The Retirees visit Normanville and Victor Harbour

We arrived at the resort and settled in. Now I have to confess that we stuffed up. We arranged a boat trip on the Torrens River in Adelaide after we had moved on to Normanville. Its just a short drive away we said. Well we did not know about the road works that would confuse us and lead to us missing the sailing of the boat and having to rendevouz at the second stop for the boat trip. The boat travelled up and down a stretch of the river either side of its base in a former boat shed.

The Torrens is called a river but it is no comparison with even the Yarra. Nevertheless the boat was full with people and it appears the promise of a gin tasting was the draw card. A local distillery manufactured and sells a product called”Prohibition Gin”. As we arrived late we we behind in the tasting and had to catch up. Now I am not an affectionardo of gin and the samples tasted we okay. Kerry was more impressed and found out where we could go to stock up. I was glad that we were staying at Normanville as this reduced the risk of having to attend and spend. Little did I know that 6 months into the future we would attend a gin tasting at Tattersalls Club in Brisbane hosted by Prohibition Gin and not only did I enjoy the neat gin nips but was relaxed sufficently that the purse strings loosened and we bought 2 bottles and won the door prize of a 3rd bottle of gin.

We returned to the resort for a nights rest and a relaxed few days. It started with a walk around the golf course. Although I did not play the course it was pleasantly laid out with plenty of sand traps and water but very few trees. At the end of the course is St Peters Catholic Church, a church of simple style seen through out Australia very different to the stone Cathedrals that litter Europe.

After the walk we drove to the beach and at the Normanville Surf Life Saving club we found a cosy cafe obviously enjoyed by locals. Our plan after a hot breakfast and coffee, we drove to Victor Harbour an hour and a bit away. Normanville is 77 km south of Adelaide, and it is the largest regional centre on the western side of the Fleurieu Peninsula. It is situated next to the mouth of the Bungala River. Robert Norman, in 1849 built first, followed by the general store, and the hotel. This was quickly followed by the local Government House, which housed the Police Officer, court house, and jail cells. Norman opened the Normanville Hotel in 1851 and a church soon after.

Victor Harbor is located on the south coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula, about 82 kilometres south of Adelaide. The town is a highly popular tourist destination. The town of Port Victor was laid out on the shores of Victor Harbor in 1863 when the horse-drawn tramway from Goolwa was extended to the harbour. After finding a place to park we walked past the old Customs House, the first public toilet in the town (the featured image at the commencement of this blog) around to the remenants of that horse drawn tramway across to Granite Island. Granite Island, also known by the Ramindjeri people as Nulcoowarra, is a small island next to Victor Harbor. In 1830s there was a shore-based bay whaling station operating at Granite Island. It is now a popular tourist attraction, particularly for people wishing to see little penguins which live there. The island is accessible across the causeway from the mainland, either on foot or the horse-drawn tram. From here you can also see the sea cages where blue fin tuna are farmed. Plenty of gulls as well.

The island appears wild with clear evidence of wind and water erosion. But amongst the natural are many man made things like sea groins, timber stair cases and some electic street art.

We walked around the island in about an hour and waited for our tram at the island cafe. The day was quite warm and a cool drink was very pleasant but those who chose to dine in the open dining area soon were battling crafty gulls intent on stealing your chips. The tram arrived and we boarded the tram for a very casual return trip. Next stop is the mouth of the Murray River.


The Retirees Babysitting in Adelaide

One of our daughters has recently returned from the USA with her husband and family to Adelaide. It is not as far to travel for baby sitting duties but not your average come over for a couple of hours while I….. So September 2019 we flew to Adelaide to babysit our grandsons.

They had moved into a comfortable home near the boys school so we were able to walk them to school and whilst at school see the sights of Adelaide. First was a visit to Rundle Mall and the city CBD via bus transport. Seniors ride free of paying a fare during certain hours which suited us nicely. We rode the buses passed City Hall to the end of the Mall where we decided to walk around and get a feel for the city. I have uploaded the various city sights. The city is surrounded by park which is lovely but makes the trip to the CBD longer than you would expect.


Amongst the collection of stone buildings we found the Art Gallery of South Australia. It was a bit eclectic. for example below is the stone ediface suggesting old traditional and conservative and inside is a spiders web of the things you would expect to be captured in the web;

We found the markets and I was particularly taken by this coffee shop (see below) which used a jumble of windows and doors to enclose the cafe space and then dotted tables chairs bars and stools around it to give it an el fresco atmosphere. The markets reminded me of the victoria markets in Melbourne with plenty of choice for fresh everything and an assortment of everything else. From the markets we made our way back toward the river and the casino passing the Parliament House a plaque commemorating the first federal convention where State leaders attempted to agree the constitution of a Commonwealth of Australia and the rampant Lion of Rex Britannica. We were making towards the road to cross the Torrens to North Adelaide and the Adelaide Oval. Set in a parkland surrounding the Oval is protected from view by a modern stadium building overshadowing everything around.


We picniced in the park under the shadow of the Oval building. It was a hot Adelaide day and sitting in the shade by the river was as pleasanrt as it was going to get. After lunch we strolled through the park and crossed a footbridge back into the CBD

We picked up a hire car  just across the road from the footbridge as we planned an excursion into the country after our babysitting was over. We booked accomodation at the Normanville Resort and Golf Club to the south of Adelaide – no point in flying to Adelaide and not using our time to look around.

We drove south to Myponga where we stopped for a coffee. The coffee was accompanied by a piece of fresh country baked cake and a couple of pies which would serve as lunch. We drove south through green pastures and herds of sheep grazing on the hills with the sea following us down the coast until finally finding the resort outside Normanville. You will notice in the photos below the traffic signs on the beach – clearly you can drive on the beach. Normanville is not a large centre but it has a lovely beach which we visited to eat our pies and then to the resort. The resort did seem a remote place for a resort but it was quite large and surrounded by a golf course and housing estate.

More on this adventure in my next blog.

The Retirees, the Bison and the Knight

I had planned that we would venture to the 4 points of the compass while staying at Rothbury. So today it was south west (my compass points are not the traditional) to a lookout the name of which I have forgotten and which judging by the state of the road most other people had forgotten. We headed into Pokolbin passed Barringbah Wines and Ivanhoe vineyard up into the mountains. A steep narrow road but sealed all of the way until we came to a hairpin bend. We had a choice; follow the bend or turn right into a forestry road. We chose to follow the bend and ended up on a rise with the road ducking down once more going God only knows where. I was satisfied that this point must have been the lookout the tourist guide referred to but who knows – there was nothing there to indicate anything, however the road did widen to allow parking on one side. It did provide beautiful views of the Hunter.

Evidently the lookout had some notoriety locally. One of the fence posts served as the resting place of at least 3 memorials of former residents of the valley. I don’t know if the persons identified had been buried on that stony ridge or relatives had just placed a memorial and their ashes spread on the winds. If there be an afterlife then this is one spot I would choose to look at forever. We spent some time taking in the view. I don’t know if it was the thought of the winding road or whether to explore and verify this was the lookout but finally we broke the spell and returned down the mountain passing a bison – Yes bison on the way.


We stopped at Barringbah Wines for a devonshire tea where we were told that the bison herd (not just one a herd) was run on so and so’s farm up the mountain. Another surprise, Kerry saw grapes on the vine. Now we are normally visiting vineyards in May after vintage so apparently, she had not seen grapes hanging from the vine before! Baringbah is nestled in the foothills of the imposing Brokenback Range, surrounded by rolling vineyards and the cellar door and cafe is built in an early bush slab hut style in a picturesque part of Pokolbin and a complete contrast to its neighbour Ivanhoe Vineyard. After the devonshire tea we went to the cellar door where I bought a liqueur muscat called Liquid Christmas Cake – something to sample at the appropriate time.

Owned and operated by Stephen and Tracy Drayton since 1996, the Ivanhoe Estate is renowned for its gutsy reds and great whites. A fifth-generation member of the famous wine making Drayton family, Stephen brought the historic Ivanhoe vineyard to life with his own style and passion. Ivanhoe is picturesque and manicured to within an inch of its life. From the strident colour of the cellar door building to the stainless-steel entwined hands standing 3 m high at the front door this vineyard suggested expensive. We were delighted that our impression was wrong as we topped up the suitcases even further.

Our last day in the Hunter and we headed north east. I had noticed the Rothbury cemetery was marked on the tourist maps so I thought it must be interesting. However, finding it was another matter indeed. We even went into one of the vineyard cellar door to ask where to find it. Admittedly the cellar door was closed, and we spoke to two electricians doing some repairs but they had no idea. They did not have a clue. As we drove out of the cellar door driveway ready to give up, we noticed an old weathered directional sign pointing back in the direction from whence we had come but on a different track. There behind the cellar door building and the machinery shed was the cemetery. It holds the remains of many of the early settler families of the Hunter, many in family plots holding generations of the same family. Murry Tyrrell the famous wine maker of the Tyrrell family his dad and his wife all in the same plot.

I also saw a memorial to a coal miners strike marked on the tourist map at North Rothbury. Before wine the valley was mined for coal and in 1929 – 1930 there was a strike and a miner was killed leading to this memorial. On 16 December 1929, New South Wales Police drew their revolvers and shot into a crowd of locked-out miners, killing a 29-year-old miner, Norman Brown, and injuring approximately forty-five miners. The incident became known as the Rothbury affair or the Rothbury riot, and is described as the “bloodiest event in national industrial history. The memorial was not much to look at sitting on the side of the road probably ignored and forgotten about but clearly significant to the people who once mined coal in the Hunter a long time past.

We drove to the edge of the valley and found a pub serving cold beer and hot schnitzels in air-conditioned comfort. After lunch it was time to think of heading home to Brisbane. So we returned to our apartment for the last time as the next morning we were meeting Clive Jnr (Sonny) to hand over the car and fly to Brissie. Once again, the GPS guided us to the airport outside Newcastle. Now you might think that meeting someone at an airport that you had never met before might present a problem. We were told we would know Sonny when we saw him. That statement was so correct. If I told you the car was a Masda 2 and I did not think Sonny could fit in that might explain. With the car labouring off we went inside a very pleasant country terminal for a gentle ride back to Brissie and the end of a very busy 10 days on the road.

The Retirees rock up to Rothbury

The following morning, we left Bowral and hit the road headed towards Hunter Valley, Rothbury and the vineyards. Again, the GPS made the trip uneventful until we got to the Vintage and our next hotel – The Sebel Vintage. The GPS took us right to the front of the Apartment complex but there was nothing like a reception to find out which apartment was to be ours. We made a decision to go further down the road as we thought we were in the wrong hotel. Essentially, we drove for 10 minutes to end up at the same spot. We had noticed a real estate agent at the corner of the road into the road leading to the apartments and this time we saw in small print on the face of the agency “Reception The Sebel Vintage”. Pissed off explains how we felt.

With our keys in hand we found our apartment and moved in. The apartment was very comfortable and roomy. Essentially it was a single level one bedroom apartment with kitchen dining room garage bathroom separate toilet and laundry in a cupboard. All of our needs met but there was more – we had a small garden off a patio but the weather was so hot and miserable the air-conditioning was more enjoyable than outdoors. The Vintage is a planned community with a golf club at its heart a gym and pool and surrounded by golf course and hotels/apartment hotels. There did appear to be private homes too. Kangaroos abounded. Without playing the golf course to understand its layout it looked to be very disjointed with players having to cross the main road to go from fairway to fairway.

My plan was to break up the valley into 4 segments and do a segment each day. However we started our day by visiting some cellar doors. De Bortolli was our first port of call. We had passed the cellar door twice trying to find our apartment but we were way too early. Not that we needed a vino fix but the sun was up and we wanted to make the most of our visit. The weather hot so we did not need to be waiting for the place to open. However Kerry had a great idea to use the cellar door as a background for photos of one of her suitcase covers for Cover my Case facebook page and website. After De Bortolli we moved onto a cellar in a shopping centre called Monkey Place Creek . Kerry had seen a restaurant advertised and was looking for that particular restaurant which she thought was nearby the shopping centre so that how we ended up here. Good thing too. In the back of the local IGA we found a honey shop and like Winnie the Pooh, Kerry had to have her honey. The range was glorious but standing out was the honey made from pollen from Lemon Myrtle Trees. We have just such a tree in our yard at home and the scent of Lemon Myrtle is just divine. Bees who make honey with lemon myrtle pollen produce divine honey.

Further down the road we encountered the Hunter Distillery. A few more snaps for Cover my Case and then into the distillery we went. Famous for their gin made with botanical ingredients, Hunter Distillery is the only certified organic distillery in the Hunter wine region. Locally owned and operated, it produces an exceptional range of top shelf spirits, including Vodkas, Liqueurs, Schnapps and of course GIN. We sampled and selected but they were out of stock. I however had my eye on the butter scotch schnapps and I got lucky that day. Following the same road we found our way to a brew house where a tour bus had already landed. Kerry wanted a photo with the suitcase cover in front of the purple tour bus much to the alarm of the tour guide who suddenly appeared beside me curious as to why we trying to get into the bus. Huh? We stood in the blazing sun explaining that all we wanted was some photos and she settled down. But that meant I now had a thirst and it needed quenching. Unlike a vineyard cellar door this business combined the concept of cellar door brewery and tasting room restaurant and gift shop (clearly a tourist trap). This was a Matilda brewery selling the bottled beer from Freemantle but they did brew a ginger beer. So I quenched that thirst with an alcoholic ginger beer. Not bad but I think the alcohol content was similar to Green’s ginger wine. Whew! We then tried the cellar door but it had a selection of local wines none of which it produced. So we did not find anything of interest.

Just to show you that it was not all cellar doors, distilleries and breweries we went to the Zoo. The day continued to be blistering hot with clear blue skies. We skipped from shade to shade to try and keep cool. In doing so I disturbed a large thick knee which surprised me as well as me surprising him. I had never seen one of these birds so large. there is a nesting couple in Mowbray Park at home but they would be 30 cm high this bird was 1 m tall.

We were just in time for the Meerkat show – basically a keeper feeding the little critters and talking about being a meerkat.  After the meerkats we wandered past a giant land tortoise with some little pals, a resting Lace Monitor (heavens knows how much more there was to this beast), a frilled neck lizard, another native Australian (lizard), and either a paddy melon or small wallaby in their rocky dens. The next show was right up the other end the zoo. The walk to the next show took us passed all sorts like alligators, crocodiles, ostriches, geese and other sorts ultimately standing in front of the South American Wolf Fox. This strange fox like creature is actually a wolf and it looks like it is on stilts. The highlight had to be the monkeys and their antics with new born clinging on for dear life. The heat was getting to us but we were determined to see the remainder of the animals – a pair of sleeping cockatoos, a riot of lorikeets, a cloud of small finches and a mob of kangaroos. We had an enjoyable time but as the roos show relaxing in the shade was the way to go.

On the way back to our apartment Kerry wanted to stop for a photo opportunity for the Cover my Case label. Spotting some vines, we drove in and found ourselves at Hungerford Hill Cellar Door. After taking some snaps we decided the sun was too hot to not stop for a cool beverage. The host was quite taken with the suitcase covers and allowed more photography and wine sampling. Refreshed we ventured to the car which I had parked under the shadiest bush around and ambled home to fill our suitcase again with more bounty from the cellar door.

The Retirees chasing the Red Cow

The Red Cow is a unique cool climate garden set on 2.5 hectares in the picturesque rural village of Sutton Forest. The simplicity of its presentation disguises a garden of sophisticated structure and ambitious schemes. Developed by its creative owners Ali Mentesh and Wayne Morrissey around their historic 1820’s cottage, the garden is abundant and secretive.  We were greeted by Ali as he opened for business. He directed us to the wondrous walled sanctuary where solitude invites quiet reflection. Red Cow Farm features an exuberant cottage garden, monastery garden, abbess’s garden, a stunning collection of rare and unusual perennials, woodland, old fashioned roses and clematis, beech walk, lake, bog garden, orchard and kitchen garden. The gardens also attract local wildlife particularly birds. The chook pen was popular with galahs and red parrots. With all these gardens and the festival of birds inhabiting the gardens it is a stark contrast to observe the ploughed fields on the adjoining farm.

From Red Cow we travelled to Bundanoon and the Buddhist Monastery in the forest outside the village. Sunnataram Forest Thai Monastery was commenced in 1989 and has been built by the monks living there over time. The centre of the Monastery is the Gratitude Pagoda finished in 2013. The monks teach Buddhism in schools and Universities in the district and the monastery operates as a retreat for Buddhist adherents. It is open to visitors and you can sit in on a presentation by one of the monks. We took the opportunity but found it was rambling and at some times unclear, but we sat through it though enlightenment evades us still. This was a first for me and something I did not expect in Australia. The Pagoda has niches on all four sides and different statues of Buddha from different cultures and countries stand in these niches. There is an entrance into the Pagoda through a glass door. I felt uncomfortable to just stroll in flashing my camera about but no one seemed to mind.

We returned through Bundanoon which is divided by the rail line to Sydney. Feeling like some lunch we checked out the cafes (all 3 of them) and a rejects shop where we were given the tip to cross over the railway to get a decent pub meal. So we crossed the line, passed an early home still in use today and we found a fabulous old hotel behind the railway station. This hotel must have been built for all of the travellers from Sydney holidaying in the Southern Highlands. The timber panelled dining room the upstairs accommodation and the lounge bar resplendent  with lounge chairs leather sofas and timber panelling with a large fire place all seem in contrast to the tacky tiled public bar tacked on the end of the hotel closest to the station. We chose the dining room and tucked into a succulent lamb roast and a glass of local vino which filled an empty spot before we returned to the Sebel in Bowral.

And that is all folks! The next day we spent sitting in the air-conditioned room doing much of nothing and relaxing after an enjoyable visit to the Southern Highlands.



The Retirees exploring the Southern Highlands of NSW

After our first big day out in Bowral and resting with a cold G&T on the sofa we mapped out our route for the following day. First stop would be Bendooley Vineyard and Berkelouw Bookstore.

We have been to many a cellar door and vineyard over the years but we were surprised at the enormous carpark behind the cellar door at Bendooley Vineyard. An unusual congregation of buildings – a stone cottage and timber bookstore hid this carpark which must have been big enough for over 100 cars. It turns out the vineyard not only produces pleasant wines, but it has cottages for holiday makers, a tasting room in that stone cottage along with a fine restaurant and a bookstore. We tried the wines at the cellar door whilst awaiting a table in the restaurant and once we were comfortably seated we shared a delicious pizza with a glass of their Rose (our preferred choice from the wine tasting). After lunch we explored the bookshop which appeared to be in an old but renovated stable. The shop was littered with tables and chairs not just for the readers’ but it too offered an dining experience. Further the books were not your usual newspaper stand at the airport selection but rather a library of historical, autobiographical, geographical, mineralogical – all kinds of books. A rare bookstore in the bush outside Berrima.

The story of Berkelouw Books begins in Kipstraat, Rotterdam, Holland, in 1812 with Solomon Berkelouw. Solomon’s young son Carel carried on his father’s trade by opening a bookstore at the Niewe Market in Rotterdam where, Berkelouw Books prospered and later moved to a larger premise at Beurs Station, also in Rotterdam. Carel’s son Hartog Berkelouw continued to expand the family business. He opened a new shop at Schoolstraat, Rotterdam. It was Hartog who first began issuing the catalogues that gained Berkelouw an international reputation. However, the Second World War intervened, and during the siege of Rotterdam, Berkelouw Books’ premises were bombed, and its entire stock destroyed. Its owners became casualties of the war and the once thriving business was brought to a standstill – the work of four generations of Rotterdam booksellers virtually wiped out in just a few years.

Immediately after the war, Isidoor Berkelouw began to re-establish the firm but, Isidoor was keen to move the business out of Europe. In 1948 Isidoor made the long journey to Australia. Arriving in Sydney, Isidoor issued a catalogue, generating immediate interest amongst book collectors around the country. He set up shop at 38 King St, then headquarters was relocated to 114 King St and Isidoor began to share the management of the business with his two sons, Henry and Leo. By 1972 the Berkelouw collection move to Rushcutters Bay, then in 1977 took a quantum leap relocating entirely to ‘Bendooley’, an historic property just outside Berrima in the Southern Highlands of NSW.

In 1994, the sixth generation, Paul, Robert and David Berkelouw, opened again in Sydney, at Paddington. Since then, Berkelouw Books has opened further stores in Sydney and Eumundi on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland. Today Berkelouw Books claims it is Australia’s largest rare and antiquarian, second-hand, and new bookseller.

Whilst in Berrima we visited the Berrima Courthouse. Surprisingly grand sandstone building for a bush court house it stands beside Berrima Goal also constructed in local sandstone. It is now a museum. Berrima Courthouse was built between 1836 and 1838. The first quarter-sessions were held at the court house in 1841, and the first trial by jury in the colony of New South Wales was held there. The assize courts were continued for only seven years. In 1850 the district court moved to Goulburn, south of Berrima. Minor courts continued at Berrima until 1873. Notable trials were of John Lynch, who was hanged for the murder of at least nine people, and of Lucretia Dunkley and her lover Martin Beech who were both hanged in 1843 for the murder of Dunkley’s husband. Their trial is simulated in the present-day museum courtroom with realistic manikins and an audio commentary. Dunkley was the only woman to be hanged at Berrima gaol.

Berrima Gaol was built over five years with much work done by convicts in irons. Conditions at the gaol were harsh, prisoners spent most of their days in cells and the only light was through a small grate set in the door. During World War I the army used Berrima Gaol as a German-prisoner internment camp. Most of the 329 internees were enemy aliens from shipping companies. There were German officers from Rabaul, German New Guinea (what is now Papua New Guinea) and also officers from the light cruiser SMS Emden. Captain Müller had taken Emden to raid the Cocos Islands, where he landed a contingent of sailors to destroy British facilities. There, Emden was attacked by the Australian cruiser HMAS Sydney on 9 November 1914. Most of the survivors were taken prisoner.

After Berrima we returned home to put our feet up and plan the following day at Red Cow Farm.

The Retirees blow into Bowral

Of course, we found the car. It was on the last floor we searched. If it wasn’t a manual drive care then I would have been banned to the back seat. But it was a manual so taking the helm, I set sail for Bowral in the southern Highlands of NSW. Using the GPS we drove directly and trouble free to our apartment at the Sebel Apartments in Bowral. Our apartment (contained in the building in photo 4) is part of a settlement of self -contained houses set in a pleasant surrounding with undercover pool and gym.

Bowral’s history extends back for approximately 200 years. During the pre-colonial era, the land was home to an Aboriginal tribe known as Tharawal. The first European arrival was ex-convict John Wilson, who was commissioned by Governor Hunter to explore south of the new colony of Sydney.

The town grew rapidly between the 1860s and the 1890s, mainly due to the building of the railway line from Sydney to Melbourne

Gardens and European plants flourished from 1887, when citizens of Bowral started planting deciduous trees to make the area look more British. This legacy still lives on throughout Bowral. Notably, the oaks at the start of Bong Bong St are a characteristic that makes Bowral distinct from other rural towns, giving it strong autumn colour. The town became somewhat affluent, as many wealthy Sydney-siders purchased property or land in the town and built grand Victorian weatherboard homes.

As our apartment was within walking distance of downtown Bowral, we went walking through town in oppressive heat  through to the Coles supermarket to stand in front of the open refrigerator cabinets and pick up supplies including a different make of gin and saw some of its historic buildings like the Town Hall on the way.

Cootamundra was the birth place of Don Bradman, but he played his early cricket at the Bowral Public School and later the Bowral Cricket Club. After a most successful career as a cricketer Bradman has been immortalised at the Bradman Museum Bowral. The Bradman Museum has evolved into the Bradman Museum & International Cricket Hall of Fame. It was Sir Donald Bradman’s vision that ‘cricket continue to flourish and spread its wings. The world can only be richer for it.’ To honour this vision, the museum has been expanded to not only show the importance of the Don’s contribution to cricket and Australian history, but also cricket’s important role throughout the world.

Outside of the museum is the statue of the Don and the Pavilion of the Bowral Cricket Club.

Bowral and the Southern Highlands are known for their wines and there is a published wine trail for tourists like us to follow. In fact, there are Coffee, and Pie trails as well but these are seasonal. After the museum we explored around Bowral stopping at Blaxlands Estate, Cuttaway Hills Estate, and Cherry Tree Hill Estate. Our favourite by far was Cuttaway Hill.

It is also known for its National Parks such as Morton National Park and its water falls. Fitzroy Falls is one such place. In the rugged Southern Highlands, we discovered the Visitors Centre for Morton National Park. Entering the centre we felt we were being watched from up above. Leaving the Visitors Centre the falls are a short distance along a well maintained path. Before getting to the falls the path divides one track going east and the other to the west. We chose the West Rim walk across a footbridge and out into a lookout opening up the valley below. Bending around to look east I capture a view of the beauty and grandeur of Fitzroy Falls. The West Rim walking track provides wonderful vistas of gorges and waterfalls and sweeping views across Kangaroo Valley at the Manning lookout. We decide to back track and taken the Eastern Rim walk to see the spectacular waterfall that dramatically drops more than 80 metres more clearly. There is a lookout on the Eastern Rim walk looking directly at the falls and we take lots of photos. After appreciating the magnificent falls, we explored the enchanting wilderness on well-marked walking tracks. We passed a gnarled old tree which had lumps and bumps all over it. The East Rim and Wildflower walking tracks took us to lookouts with superb views of the valley and sheer drops of dry waterfalls .

From Fitzroy Falls we moved onto the village of Kangaroo Valley which was bursting at the seams with visitors. Quite a number of old buildings have been re-purposed with a new use such as an old bank into a café. The first inhabitants of Kangaroo Valley were the Aboriginal Wodi-Wodi people. The area was first settled in 1817 when Charles Throsby, an explorer and Captain Richard Brooks, a cattleman, opened the area for white settlement. The felling and exporting of cedar trees quickly became the main industry in Kangaroo Valley. By the 1870’s activity had begun to concentrate in the area that is now the village. The local public school was built in 1884 of local sandstone. The local courthouse was built c.1910, also of local sandstone. The main buildings include a residence and lock-up as well as the courthouse itself. The local school and the courthouse are both listed on the Register of the National Estate.

The valley has changed very little in the past 130 years with reminders such as the Hampden Bridge, the oldest suspension bridge in Australia completed in 1898, and old Barrengarry School serving as a testimony to the past when Kangaroo Valley was home to a flourishing dairy industry. Agriculture still exists, though other industries such as tourism and outdoor recreation have since taken over as the primary source of income.

From here we moved onto Shoalhaven, and the beach. Without any knowledge of the area and relying on maps from the café in Kangaroo Valley we arrived at Cunjurong Point, I think. Anyway, there is a beach where a creek/river runs into the ocean and a point of land or an island (not sure). Again, a stinking hot day so a walk along the beach was nice. We relaxed under some trees and consumed our chicken sandwiches and a flask of coffee before returning to the road and home.

However, as we journeyed back to Bowral we discovered the Illawarra Fly Treetop Adventure – a tree top walk not for the feint hearted. A sign on the side of the road and a little knowledge from the tourist brochures in our room we thought it would be worth a visit. We were not the only ones to stumble across it. After paying the entry fee we walked passed a donga where other visitors were being briefed on the use of the zip line. Dotted along the forest walk to the treetop bridge are fairy houses – why I don’t know because I did not see any fairies so that I could ask them. The sky bridge is cantilevered at each end of the bridge and in the middle is a tower reaching another 30 metres above the trees. After proving that heights did not bother her but they tested me, we went back to our apartment in Bowral to turn on the air-conditioning have a gin and tonic and contemplate our day. We were stuffed.


The Retirees travelling in Australia – New Year 2019 in Sydney

After seeing in the New Year our son and family arrived for brunch. This was the farewell and hand over of the car. The kids particularly Francis made me cringe at the thought of their forthcoming flight overseas. Francis can be boisterous and the confines of a plane – eek! Brunch passed relatively smoothly and after, I took possession of the car parking it in the Parking Station behind the Apartment.

Later that day after the kids had left we decided to take a trip by ferry to Manly perhaps to swim and cool off. We walked to the Pyrmont ferry past the Maritime Museum and boarded the ferry for Circular Quay. It was far more pleasant on the harbour than the previous evening (the humidity had dropped) and we enjoyed the sights at each stop. However we were not the only ones going to Manly that public holiday. Hundreds of other people had the same idea and we found ourselves sweating in queue for the ferry to Manly. On a good day it is always pleasant to cross the harbour to Manly and this was one such day. It brought back memories of my 50th birthday at Doyles on the Beach and our visit to Manly on NRL Grand final day a few years back.


We had thoughts that we would have a swim, but the surf was disappointing and the sun by lunchtime was stinging hot. Kerry found a table under the trees which we shared with a Jewish couple visiting Sydney on a ship. They had viewed the New Years Fireworks from on board – probably one of the ships tied up across the harbour from Pirrama Park. Others from their ship were seated around. Rod and I purchased the fish and chips whilst the girls enjoyed chatting with the visitors. Well maybe I did more than chat with the visitors and eat fish and chips.

Having abandoned the idea of swimming, we thought of an air-conditioned pub with views where we might pay a few hands of cards. On the corner of the esplanade and the mall we found the perfect spot and it has a rooftop Gin Bar meaning the girls were happy too. A few hands of cards a couple of drinks finishing with a tasting plate of ice creams in air-conditioned comfort. Tough life. I tried my hand at taking some more shots of the locals enjoying the beach from on high. I did not have the same success as earlier.


The trip back to Sydney was arduous after an afternoon in the pub and waiting for the ferry to arrive. once on board and sailing it was again refreshing with cooling sea air blowing through the cabin. Back at the Apartment it was days end and we were rewarded with a brilliant sunset. We looked from our balcony across the roof top gardens on the building beside us (the carpark with apartments on the roof ) and with the sun setting the sting of the sun was now bearable. A gentle breeze caressed our languid bodies slumped with exhaustion in the balcony chairs. A perfect setting to end the day.

Next day we farewelled our fellow travellers checked out of the apartment and went to find the car in the adjoining carpark. Age must be wearying my memory. Although I could remember perfectly where I had left the car, I was very unclear about which floor that was.



The Retirees travelling in Australia – New Year 2019 in Sydney

It all started with doing a favour. Our son has been posted overseas. This meant a partial rearrangement of things here in Aus but this all changed when the posting went from 1 year to 4 years. We offered to garage one of their cars picking it up in Sydney just before they flew overseas. We would stay in Sydney for the New Year tick off the New Year Fireworks from the bucket list and then drive to the Southern Highlands and the Hunter Valley.

With the change in the posting the vehicle was sold to one of our daughter-in-law’s family who would fly to Brisbane to pick up the car. This forced a change to our plans. We arranged to meet the Buyer at the Newcastle Airport and we return to Brisbane from Newcastle.

So, having set the scene we arrived in Sydney on 30th December having met up with our co-travellers in Brisbane. We were staying at Pyrmont at the Oaks Goldsborough. This is the old Goldsborough Mort building transformed from a Wool Store to apartment accommodation. Pyrmont is an old area of Sydney and very interesting to walk around. We visited Pirrama Park where we expected to spend New Years Eve to view the fireworks over the harbour and judging by the tables and chairs so were a lot of other people.

31 December and we made certain of our spot by arriving early at Pirrama Park. It was a hot afternoon and even the harbour did not seem to cool it off. Two cruise ships docked getting ready for the fireworks. By sunset the crowds had shuffled in and we were thankful for our planning. One thing we did not plan adequately for was the deluge of rain that bucketed down around 7.30 pm. Our umbrella was saturated and leaking rain onto us. We were drenched so we returned to our apartment to change into dry clothes and returned just as the 9.00 pm fireworks commenced.

The weather held off but provided the perfect darkened sky to illuminate the fireworks at midnight and the change of the year. As usual the fireworks were spectacular, but a picture paints a thousand words so here are the photos.

We walked back to the apartment along with all the other revellers and made it to bed well after the new year had begun.


The Retirees visit Bungendore for the Meeting of Tribes

Bungendore is a dormitory village outside Canberra in the Queanbeyan district first settled by Europeans in 1837. It is now home to 4,000 plus people and has many of its earlier buildings under heritage protection. These buildings give it the charm of history and a rural past.

It is 37klms from Canberra and is surrounded by vineyards cattle and sheep. Kerry and I went there as a meeting of tribes to celebrate our second son’s wedding, welcome our new daughter in law and meet the many members of her family. They had chosen Bungendore as neutral territory and a pleasant village for the gathering of tribes.

We arrived in advance of the of the others and together with brother Greg and his partner Gillian we sought out two of the more pleasant of those vineyards with a welcoming cellar door. Well truth be told we went looking for a place for lunch and without doing any research selected Larks Hill Vineyard. We drove out into the hills surrounding Bungendore and found Larks Hill just off the highway hiding amongst the scrub. Some of the trees were in full flower and reminded me of the cherry trees in Orange  Whilst the others rushed the restaurant I scouted the cellar door. There were a number of other visitors so I went to join the others at the restaurant which is closed on Fridays. Go figure!

By the time we had reconciled our disappointment the cellar door had been evacuated, so we shuffled in. Greeted by an elderly silver haired lady, we sampled a number of wines (the dedicated driver abstaining of course) and finding a very good Sangiovese and Pinot Noir purchased one of each. The good lady of the Cellar door then guided us to one of the better “watering holes” for lunch – the Lake George Pub in Bungendore.

And very good it was. The girls enjoyed a Beetroot salad with pepitas and walnuts while the boys shared a pizza with jalapenos chilies adorning.

Now fortified we returned to the wine trail to search out Summer Hill Cellar Door. The evening was approaching and the weather was taking on the traits of springtime in Canberra – bloody chilly. We traveled the length of the Kings Highway and not a sign of the vineyard anywhere (because Greg had turned on his “maps” once we had past it) so once we hit the freeway out of Canberra we all knew we had missed it. (Kerry had forecast that it was in the other direction and there were plenty other signs that we had missed it all ignored of course) This time Google directed us to the door. The vineyard had changed name under new ownership which had confused us.

On arriving we noticed a group amongst the barren vines (just budding into life) seated with an array of wines in front of them and Mrs Winemaker spruking the virtues of their bottled produce. We joined the group for the wine tasting in the vineyard at Summer Hill. This was a first for us. In all of our wine travels we had not sat amongst the vines tasting the pleasures of the fruits. But for the cooling breezes, it was most enjoyable but sadly the wines were not as enjoyable as Larks Hill in my view.

The fading sun and chilling breezes of the late afternoon forecast our return to the motel in Bungendore. There is a twilight effect (as well as daylight saving) in Canberra at this time of year so we were able to walk through the two streets that made up the village before we chose the only café open for dinner that night – Café Woodwork. Interesting interior but my choice of meal was not the best and I suffered indigestion for the rest of the night.

Next morning – wedding day, we had a couple of hours before the wedding so we decided to take a drive to Braidwood another village about 1/2 hour away. It is a much bigger village with many more historic buildings but laid out in the traditional fashion – a main or high Street with residences behind the commercial strip. A veritable plethora of coffee shops and cafes lined “Main Street” but behind all that was the history of a rural town told in its buildings – the Literary Society building now the HQ for the area authority and library, the Courthouse with the Police station behind, the old hotels now converted to a new use and the theatre now a hall with the Saturday Farmers markets occupying it today. Across the road and down a lane is one of the earliest stone houses now accommodating a bakery and some of the old cinema chairs from across the road. Standing prominently at one end of the village is the Catholic Church. Like the cathedrals of Europe, it looks the most successful building (even though it is not adorned anywhere near the opulence of the European cathedrals).

Before leaving the village we drop into the converted CBC bank (Commercial Banking Co of Sydney). It is a bizarre collection of craft and fashion but in this jumble, I find the replacement for my credit card tool confiscated by Australian border security after surviving in my wallet throughout Europe.

Back to Bungendore to prepare for the Wedding. After a short kip we shower and dress, meet with Greg and Gill and walk to the ole Stone House. There are already guests milling around and soon the garden fills, the ceremony commences and in brilliant sunshine and a cooling spring breeze Adam and Fasheena become husband and wife. Tears of joy, photographs with family and the reception follow. A perfect start to their wedded life.

The day is concluded with dinner at Le Tres Bon and a very happy Adam is presented with the electric power saw I have carted from home so I don’t have to cart it back. I am one happy and proud dad.