Paddington Market Reopens

Paddington Market

Way back in mid-March I posted about a day in the Paddington district (click here for that one). That was just before the coronavirus “lockdown” started properly, but the Paddington Market was closed that day due to high winds! It remained closed right up until yesterday – thanks to that virus garbage. Now this popular market which opens every Saturday was on again. So, off we went to take a look.

Warmer and Sunnier

The weather was a little too cool in the shade but fine in the sun. It was also quite breezy but the market reopened to the public.

It was nothing too inspiring to be fair, but it passed a bit of time. There was the usual mix of clothing, bags, jewellery and food stalls. The setting is nice however and the neighbouring streets are welcoming.

Underwood Street on the other corner of the pub.
William Street, one side of the pub

I photographed this William street section in March. It looks so much better in brighter weather. There are plenty of quirky shops in this street and now they are all open so the place was bustling. But you can keep those quirky shops, because for me, this is the place I wanted to go to…

The London Tavern, Paddington.

The London Hotel Tavern in Paddington. It sounds like a trip to London doesn’t it? And this pub would not look out of place in the British capital either. It was closed when we last went around this area, because of the virus – I think? But not now. Great! Those two pints of Hazy IPA really hit the spot.

Dan & Dad’s Excellent Adventure
(Not to be confused with Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure)

It is now school holidays and tomorrow (Monday 28th) Dani and me are off on a little adventure into the New South Wales outback. We are up very early to take a 13 hour train ride to the famous town of Broken Hill. It is just about as far west as you can travel in New South Wales just before the border with the state of South Australia. While Dani’s mum has to work (aww shame) me and the lad will be seeing what that town has to offer.

 

Movie Review – Bill & Ted Face The Music

Last weekend one of the TV channels showed ‘Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey’, the second film of Bill & Ted made way back in 1991. I watched it with my six year old son and he liked it as much as me. Right now, the trilogy film is showing in the cinemas – ‘Bill & Ted Face The Music’. So when I asked Dani if he wanted to go and see it with me he didn’t hesitate.

First two films…

For those who don’t know (you really should check out the first two Bill & Ted movies) here is a quick recap.

The first movie was Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure . Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves) are trying to write a history report. A dude called Rufus, arrives from the year 2688, and gives them a time machine – which is basically a telephone booth. This enables the them to travel back in time and meet historical figures in order to learn all the need about history. If Bill and Ted fail to pass, their teacher will kick them out of school and this would lead to their band –  Wyld Stallyns – never forming. It turns out that the Utopian future presented to them by this Rufus dude is built almost entirely around their yet to be made music and if they don’t form the band then it will never happen. Phew!

The two dopey metal-heads travel back in time to medieval England where they rescue two princesses and bring them back to 1989 (when the film was made).

The second film, released two years later in 1991, was called Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey. This one was much better than the first for me. In Bogus Journey, a resident of the future utopia is sick of the sights and sounds of Bill & Ted and sends a pair of Bill & Ted robot doubles back into the past to kill the dopey duo. Hoping to then make a future based on his own ideas. Bill & Ted are killed by their robot doubles and end up in hell where they meet the Grim Reaper (aka Death). They have to beat him at a game of their choice in order to get back to the real world. They manage to beat him at several games including Battleships, Twister and Cluedo. Death then allows them to leave hell and they go to heaven to find a clever scientist who can make more robot versions of themselves to kill the evil robots who had killed them. They then enter a  Battle of the Bands contest – with Death rocking the bass – where they must also rescue the princesses they are engaged to and start their musical careers.

All absolutely crackers but very funny if you like this sort of nonsense. And that’s the thing. I do. And after watching Bogus Journey only once, so does Dani. But it’s one of those things. You either love it or hate it.

Bill & Ted Face The Music

After almost thirty years the trilogy has finally been realised. The two main stars, Bill played by Alex Winter and Ted played by Keanu Reeves look quite good for their age. By now of course they are happily married to the princesses and each has a grown up daughter.

After all this time they have still not managed to write the one song to unite the planet and make the utopian future happen. The future leader sends her daughter back to inform them that they must come up with the song. It turns out that all of reality will fall apart unless they can write it before 7.17 pm that night. Bill & Ted decide the best way is to go into the future and meet their future selves who should by then have written the song. The can then take it back in time t the present and all will be restored. But their future selves are bigger losers than their present selves and the further into the future they go the worse it gets. Until they meet their very old selves who give them a USB stick containing the song.

Meanwhile their daughters realise they can help if they travel back in time and bring back some historical musicians – like Jimi Hendrix, Louis Armstrong and Mozart – to form a kind of history loaded super-group. They use the future leaders’ daughter’s time machine and head off back in time to assemble the band.

Meanwhile a robot is sent back in time to kill them in the hope that will save the earth/reality but that backfires as the robot accidentally kills the daughters and their newly formed band. Bill & Ted then have to go back to hell to rescue them. Nuts, but easy to watch.

Critique & Conclusions

After nearly thirty years of waiting for the trilogy of William (Bill) S. Preston Esquire and Ted (Theodore) Logan, was it worth paying to see?

Although there were some funny parts I felt it failed to live up to the second movie. But that often happens with trilogies. That said, it is  possibly on a par with the first movie so not a story destroying trilogy in the manner of say The Godfather. It is definitely worth watching if you are a fan of the first two movies. This is basically more of the same so if you liked the first movies then you will like this one too.

It was good to see ‘Death’ making a welcome return, with the same actor (William Sadler) playing the part – even though it was late in the movie. Plus there were a few of those “excellent” air guitar moments which make it all so daft. (Totally love those and now, so does Dani.) The two main actors play four versions of their future selves and those meetings are good fun. The pace of the movie was about right with all the time travel jaunts keeping you more than interested.

The biggest problem for me was the daughters. Their characters were weak and not very convincing. Especially Ted’s who is trying way too much to act like Keanu Reeves. I guess it’s like most movies now where female roles are required to be seen more, even if the actors can’t pull it off.

Overall I thought it was an acceptable “7 out of 10” kind of movie. Dani, a six year old, on the other hand loved it. So there you go. Make of that what you will.

This is what Dani thought of it; in one word!…

Skiing in the Snowy Mountains

OK, it’s officially spring in Australia but the ski resorts in Australia are still just about open. We went to Thredbo in the Snowy Mountains – also referred to as the Australian Alps – hoping to catch the last of the snow…

Snowy Mountains in Kosciuszko National Park

As the name suggests there should be snow here in winter. Just as there is skiing in the Sierra Nevada  in Spain (literally ‘snowy mountains’ in Spanish). There is a similarly named range in the USA which also has snowfalls. There are a few other ski areas in this mountain range but this was the one that was available – as numbers are limited due to this covid-1984 crap. Ugh… not that again…

But it wasn’t very snowy. There was hardly any snow. Only one run barely open and also the so called ‘basin’ area at the top of this resort. The basin area is in range of the highest peak in Australia, Mount Kosciuszko (generally pronounced in English as  “kosh-UUSH-koh” ) which is 2,228 metres (7,310 ft) above sea level. The ski areas lie inside the Kosciuszko National Park. It was all named by the Polish explorer Paweł Edmund Strzelecki in 1840, in honour of Polish-Lithuanian freedom fighter General Tadeusz Kościuszko. No; I had never heard of him either…

Fast disappearing snow on the one piste that was open this side of the range.

Arrival

We arrived late Friday after a fairly tortuous 7 hours drive including a crawl out Sydney and a few stops – one to pick up our ski equipment. En-route we stopped to refuel in a place called Goulborn. Apparently the first inland city in Australia and home to ‘The Big Merino’. This huge concrete sculpture of a ram celebrates the wool industry in this area and houses a gift shop at its base. It stands 15.2m (50feet) tall and is supposed to be the world’s largest concrete built sheep. I can’t think why anyone would want to build a bigger one, can you?

The Big Merino

Skiing

It was all pre-booked so we went to pick up our lift passes on Saturday morning. It started off sunny so we had a little ski on the one decent sized run on one side of the resort, then went up another chair-lift to the ‘basin’ area. By now the weather was getting cold but at this time of the year it can change so quickly. Later, it was sunny again.

Time for a quick beverage in ‘The Eagles Nest’ restaurant at the top of the lift. There are great views of the valley and town below from this spot. And those trees again….everywhere you look out in the wild here there are trees…

Self explanatory…
The Pale Ale named after the National Park and Highest mountain in Australia – Kosciuszko

That hit the spot. And the views were tremendous.

Thredbo village centre below

Day Two

After descending the lift back into Thredbo we decided that Dani should have a private lesson the following day. Because there was so little skiing open they were giving us back some of the money we had paid. We simply transferred it into a lesson for the boy.

By Sunday morning and with a lot of help from the rain the snow on the one remaining real slope had deteriorated badly. It was vanishing by the day now. It turns out that the resort’s snow canons were not working. these are the artificial snow makers that are used to top up the most worn out parts of the slopes especially the lower parts. IF we had known this we would have booked the neighbouring ski resort of Perisher – whose snow canons were working.

Too late now though. Dani got stuck into his lesson while his mum made a few runs down what was left of the piste.  Then the ski instructor decided to take Dani up to the top. It was a long way for him after just messing about on the bottom. He had only been walking up a short way just enough to practice moving then stopping, with hardly any real turns. But up he went. So I followed, a few chair-lifts behind.

It took him a long time to get down but he did it. And he was really pleased with himself. Really happy at what he had done. Great stuff, so was I. Good boy! Now he will want to go again and improve even more. That’s the time to get into something like skiing. He has made a real start at least twenty years before his old dad ever did.

Looking down at the daunting run down the mountain
Very pleased with himself.
Going up…

Back to Sydney

It was time to head back to Sydney. The return trip took a lot less as we never had to fight our way out of the city, and getting back in was relatively easy. We stopped to refuel in the capital city of Canberra where we took the opportunity to drive around the government buildings. The capital will be another trip in the near future no doubt… Also a return to the Kosciuszko National Park should be in order during the summer. After all, these places are all year round resorts just like in the European Alps.

Like all ‘Alpine’ regions this doubles as a winter and summer resort.

 

Dolphin Watching on the Hastings River

Another excursion from our base in Port Macquarie. This was from 11th July! I had better get this out there now as Dani’s next school holidays start this coming Friday. There’ll be more to write about…

Dolphin River Cruise

Dani chose this trip. It was about time we let him choose. It kept him quiet and it was cheap so what the heck. A small ship cruising up the Hastings river estuary with dolphin spotting. Sounds great eh? Well it was different. Not the greatest expedition you can go on in this part of the world, but the cheerful jocular guide was good for a laugh – for the adults at least. The kids on board couldn’t care less. They got to see some dolphins following the boat and that was enough for them.

Pelican cruises the sky waiting for a chance to catch some fish at the port

Hastings River Car Ferry. Trust me the alternative is a long drive…

Dolphins

We did see a few dolphins. They come rally close to the bow of the ship – that’s the front for those non-nautical amongst you.  Once they take a liking to  boat they seem to lead it rather than follow it. Staying just in front using their amazing swimming skills. It makes it hard work to get a decent photograph however.

A couple of dolphins approach…
Keeping just ahead of our boat. Dolphins are great swimmers

There were also plenty of pelicans on this river. Massive birds but fantastic gliders. With so many pelicans there must also be plenty of fish…

Pelicans thrive in this area
Human fishermen on ‘Pelican Island’ give you an idea of the size of these birds
Flying our way. These things are huge

The rest of the cruise was a good excuse to go gawping at the expensive properties built in the canals linked to the river. All interesting enough and certainly different from other things we had done. They even arranged to meet a Domino’s Pizza guy further inland who delivered a load of pizza for our lunchtime meal. All included in the tour price of course.

One of several canals built off the river for residential purposes.
Oyster farming is still big here

This was the first day of the holidays that we had been hit by rain. Even then it was not bad, but the sky remained cloudy until mid-afternoon – which around this time of year meant about an hour before it goes dark.

It’s fair to say I like this area. But this was the final night staying in a hotel or caravan. The next day (Sunday) we headed back to Sydney – as did lots of other people. Naturally, as we got closer to the city that meant traffic jams. Lovely…Not!

Wauchope, Timbertown and Big Trees

Just about 19 kilometres inland from Port Macquarie lies the town of Wauchope – pronounced “War Hope”. The town sits on the Hastings river where even this far inland the  river is wide.

Hastings River at Wauchope

It is a pleasant little town – the kind I like. This town was built on the exploitation of the large trees that grew in this area. Particularly the large Red Cedar trees which were cut down for all sorts of uses from the first days European settlers arrived. Wauchope was the original ‘timber town’.

Timbertown

Just outside the town there is one of those living museums. One of those ‘step back in time’ places where you can see how people lived. Due to the industry that gave birth to this town  the museum cum theme park is called simply “Timbertown”.  It was an interesting way to spend a day and great fun for kids. Dani loved it but there was enough for a family day out and something for everyone. Including a winery and port tasting building, steam train, tractor rides, farm animals and a host of reconstructed historical buildings. Many of the buildings were real working buildings taken from other sites and rebuilt here. It was much better than I had expected and showed how things would have looked around these parts when the early settlers built the area.

This huge log gives an idea of the size of the trees that made this area rich

Old “Wild West” Town

Dani refers to this place as an old ‘wild west’ town as it looks so much like the places you see on the old cowboy movies. He is not far off there…

Timbertown station
Old fashioned street scene

Old School House
Inside the school house
Old school bell

They had it all…

The “town” has its own Fire Station, Blacksmiths, restaurant and bar – among other places. It also had some real old fashioned ladies toilets. I wonder if these will ever make a comeback?

Ladies Toilets !!
Fire Station
Inside Fires Station

And of course no town in Australia would be complete without its old Gaol…

They could resurrect these places for iPad crimes…

Old Bottlebutt…

While almost all of the very largest trees were cut down in a relatively short space of time there is one big one that attracts tourists. On the way back to Port Macquarie we stopped at yet another rain-forest. I know. But they are everywhere in this part of the world. It lies about 10km south of Wauchope. There are many trails through this forest but the main attraction is the huge tree known as ‘Old Bottlebutt’ due to its wide bottle shaped base.

No bananas on this tree but the boy is there to give a sense of scale.

The huge Old Bottlebutt tree

‘Old Bottlebutt’ is an ancient Red Bloodwood (Corymbia gummifera) tree located in the Burrawan State Forest. The largest recorded example of its kind, Old Bottlebutt is unique in shape, its large flared ‘butt’ having a huge girth of more than 16 metres just above its base. The hue tree is over 200 years old  and is the main feature on a beautiful 600 metre loop walking track. Yet another fantastic forest on the eastern coast of this country.

Port Macquarie – Final stopover on our holiday

On to Port Macquarie (8th – 9th  July)

There was something I liked almost immediately about Port Macquarie but I couldn’t really put my finger on it. This was our last stop on the way back to Sydney and we spent three days in the area. It was busy but not crowded. Motels had no vacancies but the streets did not seem too full.

Koalas

On the first day I took Dani to a Koala hospital. We had pre-booked it just in case we never saw any in the wild and it was a pleasant walk from our motel, so off we went. I am never impressed with these places but of course you are guaranteed to see some of the furry creatures.

Spot the koala! Pretty much in the centre of photo

The town had a Koala Trail thing going on. Lots of different themed koala statues for the kids (large and small) to spot.  It proved to be great fun for Dani while we were here….

Wonderful old Art Deco cinema – now shops – in centre of Port Macquarie

Craft breweries but few pubs

The town centre is not big but nor is it small and there seemed to be a shortage of standard watering holes. However, just outside of the town on an industrial estate there are several local craft beer breweries complete with sampling bars. We visited a couple – to keep the big kid happy while the little kid moaned. We visited Moorebeer Brewing Company and the Black Duck Brewery but the Wicked Elf brewery was not open. Which was disappointing as we had just discovered one of the their fine tasting and even better named beers – Fastidious Bastard IPA. Naturally, Dani thought the name was hilarious.

Black Duck brewery truck
Fastidious Bastard ale by Wicked Elf Brewery
Inside the Black Duck Brewery – with the smaller of the two guard dogs!!

Old Courthouse

Also worth a quick visit – and free to enter – is the old courthouse. Well preserved with plenty of original features

Taking the stand
In the dock
Recurring theme around these parts. All that remains of the original Port Macquarie gaol.

I think it was the wide but uncrowded roads that appealed to me in this town. The town itself is big enough but not too big. It is set on the sea with beaches and a huge river estuary, so has a bit of everything.

Plenty of people spotting whales from the lighthouse

There were also a few things to see and do in the immediate area before we left Port Macquarie . More on that in the next post… By the time I have caught up on our last holidays we will be off again. One more week of school to go…

Book Review – Charlotte’s Web

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

I admit I had only heard of this book but did not know the story. It was written by an American called  Elwyn Brooks White (better known as E. B. White) in 1952. He also wrote Stuart Little which I had definitely heard of; at least as a movie, but not realised that it was also a book by Mr. White. I admit, I am, and always have been, a bit of a literary Philistine. Anyway, if you are equally as unfamiliar with the book as I was, here is a little summary of the story and my straight-to-the-point, Old Dad style thoughts on it.

But first.. Why this book all of a sudden?

First of all let me explain. Dani has been reading this book with his class and every day they read a chapter or two he would tell me all about it on the way back from school. This had been going on for the past few weeks so I decided I had better read the book myself and bought a copy. Dani can keep it or pass it on as a present to someone else. I wanted us both to have read it before we watch the movie together. The famous cartoon creators Hanna-Barbera made an animated version of the story back in 1973 (available on youtube). More recently there is a live action version from 2006 which is the one I want to watch with my son.

Plot Summary

This is of course a children’s book about a little girl called Fern who lives on a farm. Her father is about to kill the runt of a litter of pigs with an axe (apparently because runts are a lot of trouble – who knew?) when Fern intervenes and asks to keep it as a pet.

Fern gets attached to the pig and names him Wilbur. When the pig grows a little her dad tells her they must get rid of him and he sells the pig on to Fern’s aunt and uncle, Mr. and Mrs’ Zuckerman. As luck would have it they only live down the road so Fern is able to go and see her pig every day – which she does. But that does not keep Wilbur safe from the dreaded axe. Because as soon as he is big and fat enough to be turned into bacon sandwiches Mr. Zuckerman also intends to kill him. The clock is ticking for this little piggie. Now that should not be a real problem you would think. Because pigs can’t tell the time or even know what a ticking clock is. Right? WRONG!. This little swine can even talk. He speaks with the other farmyard animals. Not only that but Fern can hear and understand all the conversations.

When one of the animals (a sheep I think) tells Wilbur he will one day become the meaty parts of a cooked breakfast Wilbur is distraught. How can he avoid the inevitable? Well, at this point along comes a spider. No, not that one that frightened little miss Moffett. This one is called Charlotte – presumably a very common name for a spider – and she too can speak. Charlotte takes to Wilbur for some strange reason – we shall come back to that – and works out a plan to save his bacon. Or more like, save him from becoming bacon.

Writing in the Web

While Wilbur thought the writing was on the wall for his porkie arse, the writing would in fact turn out to be in Charlotte’s web – hence the title of the book. The clever spider (more than clever I think you will agree) decides to spin her web with the words ‘SOME PIG’ built into the design. So when the farm hand came down one morning to feed the animals and sees Wilbur standing there proudly with a web above him saying “Some Pig”, he understandably gets a bit spooked. Who wouldn’t?  Then he runs and fetches the Zuckermans to show them this miracle. And here is where it all falls apart for me…

Mr. Zuckerman is amazed and thinks the whole thing is a miracle (well it kind of is eh?) and suddenly thinks the pig is great – saying something like “Wow, that’s ‘some pig’ we have there”. Mrs. Zuckerman then reacts exactly as I did and says something like; “Hang on a minute mate. Have you been drinking already this morning? It’s not the pig that’s extraordinary is it? Its the bloody spider that’s amazing!” (That is not quoted from the book, just my take on it. Seriously it was a bit like that though, page 110 in our book to be exact).

Her husband then convinces Mrs. Zuckerman that it can’t be the spider because it is only a common grey barn spider. So it must be the pig. And she falls for it! Really! Oh come on Mrs. Zuckerman, you really have let the sisterhood down there old girl. Now that would never happen if this book was written in 2020 eh? Imagine the outcry!? I guess women really were that dumb back in the good old 1950s after all…. Nice to get a little lesson in historical human anthropology out of a kid’s book.

More Web Messages and the County Fair

Anyway apart from this little side issue the book continues as a classic children’s tale. They think Wilbur is some super fantastic swine so he is saved from the chop at least for a while. Charlotte realises that she must keep up the hard work and makes other messages in her webs as the subterfuge clearly won’t last. Especially as Wilbur is getting fatter and more inviting to the butcher by the day. She spins the words “terrific” and “radiant” on two more occasions. By this time of course loads of people have heard of these ‘miracles’ and have come to see the pig. Wilbur is now more famous than John Wayne (in pig-farming circles) so Mr Zuckerman decides to show off his famous porker at the county fair.

Spoiler Alert

Charlotte spins her final web at the fair – “HUMBLE”. Wilbur wins a special prize and of course there is no way that Mr. Zuckerman is ever going to kill him now. Meanwhile Charlotte has spun and egg sack and laid a load of eggs in it. She is on her last (eight) legs apparently so Wilbur sadly agrees to look after the eggs and takes them back to the farm. They hatch and also speak to Wilbur but most leave. Three of Charlotte’s offspring stay at the farm to keep Wilbur company and all live happily ever after. Sort of…

Meanwhile Fern has lost interest in Wilbur – presumably because he is safe from the chopping block – and has become more interested in some young lad at her school.

Critique

With an opening line of; “Where’s Papa going with that axe?”, I thought to myself ‘hello, now this could be quite interesting’. But it never quite lived up to that tense and scary start.

OK, I know it is a children’s book but I just found it hard work after that page 110 thing described above. Dani too spotted that glaring hole in the story-line – immediately. But it did not stop him from enjoying it. He clearly loved it and was noticeably disappointed the days that his teacher never read any of the book to the class. Just as he was very eager to tell me more about it on the days that they did read it.

Aside from that I found Wilbur to be annoying with his constant whining  – even if that is a real life porcine trait. I couldn’t quite understand how a spider as clever as Charlotte could take such a liking to him. Then again I don’t understand how a spider can write either. Ah whatever…

Another interesting character is Templeton the rat. He is a sneaky little f@#ker who only helps out when there is something in it for himself – which basically means food. A little  stereotyping of poor rats perhaps? I suppose he is the most realistic one in the whole story. And that’s a sad thing to have to say eh?

Overall the story is one of friendship and survival. There is also the message that you can’t avoid death forever. There is also a ‘coming of age’ type twist to it, with Wilbur, but more  especially for Fern. This book has won all kinds of awards and regularly features in various ‘top 100’ lists for kid’s books. Or is it ‘top 200’? Well, you get the point I’m sure.

Ah… but that’s just my take on it. Why not read it for yourself? Or buy it for your kids or grandchildren as an excuse? I promise you they will love it.

 

Wattamolla Beach

Spring is definitely here. With temperatures hitting about 23 degrees yesterday we went for a drive to a remote beach. Wattamolla Beach inside Australia’s first ever national park, the  Royal National Park.

Getting there

It was about one and half hours drive to get there. Mostly getting out of the city of course. It is only about 29 kilometres (18 miles) south of Sydney centre but it really is a hard slog getting around and in and out of this city. Once in the extreme south limit of Sydney you can enter the Royal National Park. This was Australia’s first ever designated national park as far back as 1879. It was originally called just ‘National Park’ but was renamed in 1955 after Queen Elizabeth II visited during her 1954 tour of Australia.

Another fantastic park. It is 151 square kilometres in size (that’s 58 square miles for people like me). And so many trees – again!!! Amazing dense vegetation. it never ceases to amaze me. Not only is it the oldest national park in Australia it is the second oldest in the world – only Yellowstone is older. Hey, go Yogi!!. Oh no, wait. That was Jellystone wasn’t it? Anyway… It as national parks go, this one is old.

Wattamolla Beach

There are several beaches in this park and as you tend to enter the park area from the main road to the west you need to drive a fairly long way to his the sea to the east. But when you get there it’s all worth it. This is a beautiful secluded spot. The beach is in a sheltered natural bay with a creek, river and waterfall set way back up the sand. But of course that makes it very popular – hence the large car park areas. It costs $12 to get in with a car (if not a member) so our National parks membership has now almost paid for itself after several uses.

It soon got crowded after we arrived but it is still a place I would go back to. Anyway, if you haven’t been here then please judge for yourselves.

View to the sea from waterfall
Just off the sand and it’s into the forest…

We did go in the sea, which was cold but just about acceptable. Only just though. It will get warmer soon. Dani had to be thrown in however. But he enjoyed it.

Wattamolla Creek
Dunes between the beach and forest

Clifftop Walk

There are man walking tracks and trails inside all national parks but perhaps the most spectacular one here is the coastal track that runs along the clifftops. We only did a short part of it but you could easily spend a full day exploring this route.

Close to the edge: Yes that’s Dani and his dad.

Incidentally this park was added to the Australian National Heritage List in December 2006.

A lizard stops to check out Dani.
Sea carved rocks

Our Recent Ancestors would be Ashamed

I have finally got around to reading that book about my dad’s uncle surviving the infamous Japanese Prisoner of War (POW) camps in southern Asia and then managing to survive being shipwrecked along with about 1,300 POWs on their way to slave labour in Japan.

As I said at time (see here for that post) I will do a full review when I have finished the book but while I am just about half way through I read some pages that I thought were relevant to today’s  crazy goings on… So I have to write about it right now.

I have reached the point in the book when the convoy is hit by American submarines. First of all I need to point out that the Americans did not know that there were POWs on board two of the cargo ships. The only thought they were sinking enemy supply ships.

First of all there was hope and a sense of freedom as ‘prisoners’ and Japanese abandoned ship. This was quickly followed by despair when the Australian and British ‘prisoners’ realised that they were adrift at sea with no drinking water or food and many hanging on to anything that floated. Then when other ships from the convoy finally turned up to collect survivors the Japanese only picked up their own. Even though some of the lifeboats and makeshift rafts contained both ‘prisoners’ and Japanese. Even though some British ‘prisoners’ had shown a mixture of compassion and seemingly cunning in saving some Japanese lives in the open sea.

Things got worse. Just when you think the limit of inhumanity could not go any lower the ships then proceeded to ram the rafts and lifeboats and scatter the bodies of the struggling allied ‘prisoners’.

After more than a year of being inhumanly mistreated and starved while working on the Burma railway, this was the ultimate insult. The Australian and British ‘prisoners’ who had been rammed by the Japanese ship then mostly gave up and some lay down to await what they now saw as their inevitable fate; death.

Incredible Bravery and Defiance

But all was not lost. The survivors recalled that there was a final note of defiance. (This next part I have copied word for word from the book.)

From a raft full of British, deep throaty voices could be heard singing:

 Rule Britannia, Britannia rules the waves,
Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.

The mood caught and spread. Soon hundreds of British voices echoed  across the dark sea. The Australian Jack Flynn: “I’ll never forget that moment. I thought it was fantastic.”

Indeed, it was fantastic. It was not just patriotic nor was it pure jingoism. This was laughing in the face of adversity. Stubbornly clinging to life and reassuring their fellow victims. Encouraging them not to give up. I am sure this act of defiance lifted spirits and saved lives. As soon as I read that section I immediately thought of a recent and ongoing news item.

What have we become?

Contrast that to today’s pathetic generations and the things being foisted upon us all. For those who don’t know what I am talking about, I refer to a real news item, right now! The annual series of classical music “Proms” concerts held at the Royal Albert Hall in London has been hijacked by the politically correct, history re-writing, soft as shit arseholes. Concert organisers in league with the BBC (TV) had decided in their wisdom that the traditional ‘Last Night of the Proms’ concert – which includes patriotic singing along to songs such as ‘Rule Britannia’ and ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ – should not go ahead. Then they said that the words would be changed so as not to appear too patriotic or jingoistic.

Angry? You should be….

Who are these people? Why do we let them get away with things like this? They owe their very freedom to men like those prisoners fighting for survival on the China Sea. They should be made to hang their heads in shame and show their respect for real human beings like those brave men I am reading about.

After much public backlash it seems they have back-tracked on their plans but we shall see. The ‘Last Night of the Proms’ is set for this coming Saturday (12th September).

What on earth did those men fight and in many cases die for? I am sure they would not have bothered if they could see some what the modern-day fools – like this Proms lot – have turned out like. They are truly a disgrace to the memory of those brave soldiers, sailors and airmen. Quite literally not fit to lick the dirt off the bottom of their shoes.

Cruising up the Hawkesbury River

Yesterday we went back to Spencer on the Hawkesbury river estuary. This time we hired a small motor boat and went for a leisurely cruise up river.

Untouched

You don’t have to go far once out of the city of Sydney to get a feeling of remoteness. Areas that are basically untouched are all around. A trip up the Hawkesbury river certainly gives you that feeling of going back in time.

When I look around at the scenery I can’t help thinking that Port Jackson (better known as Sydney harbour) would have looked similar to this  when the first Europeans sailed into the harbour. The Parramatta river that fills Sydney harbour is less than 30km from the Hawksebury estuary (as the crow flies) but these days it is a whole world away.

We only let him have a short go at ‘driving’…

At Spencer the Hawkesbury River is wide and almost deserted this far inland. There are rolling hills, steep sandstone escarpments and mangrove swamps. And trees everywhere you look. We also saw quite a few sea eagles soaring over the river.

We didn’t quite have the whole river to ourselves

The night before there was a storm but today the weather was perfect. Thanks to the storm however there were quite a few branches floating about. Logs almost in some cases. Such a huge expanse of water though, you hardly notice them. We hired the boat for four hours and so only saw a small part of the  harbours, creeks and inlets that make up this massive waterway.

Spot of Fishing?

Literally a ‘spot’. Dani just didn’t have the patience and we left it a little late too. By the time we decided we had gone as far upstream as we should (and as time allowed) we stopped before turning back and fished for a while. Suffice to say we never caught anything. But all the more reason to go again eh? Great!

Gone fishing… for a few minutes

Hiring a boat

There are several places to hire boats of varying sizes but most of the companies are near the mouth of the river and close to the open ocean where it is relatively busy. We wanted to go more inland where it would be a lot quieter; and then there are not so many options. We used a small local company called Hawkesbury River Hire Boats. Here is a link to their website: www.hawkesburyhireboats.com.au/

It’s a great way to spend an afternoon or morning  – or even a whole day, although that may be a bit much for the lad. One thing is for sure. We will be back.