The Wandering Tops

The Wandering Tops

19 November, 2015

Todd's Birthday

One of the main reasons we headed to Adelaide was to celebrate our son's 30th Birthday.  Although he lives in Burleigh Heads, he wanted to celebrate his birthday with family and old friends from where he grew up.  Todd and Tenelle flew in from Brisbane and we spent a wonderful few days with them.
The cake says it all!

Nearly a bush fire with sparklers for candles!

The main celebration was a picnic in the park (casual and no fuss was Todd's request) - originally going to be held in Rymill Park but unfortunately the timing coincided with the major horse event, so had to settle for South Terrace Park.  The day was sunny and Todd had a great day catching up with quite a few friends and relatives before continuing on the celebrations in the city with a group of "young ones"!  All in all he had a terrific celebration and was very appreciative of those who attended.
Gathering in the shade of the trees in the south parklands

We spent another week in Adelaide where we caught up with family and friends, had doctor check ups, car serviced etc.  Thanks to everyone for arranging breakfasts, lunches and dinners - wonderful to catch up and hear news of families.  Adelaide does not seem to change and gives us a feeling of familiarity when driving around the suburbs and city.  Most of all we appreciate catching up with friends and relatives which we do not see when living our lifestyle.

Left to Right; Tennelle, Todd, Geoff (me) and Helen (Hels)
Being Movember Todd has more hair under his nose than I have on my head.

05 November, 2015

Bathurst to Adelaide

What a "HOT" grid girl, Hels

Wet, wet, wet and cold - good old Bathurst!  Drove a couple of laps around Mt Panorama Circuit and still amazed how the Racing Drivers drive around at such great speeds.  Had a look through the National Motor Museum which had a good display of cars and motorbikes.

The Mountain

From the top of the mountain looking back over Bathurst

This brings back memories - 1976 winning L34 Torana driven by Bob Morrison.  We camped on the mountain that year.

Similar to the one and only Ford I owned, a Consul Cortina

More memories of my earlier cars. LJ Torana and my HK Monaro was blue.

After a couple of days we were back on the road heading for Wagga.  Stopped for morning tea at Blayney then travelled through Carcoar (est 1833), Cowra turning off Mid Western Highway onto Olympic Highway to Young, Cootamundra, Junee.  Free camped at Oura Beach Reserve (19km east Wagga Wagga) beside Murrumbidgee River - lovely spot).  Late afternoon had a storm come through - thunder, rain, hail!  Decided to stay a couple of days and moved to a spot closer to the River - just set up before the rain came down again!  Lovely view of the river and great to watch the abundant birdlife.  The weather cleared up on our last 2 days and we enjoyed relaxing days by the river - although the flies were very friendly!.  Were able to light the fire at night so all in all an enjoyable stay and quiet even though there were a few vans camped around.

Oura Beach Camp spot

Was a very good site

Had barely vacated our spot when 'ol mate' drove in and set up - he had his eye on our spot and when found out we were leaving he was ready and rearing to set up.   Travelled south through Gumly Gumly then back onto Sturt Highway before cutting through back road (Mates Gully Road) to Tarcutta.  Here we met up with another couple who we travelled Canada with, Garth & Rosemary and had a good old chat.  We continued onto Wagga Wagga and free camped at Wilks Park, leaving the van and stocking up on supplies in Wagga.

You have to call this farm art because it looks like sheep! 

Departed next day continuing on Sturt Highway where we stopped for morning tea at Lockhart - quite a bit of "farm art" on display as part of the Spirit of the Land Festival held in October.  Travelled to Urana before turning onto Newell Highway to Jerildirie then turned off  to Conargo.  From here we drove to Deneliquin, staying the night at friends house and thoroughly enjoyed being entertained by Tony and his son John paying guitar and singing.

Outside the Lockhart service station

Headed out next day on Cobb Highway towards Hay - turned off on Pretty Pine Road to Moulamein where we stopped for lunch.  Continued onto Kyalite before turning onto Balranald-Swan Hill Rd to Toolybuc then onto Murray Valley Highway towards Robinvale.  Free camped approx 2km east of Robinvale at Pump Road Camp - found lovely spot by the River - feeling the serenity!!

Camped on the River Murray

 Thunderstorms developed all around but only a few showers at night.  Morning however produced some heavy showers and posed a few problems as we were camped on clay area and things were becoming a bit sticky.  Afternoon however brought out the sun and we stayed on for another couple of days enjoying the birdlife and also keeping a close watch on a goanna who was climbing trees checking out bird nests in the hollows.  Had the place to ourselves as campers had disappeared due to the rain.

Visitor to camp, was not interested in us though.

Was more intent on getting bird eggs from the nest. Would have been 5 meters up the tree.

Late sunset over the river, was this tree we watched the birds coming and going from during the day.

Reluctantly departing we called into Bottle Bend on way to Mildura.  Quick coffee, supply shop and fuel stop in Mildura we drove to Lake Bonney to look for a camp but Hels did not think it was a good idea to drive down in the soft sand!! I thought it would be OK but continued onto Waikerie to camp at Overlander Hotel however wedding was in progress and no vacancy!!  Crossed the Murray River via ferry and camped at free camp Holder Bend Recreation (approx 2km out of Waikerie).  Late camp, both tired and grumpy!

Holder Bend Recreation camp, ski club on the opposite side.

From here we travelled to Gawler and stayed in Caravan Park to catch up with very dear friend Wendy - had a great visit.  Next day it was onto Adelaide where we stayed at Windsor Gardens Caravan Park for 2 weeks.

01 November, 2015


Disused farm house opposite Burdett Park

Upon leaving Burleigh Heads travelled through Coffs Harbour to free camp at Burdett Park (football oval) on Waterfall Way Urunga to Armidale.  Nice place to stop and well maintained by volunteers.

Took shortcut road to Bruce Highway, bypassed Kelsey & Taree and took scenic road to Forster Tuncurry.  Was going to stay at Booti Booti National Park (The Ruins campground) but heaps of flies and very expensive for a site even without power.  Opted for Pacific Palms Caravan Park which was cheaper with power!!  Next day did a bit of sight seeing - Coomba Bay, Bluey's Beach, Wallis Lake (very windy day so lake was quite rough),  Being windy we got sandblasteed on the beach so our stay was short.  Drove into Tuncurry where we had a great catch up with Clive and Marg, who we travelled with in Canada, and had a lovely dinner at the Bowls Club.

Looking south from Stockton to Newcastle

Departed next day travelling along the Lakes Way to Bulahdelah then continued on Pacific Highway before turning off on Medowie Road then onto Stockton.  Stayed 2 nights in Stockton Beach Holiday Park.  Spent a day driving around Stockton then over the bridge to Newcastle.  Stopped at the Newcastle Beach Baths, Fort Scratchley, Nobby's Beach Lighthouse and drove along the foreshore which has been newly developed.  Quite a lot to see and very different to our perception of Newcastle - well worth a visit.

Newcastle Ocean Baths opened in 1922

Looking east along the Hunter River and Newcastle East

View from Fort Scratchley to Nobby's Beach Light House

Fort Scratchley Historic Site - spent quite a bit of time exploring here. Convicts created the first coal mine here in 1801. The strategic importance of a hilltop overlooking the harbour was recognised as early as 1804.  In this year a coal fired beacon was established on the hill for mariners - it remained a site for maritime communications throughout the nineteenth century, with the later installations of a signaling station and semaphore.  By 1828 an earthen battery was constructed and equipped with seven guns.  In 1876 with fears of a Russian attack, the British Government sent Major General Sir William Jervois and Lieutenant Colonel Peter Scratchley to advise on naval defenses.  Under the direction of Jervois and Scratchley, Colonial Architect James Barnet oversaw construction of the Fort.  The new guns were in position by 1882 and construction of accommodation for the troops followed with the Commandant's cottage and barracks buildings completed in 1886.  Other small detached buildings were also built at this time and in 1892 the dry moat and perimeter wall were completed.  Mines laid in the harbour channel could be exploded from a control pit at Fort Scratchley. The guns were decommissioned in 1962 and the Fort closed in 1972.  It was vacant until 1977 when the Newcastle City Council entered into a lease with the Commonwealth over the site.

Fort Scratchley No 1 Gun

Fort Scratchley Gun, fired at 1pm daily coinciding with the Customs House time ball drop.

Back in the Caravan Park a message came through the phone with a storm warning in the area!!  Late afternoon we were picked up by another couple we travelled Canada with, Geoff and Julie, and took us on a tour of Newcastle then out to Lake Maquarie where they live.  Had a lovely dinner at the Sixteens club then back to their beautiful home overlooking the lake for coffee.  Had a great night watching the lightning flashing all around us.  Many thanks to Geoff and Julie for your wonderful hospitality

Packed up and drove south to Marks Point where we met up with friends Pam and Ian at Ian's daughter's home for coffee.  No fun driving as very wet day.  Back onto Pacific Highway before turning off onto Motor Way.  Thank god for 'Jenny' as she maneuvered us around north Sydney without any problems although she couldn't do much about the continuing wet weather!!  Once off the Motor Way we travelled through Richmond - very foggy through the mountains - Lithgow and into Bathurst.