Thursday, 8 December 2016

Melbourne to Sydney

What to do between Melbourne and Sydney? Up to now, I had made relatively detailed plans with Dave. I had neglected planning past this point. But things do work themselves out. I got an invitation to stay with a couple different racers for most of the time.

I stopped at Cape Schanck on the way to my first host.
Cape Schanck Lightstation
Pulpit Rock 'Pebble' beach
Little snails Barnacles
I stayed overnight before flying out the next day. Wonderful dinner and good conversation (and a bit of IT support). Across the bay you could see Phillip Island where we will be racing come March.
Sunset looking towards Phillip Island
I flew to the Gold Coast airport in seat 9A (window) so I could see the sights on the way. How is it this seat, not in the back, in a big plane, does not have a window?? Oh well. Had to watch movies instead. I got a text at 14:54pm on Nov 9 from Dave that he had just got home. I had dropped him off at the airport at 7:30am Nov 8th. It's a long way home.

Some wildlife was in residence. A swallow nest was above one of the outside lights. 3 chicks with seeming more than just 2 parents feeding them. They were flying by the time I left. Some cows are allowed at the bottom of the property to keep the grass cut. When we had a walk down there, they all followed us (they get hand fed sometimes).
Swallows Cows at the fence
One of my goals was to do the Mt Warning hike. The peak is the central remnant of a shield volcano, The surrounding mountains make up the edge of the caldera. It was named by Captain James Cook as a warning since it was distinctive out at sea. It also is the first piece of mainland Australia lit by the sun (at least in the winter). Some people do the 4.4km climb in the dark so they can watch the sun rise. Not for me. The park was closed for 6 months in 2013 after a ex-cyclone came through, knocking trees down and causing landslips. The trail was re-routed in a few spots during the restoration.
Mt Warning over cane fields
There are about 1000 stair steps made on the trail. My pedometer app showed more than 8000 steps to get to the top. There were some trees down from a recent storm including one on the road just getting to the start of the trail.
Stairs and more stairs Tree recently across the trail
Great views on the way up. There are 5 helicopter pads along the trail, not for landing, but for pick-up and drop off of materials and rescue of errant hikers.
View from about 1/2 way Helicopter access pad
The last stretch of the trail is pretty nigh vertical in spots. They have installed a chain to give you something to hang onto. I found it easier to scramble up without it, but very useful on the way down. At the top you have a 360° view of the surrounding countryside.
The last stretch View from the top
With the number of steps and rough terrain, you spend a lot of time looking down.
Local centipede
Fig trees are an interesting species. The growth pattern makes no sense.
Fig roots Fig surrounding something else
The round trip took about 4 hours including having lunch at the top. Quite a trip. I felt the effects in my calves for the next couple of days.

One of the things that struck me was all the fruit types we get at home in stores that grows here. There were trees on the property that had: coffee, bananas, oranges, pawpaw, mango, avocado, plus others. Bananas right off the tree taste way better than what you get in the store.
Banana harvest (birds had got at some)
Did a swim off a boat ramp in Kingscliff. That keeps you out of the wave action. There were fish swimming around at the bottom. No nibbling of toes.
My last full day in the area was spent up in the Runaway Bay area of the Gold Coast with friends of my host. They had set some crab pots around Crab Island and had got a couple overnight, 1 mud and 1 sand. The mud crab was not happy about this at all.
Unhappy mud crab
This was not enough for lunch so we motored down to the commercial fishing dock next to the Palazzo Versace hotel. I found it ironic that there was no fishing allowed from the dock. We had a swim in the ocean, this time with the waves. You really had to watch your footing. The sand bottom has dips and holes made by the wave action. After the swim, prawns were procured.
No fishing, really?
So lunch was sandwiches of prawns with Japanese mayo, crab, and a bit of white wine. Life is tough down here.
Having a rough time
Before heading to the airport the next day, we visited the local woodworking club's facility. Lots of good equipment and some really cool projects underway. A huge selection of wood was stored in racks in the back. Very friendly bunch of people.
Woodwork club
Off to Sydney to see a bit before the racing resumes at Eastern Creek.

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