Recently in Travelogue Category
OK we weren't actually in South West Rocks at all this day. But it was the last day of the trip.
Got up and ready and had a quick walk down to the Warner's Bay foreshore.
Maccas at Warner's Bay for breakfast, then headed south.
All along the Sydney-Newcastle freeway there's sunflowers growing! And corn too. It's as if someone's just been driving along and tossing seeds out the window the whole way down. It was pretty cool!
Snapped this cool brick mosaic of Will and Kate outside Austral Bricks. It's made of something like 15000 full and half sized glazed bricks. Very cool!
Then lunch at Sutton Forest and home!!
So the last morning of our stay in South West Rocks and the sun comes out. Hrmmm.
So we went up to the gaol again to get a few photos of it in the sun.
On the way back to the highway I got some photos of some of the houses and how they elevated them to keep off the flood plain.
Some build their houses on a big mound
While others just go two stories
Had a maccas stop near Port Macquarie for lunch. This is on the roundabout next to it.
Saw some birds circling
The Rock! It's still there!
An F/A-18 near Williamtown
And arrival at our motel on Lake Macquarie around 4:30pm. It has a nice view of the lake.
Watched the storm roll in. Read a book. And just chilled out for a bit. Stepping out of the airconned-to-cold motel room was like stepping into a sauna. It was that hot/humid, even after the storm had passed.
So headed into Newcastle to meet up with Fiona. Was a lovely night and great to catch up with her again.
Went to Goldbergs on Darby Street.
There was cheesy olive bread
I had "black pepper marinated lamb fillet" on a smashed kipfler and apple rosti topped with sumac aioli. It was delish!
Stu had "lemon and thyme baked ricotta" with warm olive and pind nut salad, watercress, roasted capsicum and chilli jam
Fiona had a pretty amazing platter of goodies.
Then back to the motel to crash. The aircon worked super well and made the room lovely and cold to sleep!
Another quiet morning.
Packed a picnic lunch and headed out to Smoky Cape.
Walked up to the lighthouse and arrived just before 1pm, and noticed there was a tour at 1pm. $10 each though, which we thought was a little pricey. But decided we'd do it. Except noone turned up. Waited and waited and in the end gave up and headed back down. Only to find the tour was down at the bottom of the hill. Yay for telling us that on the sign, buttheads! Were a bit over it, so didn't bother joining the tour late.
This lizard was on the path up the hill
Next up was a walk down to that middle beach down there
Have I mentioned the humidity? It was horrible.
This was the beach
And the view back up to the lighthouse
We went for a dip, even though the surf was the most dangerous surf I've ever been in. Waves and rips going in all sorts of directions, holes in the beach etc. In the end we only went in a few metres from shore, as the water depth changed too dramatically to go out any further - we'd have been swept out to sea for sure.
Had our lunch, and another dip, then headed back up the hill.
Saw these lovely glossy black cockatoos on the walk back up the hill
Cooled off in the car ride back to the house, then headed out again for a little swim in the tidal creek.
Dinner was some amazing jewfish
Not much else for the rest of the night.
Overcast. Humid. Not hot, but oh so humid.
Did pretty much nothing all morning. Attempted to get some sleep. Not altogether successfully. Made up a picnic lunch and headed out.
First stop was Trial Bay Gaol. The buildings are remarkably well preserved. Although most of it is solid granite. It'll probably be there for centuries.
We spent a good hour and a half here. Well worth the $7.50 entry.
This was the mess hall
Cell block A on the left, exterior wall on the right, with a sign saying watch out for swooping magpies on the bottom left
The area between the mess hall and the cell blocks
Remains of the hospital building, with cell block B behind
Stu in one of the silent cells
View from the lookout tower. The prison was built to house prisoners to build this breakwater. But they never really made very good progress with it, and eventually abandoned the idea and closed the prison.
Looking down cell block A
During its time as a prison, they housed one prisoner to a cell on hammocks
During World War I, they reopened the prison and sent educated German men here to keep them out of the way during the war. They housed two per cell, which made the gaol quite overcrowded.
The kitchen building
Looking down cell block B. This was built later (1900) and is remarkably drab next to the lovely granite.
One of the baths in the bath house
Kangaroos next to the bath house
Looking down to the bath house
After the gaol, we ate our picnic lunch in the car and then went on the walk down to Little Bay and the duck pond.
Walking up to the German monument, they've cleared a long tract of bush out, so you can see all the way up to it. It unfortunately looks slightly rude from a distance..
The German monument, for the four Germans that died in the gaol during the war. It was blown up in 1919 by persons unknown, but eventually rebuilt.
View of Trial Bay Gaol
View across to South West Rocks
Kangaroo tracks in the sand
Big boy kangaroo. Look at the muscles on him!
Kangaroo and joey
Joey having a drink
The duck pond. Originally built as a water source for the gaol
One of the powder magazines used to store explosives for the construction of the breakwater
The other one. It was supposedly blown up as a test run by the same people that blew up the German monument.
Wandered back to South West Rocks and went down to the tidal creek
Where kids were jumping off the bridge into the creek..
Came back to the house for a very lovely chicken dinner. After dinner we watched the King's Speech, which we quite enjoyed, even though a few liberties were taken with the story.
Yeah so didn't get too much sleep. Too humid!!! Even with the fan on we were pretty uncomfortable.
The sweetie and Sally. Animals like Stu because he's so soft and squishy :)
Breakfast on the deck. Quite civilised really!
They wanted me to kill this march fly, but it was so cute!
So yeah a fairly slow morning. Debated going for a swim but I was a bit stressed about getting myself all messed up (we were going out to meet people later that day). So in the end we just did a big drive around South West Rocks.
We drove through the town and up to Trial Bay Goal and out to the Smoky Cape lighthouse.
Then back into town for lunch.
After lunch, we got ready, then headed out for a slow drive down the coast.
They have police radar traps even on the quiet back roads (not that they're that quiet - there's an awful lot of people camped up and down the coast).
The GPS originally said it would take four hours, but it kept revising it down. Here's where we hit some dirt road.
Nice view of the beach near Point Plomer
South of Point Plomer was where we were most concerned about the road. Then we saw this sign
.. and this mud ..
.. and decided we wouldn't tempt fate. So turned around and headed back to Crescent Head, then back to the Pacific Highway.
South of Kempsey, where they're building the bypass, they have this sign telling people to ignore their GPSes..
In Port Macquarie we went to Big W to pick up some stuff for Stu, then we headed out to visit Stu's mum's grave
Then went for a drive round Port Macquarie
Then to our destination for the evening - Finnian's Irish Tavern for a school reunion of sorts for Stu. He actually only really knew two of the guys there, and they were pretty cool. Had some squid and some wedges and a couple of beers. I also might have stolen some of Tom's steak after he declared himself done with only half the steak eaten.. it was nice steak, this would never do! ;)
We migrated outside when the band started up, as they made talking over the noise a bit difficult.
And then we headed back to South West Rocks for the night.
While everyone else went to work, the sweetie and I headed out of Canberra. It was hot and windy at 9:30am, and I had visions of a repeat of ten years ago.
Stopped at various Maccas along the way for breakfasts, coffees and lunches.
We happened to be driving through Sydney at the peak of the heat wave. We passed a sign that said 45C and we were all "what the??". The car didn't seem to be overheating (according to the heat guage), but seemed to be threatening to stall. So we were ok on the freeways, but that bit of Pennant Hills Road was a bit tough. We turned the aircon off and suffered, but didn't break down. When are they ever going to join up the M7/M2 with the F3 ????
It was so hot, we made a little hoodie to shade the GPS
Drove on and on. Went through Kempsey a bit after 6pm and then got to see the new Kempsey bypass being built. The bridge over the Macleay River and floodplain is 3.2 kilometres long and will be the longest bridge in Australia.
The sun and clouds over the Macleay River were pretty
Arrived at Stu's dad's place around 7pm, and had a lovely meal of freshly caught bream, as well as kingfish and trevaly (I think).
Then we pretty much just crashed. They have an amazingly well equipped self-contained flat downstairs, which was a lovely little retreat.
The day after boxing day we made our exit from Sydney. Since we had to be back on the 30th for my cousin's wedding, the options were to stay in Sydney, go home, or have a couple of nights somewhere else. We decided to go to the Hunter Valley.
We let the GPS guide us out of Sydney, and we managed to avoid the most horrible piece of road in Sydney, which is the five kilometres between Gordon and Hornsby, where it's just stop start the whole way. The GPS took us round the north of all that, and it was much less stressful.
It's amazing the number of L-platers that were out. I reckon they should either be banned from highways altogether or allowed to do the full speed limit. Because forcing them to slow down on the freeways just makes everything slow for everyone else.
We decided not to go up the Sydney-Newcastle freeway, opting to get off at Peat's Ridge and take the back way. We mostly had the road to ourself, and it was a much prettier and less stressful drive.
Coming down the valley along the Great North Road was very pretty
Spaceman in a sculpture park north of Wollombi
Cessnock is very pretty at the moment with all the trees in bloom
As it turned out, we probably should have gone up the freeway, because we decided to go out to Minmi, which is right next to the freeway. So it was a bit of a detour, but we weren't in any hurry so that was ok.
Crazy big house on Richmond Vale Road
Caboose in Minmi
I want a liqour shelf like this! Pretty! Popped in here to get a (non-alcoholic) refreshing beverage
Then out to the cemetery to find graves of Stu's rellies
These guys found their own rellies
Then onto the Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley. A little pricey, but very nice.
Crowne Plaza reception
We got a hotel style room in the main building. There's a tonne of self-contained units around the place that hold quite a few people. They looked lovely, and people were out with deck chairs sipping wine, which totally looked like the life :) They're a bit further away from the main building, and something like $800/night - ouch!
View from our room - not that exciting
What I did love about the place was the abundance of power points. Something like 14 of them around the room, in nice useful places, like right next to the bed. 10 points right there!
Settled in and got ourselves freshened up, then went for a walk around the place
The huge pool. A bit emptier at this point, but it was full of people a little earlier.
Giant chess set (there was a checkers set in the main building too)
Beach volleyball court
Waiting in the Vista Lounge before dinner
The Red Salt restaurant (also the breakfast buffet)
Our view for dinner
We started with this lovely Adina (a local) Pinot Grigio
The sweetie enjoys the wine and the view
Stu's entree. I think this was "Caramelized Tart, of golden shallot and baked locally sourced goat's cheese, witlof salad"
I had "Warm salad of lobster, kipfler potatoes & frisse endive, poached quail eggs & black truffle dressing"
For mains Stu had "Coq au vin free range chicken, braised in Hunter Valley pinot, golden eschalots & smoked bacon, roast garlic puree, fried bread crumbs". This thing was delicious - and look at that huge chunk of bacon! Yum!
I had "Confit duck leg with cassoulet of white beans, lovedale smokehouse sausage & bacon, poached quail eggs". The duck was nice, but too many beans for my taste.
We also had a side of "Sauteed mixed mushrooms with garlic and sherry vinegar (Swiss Browns, Buttons, King Oysters, Enoki)". Omigosh this was so delicious! One of my favourite parts of the meal!
We also had an amazing Rosehill shiraz - so smooth! Yumm!
For dessert we had some Brokenback vintage cheddar (we were too full to eat any more!)
After dinner I was so full I went for a little walk around the place.
Took this nice HDR shot from the entrance area on my phone
We had breakfast the next morning at the resort. A pretty decent buffet of food. Was quite crowded though, even though we were there near the end of service.
At 1pm we piled into a little minbus with a family of Swedish people and headed out on a winery tour (stopping to pick up some other people on the way).
Our first stop was Peacock Hill Winery. This was quite a small winery, and was much like the tours we did at Yass last year with a very small cellar door and crowds of people. I found it a bit stressful, but the lady was reasonably well organised, so it wasn't too bad.
They have dinosaurs, which kept the two little Swedish boys amused
Peacock Hill selection of wines
Yeah being driven around the Hunter Valley tasting wines is a lovely way to spend an afternoon
The next stop was McGuigan's. Having heard of this winery it wasn't surprising that they had a much bigger cellar door. And they have this whole room setup for tour groups that looked pretty amazing.
Tour group wine tasting room
Us at McGuigan's
This cork stool looked pretty cool (but $249 and not particularly practical)
McGuigan's also make and sell cheeses. We might have bought some, but didn't have a cooler bag or a fridge at the hotel.
Sunflowers at McGuigan's
Next stop was the Pokolbin village for chocolate and cheese tasting. The chocolate tasting was ok (half a dozen nibbles of chocolate), but the cheese tasting wasn't really anything special. First you had to find the store that was doing it, then you had to ask for the cheeses to taste. Yeah, not ideal.
I did buy this cute little chocolate penguin from the chocolate place.
Our last stop was Brokenwood. This had a medium-sized cellar door and we sat around barrels to do the wine tasting. We even got to taste a wine which was normally only opened for people paying to taste the wines. So that was very nice.
On the way back we got up close to some kangaroos, which I think all the tourists liked :)
So a very nice (although somewhat expensive) afternoon, with half a box of wines and fortified wines acquired :)
For dinner we went to the Grapevine bar for beer and pizza
This was the "Truffled Mushroom" pizza, which sounded nice on the menu (swiss brown, button and enoki mushrooms, white sauce, confit garlic parmesan, thyme and truffle oil) but was a little bland
This was the "Italian" pizza - pepperoni, capsicum, mushrooms, olives, mozzarella, parmesan & chilli, sour cream, thyme and rocket. This was much nicer (I think the sour cream was a winner!)
After dinner the pool was looking nice so I wanted to go for a swim. But a change had come through which made it quite cold. So we didn't stay in long.
So our final day.
First stop (after breakfast at the Scottish Restaurant in Cessnock) was a trip to Morpeth to look for more of Stu's relatives in the cemetery. We didn't find any. Just some harness horses trotting by.
Then to St John's College, only to find the whole place has been turned into a retirement village. So far the historic buildings remain, but who knows for how much longer.
Walking around to the chapel
The organ is still there, but the chapel is now a little community hall
And the garden out the back has a gazebo, and the cross has been removed. A bit different to last time we were here.
And instead of a nice view out to the floodplain, all you can see is houses
So that was all a little sad.
This is the bridge at Hinton
And we found another probable relative of Stu's in the Hinton Cemetery
Next up the sweetie thought it might be nice to head to Port Stevens, and Nelson Bay and Shoal Bay.
As apparently did the rest of New South Wales
It was so crowded it was painful. We didn't stop anywhere along the beachside. Couldn't have anyway - no parking! Just snapped a pic out the window.
We did stop at the lighthouse though (only because a super huge 4WD couldn't fit into a half sized parking spot, so we got it)
Carried on. Shoal Bay was just as crowded.
Eventually ended up at Fingal Bay where we stopped for lunch a few streets back from the beach, where there was actually parking. Fish and chips and potato scallops. Because that's what you do when you go to the beach. Even though we were nowhere near the beach.
So left the craziness behind and headed back to Maitland to meet up with Margie at the Fox Bar. This a nice little wine bar. We had the whole front area to ourselves, but it was only when I went to the loo that I saw the lovely little garden they have out the back.
And finally headed back to Sydney. Would have been uneventful except a horse float overturned on the freeway near Kariong killing two horses and completely closing the road. The GPS saw it coming and we took a detour around it. No idea if it worked out faster (it probably did) but it was certainly less stressful and no stop-start traffic for us.
Finally made it back to my parent's place and crashed into bed
Stu had a pork croquette dish off the specials board.