Friday, 18 November 2016

Quick Road Trip Brisbane to Gippsland

We needed to a quick road trip to assist family with a move, so this trip had little site-seeing, but good quality time together. The quickest way down was via the coast road, the Pacific Highway to the Central N.S.W. coast then around Sydney to the A.C.T. and south to Cann River. The last leg was heading east to Gippsland.
So we filled the tank and headed off on a Wednesday just before lunch. We have traveled this coast road many times, so know where to stop for food, fuel, and somewhere to stay. Our first overnight stop was Halfway Creek service centre, approximately halfway between Coffs Harbour and Grafton - maybe this is why it is called Halfway Creek! This is a free camp for self-contained vans behind the service centre. We have stayed here many times and usually there are a lot of galahs - bird type - and kangaroos around. Not this time. We saw one lonely roo behind our van as we were going to the Creek Cafe for dinner. The food is pretty good and the servings large. When we are not paying for camp fees we like to spend some money in the place we are staying, and the food here is well worth it. We don't always have dinner, sometimes we have breakfast. There are a few truck noises overnight, but not enough to keep one awake. We traveled 362 km that day.

Day 2 - still on the Pacific Highway, we stopped for fuel at Kempsey, and continued to Johns River. Johns River is a tiny village that was once on the main highway, and is now by-passed with the new Pacific Highway. There is a cafe, Rosie's, what looks like an old garage, community hall, and a pub - Old Blacksmiths Hotel. My maternal family lived in the area.
We pulled up in a rest area beside the Blacksmiths Hotel along with another three vans already there. The pub didn't have any meals, but Peter did enjoy a couple of beers. We traveled 254 km on day 2.
Day 3 - After a peaceful evening we went to Rosie's Cafe at Johns River for Peter's caffeine fix. The cafe seemed to be an interesting mix of old and new and whimsical, so we will have to come back when we have more time to spend exploring - and there is a resident ghost!
Back on the highway we continued south and took a detour to Karuah to look at the free camp for another trip - looked pretty good. We bought some bread rolls for lunch and continued back on the highway. We tool another detour at Gosford for lunch.
We found this beautiful spot next to the public swimming pool.
We had planned to stay in this area overnight, but when we got to the free camp, it was pretty full and didn't really suit a van with a slide out, so we decided, as it was only lunch time to continue on the highway to Sydney.
The highway traffic wasn't too bad, until we hit Sydney, when it gradually got heavier and heavier. We took the ring road to the tollway, and there we were at a stand still. I always thought tollways were to keep cars moving. It took us about 30 minutes to travel 1km. Once it got moving though, it was ok. Apparently there were bush fires close the highway, and lanes were closed off.
Once we were past Sydney and on the Hume Hwy we decided to stay at Pheasants Nest, behind the 7/11 service station. It was good, not as good as Halfway Creek, but still good. There was a lot of truck noise early in the evening, and from about 6am the next morning, but that is to be expected on the highway. Day 3 we traveled 416 km.
 Day 4 - We are not early risers  and are more than happy to wake up around 8am and take our time enjoying the morning, having tea, reading, or just looking at the passing parade.
The bonus with staying behind 7/11 is that they sell Krispy Kreme doughnuts. We filled up with fuel and continued on the Hume Hwy heading to Bredbo, by-passing Canberra. We did do a detour to drive through Bowral - another place we will come back to.
We stopped at Lake George for lunch.
We often find a good rest stop, hopefully with a view, to make lunch. When we lived in Canberra we would often drive along Lake George, I could not believe how little water there was in it.
We continued on to Bredbo Inn, which is where we had planned to stay. However, the owner had got married that day, so it was fairly busy. There was room for us, but we decided to continue another 14km to the next overnight rest area. It was good, a little away from the highway and was a gravel dump. However, it was well protected and a very short walk to the day rest area that had toilets. This was the first night we had the heater on, very cold at night and in the morning.
Day 4 we traveled 293km.
Day 5 - Our goal today is at least Cann River. Back on the Hume Hwy, still heading south.
This part of the highway I find almost as boring at the section of the Bruce Hwy between the Fraser Coast and Rockhampton. We reached Cann River, Victoria, and filled with fuel and topped up our water tanks and continued on the Princes Hwy to Marlo, that we had discovered on our trip here earlier in the year. We turned off at Orbost and drove along Marlo Road to check the many campsites beside the Snowy River. Marlo is a lovely seaside town and is at the mouth of the Snowy River.
Can you see the waves crashing on the horizon?
We chose this site. It was protected by trees from the road, and there was another 'happy' camper already there. A great free camp, that we will stay at again. Again the heater was on at night and morning - and this is November!!!
Day 6 - we left the camp mid morning and headed back to the Princes Hwy. We stopped at Sale for take-away lunch - Maccas - and stopped beside Lake Guthridge. The wind picked up and it was starting to get cold.
We arrived at Moe mid afternoon on Monday. We stayed until Saturday and then headed home.
We could have done the trip in less time, but we didn't want to be so rushed that we got stressed by the journey! We could have taken a lot of time to get there, but that wasn't the objective.
We had a great trip.
Day 1 - 362km
Day 2 - 254km
Day 3 - 416km
Day 4 - 293km
Day 5 - 298km
Day 6 - 254km

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Bay of Islands - Tahitian Treasures Cruise Diary Final part

Day 16 - Bay of Islands, New Zealand
We had a leisurely room service breakfast and then went to the Cellar Masters to pick up a tender ticket. So many people still waiting to leave the ship. We sat and waited for our number to be called.

We took the tender into Waitangi and then the bus to Piahia. We have been here before, so knew our way around. Bay of Islands is made up of 144 islands, some of which are just rocky outcrops, to large inhabited islands.We have visited the Waitangi Treaty House, where the treaty was signed by the British representative and a Maori Chief, in February 1840, for the British to take a role in policing the Europeans. Peter hadn't been to Russell, but I had walked around Russell years before with my Mum. So we decided to spend the day at Russell. At Piahia we got $12NZ return ferry tickets to Russell.
Russell was the first capital of New Zealand, and was originally located some miles away from the present location closer to Okiato. Where Russell is today was originally named Kororaeka and was a bawdy sea faring town, known as the hell hole of the Pacific (another one). Few would go to the new town of Russell, so the government moved to Kororaeka and renamed it Russell. The street names date back to 1843.
We walked down The Strand, past old buildings towards Pompallier House. One of the old buildings, The Gables, was built in 1847 and is listed with the Historic Trust. It has been a house of ill repute, a bakery, a shop, a boys home, and a hiding place for deserters from ships.
Today it is a restaurant.
Pompallier House, the oldest European house in New Zealand, was built in 1841 and was originally a Roman Catholic Mission and printery. 
We stopped at the old town hall at a craft market, and Russell Museum before walking up to the oldest Church in New Zealand, Christ Church, an Anglican Church built in 1835. One can still see musket ball holes in the side of the church, from the Battle of Kororareka in 1845.
Inside the church, the pews all had cushions that were embroidered or cross-stitched - beautiful.
We walked down York St looking at the shops.
Then along the other end of The Strand to the original Customs House, that later became a Police Station for the New South Wales Police and is now the police residence. The old Customs House was built in 1870 in the Gothic style. The Moreton Bay Fig was planted later in the 1870's.
Ferry back to Piahia, where we had a walk through the markets, where Peter spent a lot of time talking to the vendors LOL, and then we went to the Library for the free wifi – didn't work.

So walked around a little and then went back to the ship.
The show in the evening was The Boy Bands, and were from Australia and very good.
Days 17 & 18 were at sea and very, very rough. Some of the waves even reached up to us on deck 10. I spent a lot of time in the Baccia Cafe on Deck 5 as it wasn't moving so much. Peter is feeling better, and I'm on the mend also.
Day 19 We arrived in Sydney and spent a few days at Bondi with my sister and her family.
This is the view from our cabin at 6.45am.
View of Bondi Beach from my sister's home.
My sister and brother in law at Centennial Park. 

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Auckland - Tahitian Treasures Cruise Diary Part 9

Day 15 Auckland, New Zealand.
Peter feeling a little better, I'm feeling sick. The ship sailed into Waitemata Harbour and docked beside the Hilton Hotel at Princes Wharf. The wharf was built in 1929 and was redeveloped in the 1990's to what it is now.
We had a walk up the main street and around the block, found a chemist, and wandered back along the waterfront. We decided to do the hop on hop off bus, which was good. It cost $45NZ each for a day pass on two different bus loops. It took us out along the water to the aquarium and up to a lookout and back along the water and up to the Cultural Centre and Museum.
This is where we changed buses to the other loop. We drove through beautiful gardens and duck ponds, up to Mt Eden, the highest volcano in Auckland, past the zoo and motoring museum, back to the Cultural Centre to change back to complete the first loop.
 On the way back to the wharf, we drove through Parnell Village, New Zealand’s oldest suburb, with pavement cafes and boutique shops and galleries. Back at the wharf, we went for a walk to look at the boats and ended up in Viaduct Harbour, next to Princes Wharf, where the America Cup races were held. New Zealand is the second country to win the America's Cup, outside of America. Australia was the first.
This shows how close we were to the Hilton.
..and the view from our cabin.
 The show in the evening was Greg Andrew – Elton John Tribute. He was very good. We ran into him at breakfast on the last day of the cruise and he is a really lovely man, so friendly and easy to talk to.