The Wandering Tops

The Wandering Tops

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.

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