Monday, 18 July 2011


We were pottering at home when Nick suggested heading into the forest for the day and cooking a roast dinner in the camp oven.

The morning was nearly over by that stage, so the pack-up was hurried (ie. various bits were left behind After organising the fire (and quite a good stockpile of wood), we made a splendid damper with just the basics - flour, salt and milk. Usually I try to be far more fancy, with varying degrees of success.

Although you can see some black around the edge in the pic above, some of our efforts have been completely charred all over (and still doughy in the middle), so we were very pleased with this!

Our first attempt at a full roast dinner was pretty impressive also - hooray for us! As you can see everyone helped - and there was even gravy, albeit somewhat anaemic. Next time we will manage some greens, though Vaughan wasn't at all phased by their absence!

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Not a lemon

We had planned to spend a couple of nights free camping in the Watagan Forest as our school holiday finale but the weather wasn't very co-operative, so Plan B was in order.

We booked one night at Lemon Tree Passage quite late on Friday night - and headed up to check-in on Saturday morning.  It still rained at times but we were snug inside a large cabin with only steps to the loo, so were quite happy with our decision. We managed to pack quite a fair bit into the two days. The area was gorgeous (only about an hour's drive from here, up near Port Stephens/Nelson Bay). 

We did a lot of geocaching (free entertainment!), saw dolphins on a few occasions and a "wild" koala asleep in a tree!

Monday, 11 July 2011

We'll be back

Even though the weather was unusually cold and windy (that's what the locals would have us believe!), we enjoyed our visit to the 'Gong.

There is still plenty to explore, so I'm sure we'll make another visit.

Erin and Nick took advantage of our complimentary coffee/hot choc vouchers after checking out - and then we headed off to Yanderra to visit friends who had been our lovely Yowah caravan park neighbours in July (2010).

Sunday, 10 July 2011


My documentation of the snake rescue was a bit rushed as my attention was diverted by the sound of something rustling in the nearby bushes. I initially thought it may have been a goanna but in fact it was a lyrebird! It was not keen to be photographed but ran ahead of us along the path quite happily - and Vaughan was able to squat near it for some time as it scratched in the dirt.

Superb Lyrebird

To the rescue!

We were walking along the lookout path when we met a couple coming the other way. They mentioned a snake just off the path, so of course we investigated.

We soon spotted the Diamond Python resting in the open.

It seemed injured, so Erin emptied her handbag and Nick manoeuvred the snake inside.
Contact was made with the local WIRES reptile person and we arranged to meet her later in the evening when we were back at our accommodation. She was appreciative of our assistance and quite pleased to have a snake guest for rehabilitation.

Until that handover, the snake remained safely encased in Erin's bag and tucked under her jumper for warmth!

(Keegan remained happily oblivious to the hitch-hiker)!

Where the monks live

When Vaughan woke, we showed him the lookouts and he was quickly able to identify Nan Tien Temple in the distance, "where all the monks lived" - (terracotta roofs on the base of a hill, centre of pic at left).

We sat at a mossy picnic table just behind Elmer Fudd to enjoy our afternoon tea of hot drinks and cake - while watching some very fat yellow birds.

Our next stop was Robertson's Knoll, another small lookout a short drive further around the escarpment.

Six Daughters of the West Wind

It was a short, pretty bush walk from the carpark to this sculpture installation - and another smaller lookout.

According to the Alcheringa, the dreaming of the local Aboriginal peoples, Mount Keira is Geera, the daughter of Oola-boola-woo, the West Wind. The story of the creation of Mount Keira is tied to the creation of the Five Islands, which sit just off the Wollongong coast. In the story, Oola-boola-woo had six daughters, Mimosa, Wilga, Lilli Pilli, Wattle, Clematis and Geera. They lived a-top the Illawarra escarpment, and one by one the first five children misbehaved, raising the ire of Oola-boola-woo, who cast them and the stone beneath them out to see, forming the Five Islands.

Geera, who was now the only child left on their escarpment home, had no one to play with and no one to talk to as her father was often away. Geera spent all day sitting, hunched over and watching the camps of the local Aboriginals and looking out to sea to her five sisters. Eventually she turned to stone, dust and leaves building up around her until she became a part of the escarpment. She is known today as Mount Keira.

A longer version of the story can be found on Page 6, here:-

Lock up, Keira!

Our departure from the temple was marred by Vaughan's insistent and repeated "I want ..."  Thankfully, he went to sleep on the drive up to Mount Keira Lookout (and woke in a vastly improved mood).  Erin stayed in the car while he was sleeping, giving Nick and I some time to explore.

The view was (of course!) impressive but more intriguing were the many locks fastened along the barrier fences. Although we hadn't spotted them anywhere previously it seems they are not unique to Wollongong:- Love locked!


We were lucky to see a dragon dance while visiting
Nan Tien Temple

We spent a little over an hour at the temple.  There was so much to see (and photograph).  Of course, there are places where no cameras are allowed so you will have to imagine the massive Buddha statues and walls of golden embossed Buddhas ... 

On the way to the temple ...

... we took a few wrong turns, largely due to my not being able to read for more than a few seconds in a moving car before feeling nauseous - a failing that is compounded these days by requiring glasses to read accurately!

On studying the street directory more closely, aided by my spectacles, it seemed the C road I thought we were looking for was in fact Drummond Street! (Missed it by that much, as Max would say)!

Although I have visited the temple previously, I did not remember spending time in the small museum. There were beautiful silk embroideries that looked like 3D paintings, including a two-sided butterfly picture that was amazing. The stitches were so exact that they matched perfectly on each side.

We marveled over the shell and hair etchings also, done by a man in his 70s. We could only see them under strong magnification but he had done the work without any artificial aids. I'm sure he could have read the street directory without glasses too!

Who said pigs can't fly?!

It was still very windy the next morning. Nick cooked chorizo and bacon on the outside BBQ - and some rashers were blown off the hotplate!

We had bought some boysenberry jam and offered some to Erin for her leftover toast. Vaughan quickly commented that she didn't want to be poisoned!!

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Gilligan's Island?!

No sign of Gilligan!
There was a lone palm tree in the roundabout adjacent this Video Ezy store, hence the name! We borrowed two overnight movies and retired to our cabin, out of the wind.

It was a pleasant evening. We had some very nice nibblies before our posh hamburgers - and all enjoyed watching Rango together, accompanied by some very good hokey-pokey ice-cream.

Nick and I shared some rose, which made for much hilarity when I climbed onto Vaughan's bunk bed and couldn't get down again!

Resorting to Surf and Leisure?!

I had taken advantage of a bargain deal-of-the-day offer earlier in the year to book two night's cabin accommodation at the Wollongong Surf Leisure Resort. The floor plan was "interesting", so the deal probably wasn't the huge bargain we had expected but we weren't ripped off either - and it was nice to just unpack our bags and provisions on arrival, without having to set up camp (particularly when the wind was so strong)!

Lookout, it's cold!

We stopped at the Bulli Lookout for a quick glance at the view, before the icy wind forced a retreat. After donning more layers, we ate our roast pork sangas in the nearby park - in the sun, trying to thaw out! 

Vaughan wasn't cold, so had lots of fun throwing his jacket up and flying it like a kite. The wind was amazing!

It's a sign!

"Eeew, gross!" said Vaughan (who is not a kissing fan)!
We were only back from Scotts Head two nights before setting off to Wollongong (an easy 3-hour drive from home). 

There was various silliness along the way - including telling Vaughan there would be lots of kissing at Kissing Point Road!
We spotted the Vaughan Street sign soon after and his reaction to that was so funny, definitely worth recording for posterity!

"What?! That's crazy! How do they know me?! How do they know how to spell my name?!"

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Jelly tent

Our usual packing chaos!
It had been so very windy through the night!  Our tent would balloon massively and then bow under the next huge gust.  Vaughan was lucky and slept through everything but Nick and I were awake a lot - as was Erin in her smaller tent next door.

Given that Vaughan had slept so well, it was not greatly surprising that he was wide awake at 6:00am! He commented on waking that the tent "moved about like jelly" - and he was quite right but fortunately the wind had started to ease by then.

Nick got up at that point and I tried dozing for a bit longer (until Nick's insulin alarm went off at 7:00am). Once up, we all worked consistently and were ready for departure by 10:00am - a full hour before the check-out deadline!

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Long Exposure

While the rest of the party were fishing, I was photographing - playing with some longer exposure shots. 

(I have since worked out a better method but quite like the arrow-effect of the bridge at right).

Cat(ch) fish!

There was another fishing expedition that night, along the river at Macksville.

Vaughan had sulked at one point because he "was only allowed to do the boring bits"!

Nick then relented and our boy enjoyed casting for a while, before wandering off for more entertaining pursuits. We checked the trees for flying foxes, surprising a few (and vice versa!) until the cold caused us to retreat to Elmer's shelter.  All were much colder (and wiser?!) by the end of our three-hour stint by the river. Needless to say, the fish remained elusive. The only catch was a small, slimy catfish, very quickly returned to the water!

Way Way good!

It was 18 months since our last visit. 

One of the highlights of that trip was spending time in the Way Way forest.  On that occasion we had front-row seats to goanna wrestling

There was no sign of the wrestlers this visit - we mostly had the picnic area to ourselves.

Unkya Reserve

When Vaughan awoke at 6:30am, it was fairly grey and I assumed the day was going to be cold/overcast but the sun wasn't up at that stage!

After breakfast and a few other missions, we packed up some provisions and set out for a day of geocaching.

The Unkya Reserve was our first stop, where a very creative person had made this fabulous mosaic memorial seat.  Unfortunately we were not there on one of the regular funkya@unkya market days - maybe next time!

Monday, 4 July 2011

Dominoes/Family Feast!

Although the fish eluded us, we cheffed a most wonderful feast for our dinner that night. 

In fact, Nick had trouble fitting everything on the BBQ plate - and Erin was recruited to cook some side dishes on the camping stove.
In between the main feast and the (low-fat!) creme brulee ice-cream, we played a few games of dominoes.

Not long after dessert, it was time for Vaughan's bedtime stories - and bed (for everyone)!

Afternoon tea on the V!

Erin and Vaughan were both keen to catch fish, though less enthused to exhibit the necessary patience for fishing! 

In any case, we spent some of the day out on the V-wall in the v-ain hope that at least one fish might hook up with us!  

Heading around

We enjoyed some rock-hopping down there ...
Our caravan park was right next to the beach, so we were lulled to sleep by the sound of the ocean (though the many flying foxes did their best to disturb our slumber).

We were woken each day by hundreds of Keegan's relatives!

Nick, Vaughan and I took several walks around the nearby headland.  We didn't find the geocache we were looking for but weren't greatly disappointed as we spotted a few dolphins - and two whales in the distance (or one whale twice)!


Erin's tent tucked under a gazebo in case of rain ...
We are not used to staying in caravan parks, so booked two sites in order to spread out a bit, keeping a buffer between us and the neighbours!

Our accommodation was lovely and we are happy to recommend the Scotts Head Holiday Park.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Blinded by the light!

A very good friend was given this camping headlamp, which she generously re-gifted to me.

I am very glad she did as the light is wonderful for reading, writing, cooking - and blinding unsuspecting family members!

Just up the road

The distance from home to Scotts Head (our destination, as indicated by the Young Master) is just under 400 km, so after our Mount Alum breakfast and re-hitching we enjoyed a leisurely trip up the coast - making several geocaching and/or rest stops en route.

We parked Elmer on the highway at one point and headed into the scrub, where we were very surprised to find a substantial go-cart track - in use!

(Various signage declared the track an "International Kart Racing Circuit").   

Getting (re)hitched!

Historical re-enactment!
We had only just picked up the trailer and were bouncing along the track back out to the highway, when the trailer bounced right off!  Oh, dear!

Erin, Vaughan and I stood on the rear of the trailer to help lift it for a better hook-up!

Mount Alum

Scenes of the Mount Alum morning adventure
We reached Bulahdelah about two hours after leaving home (en route to Scott's Head) and made a quick loo stop at the park in town, before heading through the Freeway roadworks to Mount Alum. 

The trailer was de-tached (train talk!) at the start of the steep mountain track, so Elmer could make the climb unhindered.  There were masses of bracken fern along the way and huge boulders as we drove higher.  After a while we reached a small clearing with an old fireplace, so parked there.  Erin elected to keep Keegan company in the car while Nick, Vaughan and I headed off on the 800 metre walk to the cache.

We walked beside massive rocks, through some beautiful country.  It really was a magic start to our short holiday.  Once at the lookout, we could see down to the town, river and main road we had earlier traveled upon.  We sat for a bit, enjoying the view before heading back to the car - and breakfast!

There are plans for a day-trip in the not-too-distant future, so we can explore the area more fully. 

July jaunts

Early morning departure for Scott's Head
Although Nick had taken most of July as annual leave so we could return to Yowah, life interfered with those plans.

We still enjoyed some rather pleasant diversions, even though we didn't get back out into the red dust.