Lewis' Exploring Oz

On and off the beaten track…………………….

Sydney, Wollongong, Canberra and Gundagai

Posted by lewisfamilyexploringoz on January 28, 2011

Hi Everyone,

Wade fishing at Park


As we headed towards Newcastle, just past Karuah, we found a lovely little place called the Australian Motor Homes Tourist Park and Fish farm right on the Pacific Hwy.  We had wanted to free camp but all the rest areas big enough for us were right on the highway. The sites are away from the road a fair bit so noise wasn’t too bad, they have a couple of dams stocked with fish and for a small fee you could do some catch-and-release fishing.  Wade thought he was in heaven! As soon as we had set up he was off to fish and Daniel went to find the TV/games room.  I think they both needed a bit of time apart from each other and us:) We only stayed overnight so we didn’t partake of the aqua golf or take the small bush walk and mini treasure hunt that was on offer.  It is a fairly new operation but the staff are very friendly and I would recommend a stay here for all sized rigs and they are a dog friendly park too! The weather was not so wet today and by the time we had set up it was a lovely, sunny day.  We were ever hopeful that the tide has turned in the weather stakes for us:)

Lane Cove CP

Chrissy Bus

We made our way to Sydney and the weather was staying sunny for us!  We had good advice to stop and stay at the Lane Cove River Caravan Tourist Park, thanks to Cheryl and John!  It was amazing! It is set in the Lane Cove National Park and is only 10km from the city. We were surrounded by bush and yet right in the city – quite surreal! We set up and decided to make the most of the weather and get our butts into the city to check out a few icons and figure out the next day or two’s  itinerary.  We caught the train about 1 km from the park and it took about 20mins to get to the city. Wade was quite excited as we were travelling on double-storey trains and I must admit I’d never seen one either! We alighted at Wynyard, caught a loop train to Circular Quay and then started walking.  We walked through the Quay and the kids were watching the buskers and other entertainers there.  One of the buses running through the city was all decorated with tinsel for Christmas and the driver was in full Santa garb – it was a funny and crowd-pleasing sight! We headed over to the Sydney Harbour Bridge but Wade was too young to do the walk on top of the bridge, so we decided to just walk across it instead. So glad we did as the views were just fantastic.  The weather was so clear and you could see for miles.  It was just a picture-perfect day! I took heaps of photos of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House and views down the river. Spectacular!

Walking on the bridge

Ye Ole Opera House

Double storey trains

Dan on Ferry

We caught the train into the city again and then we caught the ferry to Darling Harbour, then Pyrmont Bay where we lunched, then visited the Australian National Maritime Museum.  What an absolutely fantastic place!  We spent all afternoon here and we still didn’t get to see everything that this place has to see!

The Endeavour Replica

They have some historic vessels that are permanently moored here that you can tour and  a museum that would take you the best part of 2 days to see everything it has to offer.  We boarded the HMAS Vampire which was a naval destroyer and one of the last big-gun ships made. It served from 1956-1986.  The boys loved the fact that you could walk through the ships and touch most things.  The history and workings of the ship were quite fascinating.  The next vessel to be explored was the HMAS

Walking on HMAS Onslow

Onslow, an Oberon class submarine.  We entered via the rear hatch straight into the torpedo room.  Then we toured through the rest of the sub, all the while marvelling at how crowded and small the space was on board.  You wouldn’t have wanted to be very tall or large and stationed on this vessel that’s for sure! We have a friend Steve, who used to be in the Navy and on the subs and we joked about how he might have been on this sub and where he would have slept, etc.  Funnily enough when I facebooked about our visit, Renae told us he had actually been on board this sub during his service.  Spooky!!! but we take our hats off to you Steve as it would’ve been bloody hard living in those sort of conditions:)!

We also toured the Captain Cooks HMB Endeavour (or rather the replica of it).  This ship was built in Fremantle and has sailed around Oz a few times and will set off again in 2011-2012.  For a fee you can be a part of the crew and sail all or a part of the journey with them as either a crewman or passenger.  It was a magnificent replication of his working ship.  The volunteer gentlemen on board were very knowledgable and funny with their presentation of the ‘facts’! There is way too much information to try to put it in this blog but do yourselves a favour and if in Sydney make sure you visit this museum.

On the sub

Oh Yeah baby

Cpt Cook's cabin

What..can't hear you!

Heave Ho Lads!

Sydney Harbour Bridge

We also managed to fit in a tour of the resident Tall Ship called the James Craig.  It has a very interesting history and is in fact a restored ship not a replica.  The work that has gone into the restoration is amazing! She looks absolutely beautiful.  There are only four 19th century barques left in the world capable of sailing and you can hitch a ride once a month when she sails out to sea. We were the last ones to board for the day and after looking all around the ship we were ready to leave when the crew started pulling the ropes and securing the vessel. They asked Joel and the boys if they wouldn’t mind helping to pull the ship in closer to the dock.  They obliged and had a bit of fun as well.

The wind had picked up so the ferry ride was breezy but still a great day was had by all. We decided to eat in Circular Quay and Wade was fascinated with a mime.  He was painted in all silver and would sit very still until people would come up to him and touch him as they weren’t sure if he was a statue.  Wade went to put money in his hat and he followed him and tapped him on the shoulder to thank him and have a photo. He was very good and we laughed as he caught a few people off guard:)

Mime with wade

Spent the next day stocking up on groceries, shopping and washing! That evening we went on a free guided tour of the park with a ranger to spot possums and quolls-spotlights at the ready!

The Wollongong Gang

Headed out of Sydney towards Wollongong as we wanted to catch up with some friends we had met on the Gibb River Rd.  The road into Wollongong comes off a mountain and as we neared our destination I’m telling Joel to slow down and turn left and his reply is “I can’t”!  We finally managed to pull up using the gears and brakes of the car only to find out that when the guys (who “re-created” the car) re-wired the 7-pin trailer plug, they FORGOT to wire the 6th and  7th pins which were the caravan brakes!!! Not happy Jan.  We pulled up at Merri and David’s house and they kindly let us park in their drive and sleep inside for a few days.  Luxury! They have a beautiful house with a view to die for!  Merri had organised to have dinner with Greg and Marge too but we didn’t tell them that we would be there so it was a good surprise!  We had a great dinner with fantastic company and caught up on the goss of the day! A late but great night and a wonderful sleep in the next morning.  Merri cooked us a huge bacon and eggs brekky and we were ready to start the day!

Aye me hearties!

Illawarra Coastline

After Joel and Dave had organised to have the trailer plug fixed we set out for the day to explore a little of the area.  We went to the lookout at Bald Hill for some magnificent views of the coast! And we travelled over the most amazing bridge, the Sea Cliff Bridge, which is built parallel to the coast.  Further on to Mt Kembla lookout for fantastic views of the city and surrounding district. Then we went to Jambaroo Water Park for the rest of the afternoon.  Dave and the boys went on the water slides and had a blast while i took photos and Joel had a snooze. They had a toboggan run as well that we all had a go on – it was pretty cool actually! You had to rind a chair lift to the top of the hill and you could get some good speed up on the fast track so long as the slow pokes weren’t in front of you , sitting on the brakes! We retired back to Dave and Merri’s for a very yummy dinner and dessert! They all decided to watch “Pirates of the Caribbean” but Dave got the boys to do it in style, by dressing as pirates with hats, cutlasses and eye patches. What a sight! A very funny and great night:)

We farewelled our friends and thanked them for their outstanding hospitality and headed off towards Canberra.

All the 'kids' at Jambaroo

Toboggans a go!

Mt Kembla lookout

Along the way we stopped to see the huge wind turbines that were along the banks of a huge lake.  It was sooo windy here, so I can well understand why they put them here! We stayed at the Canberra Motor Village as it was the closest park to the city and to where our friend Tibor lives.  We set up, did some washing and then rang to meet up with Tibby.  We haven’t seen Tibby for about 3 years so we were looking forward to catching up.

Our nation's capital

Tibby and us

Unfortunately Daniel lost his footing climbing on the step to the van and took a huge chunk of flesh out of his shin – yeeow-ouchy! After playing Nurse Nightingale, we swung by Tibby’s place and then all went to the Mount Ainslie Lookout.  What a fabulous view of our nation’s capital. I took a few photos and we marvelled at how much bush there is around Canberra.  I always pictured it to be a concrete jungle of a city but it is really quite pretty with all that bushland around.  And windy – holy hell it was windy and a cold wind too!  The views from the top though are quite magnificent. We headed back to Tibby’s and were treated to a very yummy dinner and dessert!  It was great to catch up with him but we only had one night in Canberra as we are heading to Victoria for Chrissy so next time we pass through we will be able to stay longer and do some sight-seeing and catch up properly. Thanks for the hospitality Tibby:)  That night we could see the Telstra Tower or Black Mountain Tower which was beautifully lit up.  It would change colours starting at the bottom and changing all the way up to the top of the spire; it was very pretty.  I managed a few photos using the tripod.

Telstra Tower at night

Off today to Gundagai but Wade is very unwell.  He woke me at about 4:30am spewing all over himself, the doona and his bed.  Lucky it didn’t get Daniel on the bunk underneath.  But the laundry was closed until 8am so I hand-washed his bedding, clothes and wiped down his mattress while Joel took him to the showers then let him sleep in our bed.  He wasn’t much better when he woke so when we were sure he wasn’t spewing anymore we packed up and headed off to Gundagai.  There are a few road closures around us at the moment as Wagga Wagga  and a few other places are flooded but we managed quite all right sticking to the Hume Highway.

Dog on the Tuckerbox

There are 2 caravan parks in Gundagai but one was still in flood so we stayed at the Gundagai Tourist and Cabin Park.  Lovely staff and the park is right next door to the public swimming pool-shame it wasn’t swimming weather though! We set-up, lunched with poor Wade still feeling very under the weather and headed out to the “Dog on the Tuckerbox”.  We had a bit of a look around but didn’t want to keep Wade in the sun too long.  The Dog on the Tuckerbox is supposedly based on an incident that occurred to a teamster named Bill the Bullocky on the road to Gundagai in the 1850’s.

Flood level indicator

We drove around to have a look as there was still a lot of water around.  We found a flood level marker in town on one of the bridges that showed how high each flood has been in which year.  This year the flood reached 35ft apparently. We took some photos from a lookout on the edge of town that shows how high the water had come up, how far it had gone down and how much water was till around. Wade finally feeling better after living on powerade all day.

Gundagai floods

We left early and headed towards Wangaratta.  We stopped to stretch our legs at Holbrook at a really nice rest area next to the submarine in the middle of town. Yes, a real submarine! It was a real submarine, bought by the town, cut into pieces to fit on trucks then transported to the town and re-assembled by volunteers. The spectacular, traffic-stopping inland submarine is a fitting memorial to those brave men who serve and have served in submarines in both war and peace.

Holbrook Submarine

We stopped at the Ettamogah Pub, at Ettamogah, had some lunch and then a beer in the bar-as you do- but it was sad to see a lot of the place shutdown.  There was a “shed” out the back that housed a lot of the cartoons that Ken Maynard had drawn and I remember seeing them in the Australasian Post magazine and paper when I was a kid.  I loved them and remember them as so Australian!

Ettamogah Pub

We finally crossed the border into Mexico, I mean Victoria and were on our way to Wangaratta.  There was still so much water around, even in Wangaratta.  Between Wodonga and Wangaratta we hit the worst plague of locusts I have ever seen.  We had to stop to clean the windscreen at one stage, their sheer numbers were just amazing.  I know what the kids will be doing tomorrow:) We landed at my sister’s house in Wangaratta and will be here for about 3-4 weeks.  I’m so excited to see her and the kids and my mum is pretty excited to be having us all home for Chrissy:)

Till next time



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