Some of this Terrell wrote – some Narda wrote – some are photos of Narda’s notebook-scrapbook. Sometimes we say the same thing only differently. Cheers! Oh! There are several slideshows – they have arrows on the image so be sure to see what is next.
After three weeks in Pakistan and three weeks in Washington DC we got ourselves to the Netherlands. The first step was testing negative to covid before leaving the States. It took me fifteen days to test negative – Narda seven. I had virtually no symptoms. We changed our flights daily for the last week. When finally, I tested negative we almost got stuck in DC because of a winter storm – our plane got de-iced then to Newark to change to our international flight only to be stuck for another few hours until that plane was de-iced too. See our short clip @ https://youtu.be/49Sl-ApmKAk
Arriving in Amsterdam seven hours later than scheduled with little sleep for 36 hours we were hoping to sit down at a lovely Schiphol Airport café. Amsterdam was in a sort of lock-down due to covid and there was no café/restaurant offering table and chair. We found a takeaway shop, grabbed coffee and sandwich, and found a bench to perch on. Exhausted we manoeuvred onto a train heading toward our destination. I think we probably did not quite get it right and got off in Rotterdam with the hopes of finding a train to our destination, Nieuwerkerk aan den Ijssel. Basically, the town of Nieuwerkerk alongside the Hollandse Ijssel River, being a branch of the Rhine. By the time we got to Rotterdam I could barely stand up, being so tired. Needing to go to the loo I found one on the other side of the turnstile to leave the station. Having left Narda behind on a bench I worried that if I went out, I would not get back in. Seeing a station type of person, I asked if I could go out and come back to use the loo. Realizing that in Holland as with most EU countries one needs to pay to use the loo and I had no euros or any money for that matter I asked a non-English speaking person if I could go in and use the toilet. Someone managed to translate enough for me to lessen my distress.
Back in the station, Narda had figured out what train to take to get to our Nieuwerkerk aan den Ijssel station, from which we would have to walk twenty-minutes to our home sit. Barely being able to stand from exhaustion we grabbed a taxi to our doorstep. Adding twenty bucks to a $17,000+ four-month trip seemed reasonable. We are staying at Fred and Chantelle’s house. [back then at the beginning of Covid-19 there were no masks available in shops, we waited a bit too late so we wore these]…
We did a house exchange with them two-years ago. [there is a short blog over @ https://neuage.me/2020/04/10/rotterdam2020/ for this previous stay] February to March 2020. Half-way through March we took the last flight through Singapore to Adelaide due to covid. We had planned to stay for six-weeks but only got in four weeks. We had to isolate in Adelaide for two weeks, we were given a riverside home from a family member for our quarantine which worked out for Chantelle and Fred to stay at our home for another two weeks. Sometime during 2021 Fred and Chantelle wrote that they were going to Cape Verde off the west coast of Africa for a month and would we be interested in looking after their chickens (six) and two rabbits. Of course, we said yes, with two years of lock-down in Australia we were on our way. It worked out to fit in with Brendan’s marriage (our previous blog) in Pakistan (December) and a visit to see Narda’s new grandson in DC. So here we are. Their car was waiting for us in the driveway.
Then yesterday, Fred said they wanted to stay longer in Cape Verde, two more weeks and yes, we will. Instead of going back to Adelaide in mid-March we will go back April 4th. We left Adelaide 4th of December. Four months of our covid-world-tour.
Now, there is a war in Europe (March first – writing this) with no way to know what happens next. Will our travel end early, or will we leave later – much later? Same house, same situation of not knowing what will happen next – even the same time March 2020. Today, March 01 – with five weeks to go Narda asked whether we should consider going home now. Today there were reports that Russian may have hit a nuclear reactor in Ukraine which could spread to where we are living.
We introduced ourselves to the chickens (chooks in Australia)
Getting settled takes a few days wherever we go. Though we have been here before getting sorted takes time. After a nap – falling into a coma – for a couple of hours, we unpacked and rode bikes that were left for us to Jumbo – our favourite supermarket. Back to bed, slept more than twelve hours.
Narda’s writing is in italics – however she did not type her stuff rather she has a book she writes and adds photos into. Instead of copying all her notes out (I do some) I snapped shots of her book – being a bit on the lazy side + her book looks better than my digital tossups.
Here is a sampler – first few pages – she will eventually add a lot to the sides as she has in other scrapbooks.
one of several bridges we cross to go to town
We do a lot of bike riding. Here is a short clip of one such ride, https://youtu.be/rUNATeRe794
24 January Started gym. We found monthly passes ($9 Euro) on actievandedag. We checked it out and decided to go three times a week. Terrell does the equipment and I listen to podcasts on the bike or tread walker. We then have a free coffee from the machine and head home, usually on our bikes. Side note: we used the same site to do it again in March, so we had full gym membership for two-months producing the chiselled bodies all ‘other’ old people crave. (haha).
27th January Drove to Capelle (Capelle aan den Ijssel), went to a thrift shop, Rataplan – https://rataplan.nl/ bought an outdoor broom – lamp – tins etc. The car won’t start, and we had no idea how to get help so we called Fred, in Cape Verde to tell him of our dire situation. He said that we needed to lock and unlock the car again. We had left it too long on unlocked. In our defense, every car is so different. Once, recently, like a month ago, when we were in DC, we had to ring Chris and say we could not turn off the motor. Of course, he has an electric start/stop button that does not need a key. Why not make cars simple like our twenty-year old Pajero in Australia? Put the key in, it starts, take it out, it stops. No alarms – like in Fred’s car that goes off at random times and causes people to look at us. Two old people in a car with ‘urban art’ on the side. I complained to my son, Sacha, that people looked at as if we were a couple of old stoners. I won’t pass on what he said. Bike to Jumbo when we got home.
Later in the week…found a nearby shopping centre, Binnenhof where we went to the grocery store, Lidl, a store we shopped at a lot in earlier stays. It is much like Aldi cheaper than the larger Jumbo type of grocery stores. This is the only Lidl we found in our ten-weeks in Holland this time. You know when your blog is getting boring when all there is to talk about is a discount grocery shop. Boring is good for us. Feeding chooks, rabbits, bike riding, going to the gym, watching TV in the evening. BTW here is our list of what we watched while here (these are my opinions – Narda seems to favour some differently than me):
|Movies – Documentaries||Series|
|‘Rocket man’ a 2019 biographical musical drama film based on the life and music of British musician Elton John. [loved it]|
‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’ In 1946, a London-based writer begins exchanging letters with residents on the island of Guernsey, which was German-occupied during WWII. Feeling compelled to visit the island, she starts to get a picture of what it was like during the occupation. [loved it]
‘Six minutes to Midnight’ 28/03 British intelligence agent Thomas Miller must stop the repatriation of a few students to Germany after he is framed for murder and embroiled in an espionage scheme. [forgot it already]
The Trader A man sells second-hand clothing and household items out of his minibus in rural Georgia in exchange for potatoes, the only currency available in the region. [short about half an hour – interesting]
The Show Must Go On: The Queen + Adam Lambert Story (doco) [loved it]
Enrico Piaggio ‘Vespa’ Italian – Netflix [an engrossing biopic about the noted Italian entrepreneur and scooter pioneer] [loved it]
‘Against the Ice’ [Exploring Greenland’s vast landscape for a lost map, two men must fight to survive. Based on the true story of Denmark’s 1909 polar expedition.] [Narda liked it more than me]
The Yukon Assignment (doco) [A British father and son undertake a 500-mile canoe journey through the Canadian wilderness.] [Narda liked it more than me]
Diecisiete (Seventeen) [To find his therapy dog, a 17-year-old escapes from juvie and embarks on a journey with his brother and grandmother through Cantabria.] [loved it]
Three songs for Benazir (doco Afghan) [The story of Shaista, a young man who — newly married to Benazir and living in a camp for displaced persons in Kabul — struggles to balance his dreams of joining the Afghan National Army with the responsibilities of starting a family.] [interesting]
Steve Martin/Martin Short – special [OK for a no-brainer to relax with]
Lead me home (doco about homelessness in USA) [sad]
‘The Lost Daughter’ [A college professor confronts her unsettling past after meeting a woman and her young daughter while on vacation in Italy. Her obsession with the woman and her daughter prompts memories of her early motherhood.]
‘Two Popes’ [OK, Narda liked it]]
‘The Power of the Dog’ [A domineering rancher responds with mocking cruelty when his brother brings home a new wife and her son, until the unexpected comes to pass.] [quite good]
Enola Holmes [While searching for her missing mother, intrepid teen Enola Holmes uses her sleuthing skills to outsmart big brother Sherlock and help a runaway lord.] [OK]
Don’t look up [Two low-level astronomers must go on a giant media tour to warn mankind of an approaching comet that will destroy planet Earth.] [liked it]
Respect – Aretha Franklin [liked it]
|Borderliner – Norwegian – Season 1 – Steven King mentioned on Twitter that he liked this so of course we do too. [we sort of liked it]|
Reinventing Anna – Season 1 – [A journalist investigates the case of Anna Delvey, the Instagram-legendary heiress who stole the hearts and money of New York elites] [OK for a no-brainer to relax with]
Pieces of Her – Season 1 [A woman pieces together her mother’s dark past after a violent attack in their small town brings hidden threats and deadly secrets to light. Toni Collette] [good]
Station 11 Season 1(ep. 6)– didn’t finish [Survivors of a devastating flu attempt to rebuild and reimagine the world anew while holding on to the best of what’s been lost.] [should have given this a miss]
Alta Mar 3 Seasons [Mysterious deaths on a luxurious ship travelling from Spain to Rio de Janeiro in the 1940s uncover secrets surrounding two sisters who are travelling together.] [could have given this a miss, a bit lame]
season 4 part one Ozark [always good]
Dark Tourist – [series-fascinating]
Succession Season three [loved it]
Emily in Paris Season two [OK for a no-brainer to relax with]
Family Business [comedy series, a Paris family decides to turn its declining kosher butcher shop into the first French marijuana coffee shop.] [loved it]
‘Manifest’ three seasons – January [about an airplane – people returned after five years] [could have given this a miss, a bit lame]
Narda reads more books than me as I am often busy making video clips, primping, staring at the future… the books I read so far here are: ‘A Freewheelin’ Time’, by Suze Rotolo – Bob Dylan’s girlfriend in the 1960s. She is the girl with him on the cover of his Freewheelin’ Album. The book is about Greenwich Village in the 1960s. As one who lived there at that time in an earlier, hipper than I am now time, I really liked the book. I started reading Henry Miller’s ‘Tropic of Cancer’ but quit after a few days – I thought it was just a stupid book. Then I read ‘The End of the Affair’ by Graham Greene, liked that and now I am reading ‘The Power and the Glory’ by Graham Greene. This follows reading other classics I read at the end of 2021 by John Steinbeck (‘East of Eden’ & ‘Travels with Charlie’) which I enjoyed, being one who lived in California and a lot of the other places in the books.
We found some online vouchers for coffee and strawberry waffles at an ice cream store in our local old town, “Ijstartje” [Genieten bij Het ijstaartje Kerklaan 65 A, 2912CJ Nieuwerkerk aan den IJssel] https://www.hetijstaartje.com/. We rode our bikes there and loved the food. The waffles were the very best. We took some photos of us enjoying the snack, then added our compliments and pics on their Facebook page, tagging them. A few days later we bought some chicken feed at a special shop, in another area of Nieuwerkerk. The lady behind the counter said she knew us….did we enjoy the waffles?? Ha!! It happened a couple of times, also in the shopping centre. Instant celebrities.
This was a nice day out taking us several hours to get there and about two to get home as we found wandering country roads to there. A quaint fishing village we ate at Visrestaurant De Meerplaats. [https://www.meerplaats.nl] The place is filled of antiques from past fishing days. We ordered the ‘seafood platter with 6 types of fish’ expensive but a good variety. The dock is worth the wander with the fleet coming in early in the day.
We stopped at a pancake place on the way home. As we so often discovered, many places wouldn’t take our US credit card (Visa). They want some Dutch card linked with a Dutch bank. Not having much cash on us at the time we put everything out on the table and managed to get one pancake and a coffee between us.
February 11 Mau’s visit. Great to see her again (Narda has known Mau for several decades having done music study with her in Hungary in the 1980s. She lives in Hamburg and we have visited often). We have many enjoyable talks, she has an interesting perspective on things and on my life. I picked her up at the Nieuwerkerk train station. I parked the car and went to sit next the track. Watching folks getting off I did no see her. Then I phoned and heard her answer. She had walked straight past me. With all the winter gear as well as masks we did not recognize each other! That evening we went for a walk, and in true fashion – got lost. Which caused a bit of merriment.
13th February – Another day out, this time train both ways. The Escher Museum was a highlight, and we watched a protest march (antivaxxers protesting that they lost their freedom) I walked alongside a woman who was shouting “freedom” I told her we want freedom from the pandemic. The woman behind pushed me away…..quite hard, I nearly fell. 😊.
15th February Capella – another long bike ride through forests in Hitland. We found a lovely cafe- Schollebos Pannenkoek https://www.schollebos.nl/ for lunch then to the the thrift store where I bought some nice ‘different’ jeans. Wesley and Chantal from next door had kindly lent us an extra bike for Mau to ride.( I had regular beers with Wesley! It’s quite the social area. As soon as the sun shines, they are all out, talking and drinking beer.Good practice for my Dutch!) Our ride home was a challenge – the storm beginning – riding in the rain and wind. Mau left next morning back to Hamburg by train. Pannenkoek- Petit Restaurant Schollebos biedt haar talrijke bezoekers een heerlijke keuze aan van meer dan 40 verschillende smaken pannenkoeken! Binnen de regio zijn wij al jarenlang bekend als een zeer gastvrij Pannenkoekenhuis!
February 24 – A down day (meaning not going out and doing stuff – not down psychologically – just staying home) Russia in the Ukraine unfolding. (on our TV we found the English-speaking channels after a few weeks; CNN, EuroNews, BBC, Al Jazeera – for the next two months the only thing on those stations was about the war – 24/7) Sunny day, weather seems to be getting better. We rode to the gym, got a few groceries on the way home. A fairly typical day.
26 February It was nice to catch up with Narda’s cousins on Saturday. They drove out to our place, which I guess was about an hours drive from Utrecht. After the breakfast we went for a walk in the neighbourhood. There are some lovely walks here and we made it, without actually doing it on purpose, to the old town. Hans was the one who studiously kept us up to date on all the changing border regulations.
March 1 – Tuesday. Drive to Kinderdijk. We followed the small roads, often becoming very small with water on both sides and me getting nervous about oncoming traffic. On the way back we dropped into a kringloopwinkel, bought some “Delft” bowls (and other things we didn’t need).
We went to find Jeff Bezos’ yacht in lblasserdam (Rotterdam vicinity). We got through the gate (‘WARNING NO TRESPASSING”) And got quickly escorted out of the yard. The De Hef bridge in Rotterdam will be dismantled for a day this summer, so that Jeff Bezos’ boat can be sailed to sea. Otherwise, the ship cannot pass the National Monument. Read about it here, A Bridge Too Far? Thousands of Rotterdammers Are Lining Up to Pelt Jeff Bezos’s Gigayacht With Rotten Eggs.
My photos of Bezo’s bit of a boat in the slideshow above – could not get any closer. I actually thought I could sneak onto the boat. Reminds me of one time in Dalian, China, I heard there was an aircraft carrier being built, and no one had posted photos of it so we went onto the dock and got escorted quite quickly out of there. I had said I had just wanted to take a few photos for my blog, 300 mm zoom on my camera ready for it. This was in 2010.
Sunday 27th a sunny day but freezing, literally. We cycled along the Ijssel dijk towards Rotterdam. Our theory was to ride into the wind and then sail home with it on our backs. It seems the wind changed direction on us! Still, we had nice morning tea at Brasserie L’Oeuf (https://www.loeuf.nl/), a tennis club with a great coffee shop. We crossed the Algerabrug (Capelle Aan Den Ijssel) at the beginning of Rotterdam. We had planned to continue on to Kinderdijk but were exhausted.
March 02 After the gym we drove to Delft Ikea to get some new rollers which broke on one of the curtains. The Ikea folk were very good and search awhile finding the parts we needed – no charge – all fixed. We then parked in the municipal car park in Delft and walked around the lovely old city.
March 5 Took a drive to ‘s-Hertogenbosch, locally known as Den Bosch, for obvious reasons! We loved the huge cathedral, St Josephs. One of the best I have ever seen.
We took the train-tram to Den Hague to visit the International Court of Justice – which was closed. However, there was a ringing of bells for International Women’s Day and that can be heard in our video clip for here. After a bit of a wander around the court we hopped a tram to Scheveningen Beach. Being still winter, most things were closed. We tried to get into the local casino – to use the toilet, but they were hoping we were there to gamble our life away. Narda did not have any photo ID on her, so we were banned. The boardwalk along the beach was great. We walked out on a pier. We are now watching a TV Series (SBS on Demand), “Penoza” – in Dutch with English subtitles (up there with Breaking Bad) that is using this very same pier in Season 3 – 5. You can see the pier in our clip of this place, above.
Some snapshots (do they still say that?) of the International Court of Justice, World Court, in The Hague, The Netherlands – slideshow below. BTW, the first image is not the court building, it is the 5* Grand Hotel Amrâth Kurhaus https://www.amrathkurhaus.com/, but you knew that didn’t you? The following photo is the court.
We were in The Hague in 2008 with Brendan. Here is a photo of then and now –
March 10 took the freeway there, quite difficult as they go very fast and the A20 becomes the A15 then the A13 all at high speed. Our drive back was quicker using more local roads. And much more relaxing. The Euromast was worth it. Speccie views. Rotterdam is a very big city, huge rivers, bridges etc. we had a Turkish pizza (rolled up) for lunch very tasty. Also met a German couple who had the day there from a cruise on the Aida ship which we saw from the Euromast. This was a seven-day cruise for 700 Euros as an intro offer. You can track this ship @ https://www.cruisemapper.com/?imo=9781877 – built in 2021 – 6600 passengers.
Below slideshow – mostly images from atop Euromast – others from the same day in Rotterdam.
We have often gone to Narda’s hometown of Utrecht.
These were the streetlights giving us a quiet area.
This area reminds me of living in Greenwich Village in the 1960s – early 1970s with a lot of funky shops and people’s windows with various objects making it an interesting area to stroll through. Bit of a slideshow below – take your time – not automated…difficult to choose only a handful of images when we have hundreds but these will paint the picture so to speak.
And of course, all those canals…(animated gif below change every three-seconds)
Narda’s cousin, Hans Biemond, visited and took us on a day’s walking tour through Utrecht. What a great personal guide to this wonderful place. He brought us wonderful chocolates with an image of the Dom centred from the Theo Blom Bakery. https://banketbakkerijtheoblom.nl/ (Since 1882, our building on the Zadelstraat has housed a confectionery. First under the name Patisserie La Haye, until Theo Blom took over the shop in 1922 and started manufacturing the famous Domtorentjes.)
On our walk we went past this wolf statue, “Symbol of Justice”. [“The wolf is not always a feared and hated creature. In the medieval village of Utrecht, Netherlands the symbol of justice is the wolf.
The courtyard of the criminal justice centre displays a magnificent statue of a blindfolded white wolf. Why the blindfold? Because as the saying goes “justice is blind”. This is done in order to indicate that justice is (or should be) meted out objectively, without fear or favour, regardless of identity, money, power, or weakness.”]
Along the way there are plaques on the paths indicating someone was taken from the house by Nazis in WW 2.
The flat that we had was very good – full of vegetarian ~ health food stuff, just like being at home (wherever we are).
We tend not to go out for meals; I am too fussy with my low-carb, vegetarian diet, but we did go to dinner at the underground restaurant t Oude Pothuyshttps://www.pothuys.nl/ underground restaurant Oudegracht 279, 3511 PA Utrecht – Lovely fondue cheese dipping.
t Oude Pothuys is set in an underground cave like atmosphere by the Old Canal (Oude Gracht). One of the few pubs that feature live music. We stuffed ourselves with a cheese fondue (the first thing we did when back in Adelaide was to order a fondue set. We had one when we lived in Brooklyn about 2006 but have no idea where it ended up; maybe China, maybe in our shed – don’t remember). It was so good. The Dutch & cheese – wow! We had a dessert too, though I do not recall what it was – I just remember the cheese fondue. We left before the band started but we have heard that a lot of lively groups play there.
We looked at some old churches
and did lots of walking. Utrecht is so much easier to hang out in than Amsterdam. The Dom is being worked on for the next few years so we will come back for its re-opening in a few years. It was built between 1321 and 1382 so a few more years should keep it going.
We came back for a day visit to Utrecht a few weeks later – walking and walking, with Narda’s cousin, Hans and family. Hans is doing up an old van that he calls ‘Blue Note’ to travel around the UK and Europe.
We went to this historic Rietveld Schröder House in Utrecht built in 1924 by Dutch architect Gerrit Rietveld for Mrs. Truus Schröder-Schräder and her three children. She commissioned the house to be designed preferably without walls. It is a UNESCO World Heritage. Not being a particular house person, I looked up why folks were so ga ga about this place;
Why is the Schroder House important? “The house is globally recognized as the most influential domestic building of the early modern period due to its radical approach to design and the use of space. Its lasting influence can still be felt in architecture to this day.” (the internet). Excuse the image – my camera was going nuts and had some strange filter that I do not have the knowledge or time or care factor to fix.
Further along on our day’s walk we passed one of those community gardens scattered around Holland, usually outside of cities. [if you want to read more about it Esther J. Community gardens in urban areas: A critical reflection on the extent to which they strengthen social cohesion and provide alternative food” over @ https://edepot.wur.nl/345279 It is in English – 260 pages or so and has such groovy chapters such as ‘Conflicts at the garden’, and other stuff. If you like PhD thesis’ mine “Conversational Analysis of Chat Room Talk” is at https://neuage.org/ODAM.htm Anyway, these gardens are really Kool. Apparently, one cannot sleep in their little shacks, though we saw some with nice furniture, TV, little kitchen…when we were there, Spring, almost, late March, there were a lot of folks out puttering around, digging holes, and generally looking happy in their little organic world.
On our way back we walked through a tunnel that had a canal in it, and a canal above us. The Dutch love putting canals everywhere.
It seemed that we now were in rather pleasant weather being late March and the temperature being a blistering 12 degrees centigrade with less wind than most previous days the time to go for a full day pedal was at hand. We spent hours getting to what ended up being our destination, the village of Bleiswijk, a faraway distance of 11.4 kilometres, OK that does not sound very far, especially on a flat surface, little wind, and Google does yak on about it is 35 minutes away from Nieuwerkerk /d/Ijssel.
We did stop lots (to take photos/video/drink coffee/eat stuff, rest) and managed to do it in a record speed of four-hours. We had really yummy cake & coffee at Jumbos then headed home which only took a bit over an hour in time for our afternoon nap.
The local church is 500-hundred years older than me.
We have had lots of visits with Narda’s family. Cousins and friends. One cousin, Bea Biemond, remembers seeing Narda sail away when she was four years old, on their ship to Australia. Bea was five or six at the time. Her brother, Len, lives next door. He has a real man’s house with two motorcycles in his lounge. He has choppers too. Narda has stories of riding on the back of one of his choppers decades ago, at high speed, on a visit in the 1980s to Holland. She was a bit terrified – no helmets either.
A day in Vianen, visiting cousin Els. Vianen is another cool Dutch village.
To quote wikipedia “Vianen received city rights in 1337. Vianen thrived under the counts of Brederode, who acquired its lordship through marriage early in the 15th century. It formed a self-proclaimed sovereign seignory till 1795, including Vianen, Lexmond, Hei- en Boeicop and Meerkerk. During the Middle Ages, as a “free city,” Vianen could be a haven for felons and escaped serfs. Of the three castles built during the town’s history, Castle Batestein was said to be one of the most beautiful in the Netherlands. Its only remnants are a 17th-century brick gate and water-pump. Remnants of the old city wall are visible girdling parts of the old downtown.
Vianen celebrates its city rights every year in October with a horse-market. Besides the horses there are also other activities on this day, such as a fair and market and traditional Dutch games.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vianen (April 2022).
The house and its contents are like a museum. For lunch we had yummy pea soup with rhubarb (mine was not so traditional as they left out the meat) and wonderful cream tarts for dessert.
Winding up. We are leaving our ten-week home in Nieuwerkerk aan den Ijssel and going home. We have a place to stay in the city of Leiden. We are struggling, as always, with too much weight for our baggage. The limit is 30 kilos for checked in bags – giving us 60 kilos (132 pounds) to whittle four-months travel down to. Narda’s dresses from Brendan’s Lahore wedding is a bit much. We bought few souvenirs or foreign crap, where does all this stuff come from? Nevertheless, we spent days taking stuff out put more in. We even have an oil painting that Narda’s grandfather gave to his wife on their wedding day. Cool painting. Els had it and passed it on to family, which is Narda. Maybe someone famous painted it, couldn’t find a name. If it is worth a million bucks (USD please) we would probably part with it.
Our last night at home in Nieuwerkerk aan den Ijssel we went to the local windmill restaurant, Molen Windlust windmill. I think it is the only the second time we had eaten out in our ten-weeks there (not counting when we went to other cities) as place were closed until mid-March due to Covid-19.
We drove Fred and Chantelle’s car to Leiden (population 119,713 now, 4000 people in 1389 – not counting us, perhaps either time). There was too much to take on a train. Maybe we are getting older, 60 kilos plus lots of carry on is heavy. Carry on is a trip of its own. The say seven kilos each. However, camera and a handbag is not counted. I bought a very large camera bag at the kringloop (thrift-shop) that not only has my camera, zoom lens, wide-angle lens, but several other items, Kindle, book, plugs, other stuff. Then my coat pockets were full of things, I had on a jumper plus a coat and another bag sort of hidden beneath my coat and if Narda can take a pocketbook/purse (wow! It was so heavy) then I can too, which I did. We probably had another fifteen kilos not weighed at check-in. Each. Back to that soon.
The apartment we had in Leiden was ultramodern. Old factories were being renovated for living spaces. We had great views of the city. And to add to our wonderful stay in the Netherlands we had a bit of snow overnight. This first image is a chair, not comfortable, piece of art I suppose.
We went for a wander at night.
We went for a long night walk, even through a few dark parks. We were more concerned that we would stumble over a rock than we were of someone knocking us over the head and stealing our umbrella. We never think of those things. I remember once when we were in Mexico City and returning to our guesthouse we were saying where we were (I was taking photos of graffiti for my son, Sacha) and people said ‘you walked where?’ Apparently, it was like a gangland hood. Of course, we have wandered about in many a third world country with little thought than ‘how the hell do we get home, now that we are lost’. Of course, I usually have an expensive camera that I am happily photographing everything in sight with.
Watch our little video clip at the beginning of this section on Leiden. In the video the waiter gives a good explanation about the canals in Leiden, how they came about…well worth the listen. We went out for eggs Benedict breakfast to a nifty little restaurant along a canal – lounge-deel-van-het-restaurant – http://lotendewalvis.nl/
On one of our many walks I saw this bike. We thought our e-bikes in Adelaide were good but I think this should be our next one.
01 April Car at Albert Hein’s garage – – flat tyre – Fred came to get RAA to fix – took screw out of tyre – drove to Fred’s 4 – 6.30 there Narda had sauerkraut meal I got left out so had McDonald’s veggie burger on way home.
Should explain…we parked Fred/Chantel’s car at a public garage near our flat as we could not figure out the parking situation where we were staying. In the morning, after our wonderful eggs Benedict we went to collect said automobile only to discover to our dismay that we had a flat tyre. We looked around in search of a way to unflatten it or change tyres which we could not find. In desperation we rang Fred – couple of hours away – and proclaimed our neediness. He rang whatever their equivalent to RAA is. They could not assist as they only help the driver of their insurance. Short story longer, Fred drove to us – some dude found a screw in the tyre – got it out – put on a spare and we drove back to Nieuwerkerk aan den Ijssel. We spent the afternoon with Fred and neighbour Wesley, and Chantelle and Wesley’s son.
Fred made a sauerkraut meal (this is Holland they add lots of meat) for Narda. I seemed to have gotten left out of the dinner plan and on the way back to Leiden we stopped at McDonald’s. Why wouldn’t someone eat at a Dutch McDonald’s?
I had the amazing Veggie Spicy McChicken. No animal was tortured for my meal. Sidenote, we brought back Fred/Chantel’s car the next day to leave it with them and Fred made me the most amazing meal with a portobello mushroom filled with cheese. Also, Burger King has amazing veggie burgers too. Better than McDonald’s.
Before returning Fred/ Chantelle’s car we drove to the hotel we would stay at before flying out – near the airport to leave our stuff. The Ramada @ Amsterdam Airport Schiphol was good for us. They let us fill their luggage closet with our things even though we were not staying there that night but the following night.
Fred had spent the whole day (after returning from their long trip) preparing an amazing BBQ of smoked spareribs, having a feast also with our neighbours Wesley and Chantal and their gorgeous Dutch kids. I have never tasted anything so wonderful. Thanks mate. We will likely return.
😊Wesley helped us many times. The time when the storm almost brought down the chicken coop, the time when we could not figure out the TV, the time when the hood over the stove shorted out, the time when we needed an extra bike, and many more. THANK YOU!!
As we were leaving in a few days back to Australia we needed to get our proof of being virus free. We had hoped to take a train to Amsterdam to a testing place. We walked the half hour to the Leiden Train Station only to discover that there were no trains due to some electronic glitch. ALL services cancelled. This was at 10 AM and they said it would be up and running in a couple of hours. Of course, it was still down until the next day. Meaning, that everyone was now taking the bus. We waited at the bus stop for half an hour with many behind us. If you know the Dutch, take it from me, they do not know how to wait in lines. When the bus stopped everyone pushed forward with the hope that hundreds could fit through the bus door all at once. Somehow, being more pushy than even the Dutch (we lived in China for three years and became good at getting into overcrowded areas) we not only got onto the bus, with my large camera bag included, but we got a seat. Not just any seat but the front seat.
We had a good day in Amsterdam, found the clinic, got tested, proved to be negative, yippee, we were on our way. To celebrate we stopped for pancakes filled with fruit.
We took the wrong bus, opposite direction of the airport. When we realized it we got off and waited for the bus the other direction. This time the bus was empty as we managed to get ourselve to the middle of nowhere/somewhere.
We got ourselves back to the airport and a shuttle to the hotel. Because we had stayed at a Ramada last year for three weeks in Darwin, we had a bunch of points. See our blog about Darwin @ https://neuage.me/2021/03/03/darwin/ We blew them all on a luxury room with a balcony looking out at the airport.
We bought this bottle of booze to have when folks come here in July. Folks being lots of family: Chris and Jessica and children from DC, Sacha and Georgia from Melbourne, Stu and family are here in Adelaide all for Brendan and Sofie, coming from Pakistan to have an Australian wedding. (See their Lahore wedding @ https://neuage.me/2022/02/03/covid-world-tour-2021/
Long story short – we got back home early April. It is now mid-May. Somehow, we got busy the past few weeks, gardening, shopping, family stuff, staring out the window…. See ya next trip which is New Zealand October and November. 2023 early, February – May (again) working on UK, Lahore, Wales, DC, New York, Chicago… Narda just planed our trip to Thailand, Lahore, Malaya for that period and the Chicago/UK/DC/New York for September – November next year. Lots to do on that, but perhaps we will see you along the way. Cheers!
Thanks for coming along on our trip with us.
May 11, 2022 we celebrated 20 years married. Went to Glenelg for a couple of days. We met in 2020 on the internet, of course. Physically a few days later (what they say not to do; meet in a dark place). We met in an unlit car park at the University of South Australia where I was completing my PhD and Narda her Masters (at different campuses) and have been always together ever since. Nine years in New York, three years in China and heaps of travel in between.
Narda is at http://narda.us/
Terrell is at https://neuage.org/
together we are at https://neuage.me/
Leaving Australia ‘Again’: Before the After (e-book updated)
These are a few rambling notes and photos from our little trip from Adelaide, South Australia to Cairns, Queensland. The final cost of fuel (diesel, not including the $93 petrol I put in instead of diesel and had to have the car drained when we were in a small town a month into our journey) was $2339 ($1721 USD) for 12,000 kilometres of travel and camping totalled $1138 ($841 USD). We had hoped to do more free camping. At the end of the day we did 28 nights of free camping, 24 nights at caravan parks and 8 nights at cheap ($10-$15/night places like showgrounds or donations at council run) places. We had planned about ten-days in Tweed Head as a house exchange, but it was cancelled amidst covid close-downs when we got closer. Food, etc we tried for a budget of $350/week. We came close to that with almost all our meals made in the caravan.
The last and only other time I was in Queensland was 1992. My father, 87 years old at the time, flew over from upstate New York. I was concerned such a long trip would be difficult and with changing planes in Chicago and LA and no assistance I thought somewhere he would come unstuck, but he arrived in Sydney. He saw Sacha first and almost burst into tears, he was afraid we would not be there after such a long trip. My two boys aged 8 and ten at the time, and I collected him at Sydney airport in a large RV. I had never driven an RV before and right off we had to navigate rush hour traffic and some bridge that was quite a fright in such a large vehicle.
We got as far north as the Gold Coast and Brisbane then went to our home in Victor Harbor, South Australia through Broken Hill. It was a rather difficult trip for all of us, about four weeks all together. I of course did all the driving, cooking, sorting out everything. My father and the boys all got quite grumpy at times. A typical experience was one Sunday morning I got up and my father was not in the van. Eventually he showed up in suit and tie and wanted to know why we were not ready for church. Holy cow I had not been in a church in a long time, like decades. It all went well as my father announced to seemingly many that he was from Clifton Park, New York. Later in the day when stopped at a shopping centre one of my boys (not telling who) came out with a toy. I asked where he got the money and he said they were passing around a bowl of money at the church and he took out a twenty. Yes, that really happened. One thing to this day that I regret not knowing was that we were supposed to empty the toilet. All vans have some sort of toilet or portable potty setup. We used the toilet until….well, until it was so full it would no longer flush. We also ran out of water due to taking showers. I was never shown how to fill up the water tank, so we just stayed at caravan parks. Gosh I was dumber then than now.
Italic notes are Narda’s notes – the other stuff from Terrell
Planned departure was around lunch time. Actual departure was some hours later.
We drove off happily at the end of the day into the Burra showgrounds. Met by a slightly grumpy caretaker who relieved us of $15 for an unpowered spot, we never-the-less slept like never before. I clocked up 9 hours …pretty solid.
Plenty of space at the Burra Showgrounds.
30 May 2021 Sunday Left home at 2.30 pm. Our plan was to leave about 8 am….so much for plans. We stopped at Stu’s so Narda could say goodbye to the grandchildren. They were not there. Got as far as Burra,
155 kilometres – overnight Burra Showgrounds it was 5 Celsius (41 Fahrenheit) the next morning. The fee at the showgrounds was $15 for an unpowered site. Basic toilets there – could not find the shower. OK for an overnight stay. We got out of there early the next morning.
@ Penrose Caravan Park, a very good caravan park with a lot of spaces. We booked a powered site for three nights @$35/night, which is a bit high and we will do (hopefully) a lot of free sites as 90 days at this price will mean we can only afford a block of tofu to live on per week. Worried about eating tofu we ate the first night at the Silverton Hotel pub I had a very tasty veggie lasagne (rare for me due to the high carbs and I had high blood sugars for the next two days – but worth the change in diet). Narda was happy with the road-kill version of lasagne. A lot of films and commercials are filmed in the Silverton area such as Razorback, Wake in Fright, The Slim Dusty Movie, Mission Impossible II, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. The first stop for any Mad Max tourist should of course be the Silverton Hotel. There is a wealth of history surrounding the hotel, and inside you will find pictures from Mad Max 2, and many of the other productions that have been done out there over the years. The road out past Silverton will also take you to the Mundi Mundi plain, where much of the opening of the film was shot. I tried out for the Mad Max films but there was no one to sign me up, to my temporary dismay.
We went to the Mundi Mundi Lookout to watch the sunset. Missed it by five minutes as we were on Broken Hill time and Silverton – a few kilometres away is on New South Wales time – half an hour difference.
We got a photo of the road there that most of the Mad Max filming was done on.
If it sounds like I am a Mad Max enthusiast. I am not really – I think I saw one of the films many years ago but since so much is made of it here I jumped on the bandwagon as any self-respecting American Leo would. Though it is now on our list of flicks to watch if we ever slow down long enough to watch a whole movie. Speaking of movies; we recently say ‘Nomadland’ the Oscar winning film about people living in caravans and moving about in the States. It is so us. There are wild donkeys around the place – at the pub they say often they will just wander in.
The whole town consists of a pub, church, couple of art galleries…
and a couple of museums – of course there is the Mad Max Museum which we did not pay the ten-dollars to enter proving our loyalty to the film series.
01 June Tuesday
To Daydream mines tour – we have a bit of a video of this – https://youtu.be/_JF_lNJhU9E. The drive is quite rough – don’t take your caravan with you -we didn’t. Narda opened the gates along the way to get us across the barren landscape,
watch the video.
Then there was construction, or as they say in Australia, road works. Starting at Burra, this was a serious slow down for us. Barrier Hwy was slated, apparently, for many millions of dollars to be spent. We drove much of the section driving between 40kmh and 60kmh. So what’s changed, says Leon and Michael. And to that I have no comment except to say that I have more points on my license than perhaps you do. And that’s all I have to say.
I was very relieved when it was over. I am talking about the mine tour at the Daydream Mine. The name comes from the first prospector, who found a piece of silver in the ore. He could not believe his luck and said ‘only in my dreams’. It turned out to be a very productive silver mine.
We took the tour, after a nice introduction which included……no….which was ……yummy jam and cream and scones.. Then we had to put on helmets and go down, very far down. The headroom was much more suited to much short er people than me, and I found it a bit difficult. It cemented my belief that I would never like to be a miner.
Terrell also had a struggle with his leg seizing up and causing him grief, as it seemed to collapse on him as he tried to come back up to ground level. Something we will need to check up on.
“I don’t really believe that folks should be forced to have the vaccine, that would be communist”, said the friendly fellow, camping alone in the Silverton Caravan Park, called Penrose Park. He had his own camp set up, his firewood neatly lined up, and his matching blue kitchen utensils arranged in a wire bookcase. I asked him if he was OCD. He said he worked at the Silverton Pub and had a day off a week, and loved to live here, in his tent and the lovely layout.
The Silverton Pub is a treasure. Lots of famous celebs have been there, making movies like A Town like Alice, Mad Max 2, As Time goes by, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Dirty deeds, Mission Impossible 2, and many others. The area is apparently also used for many commercials, every 2 months or so. Including but not limited to Land rover, Pepsi, West End Beer, Dove Soap, Hyundai, Pajero, Smiths Chips….and so on.
The flying-doctor doctor told us that they often landed on the road to pick up folks in an emergency. We met this charming doctor and her mother watching the sun set at Mundi Mundi. We arrived too late, forgetting, I think, to make the time adjustment form SA to NSW. But it was fun chatting with this interesting person.
Then there was the couple form Melbourne, who, like most of the folks around here, did a runner from Melbourne when it shut down again. They had really interesting travel stories for us, including the Trans Siberian Rail trip, and traveling from Kazakhstan to Tashkent in Uzbekistan by train. We exchanged cards and promised to stay in touch.
So here we are in the caravan park, now on the second evening, feeling relaxed. I feel very sad about Henk’s death and not being able to make the funeral. Hopefully tomorrow we can see the ‘livestream’.
We first went in and had coffee and scones with jam and cream at the one-stop-shop for the mine. Then we did the tour where we learned that
“A miner’s life consisted of twelve-hour days, six days a week. Miners worked by Candlelight which were held in holders known as spiders. Mining method was mostly by hammer and tapping holes, then firing them. Miners did not leave the workings for firings. Pickey boys (Lads of 14-15 years old) would hand pick the ore after a firing, and bag it. Most miners suffered failing eyesight and respiratory diseases.”the internet
We got the senior rate for the tour ($30 each two bucks off the regular admission whoopee) but after scones and coffee, the bill was like thirty eight something – but they were good.
The tour before going into the mines was fine. In the time of covid we even wore masks.
02 June Wednesday
Rain all day – we stayed another night at Penrose Caravan Park. We watched Netflix in the evening.
Our first free camp. The road consists mainly of caravaners. Quite incredible, I think 2 out of 3. The road trains continue on their way oblivious, causing my extended side mirror to flatten against the car each time they whoosh by.
Terrell lit up a nice fire in the rest stop near the highway. There were 5 or 6 other vans and RVs nearby. A magical sky, all the constellations and far away galaxies in full view.
Left Silverton 11 am – shopping in Broken Hill. Found the local dump point (for those who have no idea what a dump point is and its importance to folks like us – think of an indoor loo with no outlet – just a collection tub and what to do with it after a few days) This is our second time to Broken Hill and both times just passing through. Last year we came this way on the way to Port Macquarie. (I am sure you read our blog on this) We will make a special trip here someday as there is so much to see. Mines and all and a train to Sydney.
(OK more interesting stuff too)
Overnight free camping alongside highway 100 Ks west of Wilcannia – arrived 4.45 pm – made a campfire to stay warm – 3 degrees Celsius – 37 degrees in Yank speak.
04 June Friday
Left 8 am – Overnight free camping alongside highway – arrived 2 pm, feel exhausted for all the nothing we have been doing. Perhaps driving through desert landscapes for hours is tiring. First nap since started – stopping in Cobar for petrol – used smoothie maker in bathroom – campfire – 60 Ks from Bourke. To elaborate on those notes…When home I make my daily smoothie with our super blender thingy: almond milk (yes at home I make my own – soaking ¼ cup almonds 24-hours, taking skins off them as we watch Netflix – blending with 4-cups water – enough for 4-days of smoothie, (when travelling I buy it in cartons) kale, blueberries, homemade yogurt, home grown sprouts, coconut oil, flaxseed oil (oils supposed to be good for brain development – ha ha ha – still waiting for that effect after decades of these things) tahini, and powders (hemp protein powder, sugar-free coco, cinnamon, turmeric, Matcha, Green banana fibre, Acai, Pea protein, Spirulina, and a Super Greens) Really! It is a bit embarrassing, so I never tell anyone outside of Narda. She calls it green slime and refuses it – I think it does me good. I made up two large containers of my powder mix – enough for a month+. When we travel, I have a small food blender mixer thingy – so I leave out the kale – everything else goes in. As we do a lot of free camping I usually mix it up and carry my blender into the toilet when we get petrol. There is always somewhere to plug it in – usually where the dryer is plugged in. The daily few hours drive is quiet good – though a lot of sameness,
this is what the landscape looks like after a few hours
I have a fascination with the road trains; many with four-carriages. Signs on the highway say they are up to 53.5 metres – that is 175.5 feet. Stand the truck on its end and about a fifteen-story building.
Another freebie, this time with only a couple of others. Another fire, some wine and a nap.
Met some interesting folks at this caravan park which is the nicest one we have seen. They talked us into going all the way to the gulf, which is quite a lot further than we had planned.
This afternoon (Sunday) we rode our bikes (not the electric ones!) into the small town. Everything was closed though there were many caravans in town. We seem to be spending a lot on diesel, at $1.50 per litre. Heater is on now, the nights are pretty cold, but days are sunny and 18C.
Spend a bit of time removing red dust from many things 😊
red dust after a few days off road (not our van)
Birthday stay, dinner at the RSL, and a wonderful visit to the Qantas Museum where we honoured Henk. Irene told us they had been there twice and he loved it both times. I even made an announcement about him and his long career with Qantas to the tour group we were with, and that the world had lost him only a few weeks ago. Got a very sympathetic response. Then we all had cupcakes for the 25th anniversary of the museum.
Walked through town in the evening, but everything (except the pubs) was closed.
Two degrees Celsius this morning – left Cunnamulla camp site at 9 am – stopped at Wyandra for coffee – drove through Charleville – lunch – walked through old pub Camping 45 Ks north of Augathella 70Ks south of Tambo. Tambo is a town with lots of buildings. We stopped at the library and had a long tour and talk of the town from the local Librarian.
We toured inside several planes including one that apparently cost $35-million to tart up and was to be sold to a Saudi Prince until he was told that the seats were covered in pigskins. Oops! Michael Jackson ended up with it for awhile then it sat in a muddy field in England and the Qantas Museum folks put it together and flew to Longreach.
We got tours through several other planes including a 747 jumbo. See ‘Celebrities and top-secret missions: Stories from the Qantas Founders Museum.
The town of Longreach is good – train station with a train going across to Brisbane that we promised ourselves we would take, ‘one-day’.
– left 2.15 pm to Winton
Lured by the prospect of another free site, we braved the corrugated road for 2 Kms. It was beautiful, on the banks of “The Long Waterhole”, of course all the water side spots were already taken by fellow tight-arses, but we had a beautiful sunrise.
Next morning drove into Winton, we took off the bikes and rode around town. I bought 2 tea shirts at the local Vinnies, and Terrell had an extended conversation with 2 ladies about America and other matters. Well actually, he did the talking and they gave him their rapt attention! One was from Scotland, and knew all about Findhorn, (a hippy place in the 60’s, we visited years ago, and they were still selling books on “how to communicate with your cat”), so that was a wonderful starting point.
Overnight outside Winton staying at The Long Waterhole – there about 4 pm – made campfire – cold. The landscape around The Long Waterhole is dry and dusty. We could have easily stayed for a few days but being at the beginning of our journey we thought one day would suffice. Winton is a good looking town – we missed the chicken racing though…next time.
It was just a pub with no town. But boy the caravans were there. The whole area behind the pub, where we had planned to stay for a gold coin donation was chockers. So folks like us parked on the footpaths, amply wide enough. A good stay and some nice yarns with people in the pub over a beer. We were advised by a local stockwoman to take the inland road over the Atherton tablelands, rather than the coastal road, which we did.
The Prairie Hotel is a free/donation appreciated campsite located on the Flinders Highway (Savage Street) in the small town of Prairie about 43km east of Hughenden in the Flinders Region of Northwest Queensland. The hotel is an authentic Aussie hotel providing a free overnight campsite on its grounds and is a must-see for its collection of stockmen’s hats and other memorabilia from the local area. It is a bit of a bogan (Bogan is Australian and New Zealand slang for a person whose speech, clothing, attitude, and behaviour are considered unrefined or unsophisticated) sort of place. We had planned to eat dinner there. The publican said dinner was steak and veg. I said what was there for vegetarians? He said ‘veg’. We ate in our caravan.
Overnight outside Winton staying at The Long Waterhole – there about 4 pm – made campfire – cold. The landscape around The Long Waterhole is dry and dusty. We could have easily stayed for a few days but being at the beginning of our journey we thought one day would suffice. Winton is a good looking town – we missed the chicken racing though…next time. This is commonly known as the locals’ waterhole. It is approximately 2kms from Winton on the Jundah Road. Long Waterhole is man-made and was once used during the Outback Festival as the site for the World Crayfish Derby! The road to it is pretty rough – even going slow it felt as if the caravan would fall apart.
Charters Towers was founded in the 1870s when gold was discovered by chance at Towers Hill on Christmas Eve 1871 by 12-year-old Aboriginal boy.
A much needed two night stay with power. Washing, clothes and bodies…all clean! Friendly folk in the van next door with good stories about driving on the dirt. An embarrassing exit, as we could not lower our awning. So we fumbled and forced, our neighbour tried to help, Terrell went into the caravan and applied the hammer….hey presto, all fixed.
Two degrees in morning – rode bikes around town, don’t think I would want to spend the rest of my life here, not much of a town in our world though they do their best to promote it with a great visitor’s centre. I bought a fridge magnet to end to our totally covered fridge back home, Narda bought a red backpack.
A little town that boasts one the few sausage trees in the world. We went into the caravan park full of galahs, ducks and turkeys. Quite a racket. Luckily they all went to bed at night. Another nice little bike ride checking out the real estate.
An old disused railway station with carriages on the tracks and lots of memorabilia made the next caravan stay interesting. We stayed here 2 days.
At 930 metres (3,050 ft) above sea level, Ravenshoe is the highest town in Queensland, with Queensland’s highest pub. The railway station is where the caravan park is, easily walkable to town. We did a day drive the area going to the Tully Falls and Gorge. Quite spectacular and groovy at the same time.
We have a bit of a video of the falls and gorge at https://youtu.be/5NvNSorPrwQ
“I can remember my past lives”, the local art shop owner/framer/photographer assured us. He said he used to be a potato farmer in Ireland in a previous life. He was bon in 1953, though he remembers dying in 1954. I can’t quite figure that one out, but he said this sometimes happens and you can live in 2 lives at once. He actually seemed quite intelligent despite these stories. Got the hat in the local craft store, birthday pressie from Terrell.
We had difficulty getting out of this dude’s shop…he just went on and on. Having been ‘an astrologer’ for 40-years (it is how I got to Australia, I was speaking at a conference in Sydney in 1980…blahblahblah) and had spent a decade trapped in a cult, I had heard his spiel too many times to want to hear it again. (BTW I don’t believe in any of this anymore. I grew out of it as most people do). But I did think he had a very chilled dog – see above photo with Narda and animal. I shared a bit about this at https://neuage.me/2013/01/13/those-were-the-days/
The drive from Ravenshoe to Atherton was hairy. Very steep roads, with sharp bends. I was driving much slower than others it seemed, so I had quite a following. Nowhere to allow folks to pass. Sometimes the road had steep drops with no safety barrier. In a later conversation around a campfire, other drivers assured me that they were also freaked out by this particular road, while towing. So it wasn’t just me.
The next day I had pretty severe vertigo. Not sure if there’s a connection. We found a physio in Atherton who was great. She was an expert in this area and diagnosed me with 2 conditions; vestibular neuritis (viral infection of the inner ear) and benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. I have to do brain retraining exercises (watch an X on the wall and rapidly moving my head to make my left ear canal and brain connection make up for the damaged neural connection. A couple of weeks should do it.
Today, 3 days later it’s much better already. Weird stuff.
Deb, a volunteer at the Rocky Creek Memorial Park welcomed us to our free (donation only) park; really nice place.
We stayed at this park for a couple of days. A great area outside of Tolga. During World War II they had the biggest military base in Australia – with the largest military hospital in the Southern Hemisphere — a 3000 bed hospital which treated over 60,000 patients from 1943 to 1945. Next to the caravan site is this great mine.
Now we are waiting for our damper in the last night at Ringers Rest RV Park. A great place, we are close to the nightly fire where a ring of oldies sit around drinking beer and pontificating. I have some nights got myself caught with true blue Trumpers. Blimey. But this is Queensland.
We bought a CD from Dave. A nice country mix “I remember” by his friend, Dennis Russell of his in a tribute for his dad, with also on song about Ringers Rest.
We decided to stay 3 nights, slow down a bit.
Below is the song about Dave and his damper…
We did lots of walks to the nearby stream. I wanted to see the local crocodile that lived there. Narda was not too sure. We were told that freshwater crocs don’t kill humans they just bit. Great. Nevertheless, we never saw it.
We did see a lot of termite hills, some quite large. We will show this later, next month, when we share our video of them along the highway.
One morning at 4 am we heard quite large noises, considering how quiet the countryside we were in was this got us up – we bundled up and went out in the two-degree (centigrade) weather and watched to hot air balloons in the nearby fields. They spent until sunrise – six am or there about – to get them in the air. Apparently, there were 25 people in each. Dave later told us that we could go for half price – $200. Below is a bit of a clip of this. 27 seconds… https://youtu.be/4IjhPwHyY4c
Parked at the caravan park, on the banks of a river. Nice to shower and wash stuff. Then headed off to Pt Douglas and stayed overnight with Carolin and Michael in a very pleasant Airbnb.
That evening we went to the local Irish pub were I drank a Kilkenny, accompanied with pulled pork sliders. All good. Gelatis for dessert.
We were walking to 4 Mile Beach with Carolin and Michael, (on a Tuesday…our holyday), we received the news from Chris that baby was pending, then an hour later baby Josiah was born!!!!!! They had a weird story to tell, with a 3 car pile up smashing into the back of their car, and possibly bringing on the contractions!!!!
Drove back to Mossman, only 15 minutes away and rode our bikes up to the Mossman Gorge Visitors centre. Also found a nice little shop where we bought some pressies for the new boy and his big brother.
Brendan is exploring Skardu in Pakistan, the Masters finally completed. The photo I saw on Facebook was at 13,500 ft. Impressive!!
This place is sooo beautiful. Tall rugged mountains all around, covered in rainforest. If the summers were not so fierce I think we could easily live here.
The drive from Mossman to Cairns follows a coastal road and is spectacular. We took it easy (much to the concern of those behind us!)
Our first full day was getting Terrell’s second shot at a well set up health centre. Today he got his official vaccination certificate from the Australian government!!! Yay.
Below is the exact place for this recent headline, “Queensland Environment Wildlife officers have spotted a crocodile in Lake Placid in Cairns just hours after a man survived a horror attack while swimming.” Apparently the dude went swimming here everyday…crocs watch for patterns, when someone or something does the same thing at the same time they think, ‘yumm’. Narda was opposed to us swimming here – not sure why.
Last night we had a wonderful reunion with Paul, a dear friend I had not seen for 20 years or so. We met his wife, Liz and 2 kids, Hannah (aged 16) and Matthew (aged 14) in their beautiful wooden Cairns house. Carolin and Michael also came. They made nice veggie curry, and we bought some naan bread on the way. Also brought our first attempt at homemade raita, which was enjoyed all round. Lots of reminiscing and great food and fellowship.
click on individual photo below to see full size
The train ride to Karunda was amazing. It reminded us a bit of the Shimla rail trip with steep drops and lots of tunnels; also built in the 1800’s. [in case you missed that blog – with video and photos shoot on over to https://neuage.me/2018/04/05/shimla/] There is a real tourist strip through the town but once we got past that …did not buy anything…[wait! what? yes you did, you bought a few pieces of clothing – I remember. I was there.] we found some lovely trails through rain forest, as you do in this part of the world.
We checked out downtown Cairns, parked in a huge shopping centre and walked down the main drag. We found a neat little market style place where we ate crepes, made by a real Frenchman.
We returned in the evening a few days later when here was a festival of some kind. Nice atmosphere. Terrell had his first parmesan, veggie of course, I had chicken and we got the up graded chips using sweet potatoes. Really good.
We are not those people who take photos of their meals then post them…oh wait!!!
This was one for the history books. A perfectly pleasant free camp (donation) with showers and toilets and LOTS of caravans. A big brown river passing by about 3 metres lower. It rained for 3 days and 3 nights. Solid! This was a first time for me I think.
So trips to Babinda proper, on the other side of the Brice highway were made, umbrella in hand. Eventually most things were wet, though the van did not leak. I was nervous about getting bogged there. We were parked in a bit of a shallow dip. We turned the van around the second day o get out of the water. I asked the guy driving the garbage truck if I should be towing us out to drier parts. He said “nuh, you’re fine. Only twice a year it floods and then it comes above my head. You’ll be fine”. OK.
On the first morning we inspected the brown river and I kid you not, it had risen a solid metre and was flowing alarmingly fast.
But we were fine, as we had been told. On our last morning we ate a hot brekkie, the full works at a café in the charming town, for $8. A bloke sitting nearby told us that Babinda and Tully compete for the dubious honour of having the highest rainfall in Australia. The pub that winds gets the rubber boot trophy until next time.
We went to the Babinda Boulders and the Josephine Falls, a tiered cascade waterfall on the Josephine Creek located in Wooroonooran. We did both on a rainy day. After three days of rain the falls were amazing. Narda said they were ‘the best I have ever seen’ and we have been to Niagara Falls (on both the Canadian and USA side)… whatifs – they were spectacular no matter the comparison. They are dangerous. @ least 18 folks have died slipping on the rocks/falling into the creek. Our photos and video really don’t show the force of these falls – quite incredible. Look at our slideshow below or better yet watch the one-minute clips.
click on individual photo below to see full size
OK! I will tell what happened while here…I was hoping Narda would. Two things:
this is exactly where Billy stopped – choking on the wrong type of fuel
here is a 25 second clip of that hour
A very crowded caravan park in a stunning place. The beach is gorgeous ringed with palm tress. A picture! Blue seas, mountains on the horizon and in the sea (Dunk Island I think).
Yesterday an old friend of Terrell’s (from 35 years ago) drove down to see us, with her friend. We had a nice breakfast in one of the café’s in town, and shared great stories.
The old friend was actually quite young. When I was raising my boys in Victor Harbor back in the 1980s early 1990s their playmates were the Rosalskis family. They were a Baháʼí family that looked after my boys and me when we were going through a very difficult period. In the early 1990s I started a radio station (E-FM Encounter FM) with Rik Rosalski and Sandy Mathewson down south. The last time Sacha remembers seeing Hannah Rosalski was when she was about six and he was ten – early 1990s. We would later see Rik Rosalski in Alice Springs on our journey home.
Vincent Bushy Park
The park was named after Vincent ‘Bushy’ Parker to acknowledge his significance; to many Vincent ‘Bushy’ Parker is known as a war hero. There is a real cool story about the dude here – read about a cool dude.
Another beautiful free camp spot! Nights chatting with travellers from interstate, one from Malta, the wife from Wales. Pleasant conversation. Then we went off to the next beach spot, and picked up some firewood. Riding our bikes to the main street of this little town was nice. We bought 2 post cards and mailed them to the girls. Masks mandatory in the post office/general store! This is a flow over from the Covid restrictions in Townsville. We bought a delicious pineapple (which grows all round here, for brekkie….$3!
After leaving Rollingstone we noticed the brakes behaving badly, locking and causing the caravan to skid. It got significantly worse by the time we got to Townsville so we rang the Redarc friendly tech guy who recommended an auto electrician, and we managed to get an appointment for 8am the next morning. (PS. these are those brakes that were not working days earlier when Narda had to back us up along a country road. They seemed to work a bit when dried out but suddenly did not work at all)
We drove through the trendy Airlie Beach, Whitsundays – kept going
Friendly folk at the auto electrician, a young guy worked in it for an hour or so, trying to save the appliance, but it turned out that we needed a new one. They charged about $450 which was not bad, given the retail price for the part was around that amount.
We had not planned to go to Townsville as it had been in lock-down for a week up to the day before we got there. However, there was no other place nearby to fix our brakes.
Next day we headed to Home Hill. The GPS gave us the run-around, taking us off the Bruce Hwy for 1/32 , then bringing us back onto it! Blimey. But we made a scenic little side-trip through cane fields and small towns.
John Moerman rang and wondered if we were still in Cairns as he was there, on his way to Cooktown. Bummer we missed him.
It was funny because both Paul and John made cracks about Home Hill. John told us it was an incestuous town. Ha ha. Actually, we did notice that in the dogs barking in front yard they were all similar, very similar!!
The campground was nice, an older couple (probably volunteers) were manning it. We paid $20 np for power which was nice, caught up on stories and recharging
The most delicious barramundi for tea was purchased from the local fish and chip shop. Yum. Mine was crumbed. The best fish I’ve ever had.
Off to Ayr to check on some memories. We found and photographed Paul’s old house and drove through the pleasant town. One the way chatted with some ladies at the info centre, outdoors. Lots of opinions about how to pronounce Mackay….Mackay as in Kay the girl’s name…the locals mostly use that version, or Mackay, as we pronounce it….the “posh” southern state version. We decided to stick with that one.
Narda got her second covid-19 shot there (I had mine weeks earlier in Cairns). We also had to get a new windscreen for Billy – bloody road-train threw a rock at him and cracked his window. We spent a day at Port of Mackay which is a relatively a nice place with a long breakwater that is drive-able on. See our clip below.
It was a caravan park next to the visitors centre. We paid $15 for an unpowered site which gave us a choice of places over a large field. The first human contact was a guy who was cycling all over Australia and making a movie of it. He had his little tent, and his gear under a tree and promised more stories. We never followed this, a pity, it would have been interesting.
Bowen is situated on a beautiful stretch of coast. We drove up to some lookout points and took many photos. Other than that it seems a bit of a rough town, at least parts of it.
On the way to Ball Bay we went through Ayr to find Paul’s house where I also stayed some 25 years ago. I took a photo and sent it to him. The place did not remind me of being there lot’s of changes I guess. I had a great gas bag with 3 ladies who were “information” at the entrance of Ayr, where we discussed Covid, as you do these days, and the pronunciation of Mackay.
Then we stopped by Airlie Beach, a beautiful place with lots of touristy things, including a market, shopping, a marina, lots of stunning views. We stopped at Bunnings and bought fairy lights for the caravan and a rubber mat. Then onwards to Ball Bay. I missed the turnoff. Terrell insisted on still going there, so we took the long way, and we certainly did not regret it.
This was a lovely experience. A free council site, about 20 kms off the Bruce highway, right on the beach. It had toilets, and little mini camp kitchen with a power point and hot water. Plenty of shade. When we fist arrived we just managed to find a spot, right next door to a couple we became quite friendly with, Kevin and Magda (?)
On the Sunday many folks left: end of school holidays. After that we had the van brigade with their young people and sliding doors. Locally called Whizz Bangers. It’s the noise those sliding doors make…all night. We made some friends. A young guy named Nick and his girlfriend of 3 months, Ebony. Lovely people. We met Nick in a laundromat in Mackay and got talking about where we were staying. I told him that if he turned up I would give him a beer😉
What was interesting to me that Nick was a true traveller and had spent much of his life working as a chef, and saving enough to travel, then going 6 months to India and many other places until he ran out of money. So had some nice talks about that, all of us really missing international travel in this crazy pandemic. They left us a lovely letter, an Elvis calendar and a little piece of art made from a twig. We have them on Facebook.
In the time in Ball Bay I had my second Astra Zeneca jab. No side effects at all, so far. We found an appointment in a surgery in the shopping centre in Mackay. I was part of a group, 5 of us, who got vaccinated together. We shared jokes about…was she going to use the same needle, what do we say to non-vaxxers etc. Nice. I didn’t feel it at all.
We explored the area, took some walks on the beach where we got some fantastic sunrise photos. Then a longer walk to the end, mangroves, and a lovely walk back (in the shade….lots of beautiful groves of trees, many paperbarks and palm trees. Some great beach houses. I think this is quite affordable.
Then there was the door. We fiddled and farted around with it, trying to install the very expensive little plastic handle ($56!!!!) which we had purchased at Jayco, Townsville. In the end, Kevin our friendly neighbour with the generator, installed it for us. He insisted that he did not know what he was doing, but that he was persistent, and liked to work things out. All good!
We had a couple of nice happy hours with these folks, set up by another newly arrived Czech couple, who came in their very fancy RV, complete with pull-outs. We had lots of conversations about travel, especially cruises. It was fun, our little circle in the middle of the grounds.
This was one of if not my favorite spot. We were there for six days. One of the ‘standards’ was this generation whatever it is for people in their 30s who would spend most of the day walking around the park in his boxer shorts and nothing else talking on his phone. I think he was working from home (well in this case from the caravan park) and he was always talking business. He seemed like a friendly fellow – wish I had gotten a photo of him – with no self-consciousness. He had one of those vans that people call ‘ Whizz Bangers ‘ next to us.
See our little slideshow of this place below – if you think we are throwing up a lot of photos, it is about one-percent of them. The photo with the fence around it is a crocodile preventive thingy – due to the number of these delightful playful creatures to go for a swim do it inside the fenced area or you will be quickly eaten.
And here I sit, writing this, in the caravan parked on the street behind the visitors’ centre, together with a whole street of caravans of all shapes and sizes. This is a free spot, hot showers included. Terrell is fast asleep, now it’s 6.30am, I’m getting close to accidently waking him up 😊…no I won’t do that.
We did a big U turn when we heard that NSW was closed and we would have to quarantine if we returned home through NSW. So back to Home Hill and onwards to the NT border and then home along the Stuart Hwy.
Last night we did something we never do…go to the pub for a drink and see the band. They were a duet of ladies with their guitars and no electronic add ons other than the PA/mics. They were great. Lots of golden oldies with great voices and lovely harmonies. Very enjoyable, though we were only there for about ½ an hour.
It was a lovely shady spot with a thick green tree shading us. There are we few more folks, but not crowded. The couple near us have been on the road for 14 years. They still love it. We took the bikes off and road along a service road next to the railway track. Half an hour of exercise.
We have started to get into a groove, leaving fairly early in the morning, on our way by at least 8.30am. Now we pack sandwiches; I eat mine at about 11.00am., and we take the thermos for coffee. It’s all pretty efficient and we make good progress
Julia creek is beautiful if you get there early enough for a water’s edge spot, but we didn’t and parked in the large dusty field. Not too bad, but on the second night a caravan parked itself right next to us…despite there being plenty of room not to do that. I was pretty cranky about it; you could hear every word they said!.
Then…..a wind gust tore the caravan awing. We tried taping it, but the more we tried the more it ripped. In the end I phoned Jeff Hale (bless) who said to just rip it right off, take all the canvas off. It worked, we folded the frame back into place and the next morning we were happily on our way. I made a phone call to a guy in Mt Isa to see if he could repair it. It will be an insurance job, but he said he could do it, but the awning would have to come from Brisbane which would take two weeks. So we decided to leave it until we get home to Adelaide (which I’ve just hear is in a 7 day lock down…schools closed etc, because of some Covid cases with the Delta strain in Modbury Hospital.
We also mailed a book for Liam, about the Australian monster dinosaurs.
I found the local dunnart’s interesting – even took a short clip of one though I am unable to find my file – hopefully you can see it here where I posted it on facebook –
Here I sit in the most beautiful place, above the blue waters of the dam. Incredible. There are hundreds of caravans here, but it’s a huge area. Many folks on the actual shores of the dam. We are up a bit, with a view of water from 3 sides.
Our trip here was interesting. After shopping in Cloncurry (called Curry by the locals) where I scored an awesome meat pie, almost as good as a Villis, we drove to the camping are, studiously following the directions in Camps 8. “At the first Y you take a left”. We literally did that, onto a 2 wheel track, not realising that there are proper dirt roads all the way. We got monumentally stuck. Too many trees, and a sharp out-crop of rocks which Billy got stuck on, but Terrell took care of this with his trusty hammer. Eventually we figured out that we had to saw down a small tree, (sorry Jess) and managed to squeeze though. No damage to the car or van due to Terrell’s good directing. Oh well, we got there, and it was definitely worth it!!!
We took a short afternoon nap, with the breeze wafting through the van and a walk around the grounds. Terrell slipped and fell hard onto his knees. A nasty fall, he now sports a couple of decent bandages on each knee and a ton of Betadine!
We drove to an amazing mine site called Mary Kathleen. It was owned by Rio Tinto who were mining uranium. They built a complete town nearby, with houses, cafes shopping centre and a school for the miners. It was closed in 1985 and all the houses were relocated to Cloncurry, where they are still in use today. Nothing remains of the town, part some foundations and road curbs.
The mine itself was a 6km serious 4WD ride away. A huge place, all in tiers, with a startling blue lake at the bottom. No one can swim there as it is still contaminated. Certainly worth a look, it was just 6 Kms from our camping site.
Our neighbours showed us their yabbie catch. The males have soft red claws, and they can be eaten though we were told they are not as tasty as lobster! They had planned to make a curry using 20 of these yabbies.
We reluctantly left Corella Dam, to get some connection. Nothing for several days. I had a very unpleasant experience on the drive, as a large truck overtook a road train on a curve and came over the double lines, at least a foot onto my side. I was doing 80Kms at the time, and managed to swerve off the road and into the shoulder. All good, but it sure left my heart pounding.
Mt Isa is dominated by the mine. Large chimneys loom over the town. It is quite large, Coles and Woollies (which we discovered was the better of the two) and we managed to get some help at the Telstra shop. Terrell could not get his hot spot working on the phone. It took two of them ½ hour to find it, but it turned out to be that the ‘data saver’ was on. They now also sell Oppo phones so that perhaps gives us a bit of tech help when we need it.
The situation in Adelaide is pretty bad Covid wise. Hot spots include Wyn Vale Dam, TTP, Modbury Hospital. The girls, Clare and Stu are all in quarantine at home for 2 weeks. Stu has lost 10 shifts of work. Really tough.
The caravan park at Mt Isa is pretty average with the usual squashed up site, for $45! But we did get stuff done, washed hair, washed clothes, checked internet stuff.
A couple of hours drive and we are at this town 12 Km from the NT border. We followed the Camps 8 directions, past the bridge, turn north, 2 Kms of dirt road and here we are. An amazing site, with our own little billabong, birdlife, 2 fire places and absolutely no road noise. Magic. It’s so quiet and private….
The petrol station was chockers, caravans lined up down the highway. They were charging 1.79 per litre.
Camooweal Billabong is a huge free camp on Lake Francis – even though hundreds go park we were isolated from the herd and had our own little billabong. We rode our bikes to town – bought an ice cream a couple of fridge magnets and that was one of our days. See our groovy photos below:
We got through the NT border, friendly cop, chatty, complaining that this border did not have QR codes like they apparently do In WA. Listening to Imran Kahn’s CD. Very interesting perspective on the USA after 9/11 and how they waged a “war on terror” costing many thousands of lives in the Muslim community world wide.
This place is great. Barkly Homestead. It has a caravan park, a little pool, lots of space, and tonight we went to the restaurant for dinner. I had meat lovers pizza and Terrell had seared salmon. All good. We watched the Aussies win the swimming in the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Bren just texted that he’s back in Lahore after a really interesting trip north into the Himalayas. Looking forward to hearing more.
Josiah is 1 month old. That went very quickly. Sad that we can’t go over there to see the little guy. SA is in lockdown. It’s all a mess. Our Prime Minister Scott Morrison seems to think that borders closings are going to save us from the Delta mutation, instead of putting all effort into getting everyone vaccinated. Grrr.
We left Barkly Homestead early and got over the border and to Tennant Creek stopping at the Three Way Roadhouse. Three Ways is a roadhouse located at the junction of the Stuart and Barkly Highways, 25 kilometers north of Tennant Creek. Diesel fuel was $2.04 per litre – the highest on this trip. For comparison it is about $1.35 in Adelaide. We filled up not knowing if there would be more available between Tennant Creek and Alice Springs 508 KM away. One full tank gets us abut 450 Ks and having run out back Charters Towers toward the beginning of our trip we were a bit insecure. ‘Spoiler alert’… we didn’t run of fuel getting to Alice.
Karlu Karlu / Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve is a protected area in the Northern Territory of Australia located in the locality of Warumungu about 105 km south of Tennant Creek, and 393 km north of Alice Springs. the Devils Marble are important to the local Warumungu, Kaytetye, Alyawarra, and Warlpiri people who live in the traditional country that surrounds them
An amazing place, but we weren’t the only ones who thought so. The camp site already had 35 caravans, pretty much lined up as in a caravan park. It is a national park, with some nice waking trails where you can see the rock formations from all sides. It’s pretty amazing and has a place in the indigenous people’s dreamtime stories. In the evening we were invited to a campfire to listen to a ranger tell us about his role as a manger of several similar sites, and lots of interesting information about the wildlife, kangaroos, snakes, and Australian’s largest lizard, the Perentie 2 ½ metres long, which keeps the snakes at bay. Much of their work is to cull feral animals (cats mainly, but also donkeys) which threaten the native population.
Another bonus was a guy who, toward sunset went up the path a bit, with the back drop of the rocks, and played his trumpet. Wonderful. Jazz standards like Autumn Leaves, Don’t get around much anymore, Summer Time, all with beautiful improvisations. I asked him about his James Morrisonesque playing and he said he actually had one of his trumpets which he bought from him. He showed me the inscription. Very cool.
A very pleasant little stay with some interesting characters. There was an ex-truckie in his own little set-up with car and tent, who watched me reverse the caravan ( I was little concerned) and told me later that I drove better than 90% of his trucker mates. Not true I’m sure, but I’ll take it!
Then we met a couple of women, both with their own fancy RV’s, who had met further up the road and decided, after asking each other relevant questions like “How fast do you drive?”, to travel together. So they follow each other at a decent speed of 100 KPH, and enjoy each other’s company’. They both gave me the guided tour of their vans and I told them to watch “Nomadland”.
Barrow Creek: “Barrow Creek is a very small town, with a current population of 11, in the southern Northern Territory of Australia. It is located on the Stuart Highway, about 280 km north of Alice Springs, about halfway from there to Tennant Creek. The main feature of the town is the roadhouse/hotel” We stopped here and ‘refreshed’.
Much nicer than I was expecting. A few years ago it was the most dangerous city in the world per capita, mainly because of the stabbings!
We met up with a friend of Terrell’s from way way back….30 years or so, Rik Rosalski. It was interesting to listen to his stories about his youth work with the Indigenous young people. Lots of issues but he is a gentle type and works well with them in a non-judgemental way.
The second day Rik invited us back for lunch, where we met his son Nik and his wife and little son. They were a lovely couple and we enjoyed shooting the breeze with this family.
We decided to stay another night and get some stuff done. The internet (Telstra) is pretty sparce on this trip. I worked with Shambhu in his project to earn some commission on carpet sales from the Moghul Company to my friends. I put up a blurb on Facebook with a bunch of pictures describing this situation (which for both Shambhu and the Carpet seller is pretty dire now with Covid) Surprisingly, I got 5 expressions of interest almost straight away (Jenn, Jo, Liz, Deanna, Marnie). So we’ll see. I hope it all works out.
Alice Springs is set amongst rocky hills, which reflect the sun and it make quite a colourful sight. It has a central area, usual shops, and a huge police station and Federal Court buildings! We bought a nice music box at a jeweller for Mabel’s birthday in the shopping mall.
Rik also showed us a nice lookout point dedicated to soldiers in different wars Australia has fought in. It was a beautiful spot. We also had a bike ride near the caravan park. The town is pretty good for that, with lots of bike paths, which Rik enjoyed with his newly purchased E-Bike….a real chunky one!
We got to the South Australia border – worried for days that we would be refused entry. We saw the sign – got rid of our fruit and veggies – we filled in the online permit covid thingy and hoped for the best. No one was there to greet us – I had wanted a full brass band, dancing girls in mini-skirts (oh shit the me-2 freaks are going to come after me – shut me down on twitter…and the other 73.5 social-less sites I inhabit.
A simple overnight rest area next to the Stuart highway. The highlight was sitting in our deck chairs in the dark looking at the magnificent sky. There was no moonlight, just a couple of sinister clouds sometimes coming across. Gorgeous.
We met a woman travelling with her sister in an impressive rig. Both husbands had died and they were off to Katherine, to turn left into WA and take a trip around and back to Adelaide, expecting to take up to 6 months.
One of them came from Mt Compass, had lived there forever and so Terrell and her shared stories of their memories in the 80’s. It’s a small world.
Found a decent spot in the middle of the red desert! It’s very quiet, not too hot, and lots of room for everyone. So far only 4 other campers, a long way from each other.
Terrell made a very respectable fire in the evening, which was still glowing the next morning so we also had a morning coffee fire. Nice!
Drove into Coober Pedy to get some supplies at their great IGA. They have so much good stuff, Terrell remembered this from last time. All sorts of gourmet things, and of course good health food stuff.
Then a fairly long drive to the next spot. It was blowing pretty hard, around 45 kph, which did not stop all night long. We had a bit of a restless night because of this I think. No fires tonight there was way too much wind.
We stopped at a petrol station hoping to have brekkie there, but the sign on the door said, no entry if you have been interstate in the past 2 weeks.
So onward to Lake Hart, a huge salt lake we have camped at before, back in 2017. We are a bit low on supplies, so we’ll be using some tins, and bits and bobs. Nothing too flash, but it’s a beautiful spot. Definitely back in the winter zone, coats and beanies. And I have a little stash of Peter’s drumstick, double choc. My new favs.
“Once one of Australia’s most prized salt deposits, Lake Hart was at the centre of a thriving industry in the 1930s. Today, it draws visitors for its isolation and natural beauty and can be spotted from the comfort of Great Southern Rail’s Ghan as it snakes its way along 2,979km of rail between Darwin and Adelaide.”
A nice site in Pt Augusta. We did not expect this. The caravan park was right on a water passage with long goods trains on the other side, really long! We set up camp, checked out the facilities (clean, new and pleasant , with a radio playing there all the time. Also a very well equipped huge camp kitchen, where we happily watched the news with the whole place to ourselves, the first time in quite a while.
That evening we met Gaynor for dinner at the local pub. I had a great beef lasagne, with salad and chips, more than enough, and Terrell had a nice fish meal. Nice to catch up, she is the safety officer of the large clean energy facilities, with windmills and acres of solar panels. She loves the job.
We took a bike ride to Maccas, underestimating the distance, but crossing the long bridge which was beautiful and made it worth the ride.
The next day we drove home. We were quite ready to be home again, despite the crappy weather. The kitchen when we walked in felt HUGE! 😊 And that first night I was looking for the portapotty. 😊
All in all a wonderful trip, which we will no doubt do again in a different direction.
Well we have run out of puff writing this – bottom line – long story short – we got home before my birthday. Turned 74 August 10th thanks for all the gifts, well wishes, love, poems, money…
We had bought our tickets to New Zealand for October – had two house exchanges. Of course, we take chances – though we really thought we had this one. Now NZ is closed to us all until end of the year. Maybe next April. Then maybe next July or so to the States. We were supposed to have gone this last year: had bought a ticket on the Queen Mary II, house exchange in Chicago for a month – had our round trip ticket on Amtrak DC to Chicago. Luckily we got all our money back, even the insurance except for a boat trip Great Britain to Hamburg to get the Queen Mary – got a credit for that one so hopefully next year. Looking forward to catching up with you soon. Put the kettle on – it won’t be long. 27/08/2021
SIGNS OF THE TIMES WE HAD
As we got back to celebrate my birthday – who won’t? we went to see the Van Gogh Alive show
And that’s a wrap – off to live a ‘normal’ everyday life – work in the garden – ride our bikes – play with the grandchildren and make videos with them and wait until next year to travel unless we do sooner. Of course, I write everyday on my page over at https://neuage.org/2021/ and at our #OurCurrentLifeWithCovid page
She was a carefree flower girl of 18
Selling flowers on Bourbon Street
I was a street artist…
Notes/photos of three weeks in Darwin. Individual articles were tossed up to https://neuage.substack.com/
Narda in italics Terrell whatever
It is more than an hour to the airport by bus from our house, which is free for us seniors, and we would rather pay the hotel than the taxi ride which is about $70. The hotel has specials and this time it was $122. We even walked over to Ikea for dinner which was less than half the cost of eating at the hotel.
Back to our messed routines. When there is a change in our routine, we get little sleep. We went to sleep about 9 pm – wide awake at 1 am – another hour or so sleep before the alarm at 4.30. Narda had just gotten back to sleep since being awake at one, I think I went to sleep about 2.30 which is the last time I saw the clock. By five am we were checking in. We had breakfast at the airport; a good Eggs Benedict with Hollandaise Sauce for me and an omelette for Narda. We were on the plane by a bit after six. Half an hour later they said we all had to get off the plane due to mechanical error and get onto another plane. As any zombie with little sleep would be, we staggered to the next plane. By 8.30 – a couple of hours later than we were supposed to leave we were on our way.
When we got to Darwin, taking a taxi ($35) to our hotel we were told our apartment was not ready, so we dragged ourselves to the nearest supermarket to get a few things.
We are on the 13th floor of the Ramada Suites – Zen Quarter. They have cute little Zen sayings all over the place and statues of Buddha. This one just happens to be on our floor viewed getting off the lift on the way to our flat.
By 3 pm we were taking our nap – I lasted half an hour. Writing this I feel pretty icky. I am going off to the gym soon and tomorrow we will go into the pool and try doing our Aqua Zumba without a leader. We do the Zumba three times a week in Adelaide at an hour each time. Not being disciplined I doubt we will last fifteen minutes. We tried this a couple of years ago in Florida and after ten minutes then a lap or three we would go home.
After our first or was it the second nap? We went to the roof which is only a couple of floors above us. Great views of the sea and port. Narda is concerned about the balcony and at night pushed the sofa in front of the door in fear that I may sleepwalk and fall off the balcony. Considering I have never sleepwalked in my life that I know of I feel even more safe now. There are few people in the hotel now as this is low season.
Eating on our balcony is one of our favourite things to do (so far after one day here). This is with a storm rolling in.
A few views from our floor – there is a balcony in each direction so we do not always have to go to the rooftop to get a view.
A view of road-trains loading up the morning’s catch on their way across Australia
Here we are day 3 in Darwin. Day one we spent bits of the afternoon after arriving getting caught up on sleep and viewing the city from the roof of our building. Darwin CBD is small we walk it all in fifteen minutes. There is a mall and a shopping centre with a Coles supermarket ten-minutes away and a Woolworths supermarket eleven-minutes away. Fifteen-minute walk is the Darwin Waterfront Precinct a cool area with lots of restaurants and shops and Stokes Hill Wharf where cruise ships would come in if it were not for Covid-19. I have lived in Hawaii (1969 – 1971 / 1980 – 1981) as well as a few visits. I took my parents to Pearl Harbor and thought I knew lots of stuff. But until yesterday I did not know that more aircraft attacked Darwin than attacked Pearl Harbor. More bombs fell on Darwin than on Pearl Harbor. More ships were sunk in Darwin. On 19 February 1942 Darwin was bombed. We watched folks setting up a huge tent for the memorial in ten-days 19th February. A lot going on here in the next couple of weeks.
This is not what I was really going to write about – got side-tracked.
what Narda likes especially about Darwin – after being here for 5 days
When we miss Darwin, we’ll buy a humidifier.
We had our second aqua class today. Deep water – meaning feet do not touch the bottom. Luckily, being old as we are – we get a floaty thing to wrap around our belly. It is our first time to do this for 45 minutes – it was a good work out. Our instructor is from the Bronx so that made two out of about eight people there from New York. 25% New Yorkers in Darwin – a very cosmopolitan city.
I get up at five every morning watching the impeachment trial – always knowing the result. I want to sleep in – I am on holiday – well, being 73 and retired, every day is a holiday. But I am somewhere else, Darwin, we can only travel in Australia. Now even our home state South Australia is locking out our neighbouring state of Victoria for a week due to covid – 14 new cases in the whole state and the rest of the country locks their doors. More than one-hundred thousand new cases in the USA so far today – a few days ago there were more than two-hundred thousand in a day – 4,500 dead whereas in Australia no new deaths – there have not been any deaths for a long time. Happily, this is the end of the so-called impeachment trial. They just voted 57 – 43 so he is guilty but not guilty enough. What can I do? Millions of people worldwide are upset. I have given up on America and I am an American. My big protest I dumped on to Twitter.
Oh look! I have one retweet and 2 likes.
Another beautiful morning in Darwin from our 13th floor.
We walked along the wharf to the fishing fleet’s early morning arrival.
Yesterday we went to the Parap Market – rather disappointing, expensive eating places and local crafts. Took a random bus out of there and spent the rest of the day at Casuarina Square which is the largest shopping mall in the Northern Territory.
Now, Saturday morning, sick of all the senate farcical impeachment nonsense we are watching ‘Groundhog Day’. No more news – goodbye America – your democracy is a failure.
Narda in italics Terrell whatever
We arrived at the bus stop outside of Woolies for bus number 4 which would take us to the National Museum and Art Gallery. A minute later, a bus arrived heading to Cullen Bay Ferry Terminal. We looked at each other, and without much further thought or discussion, jumped on board. Luckily there were a few friendly folk on the bus who filled in the information we needed. “This is a bus taking you to the ferry terminal, you can go across the harbour to Mandorah”. It cost $30 for 2 return tickets, a fancy ferry. It was only on the ferry we realised that there was not a town at the other end, just a jetty. It was, however, a nice ten-minute ride. A free shuttle bus was taking travellers to Cox’s Tavern, but we were told that it might be full of people who had purchased package deals. On arrival we were the first off. We briskly walked to the minibus and sheepishly asked if we might come if there are spare seats. The bus driver said, “just get in”. We did. It was free. All is well.
A nice drive through some tropical forest, and there we were, a pub in the middle of nowhere, a band due to play in the avo, and pub grub waiting for us. We ordered fisherman’s baskets and sat with our young backpacker friend, called Max, with whom we had wonderful engaging conversation. The kid was 19 and heading out for a year long trip through Australia. Cool.
see our short video of this https://youtu.be/q96RNjktc54
A nice drive through some tropical forest, and there we were, a pub in the middle of nowhere, a band due to play in the avo, and pub grub waiting for us. We ordered fisherman’s baskets and sat with our young backpacker called Max, with whom we had wonderful engaging conversation. The kid was 19 and heading out for a year long trip through Australia. Cool.
This morning Max joined us in our second boat ride. It was a small, but fast vessel, with an amazing guy giving us the low down on the invasion of Darwin by the Japs in WW2. Fascinating. Incredible stories about Australian politicians ignoring warnings from the military and naval people, resulting in a gigantic surprise attack. Even as the bombers approached, folks pointed and said that it must be the Americans. There were many deaths, far bigger than Pearl Harbour, and also many heroic tales of sacrifice. One of the worst things was that fuel tankers and containers were bombed, spilling the fuel into the fast retreating 26-foot tide, out into the sea. It caught fire, burning many sailors and wharfies alive as they were thrown into it from the bombed ships. The ironic upside was that the thick black smoke obscured more vessels from the bombers, probably saving many lives as well.
or just chilling with a good ice coffee on the wharf
We sat under a fan in a giant marquee with I recon at least a thousand others.
The band of the 1st Brigade played, wreaths were laid, the last post was played, and notable people spoke. It was very moving. Then the air raid sounded sirens and a jet flew over, real loud, real close. The gunners shot rounds into the sea. Cosmetic smoke whirled around us.
Today is the 79th year anniversary of the bombing of Darwin.
and learned more about the bombing. There were special headsets where you could experience, virtual reality style, what it was to be there in the harbour as the bombs fell, the smoke, then falling from a fighter jet and nearly drowning. Quite the experience.
Our video of this wonderful day… https://youtu.be/j9kQd3e9jbQ
It was a small one but extraordinarily strong. No one expected it to disrupt their Christmas eve in 1974. The cyclone made a direct hit on Darwin, destroying 70% of the buildings and 80% of the homes, with gusts of wind up to 250 Km per hour. 30,000 people were evacuated, many of them never returned.
The museum has a special exhibition for the cyclone, lots of footage, even a small booth you could go into to experience the noise it made, in total darkness. Pretty amazing.
The museum was really good, one of the highlights of the museum was a maritime exhibition of many of the boats that carried people from Indonesia, Vietnam, Borneo and other islands, trying to get into Australia. Back then, in the 70s and 80s they were welcomed, though some were repatriated back to their countries. Now we treat them horribly and lock them up.
Barramundi was on the specials menu and Terrell wanted to return for the third time. I had Caveman Pizza…Yum. You can imagine it. Back to Stokes Wharf, we met with Joel and Phoebe. It was very enjoyable, lots of interesting conversation. These guys have done well here and love it. Cannot see them leaving. There is much to love, everywhere you look, you see water. Lots of rain, almost every afternoon. And friendly people. We have almost forgotten that it is also expensive.
Our new friend Max has found a temporary job in Kakadu, in a hotel called Crocodile Hotel, a nice start to his gap-year backpacking adventure. He said we should come down and see it all. Unfortunately, it is a 3 hour drive away, and with no car…though it was tempting.
We slept in late today because it was Sunday…oh wait! We do that every day. Nevertheless, when we did get our sorry asses out of the flat, we looked at our list of stuff to do in Darwin and in our first two weeks we have done most of what has been recommended – or we found what we like to do already done.
So, we took a random bus – the first bus that we saw to wherever it was going. We do this wherever we are in the world – a great way to see places never thought of or known about. Here in Darwin, being old farts has its benefits, there is no charge for public transportation with our senior’s card. The first bus to come along was the number 10. As we were enjoying the view of going through the Darwin burbs, we saw a market across the street from a stop and quickly alighted. The Rapid Bay Sunday Market was a local and wonderful market. It was like being in Asia except with Darwin prices (about 25% more than Adelaide and Adelaide is about 56% more than Asia). Lots of food stalls. We went to one that is advertised as ‘the one’, last Saturday (Parap Village Market, they even have a yuppie webpage https://parapvillage.com.au/) – very touristy – very western – like those organic markets one finds in the States etc. – where they just double the price and put the word ‘organic’ in front of everything. Like one would find in Eugene Oregon (think ‘Portlandia’) everyone looking so fresh, young, wholesome…organic. Perhaps I should not say such stuff, after all I was a tofu manufacturer in Adelaide for eight-years, flogging my bloody organic soyfoods… https://tofu.neuage.us/
That’s it – we had some lunch @ the Rapid Bay Sunday Market. I took a few photos – see our one-minute clip at
Oh, back to our list – most of which is done and crossed off in our first two weeks – five-more days to do the rest.
The number 8 bus goes from central Darwin along Stuart Highway to the Darwin Aviation Museum.
Not really real – but close…
Interesting stories about Darwin’s aviation history and wartime experience with 19 aircraft including a B52 bomber, 21 engines and a rare amateur footage of the first air-raid in Darwin on display. Aircraft include a B-25 Mitchell Bomber (one of the few surviving in the world), a replica Spitfire, Mirage, Avon Sabre, a Royal Australian Navy Wessex helicopter that assisted in the clean-up of Darwin after Cyclone Tracy, F-111C, the legendary B52 Bomber.
Loving aircraft this was toward the top of my list. However, knowing that the beauty of these aircraft has the only purpose of killing takes away some of the lustre. The most distressing display was the photos of more than 500 Australians killed in the VietNam War. Even more distressing is that these young people, mostly in their early 20s, were conscripted– they had no choice about dying. What did it accomplish?
I (Narda) still have memories of bring my trannie (transistor radio) to my high school at the age of 15 and crouching over it with a group of my friends listening to the roll call of birth dates. My then boyfriend, Peter, later my first husband, (now my good friend) was not called.
To quote from https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news
WHEN the wooden balls began dropping from the barrel 50 years ago this week, there were many people who were hoping that this was one lottery in which their number wouldn’t come up. The prize was a trip to Kapooka or Puckapunyal, for National Service training and possibly a tour of duty in Vietnam. Often known as the “birthday lottery” it was held in secret in the boardroom of the Department of Labour and National Service in Melbourne. The draw was done from a barrel that had been used for 50 years for Tattersall’s cup sweeps, filled with 181 numbered marbles representing the days of the year from January 1 to June 30. Alternate lotteries would have 184 balls for the dates of the rest of the year. If one of the balls drawn corresponded to the birth date of one of the thousands of Australian men, aged 20, who had registered for National Service, it meant they were eligible for call-up. From that first ballot, on March 10, 1965, around 2100 men would be called up. While many of those went willingly, the birthday lottery was not without controversy. It was also not the first time a bingo barrel had been used to call up men for national service.
That was how it was done in Australia. In the States it was a bit different for us.
Nevertheless, a visit to this museum is well worth it.
See our two minute clip at https://youtu.be/Bu-gazFBOF4
Baked Mac and Cheese – perhaps an American thing like peanut butter and jelly. I have had to give it up for way too long. I am on one of those low-carb diets – defeating diabetes, wishful – wild attempts @ that… to reboot the system – with some success if success can be counted as being close but never complete. I have brought blood sugars down though still too high to proclaim that besides machine-learning my body is best (it isn’t).
We do Aqua Zumba a few times a week. We have been doing this for years in Adelaide; me and 35 women – my fantasy from 50 years ago, finally come true. We even found a class here in Darwin with our groovy NYC instructor, Audrey. We do a Tuesday Aqua- Pilates class and a Thursday deep water (over our head for 45 minutes) class. That is what brings my sugars down. For example, yesterday before class my sugars were 9.8 – 45 minutes later 5.9 (anything below 6 is normal). I will do anything to be normal – apart from aspiring to being a bogan – it is my second my sought after title, ‘normal’. After mac & cheese my sugars are between 18 – 20 – oops. The same with my second favourite food, mashed potatoes – and rice, bread, maple syrup…
Not being able to spend 67% of my life in the pool I try to control my diet. However, last night we decided to go out for dinner. Mitchell Street, ten minutes from our hotel, is a hub for restaurants. We go there most mornings, to McDonalds of all places, but that is because we get senior’s coffee – the second cup is free, and they do make good latte. I had it in my mind that I wanted a meal of mac & cheese – for the first one of 2021. I don’t think I had any in 2020 – but that was a bit of an unusual year anyway wasn’t it? We looked at heaps of places and no one was offering such godly tastes. We needed to find one that catered to Yanks. It is in the news that ‘Thousands of US marines to touch down in Darwin before June 2021’ (arriving in batches of 200-500 marines) – probably to find a good mac and cheese. Knowing that heaps of the critters are already roaming the streets of Darwin was a good piece of information. There must be a place that panders to the American palate. And there was. Six Tanks, a micro-brewery bar was our nirvana.
And yes, they had mac & cheese… (Narda had lasagna, probably because it had meat…yuck – though she claimed it was yummy)
And that is it. Nothing Zen about it. Perhaps it is because I once chased the Zen concept, whatever that was, lots of decades ago. I was thinking about that period so long ago when I saw that my favourite beat poet, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, passed away on Monday, February 22nd – he was 101 years old…
I remember going often to the City Lights bookstore in San Francisco in the 1960s – seeing him in NYC – following him for decades… reading my own poems all over the place back in 1960s. But that was then now isn’t and the only Zen in view is our hotel here in Darwin. Ramada Suites by Wyndham Zen Quarter Darwin – https://www.zenquarter.com/
And this is the meal I was so excited about
Then we stopped at Woolworths on the way home and got some magical chocolate and peanut butter ice creams to celebrate my high sugar/carb intake as we watched ‘Outlander’ on Netflix. I do not take my sugar readings during these times – I am having a holiday from myself. Loving it! However, here I am up since 3.30 am because I could not get back to sleep so perhaps I will not have mac and cheese for a while.
During our three-weeks here I took photos of the street art around Darwin and made a short clip of them.
Here we are back home. We took a chance going to Darwin. Often, lately, we would turn on the morning news and some area of Australia would be closed due to Covid. Flights, after landing, would be sent back. South Australia would close its border then Queensland or Victoria or Western Australia or New South Wales – it was a roulette table featuring a map of Australia – a dart board that once blindfolded the area we would want to be in would be the winner of our getting there.
We bought our roundtrip tickets to Darwin; a few days later a couple of states became closed for a week or so. The day before we were to leave, we booked into the airport hotel, Atura, as we do when we go overseas and leave early in the morning. We were up at 4.30 and thankfully our flight was still listed. We spent our three-weeks in Darwin, as highlighted below, and got back to Adelaide without a hitch. At Adelaide airport after going through a check to see where we had been, that we were not near any covid hotspots or overseas or feeling yucky and then we each got a little ticket that we could show on our way through the airport to safely get out. Really sophisticated tickets to say the least,
Our last morning we had breakfast at the Ramada where we were staying. The sunrise was so spectacular that even the kitchen folks came out to take photos.
These were taken minutes apart and are not photo-shopped. Obviously, I changed the settings on my camera but don’t recall what they were.
One of our evening past times was playing pool on the fifteenth floor. Narda beat me every time – not quite sure why. I think I used to be quite good.
As always, I bought a fridge magnet to add to our collection. Hopefully, we get lots more this year – probably none from overseas.
Of course, they become lost when the fridge is looked at from a distance – the two front doors and the left/right side leave little room for more. Narda’s rule is that we can not have a magnet from a place unless we stay at least one night there. No airport transit or day trip through a city – which as you can see limits me a lot, so I am just satisfied with this, now slowly, growing collection.
and that is all for now. Our next trip is a four to six month caravan trip through the Outback Queensland.
Thanks for sharing this moment with us.
‘Leaving Australia Book 2‘ (new NOW IN PAPERBACK & AS E-BOOK)
‘ Leaving Australia “Again’: Before the After” (See the first ten pages of each for free) Paperback Edition
Our current life with Covid as of 28 February 2021 Darwin, Australia
how we see the world today Thursday 25 February 2021
Thoughts in Isolation https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08TW5FNHN
Lucky us: we left South Australia four days before the border was closed due to Covid 19, We left Port Macquarie a few days after massive rain and floods that would have put us under water where we were camping and we left Sydney 14 days after it is now being shut due to Covid 19. Here we are waiting to see you. And going over a few of our notes of the last part of our trip to New South Wales
Italics are Narda’s notes – straight up – Terrell’s scribbles…
Jerry’s Landing and Beyond December 6, 2020
The girl going in the opposite direction wound down her window looking a little alarmed at my frantic waving. “How much further?” I asked her. No, it’s not like asking “are we there yet, mum”. I was driving on a very bad stretch of corrugated dirt road. I had been promised by Google and by some blogs that this shortcut from Jerry’s Landing to Bathurst was “all sealed”, “suitable for a caravan”, and yet here we are. What the heck. Luckily, she assured me it was “not much further”. Another couple of kms at 5 kms per hour and we start climbing steeply, still on dirt. Worse still we had to come down the mountain. I engaged low gear and 4-wheel drive and inched my way down, heart pounding. Terrell, completely unfazed, happily took photos.
We questioned whether we should be leaving the New South Wales coast where we have been the past three weeks: Port Macquarie, Forster…various beaches, rainforests. Hiking, swimming, biking…chilling and wishing we lived here more permanently. For some odd reason we started thinking maybe we should get back to Adelaide by mid-December for various appointments and of course to see Maggie and Mabel who recently not only turned 7 and nine years old recently but who obviously are almost teenagers – at least by the looks of the posts that their parents put up. Mabel at seven already a basketball star, Maggie a star in so many ways. So, we are headed inland. Instead of going the way we came through Dubbo and Broken Hill we are going a bit south via Bathurst then across through Mildura. We had wanted to go through Victoria to stop in Melbourne and see Sacha but then there is the virus…Victoria has just opened…what if South Australia makes people go into two weeks at an expensive hotel when we cross the border like Sacha did last month ($3,000 for a mandatory 2-week quarantine)? We are just scraping Victoria – as Mildura is approved if we do not stop between the New South Wales border and South Australia.
As we did on the way to the coast, we stopped overnight for free camping at Jerrys Plains. It is off the main highway, Past Pagan Street, where else would one want to camp?
Jerrys Plains is horse country. It reminds us of Kentucky except the fences are not painted white.
Off @ 7 am – not us, but us; off down the Golden Highway, until we turned off to take the scenic route to Bathurst.
OMG what a winding up the bloody mountain down the bloody mountain even a dirt road thrown in to the ‘scenic mix’ journey. The dirt road is corrugated [‘Washboarding or corrugation of roads comprises a series of ripples, which occur with the passage of wheels rolling over unpaved roads at speeds sufficient to cause bouncing of the wheel on the initially unrippled surface and take on the appearance of a laundry washboard.’]. In other words, it was an extremely bumpy road. Narda pulled over a passing vehicle to ask how much further before the road became a ‘real road’. We were going at the amazing speed of about ten kilometres an hour at the time with Narda toying with the idea of turning around and going back. How we were supposed to turn around with Billy (our truck) pulling a two-tonne caravan (Holiday) was not discussed…probably because there was nowhere to turn around, anyway, the driver, a young girl with lots of face piercing and tats and red hair (why do I notice all this in a four-minute interaction?) said it was only a short piece before we got to pavement, keeping us going forward for the next half hour. Narda was driving at this point and became more alarmed when the ‘washboard’ road became a steep descent.
Short 30 second video of this road… Take a left at Denman and be thrilled by the “National Park” signs.
Of course, we survived, I am writing this, arriving at the town of Bylong with its one store. I took over driving for the next hour and lucky for me the road was just a regular country road.
Road trip to Bathurst
After stopping in Kandos for petrol we arrived in Bathurst at 1.30; our GPS had innocently proclaimed we would arrive at 10.30 when we left Jerrys Plains. Chalk it up to the elderly out on a scenic drive.
Looking back, with some PTSD, and cup of coffee, I don’t regret that road. The scenery was amazing! We were on the leeward side of the Blue Mountains, valleys and national parks and beautiful Victorian villages with little development. We had 2 eggs and toast while sitting near a table with two paramedics, me busy.straining to eavesdrop. They said that their last job was a couple nights ago, “there were 3”. I filled in the blanks myself (3 bodies? 3 cars?) and was glad they were not
A crazy old broad (also from Adelaide) came racing to us in her golf cart, skidding around corners. She was fun and friendly and signed us into the Bathurst Showground for 2 nights.
We got more than we bargained for with a “severe” thunderstorm and large hailstones promised. What do you do? Well, we took down the awning, which we can now do in under a minute (we’ve been practising) and unplugged the computers. We even asked the man in charge of the carnival, which was also parked in the showgrounds, sadly in the rain. He said, “don’t worry about the hailstones, the sky has to be green for that to happen”. Seriously, he said that. The guys standing around looked up at the sky and sagely nodded their heads in agreement. They call themselves “carnies”. We bought $5 admission tickets out of sympathy, and free hotdogs and chips was part of the deal. It rained the whole time; we were their only customers.
We are camping out at the Bathurst Showgrounds. Lucky for us there is a fair going on so Narda bought a hot dog and the only vegetarian thing they had was chips, so we had our nourishment for the afternoon and settled in for a nap.
After a stormy night – not us – the weather; high winds, thunder/lightening, rain, we did a bit of exploring in Bathurst, including going up the mountain to the racetrack. For non-Australians, it is the most famous of the racetracks: “Mount Panorama Circuit is best known as the home of the Bathurst 1000 motor race held each October, and the Bathurst 12 Hour event held each February.” https://www.mount-panorama.com.au/ We drove around the track at the blistering speed of 60 Ks – taking about 12 minutes to go around. The track record is 2 minutes, with the top speed being 300 km/h (190 mph) on a straightaway.
Tomorrow we are going to Sydney for the day, leaving at 7 am. The 4-hour train ride is through the mountains. The train back is at three pm; we will spend a day in one of those world cities you read about in the comic books. Being seniors, we get to do the whole day for $2.50 each which includes the train, ferries in Sydney, buses, and trams. Of course, we will spend our year’s pension on food.
We had coffee in midtown Bathurst with a friend of Narda’s she had not seen for twenty years. While talking about how we had thought of going to Sydney but changed our mind as we did not want to drag the caravan over the mountains to get there. She suggested we take the train. Not only that but that we use the New South Wales Opal card to get there. The Opal card gives seniors a day’s travel on any transportation in New South Wales for the crazy price of $2.50 for the day. That includes ferry, train, bus, and tram. We went back to our home at the showgrounds clutching our borrowed opal cards and waited as any children would do for sunrise to rush off to the train station.
@ 7.34 am we were settled in with our facemasks on. BTW, this is the first time since arriving in Australia from The Netherlands eight months earlier in March that we have had masks on or seen anyone else with one on.
The signs at the station and on the train suggest wearing a mask on public transportation but not as a rule. On the train we saw only one person not wearing a mask. I posted a photo of us on the train on FB and my sister in New York immediately wrote back for us to change seats as the person in front of us did not have mask on. Such is the life in the States. We did not change seats and wore masks for the day when inside.
In Sydney, more people wore masks in the shopping centres but not on the streets. Sydney is coming off a hard lockdown with no new cases for the past few weeks.
The reason I wanted to come here was to “see Leigh”. Leigh died in 2003 falling from the Novotel Hotel in front of the Olympic Stadium – I try to get here every year though sometimes we do not. What I always find surprising is that the tape is still on the pole where I posted a memorial of him in 2003 along with his baseball card from the Dodgers. The memorials have long been gone but the tape is still there. https://neuage.org/leigh.html
I find sitting across the hotel one of my comfort places in the world.
As we only had a few hours from when we arrived in Sydney to taking the train back at 3 pm we did not do more than go out to Olympic Park.
Catching the train at Central is almost like travelling again.
The ride home was as beautiful as the train ride there – well duh! Of course, it was on the same track.
Riding through the Blue Mountains [The Blue Mountains are an extensive Triassic sandstone plateau rising to 1,100 metres (3,609 ft) near Mount Victoria
We saw the effect the 2019-2020 bush fires had on the area, almost a year later green is beginning to re-emerge:
From an online page about the fires, “Here in the Blue Mountains the extent of the fires has greatly exceeded any previous recorded fire seasons. Over 80% of the Blue Mountains National Park has been impacted with 63% partly or fully burnt. In the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area of over one million hectares (eight reserves including the Blue Mountains National Park), over 68% has been fully or partly burnt and over 122 million mammals, birds and reptiles have been impacted.” https://www.bluemountains.org.au/bushfires.shtml
Then we drove back to Adelaide, taking four days, staying at free camping places along the way:
Lucky for us the river was not flooding the park when we were there – that would be a week later
And here we are back home. After five days home we realized we needed to go away again and booked flights and an Airbnb in Darwin for the month of February. As Australia has closed its borders to the world we will explore more of this great country. Our next road trip will be three or four or five months to Queensland after April or perhaps May.
“Can I help you find something?”. The cleaning lady at Maccas was full of ideas. So was Terrell. So yesterday we went everywhere man! Sugarloaf Point Lighthouse at Seal Rocks,
a long drive three on the road with a Wallis Lake on one side and the 7 Mile Beach on the other. The iced coffee we bought at Bluey’s Beach General Store was not Farmers Union, but it hit the spot. We took a decent walk through some rainforest; 200m (that’s metres not miles I hate to admit!!) and got lost on the way back.
We discussed a way of tagging our car, but don’t really know how to. Other than installing a load beeper….we are open to suggestions.
I’m writing today on a ‘down day’. The weather is cool, some rain maybe. The washing is in the $4 slot machine. This park is specie, called Lanis Holiday Park, with lots of nature where tenters can find the own isolated spot, mostly with water front onto lakes. It’s a little version of Thailand, compete with mozzies!. Could live here. Hm.
Riding over a very long bridge in winds gusting at 50Km is a bit scary, though it was a designated bike path with fences, preventing us from tipping into the traffic.
This is a flat town, great for bike riding without the bike paths. But riding on the footpaths these days seems quite acceptable. The views are amazing, another lake, fed by a giant river, running into a pounding surf beach. Northern New South Wales abounds with very respectable rivers. I’m quite impressed. Pity it’s so bloody far from Adelaide….nearly 2,000Km.
My favourite place on today’s hours of hiking was this blowhole – see it in the video above…
Day via ferry to Crescent Head
On the road early this morning; well, by 9.30 am. In retirement speak that is early. Locals have been saying we should visit the nearby hamlet of Laurieton, 42 km south of Port Macquarie. As you would know from your upbringing the Birpai (also known as Birrbay) people have lived in this area for more than 40,000 years.
We rode our bikes around town, over a couple of bridges which are in the amazing video below; the one with friendly kangaroos, a slow-moving goanna, a pod of hungry pelicans, and to the top of North Brother Mountain – with its fantastic view of the Pacific Ocean and our day at Diamond Head. Not the one in Hawaii – of course.
Further useful information is that Captain James Cook named “the Brothers” on 12 May 1770 for their resemblance to mountains in his native Yorkshire. He was unwittingly mirroring the name given to them by the Birpai. The Camden Haven area was explored on foot by John Oxley in 1818 and was first settled by Europeans in the early 1820s. A convict settlement was established at nearby Port Macquarie in 1821 and the first settlers were limeburners burning oyster shells for buildings there. Some of these lived at the foot of North Brother.
We did come across some large oyster farms on our bike trip. Too expensive for me, and Narda does not like them. They were $20 a dozen at the factory – before they hit the shops. I looked up whether these were overpriced and discovered that the most expensive oysters in the world come from Coffin Bay, a mere two hours up the road, and retail for $100 EACH. Why? Well, they are ENORMOUS: 18cm long and weighing up to 1kg.
We stopped at the local Coles Supermarket and bought lunch fixings of smoked salmon, rolls, Castello Blue cheese, and Farmer Union Iced Coffee (the best iced coffee in Australia, of course, from South Australia and took the dirt road to Diamond Head Camping grounds in the Crowdy Bay National Park. [Diamond Head gained its name from the quartz rich rocks, plentiful in the area, which contain an abundance of small, perfectly formed, clear quartz crystals whose appearance resembles diamonds.] Having lived in Waikiki for more than a year, a few blocks from Diamond Head Crater, I was intrigued by the sign pointing to Diamond Head when we were driving out of town. It is a beautiful place overlooking the Pacific with a lot of folks camping. If we had not already settled in on back in Port Macquarie we may have come here. Of course, Diamond Head in Hawaii is a volcanic tuff cone on the Hawaiian island of Oʻahu and known to Hawaiians as Lēʻahi. The Hawaiian name is most likely derived from lae plus ʻahi because the shape of the ridge line resembles the shape of a tuna’s dorsal fin.
We took the Hastings River Ferry from the Ferry terminal in Port Macquarie, New South Wales across the North Shore then rode the 9 K’s to the Settlement Point Ferry through the countryside. then back home to our caravan park.
November 24 2020
Yesterday, strong winds near a lighthouse warning of sharp rocks. A very blue sky, and an even bluer ocean. Walks with trails warning of snakes, glorious overhanging rainforest. Us on a balcony high above Port (the name the locals have for their lovely little city), There is a view and a constant breeze all around us. Our final night on the hill was a spectacular light show of lightning, with jagged spikes and light flashes showing the whole coast for a split second. We relaxed, the thunder came much later.
Today, cycling to Maccas for our morning 2-for-one decent senior coffee. Under the cicadas in the trees, the noise is sometimes deafening. Our caravan park is on the shore of the Hastings River. Last night we sat near the wharf in total silence.
Even the water, a wide expanse, had no ripples, Only those caused by the lone pelican which patrols the wharf. He seems quite old.
Today is Maggie’s 9th birthday. She got some money. I asked her what she might spent it on. She replied, in her 15-year-old voice, “clothes oma, duh”.
An offer of home exchanging with Pt Macquarie came through Homelink from Geoff and Rosalind. So here we are tyres pumped to 45 and 38 at the front, car serviced and way too many clothes packed. We managed Adelaide to Broken Hill in one shot, despite our misgivings. Following the same route as Brendan did in July. Stayed at the racecourse on the outer edge of town, not a great spot though it had lots of caravans ($20 no power), but next morning took a nice walk down main street with a coffee stop and a magnet purchase at the newsagent, which had opened 6.30am on a Sunday morning. Impressive!
We are up and ready early; thought we would be on the road at seven, maybe even six am. We slept in the caravan the night before and had the car attached, ready to race across Australia @ our usual elderly, dragging our home behind us pace. These plans seldom mature, we did well though, 8:15 out the door and headed across the country. Fifteen minutes later we were at the grandchildren’s house as we will miss Maggie’s ninth birthday later in November, we dropped off her birthday present. We give cash these days as children have too many toys that disappear into landfill for the next generation of architectural nightmares to be built upon. Maggie was happy as she is saving for roller skates.
Finally, on the road by nine, still a good start for us. We managed to go for almost an hour before pulling over for our first coffee stop. Port Macquarie seemed like a long way away. ‘18 hr 4 min (1,747.9 km) via Sturt Hwy/A20’ according to Google Maps, meaning it will take us five days if we hurry.
What a time we live in. This is our first long road trip since arriving back from The Netherlands more than seven months ago when we went into quarantine for a couple of weeks and stayed home for the following months except for two short camping trips.
We had Brendan with us for these seven months. Teaching in Lahore, Pakistan he was given 48-hour notice to leave due to Covid-19, did his quarantine in Adelaide then spent every weekday with us teaching his fifth-grade class via Zoom @ our house. The door was closed but we would listen in sometimes. They sounded like quite lively classes, quite different from the years Narda and I were teaching. One of my favourite interactions was when Narda took him a cup of coffee and a child in Lahore watching said, ‘you still live with your mother?’ We stayed away the rest of the time. We would have dinner every day at five pm as that was lunch time in Lahore and the children would be away for half an hour. They still had their regular schedules such as their specials; Phys ed, library, even music classes. All through Zoom as they were home. Sixteen students are a lot, I would think, to keep track of via computer, but Brendan did. It is an American private school with classes taught in English. We had visited Lahore in November 2019 (blog @ https://neuage.me/2019/11/29/lahore/) including a visit to Brendan’s school.
Brendan returned to Lahore a few days ago. They were doing a mixture of in-person teaching at the school and online teaching. After a week, the school went into lockdown and Brendan is back to teaching on Zoom, hopefully temporarily.
Two days before we left, my son, Sacha, came over from Melbourne. He had to do a two-week quarantine at a hotel as the border between his home state, Victoria and our COVID-19-free state has been closed since July so we got to see him for a couple of days before leaving. I wrote about that , ‘A cautionary tale’,