A Chinese invasion? What's all that about? Well, first of all, they were not just Chinese, there were Mongolians and Malaysians too, by the bus load.
Bald Hill is a fabulous lookout point a few kilometres north of the Sea Cliff Bridge (see previous page). It affords wonderful views along the coastline to its south, including the best view of the bridge that we could find. There may be better views to be had but a lot of the headland is inaccessible. Every metre seems to have a house on it so thank God for Bald Hill which is clearly developer-proof.
Unfortunately the weather was overcast and gloomy on the day we arrived so we decided to stay overnight in a motel and return next morning when the sky would have cleared and the sun would be in the east giving perfect light for photographs. Well, we kept to our side of the bargain but some greater power failed to clear the clouds so the view remained gloomy.
There was a large carpark, as befits such a popular beauty spot, and bus loads of Asian tourists arrived at intervals all morning. These people were just lovely; so incredibly happy and friendly. Individuals would suddenly burst into loud song. They appeared to have no inhibitions at all and to be overflowing with joie de vivre. Like all tourists they were soon clicking away with their cameras and I was co-opted to take some group photos using their cameras so they could all be in the picture.
I have no idea who they thought I was - perhaps it was my beard which has been out of control for some time - but they kept asking if they could take my photograph, either alone or with one of them. Every time I turned round there would be a camera pointed at me. Once I was photographed by an attractive woman so, naturally, I returned the compliment. She just laughed. Now, I hate being in front of the camera; my place is behind it. Moreover I was dressed like I normally am - scruffily in shorts and T-shirt with toothpaste stains and grease smudges that won't come out. The Asian people were all very smartly attired.
One group had brought a banner with them and they held it in front of them for photographs . . .
If the sun wouldn't shine for us, these lovely people brightened up our day and we were really sorry when they piled back on their buses, still singing.
We have a lovely friend in China called Angel who keeps in touch by email. We asked her to translate the banner for us. The Chinese group are on a fact-finding mission for a Food Industry Association based in the city of Jinan, the capital of Shandong Province.
Shandong is one of the most affluent provinces in the Peoples Republic of China. In 2010 it had a population just shy of 100 million inhabitants, yet is only two thirds the size of Victoria. Comparing the population densities, Shandong has 610 people per square kilometre; Victoria has 24. And just out of curiosity, our home state of Western Australia has less than one person per square kilometre.
Hi, Angel. Thanks for helping us out.
As there seemed no prospect of the sun showing through we decided to climb back into our good old Pajero and point it towards Temora, 400 kilometres to the west. On the way 'home' we stopped off at a nice little village called Gunning where we had found a great café called the Merino on our outward journey. The Hume Highway used to run right through Gunning and I understand it used to be chaotic with large semi trailers trying to squeeze between the parked trucks on a totally inadequate road. Now the Hume Highway - a most excellent road - bypasses Gunning altogether and the Merino is easily accessible on the Old Hume Highway. It's only a small detour and well worth a stop.
Oh, stop it! You know you love looking at my aircraft pictures. Well, alright then but don't complain later.
I must tell you that the Mark 8 Spitfire is back in the air with its new Packard Merlin engine (a Rolls Royce Merlin that was built under licence in the U.S.A.) and performed for us at the display. It would have been nice to see both Spits airborne together but . . . they only have one propeller between the two! They had to 'steal' the prop from the Mark 16. They are, however, awaiting a new one for the Mark 8.
Just for Display Day, the Historic Aircraft Restoration Society - better known as HARS - sent over a Consolidated Catalina. In WWII this amphibious aircraft was used for anti-submarine warfare, patrol bombing, convoy escorts, search and rescue missions (especially air-sea rescue), and cargo transport. The HARS example is painted all-over black and is known as the Black Cat. We were permitted to crawl all over the aircraft but I had a very painful back and daren't risk making it worse so I passed on that.
Sorry, I just can't help showing you pictures of the wonderful Black Cat.
Unfortunately, when the rain eased and the Catalina started its engines, the port engine apparently popped a helicoil. I say 'apparently' because the only thing I dislike about the Temora set-up is that they tell you things that are not always true. They tend to treat their visitors as technically ignorant and you can get a different explanation from each official you speak to.
After some time working on the engine we were told, apologetically, that the Catalina would be unable to fly that day. That ended the flying display so people drifted away, including me. No sooner had I reached the caravan than I heard a loud engine noise and the Catalina taxied past with both engines running. At the end of the main runway it turned and took off. After two or three low passes for the remaining spectators (and me) it lifted its nose and set course for its base, Illawarra Regional Airport.
So what went right, I wonder? Without doubt, Temora has some excellent aircraft engineers and doubtless the Catalina carried a HARS engineer.
We towed the caravan over to Batemans Bay where we already knew we couldn't stay for long as all the parks were booked out for the school Christmas holidays. We weren't overly bothered as we'd stayed there previously so we booked in overnight and then continued south to Eden in the morning.
Yes, a bit of an earth tremor and it would be Eden, Victoria. Actually, that's an unconscionable exaggeration, the state border is fifty kilometres away but still very close by Australian standards.
Eden is a fabulous little town situated on a rocky stretch of coastline that has seen off a good number of ships since settlement, aided by a mine laid by a German raider, the Wolf, in 1917 (yes, we know who you are) and a rather unfriendly submarine during WWII.
There is a stretch of pristine beach situated just over the road from the Eden Tourist Park (where we stayed):
Eden also has a quaint fishing harbour called Snug Cove. We loved to go to the Wharfside Café there for breakfast - they serve a mean eggs benedict - then stroll along the tied-up boats feeling bloated and questioning the wisdom.
The Eden Tourist Park is on a narrow strip of land with Aslings Beach on one
side and freshwater Lake Curalo on the other. At the northern end of the
lake the fresh water is only separated from the salt water by a sand bar.
Lake Curalo is fed by a creek and when it rains a lot over the creek's catchment,
the water in the lake rises and swamps the caravan park, the local skate
park and a nice little cemetery. Way back, before white man built this infrastructure,
it didn't matter. When the lake level reached the top of the sand bar and
started to overflow, the water would rapidly cut a channel through the sand
bar to the sea and the excess lake water would drain away.
Today the Council sends a bulldozer down the beach and does Mother Nature's job for her before any serious flooding occurs. The sand bar re-forms over a period of months due to onshore movement of marine sands.
The footprints on the beach remind me of the donkey rides on popular U.K. holiday beaches back in the days when the earth was still cooling. Do you remember the donkeys, fellow Poms? If we arrived at an opportune time we would bag a donkey and be allowed to lead it, complete with fare-paying passenger, to the end of the line of churned up sand and then back. We felt very important doing that. Well, I did.
And now to round off Page 170, a bad taste joke; and no, it's not funny, it's too near the truth.
Footnote: This re-working of Page 170 was completed on 4 April 2013. It conforms to HTML5 and CSS level 3.