Taken in the middle of our Australian Winter. :)
Last week, we left this walk on the first honeycomb bridge – we start back at the same spot this week. There is a bit of a downhill dip here, one reason for the hand rails. If you look closely you can see we are headed back towards having our feet on the ground with more concrete path
Here is a view looking back towards the spot where the first photo above was taken, because you can see the downhill dip a little better.
Back on the concrete path again!
Now we are heading towards a set of beach stairs which lead down to Orion Beach. You can see a large tree in the way up ahead, the path has curved to avoid it. Right there is another cliff like drop off, so in our next photo..
You can see that the fencing and handrails are back. You can also see an upcoming junction.
There is a small walkway down to this set of Orion Beach stairs in between the houses here.
I have not been down this set of beach stairs yet. There are just too many beaches in Jervis Bay. Next time I go on this walk, I will make the effort! ;) But don’t worry, you can go with me.
For us, it is back to the path today. Another bridge awaits us! Not much further to go now, before we are at the end of this new section.
It was Saturday morning, and I was sitting in my pyjamas drinking the morning coffee and doing a bit of reading. The Other Half was headed out to the Man Cave, and he said “Shall I let the chooks out?” I said, sure, not even thinking that there were strong wind warnings, because the caffeine had not kicked in yet.
Maybe 20 minutes later, while I was playing Cascade on my phone, I noticed an incoming call from The Other Half on his mobile. Before I could even think what the heck, I answered it. “I need your help out here” he said, out of breath. It sounded like he was fighting spiders, or snakes, or some kind of bad thing was happening, then he was babbling on about the padlock. What padlock, I was thinking? “I don’t understand what is going on” said I.
“Rosie has escaped the yard, she flew over the fence and I am trying to catch her, and if you open the side gate I might be able to shoo her in there, but at the moment I am not even sure where she has gone”.
So I raced to the bedroom to throw clothes on, then ran to the backdoor and put on my new gumboots, then ran to the back gate and tried to open the padlock. No go. It had rusted over. I yelled over the fence that I would swap with the other half because I could not open it, and ran around the side of the house. By the time I got out the front I heard this tremendous squawking and then I saw The Other Half emerge from the bushes, Rosie firmly grasped between his two hands.
He was covered in blackberry thorn scratches. She appeared to be fine, other than being very upset about being caught! She is a small chook, and when she gets separated from the other girls she will run like a bat out of hell to catch up with them, and if that does not seem to be fast enough, she will fly. On this morning, being quite windy, she got a little more lift than she expected and sailed over the fence as a surprise to herself.
It will be a few days before we recover enough from this incident to let them out again. I might have to head out down the side lane with the clippers and remove some of those blackberry bushes for everyone’s safety. One night recently, we heard someone using a chainsaw in the dark, the next day I found someone had been cutting up trees for firewood down there. Not a smart move, methinks!
What else have we been up to here, besides chasing chooks?
Watching – The X Files – we are up to season 8 finally! Plus, Mr Robot is back and it has been amazing thus far. I’m also enjoying season 3 of Murder In The First and The Deadliest Catch.
Building – New IKEA furniture – a story for another post. :)
Cleaning – the house like a crazy person as our vet did a home visit for Grumpy. Guess who spent two hours cleaning the bathroom and toilet in case the vet needed to use them, which of course she did not? They are super spotless now though, which is awesome. And that two hours does not include the four or so hours I spent deep cleaning the kitchen/lounge the day before, or the hours we spent vacuuming and mopping the floors the day before that.
Considering – We’ve realised that Grumpy gets very stressed out having to go to the vet, and that was actually making her eye ulcers worse than better. Any progress we would make was wiped out the following visit because she got stressed about the previous visit. On this home visit, we were very glad to find no eye ulcers in the eye, however we are talking with the vet about corrective surgery for her eyelid as it keeps turning inwards.
Planning – Our Gold Coast – Tamworth – Bathurst trip with Sephyroth, this coming October. In the above photo the pink arrows point to the Peninsula Apartments, where we will be staying, and the blue arrows point to the Q1 which they were building on our trip up there in 2003.
Listening – I made two MP3 CDs for my nephew recently, for his new car. The first two burned wrong for his car, something about folders and playlists, but they work ok in mine, and so I have been greatly enjoying them. It is all 80’s music, all kinds of stuff from I’m Too Sexy by Right Said Fred to Gold by Spandau Ballet. We burned them correctly on the second try and loaded them into his car as a surprise. He sent me an SMS after he drove home in the car to say how awesome the first CD was, and he was right!
Wondering – just who the heck this person is that I seem to have become. I went to Aqua Aerobics last week but the warm indoor pool was closed. My options were – go home or get in the outdoor pool and do some aqua jogging and swimming in there. It was 17C (62.6F) outside, and the pool is heated to 25.2C (77.36) and normally there would be NO WAY IN HELL I would get in an outdoor pool at these low for Australia temperatures, but I was determined to do my exercise, so I GOT IN.
I have been playing Tiny Tower Vegas for probably 6 months now, just when I’m going to bed or waking up in the morning. I have 68 levels most at level 7 and 8 – I believe the game runs out of levels just over 100. I also have 1212 chips – and I did not cheat! I just ran out of time to play the poker games and the chips have been stacking up as a surprise to myself.
Here is our starting location on the map. Basically where all the pink arrows meet is where you should head to if you want to do this walk yourself.
Here is the only available Google Maps street view image, which was taken back in December 2007. Things have changed considerably since then! That house is gone, replaced with a large two story modern home, which you can just see a little of in the very first image I posted here.
I am conscious of the fact that the people who live here did not bargain for this path arriving behind their homes, so when I took these photos I tried to take photos of the path and not so much of the houses. Though in some shots it was difficult to avoid them. My apologies to the home owners, if they happen upon this post.
There is something in this next photo which you might not be able to spot. Here is a closer view –
A rainbow pirate ship lives here! There is also a black one, but I did not manage to get a shot of it this day.
Now you will begin to see some of the hard work done by the path creators. I really love that they have put in plenty of handrails. There are no handrails to be found on the Huskisson to Vincentia path that I recall. Most of that path is flat, though there are a couple of hilly sections which could do with a handrail.
If I were building this path, I might have chosen a darker colour for the concrete. This path is very new and there is already a lot of leaf staining happening. Though we’ve had some leaf staining on our grey concrete here at home so you might get it regardless of concrete colour. I imagine there will have to be regular leaf blowing along this path.
And now you see, we leave the ground for a large section of bridge. It is made from an odd material. I have no idea what one would call it. Here is a closer view of it.
As I am not a builder of paths, I have no idea what this is made from but I really like it. There is another bridge made from the same material on the Vincentia to Huskisson path.
We have not progressed very far along the path, drop back for more path next Wednesday! :)
The travel matrix booking system @ GCHR
Back in the days when Wotif was the main, big travel website here in Australia, I found booking things online was so easy. It looked a little like the matrix photo above, except with a lot of green instead of orange and yellow.
Wotif had this great matrix where you could easily compare prices at various hotels for a fortnight, a simple click of the arrows gave you the next fortnight, and you could see with one glance which were the cheapest days to travel and which hotels had the best deals for your dates.
I had been booking via Wotif for the past 12-14 years anytime we needed to travel within Australia purely because it was so easy. I did not mind the booking fee because HEY, finding what I was looking for was simple and easy. I actually used to enjoy doing the research and finding the best dates and the best price for when we were travelling.
All this changed in early 2015, when Wotif kicked the matrix to the kerb and replaced it with this shyte.
I was blissfully unaware of this until now, because we have not been travelling a lot lately. However the parents have now gone to Canada and Alaska for a summer holiday and we needed to book a night up in Sydney to pick them up, so I typed in my go-to site Wotif and was stunned to find the awesome matrix is gone.
I don’t even know what the heck that is, up there. What do I care how many people booked the hotel in the past X hours? Or how long it has been since someone made a booking there? Why is there an identical phone number on all of the listings? Oh, it is your phone number, Wotif? If I wanted to know your number, I would find it. I would expect the number on the listing to be for the hotel itself. WTF, WOTIF?
Then I discovered our the prices at our go-to place to stay, Stamford Plaza Sydney Airport, had risen to a somewhat terrifying level – up by $80 a night for the room we usually stay in – and yet the hotel has not had any kind of refurbishment or upgrades that I can see. The last time we stayed there it was looking very tired. Plus now they want what seems like an outrageous sum of money ($30) to park our car overnight. In fact, all Sydney hotels do!
I faffed about for two days across the various hotel booking websites trying to find a better deal for that hotel and I epically failed. In the end, I gave up on all the booking sites and booked with the hotel directly because the prices were identical and I get free wifi booking with the hotel. Considering they want about $25 for that, it is a decent saving.. even so, the amount I am paying for one night is too much.
Sydney Airport Stamford, we might be breaking up soon. This next stay would have to be *exceptional* for us to keep going back. There are multiple new hotels opening near you, and we’re ready to give them a try.
In October, Sephyroth is flying out to visit. He arrives at 6:05am, so we needed to book another night at an airport hotel to collect him. I found and booked the new Meriton Mascot Serviced Apartments which does not open until August. Meriton consistently gets good reviews across their current apartments so we will give them a try, who knows, it might turn out to be our new Sydney Airport go-to hotel.
We also had talked about staying in Sydney for a few days – as we did on his last visit in 2011. I started the hunt on the travel booking sites and found 3 nights in a 2 bedroom apartment would be around AUD 1,000 to 1,500 ***PLUS*** carparking fees starting at $25 per night and going right up to $60 per night. For self parking, not valet!
I said to The Other Half, maybe we should think about other destinations. What about the Gold Coast? We have not been up there for a while. We can drive up so we’ll have a car, we can find a place with a kitchen so we can cook a little to save $$ if we like, there is loads to do up there, parking is usually included, and Sephyroth will get to see a bit more of Australia this way.
I checked in with Sephyroth. He thought this was an awesome idea. And thus began a journey of my nightmares, using these travel sites to try and find pricing, some of which are purely there to give you the prices on a multitude of OTHER travel booking sites.
Whenever we have travelled as a family to the Gold Coast, we usually stay at the Breakfree Peninsula and we have done for a long time now, since the late 80’s. The building was built in 1982, so when I read reviews that some of the units were looking tired, I was not too surprised. They are almost as old as I am, and I am pretty tired myself! ;)
Despite possible tired-ness of the units, the grounds are beautiful and they have several pools on site, we like the place, we know the location and love the view, so that was number one on the list. Mantra Circle on Cavill was another – much more expensive – contender. I also liked the look of Artique.
I remembered that Andrew had been to the Gold Coast recently – they stayed at the Chateau Beachside Resort. The location is fantastic. Sadly this was not an option for us because we need two separate bedrooms with at least a single bed in the second bedroom. Chateau does offer a sofa bed option, but I would not inflict that upon Sephyroth for 6 nights in a row. Nor one night. I’m wacky (nice?) like that!
After checking all the travel websites I gave Flight Centre a call, and they gave me a price for the Peninsula which was $100 cheaper than any of the booking sites had done – including the Breakfree site itself. BOOK IT, I said!
I said to the lovely girl at Flight Centre that she had taken a great weight from my shoulders, however the nightmare was not quite over yet, as I still had to book nights for the journey home in Tamworth and Bathurst – the boys want to see the car museum there. She said oh, let me look at that for you, I’ll give you a call tomorrow with the prices.
The next day, there was the rarest of experiences here in the Shoalhaven – the lovely girl at Flight Centre actually called me back! I’d done some research in the meantime and picked out a few options. Unfortunately her wholesaler did not have those options available, so I just booked the Peninsula with her and got back on the discount website search for the other locations.
I’d already picked out good options for both of those locations and it did not take very long to make final decisions and book those last two places to stay.
I tell you something, if you are ever in Tamworth you will be spoilt for choice of great motels to stay in. The reviews for at least 4 of them are consistently excellent. Bathurst is a different story, I struggled a bit to find a decent place there and we even considered staying elsewhere. Of course I will give you a full review of these places once we have been on our trip.
Thank the deities that particular travel booking nightmare is over.
Shoalhaven Council have spent a large amount of money and almost a year building more shared path – shared between cyclists and pedestrians – down at Vincentia. It has been controversial, especially with the residents who live in this location. It is completed now and we took our first walk on it just over a week ago on an utterly gorgeous winter day.
I can see why the path was Up Money. A lot of it is suspended bridge. Because it was such a gorgeous day and so many people were out walking it was virtually impossible to get shots of it. We had more luck the next weekend when it was raining, but that is a post for another week. In fact I will do several posts with photos from the whole new section. :)
The path travels above Orion Beach, amazingly there are beaches in the Shoalhaven that I have not been to, and this is one of them.
It meets up with some new concrete path, and that leads onto some bush tracks we had never walked before. This path really opened up new possibilities for us.
Here are some bush track stairs.
Here is a section of path near Greenfields Beach. We’ve walked here before but only by parking the car *at* Greenfields carpark. This was a whole new kettle of fish and it was great!
Almost to Hyams, we did a small beach walk just to round out our 5km because we ran out of bush track. We ended up walking nearly all the way to Hyams Beach from Vincentia, a 10km round trip.
Sometimes, progress is not popular but it is usually worth it in the end. I think this is one of those occasions. The bay is worth spending money on because it is a huge tourist attraction. Every time I go down there, there are people out enjoying themselves. Because it is a shared path it is popular with cyclists especially kids because there are no cars.
Don’t you just LOVE it when the universe decides to have a joke at your expense?
At the last Federal Election, I worked at a holiday town election booth as a declaration votes officer. There were at least two of us, possibly three, I can’t remember. We were pretty busy all day helping people visiting from other electorates to cast their votes. During that day, I had TWO votes for our local electorate of Gilmore, both for people who had enrolled at the last minute and somehow got left off the electoral roll.
So, on Saturday the 2nd of July I unwrapped my votes for the many electorates and began counting them, 5 for each electorate. When I got to Gilmore, I laughed to myself and thought “I won’t need many of those today”.
And the universe laughed with me, or maybe at me, because unknown to me there had been some kind of error with the electoral roll. Some people who were on the roll at the last election suddenly found that they were missing. They had not changed address. They had not changed anything with the AEC. But they could not be found, and had to cast declaration votes.
I had to ask my manager for a pad of Gilmore votes. They are printed in books of 100. I had less than 10 left at the end of the day – add in the 5 I started with, it was almost 100 declaration votes for Gilmore. HA HA, laughed the universe!
There was only one of me this time. There were times where I was surrounded by people at my table. I only had one pen which would work on the envelopes and the polling place manager had to do some pen stealing to find me more. I ended up with four. Even with all four pens being used to fill in envelopes, there were long queues of people waiting for me. I was using one pen – the one that would not work on the envelopes – to write down the things I needed to add to the envelopes once they were filled in.
Handing out votes, saying all the things I needed to say, reminding everyone their votes HAD to come back to me to be placed into their envelopes.. I felt like an election robot.
Just after 5pm, I ran out of declaration vote envelopes. We did not have any more, nor did we have any way to get anymore. We had to send those people to other voting places.
The good news is, this meant I could close my station and begin reconciling. Thank the deities, the vote numbers worked out perfectly. Declaration votes are not counted on election day, they are sent to their various electorates to be counted. The envelopes remain closed until they arrive there. Not even the declaration votes cast within their own electorate are opened and counted.
I was done with my reconcillation by 6:30pm which meant I could join in the counting of regular votes. With one of the best teams of AEC staff I have ever been lucky enough to meet, and everyone pitching in and working hard, we had everything counted by 8:30pm. Another half hour to pack up, 15 minutes to bump out and clean up, and we were all out of there by 9:20pm or so. I was home with my beloved Antony Green on the teevee by 9:30pm. I was in bed not long after that – I recorded him to watch later.
As I type this on the 4th of July, there is no election result in Australia. There are currently 10 electorates too close to call and all the votes – postal, declaration, pre-poll – will have to be counted in order to get a result. By the time this post is scheduled I hope we might have a result, I will update it next Sunday.
One of those electorates is my own – Gilmore.
UPDATE – Supposedly the coalition has claimed victory, even though there is more counting to do.. :/
Family has been visiting this week, here is a shot I took mid Thursday as we went for a short Vincentia walk.
I’ll be taking a break from blogging next week because I have been so busy gallivanting about this week. :) After that I will be back with election tales, and some things I bought this week.