Day 40 – Botany Bay

Tuesday 30th April, 2019

Today we took buses and trains out to Cronulla, then on to Botany Bay. Stephen wanted to see the place where Captain Cook landed on April 28th, 1770. Quite a long time before us! The area is a National Park, with it’s own Visitor Centre.

It was quite a long journey’ We went through the Central Station in Sydney, a stepping off place for travelling to outer Sydney and beyond to other cities.


We could see a bright red taxi nearby and it was just too tempting to get to our destination as quickly as possible after our long commute.


We spent some time at the Visitor Centre before following a path down to the bay past a number of memorials to the landing. The very last one was the actual landing place. Hopefully Stephen will add more about what we found in the comments section.

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We found a very nice cafe where we had lunch and rested until our bus was due.



On arrival in Chatswood we went to the Chinese restaurant we enjoyed a few nights ago. This time we sampled the dumplings, together with green beans and a rice cake dish. One of the owners was practicing the violin during much of meal and we could watch a man making noodles by the slapping and stretching method. Together with the sounds of the other diners it was quite noisy, though not as noisy as it had been on Anzac Day.




Sydney Day 39

We have made it to the Art Gallery. It took a little fussing at our third change to work out the correct platform, but we made it to Martin Place. That is the location of the Lindt Cafe, which oddly, has just come up in the news again. I couldn’t go in, I think its different if you live here, but for us it is wholly associated with the siege and deaths there.

I checked online and the cafe here at the Gallery is on the lower ground floor. I though it would be underground, but fortunately Sydney has lots of hills and the slope means that lower ground on one side means access to the open air.

We walked through the old hospital on the way here. They have a nice outdoor cafe as well.

Not only do they have a good collection at the Gallery, but the state library also has some galleries featuring specifically Australian works. We went there at about 3:30 and stayed until after 5:00. I was particularly taken with some early photography, photos taken by various members of the Macpherson family over generations. For the early photos they had to take a portable processing studio with them as the chemicals had to be worked on within 15 minutes of exposure. They managed, and many of the photos are simply wonderful. They show vividly the family and their times. The Library have put some of the photos on Flickr. If you click on the photo it will take you to the online gallery.

Glass negatives of The Rocks, Sydney, ca. 1890-1910, by William Joseph Macpherson

This is the old section of the library where the galleries are housed.

And this is a view of the new section.

We had this view from a window in the art gallery. It was set up with comfortable chairs and has similarities with some of the paintings of the city. An intentional contemporary piece of art, perhaps.

On our way home we found out why the trains are double deckers. We were returning during the rush hour and despite all of the seats there were people standing in the aisles. Nevertheless, people seemed good humoured enough, and made room for each and cooperated well.

We can tick the Art Gallery and State Library of our list.

I do like this city, it has character, and that it’s set on hills and water, with lots of greenery and has lots of interesting and unexpected beautiful views.

I wouldn’t like to be working here and have a long commute and high housing costs, but to visit, staying in the caravan park for a modest $280 per week rent, paying seniors prices on public transport, it is enjoyable. Every time we go sightseeing we tire ourselves out, and if we don’t overdo it, we feel very satisfied,

I finally realised, after about 3 days, that having an itchy, runny nose, with eyes watering, is not my cold coming back, but hay fever. We visited a chemist on our way home and I can report that 1 antihistamine tablet has made all the difference. I also bought more fixamol for protecting my thumb when I wear the splint (yes, tendonitis still a problem) and Stephen bought some plasters for his toes as he is just starting to get some blisters again.

We went to Woolies on the way home for tissues, kitchen paper and yogurt, then onto the trainlink bus to home. Or fairly close, we still have a 15 minute walk, but tonight felt a bit better and didn’t find it so tiring.

Sydney Day 38

Sunday 28th April, 2019

Today we are having a rest day. My cold seems to have freshened up again, after quite a good day yesterday and Stephen’s tiredness at the end of yesterday was pretty extreme, so it seems like a good idea. We cooked a meal in the pressure cooker, but using the slow cooking method for the first time. We now have three good meals of meat and vegetables and only need to add some greens to make them into complete meals.

We have been discussing what to do next on our journey as we need to head West quite soon. Although I haven’t seen my mother for a few weeks I seem to be able to imagine how she is in my mind’s eye as she seems to be easily tired. They have started her on patches for pain management, even though she reports little pain. Staff and my family feel that she is actually in quite a lot of pain as she appears to struggle along each time she returns from ‘upstairs’. I think if we are heading in the right direction towards home I will feel less anxious about being away.

We are actually leaving Thursday, not Friday as I thought, having read the booking slip wrongly. That means we have three more full days of exploring Sydney. Then, we will head directly west for Katoomba in the Blue Mountains region, before heading south west in a line taking us towards Bathurst.

A couple of loads of washing have been done as well. This is our idea of a rest day. When we stay at East Croydon we don’t go out every single day. We feel that we can, as it were, waste a bit of time because we are staying longer. At least in EC we have a tram to take us almost to where we live, here we have a 1.5 kilometre walk. The bus stop for the return journey is further than the bus stop for the outward jouney.

We’ve spent most of our sitting time outside today as it was cooler than inside the van and gives us a sense of having more living space. This is something we tend not to do when travelling as we have comparitively little time to ‘sit around’.

This is our evening for contacting Matt, it does seem to come around quite quickly.

Sydney Day 37

Saturday 27th April, 2019

I’ve just done a count of the days we have been travelling and now think that today is the 37th day. It only matters to me, I 🤔.

We are still having our morning cuppa and don’t know what we will do today.

Turns out we went to the Museum, where lots of parents had brought their children. Stephen persevered with going through the different levels, whilst I went to Starbucks for peace and quiet.

Later, we walked to St Mary’s Cathedral and admired the weddings taking place, then walked across the Domaine to Martin’s Place. There is a walkway through the old hospital.

We caught lots of trains, as well as our train link buses, and got groceries at the Woolies in Chatswood before coming home. We have confirmed that this shop is open until midnight and we don’t need to buy a lot of food, just small amounts as we need things. We are planning a slow cooked meal in our pressure cooker. We feel too tired to cook a fast meal tonight.

Stephen is feeling particularly tired tonight, rather like me last night.

Victoria Building Basement – after we came off the undergrouind

Town Hall

War Memorial and reflection pool, rather overshadowed by the building behind. Bad planning.

The Domain

Sydney Hospital

Sydney Hospital
Martin’s Place
Martin’s Place
from Anzac Day
We were in a quiet carriage. We caught our first train at Martin’s Place, then had another change before being on our train back to Chatswood.

Sydney Day 35

We had an interesting day yesterday sorting out our transport payment options and taking buses, trains and ferries. This was where we had coffee in the afternoon at a beautiful old building called Durham House in Watson’s Bay. It was Anzac Day, so Thursday 25th April, 2019.

Friday 26th April, 2019 I think this is day 36.

Although we didn’t leave the caravan park until about 11.00 a.m. yesterday we still managed to have an exhausting day. It was quite warm and we were out in the sun a good deal of the time. It was very interesting working out the transport. Our nearest train station (metro) is under repair and they have buses to provide a link to the Chatsworth Interchange. The buses drive through the national park and its quite a nice ride.

The trains are double decker, with part of the train below the platform. They are very comfortable and what a good idea for getting lots of people around.

We made our way to Circular Quay, riding over the Sydney Harbour bridge. The first thing we did on arrival was take some photos.

We walked around trying to find a cafe and ended up at Macdonalds. It turned out that we hadn’t walked quite far enough as we found a cafe on our way to the Opera House. There were many people about, we assume many tourists, plus locals because of the public holiday. We decided to walk around the point a little way rather than going in.

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Because we were having some heat/sun stress Stephen suggested we take a ferry somewhere. We had sorted out our seniors travel cards at Circular Quay Station. Apart from a problem with the password, which we discovered later, it was good to have the cheapest option. There is no free transport, but there is a modest daily cap.

We travelled to a place called Watson’s Bay. Again, there were lots and lots of people, very noisy at the pub, but it was peaceful where we went for a coffee. It was the late afternoon so we had to make the best of 25 minutes. We walked part of the way around the bay, then Stephen went off to the point where there was a commemorative plinth marking the place where Governor Philip and the First Fleet made a landing.

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Watson's Bay boats (1 of 1)

By the time we returned it was getting on for evening. We arrived at a different jetty, Milsons Point, only to find that the train station was up a steep hill. We were close to Luna Park.

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Milsons Point Luna Park lights (1 of 1)

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At Chatswood we found a busy Chinese restaurant and enjoyed an excellent meal. This helped us with the last part of our journey of catching the train link bus, then walking the last kilometre to the caravan park.

I had a cold during the day, blowing my nose a lot, and this probably had an effect on how tired I felt. We had done about 10 kilometres over the whole day.

This morning I wanted to do a bit of shopping. Stephen stayed at the van whilst I went to Chatswood to visit the Myer Store for underwear. They had an excellent selection. The other thing we needed was wheatbix, and I had a choice of Coles, Woollies or Aldi stores.

Stephen had run up we our Opal card problem and sorted things out. He booked a few more days here, we are now leaving on the 3rd May to travel home. That should give us lots of time to explore. We rested for most of the day, then took a walk into the national park. Downhill all the way to the river, then uphill all the way back. We were only out for an hour, but it was enough to make us feel tired. The temperature got to 29 today and it has been humid as well.

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The birds were comfortable with coming close to us.

Sydney: Day 34 (possibly, Stephen has a different count)

Wednesday April 24th, 2019

After dithering about Sydney and the route we would take we ended up coming straight up the Hume Highway. Because of a late start, leaving the grounds at about 11.40 a.m., going to the local shops for a coffee, then some shopping, we found we wanted to stop at about 4.00 p.m. We chose a roadside rest area that was very noisy, though with nice trees around. We looked at another rest area on the way today and although we might have been able to park without such a tilt to one side, it would have been just as noisy and I’m glad we didn’t push on when we were tired.

We had a rest on the way on the edge of Lake George, a vast, dry lake with wind farms on the far shore. It can have water and there is a memorial to a family who were drowned in a boating accident.

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We coped surprisingly well to going back to our free camping style, with the gas stove and 12v electricity and small inverter to run our 240v lamps. It is certainly easy to set up.

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It was uncomfortable leaning to one side like this, but at least it was different to our previous 7 nights when it leant the other way.
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from our campsite this morning


It was quite warm overnight and the weather here in Sydney is forecast to be warm and sunny with nights in the mid teens, so no signs of winter yet. Canberra is going to have some cold nights soon and I wish they would extend to here.

We left early for us, a little after 9.00 a.m. and had a really good run on the fast, but safe Hume Highway. There is some lovely scenery, with tall trees, hills and ravines to cross. We planned a final stop before driving into the city and noticed that there was a botanic gardens on the way, so pulled in there. It was a bit warm, especially as we had lunch in van in full sun, but the gardens are beautiful and there were lots of families picnicing.

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We then had 60 kms to go to get to our caravan park. At first we were travelling through outer towns with lots of bush in between. It was pretty easy driving. Then, we were in the city proper, on a ring road, with lots of big trucks and travelling through an industrial area. We couldn’t always make turns on time and Google Maps had to quickly come up with new ideas to get us through. It took a long time, but the caravan park is worth the effort, with easy access to the centre of the city, yet set next door to a National Park, with river walks and lots of trees. We can’t see the city at all.

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we can correct small tilts using our yellow wedges


As it is Anzac Day tomorrow I wonder how we will go accessing the city by bus and train.


The National has ended: Day 33

It is Monday morning (23rd April, 2019) and we feel a bit flat. We spent the last two days really getting into the music and events and being ‘cut off’ is quite difficult. Stephen is feeling in two minds about going to Sydney. The Writers’ Festival has mainly ticketed events and it doesn’t look like we can enjoy very much without beginning to pay. And many of the speakers are featured on ABC radio, which we can listen to for free.

We want to do a coast to coast journey and he is thinking of Wollongong as an alternative. But a decision has not yet been made. We feel anxious about driving into Sydney even though our caravan park is on the Western edge of the city and we don’t have to drive into the centre to get there.

We have had a wonderful time here. There is very good music and the performers are unafraid to express their views on climate change and other social issues. Very refreshing. We feel surrounded by our kind, especially as most of the campers are grey haired folk like us. Or, if not grey haired, then obviously dyed hair!

On Sunday evening in our Facetime session with Matt I found out how to turn on a special effect of turning us into animated comic book characters, recognisably us, but a great deal more glamorous. Matt really enjoyed this view of the aged parents and we needn’t have worried he would find it alienating.

We had a storm yesterday afternoon. We had just made it back to the van for our rest. I took my coffee outside under the awning in order to enjoy seeing the rain come down. Within a few minutes I was back inside as the rain became so heavy that it was coming into that area. Our washing, which was almost dry, got damp and everything under the awning got wet. Even after the rain stopped we had constant rolling thunder. We couldn’t see lightning. We could also hear a very loud sound which we though was an alarm or electrical noise, but turned out to be the joyous sound of millions of crickets rejoicing in the wet.

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The storm cleared in time for us to make it back to the festival area and although there has been a bit of drizzle since, the rain appears to have left. This morning is grey and looks dampish outside. We were hoping for sun to help get things dried out, but it doesn’t really matter.

We want to do a bit of shopping before we head out to wherever it is we are going. We don’t have any further information about Mum, so that is not a factor. Even if we go to Sydney it isn’t very far from here, about 300 kms, and does not add much distance to a return journey to Perth.

We went to the stock camp twice, once for morning tea and once for lunch. We watched a dance group from Canberra.

We listened to some Australian songs by a sweet old timer at the Troc. And we attended the farewell concert. Included in the programme were the choir, strings group and percussion group made up of ordinary folk having a chance to perform on the main stage, as well as some prize giving, drawing of the raffle, and some short sessions with groups we had seen before.

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We shared a pear cider at the Bohemia Bar whilst waiting for the final concert.
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Stephen at the Bohemia



A ride on the new light rail: Days 30 and 31

Saturday 20th April, 2019

Our ride wasn’t quite what we had hoped, but perhaps what we might have expected. The station is located close to do venues, EPIC where we are and the racecourse. The consequence is that there is quite a walk from the entrance to the station from each. EPIC could open a gate close to the station and will hopefully do so in the future.

The train was very crowded with families wanting to experience the new trains. Children not used to being on public transport hemmed in with adults were quite distressed. I was offered a seat late in the journey, but we could see that parents with unhappy little kids needed seats to provide cuddling and reassurance. When we arrived in town we could see long lines of people waiting to catch the trains out of the city. Fortunately we could still catch the bus, and after a coffee break and shopping, that is what we did.

We also decided to try out the shuttle bus back to our campsite, and that has become our preferred way of getting to and from our campsite. Ruth has made it back to the Festival and we continue to see Pam and Eleanor around the place.

Stephen reading the notice at our Shuttle Bus Stop.

Photos from the camping areas.

A dancing violinist. I didn’t really capture his best moves.

Sunday 21st April, 2019

We made an effort and got to the Festival by about 10:20 this morning. We enjoyed a Peace Concert, very well attended, followed by the Spooky Men’s Chorale.

Their Sufi song celebrating Ba’hari Gibb (Barry Gibb). I particularly loved their rendition of ‘Crossing the Bar’, a musical version of Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem.

We had French fondues and a crepe for lunch. Very delicious and salty, with wonderful full flavoured cheese. We are trying different food stalls for various flavour and texture experiences.

We are having a rest at the van before going back into the fray for more music. We will talk with Matt tonight on FaceTime in between concerts. 8:30 our time. 6:30 in Perth.

We are still having oddly warm weather here, days of about 25 and nights about 12. Where on earth is the cold weather? Due in a few days actually, just as we move on to even warmer weather in Sydney.

First Full Day of the National Folk Festival 19/4/19 Day 29

Yesterday morning we washed our sheets and towells. We are right next to the laundry with four washing machines, very handy. We wandered down to the Festival area in the late morning. We met up with Ruth and David and took in some music. Choosing lunch from the many stalls is enjoyable, one of the really good things about a music festival.

There are many venues and events happening – sometimes we chose on the venue, whether it was comfortable, and we were never disappointed with what we saw and listened to. The last act of the day that we really enjoyed was a blues guitarist and singer. At first I noticed him playing with his eyes closed and wondered if we would have a musician who couldn’t really relate to the audience. I was so wrong, between songs he told stories that had me in tears of laughter. This really helped with appreciating his wonderful musicianship.

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We heard from Indigenous Australians singing about the women’s experience and songs from the missions (very happy songs).

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My aim with the Festival is to take photos and videos that represent some of the sights and sounds, rather than documenting all that we have seen and heard.

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We enjoyed the Scottish band with David (Ruth had to leave for personal reasons). We met up with Pam at an event in the middle of the day. And we ran into Eleanor again, dressed in her Fair Maid of Perth costume. We hope to see her dancing with her group this afternoon. We miss running into Eversley, it seems strange to be at this Festival without her.

We have made our usual late start this morning. It was foggy again first thing and was very cold in the van. We had the heater running for quite a while. It’s now 10.30ish and the sun is out, warming the van.

Our plan today is to take a ride into town using the new light rail system. We have some shopping to do, but having a ride in the new red and shiny trains is the main reason for going out. I remembered to change the focus and metering settings on my camera back to daytime photography. I forgot when we went to China and the first few days of photos were hit and miss as the camera struggled to cope with lighting. It took me ages to realise what the problem was even though I could see that most of the photos weren’t working out.