Toronto (NSW, Australia) Classic Boatfest

March 30, 2013 at 5:49 pm | Posted in Australia, Tourism | 6 Comments
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It was a fabulous autumn day for the first day of the annual Classic Boatfest at Toronto, Lake Macquarie, NSW, Australia.

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Here are a few photos to show you some of the boats on display.

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There were some beautifully restored and finished wooden boats of all sizes.

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The Solar Sailor takes passengers on cruises of lake Macquarie – a beautiful lake with many bays, deep water and several islands.

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We were fortunate to have blue skies, warm to hot sun and a light breeze.

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 Lake Macquarie is a lovely place to visit, with many places to see and activities to participate in. It’s even better when you live here.

Photos by Linda Visman

(c) Linda Visman 30.03.2013

 

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Batty about birds

March 11, 2013 at 12:16 pm | Posted in Australia, Gardens, Nature, Tourism | 5 Comments
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I visited Parramatta Park again last week, spending over six hours alone there while my husband was otherwise engaged.

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A section of Parramatta River

I love going there, even though it is in the city and I am a country girl. It might just be that it is a large park within a large urban sprawl. It is well used, proving that if such a facility is retained or established, people will come to it. 

Ducks graze on the grass.

Ducks graze on the grass.

Drivers cruise around the 30kph-limited road that winds through and around the park. Cyclists, serious walkers, joggers, amblers and dog-exercisers follow the walking/cycle path. There are picnickers on the lawns, bird watchers, and many just enjoying the beauty and atmosphere of the place.

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Sulphur-crested cockatoos, corellas, water hens.

This early autumn day is quite warm and humid after recent good rainfall. Instead of my husband’s good camera, I only have my cheap one, not good for zooming in on things, especially animals.

Masked lapwings (plovers)

Masked lapwings (plovers)

However, I do my best to capture shots of the park’s extensive bird life. (You can click on each photo and see it in higher resolution).

Greater cormorant (slang: a big shag)

Greater cormorant (slang: a big shag)

I don’t get them all, and some shots are poor, but I have scattered a sample of them here.

 

I have mentioned before the extensive colony of “bats”. The animals are actually grey-headed flying foxes, though a lot of people call them bats due to their bat-like wings. I took a few photos of them too and sat for a while where the colony stops at the weir.

Flying foxes in the trees along the river

Flying foxes in the trees along the river

It is a little smelly there, partly due to the inevitable droppings of many hundreds of the mammals, partly from storm run-off and the mud and detritus that collects above the weir wall. Included in that detritus is a dead eel.

Dead eel

Dead eel

Parramatta means ‘place of many eels” in the language of the indigenous people who once lived here.

The flying foxes hang like ripe fruit from just about every branch in the eucalypt trees that line both sides of the river above the lower weir.

Flying foxes

Flying foxes

There is constant movment within the colony: a sleepy stirring, an itch being scratched, a wing stretched.

As it warms up, they flutter their wings to cool themselves. Occasionally, one takes off and flies from one tree to another, up or down stream, or from one side of the river to the other. There is also a constant chittering among them.

The hanging flying foxes show up against old buildings covered in creeper.

The hanging flying foxes show up against old buildings covered in creeper.

The noise of the flying foxes, of cicadas chirring in the background, and the burbling of water flowing over the weir is constant and relaxing. That changes when a flock of sulphur-crested cockatoos invades the lawn area. That’s when it really gets noisy for a while.

Ibis

Ibis

Then a few ibis arrive and the cockies rise in a screeching , circling mass and head to a more private place downstream.

 

I hope I have shown a few of the reasons why I like to wander alone through Parramatta Park.

 

Do you have a special place you like to go to relax?

 

 

Other posts you may enjoy:  Walking in Parramatta Park; Catherine Hill Bay; Mystery Bay; Down by the Lake; Kiama Blowhole; Parramatta Park

Photos by Linda Visman

© Linda Visman

 

Are We There Yet?

February 6, 2013 at 1:51 pm | Posted in Australia, Experiences, Family, Nature, Tourism, Travel | 8 Comments
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When my children were youngsters, we travelled a lot. My husband was a teacher, and he never wanted to stay home during school holidays, always wanting to be somewhere else. So we visited relatives, went to lots of places around our state and beyond, and had experiences we would have missed were we to remain at home.

 You would think that at least one of our five sons would be an impatient traveller. Talk to anyone who has travelled with kids and they’ll almost always tell you they have one who, as soon as you’re out the driveway and onto the road, starts asking are we there yet?  Windmill &caravan Camooweal 1980

Lots of people prefer to reach their destination, rather than undertake the actual travel to get there. I know that, having travelled little before my marriage, it was the destination I had in mind. The drive – we always drove – was just the means of getting there, and I wanted it to be over as soon as possible.

 Most of our drives were in the countryside – we lived away from major towns. My husband was the driver on our long trips. Every time stopped for a break or to get petrol, I’d sit impatiently in the car. On the road, he seemed to look out of the side window more than watching where we were going. He’d see an interesting tree or rock along the way, glimpse an echidna or a goanna and just had to stop to look at it. I would remain in the car, fidgeting and getting more and more agitated, wishing he’d get back and drive on. The question that constantly ran through my mind was when will we ever get there?

When we started having children, the travelling didn’t stop; we just had more and more passengers. Then, of course, the baby needed to be changed and fed; the toddler/s needed a break from sitting or had to have a pit stop. We simply had to take breaks, so I learned to curb my impatience. I started to notice much more of what was going on around me.Holland boys NrQuirindi May 1982

 By the time we went on a four-month trip halfway around Australia with a caravan, four boys aged between four and nine and me pregnant with the fifth, I had discovered how much of interest I had missed by not wanting to stop along the way. This time, I was happy to take breaks, to go for walks, to investigate country museums and ruins, anthills and billabongs and side-tracks. I had learned to appreciate the journey to our destination.

 I noticed too that none of the boys ever asked, are we there yet? They had been travelling all their lives and took advantage of every stop we made to find out more about their environment, their history, the beauty and wildness of their country. They always enjoyed the journey just as much as – if not more than – the destination.Bill&boys1982Sydney

 My sons are now passing on that love of the journey to their own children. They don’t want them to miss the treasures that are there along the way. And indeed, very often, it is the journey that has more to offer us than the destination. Sometimes, we don’t want the journey to end. We don’t want to be there yet.

 What about you? Do you prefer to reach your destination as soon as possible, or do you relax and enjoy the journey?

 © Linda Visman 6th February 2013

Catherine Hill Bay

January 13, 2013 at 10:11 pm | Posted in Australia, History, Nature, Tourism | 9 Comments
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Today, we went for a coffee. We bought take-aways and took them to Catho – Catherine Hill Bay – beach.  Catho is situated on a strip of land between the Pacific Ocean coast and Lake Macquarie, south of Newcastle, NSW. The village at Catho is still fighting against development that will change the whole aspect of the community.

Catho used to have a coal mine, and a wharf for the colliers, called ’60-milers’,  that collected the coal and carried it up the coast to Newcastle.

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You can still see one of the soal seams that brought the miners to Catho.

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The wharf remains, although rumour has it that it will eventually taken down for safety reasons.

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My husband did contract work for the mine at one stage, and loved working in the office at the end of the wharf. He sometimes saw whales and dolphins swimming under and around the piers.

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Quite a few artefacts of the mining and transport operations remain.

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The beach is a popular place for swimming, snorkelling and surfing, and a tourist attraction.

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An excellent volunteer surf life-saving group ensures the safety of beach-goers.

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Catho beach is a favourite place for us to go – rain or shine. Another of Australia’s beautiful places.

Text and photos (c) Linda Visman 13th December 2013

2012 in review

December 31, 2012 at 11:44 am | Posted in Experiences, Family, Health, History, Mental Health, Society, Special Occasions, Tourism, War and Conflict, Writing and Life | 2 Comments
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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 4,100 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 7 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Hello readers. I haven’t blogged nearly as much as I’d intended this year. However, when I look back, I realise I haven’t done too badly. As with you all, I have had health and other issues to face, but I think I have come through the year pretty well.

I would like to thank all those who have been kind enough to follow this little blog, and especially those who have commented on my posts. It is always great to receive feedback.

The most viewed and commented on post was The Long Goodbye, which really struck a chord for many people.DSCN5516 (1024x768)

My dad is still there, living at home on his own. However his short-term memory is gone and the longer-term memory is all mixed up. Fortunately, he knows his children still. He has lots of visiting care workers, as well as my sister who goes over to see to specific needs a couple of times a day. I make the trip (4-5 hours each way) every couple of weeks and spend a few days with him to give my sister a break. Dad is still so accepting and positive, and we can still have conversations about general things. He is a wonderful man.

I have posted several times about reading and writing, and those posts have also attracted lots of views and some comments. Perhaps the most popular was When do you know when you’ve found a good author?

Travel or tourist posts have been popular, including Mystery Bay, The Entrance and Kiama Blowhole.

A couple of philosophical posts attracted a few comments. I think we all tend to look back and wonder what effect the past has had on out present selves. Bringing Back the Past and Whose Tradition? were popular, but What would you go back and change? topped them.

And finally, Making Lists brought out those who like to make sure they don’t forget to do those important things that may be lost to memory if not written down.

2012 has been a rather tumultuous year, with political, social, religious and economic instability in evidence around the world. It has been a difficult one personally for many of you, with illness, loss of loved ones and other issues taking their toll on confidence and optimism.

I hope that 2013 brings a much more positive and creative approach to solving both the problems in the world and your own personal challenges. Wishing you all peace, health and happiness for the year ahead. And I hope to see you here again through 2013, the Chinese Year of the Snake.

Regards to all, Linda  

Happy NewYear 2013

Quizz: How Australian Are You?

December 26, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Posted in Australia, Experiences, Tourism | 6 Comments
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I saw this on a thread at Goodreads, and thought I would use it as my blog entry, seeing I have been so busy lately. Here are my answers to the questions posed:

 

Have you:

Heard a kookaburra laughing.       YES; usually every day119 Linda&King brown.Nov.91
Slept under the stars in a swag.     YES; many times
Seen a koala in the wild.                    YES
Had a barby in the backyard.         YES
Watched a summer thunderstorm.  YES; many times
Worn a pair of thongs (flip-flops for non-Aussies).   YES
Visited Cape York.         NO
Held a snake.                    YES
Sang along with Khe San.    NO (who are they?)
Drank VB.                     YES, but don’t like it much
Have seen a shark (not in captivity).      YES
Have used Aussie slang naturally in a conversation.  YES
Eaten hot chips from a paper bag at the beach.     YES
Walked/climbed over the Sydney Harbour Bridge.     NO, only under it
Used an outside dunny, and checked under the seat before sitting down.   YES
Ridden camels on the beach at Broome.      NO – but I have in Alice Springs
Slept on an overnight train or bus.     YES, between Alice Springs & Adelaide
Been to Sydney’s Mardi Gras.      NO
Have gone bush-bashing.          YES
Taken a sickie.        YES
Been to see a game of Aussie Rules football.   NO
Ridden in a tram in Melbourne.      NO, only in Adelaide
Been at an ANZAC day Dawn Service.   YES196 Ampilatwatja sunset 12.12.1990
Watched a sunrise or sunset.          YES
Held a wombat.        NO
Been on a roadtrip of 800km or more.   YES
Seen the Great Australian Bight in person. NO
Had a really bad sunburn.    YES
Visited an Aboriginal community.    YES – I worked in them for 9 years
Seen a redback spider.      YES, lots!
Had your photo taken on the steps of the Opera House.   YES
Eaten Vegemite.       YES
Thrown a boomerang.    YES
Seen the Kimberleys.      YES
Given a hitch-hiker a lift.   YES, but not in later years
Have seen wild camels.    YES; wild donkeys too
Been to Perth.         YES90 Sephie&Joey.June.91
Tried a Lemon, Lime and Bitters.   YES
Tried playing a didgeridoo.     YES
Seen dinosaur footprints.      NO
Eaten Tim Tams.      YES
Been to Darwin.       YES
Touched a kangaroo.    YES; raised a joey for some weeks
Visted the Great Barrier Reef.    NO
Sung the Australian national anthem.   YES
Killed a Cane Toad.       NO
Gone to a drive-in theatre.   YES
Have read and own books by Australian authors.  YES, lots
Visited Adelaide.     YES
Know the story behind “Eternity”. YES
Been camping.     YES77 Road to TiTree Nov.93
Visited Brisbane.     YES
Been in an outback pub.    YES
Know what the term “Waltzing Matilda” actually means. YES
Gone whale watching.     YES
Listened to Slim Dusty.    YES
Own five or more Australian movies or TV series.   YES
Sang along to Down Under by Men at Work.    YES
Have stopped specifically to look at an historic marker by the side of the road.   YES
Eaten a 4′n’20 pie.      YES
Surfed at Bondi.       NO
Watched the cricket on Boxing Day.      YES
Watched the start of the Sydney to Hobart on Boxing Day.   YES
Watched the Bathurst 1000.   NO
Visited Hobart.     NO
Eaten kangaroo.    YES; and goanna, and honey ant, and many bush foods
Seen a quokka.    YES
Visited Canberra.  YESQuokka Rottnest Island 02
Visited the rainforests.  YES
Used a Victa lawnmower.  YES; too many times to count!
Travelled on a tram in Adelaide.   YES
Used a Hills hoist.     YES
Visited Uluru.    YES
Used native Australian plants in cooking.   YES
Visited the snow.    YES
Been to a ‘Big Day Out’ concert in summer.  NO
Chosen a side in Holden VS Ford. NO
Visited the desert.   YES
Been water skiing.      NO
Read ‘The Phantom’.      YES
Visited Parliament House.      YES, both Old or New
Gone spotlighting or pig-shooting.    YES; for rabbits
Crossed the Nullarbor. (Flying over it in a plane doesn’t count) NO
Avoided swimming in areas because of crocodiles. NO
Listened to AC/DC.     YES
Called someone a dag.   YES
Voted in a Federal Election.   YES, many65 Linda&gun Rabbit Flat 5 Sep 92
Have been swimming and stayed between the flags. YES
Recited the first verse of ‘The Man From Snowy River’ in public. YES
Had a possum in your roof.      YES
Visited the outback.      YES
Travelled over corrugated roads. YES
Hit a kangaroo while driving.    YES
Been well outside any mobile phone coverage. YES
Seen an emu.     YES
Have woken to the smell of bushfires. YES
Patted a pure-bred dingo.   NO
Seen the Oils live.      NO
Talked about the weather for more than 15 minutes straight and been really interested in the conversation.   YES

Walking in Parramatta Park

October 17, 2012 at 8:31 pm | Posted in Australia, Experiences, Gardens, Nature, Tourism, Writing | 8 Comments
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One Thursday recently, I drove my husband to work in western Sydney. I then had the day to myself until I had to pick him up. I decided to go to Parramatta Park, through which runs the Parramatta River.

The park is an historic place, part of it being the site of the first Government House building constructed after Australia was colonised by Britain. It also had the first real farm and the first successful dairy. Before that, it had been a significant place for the Aborigines, who had become displaced by the newcomers. 

The name Parramatta is based on the local indigenous word that means ‘place of many eels’ and the river was an important source of food. No doubt, the origin of the name is why the local rugby league team is known as the Eels.

Going to this large, beautiful park has inspired me before: to write, or to just enjoy the peace and the significance of the place for both indigenous and European inhabitants. There are the riverbanks, pathways and many open spaces in which to walk. There is also the old King’s Park cricket ground, and the Eel’s home football ground and Leagues Club.

On this day, it had been raining, and the clouds looked as if they held more rain to come. But, after parking the car, I set out for a good walk. In the end, I spent about enjoyable six hours in the park, and I came away with some images that I would like to share with you.

At the weir, river water washes through the overflow vents, swirls and churns into fluffy mounds, like suds on over-soaped dishwater. These float downstream, bright white islands on green, tree-reflected water.

Multitudes of flying foxes hang upside-down in the branches of riverside trees, like an abundant crop of plump black fruit.

I watch 767 passenger jets take off from the airport twenty miles away. They slowly climb into the air, and I marvel at the laws of physics that allow Man to conquer the skies. My ancestors, only a few generations back, would marvel even more.

The counter and shelves in the café display cakes and biscuits – creamed, chocolated or brightly icing-sugared. A gastronome’s sweet delight of highly processed sugar and carbs that draw in the unwary, and add yet more inches to already expanded waistlines.

Swallows swoop and dart for insects just above the lawn, zipping closely past each other but never touching; a perfectly choreographed aerial ballet.

A pair of batting gloves rests on the ground next to the cricket oval gate. Were they lost after a weekend match? Will the owner return to claim them, or will they continue to lie abandoned in the rain?

A man strides briskly past me, umbrella open and raised overhead against the rain. So intent on his thoughts, he does not realise that the shower has passed and the sun is breaking through the clouds.

An old peppercorn tree stands in the park, its thick trunk gnarled into rough lumps upon fissured bumps. A hole, deep and shadowed, could easily be the small entry to a fantasy world of trolls and goblins.

My walk in the park turned up wonderful images everywhere. As always, I had my notebook and pen with me to capture them.

 

© Linda Visman

 

Mystery Bay

October 8, 2012 at 11:05 pm | Posted in Australia, Experiences, Nature, Tourism | 11 Comments
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A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I drove south of where we live, past Sydney and Wollongong and Nowra, and enjoyed a few days on the South Coast of New South Wales. There is lots of bush country down there – huge national parks, beaches, lakes and rivers. The towns and villages haven’t grown too big, and you can see history all around.

One of the places we visited was Mystery Bay, which is part of the Batemans Bay Marine Park. Mystery Bay has a beautiful golden beach, that begins at the forest edge. The waters of the bay are clear and cool. On a sunny day, the seas are blue, and the foaming waves that sweep across the guardian rocks are sparkling white.

 We had only heard of the place when we camped at a ‘primitive camp ground’ a couple of days before. Then a Council worker cleaning public toilets at a park said it was a great place to visit. We turned off the main road and soon found ourselves in the camping ground, surrounded by tall spotted gums. The sandy beach began at the edge of the treeline.

There are magnificent rock formations reaching out into the sea, which crashes against them and protects the beach. Small rocky islets stand away from the shore.

We had our lunch in the camping grounds, where there are basic amenities only: toilets and cold showers. I walked through the forest and admired the tall and straight spotted gums. They were used for pier posts, electricity poles and bridge supports in the days before iron was generally used.

There is a tiny village, but no shops. Diving would be a great experience there. Cabin accommodation is available in the area. It’s a quiet and reasonably remote area that would be perfect for a camping holiday.

We loved Mystery Bay, and we will be heading back there again one day in our little camper van to relax and enjoy the bush, the beach and the rocks.

(c) Linda Visman

The  photos were taken by me and my husband.

The Entrance

August 9, 2012 at 9:01 pm | Posted in Australia, Nature, Tourism | 6 Comments
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We went to The Entrance this afternoon, the place where the scenic Tuggerah Lakes meet the Pacific Ocean.

The tide had turned, and the water was crystal clear as it raced through the deep sandy channel next to the promenade on its way into the lake.

The pelicans and seagulls that rested on golden sand in the middle of the entrance would soon be floating, as the water level rose with the tide.

We ate an ice cream treat as we strolled along the promenade and under the road bridge.

Pelican feeding time at 3.30pm always draws a crowd, and today was no exception, even though it is still winter here. We left well before the pelicans were fed, but there were already plenty of the large heavy-billed birds waiting for their daily treat.

Australia has many beautiful tourist spots along the east coast (all around the long island coast actually), and The Entrance is one of them.

 

(c) Linda Visman

All photos by Linda Visman

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