Monday – Thursday, 1-4 August 2016 – Days 47 – 50 – Travelling Home from Porto/Lisbon via Heathrow, Singapore, Sydney to Canberra

Monday – Thursday, 1-4 August, 2016 – Days 47 – 50 – Travelling Home from Porto/Lisbon via Heathrow, Singapore, Sydney to Canberra 

Monday, 1 August 2016 – Day 47 – Porto to Lisbon and London

After breakfast, I caught a taxi from the Lusitana Hotel to the Porto Airport for my flight on TP1927 leaving at 9.30 arriving in Lisbon at 10.30.  I just stayed at the airport until it was time for me to get my flight from Lisbon to Luton, United Kingdom that departed at 3.50. It was a smooth flight and arrived at Luton Airport at about 6.30.

While I was waiting to collect my luggage, was talking to a woman who lived in London and said it was better to catch a train into St. Pancreas Station and she would help me with my luggage and transport arrangements. It was raining while we waited for a train but managed to get on before getting too wet. While we were on the train, the woman whose name escapes me, decided to have a drink that she had got duty free. Was a bit embarrassing, as her language was not the best. We eventually got to St Pancreas Station after about an hour and a half on the train. St Pancreas Station was quite deserted but there was a coffee shop open so went there for a coffee. By this time, the woman is getting quite loud and when I came back from the cloak room, she had been escorted away by some policemen. I believe the coffee shop people must have called the police as they were ready to close. Well, I had no idea how far my hotel was and it was getting quite late and no one else around the area so I found my way out and eventually got a taxi to my hotel.

It was very late when I finally arrived at the London Heathrow Airport Ibis as was quite a distance. Very exhausting day. Fell into bed.

Tuesday – Thursday, 2 – 4 August, 2016 – Days 48 – 50 -London, Singapore, Singapore, Sydney to Canberra 

On Tuesday, 2 August 2016  (Day 48) I booked out of the Ibis at 7.00 and caught the shuttle car to the nearby Heathrow Airport and went to book my case in only to be told my flight was not this morning but tonight. Imagine how I felt. Decided to go back to the hotel and they kindly let me back into my room until 2.00.  I was glad of some sleep as was very tired. After booking out once more, I went back to the Airport but it was a long wait until I was able to book in. Spent the time at the airport doing a lot of “people watching”, talking to different passengers, eating and some coffee.

The T5 Gallery is a unique cultural space within the Heathrow airport. The gallery is one of the few permanent commercial fine art galleries in the world to be situated in an airport and is in an ideal position to reach and introduce art to a wide international audience.  I spent quite a lot of time in the gallery admiring the magnificent sculptures. One of the artist who had her work on display was Marie Boyle who comes from Dublin, Ireland but has spent the last 24 years working in England.

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It was finally time for me to go through Security and board my BA15 flight that took off at 9.45pm. This is the dreaded long haul – 13 hours 5 minutes!  After having the meal, I settled down and was able to get some sleep.  We arrived in Singapore – now 3 August due to the different time zone – at about 5.40pm.  There was only a short layover in Singapore.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016 – Day 49 – In flight to Sydney 

Back on BA15 that left Singapore at 7.20pm – Another 7 hr 45 minutes in the air. Was a smooth flight and arrived in Sydney about 5.05am.

Thursday, 4 August 2016 – Day 50 – Sydney to Canberra – Home

I had to collect my luggage and go through Customs before boarding the shuttle bus from International to Domestic terminal. I boarded QF1526 at 9.50a.m for Canberra but we were delayed. Finally took off at 10.45 and arrived in Canberra at 11.30am. Rob was there to collect me. Was terrific to see him. We collected my luggage and drove me home.

Lucky enough to have had another wonderful trip abroad. I was very fortunate with the weather and only had a little bit of rain while in England – typical I guess.

Is hard to say what one highlight of my trip is as saw so many wonderful sights in the countries I visited – England, Wales, Malta, Sicily (Italy) and Portugal.

While in England and Wales, caught up from past year’s meetings overseas, with dear Lucy, David, Louise, and Vanessa and also met her hubby, Neil and two of the sons, Tom and Will – Cynthia, and this time met her husband Mark and two children, Grace and Ally. Received great hospitality from Warren, Emily and Anthony while I stayed with them. Met up with Carson in Cardiff and had a long but enjoyable day.  Also had a nice day with Niamh and met her now fiancee Alan.  While in Malta, met David and Maddie from England.  It was great catching up with Terrie and Mark   – met them in 2013 at the Taj Mahal in India – while in Cascais, Portugal.  Thankyou to all who showed me such nice hospitality. It has been great keeping in touch with you since we first met and to new friends. Stay in touch in the future.

The four countries I visited were very diverse – England and Wales so very green, Malta very hot and dry and Portugal very mountainous and weather very warm.

I thoroughly enjoyed the tours I took and the several boat rides and visiting the wineries were excellent. I visited and saw lots of beautiful churches and castles – the architecture in all the countries are just magnificent and when you think how long ago some of these buildings were built is just amazing. Although I only had a very long day’s trip from Malta to Sicily it was worth it – visiting Taormina and Mt Etna was certainly high on the list and being able to visit Fatima was so different – a very calming atmosphere.

I give thanks to the many tour guides for their safe driving.  A huge thanks to the several pilots who flew me to and from the different destinations and anyone else who drove me places.

Now this trip has ended – once more a wonderful time and feel very fortunate that I was able to do it.  So now it is back to reality and hopefully do some more travelling in the future.

END OF MY FANTASTIC OVERSEAS TRIP IN 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Start of overseas trip – 16 June 2016 – Days 1 and 2

 Thursday, 16 June 2016. –  Start of overseas trip – Days 1 and 2.

Rob picked me up at 10.00 and drove me to the Canberra airport for my flight at 12.10 on QF1474 to Sydney.

Was a smooth flight and arrived at 1.05.  Hopped on the shuttle bus to the international airport and through Security and to Gate 60 to board BA16 to London via Singapore.  We left at 3.00.  Didn’t seem as though we had been on board before we were served a meal of chicken, corn rice and a glass of Temprranillo La Mancha a product of Spain.  Was a good flight and arrived in Singapore at 9.15 local time Australia is 2 hours ahead.

Was a long walk to C20. Went through Security at 10.00 pm and boarded BA16. and we departed at 10.45 pm.  Settled in and at 2.00 am served a meal of fish, spinach, potatoes, carrots, a side dish of tuna, lettuce, capsicum and a dessert of a lemon square, strawberries and cranberries.  I then took my painkillers and a mild sleeping tablet and had a good sleep until I was woken up at 3.00 am with breakfast.  At this stage we had 2 hours to go before London.  When it was 11.00am in Singapore it was 4.00am in London and now we only had 45 minutes before our landing time was a little earlier than scheduled. We landed at 4.45am.

Friday, 17 June 2016 – London (Day 2)

Hopped straight onto the transit train and onto passport security. Took about an hour and then collected my luggage and my transport was waiting to drive me to Euston Station by 6.45.  I got my rail ticket and went in for some breakfast as train I wanted was leaving at 8.49. Arrived at Birmingham New Street Station where I had to change trains at 11.10am – go over the other platform and that train left at 11.25 for Telford Central, arriving at 12.00.  It was raining in London but was nice and sunny in Telford.  Got a cab to my accommodation but room wasn’t ready until 2.00 so went and had a croissant and coffee.

I settled into my room and had an early night.

 

 

Tuesday to Thursday, 23 – 25 February, 2016 – Last day in the Cook Islands and Home

Tuesday – Thursday, 23 – 25  February 2016 – Last day in the Cook Islands and Home

Tuesday, 23 February 2016:  Went down for our usual delicious breakfast at the Shipwreck Bar.

 

We decided to go into Avarua for our last minute purchases and to post our postcards. We were “lured” once more into the Fudge shop.

We caught the 1.30pm bus back to our unit and had a late late lunch on our balcony as needed to use up our supplies. After we did our packing, went for our last swim and then it was just a lazy afternoon. It was nice and relaxing as we extended the room until 6.00pm that evening instead of the checkout at 10.00am.

After my last swim

After my last swim

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Christine on our balcony

We and then it was just a lazy afternoon after we did our packing. It was nice and relaxing as we extended the room until 6.00pm that evening instead of the checkout at 10.00am. It was then down to the Shipwreck Bar for our last drink until we were picked up to take us to the Airport.

We weighed our cases – Chris’ weighed 18kgs and mine was 17kgs. Wish I could keep my luggage down to that all the time for future travelling overseas.  We went through Customs quite easily and had a little time before we boarded our Virgin Australia International Flight VA172 for our 4 hours and 30 minutes flight. We were in 25E and F seating so had the three seats to ourselves. Sometime into our flight we had about 20 minutes of really bad turbulence and again another session but then after that we had a smooth flight and landing into Auckland at 1.25am New Zealand time on Thursday 25 February as we crossed the International Date Line so “lost” a day.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

We filled in time until it was time for us to go into the International Departure Lounges. Christine went ahead as she was due to leave a half an hour before me so we said our goodbye in case we didn’t catch up with each other as I went and purchased a magazine.  I was once more “bomb tested” while going through Security. Chris and I did meet up again so we had another last coffee together before she went to Gate 10 for her departure. I then went downstairs to Gate 5 to board my Air New Zealand Flight NZ101 at 6.15am. to Sydney.

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I had an aisle seat in Seat 29K (4 across). We took off at 7.00am for the 3.35hrs flight to Sydney. We settled back until breakfast of scrambled eggs, yoghurt and fruit were served. Was a very smooth flight and we arrived about 20 minutes early but had to circle around before we could be allocated a gate so virtually got in at our estimated time of 8.35am Sydney time.

I went through E-passport and then collected my luggage and through Customs no trouble. I then got on the 9.15am transit bus to the Domestic terminal. It was a nice sunny day.  I filled in some time before booking my case through to Canberra. After passing through Security, I went and had a nice croissant, coffee and Portuguese tart before boarding my final flight.

At 11.15am boarded my Virgin Flight VA642 – window seat 11F. This was a twin propellor ATR72-500/600 so was going to take almost an hour to arrive home. We taxiied off at 11.25am but had to wait for several planes ahead of us in the queue to take off. Once in the air, visibility was quite hazy.  It was a smooth flight and landed in Canberra at 12.35pm. Rob was there to meet me and it was home by 1.15pm to a warm 38 degree Canberra.

It was home to reality after two weeks of having a great time both with our activities in Melbourne and then our stay in magical Cook Islands with Christine. We thoroughly enjoyed The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, going up the Eureka Tower while in Melbourne and then having our many bus trips while on Rarotonga – seeing the beautiful colours of the lagoon, the lovely white soft sand, the majestic mountains, many gravesites, the palms and coconut trees swaying and the many beautiful colours of the different flowers and being greeted with the Kia Orana by the hospitable Cook Islanders – having our flight over to the “slice of Heaven”, the Island of Autitaki – swimming with the bigger fish and seeing the many many different coloured fish while snorkelling.

Was a super fortnight !!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, 16 February 2016 – Leaving Melbourne for the Cook Islands via Auckland, New Zealand

Tuesday, 16 February 2016 – Leaving Melbourne for the Cook Islands via Auckland, New Zealand

Later in the afternoon, we retrieved our luggage from the Punthill Apartment and caught the 3.00pm Shuttle Bus to the Melbourne International Airport. We weighed our luggage and I was surprised that mine was 14 Kgs and Christine’s 17 Kgs. This was a record for me. With some assistance we printed off our boarding passes and luggage tags and then booked our luggage through to Rarotonga, Cook Islands. At 4.45pm we were at Security. I was requested to go into the cubicle and I “lit up” but evidently it was my watch.  Then I was “bomb checked” but of course was all clear there. We were through Security by 5.00pm so had time for a coffee and watched a TV program, “The Chase” until 6.00pm and then went to the nearby Gate 10 and our Air New Zealand Flight 126 was boarding. The plane was a 2x3x2 configuration. Chris and I were seated together in rows 29E and 29F. We departed at 6.40pm and the flight was going to be 3 hours and 40 minutes approximately. We settled down and waited for the meal to arrive as we were not sure whether we were going to receive any. When they were eventually served, there was only one meal being served to me. We were told that there had been a mix up with our booking but in the end we were both given a meal.

The flight was reasonably smooth for most of the way with just a small amount of turbulence.  We arrived in Auckland, New Zealand at approximately 12.20pm (New Zealand being 2 hours ahead of Australia). Kia Ora (Welcome) The queue to get through Customs and Security was horrendous as 6 planes were being processed at the same time. The queue was miles long and 4 wide. We finally got through and endeavoured to find somewhere to settle in as we  were not due to fly out until later that night. It was quite difficult to find somewhere immediately, but eventually found some vacant seats near the arrival area. I found 4 seats that I could spread out on and was pleased to be horizontal as standing in the queue for so long was playing its toll.

My "5 star" accommodation

My “5 star” accommodation !!!!!!

Christine was going to be stoic and stay awake. I stirred at 2.00am – couldn’t sleep with the activities going on in the airport. I layed down again until 4.00am when I went and bought us a cup of coffee.  At 5.00am the airport became even more busy as this was the time that more flights were coming and going. At 6.15am another coffee before we purchased tickets for the Sky Bus into Auckland City.  It was quite wet and very windy. We left at 7.35 and arrived at the Queen Street Wharf at 8.20am. We went into Valentiinos Gelato for a nice breakfast. Christine went quickly to the nearby Post Office to exchange some currency and then we purchased return ferry tickets for the 10.00am ferry to nearby Devonport.  At 10.30am we hopped on a mini bus for a detailed commentary by a Steve.  Our first stop was at Maunhgauika, North Head.

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We went into an older underground tunnel that used to be a gunnery. It was nice to be out of the misty rain and wind. Once out of the tunnel, we had views over the harbour.

It was then up a very steep climb via Alexandra Road to the very windy Mt. Victoria a prominent hill 196 metres (643 ft) high. From here, Mount Victoria provides stunning 360 degree views of  City, the harbour and the ocean to the south

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Just about blown back to Auckland !!!!

It was then down to Devonport village where our very interesting and informative commentary by Steve ended at 11.30pm.  As it was raining again, we went into a nice restaurant, Dixie Browns for Waffles and icecream and coffee.

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We were told it was “Waffles Wednesday” and our photo was taken to go on their Facebook page. (Can’t find it). After the huge waffles, we caught the 12.45pm ferry back to Auckland and onto the 1.00pm Skybus to the Airport. We sat around for awhile until it was time to go through Security. It was easiest to use the E-passport facility but Christine’s didn’t work so got assistance. We passed through the International shops to Gate 5. Before we boarded, I noticed a Pandora shop and as Christine likes the product, she went and had a look – No, it wasn’t just a look. She came back smiling as she made a purchase to be added to her collection. It was now time to board our Virgin Australia Flight VA173 at 3.35 for the departure time of 1620 pm. The approximate flight time was 3 hours 55 minutes.

We had 3 seats to ourselves. We were not eligible for a meal on this leg so just had some cheese and biscuits. It was a very smooth flight and we arrived in Rarotonga, the capital of the Cook Islands  and is the largest of the 15 Cook Islands on Tuesday, 16 February 2016 at 9.15pm although we left New Zealand on Wednesday, 17 February 2016. This is due to crossing the International Date Line and Rarotonga is 23 hours behind Australia. All very confusing.

 

On entering the terminal, we were greeted with “Kia Orana” – This is the welcome and means “may you live long”. Very touching. A floral garland was placed around our necks as this is one of their customs.

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We were happy to see that our luggage had also arrived and as we approached Customs, a man was playing on his ukelele. As the airport is quite small, we passed through Customs very easily and was greeted by Steve who drove us to our accommodation at the Aroa Beachside Inn on the western, leeward side of the island. It was upstairs and our number was “207 – Penrhyn” and right on the waterfront. All the accommodation was given the names of the 15 islands of the Cook Islands.

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As we were extremely tired, we virtually went straight to bed.  We cannot believe that we are now in the Cook Islands.

 

 

 

FRIDAY, 1 JANUARY 2016 – HAPPY NEW YEAR

 

This card says it all.  I wish you all a very happy New Year and trust that 2016 is one of your best years.  Love and best wishes from Brenda

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Activities in 2015

MY ACTIVITIES AND INTERESTING POINTS   –   JANUARY – MARCH 2015 

Wednesday, 7 January, 2015   –    Today was my first outing since returning from my lovely trip to New Zealand on 5 January.  I went to the Snapper Fish and Chips Bar at the Southern Cross Yacht Club. Is a lovely venue looking out to Black Mountain Tower, over to Civic Centre and seeing all the different craft on the lake. Went with Trish, Wendy and her little 7 year old grandaughter, Melodie.  Melodie is a little “poser” for photos but she is a very well behaved girl.

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 This is Melodie – she is such a sweetie

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It was a very pleasant afternoon especially as the weather was perfect.

Thursday, 8 January, 2015

Lee and John were in Canberra from the Sunshine Coast so went and met them and their grandaughter, Keira.  Was beaut to catch up with them and to see how Keira has grown since I saw her last.  She enjoyed her time on the Merry-go-round.

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February 2015

Cant believe that Adrian is now going to school. 

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Visit to HERVEY. BAY, Queensland – 26 February 2015 – 26 March 2015

I had the opportunity to go up to HERVEY BAY, which is a city in Queensland, Australia. The city is situated approximately 290 kilometres or 3½ hours highway drive north of the state capital, Brisbane.  It is a natural bay between the Queensland mainland and nearby Fraser Island.

The purpose of my visit at this time was to housesit a property and to care for Rosie, a Jack Russell.  Was also a good reason to finally catch up with Bonnie and George, friends from Canberra who had moved up to Hervey Bay almost a year ago.

On the morning of Thursday, 26 February 2015,  Peter drove me to the Canberra Airport at 7.15am. I boarded my Flight VA633, leaving at 8.05 to Sydney (an hour’s flight) and after a reasonable stopover, then boarded Flight VA1555, leaving at 10.20 arriving in Hervey Bay at 11.05 (another hour’s flight).  Both flights were very smooth.  Bonnie met me and drove me back to their place and I stayed there that night.

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Bonnie, George and I then went to lovely Arkarra Tea Gardens, a gorgeous outdoors café set on two acres of beautifully landscaped gardens for lunch..

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That evening we went to a Lions meeting. Bonnie and George sponsored me into the Lions Club in Canberra. I felt quite embarrassed as by this time due to my getting up at 5.45 a.m. Canberra time, (Queensland is an hour behind) I was feeling very tired so as soon as got home I went to bed.

The next morning, Friday, 27 February 2015, Bonnie took me to meet Sue who was the owner of the property I was to be looking after.  It was a  lovely home, set in an acre of lush green foliage and to meet little Rosie, a dear little Jack Russell. I had no idea that the property was so beautiful – I thought I was just going to housesit a “normal” home.   It was certainly a lovely place to relax and I felt as though I was on a tropical island or in a botanical garden when outside and the interior of the home made me feel as though I was in South Africa as Sue and Jim lived over there and have some beautiful artefacts.  There was the Dundowran beach only about 700 metres from Sue’s place so Rosie got lots of walks.

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That evening, Sue, Sue’s sister Nancy, neighbour of Sue, Lyn, Bonnie, George and I went out for a lovely Indian meal down at Shelley Beach and then it was home to Sue’s place where I was now staying.  The next morning, Saturday, 28 February, 2015 Sue left for her time in Tasmania.  It was now just Rosie and me but I did have some interesting visitors call in on me – a frog, geckos, and some kookaburras.


IMG_1425This address was a little way from any shopping facilities and as I did not have a car I was looked after by Lyn, a neighbour, Bonnie and George and Sue’s sister, Anne. I did not mind being “isolated” as I had some projects I intended to do. Some of these did not eventuate as had intermittent trouble getting the internet and the use of the mobile was virtually nil, so did lots of TV watching, knitting, walks to the beach and doing the watering, etc the time passed all too quickly. Also did lots of chatting with Lyn and she took me into the shopping centre a couple of times.

On Sunday, 8 March, 2015 – My friend, Christine’s sister, Leona and her husband Allan made a visit up from near Bundaberg. We drove into the heart of Hervey Bay and had a nice meal of fish and chips on the esplanade in Bill Fraser Park.

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It was really nice of Leona and Allan to drive up to see me and was nice catching up.

On Friday, 13 March, 2015   Lyn picked me up at 6.45am and drove me to the Stockland Shopping Centre so as I could get a shuttle bus to take me on a day tour over to Fraser Island. I saw quite a lot of the suburbs of Hervey Bay as we made several “pickups” along the way before reaching River Heads to connect the 8.30 barge and once on Fraser Island we (22 other passengers) transferred to our bus and set off for the day

Fraser Island stretches over 123 kilometres in length and 22 kilometres at its widest point. With an area of 184 000 hectares it is the largest sand island in the world.

Fraser Island’s World Heritage listing ranks it with Australia’s Uluru, Kakadu and the Great Barrier Reef. Fraser Island is a precious part of Australia’s natural and cultural heritage, it is protected for all to appreciate and enjoy. It is a place of exceptional beauty, with its long uninterrupted white beaches flanked by strikingly coloured sand cliffs, and over 100 freshwater lakes, some tea-coloured and others clear  blue all ringed by white sandy beaches. Ancient rainforests grow in sand along the banks of fast-flowing, crystal-clear creeks. Fraser Island is the only place in the world where tall rainforests are found growing on sand dunes at elevations of over 200 metres.

The immense sand blows and cliffs of coloured sands are part of the longest and most complete age sequence of coastal dune systems in the world and they are still evolving. They are a continuous record of climatic and sea level changes over the last 700 000 years. The highest dunes on the island reach up to 240 metres above sea level.

We drove along the sand tracks to Central Station – a former forestry camp. The vegetation was quite dense and is hard to believe that everything grows in sand and if a tree is 20 feet tall, the roots go down the same amount.  We then came out onto the beach and drove several miles along the famour 75 mile Beach.  Our first stop was for some of us to board an Air Fraser light plane. Was quite an experience taking off and landing on the beach airstrip.  The 15 minute flight was great as you got spectacular views over the ocean, the sand dunes, the several lakes and out over Hervey Bay.

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After we landed, we watched a couple of other planes land. It is really an interesting exercise, as the beach is shared by other vehicles, but the planes have “right of way”.  One has to be extra cautious.

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We then drove more miles along the Beach until we arrived at Eli Creek. Eli Creek, the largest creek on the eastern beach of Fraser Island, pours up to four million litres of clear, fresh water into the ocean every hour. Eli Creek is a popular picnic and swimming spot, with a boardwalk that follows the creek inland through banksia and pandanus.  There wasn’t time to have a swim but it was so refreshing to put your feet in the crystal clear water and cool down as it was quite warm – about 31 degrees.

 

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Into the bus once more and it was more driving along the beach to The Pinnacles. Some of the most mystifying yet striking sand can be found at The Pinnacles Coloured Sands.  Located 18 km south of Indian Head and a couple of kilometres north of the Maheno Shipwreck, The Pinnacles Coloured Sands is proof that Fraser’s pristine white sand isn’t the only thing that would captivate you. Its spectacular array of multi-coloured sand cliffs is simply one of the most amazing things on Fraser Island that your eyes could marvel at. The sand comes in rich and beautiful varieties of yellow, brown and orange cliffs shaped and sculpted thousands of years ago by nature’s most powerful elements: wind and water.  Of all Fraser Island’s beautiful sights the Pinnacle Coloured Sands are one of the most amazing. The coloured sands in the area are from iron compounds in the silica sands, producing a beautiful rainbow of colours. Of course the photos don’t do it justice but they were just beautiful.

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Our next quick photo stop was at the sight of the wreck of the once cruise ship, SS. Maheno. The Maheno by a ship n The word Maheno means ‘island’ in Maori, which is the native language of New Zealand. The Maheno was built in Scotland in 1904 and was the world’s first ever triple screw steamer, weighing a massive 5323 tonnes. It also held the blue ribbon in trans-atlantic crossing for several years after she was launched. The Maheno was then used as a hospital ship in WW 1, following which it was purchased by a Sydney shipping company who planned to use it between Sydney and New Zealand. After several years of this trans Tasman journey the Maheno was sold to a Japanese shipping company, that at the time were running very low on funds. The company made the decision to sell the huge brass propellers from under the still-working Maheno. The reason behind this was to fund the towing of tamed the Ottawa back to Osaka, Japan. Once in Japan the Maheno was to be melted down and be sold as scrap metal. It was on this journey that the Maheno was hit by an unseasonal cyclone off the coast of Fraser. Luckily, there was only a skeleton crew on board. Some of the stories of the ship washing up on Fraser tell the tale of the Japanese crew being too afraid to get off the vessel after hearing of the cannibalistic traits of the local Aborigines. Attempts were made to refloat the Maheno unsuccessfully and eventually it was left abandoned on what is now known as 75-mile beach.

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Our driver was superb but he was not sure whether we could keep driving along the beach as the tide was coming in quite rapidly and there are several spots where there were huge rocks that he had to negotiate.  We were lucky enough that he negotiated the tide, washouts on the beach and the rocks.  If this was not possible, we would have had to take a longer route and it was getting near lunchtime.  He did very well.

We had a very scrumpuous smorgasbord luncheon at the Eurong Beach Resort and it was then on a leisurely walk through the lush sub-tropical rainforest and along the banks of Wanggoolba Creek.  

Our final stop on our day’s tour of Fraser Island was at the magnificent Lake McKenzie.  

There are many different aspects to Fraser Island, but the awe-inspiring beauty of Lake McKenzie makes it probably the most visited natural site on the island. It is a ‘perched’ lake, which means it contains only rainwater, no groundwater, is not fed by streams and does not flow to the ocean. The sand and organic matter at the base of the lake form an impervious layer, preventing rainwater from draining away.

The sand here is pure, white silica and is not only beautiful to look at but feels beautifully soft to walk on. The sand acts as a filter, giving the water its clarity and helping to make the water so pure it can support very little life. The contrasting colours of the brilliant white sand and the two colours of the lake were beautiful.  We had a long stay here and the water was so refreshing. Didn’t want to get out.

As  we were making our way back to the bus, the above goanna decided to cross our paths.  We left the bus and boarded the barge for the return trip back to Hervey Bay.  Lyn was at the bus station to drive me home.  I am so pleased I took this tour as it was a really interesting and very enjoyable day, especially the air flight.

On Monday, 16 March, 2015   Lyn and I went into Stockland Shopping Centre to do some shopping. We met Sue’s sister, Anne so went back to her place for coffee and then it was time for Bonnie, George and I to go up to Scarness a suburb along the promenade, for a drink.  Then on Tuesday, I attempted to ring Alicia for her birthday on the 18th.  I started early as wasn’t sure whether I would get through to her but I was lucky enough to talk to her.  Can’t believe that she is now a teenager.  On Wednesday, 18 March, 2015 I received a pleasant surprise as Lee and John drove up from the Sunshine Coast for lunch.  Was good seeing them and to catch up on our news. lee and john

My next outing was on Friday, 20 March, 2015.   Bonnie and George picked me up at 8.30 and we headed off to Yandina (60 minutes north of Brisbane) to the Ginger Factory/Park. 

This is quite a huge park so after morning tea/lunch we boarded the open aired carriage of the 113 year old cane train, Moreton and did the circuit in comfort as it was another warm day of 31 degrees.  We were unable to visit the actual facgory as was closed for refurbishment.  After our train ride we went into a couple of souvenir shops and sampled some tasty ginger beer and purchased some ginger products.  At this stage, I felt quite poorly, so didn’t ut weathered the stormgo over the road to the Macadamnia Nut complex.  Then it was time for us to head back to Hervey Bay.  It was a very pleasant day really but have to admit I was quite happy to go to bed quite early

Over the weekend it rained for the first time since I had arrived up here and the temperature had been a constant 31 degrees every day.  I felt quite relieved for the rain as I did not have to put the sprinklers on.  I was having a bad reaction to some medication and felt so bad I was thinking I may have to go to the Hervey Bay hospital but I managed to weather the storm.  Sue arrived home on Monday night and on Tuesday got me some anti nausea liquid that helped me enormously. I was thinking I would not be well enough to fly home on the Thursday.

On Wednesday, 25 March, 2015, felt not too bad.  Sue, Lyn, Bonnie and I went up to Arkarra Tearooms for our final drink before it was time to say goodbye to Sue and Lyn (had said my goodbye to Rosie who I will miss when I go home) as I was then going to stay with Bonnie and George that night.

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 Having our last drink – On right, Lyn and Sue and Bonnie and Brenda on left in this gorgeous setting.

That evening, Bonnie and George took me up to the Hervey Bay Boat Club for dinner which I enjoyed due to not having eaten much over the past few days.  The Club was a lovely setting looking out over the Marina.  We all had an early night as Bonnie and George were going on a bus trip and it was my last day in Hervey Bay. At 10.00 on Thursday 26th March, 2015, Russell (Bonnie’s son) picked me up and drove me to the airport via the esplanade so as I could take some photos of “whales”.  Hervey Bay is renowned for the whales but this was not the season so had to be content to see the sculptored ones.

Said goodbye to Russell and booked my case in and then boarded my Flight VA1554 at 11.10 and we departed at 11.40. I had a window seat and it was a superb view of Hervey Bay and so many waterways and also lovely views of Brisbane and Sydney.  I had a meal at the Sydney airport as my next flight  (VA660) did not leave until 17.05, arriving in Canberra at 18.05.   Peter picked me up, drove me home and then it was down into the Park to see my South Australian friends, Jan and John. They had been up to Sydney to see their son, Tim, Sonya and the two grandchildren (one had his birthday). It was terrific seeing them and catching on our news. They also delivered a little chair that was made by my mother’s cousin in 1847 and had sentimental value and my mother’s sewing machine. Next morning, it was down into their caravan at 8.30 for breakfast, more chatting before they set off home to South Australia.

It was then back to reality after a very enjoyable month even though there were some very nasty days where I felt so ill.  Was nice to come back home and to see that “my visitors” here had not forgotten me.

During the week, went over and saw Rob, Alicia and Adrian before Tina and the children go to visit Tina’s parents in China.

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My activities since returning from overseas

My activities since returning home in August 2014

I returned from my wonderful overseas trip to a couple of nasty surprises.  My bank account had been hacked into, my Government payment stopped ( was not happy as I had taken the form in personally prior to leaving) and my car decided to completely die on me.  So it was back to relying on friends to take me places.  It took me awhile to feel well due to my few weeks of having a tooth abscess and mouth infection.  I did have to have a tooth removed.  Not long after that got a nasty bout of hay fever and that left me feeling poorly for a few days.  Things started to look up as the financial mess ups were worked out and my friend Peter found me a nice little Honda Civic.

 

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I finally came good and started some work in the garden as being away one comes back to a bit of chaos.  I wanted to try and get the place in a reasonable condition before my friend was coming to stay with me in September.  Had some trees removed and planted  some camellias and happy wanderer but the kangaroos decided to have a fight one night and mangled a couple of the frames I had put up.  I forgave them as I get a lot of joy when they come and visit and get up to some antics.  They have had joeys so they are funny to watch trying to get in and out of the pouches.

 

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On Sunday 7 September, 2014, I went out to the Canberra Airport to meet my high school friend Mary who flew in from Auckland.  We picked up her hire car and had a short stop up at Mt. Ainslie before going to the bed and breakfast place she was staying at in Dickson.  We then had a coffee and cake before it was time for Mary to go out to the airport again to pick up her brother, sister-in-law and nephew from Adelaide.  I went home.

On Friday, 12 September, 2014 I went into Dickson to see Mary and family and we all went out to COCKINGTON GREEN.  This is a park of miniature buildings and villages within meticulously landscaped gardens.  It has been operating over the past 35 years.

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On Saturday, 13 September, 2014 Mary and I drove over to Gundagai to see The Dog on the Tuckerbox.   The monument of the Dog on the Tuckerbox lies about five miles (eight kilometres) north of the New South Wales town of Gundagai.

 

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Celebrated in Australian folklore, poetry, and song, the Dog on the Tuckerbox, a monument to the pioneers of the Riverina region, has become an icon of Australia’s past.

One version of the dog’s role in pioneering times is that the dog was guarding its master’s tuckerbox and other possessions while he sought help from being bogged at a river crossing. The master, a bullocky or driver of a bullock team, never returns but the dog continues to guard the tuckerbox until its death.

On Sunday 14 September, 2014 we went to the TULIP TOP GARDENS – 10 acres of gardens of tulips and other spring flowers few amongst hundreds of blossom trees.  We wandered around and wound our way up to the 70 metre high viewing platform.  This was just a lovely few hours.

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It was then onto the CANBERRA GLASSWORKS and saw a short demonstration of an artisan producing a product and then headed upstairs to see more artists showing their wares.

After a coffee and cake we then drove out to Weston Park to see the SIEV X MEMORIAL.  SIEV X stands for Suspected Illegal Entry Vessel X.  On October 2001, a small, unnamed 19.5 metre by 4 metre Indonesian fishing boat departed Indonesia with 421 passengers on board.  Sadly, on 19 October the boat sank during a storm.  Approximately 146 children, 142 women and 65 men died.  353 white poles, decorated by schools, churches and community groups have been erected in Weston Park representing the number of people who perished.

It is amazing to think just how many people were on board this vessel in the space – you can stand in the formation of some of the poles that are the dimensions of the vessel. Very sad.

Next day, (Monday, 16 September 2014) we set off via BUNGENDORE WOODWORKS GALLERY.  

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The Bungendore Woodworks Gallery continues to be a leading presenter of woodwork and fine arts and has over the past 8 years being consistently recognised by artists as a most desirable “place” to exhibit their work. The Gallery now presents work by over 200 of Australia’s leading designers, makers and artists in most mediums including wood, painting, sculpture, ceramics, glass, jewellery, printmaking, photography and textiles.  Mary purchased an expensive serviette holder for Edward.

We continued onto Braidwood and found a very interesting craft shop.  Then it was into the Bakery for lunch.  On over the Clyde Mountain to Batemans Bay and then on to NAROOMA  where we booked into a lovely motel.  Our meal that night was at the Narooma Bowling Club.  It was very pleasant sitting at the window looking out over the golf course and ocean.

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Next morning (Tuesday 15 September 2014) we went up to the lookout before heading further south.  At Bega, we had our lunch at the BEGA CHEESE FACTORY.

We drove as far as MERIMBULA  and then headed inland via Nimmitabel, Cooma to home.  Was a couple of fun packed 2 days.

Wednesday 16 September 2014 it was off to FLORIADE – Australia’s biggest celebration of spring. This iconic Canberra event, which is now in its 27th year, runs from 12 September to 11 October 2015.  It showcases 1,000,000 flowers in bloom throughout Canberra’s Commonwealth Park and the entry is free. The event welcomes more than 400,000 local, interstate and international visitors each year.  My friend, Trish joined Mary and I.  We wandered around the grounds until we were all “flowered” out.  Was the general opinion that we actually enjoyed Tulip Gardens better.

MARYS VISIT 2014 (65)

 

MARYS VISIT 2014 (80)

 

On Thursday, 18 September 2014 it was time to go out to the Airport and say goodbye to Mary. It was great having her stay and we had a terrific several days together.

Thursday, 23 October 2014 was my birthday but I was far from well – thanks to another bout of really bad hayfever so did not enjoy the day at all.  A couple of friends called in so that was nice – otherwise just felt ill.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014 was Melbourne Cup so was up to going to a function at the Hellenic Club with a couple of friends and their friends.  Was quite a pleasant day and did manage to have a couple of little wins.

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On Monday, 10 November 2015 it was my grandson’s Adrian’s 4th birthday and he and his Dad came over.  Mum was working and Alicia was at school.

 

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On Wednesday, 12 November 2014 I went to Canberra’s ARBORETUM. The National Arboretum Canberra is a 250-hectare complex which was created after the area was burned out as a result of the Christmas 2001 and 2003 Canberra bushfires. The Himalayan Cedar forest lost about one third of its trees and the commercial Radiata Pine plantation was burned out, allowing the arboretum to be created.   The site has been planted since 2005 and includes ceremonial trees planted by visiting heads of government and ambassadors.  It was officially opened in February 2013.  Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge visited the Arboretum the next day we were there (Thursday 13 November 2014).  I have only eaten at the Arboretum and visited the hill of the “Brown Wide Land” sculpture but intend to go up there again.

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On Thursday 13 and Friday 14 November 2014, I went to the Rifle Range and did some volunteering for the Lions Club.  This is an annual event that is a good fundraiser for the Club.  There were about 200 shooters from all over Australia.

On Sunday 16 November 2014, Robert drove me out to the Canberra Airport for me to catch a plane to visit another high school friend, Christine.  It was quite a good trip down and we arrived safely.  Christine was there to collect me. For the next few days it was quite busy helping with the preparations for Christine’s church’ Tree Festival. This is held every two years   We were stripping lavender twigs for lavender bags, sticking biscuits together, packing biscuits into jars, tying ribbon around jars    of goodies, etc.  In between this and a couple of days with bad hayfever once more, I did visit a dear old friend, Betty and another day my friend Janet picked me up to go and visit her dad of 91 – he was my first boss when I commenced work at Repatriation Department in Adelaide.  The jacaranda trees were glorious but was told that they were not at their best now as starting to shed their flowers.  Was lovely to see both these folk.

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Christine and I had a visit down to Semaphore, a seaside place and we had an icecream before it was time to go back and do some more work at the church – this time putting Christmas cakes in cellophane paper.  During the week, helped do some handsewing and stuffing dolls and putting price tags on articles.

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On Thursday, 27 Friday 28 and Saturday 29 November were three busy days as it was the Christmas Tree Festival.  I did not attend for the three full days but helped out where required.  It was a wonderful effect when I first entered the Church/Hall.

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The Christmas display and Nativity Scenes were just brilliant.  I have never seen so many decorated trees and Nativity Scenes set up in one place before.  Was just beautifully done.

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This is the stall I helped out on.  There was so much on display.

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At 6.00 on Saturday, the doors were closed and the Festival was over.  It was a complete success and over $20,000 was raised and all proceeds were to support local Christian Pastoral Support Workers.  Christine and I went home, changed and met Janice and John at a restaurant for our evening meal and a lovely catch up chat.

 

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On Monday 1 December, 2014  Christine drove me to catch the Obarn into Adelaide city and I met a friend, Maureen. We were babies together and I went to the Convent with her until I left to go to another school where I met Christine, Janice and Mary.  We wandered our way over to the Adelaide Oval through the Festival Theatre and over the River Torrens.  I had not been that side of the town for many years.

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There was a huge pile of flowers outside the Adelaide Oval in commemoration of Phillip Hughes the cricketer who was tragically killed recently.  We signed the condolensce book and felt quite sad that such a young chap had died.  We then made our way back to North Terrace where we said goodbye after a lovely day.  I then caught the Obarn back to where Christine picked me up.

The next day, (Tuesday 2 December, 2014) after breakfast, Christine and I moved a jigsaw that a friend of mine, Jeannine had done and gifted it to Christine – hence the photo.  It was then down to a restaurant to meet a friend of Christine’s – Vonnie. We had a very nice meal and then it was off to the airport. We had a quick photo stop at St Francis Xavier Cathedral of the beautiful statue of St. Mary MacKillop. This was of particular interest to me as I went to a Josephite Convent. Had quite a bumpy ride back to Canberra where Jeannine was waiting for me to drive me home.  It was then back to doing for myself as Christine completely ruined me by her generous hospitality.  It is always nice staying and seeing her.

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On Friday 5 December 2014 I went to a Reception that I was invited to by the Ambassador of TIMOR-LESTE

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and the International Commissioner of Scouts Australia.  This was held at the Embassy of Timor-Leste.  The evening was held in conjunction with the Scouting movement who has helped raise funds to assist the people of Timor-Leste.

During the evening, several awards of appreciation were awarded and I was absolutely delighted when I heard my name called out.  The award was given to me in appreciation for the knitting I have done over the time.  The little garments are required up in the high country where it is quite cold and there is a high mortality rate of little babies.  I will treasure this award.

 

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After the awards were handed out, a scrumptuous barbeque, salads and desserts were served.  It was time to leave after a thoroughly enjoyable reception. The Ambassador and his wife were very hospitable and very friendly.

On Monday, 8 December, 2014 I went to the Belconnen Labour Club for a Christmas luncheon with Trish and Wendy.  A very popular Canberra band, “The Second Movement” was playing during the luncheon.  It was a very enjoyable few hours.

On Tuesday – Thursday, 9 – 11 December, 2014 was a trip up to West Wallsend,near Newcastle in New South Wales. I went up to see my ex colleague, Karen who had twins by IVF. Jaxton Cooper and Harper Willow were born on 8 August, 2014.

When I arrived, I was in quite a lot of pain but managed to feed Harper.  I had an early night.  Next day, I was not at all well so didn’t do much at all.  Karen is lucky she has Denise and Malcolm, her parents to help out and the twins are a joy to the whole of the family.  I was pleased I made the trip although I was quite stressed out by the time I arrived home. I had to admit, the trip was too much for me.  I arrived home and immediately took my pain pills and went to bed. It took me a few days to feel well.

Just after I started feeling like my old self, I came down with a nasty virus that left me virtually bedridden for 4-5 days. It left me as quickly as it hit me – just as well as I was booked to leave on 22 December, 2014 to go to New Zealand.

One knows when the end of the year is in sight when Santa is in town – Alicia and Adrian paid him a visit.

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Adrian had his last day at his little day care centre and Alicia when along to their party. Here they are toasting each other.

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I am pleased to say that year 2014 was one of my better years in a long time.