Road Trip – Day 3 – Mollymook to Narooma

As I mentioned previously, we started off our day 3 quite leisurely sitting for a while at the edge of a beautiful misty and chilly beach, and feeling at one with the world – afterwards we opted to stop off at Ulladulla and filled up with petrol, where I spied a notice for a car mechanics … my right indicator light had started flickering at the speed of light, so I opted to play safe and get it checked out – within half an hour I was back on the road with a new indicator bulb installed, and a paid-up mechanics bill of an entire $5.00 – yep, “we’re not in Sydney any more, Toto”!!  Bless the NRMA mechanics, is all I can say!  The last time I had to have a headlight bulb replaced, and my engine VIN number sanded back slightly, it cost me $120+ … I think the next time I need mechanical work done, I’m going to drive down to Ulladulla!!! 😀

The majority of our day today was spent driving south of Bateman’s Bay to Mogo Zoo – it’s only a small private zoo, but what a wonderful time of it we had!!  We ended up being there for about 3-4 hours, and loved every minute of it!  There weren’t a huge number of animals to see, but what there was to see was really good quality, and you could get quite close up to most of the exhibits.  The autumn colours were also very much present within the Zoo grounds, adding to the wonderful atmosphere (for us anyway).

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I personally have an exceptional fondness for tigers, so I went a bit snap happy at the tiger enclosure, where there are more tigers in one place that I’ve ever seen in one zoo (mainly adolescents).  We also had the opportunity to see white lions and could pat a dingo as they took them for a walk around the park, not forgetting the deer that we drove crazy with deer food!  I also spent a considerable amount of time with a beautiful female chimp who was chattering away to us at the window of the enclosure, while hugging a plastic Shrek doll in her hand (apparently her birthday gift) – it was quite amazing being up so close and personal to a chimp and actually having interaction … I didn’t want to leave!

Seeing as we had spent more time than expected at Mogo Zoo, we opted not to go shopping at the beautiful and quaint Mogo village where a number of artisans had shops – instead, we retraced our steps back to Bateman’s Bay to follow the coast road down south for a while.  Eventually we ended up at Narooma, where we spent the night at an even nicer motel room, and a so-so dinner at the Narooma Golf Club.

Road Trip – Days 2 & 3

I forgot to include in our previous day’s write-up that we drove through Gerringong and Geroa on the way to Berry – this was one area that was recommended to me for a short break away, and I have to say that I agree with their recommendation.  This is definitely one area I’d really love to return to … sitting on Seven Mile Beach for a few days would be such hardship 😉

P1040778 Seven Mile Beach, Geroa

Day 2 of our trip was probably the worst we had weather-wise, it bucketed down with rain all day.  We decided to retrace our steps marginally to visit a Haven & Space warehouse that had been recommended by Amanda – where we saw large cushions that would be great on my sofa.  Unfortunately they didn’t have the size we wanted, but I remembered there were more cushions at the Berry store we had previously been in … for some reason we hadn’t taken much notice of those the previous day, so we figured we might as well take the short track back to Berry once more, which also gave us more time to wander around the shops properly this time.  We started off by buying a few little gourmet deli goodies from The Emporium (yum!), as well as finding the perfect cushion from Haven & Space (I’m now kicking myself that I didn’t buy two though!).  We were also highly amused by a little booze shop window display, which had tasting notes on various items … including the following one that tickled my fancy!

Before we left Berry we managed to find respite from the rain for a few minutes in Berry Patchwork … where I managed to fall in love with the following BOM quilt – alas my credit card will shortly to winging its way down the phone lines to them, and I’m going to start receiving the blocks from the beginning of July.  I think it’s all the beautiful blues and creams that made me fall in love with this one (called “Piece & Plenty”) – and the photo certainly doesn’t do this piece justice (this was taken from their website, not taken by me).  Looking at the various blocks, I think the large variety of techniques will make this a really good learning project 🙂

The rest of the day was spent in a small shopping centre in Nowra, trying to find the local NRMA which was no longer there … but it also gave us chance to pick up some cheap polar fleece jackets and trackpants to fight the drop in weather temperature.  We did finally find the NRMA and had a lovely chat with the lady behind the counter about our hideous accommodation, and she kindly gave us a free map of southern NSW which turned out to be absolutely fantastic value and we used it every day when planning our driving.

After we finished our shopping at the NRMA we hit the road once again, although we didn’t get too far on the road before nightfall – we ended up finding a lovely motel at a place called Mollymook.  We were nervous about the accommodation room when we were told it would be $95 for the night (our decrepit fleapit the previous night was $90), and it was a total palace in comparison.  Mollymook is yet another place I’d be more than happy to return for a long weekend away, it’s just lovely 🙂

Before we started driving on Day 3, we picked up a big cappuccino for me, and sat on a park bench on the beachfront watching the waves roll in and a solitary surfer heading out for a morning surf.  It was a beautifully peaceful way to start the day 🙂

Road Trip – Day 1

Our entire plan for our road trip was to just keep driving until we felt like stopping, figuring it was the middle of winter and most motels would have vacancy signs up – I had a list of places that I really wanted to visit, but all the bits inbetween were totally open to suggestion.

The first leg of our journey was to drive down the scenic coast highway to Kiama – with a couple of detours along the way.  The first detour was that I wanted to drive through the Royal National Park and see Wattamolla, as it had been recommended to me.  It was a lovely drive on an early wintry morning.  It was deserted at Wattamolla, so I opted not to take the bushwalk over to the beach, and instead just explored the area around the carpark – I think I’ll definitely have to return again in better weather and explore further afield.

After Wattamolla we headed over to the coast, and had a pit stop at Bald Hill Lookout where we were greeted with a treat of seeing some tandem hang-gliders … watching them getting ready for launch really brought back memories of when I did this myself in Queenstown, NZ.  It was a real treat, although the wind chill up at the top of that hill was really bitterly cold.  Mum was very wise choosing to stay in the car while I popped out for 1/2 and hour and took photos … then came back and attacked her with my cold hands to share the love LOL.  My Mum would never fail to do that to me growing up, the evil sod she is, so it was time for some payback haha.

We eventually followed the coast past Woollongong and on to Kiama, where we were really fortunate that the wintry weather and high winds meant that the blowhole was performing quite well – it’s really difficult to get good photos of the immense spray of water that plumes high in the air, but we were intrigued by it and stood there for quite some time watching the spectacle and taking in all that lovely sea air.

After Kiama we continued to follow the coast road and had lunch at Shellharbour beach – we were well prepared with some sandwiches and snacks readily made up with a lovely thermos of coffee … there are definitely some benefits of taking your own car from home!  I really loved the mosaics on the walls of the local public toilets (of all places), and we enjoyed watching the local surfers attacking the surf before we headed off on the road once again.

Our final sightseeing stop for the day was to make a quick visit to Berry, a picturesque village that has a relatively good needlework store (our key reason to visit Berry).  While we were browsing in Sew and Tell, we ran into our good friend Amanda so we had extra time to catch up while we continued to wander through the various stitching stock.  We bought a couple of things, mainly some JABC buttons for Christmas ornaments, plus a couple of Mill Hill ornie kits, some replacement Qsnap snaps and Mum bought a wee Lizzie*Kate chart.  We didn’t find a great deal of items that we really wanted buy (perhaps a sad realisation that your stash is already out of control?!), but at least we can say that we’ve finally been!  We also wandered around a couple more shops while we were there, then decided it was time to hit the road again as it was starting to get late.

By the time we reached Nowra, it was getting quite dark, and we figured it was a good place to stop … unfortunately we had trouble here finding a motel on the main road, finally resorting to one we found in a little side street … O.M.G. is all I can say here!!!  The damned motel should be condemned!  I have now learnt to ask to see a room if you’re unsure of the room quality before they swipe your credit card!!  You couldn’t sit on the sofa because it was falling apart (literally!), the toilet didn’t flush properly, and there was no hot water running through any of the taps (guess who just had a strip wash the next morning … neither of us were brave enough to attempt a cold shower).  The only good thing about it is that the beds themselves seemed OK and clean … and it turned out to be the only motel that actually had internet access the entire week we were away!  While I had internet access, though, we tracked down the address of the local NRMA office so we could go and pick up an accommodation guide … worth every cent of the $20 book cost!!

I’ll continue on with Days 2 and 3 together shortly …

Mum’s visit continued

Before mum and I headed south for our big road trip, we headed into the city and took a ferry over to Sydney Zoo – we were lucky that the rain held off while we were out, though sadly the downturn in weather was just the start of what was yet to come for the rest of our holidays. I took quite a few photos that day, so here are just a handful of my favourites – especially the view of Sydney cityscape from the Zoo, what a stunning view that is!

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Sydney Ferry Terminal, Sydney Harbour

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Sydney Harbour Bridge

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Part of the historic Rocks area of Sydney

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A view of Sydney Opera House from the water

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Above are a small selection of animals on display:
Giraffes, Bongo (antelope), Striped Lemur, Lioness,
Red Tree Kangaroo, Gorillas, Otters, Meerkat

One of the main drawcards of Sydney Zoo at the moment is the little baby elephants – and they sure are cute to watch while they’re playing! 😀

We had a lovely day out – and now, after more than 3 years, we can say we’ve seen Sydney Zoo!  Mum was a bit embarrassed at seeing the otters being very voyeuristic by attempting to increase the otter population in full view of the viewing window … 😉

The next morning we headed over to Alison’s for a stitching day with my some of my closest Sydney pals – then on Sunday we jumped in the car at the crack of dawn to commence our week-long road trip.  Thankfully I’d already investigated a shuddering steering wheel the week earlier, and found a bulging tyre so after having that replaced we were ready to rock and roll and hit the highway safely 🙂

Queensland capers continued

Our next full day of sightseeing turned out to be a very full day indeed – driving a lot of the day on one-lane tracks through the countryside and gulping every time a car came from the opposite direction.  A few times I thanked goodness we had taken out additional insurance on the rental car, then thanked goodness again when we didn’t need to use it!

Our day started off by retracing our steps south along the highway past Babinda (after stopping for a quick photo session of one of the local Sikh temples which I loved), then stopped at Crawfords Lookout for a quick peek – this provided a brief glimpse of the distant river, and provided a quick leg stretch for a brief moment.

Unfortunately not long afterwards we passed our first motorbike accident for the day, complete with ambulances etc on the scene … more unfortunately this wasn’t the last we experienced – only about 10km further up the road we came across a newly occurred accident with the biker sitting in the middle of the road, and his motorcycle strewn around the road.  That certainly wasn’t a fun part of the trip, but we turned off the road shortly after that and put our morning back onto a more even and fun keel … we took a detour to the Mungalli Dairy, and we’re ever so glad we did!  Aside from a small tasting plate of their local produced goodies (bio-organic yogurts and cheese), we opted to stay and have an early lunch … oh boy, was it good!!!  The bottom right photo shows our lovely view in the middle of the countryside – sheer bliss 😀

Queensland driving

After we returned back to the main highway again, we headed to a waterfall circuit about 20km away.  Here there are three spectacular waterfalls all within a short driving distance of each other.  Mum declined to walk to the first falls (Ellinjaa Falls) as the path was steep and a bit slippery due to the rainfall – I decided to still do the walk, and I have to admit I was panting and puffing for quite some time on my return back up to the top again … but it certainly was pretty!

Next up was Zillie Falls – the walk was thankfully very short and no sharp inclines, which was great, so Mum joined me for that one.  The view wasn’t quite as spectacular with this one but it was incredibly peaceful standing there watching its awesome majesty.  The final waterfall had a slightly steep incline on the walk, however there was a rail installed so once again Mum could enjoy the viewing experience – Millaa Millaa Falls were certainly spectacular, and a very pleasant ending point of our waterfall circuit.

In the photo below, the big waterfall on right right is Millaa Millaa Falls, top left is Ellinjaa Falls, then the walk to Zillie Falls, and finally at the bottom right is Zillie Falls.

Waterfall wanderings

Our next driving spree took us on a hideous one-tracked drive for well over an hour or so, and not something that I want to repeat again – unfortunately it was an ‘alternative route’, and I hadn’t realised, so next time I’ll wait for the official turn-off signs with the tourist signposts!!  Anyway, in some ways it was better as we ended up at Ravenshoe just in time for the weekly train trip at Millstream Express Steam Railway.  The train takes you on a 2-hour return trip, and we arrived just in time to see it off on its weekly journey – we didn’t have time to take the trip ourselves, but it gave us chance to appreciate some of the stunning jacaranda trees (love, love, LOVE jacaranda trees in bloom) and stretch our legs for a while.

Ravenshoe

Afterwards we dropped in to see the Windy Hill Wind Farm (I didn’t realise quite how BIG they are until you get close to them), then continued to our final leg of the journey, Herberton’s Heritage Village.

To be honest we were totally disappointed with the Heritage Village, especially because we couldn’t find it!  There were a lot of older style buildings throughout the township, which were lovely, but it certainly wasn’t what we had expected so we just bought an icecream at the local shops and continued on our way to Atherton, where we had our final stop to see the Houwang Temple.  This also wasn’t entirely thrilling to us, but the carvings were really pretty in the temple, and it was very unusual to see the temple made out of aluminium siding!

Herberton and Atherton

That saw the final sightseeing day for us in Cairns – but we did manage to have an hour at the Cairns Botanical Gardens on the way to the airport on our final morning.  The gardens are quite lovely, although I’m really disappointed my memory card ate my photos as I took loads of detailed shots with my SLR boohoo.  My absolutely favourite plant was the Beehive Plant … just stunning!!!  If you want to see more you can Google Beehive Plant or its botanical name which appears to be “Zingiber spectabile” – I love it 😀

Cairns Botanical Gardens

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And that was our Cairns trip in a nutshell … then it was back to Sydney for a really brief stay before Mum was winging her way back home again to Auckland.  And now, alas, it’s back to work again tomorrow and with some major project work coming to completion, I have a feeling there will be some late nights coming up this week … within 24 hours I will have forgotten I’ve been on holiday!

Queensland capers (part 1)

Last week Mum flew back to Australia with me, and after a 24-hour layover in Sydney we jumped on another plane and flew up to Cairns in Queensland.  We had six nights in a two-bedroom apartment, and enjoyed some peaceful rest and relaxation … and even managed to do some sightseeing, regardless of the fact that it was raining and overcast most days.

On our first day we stocked up with wine at the local bottle shop and food from the local super-expensive (!) supermarket and had dinner in the apartment.  The next day we wandered along the waterfront for a while then spent the rest of the day stitching.

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On our 2nd full day in Cairns we wandered along the waterfront in the pouring rain and picked up a rental car before going shopping where I managed to add some new ‘fatty’ clothes to my suitcase, and was absolutely thrilled with my purchases, including some lovely 3/4 cotton pants that came in handy during the holiday.  We also called into a proper supermarket and stocked up on the remaining items we needed for the week (at half the price of what we had been paying previously!). I was also really thrilled to see “real” Halloween pumpkins for sale over here for the first time ever (at least that I’ve seen).

Pumpkins at Coles

After gaining our wheels, our first day of proper sightseeing saw us heading south to Babinda, where we went for a shortish wander through the bush to the Devils Pool Walk and then further on to the Babinda Boulders.  It was lovely to stretch our legs in a natural setting, and the views were lovely.

Babinda Boulders

We then headed further south and drove through Innisfail to Paronella Park.  We started our visit off with a scrumptious devonshire tea (I’m sure those who know me well from previous posts will not be surprised by this!) – then joined a guided tour around the property.  We were surprised to learn we had spent an entire 2 hours on the grounds by the time we left – and I have to say I think this day was the highlight of our trip for me.  Unfortunately I lugged 3kg of SLR camera gear around Queensland to no avail, as it turns out that the memory card was corrupted, and I lost all my SLR photos (of which there were tons!) … thankfully, though, I managed to take a few photos on my Lumix point and shoot, so at least we have some photographic record of the week’s events 🙂

Paronella Park is alas just ruins these days after being destroyed by a couple of cyclones, but the history is wonderfully retold by the tourguides and your imagination fills in the details that are now missing in tangible form.

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Paronella Park 1

After Paronella Park it was time to return back to Cairns and another night of stitching in front of the goggle box.

Still in New Zealand

I wish I could say I was here doing lots of stitching, but I can’t truthfully tell you what I’ve been doing other than sitting in front of the gogglebox and computer and just letting the hours of the day disappear before my very eyes.  I’ve got the car boot filled with boxes of junk to take to the Salvation Army over the next few days, and some not-so-junk to be picked over by family friends – then the leftovers will also get taken to the Salvo’s.

The only stitching I’ve managed has taken place over the last 24 hours or so, and are as follows:

Nathalie-Chatrouille freebie
“Chatrouille” freebie by Nathalie
(the freebie is still available
here)
Stitched on 32ct Merino hand-dyed Belfast linen by
Countrystitch
with DMC threads (except I messed up and used 310 instead of 3799
for the cat and lettering … oops)

LizzieKate-Welcome Baby
“Welcome Baby” by Lizzie*Kate
Stitched on 28ct pink/white checked Graziano linen
with DMC threads
(have to say I MUCH prefer the boy’s version of this one!)
I still have to add the little rose button when I get home before framing

Here are a few piccies of Auckland from our first day of driving around after a visit to The Embroiderer … where we were VERY restrained and only bought two copies of this year’s JCS ornie magazine (Mum kindly treated me to my copy, as I’ve bought one for her the last few years).  Rightio, here are some snippets from Auckland:

Auckland skyline from the harbour bridge (north side)
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Kiwi (New Zealand) flag at Ponsonby
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Art sculpture at a city park in Auckland – these ‘buried’ buildings have always intrigued me
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Sidewalk mosaic with Polynesian style
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Rangitoto Island – an Auckland icon that will always make me think of home
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Auckland skyline from Doug Myer Robinson Park
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And a couple of Kiwi foods that we don’t often see in Australia …
first Kumara (Kiwi sweet potato), and then Tamarillos (known as the Kiwi tree tomato)
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