travel

on point duty

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lunch spot overlooking the bay
lunch spot overlooking the bay
baby stingray in the shallows
baby stingray in the shallows

The G.O. didn’t take much convincing to go up to Port Stephens the day before my youngest sister’s wedding, so we left Sydney at a civilized hour and arrived at d’Albora Marinas in Nelson Bay in time for lunch overlooking the water.

After lunch we strolled around the marina and spotted 3 pods of dolphins cruising the bay. Of course, the phone-camera we had to hand wasn’t up to capturing pics.

Post-stroll we headed around to our accommodation, the ibis Styles Port Stephens Salamander Shores Hotel at Soldiers Point, also the wedding reception venue, set in beautiful gardens on Salamander Bay.

G.O.'s crabby grab
G.O.’s crabby grab
pelican tour guide
pelican tour guide

After a brief chat with family who’d arrived we wandered down to Wanda Beach for a quick walk before getting ready for an evening of pre-wedding drinks and dinner. That was the beginning of not only socialising with family and friends but what seemed to be non-stop wildlife encounters.

We walked along the jetty looking down into water so clear that if you’d had a fishing rod you could see a delicious dinner of black fish or whiting, as well as myriad tiny neons.

bevy of swans
bevy of swans
threesome of white ibis
threesome of white ibis

On the sand I slipped my thongs (flip-flops) off to go for a paddle, looking back to suggest the G.O. do the same… wondering why he was wearing joggers on the beach.

As I stepped further into the water, I looked down, luckily, as right at my feet was a baby stingray which checked them out then seeing the G.O’s feet also, decided to move off just far enough.

brace of mallards
brace of mallards

Not far along from that encounter the Cancerian G.O. met up with a crabby cohort and nearly dunked his good watch attempting to shake hands-pincers.

the good ship pelican
the good ship pelican

Returning to our room, our balcony was beset with native birds, who maintained a constant presence over the weekend, one cheeky native myna bird even venturing inside.

seagulls on the sand
seagulls on the sand

At the start of our next morning walk we were greeted at the beach by a pelican who led the way towards a bevy of black swans, a threesome of white ibis, the good ship pelican, a flock of seagulls, a brace of mallards, and a raft of wood ducks – all of which made daily repeat appearances.

We had only had one other glimpse of dolphins in the bay from the balcony of my sister’s 5th floor honeymoon suite. So, on Saturday afternoon a little before dusk the G.O., my uncle, aunt and I drove around to The Anchorage Marina at Corlette  where the G.O. and I stayed previously and saw dolphins dining late in the day, but to no avail this time.

cheeky native myna bird
cheeky native myna bird
friendly rainbow lorrie
friendly rainbow lorrie

Heading back to the car, disappointment somewhat mollified by the spectacular sunset, there was just enough light left in the day for us witness a wild rabbit nibbling the lawn near the car park supervised by a black cat from its vantage point on the brick wall.

 

visiting kookaburra
visiting kookaburra
beautiful butcher bird
beautiful butcher bird

Earlier in the day walking along the beach, seeing many people with dogs, I’d jokingly commented to the G.O. the only thing we haven’t seen is a cat [who’d appreciate the beach as a big litter tray]. Well, now we had, with a bonus bunny thrown in the mix.

 

 

kitty and bunny
kitty and bunny

Added to all of that, enroute driving along the the freeway I’d spotted a trio of big white billy goats lounging in the morning sun on the edge of a cutting way up high, and on the way home a couple of kangaroo’s reclining on a front lawn.

“Each day provides its own gifts”, Marcus Aurelius

 

…But there was one other wildlife encounter, wonderful enough that it deserves its own post.

[Click on the image thumbnails, and they’ll open up into (slightly) larger images]

smoke gets in your eyes

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The G.O. and I awoke somewhat bleary eyed on Sunday morning after my youngest sister’s Friday wedding at Port Stephens. No, we hadn’t tied one on. Our muzzy eyes were more to do with NSW Rural Fire Service hazard reduction burns across the bay at Tea Gardens-Hawks Nest evident by the plumes of smoke we’d seen the previous day. The morning sun was a little hazy too.

8.45 am Sunday looking over Port Stephens
8.45 am Sunday looking over Port Stephens

 

[Smoke gets in your eyes, The Platters]

ringing in the new

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2014 has a different feel to it than the past couple of years. Something needed to change. I mulled it over for a couple of months. And faffed about with other things, joining Pinterest and Instagram, until inspiration hit me…

I’ve given elladee_words a makeover, and my other WordPress blogs elladee_images and elladee_places are on hold but images and places posts will continue, for now incorporated with the elladee_words content of this blog.

It took some work but the export and import processes were quite straightforward (kudos to WordPress) other than a bit of mucking around manually adding images that had fallen off imported posts. To begin with it was a nice trip down memory lane but patience isn’t my thing and after repeatedly scrolling through 2 years of posts, I just wanted it done.

I like having all the pieces of elladee together. As my revamped About page remarks “I scare myself sometimes by imagining what would happen if I gave in to my crazy grandma hippy leanings and let my world become a potpourri of psychedelic, pattern & rainbows. This blog is as close as it gets…”

Let me know what you think.

In early March the G.O. and I fulfilled a commitment to visit my sister who relocated to Melbourne early last year – our spirits were willing but time had been lacking. Given the busyness of this year if we didn’t go when we did it would be August before we could think about it again.

I’m notorious for cramming as much as possible into trips away – you can sleep when we’re home – and my sister is no slouch as well. The G.O.’s head is still spinning.

Read the rest of this entry »

coastal offerings

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Easts Beach, Kiama
Easts Beach, Kiama

In seeking the sea for our weekend away, the best option I came up with at short notice was a beachfront cabin at Easts Beach Holiday Park, located a few kilometres south from the centre of Kiama. It suited us as our aim was R&R rather than the touristy-restaurant dining thing. And, it was a good opportunity to further our nifty thrifty October and locavore endeavours.

To this end I packed a selection of goodies on hand from our fridge into a cooler bag with a couple of bottles of wine so we could have a leisurely picnic after our dinner time Friday night arrival.

Online reconnaissance indicated an Easts Beach Holiday Park Kiosk with good offerings including coffee, which covered off our needs for early Saturday morning.

When I discovered our visit coincided with Kiama Produce Markets an exception to the R&R rule was made and after walking the beach drinking coffee and exploring rock pools, we ventured out mid Saturday morning into Kiama.

Produce Markets at Kiama Harbour
Produce Markets at Kiama Harbour

The markets are in the park around the harbour walk. A nice surprise was Mr Apples from Batlow, usually at my local Eveleigh Markets in Sydney, who upon seeing me put aside the last half dozen pears the G.O. has become very fond of, and wouldn’t accept payment.

As our last stop for the morning was to be the Kiama Fisheries co-op, we bought Lime Infused Dijon Sauce and gluten free olive & rosemary bread to accompany our planned seafood dinner, and lemon curd cupcakes for afternoon tea with the kiosk’s excellent coffee.

Foraging put us in need of brunch. The gastronomic selection of market offerings made it difficult to choose but we settled on a homemade rabbit pie for me, and 2 duck pies for the G.O. which we ate sitting on the grass under a Norfolk Pine gazing out over the harbour. Read the rest of this entry »

forever young

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Last weekend I stepped back into another life and time. I spent 24 hours in Tamworth* NSW Australia attending a school reunion*. Of those 24, I had 1 hour free to take location photos.

Most people when they think of Tamworth, think country music and the festival held each January. I’m not a lover of country music… other than a little Johnny Cash. When I think of Tamworth, it’s of being 17 years old, and the 2 years I spent at boarding school.

When I started at Calrossy TCEGS in 1982, I was 16, a small country town kid, and an only child. For a while my psyche was hijacked by bouts of homesickness: one minute I was happy, the next I was wracked with an awful displacement. Then it stopped.

The next thing that happened was I gained weight. I had been a 3 sugars in tea and coffee person but at home in Murrurundi I was incidentally and continually active. Boarding school life was predominantly confined to the buildings and grounds. Weekdays we had morning sessions of physical exercise. I played town comp basketball. We walked to “town”. That was it. I also ate a diet designed around what would cheaply & sufficiently, rather than nutritiously, feed a couple of hundred teenage girls, which we supplemented with food from home and anything we could sneak from the kitchen or dining room… Weet-Bix sandwiches of peanut butter & honey being a favourite.

I acclimatised surprisingly quickly, assisted by being only an hour from home. I saw friends and family regularly. I enjoyed school, the art room, activities, my classmates and teachers. Being a senior I had a certain amount of liberty to leave the grounds, especially in my final year. It was a first taste of freedom and life away from my family.

Boarding school is the same as any situation where people spend a lot of time together… in a relationship, home, workplace… The quote “High school is very intense for everyone. But at a boarding school, because you’re there 24 hours a day, everything gets magnified” sums it up. I made good friends & have only good memories, and at the end of the 2 years, my tears of sadness to be leaving bookended those first tears of homesickness.

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*elladee_words posts

it’s always ourselves we find in the sea

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Roughseas via her Everypic blog recently posted re Islay which she notes is one of the most beautiful places she’s ever visited (yes, it is worthy of the rap) and a couple of the photos intriguingly reminded me of the beaches north of Broome WA, Australia. Thinking maybe I was hallucinating and in need of a holiday, preferably back there, I consulted with the G.O. who concurred there was an interesting similarity in some of the photos and landscape.

As well as being one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited, this stretch of coast is also similar to the Islay post yet again, although we don’t have the photos, in that the northern beaches of Broome are a popular location for casual campers, and we envied a couple who were set in front of their caravan with books and cool drinks.

I commented on the Islay post “No matter how lost I am I can always find myself on a beach.” Beaches have been salve for my soul and joy for my spirit ever since I was a little kid tagging along with my Dad while he fished. At various life crossroads I’ve spent many hours walking off my troubles barefoot along the sand. I’ve wandered beaches in good times too; the day trip to Columb Point was one of those for the G.O. and me.

We’d been in Broome for a few days and done as many of the town sights as we could, so decided to go on an adventure that wasn’t strictly allowable for our hire car but we exercised our own judgment on the matter and set off with a mud map from our B&B host:

Head north out of Broome on to Broome Road, turn left onto Beagle Bay-Broome Road, turn right onto Manari Road. Follow Manari Road for about 40 or so kms.

In total the drive is about 70 kms north from Broome. We drove it in a little red Daihatsu Terios AWD. I would recommend a 4WD but all was well. All three of us returned intact, safe and in time, at least for the G.O. and I, to watch another sunset over Cable Beach while sipping glasses of wine.

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“For whatever we lose (like a you or a me)
it’s always ourselves we find in the sea.”
“maggie and millie and molly and may”
E.E. Cummings (American poet 1894-1962)

Natural Selection

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A quote by Charles Darwin sums up his namesake…
“There is grandeur in this view of things.”

D for… delightful

We put Darwin on our trip “up north” itinerary because the G.O. worked & lived there before Cyclone Tracy in 1974. I’d never been, and he wanted to see what had changed. Almost everything, it turns out.

I wish we’d spent more time in Darwin…like 6 months more time. We enjoyed our few days, and I fancy we could live there, in dry season, quite happily.

As I did with come fly with me I’ve taken an excerpt from my trip notes:

… Darwin was good, better in places locals go, rather than city and wharf areas which were both a little touristy for our taste but ‘good for a look’ which I guess was the point of the trip. We preferred the beach areas. Darwin’s public gardens are beautiful, and we had a great time at Nightcliff and Mindil Beach markets, and the Trailer Boat Club right on Fannie Bay was an evening highlight. I became addicted to mango lassi’s. We also liked it that the weather was so warm that 2pm beer o’clock was pretty well mandatory each day, and it was daylight until 7pm… …The B&B we stayed at in Darwin was a little odd so we hired our car and left a day early!…

By way of explanation, our B&B accommodation was one of several concrete bunkers painted white, in our host’s backyard. Breakfast was grabbing milk, tea/coffee, bread & condiments from the hosts’ own supply in the indoor/outdoor kitchen, and clearing a space at their table. I know Darwin has a reputation for casual but…

The B&B had good points. The hosts were friendly, if a little troppo… another thing Darwin has a reputation for. They love their city, and happily dropped us off at Nightcliff enroute to Saturday morning kids’ sport. The pool was nice, and necessary after a morning’s sweaty sightseeing. The house was located on the CBD fringe and within walking distance of almost everything.

Darwin also has a reputation for being ‘warm’. In June when southern states were freezing and rain-soaked, we were HOT. Night-time minimums were 22 degrees Celsius (71.6 F). Daytime got up to 33-35 C (91-95 F) with puissant humidity… winter weather. Walking around in the middle of the day was out of the question. We were quick to adopt beer o’clock, the local habit of wandering into a pub, grabbing a Styrofoam stubby holder from the dispenser and settling in for a couple of cold-ones.

Highlights included:

  • Darwin sky, wonderful 24/7.
  • Mindil Beach Sunset Markets,  eclectic and colourful. Browse diverse stalls then choose dinner from a world of cuisines, and wander down to the beach to dine.
  •  Nightcliff Market, a domestic Saturday morning market where locals shop for produce and wares. A taste of tropical lifestyle to which I could quickly become accustomed.
  •  Darwin Trailer Boat Club, fantastic sunset harbour views & great meals.
  •  flowers and gardens, the ordinary were extraordinary…
  •  local barramundi for lunch and dinner.
  •  our first experience of Exeloo’s.

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“I have called this principle, by which each slight variation, if useful, is preserved, by the term Natural Selection” Charles Darwin

“Fair winds and fallowing seas”

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Late in August the G.O. and I made history. In the eight year epoch of our relationship within a twenty-plus year friendship, although a few have been planned, we’ve never managed a romantic weekend away to celebrate the anniversary of the day it became apparent our ships had the potential to dock at the same port…

…But, not too early on the Saturday morning, we set off for Port Stephens, a couple of hours drive north of Sydney, our destination The Anchorage at Corlette, located on the opposite side of the bay from Hawks Nest, so beloved by my family.

Enroute we stopped briefly at the Port Stephen’s Winery and Murray’s Brewery. The brewery began its existence at The Pub With No Beer at Taylor’s Arm, so we were interested to see its new incarnation. It’s no better than it was, so we moved on.

Arriving at Nelson Bay, we drove around to Fingal Bay, and strolled at Shoal Bay, before it was time to head to The Anchorage.

Shoal Bay

We’d been warned the hotel was slightly shabby. However, only the bathroom showed slight evidence of its age. Otherwise, The Anchorage accommodation is true to its website word:

“Nestled between rugged bushes and built in the style of a cosy fishing village, Peppers Anchorage is a boutique resort offering luxury seaside accommodation in the beautiful New South Wales region of Nelson Bay, Port Stephens. Overlooking the Anchorage Marina, Corlette Beach and the unspoilt waters of Port Stephens, allow the sea to soothe your soul with a seaside weekend escape.”

Even had the room been less than we’d expected, we would have forgiven it anything as the view rendered the lodgings more than satisfactory.

our piece of paradise for the evening

Being the time of day for a late lunch, we reconnoitred with the aim of locating the café/restaurant. Prior, I’d done the online research de rigeur to a weekend away, and we were anticipating :

“Nautical High Tea on the waterfront. The English tradition of High Tea is a wonderful way to enjoy an afternoon with good friends or family, whatever the occasion.
With stunning views of the 90-berth marina, Corlette Beach and the sparkling waters of Port Stephens beyond, enjoy High Tea in the Verandah Tea Room, Main Guest Lounge or in Merretts Restaurant. On warmer days, you are welcome to indulge in the outdoors with a table set on the deck. With a distinctive seaside ambience, unrivalled views and the attentive service of the Peppers team you’ll be assured of a delicious afternoon.
Includes Chefs selection of finely cut finger sandwiches, a range of delicate pastries and petit fours and freshly baked scones with jam and cream, plus a cup of tea or coffee.”

Sadly no. Merretts restaurant was undergoing refurbishment. A set lunch (2 courses for $35) was on offer in the conference room operating as the restaurant, but at 2.35 pm, we’d missed it by 5 minutes, not that we’d have taken it up, as diners were agonizingly confined to the “restaurant” interior with no tables set up on the terrace on a beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon.

Room service and a BYO bottle of Chardonnay provided the solution.

wine and mezze with a view

The obligatory post lunch stroll entertained us, and fed day dreams of a boating lifestyle.

messing around with boats

The clear waters of the bay offer fish viewing but not angling, as within the marina it is prohibited, other than by local dolphins partaking of a late lunch also.

a distinctive seaside ambience

After quick visit to the local Salamander Bay Shopping Centre, where Woolworths and K-mart impinged on our respite from reality, we settled on our patio with cups of tea, and later glasses of wine, to appreciate the nautical view.

indulge in the outdoors

At 8pm we adjourned for dinner to the makeshift restaurant to find it also meant a makeshift menu, rather than the anticipated:

“Relax and savour the delicate flavours of the ever changing menu at Merretts Restaurant, complimented by an extensive wine list featuring local, Australian and wines from around the world. A typical three course dinner might include citrus cured salmon or Redgate farm quail followed by pot roast belly of pork served with granny smith puree, summer slaw, peanut and chilli dressing and shrimp wontons. And to complete your culinary journey an apple tasting plate of jelly, crumble ice cream, tarte tatin and delice or caramel parfait with flambéed bananas.”

The meal was more than adequate but uninspiring, so no photo’s of our repast but our choice of wine to celebrate our anniversary speaks volumes.

Barking Mad Reisling, Reilly’s Wines, Claire Valley, South Australia

“There’s no thrill in easy sailing when the skies are clear and blue, there’s no joy in merely doing things which any one can do. But there is some satisfaction that is mighty sweet to take, when you reach a destination that you thought you’d never make.” – Spirella

Note for Ship’s Log: I would like it documented for the record, my patience in this instance (not always evident), as I have been desirous of sojourning at this particular establishment for over 25 years.

Ref post title: http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/62/messages/529.html

Another day at the Turdle Farm

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Lavatree at Dorrigo Sewage Treatment Works "Bleak's Turdle Farm", NSW Australia
Lavatree at Dorrigo Sewage Treatment Works “Bleak’s Turdle Farm”, NSW Australia

Googling “dorrigo lavatree” will get you more than 30 images, and the link to this article.

The link has expired but…

 

 

a date with Kate

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Hi, let me introduce you to Kate… Katherine really, until you get to know her. Yes, this is the famous Katherine Gorge. I know you’ve been dying to see her. Kate (we’re friends now) lives in Nitmiluk National Park, in the Northern Territory of Australia, 244 km southeast of Darwin.

A little bit about Katherine Gorge: “a deep gorge carved through ancient sandstone by the Katherine River, is the central attraction of the park. Katherine Gorge is made up of thirteen gorges, with rapids and falls, and follow the Katherine River, which begins in Kakadu. During the Dry, roughly from April to October, the Katherine Gorge waters are placid in most spots and ideal for swimming and canoeing. There may be freshwater crocodiles in most parts of the river, as they nest along the banks, but they are harmless to humans. Saltwater crocodiles regularly enter the river during the wet season, when the water levels are very high, and are subsequently removed and returned to the lower levels at the onset of the dry season. Thus, swimming in the wet season is prohibited. Cruises of various lengths go as far as the fifth gorge.” (Wiki)

We spent a day visiting Kate. She’s very interesting, and has a lovely indigenous rock art collection. We didn’t get an autograph but these are our photos.

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