Bicheno to Bridport

My day started with a wonderful walk on the beach. The sun was shining and it was peaceful. I headed down the steps straight onto the beach.

The surf club is just a few doors along from Ginetta’s house. It’s simple and practical and this morning had buckets of gear in front of it.

Local swimmers had already made their way into the very cool water. I had heard Shane Gould lived here and swam every day.

There in the water I spotted her ( well it looked like her and sounded liked her) she waved and encouraged me to join them for a swim.

If the water temperature was above 22 I would have joined them but 17 is way too cold for me. So I waved and continued walking.

I clambered over rocks and enjoyed the view.

I headed for the headland following the swimmers and hoping to see a whale before walking back through the small town.

Ginetta’s house on the left behind the sandy beach.

Back for breakfast at the outdoor breakfast bar. This is a magic spot.

Morning tea at St Helen’s another pretty seaside town.

Morning tea at St Helen’s

A stop at the Shop in the Bush for a browse of the very well presented collection of jewellery, books, bric a bac. In fact it has everything.

Onto The Pub in the Paddock. A bit of an institution it a character pub set in lovely green pastures.

It features pigs! A bit like the Pondering Frog had frogs. Here there are pigs!

After a cosy lunch in front of the fire we headed to Pyengana dairy. They produce milk and lovely cheeses.

We bought a cheese plate to go with the Aperol Spetiz we are planning tonight.

The Blue Lake was our next stop.

The colour is a result of the minerals from mining days. It’s beautiful.

We detoured into Musselroe Bay along a dirt road through a National park. It’s a quiet fishing community where every house seems to have a boat outside it.

Kangaroos abound.

Last stop as the sunshine came out was Bridport. Another fishing community, it’s a lovely holiday spot. Well maintained parks and playgrounds. Golf courses nearby.

Our accommodation is a little cottage just off the Main Street. A great little place.

Cool Tasmania – with a Very Warm Welcome

Our plane was on time and as we walked down the stairs onto the tarmac we were reminded that Tasmania is much further south than Queensland. So much cooler.

The walk into the terminal seemed rather long for such a small airport. The security guards were ready for us with questions about covid. Have we been in high alert sites? No. Do we have any symptoms? No. Were we carrying any fruit or vegetables? 😅No. They are just as aware of passing germs to their fruit as much as covid to their people.

We were cleared and stepped outside to a warm welcome from Ginetta & Stephen. We haven’t seen them since before their 2020 year spent in France & Italy. We were meant to catch up in Edinburgh last year but no such luck.

We had a little tour of the docks and things are looking beautiful down by the water. Through Battery Point and along the waterfront to Sandy Bay.

Their house is beautiful. Newly renovated since I was last here. After the downstairs flooded they had to replace floors and carpets and have rearranged rooms. It’s lovely. Ginetta is a collector and has lovely pieces from her travels. They also have a library! With a bar and a sunny corner. We might not want to leave here.

After a delicious Italian style lunch the boys went into Hobart to visit the Mawson Hut and the Lark Whiskey Distillery. Ginetta & I had coffee with a friend from ADFAS. The arts society we are members of.

When the two Stephens arrived home it was Aperol time.

Sitting with a beautiful view we are very happy to be in Hobart

Night out in Tharga

After the day’s activities at the muster we decided to join the party at the Bulloo River Hotel.

Walking the 700 metres to the hotel from our cabin site we started to wonder if it was really on. It was so quiet. But as we approached we saw 4 wheel drives lining the street.

Then the hum of voices from the lawn area adjoining the hotel.

Excitement mounting, we entered the hotel, bought a beer and moved to the outdoor area. There must have been 20 tables of 20 people eating and drinking trying to keep warm in the chilly night air.

The food was a roast & veg. We joined the queue and got our paper plate and were served by the volunteers – varying ages but all friendly.

We joined a table towards the back of the area – near the fire pits and got lucky. We sat with some lovely locals. Sue from Charleville, Lisa from Cunnamulla, both mental health nurses for Qld Health. Their husbands were there and made us very welcome.

Boy! They had some interesting stories about life in country towns.

Apparently Thargomindah is well run – with a local mayor and a policeman who do a great job. the Policeman has 5 children at the local school which brings its number to 25 and keeps it open.

The local council actually pay teacher salaries otherwise Qld education would close the school. Not viable! So the community subsidies the teachers.

We ate and drank and eventually too cold to stay we headed back to the cabin to watch the second half of the Wallabies game. And they won against France!!!

It was great spending time talking to locals. It’s not easy living in a remote community.

Tomorrow we head to Charleville.

Thursday on LEI

Weather plays a big part of your enjoyment of an island.

We’re lucky we’ve had lovely warm mornings but unfortunately we have had rainy afternoons which really limits what you can do.

There was a little drama today and a lady on the snorkel tour had to be assisted. She swallowed water. Next thing the RACQ care flight was there and she was airlifted to Maryborough.

Fortunately we like to read. Steve has been gifted the Gin puzzle by Frances and made a great start. And this afternoon he finished!

I went wandering between rain showers. There is a games room which is underwhelming. Quite a few books are available but not many games. Unless the other holiday makers have them out.

Card players have an option! I think the staff could offer a few wet weather screenings of videos about the reef or sea life.

By late afternoon we headed over to the lighthouse for drinks and were happy the rain stayed away.

With our pre dinner G& T we broke open the pack of cards. I’ve never been much of a card player but I’m keen to learn. Ralph & Frances patiently explained the rules of 500 and we had a few games before dinner.

The meals have been good. Several choices each night. Tonight: roast pork, chickpea tagine, beef stroganoff and lots of fresh vegetables.

Then a short movie on the way plastic fragments are found in our oceans. Music & narration by Jack Johnson. I’ve been a big JJ fan so that made it easy to watch.

We had a ‘late’ night tonight playing 500 and I’m keen to try again tomorrow. Rain is predicted so I’m sure I’ll get a chance.

Holidays at Home

Exciting times. We’re going away.

We are going on our first little holiday in a long long time.

Travel for everyone has been postponed this year. Our Qld borders are closed so we can’t go out of the state without quarantining for 14 days on return. So it’s Queensland – a beautiful big state, we have to explore.

Finally we are heading off. A road trip with our Sri Lanka travelling friends. We’re missing Anne & John Dunphy who live in Melbourne and they are still in lockdown. They can’t go anywhere. They can follow along from the comfort of their lounge looking out over their beautiful country garden.

The group in Sri Lanka last November.

This holiday has been in the planning stage for awhile but today we are hitting the road. 14 people in total, in 6 cars. We are the only ones travelling in an open top car. Our British Racing Green 1970 MGB will have everyone queuing up for a turn to drive or be a passenger!

Planning was started by the Graces who concentrated on stops for good food and drink places, Jill and Helen found accomodation, map man Steve helped plan the route and I booked a few activities. Namely the Bundaberg Rum distillery and Kalkimoon Gin distillery along with finding a few open gardens.

We’re heading north towards Maryborough with our first stop for coffee at Kenilworth.

Kenilworth is NW of Nambour about an hour and a half from Brisbane in the heart of the Mary River Valley. it boasts dairy farms , olive groves and vineyards. It’s also home to the cheese factory, yoghurt and Ice cream factories!

On a Sunday it’s full of people out for a drive. The bakery is famous not only for its baked goods. It for its wall art.

We got talking to the owner who pointed out all the famous faces in

We have christened the trip the ‘Empty Eski Trip’. We are taking along eskis hoping to find products we can spend up on and bring home. Three things we know we’ll find are Kenilworth cheese, Bundaberg Rum and Kalkimoon Gin!

Kathy takes over the driving from Steve.

The line up at the bakery was out the door so we moved on down the hill to the cheese factory and enjoyed coffee in the garden as Steve gave out the road maps and lollies for the tour!

The cheeses here are great so we made a few purchases for our evening drinks before heading off in convoy north towards the Theebine pub where we will stop for lunch.

It was a great pub but oh so slow.

There was a small stage and a local woman and man took turns entertaining us with country & western hits or well known songs from the past. This was a distraction whilst we waited , and waited for our lunch.

We waited around 1.5 hrs! So our food tasted magnificent when it finally came. Apparently they are getting a new kitchen soon with a big grill so they can cater for the number of people who crowd in each weekend. Too bad for us the kitchen hasn’t arrived just yet.

The music was fun and the juke box was a classic. A choice of songs. …..

All about beer!

We had time to explore the old pub and loved the letter from a mother to her son.

Back in our cars we drove north stopping at another pub at Tiaro. Another classic.

A great beer garden, herb garden , children’s playground. The food looked good. We should return for the Sunday roast.

We arrived into our motel in Maryborough and took over lots of the rooms. Some of us rested and some went walking to explore.

We have dinner booked at the pub next door. Not that we need too much after a late late lunch!

Preparing for a baby shower. American style

Feeling refreshed after a lovely long sleep I heard chatter in the family area at around 6.30. Jordan and her parents were up drinking tea and catching up.

I went back to sleep!

By 8 am I was ready for a walk and coffee. We walked through the quiet streets of Lodi towards a cute little coffee shop.

The houses are mostly low ranch style with nice gardens and the occasional American flag.

The Donati’s have lived in their comfortable house for about 32years and it’s a lovely big family place with a beautiful pool out the back.

John & Lisa outside their house

We called into Jordan grandmas house after coffee. Everything is nice and close here and nice and flat for walking.

Lisa has a list of little jobs to do that would have me exploring Lodi and nearby Stockton as we prepared for the baby shower. Jordan was off to a bridal shower with her friends.

Jordan in her way to her friend’s bridal shower

First stop for us was The Hobby Lobby! A giant craft type place filled with everything needed for setting up your arts & crafts. We bought a selection of glass vases for the white flowers we got later at Costco ( along with a Speedo swimsuit!). We also got ribbons.

Then it was the party place for baby shower napkins, table decorations, a banner and other bits and pieces. As we queued up a lady commented on my lipstick colour! She was very impressed I had come all the way from Australia for a baby shower.

Little blue bundtinis

Then to Stockton for the bundtini – little decorated cakes. we couldn’t but look at Flair a ladies boutique owned by godmother. I bought a lovely shirt. Not there – at another store Lisa likes.

Back home for crab salad lunch , flower arrangements decorating and family gathering before heading to a family style brewery. It was perfect for pizza, beer and games for the kids.

Travel: has its ups and downs

Receiving the invitation to Jordan’s baby shower at the end of January started me thinking!

Why not surprise Jordan by arriving for her baby shower?

Rob and Jordan live in New York but the baby shower was to be in Lodi, north California.

I checked…… I could get a points flight. Done – booked.

Flight day arrived ( Lisa and John were in on the secret and ready to meet me in San Francisco)

Arriving at the airport nice and early I tried to check in. No!

Qantas had no record of my ESTA. ( Despite having seen it was valid until March)

So no check in!

I had to apply for a new ESTA and rebook on a flight the next day. Only problem. It was out of Sydney.

Long story short. I flew to Sydney and onto a 6pm flight. Luckily I still was able to get a whole row of seats to myself ( thank you Pat)

Jordan’s dad picked me up at and we drove to Lodi. It’s a small place about two hours east of San Fran. In a wine region.

Passing through Stockton we collected crabs for dinner and headed home to surprise Jordan.

The reaction was amazing. I walked into the house. Jordan was on the phone with Rob( who was back in NY) and screamed and started sobbing! I think it was a joyful sob!

Rob was just as surprised – but with out the sobbing. Then asked why I hadn’t told him, as he would have come across from NY!

We had a big, happy, family night with crab, salad and lovely local wine. From Ann ( Jordan’s grandma down to Poppy aged 2 ) it was a fun night. My jet lag was non existent. When surrounded by happiness it’s hard to be jet lagged.

But finally into bed

Our last day in Sri Lanka: Aywbowan.

Aywbowan is a greeting in Sri Lanka. It means a long life to you. Such a beautiful way to greet someone with hands joined together in prayer style.

A later start this morning. A smaller group. Holiday is almost over.

Our usual lovely breakfast was followed by a walk through the streets to our favourite coffee shop.

Then it was time to go. Our clever bus driver managed back down the narrow road to load the bags. And away we went.

The highway was clear, so we were hoping for a good fast trip. The group who left yesterday at around 3 pm took about 4.5hr to do 90 km. They were headed for Nagombo , north of Colombo where the airport is, but had to detour into Colombo to drop off Marcelle. They got caught up with the election traffic.

The elections are causing a lot of interest. No alcohol was served anywhere today because of the elections.

To pass the time on the bus we had a Q&A with Hema, our guide. He is such a gentleman and so knowledgeable about Sri Lanka. It was funny the questions asked. Everything from ‘Why is Buddhist robe colour orange ‘ to ‘what countries have you been to be ? ‘ to wages (for doctors 120,000 rupees teachers, 60,000 rupees) per annum!

Then we invited him to ask us questions. Hema was great fun and we enjoyed him so much.

We made good time on a very good highway. Lots of green on the way.

Then we hit the outskirts of Colombo. Past the Geoffrey Bawa designed Parliament House

Through busy streets.

Then on to the airport just north of Colombo. Carmel , our fearless tour organiser and Peter are off to the Maldives for a few days.

We waved goodbye after many hugs. We’ll miss them. Who will be our leader now? There are only 10 of us left and Pam and John leave later tonight.

We arrived at our hotel the rather grandly named Grandeeza which we immediately called The White House – for obvious reasons.

We were now officially starving so raced to the cafe nearby for a snack. It was 4pm and a long time since breakfast. No bus picnic today.

We were longing for a swim in the pool. The hotel had been described as having a big pool right by the beach.

How disappointing to find the pool closed as someone vomited in it and it had to be cleaned! And there is water our the front but no beach in front of the hotel (it is 6 km away!). Then it rained. Not the last evening we planned.

We discovered the hotel empty except for us! So we made our own fun in the big room Kath and Mark were given.

We played lots of games involving music from movies, tv and musicals! And drank some gin ( just to empty the bottles) I think we went downhill with out Carmel.

So our last night with just 8 was fun but quiet.

Tomorrow the airport.

A special day near Galle : The Foundation of Goodness

Travelling in a country so different to mine, makes one realise how fortunate we are.

Sri Lanka has suffered so much over the years and the devastation of the 2004 Tsunami left the people of this beautiful country with even less than they had before.

My friend Carmel, who has organised this trip for us, came to this area about 8 years running. She brought students from the  childcare training company, Charlton Brown, where she worked.

They volunteered at the Foundation of Goodness which started up after the tsunami hit.

It’s based in Seenigama in the Hikkaduwa area. It started in a villa donated by a man called Kushil Gunasekera, who is now Chairman of the board.

After a beautiful breakfast on the terrace we headed for the bus for the drive up the coast.

It was Rob’s birthday, so we had organised a little surprise on the bus.

A petite cake and a card!

We arrived at the turn off and walked the 500 metres down the road.

It was hot!

Carmel was greeted by her old friends from over 8 visits and I was already tearing up as you could see the effect the place has on so many lives.

We were officially welcomed and Ludmila talked about the Foundation and how it impacts on the lives of people in surrounding villages.

Kushil now does fundraising and seems to be successful, as all the donors are honoured on the boards displayed in the entrance. It’s impressive.

This is Kushil.

They have many programs on offer to empower the people into education towards a better life. All the programs are offered free.

We visited the preschool, which Carmel and her students supported, and of course were charmed by the gorgeous little children. They put on a little dance show and made us a flower which acted as a fan, as it was now very hot and steamy.

They sang to Rob for his birthday which moved us to tears.

We joined them for a rousing version of the Hokey Pokey with everyone giving it their best!

Such a wonderful experience.

We moved on to the computer classes offered free to 16-35 years olds, who after completing the course move onto employment, often in tourism.

Ludmila was keen to show us everything but we were SO hot. We saw the Library, and the shop, with it’s hand made products from the sewing classes.

We visited the medical centre where people come for free consultations and the dental surgery, where the doctor and dentists are volunteers.

I was chatting to the dental nurse, as my daughter in law is also a dental nurse. The uniform here is slightly more formal.

Into the mini bus and down to the sports centre. They are very proud of the sports achievements. Sports stars from all over the world visit here and donate time and money.

Several of the students have gone on to careers in world teams.

There’s a swimming pool, an oval, a gym

Such a wonderful place. By now , more than hot and sweaty, we were keen to wave goodbye and head for a cooler spot.

We drove to a nearby restaurant right by the sea. A beer and lunch later we felt revived and headed back to Galle.

After a short rest we broke up the group. Some went on the history walk with Hema. Some went shopping. Carmel, Jill, Pam and myself went to the Geoffrey Bawa designed Jetwing Hotel. What a place.

The staircase tells a story.

Meeting a delightful young staff member really helped us have a great look at this amazing hotel. She took us around and explained about the design and showed us a room and a suite. Beautiful.

Simple, understated architecture producing beautiful comfortable spaces.

As we sat sharing a bottle of Rose on the terrace, we felt we’d made the right decision about our afternoon. Our guide was so much fun and the place was magnificent.

We returned to meet everyone for dinner at a lovely hotel in the old fort.

Another lovely day.