With some embarrassment, I see that it is a year since I have added to our travel Web site www.mobilesheathers.com. One reason for the delay is that we are less mobile, with advancing age and the disposal of our caravan and tow vehicle. But despite Covid-19 we have made some excursions of several days duration. I will start getting the site up to date with a report on our most recent trip south.
We have, for obvious reasons, been reluctant to venture out of Queensland, due to the possibility of being locked out or needing to deal with the expense of getting back in. With the prolonged period of no community Covid infections as encouragement, we took our courage in both hands and crossed that border at Tweed Heads, heading south. What was the experience like, you may ask? Well, very much the same as on previous occasions. All the border closing gear had been placed out of sight, so all was normal again. But, for how long? The answer to that question remains unanswered, thankfully.
The decision to go south was brought about by an earlier decision to join a group from our Probus Club at the Broadwater Tourist Park at Southport, near Surfers Paradise, for a few days. We do this periodically, at different locations, generally staying for three nights. Normally, some of our group come with their caravans, while the other attendees take up residence in park cabins. This time, with inclement weather both with us and projected, we all chose cabins.
Our program included dinner at the Southport Yacht Club, a luncheon cruise of the Broadwater on a Sea World ferry and each evening a happy hour in one of the park camp kitchens. The periods not organised were free time, but no one did very much due to disagreeable weather. I did go for a wander during the first morning, with my longest lens on my camera, to photograph some local shore birds. Bird photography is my latest hobby interest.
So on Friday, day 4 of our travels, we crossed the border and drove a further 90 kilometres to Ballina, where we spent two nights with our longest time friends Joe and Thelma, who relocated themselves from Melbourne to Ballina a couple of years ago. Renovations are complete on their house and have been very well carried out. The house is as new. We enjoyed a day and two nights with them, resuming conversations interrupted when we parted from them the last time. Thank you, Thelma and Joe.
This brought us up to Sunday 7th March. The 8th March was my Brother Ivan’s 87th birthday, so we had a day to reach Newcastle and our accommodation at Merewether Beach. The only impediment to traffic flow on the Pacific Highway, between the Queensland Border and the northern approaches to Newcastle, are the multiple (is it 12 or 14?) sets of traffic lights through Coffs Harbour, so we made the journey in comfort and with ease.
We had lunch with Ivan and Marjorie at the Windsor Hotel in East Maitland on Ivan’s birthday. He drove us there in their new Nissan X-Trail, having a few days previously passed his second “old persons” driving test with flying colours. We returned to their home to again resume old conversations. We stayed with them for a light evening meal and then returned to our digs.
We arrived back at our motel too late to lodge breakfast menus, so next morning needed to embark on an excursion to find breakfast. We drove to Merewether Beach but all the Newcastle city workers who park there and walk to work for exercise got there first. So there was breakfast but no parking. A little further up the beach we found a venue and parking but breakfast was down a long and steep flight of stairs. Closer to our motel we found a café that did the poached eggs and bacon to a turn and provided excellent coffee.
The rest of the morning was free until we were due to meet Ruth’s eldest sister Judy and Alan her husband at 1.00PM, after they kept some previously made appointments. We used this time to revisit familiar areas and to find some that were less so. Judy and Alan arrived right on time. We enjoyed a leisurely (about 2 ½ hours) lunch at the pier which is part of the Queens Wharf Hotel, while we chatted and watched the procession of bulk carriers and tugs on the busy Newcastle coal port pass by.
There had been a severe thunder storm while at Ivan’s place the previous day. As we approached the expiry of our parking meters the signs were building up for a repeat performance. This one was less severe. We said our goodbyes and made it to our vehicles before the first drops fell.
With time to fill before we needed to be back at our motel, we set off through the rain on the 20 kilometre drive to Stockton Wharf. Our destination had been visible to us as we sat at lunch, about one kilometre across the harbour from us. The purpose of the drive was some photos of the unobscured Newcastle riverside precinct, from a distance. The bonus was that the road took us very close to the shipping berths and the loading equipment that handles much of the freight volume that passes through the Newcastle port. The bad news was that rain was falling again , so no photos.
After a substantial lunch only a light evening meal was required, so we dined on previously acquired rations and went to bed to build up our strength for the drive further south the next day.