Pam's Journal for February 2007

Thursday 1st February 2007.

We went shopping after lunch and apart from washing and cleaning, we didn't do much else. Peter went over to John and Maureen's to help with their satellite dish again, this time he seemed to get it all under control. Maureen and John came over in the evening again with more wine. This wine was beautiful, it came from 40 year old vines and tasted much better than the stuff we drink. They very kindly gave us a bottle to 'cellar' or drink on a special occasion. We enjoyed their company very much and will be sad to say goodbye when they leave.

Friday 2nd February 2007.
I didn't do much today, I was so tired. Two late nights in row doesn't agree with me. Pete Mate walked into town. In the afternoon we helped out Maureen with the computer again.

Saturday 3rd February 2007.
Get ready day today, for tomorrow we are off to Port Macquarie. We said goodbye to Maureen and John, it would be nice to catch up with them again down the track somewhere. We walked into town and said goodbye to Pete Mate's lovely Gloria Jean's ladies.

Sunday 4th February 2007.
We left Tamworth around 10.00am. We started off well but then as we travelled higher into the mountainous area, poor old Billy started struggling again. We slowed down and then we ended up stopping to allow Billy to cool down. The rest of the journey was uneventful but by now we were listening for every creak, squeak and groan. We were travelling though a forest area when we kept hearing a squeak. We pulled over and Pete Mate got out and checked everything but all seemed okay. We set off again and heard the same noise, we stopped and the noise continued. It was a bird! We arrived late in the afternoon at Port Macquarie, set up camp and had a Happy Hour. The other people here seem very friendly.

Monday 5th February 2007.
We walked into town which is five minutes away, we found Gloria Jean's. Port Macquarie seems to be a nice place; it is right on the water with picturesque scenery. We collected lots of information from the office so we will decide what to do for the next few days.

Tuesday 6th February 2007.

We went for another walk. The Town Beach is a surfing beach and is full of young people surfing. It all looked very scary to me. We then walked along the path which is alongside the break wall. The break wall is made of huge rocks which have been painted by various people over a number of years. Some were sad as they were memorials, others were funny and some were so good the person involved would have to be an artist. We had a walk around, booked the river cruise for next week and then made our way to Gloria Jean's before returning home.

Wednesday 7th February 2007.
I went for a walk in the morning and then we didn't do much else. Pete Mate wanted to take it easy as his back is playing up again.

Thursday 8th February 2007.
We had a lovely day out, exploring the region. We went as far as Laurieton to a lookout at North Brother Mountain. We had really spectacular views of the waterways around the area. The road along the coast was also very picturesque. We couldn't find a Gloria Jean's in Laurieton so we travelled back to Port Macquarie.

Friday 9th February 2007.
We went for a walk into town in the afternoon. We are looking for topographical maps of the Blue Mountains so Pete Mate went in one direction and I another, to the Post Office for the mail. I had a really good walk as I got a little lost before asking the way to the Post Office. All good exercise. We met up at Gloria Jean's, where else! I think it is Pete Mate's aim to chat up all Gloria's girls all over Australia.

Saturday 10th February 2007.
We did some shopping at Settlement City which is just another huge shopping centre with all the same shops as in Perth. They did, however, have a Woolworths, a bottle shop and a Gloria Jean's - what more could you want? We also went back to the information centre to try and find out more about the roads and caravan parks in the Blue Mountains. Alas they only know about things in the Port Macquarie area. Strange, I thought they were an information centre for the whole of Australia.

Sunday 11th February 2007.
When we first arrived here we collected various tourist pamphlets from the caravan park office. Pete Mate and I went through them and selected two trips we would like to do, one into the mountains, the other a river cruise. We booked both and today we embarked on the mountain trip.

We had to drive to the Information Centre where the four wheel drive would collect us. Usually on these trips you are collected from your accommodation. Phil, our tour guide, arrived on time but obviously hadn't allowed enough time for a shave and a bit of a spruce up because, believe me, he looked like he needed it.

Our first stop was the Tacking Point Lighthouse . . . which we had already visited. It was named by Matthew Flinders which we already knew fortunately because our guide didn't seem to.

Next we went to North Brother Mountain . . . which we had already visited. I wonder if our guide knew that the mountain was named by none other than Captain Cook? Never mind, we still have the waterfall to look forward to, and our next stop is the Macadamia Nut Farm where we will have our morning tea. We arrived at the Macadamia Farm . . . it was closed until 27th February.

"Never mind", said our fearless guide, "We will go to the Blackberry farm".

While travelling we received no commentary about the places we were passing through or about Port Macquarie itself. The only things he told us were his mother is dying of cancer and his father "isn't real well either". Oh, and all about his favourite fishing spots.

We drove and drove and arrived in a little town where we stopped at a picnic spot for morning tea; it was now 11.00am. We have no idea the name of the town - any questions we asked him about places, birds, trees or plants received his stock reply; he didn't have a clue but he would check it out for future tours. Morning tea was pretty standard for these tours, a cup of tea or coffee a slice of cake and biscuits.

That out of the way, and Phil's cigarette end trodden out and left on the road, we continued with our tour. We drove and drove and then, as we turned into the road leading to the falls, Pete Mate declared we had been there before. No, surely not! But, yes we had. Last year, when we stayed at Old Bar our friends Jill and Sandy had taken us to the very same falls. Oh well, never mind, we still enjoyed looking again.

After doing a couple of the walks we had lunch, a round of sandwiches each and a piece of fruit which his sick mother had made and packed up for him. While we ate, he told us his mother had a colostomy bag attached to her waist . . . not a thought I wanted to dwell on while I was eating a sandwich she had made. Anyway the sandwiches were very nice and we enjoyed an adequate lunch but at this point I decided the tour should be renamed Shoestring Tours because it was quite obvious that he was doing it all on a very tight budget.

Did I mention, on the way to the falls, we had a few stops for 'photo opportunities'? Roughly translated, this meant Phil wanted a cigarette and a chance to check the map to see where he was going.

Lunch completed, we all climbed aboard for our afternoon excitement. Excuse me, what happened to the Blackberry Farm? It was never mentioned again. We then seemed to be on an exploratory mission for Phil's future tours because we went near places, noted where they were, but didn't actually visit them. But he did point them out as we passed by. It was now pouring with rain and the scenery was very misty so it made sightseeing difficult. At one point I looked over and Pete Mate was asleep. We arrived at our next port of call after driving down a very steep, narrow, unsealed road. I wasn't comfortable with Phil's driving skills so I really didn't enjoy that.

Anyway we finally arrived at Kindee Bridge which is 'the largest suspension bridge of its type in the southern hemisphere.' I asked Phil some questions about the bridge. His answer was, "I have no idea but I will check it out for . . . " etc etc. So Pete Mate and I walked across the bridge to the other side and found a plaque giving all the details. We actually near enough ran off the single-lane bridge to avoid being run over by a truck. The others sort of climbed on to the railing to avoid the same demise. Maybe Phil hasn't heard of public liability when he takes his tour groups into 'dangerous situations'. We left the bridge after Phil had disposed of his cigarette end in the river.

That was almost the end of the tour, but we had one more stop - a pub. Hooray! Phil drank squash but he was on his own! He did give us a little more information whilst we had a drink; alas it was about his failed marriage, and not about the town of Long Flat where we were currently drinking. We arrived back at the Information Centre to collect our cars and drive home. Again, Phil may need to check out his liability, encouraging his passengers to drink and then depositing them at their cars to drive home. I noticed in the pamphlet of his tours, only on the wine tour does he collect you from your accommodation. Overall, we did enjoy the day because that's what you do, don't you, make the best of things? It certainly wasn't the best tour we have been on. And another thing, what happened to afternoon tea which was included in the $88 per head price?

Monday 12th February 2007.
Rain . . . . Lightning . . . Thunder. We never left the caravan all day. The lightning and thunder passed over but it poured with rain all day. It was a good opportunity to do some knitting and to finish a book I was reading. Pete Mate spent all day writing the website. The forecast for tomorrow is the same. I know we need the rain but you would think God would arrange it whilst I was sleeping!

Tuesday 13th February 2007.
It was still raining when we awoke this morning. During the morning it stopped so I did a couple of loads of washing but used the dryers to dry the clothes. After lunch the weather looked like the rain had at last left us so we went for a walk. The walk of course ended at Gloria Jean's. We hadn't been home long when the rain started again and continued for the evening. This must be good for the dams.

Wednesday 14th February 2007.

I had a lovely morning. I walked into town and went to the movies. I saw The Queen starring Helen Mirren. It was excellent, I enjoyed it immensely. Pete Mate stayed at home and washed Billy, I am sure he had a good time too! After the movies I had a wander around the shops, did a little shopping, had some lunch and then returned home. In the evening we went on a Valentines Dinner Cruise. We had originally booked the lunchtime cruise but that was cancelled due to lack of numbers so they transferred us to the evening cruise. We walked to the jetty from the caravan park, a five minute walk. On the way they we passed the war memorial that had fresh flowers and wreaths on it. Pete Mate queried this and I reminded him it was Valentines Day. I then passed the comment I would like my flowers whilst alive, not after I have died, to which he replied that in the morning he would go and buy me a wreath! We enjoyed the cruise, the meal was nice, the wine was reasonably priced and the other people were a good crowd.

Thursday 15th February 2007.
Did some chores in the morning and then in the afternoon we went over to Settlement City to do some shopping.

Friday 16th February 2007.

I walked into town to the shops, had a wander and then met Pete Mate for a coffee at G.J's. He then returned home to wash the awning and the caravan whilst I continued my wanderings. I found a really nice wool shop where I stocked up on wool, went to my favourite second hand book shop and then walked up the hill to the Pioneer Cemetery and gardens. On my way home for lunch I had to pass the caravan park's swimming pool. I have noticed that ladies of a certain build walk to the pool with a sarong or towel wrapped around them. Similarly built men, however, wear these very brief bathers and don't bother to cover up. Believe me, their tummies hanging down to meet their knees is not a pretty sight. In the afternoon we packed up everything we could as tomorrow we have to take the caravan for some new tyres.

Saturday 17th February 2007.

After we had finished packing everything away Peter took the caravan for new tyres. I walked into town to get some more wool and to go to the growers market. I then walked up the hill to meet Peter at the tyre place. Lots of calorie credits earned there. Once the tyres were fitted we drove back to the caravan park and again parked up the caravan much to the amusement of other campers. We were asked had there been an accident! We unpacked enough things for tonight and then had lunch. After lunch we went for a walk up to Flagstaff Hill Lookout, which was a pretty good walk - not too long. The next stage of the walk was into town this is where we went wrong. We went the wrong way and walked and walked, we even ended up walking through a bowling club where the men were in action playing lawn bowls. Eventually we ended up in the town after asking the way and headed for Gloria Jean's. Then it was home again for a bit of a rest. 6.30 pm saw us walking back into town to see a display of Hot Rod cars. The cars looked really good, some had their bonnets open for the men to have a look. I had a pink look and was suitably impressed. Of course, Pete Mate had a full blown blue look at everything. We then wandered up the street to find somewhere for dinner. Pete Mate fancied Chinese so we made our way over to a busy restaurant. We had no trouble getting a table but being served, now that was a feat in itself. Eventually we were served and the food was very good. The only trouble was there were children at the next table, the baby screamed for most of the time, the two boys ran around the table, then a party of four were seated on the next table and one man in particular spoke so loud people in the caravan park could hear him. About twenty young people arrived and sat the other side of us so really it was like having dinner in bedlam. A romantic dinner for two it was not!

Sunday 18th February 2007.
We arrived on Sunday at Katoomba having had a good run through. It was a long day, 463 kms. We set up camp and then enjoyed a Happy Hour. Sunday evening we had a thunderstorm, with plenty of rain.

Monday 19th February 2007.

When we awoke the sun was shining so we thought we would go and do some sight seeing. We had a really nice drive through the some part of the Blue Mountains, lovely scenery but not really where we wanted to be. Thank you Alice! So the good old fashioned map came out and I took over Alice's job and we arrived at Echo Point without any further hassles. We saw the Three Sisters and some magnificent views. We gathered heaps of information from the information office there. We then went into town to pick up some supplies and saw the poor debacle of the stuck motor home. No one was allowed to free the vehicle until the man wearing the safety vest had arrived. Pete Mate has put his version of story on the web page so I will not cover it here. In the evening we again had another thunderstorm with plenty more rain.

Tuesday 20th February 2007.
We again awoke to the sun shining so made plans to do a couple of short walks to the Katoomba Cascades and Scenic World. I didn't want to do too much walking today as I had a really bad day yesterday with my ankle. Anyway the Cascades walk was really good and we found other walks to do in the same area. Then we headed towards Scenic World to get a run down on what is available. Once there we decided to go on the Scenic Railway to the forest floor and return by the Scenic Cableway. The railway trip is like being on a fairground ride. It is very steep and fast. Once we alighted we did the boardwalk through the forest. That was good, we saw a lot of things that were left over from the mining days. They had displays and even a sculpture of a coal cart being drawn by a horse. There were three walks; a short one, middle one and longer one. We opted for the middle one and enjoyed seeing the rain forest in all its finery. We then boarded the cableway for the return journey back to the main station. It was very quick and not really scary compared to the one in Cairns. We then had a drink and a bite to eat before making our way home for a rest. An excellent day out.

Wednesday 21st February 2007.
We were up and out by 9.30am, which is early for us. Pete Mate dropped me off at a shopping centre in Lithgow whilst he went for a tour of a power station. I enjoyed myself browsing and buying and met the designated pick up time comfortably. Then it all went wrong. I was waiting, waiting . . . and then received a phone call to say the tour took longer than anticipated and Pete Mate would be half an hour longer. No problem, I found a bench and read the newspaper. I then went to the pick up point five minutes before the second designated pick up time. Waiting, waiting . . . another twenty minutes passed by before Pete Mate finally arrived. Meanwhile I had to endure overhearing the conversation of three young people with a baby in tow. Every other word was f??k and some others in between. Wherever I moved to, I could hear them. I wonder if they will be upset when their baby's first word is f??k.
We then found a spot for a picnic lunch before heading to the Zig Zag Railway. The train running today was steam, much to Pete Mate's delight. It was a really good trip with commentary for most of the way. We were allowed to alight at the Bottom Point and the Top Point. Pete Mate was elated to watch the manoeuvring of the engine from the front of the train to the back and vice versa. The whole trip took an hour and a half before we found ourselves back at the station at Clarence. We then headed home for Happy Hour and dinner. We had had another really good day out. The Blue Mountains are exhausting us!

Thursday 22nd February 2007.
It is washing and cleaning day today. Pete Mate was going to walk up to the Scenic World to take some more photos but at lunchtime the heavens opened and that plan was scrapped and the washing received a heavenly rinse. We went to the shops in the afternoon in between showers. It was our intention to go to the Three Sisters after dark as they are floodlit at night. Another thunderstorm came in so that plan was also scrapped.

Friday 23rd February 2007.
We packed a picnic lunch and headed out for another day sightseeing. We had a few places marked out and Alice led the way. Round and round the houses we went before we eventually found the lookouts we were looking for. Again, we saw really lovely scenery. We thought we would make it home before the thunderstorm started, but no, we returned through heavy rain and some hailstones. I cannot believe how much thunder, lightening and rain we have experienced here in a week. Once home it cleared up and the weather returned to sunshine, though cold as it was the end of the day. It is always cold late afternoon, at night and in the mornings. Katoomba is about 3,500 feet above sea level.

Saturday 24th February 2007.
We went to the Blue Mountains Expo, what lovely people there, so nice and friendly. Shame the people of Katoomba aren't like that. You get some very surly people in the shops. We picked up some more information about what to see around the place. We also sampled some very nice wine and lovely chocolate. This man had a chocolate fountain running and was swirling marshmallows in it and giving them away. "Would you like to try some?" Did I have to think about this - no. It was so nice we bought a chocolate each for $1.50 a chocolate but soooooo nice. Pete Mate honed in on the Zig Zag Railway stand, I stayed as long as necessary to be polite and then took off in the direction of the craft and teddies display. I discovered that in Blaxland there is a shop with over 14,000 bears in it, now that would be something to see, wouldn't it Pete Mate? The local craft shop is quite nearby. After that we went to the Scenic World as Peter wanted to take photos of the Three Sisters sculptures; he is writing about the legend on the web page. We went into the cafe/bar afterwards and had a drink; there is something very decadent about sitting in the sunshine, sipping wine with such fantastic scenery as a backdrop. We arrived home before the thunderstorm which was the fifth in seven days.

Sunday, 25th February 2007.
What an abysmal day, the thick mist stayed with us all day and it rained for most of the day too. We had the heater on and wore woolly socks and a jumper. We spent the day doing crosswords, sudoku, the web site and knitting. Let's hope tomorrow is a better day.

Monday 26th February 2007.

Another wet and miserable day but instead of staying in the caravan we went to Jenolan Caves. We drove through rain and mist but when we arrived at Jenolan it was dull and cloudy but dry. We had a wonderful day exploring the caves. There are so many tours to choose from, we chose Lucas Cave which was recommended to us at the Expo. We had time to have a wander around, a coffee and a bite to eat before the tour started. Our guide, Daniel, was very good. He explained everything as went through the vast cave. It was pure magic, so beautiful and interesting. The people of Jenolan have done extremely well in setting up the caves for tourists while protecting them for future generations. We climbed up and down 900 steps - lots of calorie credits! Once we had finished the cave we went in search of more coffee before we picked up our audio guides and did the self guided tour of Nettle Cave and the Devils Coach House. This again was very interesting and many, many more steps. When we had finished we made our way back to the car up even more steps! Once we were on our way home the weather became misty and wet, the rain was so heavy we could hardly see in front of us. Thank goodness for our cosy caravan, I would hate to be in a tent.

Tuesday 27th February 2007.

We awoke to rain again, and more rain. By lunchtime it had stopped enough for us to venture out into Katoomba. We had to go to the bank, and one or two shops, plus the supermarket and the liquor store. "How very interesting", you are thinking, but I am going to make a point in a minute. The lady in the bank was lovely, very nice, friendly and helpful. The man in the photocopy place was also very nice and helpful, but the rest seem to be having a bad day and I was one customer too many. Please take me back to Tamworth! The town of Katoomba has no ambience and is pretty grubby, most building look like they are in need of some TLC. Once we had done all our errands we went home just before the heavens opened and we had yet another thunderstorm.

Wednesday28th February 2007.
We awoke to beautiful blue skies and sunshine. We decided to go to Wentworth Falls and Leura for the day. There were a few short walks we could do and waterfalls and cascades to look at. We packed our lunch and drove to the first port of call. By now the blue sky had all but disappeared and we could see another storm on the horizon. We walked to Princes Rock Lookout (more steps). The views from here were breathtaking and we saw the Wentworth Falls. There were a million Japanese tourists and I would like to find the one who left his rubbish behind. How can people go to a wonderful beauty spot and leave rubbish? Just no respect.
(Editor's Note: This little lady didn't just bitch about the rubbish, she picked it all up and carried it until she found a bin. On ya, Pam.)
We then walked on to another lookout called the Wentworth Falls lookout but from here you couldn't see the falls, strange. We then decided to make our way back to the car, as Pete Mate said 'posthaste', as we could hear thunder in the distance and the sky look ominous. Once in the car we had our lunch and watched the rain come down, another really heavy downpour with thunder and lightning. After we had eaten lunch, we decided to go into Leura, have a look around and visit a very interesting antique emporium and tearooms. We thought by the time we had done all of this the weather might have cleared enough for us to visit Leura Cascades. We had a wander around the town of Leura and went into a couple of shops. The town has more life in it than Katoomba, it has a really good feel about it and the people were nice and friendly. We walked to the tea house called Bygone Beautys (sic) where I took some pictures . . .

We enjoyed a coffee and tea, (they serve real green tea here), whilst exploring all the nooks and crannies of the shop. There were over 3,000 teapots on display, all shapes and sizes plus heaps of other collectable items. They house the world's largest private collection of teapots. It was a very interesting place. Once we left there we made our way back to the car just in time as the rain returned and the rest of our plans were forgotten as we made our way back home.

And that concludes February, 2007. Please click below to go forward to March.

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