Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Myall's from the wineries

After saying bye to our friends we decided to head, not to far, to the coast and hopefully cooler breezes. We had checked WIkicamps and decided to go to Tea Gardens Country Club, on the beautiful Myall River.
Peter joined the club and this allowed us to stay in their carpark for two nights, with power. Our view was the Tea Gardens cemetery, which wasn't a problem for us, considering we had spent a great deal of time wandering around cemeteries yesterday.
Tea Gardens and Hawks Nest are located on the Myall River that runs from the Myall Lakes to Port Stephens. It is not really known how the town got it's name. Some say there was once a property unsuccessfully trying to grow tea, others say it was because of the many tea trees growing along the water. Port Stephens was sighted by Captain Cook in May 1770, and is named after the then Secretary of the Admiralty, Phillip Stephens. The first European's in the area were convicts who were shipwrecked in the bay. They were taken in by the local Worimi Aborigines. The area wasn't surveyed until 1801. Tree cutters moved in around 1816. Passing whalers would use the bay for shelter, water, and wood.
First stop was the Boathouse Resort, where we may be having a family get together later in the year and across the road was The Oyster Hut - well, one needs to get fresh oysters!! The Oyster Hut has been family owned for over 100 years and is located right on the water. It is a small cafe selling oysters and prawns and soft drinks. There are tables outside on the jetty for customers, but with the heat we packed them in the car fridge to eat later in the van.
They were the best oysters we've had for a while, and not a bad price either at $15 per dozen.
We had a drive and walk around Hawks Nest, and Saturday, Peter went for a two hour bike ride on the many bike tracks there.
On Friday, the Country Club has raffles, so we decided to have dinner, drinks and raffles at the club. We were not so hungry after eating the oysters, so had a pizza. It appeared home made and was delicious.
There is a ferry that runs daily across Port Stephens from Tea Gardens to Nelson Bay. There are dolphins in the bay, but we didn't see any.

 A really lovely place to visit.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Hunter Valley Adventure

I have wanted to re-visit the Hunter Valley for a long time now. We had planned to visit 4 years ago, however the N.S.W. bushfires meant that it was too dangerous to go. We worked out our last visit was in the late 1970's. With temperatures forecast to be in the high 30's, we thought we would leave Chaffey Dam and head to power - mainly to run the air-conditioner. Temperature during the day got as high as 42 in Singleton. We headed to Cessnock Showground, originally for two nights, but stayed for three. At $20 a night with power and water it was a bargain.
 After arriving, we stayed in the cool of the van until early evening, before coming out for drinks with our friends Steph and Eddie.
The next day, first stop was the information centre, then off to the wineries we went.
Hermitage Road Cellars was the only winery we actually had a tasting, and it is great to see that sweet wines like moscato, are making a comeback. 40 years ago Moselle was all the rage, and I like sweet wines.
The Hunter Valley was established, so history forms part of the charm of visiting the area.
One winery that has embraced the history, and even promoted it is Hanging Tree Wines.
The old blacksmiths shop is near the gate of the winery.
..and not far away is the hanging tree that the property is named after. The hanging tree was where local meat was hung, but it is believed that a bushranger or two may have also be hanged there.
There are so many wineries in the Hunter, but like the Barossa, we didn't do a lot of wine tasting. Peter doesn't like wine and I know what I like. It was interesting to see the history of the Hunter Valley wineries.
Our friends had been to 'Two Fat Blokes' on a previous trip to the Hunter, so off we went. Two fat blokes started doing gourmet food tours in 2008 and in 2013 they opened their own deli style cafe called 'Two Fat Blokes Gourmet Kitchen'. There were some free samples to try and some wonderful flavoured cheeses. Definitely gourmet food and great for snacks or a picnic
Our two fat blokes (not really) out side 'Two Fat Blokes'!
Pokolbin is the main area of the Hunter for wineries, and it would take days, if not weeks to visit them all.
Some statues outside the function area of Two Fat Blokes.
After visiting a few wineries we headed to the small village of Wollombi. Wollombi was settled in the 1820's and is located on the Great North Road built by convicts, including one of my ancestors, Isaac Perrett. Wollombi was where one of the colonial general stores was set up to supply the soldiers and convicts working on the road. There are a lot of convict relics and tunnels in the area, but we didn't have a lot of time to explore, as lunch was the objective of the visit.
The pub Route 33 Cafe was a perfect choice.
We all had the $10 lunch special of fish and chips, and boy was it big and so tasty. We could have easily shared one between 2. There is also free camping out the back. Our friends went back there on Friday for a concert, while we headed for the coast.
The following day Peter and I visited some family tree sites. First place was Warkworth, west of Singleton. All that is left of the original village is the school, and the church. The local oval is a free camp for travellers. I don't know if any of my Perrett's or Brown ancestors went to the school. The school was built in 1859.
St Phillips Church is where my ancestors John Perrett (son of Isaac) and  Isabella Brown married.
We had lunch at the oval and then drove to the east of Singleton to Whittingham and the cemetery where Isaac Perrett was buried in 1841, along with his son Alfred Isaac Perrett 1862, and daughter Elizabeth Mary Davis nee Perrett 1876.
While driving around the area we came ac the Rothbury Riot Memorial. I never knew that coal mining was in the area. Early 1929 mine owners wanted their workers to accept new, unfair, work conditions. When the miners refused on 2 March 1929, they were locked out of their jobs. In September 1929, the NSW government made it illegal to gather in groups. On December 16, 1929, about 4000 miners assembled at this spot. Police arrived and shots were fired into the group to make them disperse. One miner was killed and 45 were injured.
I never realised that coal was an important part of the Hunter Valley, although I did know that Newcastle was an important  coal port, I just never connected the two.

Friday, 3 February 2017

Chaffey Dam N.S.W.

Chaffey Dam is located on the Peel River about 40km south of Tamworth, so we didn't travel very far for our next stop. We decided to travel a little way with friends we caught up with in Tamworth. It was so good to catch up, and it was like we hadn't been apart.
This is the main water supply for Tamworth, and is also used for irrigation. It appears that an extension to the dam wall has raised the level of the dam. This would explain why the water level looks high, and why some trees are now half under water.
In Queensland it is hard to find a sandwich filling called devon. It is a little like Qld luncheon, but not the same. N.S.W. has devon 🍔, so I had to buy some.
The dam is named after father, Frank, and son, Bill Chaffey, Tamworth members who served in the NSW Legislative Assembly. A proposal for the dam was suggested in 1914, but it wasn't until 1976 that construction started.
We had the most spectacular sunset, but then, aren't all sunsets spectacular.
The campground costs $5 a night and showers are $1. We are self contained, so had our showers FREE in the van 😊. The main amenities block was good. There are quiet a few trees for shade and a lot of grass. There were a lot of campers fishing and 'standing' in the water - we had temperatures of over 35 degrees each day.
After the first night, the boys decided we needed to move to get TV and internet reception - not sure why, they were probably trying to please us girls. So we moved away from the water and up the hill closer to the amenities block.
We were there with old friends, and we met, for the first time, a facebook friend. So great to met you Pat, and we will surely catch up again one one of our travels.
On the down side was the poor internet and satellite reception - and phones were hit and miss. We needed to travel to Nundle 'down the road' to get internet to pay the bills.
Being in a different location the next night, the sunset was different.
With temperatures predicted to be above 40 degrees the next few days we decided to head for a powered site - and air-conditioning.