Day 15 – 10th April – Mudgee to Woodbury – 310 Km
Day 16 – 11th April – Woodberry
The run to Newcastle was pleasant. The road is good but hilly, so a bit slow towing the van. The coal mines at Ulan seemed larger than last time. We took a morning tea break where the Ulan Cassilis Road meets the Golden Highway and stopped for lunch at a small park in Singleton. We arrived at Woodberry mid-afternoon.
Woodberry is just off the New England Highway, just north of the Hexham Bridge over the Hunter River on the Pacific Highway. Ivan is older than me by about six years and is very active for his age, still caravanning, gardening and wood turning. He recently distinguished himself in the wood turning area by winning this segment at the Newcastle Show.
We spent most of the time just catching up, but he did take us to meet a lady with whom I used to walk, with others, to the Boolambayte School about 65 years ago. The walk was mostly across farm land and bush tracks and was 7 km each way. Neither of us has suffered for the exercise. Indeed, we both should have kept the exercise up! Boolambayte School no longer exists but used to stand by the road now known as The Lakes Way that runs between Bulahdelah and Forster on Lake Wallace.
Ivan and Marjorie (his wife) live just a couple of hundred metres from the main north coast railway line, which is the main coal carrying line from the Hunter Valley coal mines to the Port of Newcastle. Trains of up to four locomotives and 100 wagons ply the line day and night, a train passing every few minutes. Rather interesting sleeping in the caravan in their drive way. But we got enough sleep … between trains.
Day 17 – 12th April – Woodberry to North Ryde – 146 Km
Ruth has a sister who lives with her husband at Hamlyn Terrace, near Wyong just north of Sydney. We had lunch and a chat, partly about our respective travels. They are more ardent travellers than we are but love to travel by train where possible. Their next trip includes Townsville to Mt. Isa which they are doing now in case the service is closed.
We came on to Sydney after lunch and established ourselves at the Lane Cove River Caravan Park. After setting up, we drove to Erskineville (Ersko to the locals) to see our daughter Briony’s new unit, where she has only been in residence for a short time. After delivering a huge bag of Tupperware that we had been storing she took is for a short stroll to where the action is in King Street for a meal in a noisy pub. But the meal was good, particularly the chips. Then home to the van for a good night’s sleep. I have managed to pick up a cold so my sleep was not so good.
Day 18 – 13th April 2013 – North Ryde
Briony was busy today so we had a day to do washing and to catch up on some work responsibilities. The weather continues to produce days in mid 20s and cool to cold nights. It is ideal weather for travelling. Long may it last!
Day 19 – 14th April – Eastern Sydney Coast
The plan was to spend time with Briony. We decided on fish and chips for lunch from the take away at Doyle’s famous sea food restaurant at Watsons Bay. It was a warm day with blue sea and sky so half of Sydney’s population seems to have had the same idea. Not to worry! Let’s drive down the coast until we find a place where we can park. It was a popular beach day and no spot was to be found as we drove past those well known eastern beaches. Finally we gave up and went instead to Eastgardens shopping centre (a big one) where we found a Japanese restaurant and a very tasty and inexpensive meal.
The trip continued south to La Perouse, past Port Botany and onwards until we crossed the Georges River. We turned west returning to Erskineville via the Princes Highway.
La Perouse & Botany Bay Entrance
I’m sorry folks, but as I was driving and there were not many opportunities to park I do not have many photos.
Day 20 – 15th April – Blue Mountains & Jenolan Caves – 351 Km Round Trip
Briony doesn’t have a car so we asked her if there was anywhere she would like to go that was not readily accessible to her. After overnight consideration she asked “Is Jenolan Caves too far?” As it happened Jenolan had been in our original itinerary but we had cut it out to make some other things fit in.
Caves House at Jenolien
Caves House through Autumn tints
We collected Briony from the Kiss N Ride at North Ryde station and dived into Sydney peak hour traffic. We were travelling in the opposite direction to most of it but it was bad enough. But the worst part was crossing the Blue Mountains. Most of the distance from Penrith has a top speed of 80 kph but there was road works going on in many parts with speeds down to 40 kph in many places. I almost envied explorers Lawson, Blaxland and Wentworth.
The result was that the trip out took almost 3½ hours. But we don’t get to have long conversations with our youngest daughter very often and besides, Adam Scott winning the US Masters took up some of the journey.
The Grand Arch leads to the cave entrances
We arrived at the cave precinct at about 11.00 am, booked a mid-day cave tour and went off to have a late morning tea at the Caves House cafeteria. Caves house looks the same as I recall it from our visit on our honeymoon almost 51 years ago.
A good example of a shawl formation
Briony and I did the combined Imperial and Diamond cave tour while Ruth sat it out and continued work on the latest trauma teddy. There are a lot of steps in all the caves. The one we chose had about 500 but even the easy caves have at least 280. Ruth doesn’t feel very confident about dealing with steps these days.
A Pillar formation
The cave was magnificent. The tour was of 90 minutes duration so there was a lot to see. The cave contains several long galleries that are lined with a constant succession of stalagmites, stalactites, columns, shawls and all the other features that are seen in limestone caves. On the lowest level of the cave an underground stream of the purest and clearest water flows beneath the walkways. We were told that divers descend 100 metres in the stream and could go further if they could dive deeper.
Another shawl formation
We emerged none the worse for wear at the conclusion of the tour and went for a late lunch and a much needed cup of coffee. I handled the cave without problem. The cave was a medium standard cave so on that basis I would be prepared to try a difficult cave next visit. Some say that the more difficult caves have the best features.
- More formations from the cave
More shawl formations
- More formations from the cave
But a word of warning! If you visit the caves try to avoid a group that contains a shutter happy Japanese tourist who wants to photograph his wife and children against a background of everything. Try even harder to avoid a group that contains two of them.
Three Sisters and storms
Briony had tried to see The Three Sisters at Katoomba a few months ago but they were totally obscured by cloud. To correct that misfortune we decided to visit Echo Point on our way back to Sydney. It was late afternoon by the time we arrived and storms were sweeping over the mountains that are visible from Echo Point, but The Three Sisters were clear of visual obstruction so Briony had a clear view.
Ruth, Briony and the Three Sisters
We were disappointed with the support facilities at Echo Point. They do not do justice to the superb view that Echo Point provides. This place is a true Australian tourist ikon.
We did the Cliff Drive to once again take in the magnificence of the views. Towards the end of the drive we turned off into the Narrow Neck lookout and met a sight that we did not expect. We looked down and there was a small car, complete with P plate, with its bonnet resting against the very last tree that could stop it from going over about a 500 foot precipice.
It is a long way down!
We could not tell if occupants were still in the car and it was far too dangerous to climb down. So we called the police who took details and asked us to wait until someone arrives but called back shortly after to let us know that they knew that the car was there and that a tow had been arranged. It seems unlikely that anyone would have been injured badly but the occupants are some of the luckiest people on earth. Or should that be still on earth?
It was dark by the time we reached the outer suburbs of Sydney and the onset of rain did not help matters. We decided that a quick and easy evening meal was the way to go so just before reaching Briony’s unit we detoured to collect some KFC which we helped Briony demolish. We then returned to the van for a well earned night’s sleep.