Wednesday Photo Challenge – Bridge

July 9, 2017 at 6:28 pm | Posted in Australia, heritage, History, Photography, Tourism | 6 Comments
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I am having another go at the photo challenge, and hope that my photos will upload and present themselves as they are supposed to do this time. It has been frustrating to miss the last challenges due to difficulties that wordpress has not been able to resolve for me.

The challenge this week is to post a photo of a bridge – either a physical bridge between two sides of a landscape, or a metaphorical one where a person or event has allowed you to move from one position to another.

My photos are of a different kind of bridge. The old Catherine Hill Bay jetty was a bridge between the coal mine and the colliers that carried their product to other places along the NSW coast.

 

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The jetty is crumbling now and under threat of being pulled down for safety reasons.

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It is an icon of the coal mining and transport industries of NSW and it is a pity nothing was done to save it after it ceased operation with the closure of the mine.

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Catherine Hill Bay – Catho to the locals and those who love it – will not be the same without the jetty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photographs on Friday – Sydney Harbour

February 6, 2015 at 11:22 am | Posted in Australia, History, Leisure activities, Sydney Harbour, Tourism | 9 Comments
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We were in Sydney the other day, and decided to take a trip on the Manly Ferry. It is something most Aussies who live in NSW have done, and something tourists often have on their list of things to do. After all, Manly Beach is known world-wide. But, in all the 61 years since I came to Australia, I had never been to Manly, and never taken the Manly ferry.

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We have quite a busy harbour. A giant cruise ship was being refuelled as we passed by.

We started at Circular Quay and sailed past some of Sydney’s most iconic landmarks. I took photos of course. Although I only have a cheap point-and-shoot camera, it takes reasonable shots, and I love to go through them when we get home to see what I have caught in the lens.

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Sydney Opera House

My outward bound photos weren’t as good as those on the way back, so the only one of Manly Beach is also one of me.

Me sitting on the promenade wall; the southern end of Manly beach behind me.

Me sitting on the promenade wall; the southern end of Manly beach behind me.

The ferry that will take us back to Circular Quay arrives at Manly.

The ferry that will take us back to Circular Quay arrives at Manly.

Most ferries in Sydney Harbour are named after Sydney suburbs or famous people. The one above is named after the suburb of Collaroy.

Sydney Heads, the entrance to the harbour from the Tasman Sea

Sydney Heads, the entrance to the harbour from the Tasman Sea

The last time I saw the Sydney Heads (the headlands that protect the harbour and make it such a fine one), was in March 1954. That was when we arrived in Sydney by ship from England.

Another Sydney ferry passed inside the Heads

Another Sydney ferry passed inside the Heads

A  Whale watching boat takes passengers through the Heads and out to sea.

A Whale watching boat takes passengers through the Heads and out to sea.

I enjoyed capturing some of the boats that ply the Harbour on a regular basis. It is a very popular place for sailing, but vigilance is the watchword, especially on a public holiday.

A sailing boat races along under the influence of the strong southerly breeze.

A sailing boat races along under the influence of the strong southerly breeze.

Heading back towards the city.

Heading back towards the city.

As we approached the city, it was hard to know what to take photos of. We passed the several small islands along the way. Garden Island is the largest and has long been a naval dockyard. A small island houses Fort Denison, built in the 19th century to repel any Russian invasion. I didn’t get decent photos of those, so haven’t included them.

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydney Harbour Bridge

As we came into the quay, I took another photo of the huge cruise ship. Re-fuelling had been completed, and I had a clear view of it.

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The Carnival Legend cruise ship from Valetta.

Then I thread3ed my way to the other side of the ferry to get a final photo of the Opera House with the sun shining through the grey clouds onto its sails.

The Sydney Opera House lit by afternoon sun

The Sydney Opera House lit by afternoon sun

We certainly have a beautiful harbour – even on a cloudy day like it was.

(c) Linda Visman

Kangaroo Valley Wombats

November 7, 2014 at 9:12 pm | Posted in Australia, Nature, Tourism, Travel | 6 Comments
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Kangaroo Valley

Beautiful Kangaroo Valley

A few weeks ago, we stayed at a free camping area in the Kangaroo Valley, several kilometres from the village of the same name. The whole valley is beautiful, with the Kangaroo River, creeks, former dairy farms and bushland creating habitats for a wide variety of animals.

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A few of the kangaroos that came out to feed in the evening in the paddock next to us.

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Of course, as you would expect from the name, there are plenty of kangaroos about, but where we were camping, there were so many of the lumbering marsupial mammals known as wombats around, that area should have been called Wombat Valley.

Wombats are marsupials, about as big as a solid, medium-sized dog, that dig long burrows with their strong claws. The female’s pouch faces backwards so the dirt does not get into it, and they produce only one young at a time. They are nocturnal creatures, and come out in the evening as the sun sets, to graze on grass and herbage.

The wombat, and its burrow, just behind our van.

The wombat, and its burrow, just behind our van.

There were actually two of their burrows (that we know of) within just a few metres of our little Toyota Hiace camper. They wandered freely about the camp grounds and there was plenty of interest in them from people who had never seen them in the wild before.

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While many people think they are cute and cuddly, their powerful teeth and jaws and their long, sharp claws make them potentially dangerous if annoyed, especially if disturbed in their burrows or with young in their pouch.

 

During both nights that we camped there, we were awakened several times by the van shaking rhythmically. We soon realised that ‘our’ wombat, seen in the pictures above and below, had gone underneath the van and was scratching itself against the chassis.

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 We loved it in that beautiful valley of wombats.

 

Me, writing about wombats; our camper van in the background.

Me, writing about wombats; our camper van in the background.

 

(c) Linda Visman. Photos by Dirk Visman.

 

A Walk in the Watagans

August 2, 2014 at 4:43 pm | Posted in Australia, Nature, Tourism, Travel, Writing and Life | 11 Comments
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As it was a lovely winter’s day last week, we went for a drive into the nearby Watagans National Park. We wanted to go for one of the bush walks we’d heard about but not yet seen.

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We settled on the Boarding House Dam rainforest walk. There was little traffic on the road into the park – not surprising, as it was unsealed, rain-scoured and rough. We loved it!

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We also loved the walk. It usually takes twenty minutes, but we took an hour as there was so much to see, hear and enjoy.

The Watagans are part of the Great Dividing Range, which runs north to south along the whole eastern coast of Australia. Historically, the Watagans were an important logging area. Timber-getting (cedar) began there in the 1820s.

The boarding house area was originally the longest-serving and largest logging camp in the area. No buildings remain, but the name recalls its history. The roads into the Watagans originated from the routes the bullock wagons took to bring out the logs. The adjoining Watagan State Forest is still managed for logging today, but all flora and fauna in the National Park are protected.

Stumps of large trees remain, and you can see the cuts where tree-fellers inserted boards on which they stood to cut down the tree.

The first notch for wedging in a board for the wood-cutter to stand on is above my head.

The first notch for wedging in a board for the wood-cutter to stand on is above my head.

The dam is a small one, a weir really. It was built to ensure a supply of water for bushfires after the ravages of a major fire in the summer of 1939-40.

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Below the weir, rock ‘tanks’ have formed – naturally it seems. The ‘tanks’, almost perfectly round, range in diameter from a couple of feet to the largest which is probably six feet (two metres) across.

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At the end of the walk, I sat by the dam and wrote down some of what was there.
Here are some of the sights and sounds and smells of the walk.

– At least two different kinds of frogs in the dam. It is becoming rare to hear frogs in most places nowadays.
– Finches twitter and flutter about in the trees.
– I love to hear the call of the male whip-bird. It’s even better when I hear the answering female.
– Water flows over the dam wall and gurgles between the rocks in the creek below.
– I hear a currawong call out in the open forest.

The creek below the dam.

The creek below the dam.

We loved the walk through the rainforest. It is a place where you wouldn’t be surprised to encounter fantastical animals – gnomes, bunyips, even trolls.

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– The cold mountain air is clean, clear and invigorating.
– Fallen trees, rocks, trees trunks and ledges are all covered with thick, green moss.
– Elkhorn ferns grow on trees, logs, and even on rocks.
– The smell is a combination of damp wood and soil, and rotting vegetation, and is not at all unpleasant.

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The pathway is part natural track through the bush, and part board-edged to prevent erosion. In two places, small wooden bridges cross the creek. Some of the reinforcing wood and the bridge supports are also covered in moss. The man-made all fits unobtrusively with the natural environment.

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– The sound of our feet on the pathway is a dull, hollow thud.
– A 160-metre rock wall is a focal point of the walk. It is perpetually in shade and is almost completely covered by moss. Its name is, prosaically, The Mossy Wall.

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We took lots of photos, but the light was quite poor. We didn’t have the right cameras and equipment to get the best results. However, they are good enough, and the walk itself is etched on our minds. We hope we can take visitors to see it in the future.

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Is there a place you have found where you love to walk?

© Linda Visman

On the Rocks – Catherine Hill Bay

July 1, 2014 at 9:20 pm | Posted in Australia, Nature, Tourism, Travel | 6 Comments
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On the winter solstice, my husband and I went to one of our favourite places near home – Catherine Hill Bay. But this time, instead of walking around the old jetty and the rocks at the south end of the beach, we walked along the beach to the rocks at the northern end and explored there.

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The cliffs and most of the rock shelf are not solid as are most rocky seashores along the Australian coast. Instead they are conglomerates – millions of rocks compressed together by the pressure of their weight over many millennia.

They are constantly being broken up by the action of wind, rain and waves. Large chunks sometimes fall from above.

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That area is rich in coal, and there are many mines from the coast right through to the inland. The Hunter Valley (Catho is just south of it) is well known as a coal-rich region, and the first white people were quick to find the seams that ran along the coastal cliffs.

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Brightly coloured lichens cover the rocks in places.

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A creek has worn its way through the conglomerate and opens onto the sea.

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There are some interesting shapes in the sandstone which sits under the conglomerate layer.

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This is where the creek empties into the sea. Rock fishermen enjoy the sunny day as children play around them. The waves wash across the rocks as the tide comes in.

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As we walk back towards the beach, you can see more of the sandstone – conglomerate layers.

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I love the white crashing waves that wash across the rocks.

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Do you like the sea? The rocks? What is it about land meeting water I wonder that catches our emotions?


(c) Linda Visman

Photos taken by Linda Visman

Waterside Cafe

March 23, 2014 at 5:18 pm | Posted in Australia, Experiences, Mental Health, Society, Tourism, Ways of Living | 4 Comments
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Jetty cafe Toronto

Beside the boardwalk

tables & bright red chairs.

Clatter of crockery at the kiosk.

Aromas float on a light

salt-seasoned breeze –

coffee, fish and chips, hamburger.

 

Families chatter.Kids jump from jetty

Older folk natter.

Children jump from the jetty

splashing and squealing.

 

White sails glide against

green hills and blue sky.

 

Nearby, small bright-coloured sailsSailability Toronto 01

as small, special boats bob by –

the disabled get their chance

to enjoy what others take for granted.

 

Wavelets carry sun-sparkles landward

where they sssh against the shore.

 

An old man plays old tunesSailability Toronto 02

on a keyboard organ –

soothing background tones,

a grey felt hat at his feet

upturned to receive our thanks.

 

Sunday mornings don’t get

much better than this.

 

 

© Linda Visman

At Jetty Café, Toronto, NSW, Australia 23rd March 2014.

Patterns in Bark

March 3, 2014 at 6:42 pm | Posted in Australia, Gardens, Nature, Tourism, Travel, Writing | 1 Comment
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I was at Parramatta Park again recently and went for my usual wanders in between periods of writing at the picnic tables.

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One of the things I love about the park is the trees there. I love trees anywhere, actually.

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This time however, I looked at them more closely, and saw, in a relatively small area, a wide range of species with very different bark.

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I didn’t know many of the species, though I am sure anyone familiar with Australian trees would be able to identify many of these from their bark.DSCF7982 (2) (960x1280)

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One of my favourite tree barks is that of the paperbark tree (various types of melaleuca). When I was younger, I often used to see pictures made from bark. The paperbark lends itself to that very well, as its bark peels off in soft papery sheets. Last year, after the death of my father, I took possession of two my late mother had hanging on the wall.

Melaleuca, paperbark tree

Melaleuca, paperbark tree

I found a stand of trees with an unusual and rough bark that I hadn’t noticed before, and had to include a photo here, as it is quite dramatic.

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A tree with a very smooth bark rounds off the list, though there were several others I haven’t included here.

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I love these different patterns, as well as their texture, and am constantly amazed at the variety that Nature displays.

 

What are the trees like where you live? Is there a good variety, or do the climate and geography limit what grows there?

(c) Linda Visman

Rathmines – the Park at F-Jetty

August 12, 2013 at 9:58 pm | Posted in Australia, Mental Health, Nature, Tourism, Ways of Living | 4 Comments
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The park, with F-Jetty through the trees.

The park, with F-Jetty through the trees.

This is the second of two posts about the morning we spent at Rathmines. The first post is here.
I sat at a picnic table in the park next to F-Jetty so I could do some writing. But the winter day was so lovely – blue sky, warm sun, gentle breeze – and the sights and sounds so engrossing, that I stopped to watch, listen and take it all in.

The Birds:
Galahs scratch in the grass under a shady eucalypt, searching for tender shoots.

Several kookaburras cackle loudly from nearby trees.

Butcherbirds delineate their territory with their musical calls, and one pays a visit to my table to see what I have to offer.

Brightly coloured Rosella parrots search for seeds in the longer grass and, later, race by with their distinctive bouncing flight.

A wild duck moves off the path to make way for a human pedestrian, then pretends he was just searching for bugs.

Noisy miners chase each other from tree to tree, or make assaults on other passing birds.

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Swallows perform their aerial ballet, while picking off insects on the wing.

A magpie digs in the dirt next to me and finds a tasty grub; another sings a melody in the distance.

Rainbow lorikeets chatter and squawk in the treetops.

A shag (cormorant) perches on a buoy just off-shore and spreads its wings to the sun.

A corella announces its appearance with a shrill screech.

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A masked lapwing (plover) scuttles across the lawn on stick legs, searching for its lunch.

Seagulls settle for a rest in a placid alcove, while others bob about out on the breeze-blown lake.

Pelicans paddle smoothly by in stately succession.

A peewee seems to say hello to a big black dog that sleeps on a cushion outside a van by the lake shore.

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The people:
Pedestrians pass by on the walking path. Some walk dogs, others amble by, while several stride out to get their daily exercise.

Hopeful anglers cast their lines from the end of the jetty and wait for an elusive bite.

Two men walk down from their car to the public gas barbecue, and an enticing aroma soon drifts across on the breeze.

A white-haired man sits on a bench reading a magazine.

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Two young girls roll by on skateboards; the second takes a photo of the first with her mobile phone.

All that activity in about 30 minutes – and people say that it is boring just sitting on a park bench!

Do you just sometimes take time out to watch, listen and take in what is around you?
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© Linda Visman

Rathmines, NSW

August 8, 2013 at 11:30 am | Posted in Australia, History, Tourism, Travel, War and Conflict, Ways of Living | 12 Comments
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We went to nearby Rathmines recently. It is just a few km along the shore from where we live, on the western shore of Lake Macquarie. We bought a coffee at the Bakery and took it to the park next to F Jetty. There are several parks and walking paths in and around the village.

There used to be an RAAF station at Rathmines, with a squadron of Catalina flying boats based there during World War II.

Rathmines RAAF Base c1943. F Jetty is in the bay below the top left-hand corner of the photo.

Rathmines RAAF Base c1943. F Jetty is in the bay below the top left-hand corner of the photo.

F Jetty was part of the station. It was used by the boats that carried supplies and equipment to the base and out to the moored “Black Cats”, as the black-painted Catalinas were known. This squadron operated up the east coast of Australia as far New Guinea. They were low and slow flying planes, and the dull black paint provided camouflage on their night flights.

Restored Black Cat coming in to land at Rathmines Catalina Festival 2012

Restored Black Cat coming in to land at Rathmines Catalina Festival 2012

Many of the former RAAF buildings are still there.

The former RAAF buildings have been transformed into more peaceful uses now. They include a band hall (former Sergeants’ Mess), a bowling club (the former Officers’ Mess), a recently-closed aged care facility (the former RAAF hospital); a Christadelphian camp (the former barracks, relocated & grouped in their present site).

Rathmines, 2012, Bottom left – Bowling Club; Group of buildings in centre –camp run by Christadelphians; Middle right – F Jetty; the grey and white areas between the camp buildings and the jetty is where the aeroplane maintenance sheds once were (grey) next to the hard stand (white), where the Cats came up out of the water to the shore.

Rathmines, 2012, Bottom left – Bowling Club; Group of buildings in centre –camp run by Christadelphians; Middle right – F Jetty; the grey and white areas between the camp buildings and the jetty is where the aeroplane maintenance sheds once were (grey) next to the hard stand (white), where the Cats came up out of the water to the shore.

Modern-day Rathmines is just one of the many pleasant lake-side towns that are now part of the City of Lake Macquarie. The city is made up of over ninety small communities that are situated around the extensive shores of the lake.

Lake Macquarie itself is the largest coastal salt water lake in Australia. It is also the largest permanent salt water lake in the southern hemisphere. It covers an area of 110 square kilometres (42.5 sq. miles), and has 174 km (108 miles) of foreshore. It is a wonderful location for all kinds of water-based activities – sailing; cruising; fishing; water skiing, etc, as well as bushwalking, the arts and many other activities.

Rathmines is just one of the places around the lake that I love to visit, and I am really pleased that I live by this wonderful body of water.

Do you have an area that really speaks to you? Where would you live if you could?

© Linda Visman
August 2013

Dairy Country – under threat from development

April 14, 2013 at 8:28 pm | Posted in Australia, Destroying nature, History, Nature, Society, Tourism, Travel, Ways of Living | 7 Comments
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I love the area in which I grew up – the Illawarra area of New South Wales, Australia. However there is less and less of it to love these days as housing and industrial developments reach out into the lush and productive dairy lands that were once among the best in the country.

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We took a drive through the remaining pasturelands last week, while we were in the area visiting family (especially my 91-year-old father). The lush grasslands and areas of bush are beautiful.

The ocean in the distance

The ocean in the distance

 

We took quite a few photographs so that we can look back at them one day when the productive dairy country is covered in houses and industrial sheds.

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The area lies between the mountains of the Great Dividing Range and the Pacific Ocean, visible in the distance.

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Housing estates are growing around the towns to the north, south and east.

Houses encroach on the dairy lands.

Houses encroach on the dairy lands.

Dry-stone walls, a relic of the British heritage of the region, are seen less and less. But this one is proudly maintained.

Stone walls

Stone walls

 

A sense of humour is essential in this industry, where prices for milk are low, but the work to produce it is hard and long.

Rue de Moo Poo

Rue de Moo Poo

When Europeans first came to this district in the nineteenth century, cabbage tree palms were in abundance. They provided a vital source of food for the indigenous people. However, clearing of the land, heavy tractors, and the hard hooves of cattle, all of which pack down the soil and make seed growth almost impossible, have reduced their numbers considerably. Most farming areas are now bare of these palms, though they do grow in gullies and better soil parts of the mountainsides.

Cabbage tree palms

Cabbage tree palms

These days, it is not economically worthwhile to maintain many dairy farms to a level needed to keep them viable. The developer’s dollars become more and more attractive to families that have farmed for several generations.

A decaying farm

A decaying farm

I wonder just how much longer these farms will be able to remain, fighting against cheaper imports and low prices for milk at the farm gate. I know that we will be very upset by the loss of this beautiful and productive dairy country to the destructive dollars of the developers.

 

 

(c) Linda Visman April 2013

Photographs by Dirk Visman

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