Friday, 19 May 2017

Short Trip to Northern NSW - 2017 Road Trip 2

Back in mid March, after the cruise, we had a phone call from a friend who was going to Pottsville, N.S.W. For a weekend, and we were ready for another trip, be it only short. We would go to Pottsville often when the kids were younger, but the last time was about 4 years ago – where has the time gone?
We like Pottsville North Caravan Park, even though it is a little further from the beach, it has a lovely pool and is next door to the Pottsville Bowls Club. Pottsville is in the Tweed Shire, not too far from the NSW / QLD border. 
Bill Potts owned the first house in the area around 1930 and the area was initially named Potts Point. It was renamed Pottsville, so as not to confuse it with Potts Point in Sydney.
We had a site just across from the pool and the weather was good, despite there being a little rain overnight on the Saturday night, and a drizzle on the Monday. We went to the Sunday markets, and op shops and didn't buy a thing. I liked the Koala Zone markings on the road, as we had never seen these before.
Pottsville use to be a sleepy little town with a few houses, a couple of cafe's, a pub and a little general supermarket store. Now it is still a sleepy little town, but has so many houses, yet it still has it's country town charm. We had a great weekend with Elaine and John, and we all said we must do it again soon.
On Monday we said our goodbyes and they went back to Brissy and we continued west. We had not planned to go to far, just a short road trip to visit some campsites. First stop was requested by Jonnie. Jonnie decided to come on this trip as we told him it was only going to be a short trip. He wanted to visit Mooball, so off we went.
Mooball is a little village inland from Pottsville, probably about 20 minutes drive. There is not much there, but Jonnie likes the cow painted power poles and the general store. The general store is a bit quirky with lots of cow-type memorabilia plus so much more, including this old sewing machine.
We had a look at a farm stay, for $15/night – no power or water, but it was very muddy, so we continued on. We drove through Lismore, which I have never been to before. It looked ok, and rather a large town to what we had been visiting. Next was the town of Mallanganee. A lovely little village, but not a lot there. We had a look at the free camp, which was fine, but decided to continue on as it was still early in the day, and still raining.
We stopped at a few other free camps that were right beside the highway, that I thought were ok, but Peter didn't like. So we ended up at Crooked Creek. It is a little way from the highway, on a dirt road, and was a lovely large area.
We set up on the top level, but there were many flat spots on a lower level closer to Crooked Creek. It was still raining and we didn't want to camp close to the creek just in case the rain continued heavier. We didn't know it then, but a week later the bottom area was underwater, and Lismore was flooded. If it hadn't been raining, and Jonnie was not with us (no internet), we would have stayed another night or two.
From Crooked Creek to Tenterfield wasn't that far – about 40 km. We needed to fill up, and Jonnie and I went for a walk. I love the architecture in these old towns. Tenterfield is steeped in history and we barely touched the surface. Tenterfield is known as the Birthplace of our Nation, as it was here that Sir Henry Parkes delivered his famous Federation Speech. The town is named after Tenterfield Station, which was named by Stuart Donaldson after his family home in Scotland. We visited the Tenterfield Saddler, an old granite and bluestone building on what was once the High Street. The building was built in 1870 and was the town's saddlery. The building became famous when Peter Allen wrote a song about his grandfather, George Woolnough, called 'Tenterfield Saddler'. George was the saddler from 1908 until he died in 1960. It is also believed that Banjo Patterson lived here for a short time in 1903. It was closed when we were there, but it is still used as a saddlery today.
After filling up, we headed the 20km to Wallangarra Rest Stop for overnight. We have stayed here before and it is wonderful. The next morning we stopped at Stanthorpe, Applethorpe for a milkshake, 8/10, and then a few nights at old reliable Clifton Showgrounds.
We had a day trip to Toowoomba, which was good, but sadly I accidentally deleted all the photos - oops!!!! 😞 
We travelled about 730km, and we were away for 8 days. A lovely break.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Cruise Ship Destination: Noumea, New Caledonia

Day 10: In Noumea we docked at a container wharf and a free shuttle bus was provided to take passengers into the city. There is no walking around the container terminal. I don't like Noumea, so I never get off the ship when we dock here.
I enjoy the ship life!

Many tours are offered by the cruise ship and on a previous occasion we did do a city tour, which was interesting, and I would recommend it to those visiting for the first time. As I do not get off the ship in Noumea, most of this information is from those who did get off the ship. Local operators offer tours, including the Tcou Tcou hop on hop off tour. Lemon Beach is good for swimming and a $15AUS return boat ride to Duck Island is good for snorkeling. Be aware that everything, I mean really everything cost money. Don't throw your towel on a chair, it will cost you money. There is no shade there, but you can hire an umbrella.
 Noumea is expensive. Coffee and cake cost about $20AUS. 
$20AUS=1600Pacific Francs when we visited in March 2017. There is a free wifi spot at the end of the park in the centre of the city, close to where the free shuttle bus drops passengers off.
In my opinion, Noumea is not tourist friendly. The free shuttle drops one off near the tourist information centre, in which little English is spoken, so it is difficult to get information. I know it is a French port, but one would think that at the information centre there would be at least person who spoke English, especially when an English speaking ship comes in.
 Also be aware of pick-pockets, especially around the information centre, cafes and park. Noumea is not tourist friendly, it is expensive, the French there are unfriendly, bordering on rude, they are unhelpful. The French Polynesians, on the other hand, are the opposite.
Much better staying on board.
My drinking view, while other passengers were lining up to disembark and queue for the shuttle bus. Lovely to sit in peace and quiet.
My drinking view later in the afternoon as passengers are beginning to come aboard, and we hear stories of pick-pockets and over priced goods.
The last few days were spent at sea enjoying the activities of the Voyager of the Seas.
Here are the boys 'dabbing' while Marg and I visit the Next Cruise office.
We found one does not get any special deals if booking the next cruise on the ship, other than low or no deposit - not a biggy for us, so we didn't book on board. We keep an eye out for specials and book when the deal is good.

Cruise Ship Destination: Isle of Pines, New Caledonia

We have been busy since our cruise, and already have the next one booked to look forward too. We enjoy traveling and also being at home with family. Since we like to go away, it means that a lot of things need doing at home, so we have been concentrating of that the past few weeks, but.... we will be off again soon.

Day 9 of the cruise saw us visiting ISLE OF PINES. The island was named by Captain Cook, and although he never came ashore, he obviously noted the number of Norfolk Pine trees growing on island and the many smaller islands in the area. Isle of Pines only has one village and many beautiful swimming areas. So after breakfast we made our way to the tenders to explore.
The ship has three tours operating, ranging from $35.75US to $125.75US. If not doing a tour from the ship, the locals are situated along the beach selling 90min and 2 hour tours for $25AUS. Australian, American and French Pacific Francs are welcome at all the stalls. One can also purchase cooked lobsters, crabs, or fresh coconuts – if one is hungry! A beach dress here costs about $25-$35 AUS, depending on the stall.
 The island became a French penal colony in 1872, not of convicts, but French political refugees. The refugees were not forced to work, but worked for wages. It was the refugees who built most of the roads and buildings on the island. Prior to being declared a penal colony in 1872, the island was known as an island for exiles. In 1871 about 1000 Roman Catholics, fleeing from Mare, lived there, and in 1878 over 700 Kanak insurgents from La Foa were settled there. From 1887 it became a place of punishment with repeat offenders from France being banished there for life.
Walking up the first road from the jetty and following the boutique signs along a dirt road one comes to a colonial building which is now the Gendarmerie (Police Station). The boutique is a local souvenir shop, a little overpriced (compared with Mystery Island). The markets along the beach were a little cheaper – not much, just a little. We followed the dirt track back to the beach that was beside the jetty. 
There is a lot of evidence of the former penal colony with stone walls and barred windows still remaining.
We didn't do any tours, maybe next time. We did spend time on the beach. 
There is lovely beach to the left of the jetty, that most passengers set up and swam at, but there is another more beautiful beach further along on the calmer side. 
Both sides were calm, but the beach area further along was great for snorkeling. 
I did not stay for the snorkeling, instead opting to go back to the ship to enjoy the peace and quiet, while others were enjoying the island.
So this was day 9 of our cruise.