??Journey or destination??

Exploring life experiences at home and beyond – Destination Happiness


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D is for …

Davistown
I am beginning to appreciate the scenic area in which I live as my husband and I start exploring a small part of it each fortnight. We have lived here near 30 years but only now are making a real effort to get to know what it has to offer. A few weekends ago we travelled to the local destination of Davistown. It is part of Gosford City situated on Cockle Channel, an arm of Brisbane Water. We took a walk along the Illoura Reserve Walk .

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Davistown (according to the Gosford City Council  webpage) was named for the concentration of Davis family members living in this area. They were ship builders. The area came to be populated with the Davis’s and their families, hence the name Davistown.
The part of Davistown in the vicinity of Lintern Street wharf was once known as Bedlam. It was reputed to have been the location of the largest Aboriginal camp in the district during the days of early white settlement. The Davistown district was home to the Guringai tribe, whose country stretched from the north side of Sydney Harbour, north through Pittwater and Brisbane Water, to the southern end of Lake Macquarie. Signs of habitation in the Davistown area include a rock shelter and shellfish middens. Burramun is believed to be the aboriginal name for the Davistown area. (LINK)

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Ferries still work this waterway today, having first been active prior to the opening of the opening of the Rip Bridge in 1974. The small communities around Brisbane Water relied on little ferries to get them to Woy Woy and Gosford. We didn’t take a ride on the public ferry this time but I’d like to give it a try another day.

fr_1260_size880Ferry ticket booth (unmanned now)

Today many beautiful homes face this pretty waterway. While we walked along, close to the water’s edge, we watched children frolicking in the water, people fishing from a jetty, boats bobbing on the small wash created from the slowly meandering boats, dogs being walked, balls being kicked and a café echoing laughter as people sipped their beverages.

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This one pelican sure took his position seriously.Although its not easy to see in the photo the small blue and white sign down the pole says “SURVEILLANCE AREA” .

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Do you take time to get out and enjoy the area in which you live? Sometimes the best is closer than you think .

 


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C is for…

CATHERINE HILL BAY NSW– Alphabetical exploration of the Central Coast NSW

As a teenager my grandfather had a nursery at Frazer Park in NSW. It was located on the Pacific Highway not far south of Swansea. From his house the views swept panorama style over Catherine Hill Bay and the adjoining beaches. Coal ships would line the horizon waiting their turn to enter (probably) Newcastle to load up. He sold the property when I was around 20 moving back to Sydney closer to us as his health was deteriorating. But this isn’t about family, that’s just a little insight into what drew me to explore Catherine Hill Bay.

Catherine Hill Bay was named after the schooner “Catherine Hill” which ran aground there on 21st June 1867.The town prospered from coal mining. Rows of 19th century miners’ cottages line the roadside near the coast. They are square shaped houses with verandahs and no fences, all built close to the street. Have a look here for some great photos.

The pub features strongly in this village and has its own Facebook page.

Catherine Hill Bay is on the State Heritage Register and one of only two entire towns so designated.

We wandered along the sand where just a few people frolicked in the water. I said to my husband, as the waves trickled over my thong clad toes, this was the first time I’d been onto the beach all summer – then I realised it was the 2nd March  (Autumn) …oops.  I’m not a sand person.

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I had however frequented the beach through summer watching it from esplanade cafes and restaurants locally and balconies during my island New Year’s Eve getaway.

I made use of my camera to take a panorama shot of the abandoned jetty. Worth clicking on the photo as it looks better than it appears here 🙂

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The gates closing the old coal jetty

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yachtsWe headed north to Swansea before heading back home. On our return journey we had to wait while the bridge over Swansea Heads opened to allow a flotilla of yachts to enter. It was novel watching the first few but then 15 minutes later the excitement had totally faded.

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Where we live is such a beautiful place with so much to explore. Do you have a favourite place to visit in your local area?

 


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B is for Barbeque

Barbeque at Mangrove Creek Dam

Today we completed the 2nd letter of our alphabetical adventure around the Central Coast of NSW. I have never been to the Mangrove Creek Dam (Central Coast’s largest dam) though it has figured greatly in our local news over the last year. The Central Coast, like most of NSW, has experienced drought over recent years. This water source has, according to council records, been as low as 10.27% on 24 February 2007.

The dam is  an easy hour drive from the coast- not far from Kulnura. Many farms along the way had fresh fruit and vegetables for sale- oh and of course manure. We parked in the gravel car park and then walked around the picnic area. It’s not huge but the way things are set up you don’t feel the next ‘party’ is sitting right on top of you at the tables.

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The picnic and viewing area is well kept and according to the council, recent updated. There are wooden picnic table and chair sets and two, free to use, gas barbeques complete with cleaning equipment. They looked clean, ready for use. But, being me, I had packed our own portable BBQ just in case they weren’t so clean. Oh, and essential to a good picnic spot is a good toilet block. It was not only clean but also had liquid soap and air hand dryers!

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The observation platform offers spectacular panoramic views of the dam wall and catchment area.

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Interpretive signage boards completed the area, explaining the history of the dam and methods of making the dam. There even was a visitors’ book complete with pen (that worked!!) encased in a perspex box ready for comments (which people have done).

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This place was a peaceful break from the stresses of daily life. A goanna wandered around undisturbed by the people there, in fact it looked like he enjoyed the visitors as he meandered around us rather than escaping.

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It’s not, in my opinion, a picnic ground for active kids. There isn’t anywhere to kick a ball or fly a kite and bushwalking is out because there is an entry exclusion area surrounding the dam to protect our water supply. It was perfect for us though, we enjoyed a sausage sizzle and good conversation.

 

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Another hidden spot to visit!

 

 

 


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Colonial Tramcar Restaurant – Melbourne

If you get the chance to enjoy a meal on the Colonial Dining Tramcar definitely do!!! This blog post is my opinion only  based on our experience and was in no way funded  by ( or connected to ) the restaurant.

On Wednesday evening we celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary on the Colonial Tramcar Restaurant. Blustering winds raced around us, blowing my hair like a veil across my face, as we headed to the tram shed . We had an extra 200 metres to walk as the tourist husband didn’t trust my choice of tram stop. Sitting in the tram shed we watched as other patrons arrived . Some were dressed to the nines ( of course that was me ) others in more casual garb but all with excited faces.

Around 8:15 pm two waiters arrived and moved through the crowd advising of which tram we would be dining on. We were on the second one. On perfect time the trams arrived , a splendorous sight with lights outlining the name of the tram. From outside maroon and gold curtains were visible dressings to the windows. The process of boarding the diners was fast and without fuss and it was just minutes before our trams rumbled off the explore Melbourne.

The tram decor was elegant and the seats were plush velvet and really comfortable. Seating is in fixed benches for either two or four diners. These seats could prove a squeeze for a few (some looked a little uncomfortable). My opinion is, if you can sit in an airline seat and have the tray down you will fit these seats fine.

On arrival at our table there were two dips- hummus and a red capsicum dip- with an assortment of crackers served on a white platter. Before we had departed our glasses had been filled with a sparkling wine by a friendly waiter who obliged us by taking a photo memory of us. The menu was then explained to all diners and was presented elegantly in a black menu folder embossed with the gold tram symbol, as the tram started on its journey.

Fresh hot bread rolls were served as orders were taken for our meals. The five courses served definitely didn’t disappoint. The amazing thing is these meals are prepared on board the tram and the hot meals were piping hot and the meat moist. We tried all the dishes on offer between us. All were fresh and tasty and presented with flair. The meal was completed with tea or coffee and a liqueur.

The alcohol ( a good selection of classics) was discretely topped up regularly and water was available.

We travelled along some familiar tram routes while some had had me wondering where we were. The route took us around the CBD and the suburbs but it was the view inside that we enjoyed most.

The tram ride was amazingly smooth and the only drop spilled was from a diner with over active hand movements as she spoke…and NO this wasn’t me, surprise surprise !!

The three hours passed too quickly and I before we knew it , we were stepping off the tram, full from the huge amount of food consumed.

Follow the highlighted links to read more about this attraction.

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Southern Highlands Jaunt

Today we headed for a trip to the Southern highlands. It’s made easy to get away having grown up kids at home to look after the pets, pool and general house stuff.

We packed the car and headed off around 10 am. The plan was to travel after the busy roads of commuter traffic. We didn’t figure in the school holiday travellers. The roads were heavy but still moving well. A few fools graced the roads , ignoring speed limits , traffic flow and the amount of space needed to pull in between cars.

We chose the less direct route opting to use the Grand Pacific Drive heading coastal through the suburbs north of Wollongong . After one incorrect turn ( couldn’t be me as navigator could it ?? Haha ) we were finally on track heading south along this coastal stretch of road. Near the town of Coalcliff the road follows a bridge – the Sea Cliff Bridge. It spans 465 m with the cliffs to the right ( when travelling south) contrasting in their harsh rock stratas with the flow of the ocean. After leaving the bridge we took the opportunity to park the car and walk back along the bridge. The water was an iridescent blue and the waves crashed on the rock platforms beneath spraying up a mist visible from some parts of the bridge. I watched for a while, hopeful to see the spurt from a whale but wasn’t so lucky. Although banned many people have attached padlocks to the bridge. I tried researching the tradition and a lot of different facts are available from originating in China to Serbia during WW2 . It’s a romantic idea to inscript your love then lock it forever , but according to Wollongong Council it causes rust corrosion of the bridge rails ( so unromantic lol) .

Sea Cliff Bridge

Sea Cliff Bridge

Sea Cliff Bridge

Sea Cliff Bridge

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The journey then took us through Macquarie Pass . This is a sharp, winding road with bend after bend following each other. Although in parts the view was pretty as ferns and tall gums framed a distant Pacific Ocean, more often than not I was leaning to the right as if that would balance the car on each bend. I had looked down at one point and realised if the wheels were to shudder as they ran over the white edge line designed to alert you the edge was near….it would be too late as the drop was sheer , definitely no where else to go than into the deep gully!

Finally we reached the top and the road straightened , guiding us into our accommodation – the Bowral Bed and Breakfast. This place deserves its own blog post which I will write another day soon. We ventured into town for Donne and found open restaurants hard to find (Chinese, Indian, McDonald’s or Subway. We chose Indian. The restaurant was ornate in decoration. Painted scenes depicting Indian towns, princes and princesses covered the walls. The food was delicious, so it was a great choice 🙂

Back in the car the temperature gauge indicted 4 deg C . Back in our air conditioned accommodation we have sipped hot chocolates and little tarts all provided. Now to look at the guides to begin planning tomorrow.

Photos are scarce because I have been using my real camera and forgot the connection cord to download the photos to my iPad :((


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Escape to the Hunter Valley

The hands had just struck noon on the Pokolbin Village clock.
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The village houses many little stores, our favourites being the Pokolbin Chocolate Co. , Hunter Valley Smelly Cheese Shop and Vittorio’s Café Restaurant. We ate a leisurely lunch at Vittorio’s, free of bells tolling, with a pleasant view of the Hope Estate Winery. The sun was warm and a jet (or was it the International Space Station on one of its many fast orbits) drew a trail of white across the otherwise blank blue canvas of the sky. I could get very used to this. Who am I kidding? Only COULD?? haha
The Village
After lunch we visited the Hunter Valley Gardens. On arrival the lady told us we would need an hour and a half to walk around the gardens. We ended up close to doubling this time. Her estimation was for the “SEE Hunter Valley Gardens tour’ I think. We did the ‘Stop and really smell the roses / blooms’ tour which I think is the true way to do justice to this wonderful garden exhibit.
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We started at the rose garden. It was a maze with a central piece about a grandmother’s love. The sculpture had a grandmother figure surrounded by children in varied forms of play. I watched as a little girl engrossed by it all began joining in with each statue group of children, posing as they were. She was obviously lost in the moment but was a true reflection of the sculpture’s theme I thought. The roses wafted a sweet smell as we took a moment to sit on the pergola’s wooden bench to read our map.

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From here we headed through the Formal Garden, complete with wishing well, to the Indian Mosaic Garden. The entry is through 180 year old antique Indian Gates flanked by bronze elephants. Curry plants fill air with their spicy scent.
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We saw waterfalls with gurgling water making its way to the base where massive carp swam amongst the water lilies. We sat in shady spots allowing our senses (except taste …but that came later haha) to enjoy the experience. I noticed people rushing to see it all but I think it was best seen by moving slowly.

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The one place I did rush around madly was the Storybook Land. Here Nursery Rhyme and fairytale characters came alive amidst a variety of colourful blooms, trees and grasses. The characters could do with a coat of paint but the concept totally held my attention …the big kid in me.
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Jack ,Brian and  Jill  Went up the hill

Who pushed Humpty??

Pathways of fine pebbles that crunched softly beneath your foot with each step took us around this garden. At the end of the walk, when I was glancing over the map to check we had missed nothing I found something on that map I had missed! It was that the pathways covered roughly 8kms of track!! No wonder our feet were sore and our brains were singing ‘Coffee and cake time! Coffee and cake time! ‘Appeased those thoughts then headed to British Lolly Shop before making for the car and our trip home.

I always go away at least for a few days each school holiday and this was the first in a very long time I hadn’t. These two days though were rejuvenating. I guess I’m ready now to go back to work. The next term is short but heavily loaded with report writing time. As much as a bane they are to prepare there is the satisfaction of knowing the contribution you have made to help the children learn new things and the reward of realising just how well you have got to know them.


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Day Tripping -Hawkesbury Valley

With only a few days left of my holiday (Brian had these days off too) we decided to do some day tripping. Our first day’s trip was to SEE Wisemans Ferry. Later you will see why I cursed the choice of this word!
We headed off on Anzac Day morning. The weather was perfect. The sky was a canvas of blue without even a hint of a cloud wisp. We armed ourselves with our traditional driving treats…Mentos and water and hit the road.
The drive to Wisemans Ferry took us via Spencer, the home of my maternal grandfather before he was old enough to leave the nest and move to Sydney. It is a suburb of the Central Coast region where I live. It is located on the north bank of the Hawkesbury River. Mangroves line the river here. According to the signs it is known as “THE HUB OF THE UNIVERSE”. It had a general store and one section of its tables located on the river front are tagged as “Dunkirk Hotel”.

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We drove on, taking the ferry / car punt to Wisemans Ferry. The traffic is obviously heavy at some time as there are two punts that run the river at this point. We parked at Wisemans Ferry on the southern side so I could take some photos. Wisemans Ferry is rich in both Aboriginal and European history and has a part of the convict-built Old Great North Road that once connected Sydney and Newcastle .It also has an old hotel rumoured to abound in ghostly activity. We hopped back in the car drove past the hotel and began the steep drive up the mountain. Brian’s comment was “Well we’ve seen Wisemans Ferry, where to next?” He was right. We had SEEN it albeit from a moving vehicle. He offered to turn around but the road was steep and there was really no place to do a big swing around so I accepted the fact I’d seen Wisemans Ferry.

Wisemans Ferry along the Hawkesbury River banks

Wisemans Ferry along the Hawkesbury River banks

The car punt across the river at Wisemans Ferry

The car punt across the river at Wisemans Ferry

From here we drove on to a town called Ebenezer where you will find the oldest standing church building in Australia and the oldest existing school building in Australia. The schoolmaster’s residence was built in 1817 and as luck would have it, is used to serve Devonshire teas. No way was I just going to SEE this place, ha ha ha. The scones were amazing…homemade by nimble fingers with a lot of baking experience no doubt. The milk jug had a material cover with crocheted edge, something I remember from my childhood. Morning / afternoon tea was a big thing in my home.

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After tucking into these melt in the mouth delights, washed down with strong brew we wandered through the graveyard reading the headstones. I noticed one family (Grono) had a crypt and row of graves together, then one alone for Maria Grono. I decided I would google her when I got home. I was intrigued as to why she was apart from the others. I wanted to know her story. Turns out she was a wife of one of the sons and the linked graves were those of the parents and their 9 children. Seemed there was nothing untoward her grave being a little apart from the others. But being me, nothing finishes that easy. Turns out this lady shared the same maiden name with my maternal grandmother’s maiden name. I’m just so sure somehow I will find a family link 😉 INSERT SPOOKY MUSIC …

With full tummies and thoughts of six degrees of separation occupying my mind we drove on arriving at Sackville. We crossed the river on yet another car punt. Apparently my great grandfather Jesse Suttor was the Sackville punt man at one stage in his life so this ride is a little in kin style.

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The shadows were starting to draw long and thin signaling it was time to begin journeying home .We took the scenic route through the Richmond area. The Hawkesbury River still featured in our journey… such a long river span.

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Always thinking of meals, we ate at Pie in the Sky a pie store situated on (well not literally haha)the Old Pacific Highway and yes, it overlooks the Hawkesbury river as well as the main F3 freeway. I had meant to take a photo of my pie dinner which was by the way really tasty…but hunger, having eaten nothing since the scones at Ebenezer and around 6 hours having ticked by, made my mind to hazy to think about getting the camera out. But I did at the end !

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