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Showing posts from April, 2019

Home on ANZAC Day

The elderly veterans were in the elevator wearing their medals, heading like we were to breakfast. Perhaps Alex woke early enough for the dawn service. I needed my sleep in order to drive the car home to Sydney. The route south from Port Macquarie is easier than up, less congested. Alex wants to take the Old Pacific Highway, to stop at little towns and rest areas along the way. It's what I dream of too. But once you are on the busy motorway you become loath to stop. It is a battleground for cars. Who can take the prime position, to reach their destination first. If you stop then you will be stuck behind that slow vehicle you just overtook again. Cruise control keeps you at a relatively constant speed, but it is the relative speed that matters, tiny differences leading to major frustrations. And so it is that the driving is tiring and all I want to do is reach home. Maybe another day, when it is not holidays, when the road is quieter and the music louder, a long journey

Painted rocks in Port Macquarie

Before we depart the Gold Coast we take one last walk along the beach. Alex scoots along the Esplanade, I spot a Scoot plane descending towards the airport. I spot a couple of bluebottle jellyfish in the sand, large shells and a crab scuttling along. For the second day in a row we eat breakfast at Montmartre by the Beach. Then we return to the hotel, collect our car and begin our journey home. The Satnav sends us back via a convoluted route, but we eventually make it to the motorway. I've set a waypoint of a tropical fruit farm, but after the earlier mess I don't follow its instructions and we miss the turn-off. It's too early anyway. The return drive is much the same as the way up, but we don't turn off to congested Byron Bay. Instead we have a quick lunch of KFC at Grafton, crossing the magnificent steel bridge across the Clarence River. We decided not to drive all the way back to Sydney today and break the journey in Port Macquarie. As we

Seeing Sea World

The big reason tourists come to the Gold Coast is to visit one or more of the theme parks. B and I have been to three of them, with only Dreamworld missing out. Of those Sea World is our favourite, so we decided to take Alex there. Despite the public holidays having come to a temporary two day end and Queensland school holidays being long over there was still a big crowd at Sea World when we arrived by car. Fortunately, the queues moved relatively quickly. First, hurry off to see the Seal Guardians show. Feed rays? No feed penguins. No queue for the Dolphin Affinity show. The leaping, twirling sleek grey dolphins are undoubtedly the highlight of Sea World. The park has changed a bit from my first visit almost 33 years ago. It was my first time in any theme park, a special treat for our family. I had my first taste of water slides, loved them. They are no more and now the kids area is just water fountains and climbing courses. I'm kind of glad because changing into s

Twice the nice spice

The weather may not be so hot up here, but there are other forms of heat. A simple day of simple pleasures. Though a McDonald's breakfast may be simple it is not really a pleasure. Neither is it for the heavily tattooed young man seemingly passed out on a table inside, removed by police and taken to an ambulance. Using a Go Explore card, we ride the tram up to Broadwater Parklands over the canals lined with mansions and speedboats. Maddy and Mike, a statue of a girl and her teddy bear, sit atop a hill of soft green grass. It's quiet and a respite from the tourist hordes. Beyond is a playground and swimming area. Alex pedals round and round on the playground monorail and took a dip in the chilly water, swimming to the man shaped pontoon. Others bounce on the giant cushion or play in the playground. Alex surprisingly doesn't want to swim in the inflatable water park. Now and then the sky spits light rain. We cross over to the Australia Fair shoppi

Hippies, hipsters and bogan beaches

The folk in Byron Bay live on a different astral plane to me. My plane either uses jet fuel or mathematics. Theirs? Not quite sure, which is why I don't exist there. The drive from Coffs Harbour to Byron Bay was very pretty with some bucolic scenery along the Clarence and Richmond rivers. These were also the stretches as yet unbypassed by the motorway and as such, slow and limited by roadworks. The level of effort in rebuilding the road for fast travel is most impressive, as visible from the new stretches. Yet it is a pity that the same cannot be said of the railway. Back when I was at university I would head back from trips to see the family in Central Queensland by catching the bus from Brisbane to Murwillumbah across in NSW, then the XPT train to Sydney. I remember passing Byron Bay and the bar at the station was still loudly alive despite it being the middle of the night. Sadly, the line now only goes as far as Casino and the derelict Byron Bay yard is now the do

Breakwaters, beaches and the Big Banana

Sleeping in. What is it? Does it exist? I'm no longer certain any more. Anybody for hot cross buns (microwaved, of course)? No, we want to go out. So we drive down to the marina, which is already busy with swimmers and runners, walkers and posers. I guess we are among the second pair as we stroll out on to the long wooden jetty, snapping photos as we go. A couple of fisherman throw lines out. Do they catch anything, or is that just bait on the hook? I don't know. Others swim in the rolling waves, under a warm autumn sun. As with yesterday, massive clumps of cloud are rolling in, threatening rain. A heavy downpour woke us up in the middle of last night. It's peaceful on the jetty, the gentle swoosh of the waves, the breeze rustling our hair. On the unprotected side of the breakwater the waves are heavier, spray launching itself over the rock barrier. Our stomachs are desperately calling for breakfast. Salvation comes in the form of a small burger bar oppo

A not so Good Friday drive to Coffs Harbour

Note to self: Don't drive out of Sydney on Good Friday. Especially if you are heading north. It all started yesterday. After a day of me at work, and Alex building Lego Mindstorm robots nearby, we arrived home in the afternoon to take Kita to boarding. Normally that would be a 15 minute drive. Felt like it took at least three times that in the traffic. Almost as bad heading home. We left the house earlier than usual this morning, before 8. The traffic was okay until the northern suburbs Sydney and barely let up until after the turnoff to Port Stephens. There were times we were crawling along at under ten kilometres per hour! Later it was 110 km/h. It took us six hours to reach our late lunch stop of Port Macquarie. There was a general hangriness inside the car by that stage. This was resolved by a great meal at Chop 'n Chill, but we had no chance to admire the pretty scenery outside as the big clouds that had accompanied our drive decided to burst. We were all r