Octagonal Bank of New Zealand banker's desk carved from Australian red cedar, Dunedin, circa 1883.

Octagonal Bank of New Zealand banker's desk carved from Australian red cedar, Dunedin, circa 1883.
Octagonal Bank of New Zealand banker's desk carved from Australian red cedar, Dunedin, circa 1883.

Friday, November 30, 2012

What the Mind Can Conceive, People Can Achieve – Fri., Nov. 30

Imagination, creativity, intelligence, technology, craftsmanship--conception to achievement. From art to buildings to superstructures; these creations are covered in my blog today.

South through Sydney to the coast; today was a good day to leave the Hunter Valley. The temperature is predicted to go to 40 C (104 F) in Cessnock.

Our drive through Sydney suburbs was crowded, but the traffic moved through the city streets with no major hang-ups. We took the Hwy 1 Expressway Tunnel under the Harbour and followed Hwy 1 south until we reached Kirrawee where we turned off the highway to find lunch. Not only did we find a good roasted chicken lunch, but we also found beautiful murals and artwork that looked like they were created by local school students. (No signs explained who did the artwork.)

Click to enlarge--a beautiful piece of art.

On Highway 1 headed south, we turned east on Lawrence Hargrave Drive and followed the sign to Sri Venkateswara Hindu Temple. We didn’t go in, but I took photos of the beautiful building.

Detail above the door.

As we were driving down the road we saw a sign for Kellys Falls. We made a quick detour on a side road and did a short walk to see the falls. We could hear the falls and see indications of the falls, but no viewpoint of the whole waterfall. I did get a few photos, though, of pretty scenery and a lizard.

Bob rock hopping.
Looking down over the top of the waterfall.
From the Temple, we took Lawrence Hargrave Dr. to Grand Pacific Drive (AKA Lawrence Hargrave Drive) which hugged the east coastline from Stanwell Park to Wollongong.

The beautiful coastline and Ocean Baths at Coalcliff.

Swimming beach and Ocean Bath at Coalcliff.

For many years, Lawrence Hargrave Drive was closed because of frequent rockfall, embankment slips, mud and rock slides, weak rock, marine erosion, and weathering of the rock. It was too dangerous to allow anyone to pass.

A great engineering marvel, the Sea Cliff Bridge, solved the problem along this stretch of coastline. The bridge was built out over the ocean, away from the frequent erosion of the cliff face. This is a testament to man’s ingenuity. We were duly impressed. There is a turnout with information panels and a walkway across the bridge.

Sea Cliff Bridge walkway and bridge.

We walked partway on the bridge overlooking the ocean and rock shelf below and marveled at the bridge itself. The day was overcast, but warm and extremely humid, plus the flies were totally annoying. We would have walked farther, but we were too hot.

Parks, beautiful coastline, lookouts, very nice homes, and old towns lined Grand Pacific Drive. Wollongong has a cute little harbour protected by two lighthouses.

View from a lookout.

Art by Michael Dwyer--Comradeship.

Ooh, another lizard (or dragon?)
Wollongong Harbour.

South of Wollongong, Port Kembla impressed us with miles of steel production facilities. The buildings were enormous. Both sides of the highway were populated with steel mills. My head was going back and forth like we were watching a ping-pong match. Bob was driving in traffic, so he looked from time to time.
We were familiar with the road from Shellharbour to Nowra since we had traveled it twice while we were taking day trips from Bowral in the Southern Highlands. That part of the road was on a highway, so we cruised through there rather quickly. In Nowra, we stopped at the Info Centre to pick up maps for our trip south to Victoria state.

I had seen a photo in one of our Coastal Explorer magazines of dolphins surfing the waves at Mollymook Beach. I thought it would be cool if we could see that. The dolphins have been known to surf the waves with the surfers.

Our next stop was Mollymook Beach. We went to the Beach Hut CafĂ© and ordered “take-away” (to-go) food that we ate at a picnic table at the beach park so we could watch for dolphins. We stayed there for about an hour searching the sea and the surf for the dolphins, but none were there that evening.
The south end of Mollymook Beach.
Imagine dolphins surfing these waves.

Another hour later, we checked into our hotel for tonight in Batemans Bay. Our wifi here is incredibly slow and keeps kicking us off. I will try to post the blog, but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to post photos. When we pulled into the Comfort Inn, a gorgeous peacock came to greet our car.
Peacock greeting committee.

A lizard was catching its dinner at the lights outside our room.

A total change of subject here…A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned I would put some of the local Sydney headlines about our presidential election in my blog because I thought they were clever. Here are the headlines (maybe you’re not sick of hearing about election stuff by now). These are from The Daily Telegraph, Sydney’s biggest-selling newspaper, the day after the election.
·         “Barack to the Future”
·         “Grand Vision for Come-Barack Kid”
·         “United Mates of Obama”
·         “Shattered Romney Suffers a Direct Mitt”
·         “You Can’t Beat the Tweet in America: THE big winner of the election? Social media in a landslide.”

 Miscellaneous stuff:

Here are more abbreviations Aussies use:
Salvation Army = Salvoes
St. Vincent de Paul = Vinnies
Utes = sport utility vehicles
Woolworths (grocery store) = Woolies
Motorcycle gang member = bikie

I am amazed by all the different sports played here: cricket, Rugby League, Rugby Union, lawn bowling, Aussie Rules Football (footy), Life Saving (Surf Clubs compete for prizes).

More ‘stralian words we’ve learned:
arvo = afternoon
coldie = beer

We have less than a week left in Australia. : (  We’ll be spending most of our remaining time along the coast with a day in Melbourne.

Tonight we have thunder and pouring rain. Hopefully, this storm will break the heat and humidity. All for now. Good night.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

MyMulti DayPass -- Thurs., Nov. 29

Subway, trains, buses, and ferries--we rode them all today with our MyMulti DayPass. For $21 each we rode all around Sydney, visited Bondi Beach via ferry and bus, Darlington Harbour via subway and walking, Circular Quay by bus, and rode a couple of different ferries just to be on the water with spectacular views.

Our timeshare is about a two-hour drive from Sydney. We figured if we drove one hour to a train station with free parking:
  • We could let the engineer drive
  • Enjoy the scenery from the train
  • Save money by not paying to park downtown
  • Save on gas
  • And not have the stress of driving in the city.
We scored big time on all accounts. Our train took us into Central Station (a huge complex with many levels of trains and subways) where we had to ask an employee where to find the subway to Bondi Junction. He directed us and we ended up going down and down escalators and through hallways, but we finally found our subway, hopped on, hopped off at our subway stop, and caught the bus to Bondi Beach waiting outside the door.

For lunch in Bondi Beach, Bob chose a chicken sandwich and I had a chicken tandoori salad. We took the food to a picnic table overlooking Bondi Beach where we watched surfers and paddleboarders catch waves.

Bondi Beach looking south.
Bondi Pavilion
Bondi Beach looking north.
Bondi beachside cafe.

From Bondi Beach, we reversed our route on bus and subway, then headed to Darling Harbour. The harbour was so inviting, we walked along half of it looking at restaurants, fountains, and the Maritime Museum exterior where there were some displays in the water.

Downtown Sydney from Darling Harbour.
A fun fountain at Darling Harbour.
Downtown Sydney again from Darling Harbour.
See descriptions of these ships below.
Submarine HMAS Onslow
Destroyer HMAS Vampire.
Santa's seeing who's nauti and nice.
HMS Endeavor

I never knew before why Captain Cook went to the South Seas. I learned something new today. Click to enlarge the photo below.  
Why was Endeavor sent to the South Seas?

For the next leg of our Sydney exploration, we took a ferry to Circular Quay so we could explore downtown further. We stopped in at The National Opal Collection to look at the history of opals which was quite fascinating. They have fossilized remains of a Pliosaur. Some of the bones became opalized because of silica that got in the bones which then hardened and developed beautiful colors over the millenia.
We also wanted to look at The Strand shopping mall which is quite famous.

The Strand is decorated for the holidays.
The Strand has three levels of shops.
Cafes on the main level.

From The Strand, we walked a few blocks to QVB (Queen Victoria Building), another shopping mall inside a restored old building that has been gutted and restored. We especially liked the stained glass windows and the Swarovski-crystal-decorated Christmas tree. The QVB shopping mall is four levels.

Festive for the holidays.

Walking around downtown Sydney on a workday you see that people dress to the nines to go to work. Bob said looking around at some of the women reminded him of the ladies on Sex in the City. I felt a little intimidated by my "holiday" wear. I have to remind myself I'm on vacation, they're not.

So, our shopping exploration complete, we headed back to the ferries and rode two different lines around the harbour. Such a great way to see the views and get a flavor of life in some of the bays.

A multitude of sailboats wherever you look in Syndey Harbour.
What a spot to wait for a ferry!

Our brains were full, but our tummies were empty, so back on a ferry to Darling Harbour we sailed. We looked at the menus posted for several restaurants and both of us thought La Cita looked particularly good and different from all the Asian food we've been eating. Bob had two chicken burritos with guacamole and I had bell peppers stuffed with sauteed vegetables and rice with a tomato-based spicy sauce. Both of us loved our dinners. We shared with each other and agreed we were both winners in our dinner choices.

As night descended, the Christmas decorations lit up the harbour making it magical. What a great end to our Sydney day.

We returned to the train station with 18 minutes to spare before the next train departed for the town where we had parked our car. We had two hours on the train and one hour driving to get back to the timeshare. We made it back at 11:35 p.m.

Tomorrow, we check out and head south of Sydney along the coast. Our Melbourne timeshare did not come through, so we will stay in motels along The Great Ocean Road and not be chained to a week in Melbourne. (Although we do plan to spend some time in Melbourne!)

Night night.

Travel Bug Susan snoozin'.