Ray & Margaret Stephens from Keighley are over visiting their son John who lives at Bondi Beach.  Catch the early train $4 (1.60) o.w. to Bondi Junction then the bus $2.10 (80p) o.w. to Bondi Beach.  John is renting an apartment directly opposite the beach which gives them fabulous views from the balcony.  Together the 4 of us set out on the full 6km Bondi to Coogee walk. Bondi is already busy and Ray and Margaret say that on a weekend afternoon over 600 people pack the beach.  Yesterday numbers were reduced following a shark sighting in the bay which was later proved a hoax.  Walking south we cross Tamarama beach then Bronte before arriving at Waverley Cemetery where the only Australian survivor of the Titanic is now buried.  Another hot sunny day and at Clovelly we cool down with a swim in the tidal pool built alongside the bay.  Round Gordons Bay then into Coogee with a fish and chip $5.50 (2.20) lunch on the sea front.  Bus to Circular Quay $3.10 (1.20) to catch the Darling Harbour Circular ferry, $8 (3.20) round trip with one stop.  A great way to view the city as we cross under the bridge to the other side of the river making for a great photo of the bridge framing the opera house. Hop off at Pyrmont for a beer stop before completing the circuit.  Should really have just paid $4 (1.60) to do the loop without getting off, wonderful thing hindsight.  Taxi back to Bondi Beach $18.70 (7.50) where at 5.00pm the beach is very busy.  Meal out at the Lemongrass Thai restaurant rounds of a lovely day.  John runs us back to the train station and we finally arrive home after 11.00pm.
SUTHERLAND 7
Tuesday 28  November  Catch the train after 9.00am for the $4.40 (1.75) return connecting with the bus at Wynyard.  The 244 takes us right to Balmoral Naval base for $3.10 (1.20) o.w.  A short walk across the oval then down a rough path to a grassy sunbathing terrace behind the narrow sandy Cobblers Beach.  Ensconced on the sand we take lots of dips to cool off and notice the beach widening as the tide retreats.  Another nice nudist beach with mixed couples and easy access along most of the beach but a few rocks in some areas.  Lots of boats pull in and most anchor up including a water taxi.  However the tourist sight seeing bus comes in close but doesn’t stop.  Having now visited all 5 Sydney nude beaches our all round vote must be for Little Congwong.
SUTHERLAND 8
Wednesday 29 November A humid cloudy day so we are not missing anything whilst we pack up and give the motorhome a final clear out.
Summary for our second Australia trip:-
5 states visited – New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and Australian Capital Territory:-
9485km 5894miles distance covered in motorhome
2395 litres 527 gallons diesel used
$2202  880 pounds spent on fuel
3.96km/litre 11.18mpg average fuel consumption
163 nights on tour
nights  number of different place
18  3   caravan parks
26  9   naturist clubs/homestays
37  34   free camping
82  18   visiting friends 
Plus over 1000km / 600 miles in borrowed vehicles.
SUTHERLAND 9
Thursday 30 November  Airtours flight VZ098 departs Sydney on time at 1.00pm.  It is quite cramped and the service poor, no choice of meals and a charge for all drinks. As they say you get what you pay for and at 180.00 we can’t expect much. (Most people from England paid 402.00 for the return flight).  After 8 1/2 hours and two meals we land in MALAYSIA at Kuala Lumpur airport 6.30pm local time and now 3 hours behind Sydney.  After an hour and a half stop we are onward for a further 8 hours to BAHRAIN arriving at 10.30pm local now 5 hours behind Sydney.  With our body clocks now completely out of synch we go with the flow and eat and sleep at every opportunity.  Only another 7 hours flight to Manchester.
ON THE PLANE
 
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