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Showing posts from 2020

2020 be damned

The sounds of cicadas and gushing water fills the air. The chattering others have moved away and I am standing alone on top of the sandstone and concrete fifty-seven metre high wall of the Cordeaux Dam south of Sydney, free to engage in my own thoughts. We are taking our new Mazda CX30 for a first drive. We only picked it up from the showroom yesterday. Alex wanted to go to the zoo, but with a renewed wave of COVID-19 in Sydney we need to find somewhere outdoors, away from crowds. Apart from a Muslim group at the picnic grounds further up the road we are the only ones here. The dam design was supposedly inspired by Egyptian architecture, popular at the time due to the recent opening of Tutankhamen's Tomb. The entrance has grand columns, as does the water outlet far below.   My relationship with water, this water, is not a pleasant one right now. The Cordeaux Dam is part of the Nepean Gorge catchment, the source of the Hawkesbury-Nepean River system. Four days ago we drove northward

100 years of Qantas

Today marks Qantas' centenary, starting from a bush airline in outback Queensland to an international powerhouse today. Sadly, the airline's 100th birthday celebrations have been muted by the global Coronavirus pandemic, its largest aircraft, the Airbus A380, gathering dust in the Californian desert, its most iconic aircraft, the Boeing 747, finally retired this year. So many staff, from those at the frontline and the back office to their most senior pilots have lost their jobs and their dreams.  Qantas labels itself as The Spirit of Australia, and indeed it is a national icon. So many of my best memories have involved a flight on the Flying Kangaroo.  Our honeymoon flights to London, our first trips to New Zealand and Japan. Trips to see family in Queensland and colleagues in Canberra. The celebrations of the Disney Planes movie premier aboard a Qantas 767. Our one and only proper business class flight to Shanghai. Flights alone and with family. My last flight, a domestic leg

Clogged again!

The journey home from Coffs Harbour took 7.5 hours for a distance of 550 kilometres. We left early and stopped at Big Oyster at Port Macquarie for some fresh oysters and prawns to take away, then at the centre of Port Macquarie for a bathroom break. That was it until we reached Sydney. The traffic started okay out of Coffs Harbour, but at the Kew turn-off south of Port Macquarie there had been a big accident and a traffic jam remained. Finally it started moving, but traffic was heavy, especially north of Newcastle, where again it got clogged. I was tired of dealing with impatient Volkswagens and show-off Mercedes, not to mention the usual range of dickheads in utes. I made a wrong turn in Sydney and ended up on the Pacific Highway, where I had to let a speeding policemen past and then contend with the luxury car entitled not letting me back in. The traffic was so awful that I didn't want to risk hitting peak hour by delaying further. So we arrived hungry and cranky and

Clogged in Coffs

There's no sleeping in. Not when you share a room with a kid who can't stay in bed. The trendy shopping street is closed but for one cafe doing a roaring trade in coffee. Down a little further and across the road, in the rather dingy looking shopping centre, is the rather incongruous sounding K'Pane Artisan Bakery. The chunky Pork Penang Pie (Thai curry) is very good, but its the smooth and creamy custard tart that really hits the spot. We eat our bakery breakfast in the park by the beach. Behind us is a car boot market for the local Lions Club. The tide is in and dogs are sprinting across the sand chasing balls and frisbees. Coffs Creek is too deep to cross now, so we join the pets in playing catch and practice Ippon Kumite. When we grow tired of that spot I am sent back to the motel to retrieve the sunshade tent while the other two cross to the beach near the jetty. The day is hotter now and I swear that the distance between the beach and the motel grows longer with each

The wind river

It is Sunday, market day, and the park in front of the jetty is busy with stalls. There is the usual assortment of junk and craft, jewellery and condiments. One row sells fresh fruit and vegetables. Blueberries are in season, replacing the bananas that this city is known for, though their farms are in decline. Food vans and stall corral an eating area. I try Syrian kubba, while Alex eats burritos.  There is a long and interesting conversation about turtle conservation at a stall run by the local council and Dolphin Conservation Park and the challenges of the young hatchings.  We wander out on to the broad wooden jetty, feeling the stiff breeze against our skin, fighting with the warmth of the bright sun. Then we walk across to the fishermen's market for cooked prawns, taking them back to the motel room.  It is also the first day of daylight saving, and Alex has woken me up too early. I nap in the room for a while, before being dragged out for a d

Dorrigo and Bellingen: Rainforests and Kayaks

Saturday mornings are for sport. Tennis or karate. But it's school holidays, so regular lessons are off, which means more time for other things. Like exercise. That really wasn't the point, but it is good to something physical while on holidays. The first exercise was one of mind and coordination. Driving along the Waterfall Way begins in lovely rural vistas. Green fields of dairy cattle, farm houses with colourful gardens in spring bloom. Past Bellingen, where we will return later, it winds up into the mountains of the escarpment. Three of the passes are single lane only, cars waiting for others to finish.  In my relatively short independent driving career I seem to have done rather a lot of these tightly winding paths across the Great Diving Range. I'm sure the views were spectacular, but I was absolutely focused on the road ahead. We turned off into the Dorrigo National Park Rainforest Centre, which features a small shop with local craft items and informative displays ab