Saturday, 10 June 2017

June 10th Narrandera to Wagga-day 1 of 3 days

We took the back road from Narrandera to Wagga along the side of the river and enjoyed some very scenic views on the way. (Including a bridge with gates!)

We had time to stop at the tourist information, where we caught up with the Radfords and Aylwin, Sarah, Emily and Meredith.

Heading out early to the event meant we had plenty of time to register Erica for an enter on the day short hard course before the spots ran out.

It was a nice undulating native forest course with granite outcrops.  Mostly not too bad underfoot, and not too steep.  We enjoyed a lovely sunny day after early rain and the temp was about 17, so ideal for running.

There were mixed results for SA , with Andrew Kennedy winning his 21 AS  course, Angus 2nd on 20 elite, Bridget and Simon  and Paul H also all second.
There were a number of courses with controls very close together in a line, which tempted runners into missing controls if they were not careful.

Trevor's Course

Erica's course

After lovely hot showers we met up with some of the other SA crowd at one of the local clubs for dinner, which was great.

Adelaide to Narrandera-on the way to Wagga Wagga June 9th 2017

A long day on the road -covering a little over 800 km. plenty long enough for us. We had intended to share the driving, but in the end Trevor (who is always more comfortable at the wheel) did it all. We took regular breaks , had some good conversation and started listening to a book on CD too.

First stop was Lameroo, where we put the thermos to good use, having our first travel cuppa from the back of the car. Then we went and located a cache at the lake. Who knew that there was a lake at Lameroo?? After this little break we were on our way again.

We sucked up the km along the black top for another couple of hours, passing over the Vic border just past Pinnaroo, and stopping for lunch at the Ouyen bakery along with half the nation. Here we met up with Andrew Kennedy along with his young passengers Toby, Angus and Nick who were also partaking of the local produce and heading towards the orienteering at Wagga.

Chatting future plans, we crossed in to NSW at the old opening bridge between Piangil and Tooleybuc, and headed across the plains for Hay. Here we had the impression of small white flowers growing along the edge of the road. Open irrigation channels were also visible, and we realised that the white was water sucking cotton, which must have drifted over from the nearby crops and stuck on the roadside weeds. There are a number of roadside stops along this stretch, some with toilet facilities. None are exciting, but at least they give the opportunity it to break up the drive. We made use of one for another cuppa.

On the last leg of the trip we passed through Hay and on to Narrandera, where we had booked at an airbnb.  Our very friendly and chatty hosts made us welcome and we heard a bit about their time living in Brazil and the workings of the local hospital(Carole is an RN).

Our home for the night

Monday, 1 May 2017

New Zealand -April 30th -the final leg

Our last day in New Zealand for this trip.

Another grey old day greeted us, and at times we wondered where the "NZ Turbo" setting was on the windscreen wipers.

Our motel host suggested a scenic route back to Auckland, and with miles of time to spare, we took up the suggestion.

This had us heading up the coast,  where she promised us we would actually see the sea!!!

She was right. Before we reached Miranda and up to Kaiaua we were quite stunned. On our right was the ocean-right to the top of the beach, then something between 50m and 10m of land to the road that we were driving. On our left, appearing to be lying even lower than the sea, were cow paddocks,  with cows munching away on lovely green grass (much like our flats along the Murray River near Jervois).

How does this work? Should this grass be able to grow here???

As we drove into the town we found the letterboxes on the ocean side of the road and the houses on the away side. We have seen the postie in his van (not a bike) delivering in a number of places, but not sure how this works as a practical thing. Does he need to get out at each spot, or does he just drive along on the wrong side of the road?? (Each time we have seen the van it has been on the wrong side of the road)

This is New Zealand , and we should not have been surprised to find that the planned route to Auckland was closed due to a slip on the road.
With a deadline to reach the airport this was an interesting development,  but we kept the worry at bay, and were thankful that we had brought along the navigator so could identify an alternative route without too much trouble.  This meant heading inland and travelling across the ranges on very picturesque country roads. Who could really complain?

After a brunch break we headed off again,  and again were diverted due to yet another road closure! We were now down to the line on our timing, but, despite some interesting route choices, we still managed to find a petrol station, return the car, and jag a timely drop off at the airport with about 15 minutes spare to the check in cut off time. Whew!! Then of course there was plenty of time to be processed through and  wait for our flight to Sydney along with a good number of other orienteers and many others who were toting masters games backpacks.

We had a fairly tight schedule in Sydney to collect baggage,  clear customs, recheck baggage, transfer terminals to the domestic, repass security and find our gate. We were delighted to have enough time to relax a little and catch up with Peter and Robyn Cutten who were also on the flight home.

The sight of Ben, Vassi and Grandpa Tom greeting us at the airport was wonderful. It is good to be home, and we were very happy to climb into a comfy bed, with comfy pillows and the right amount of bedding for these fussy sleepers.

That's the end of another adventure, making memories together for the Diments.

New Zealand April 29th- Gold mining history

It rained for a good part of the night and we woke to grey skies.  We got a bit distracted by one of the two cryptic crossword puzzles that we had managed to get our hands on while in NZ, and realised that it was 9.50am (check out time was 10) with some dismay and had to scramble to pack up in time.

We stopped for fuel and found full driveway service!! This is something I remember from my childhood, but haven't seen for many years. A young lady in fluoro vest wanted to fill our tank and clean our windows but Trev still had to go in and wait in the line to pay at the checkout. Apparently this service is expected by Americans who visit the area. 

We followed the coast road , winding our way behind a line of various old cars (all Dodges of some description) between high hedges made of pine trees and sheltering kiwi fruit and avocado plantations. (10 avocados for $5) and decided to take the road into Waihi beach to try to see the water (still following the old cars). Even on this beach road there was no water on view!!  

We headed, unsatisfied, out of the beach and into Waihi proper. The old gold mine (originally tunnels, but now a huge open cut pit) has a walk around the rim, and we decided, despite the rain, to do at least some of that walk and have a look. The pit is almost 200m deep, (shafts used to go 600m deep). 

There is very little action there at the moment and the mine is in the process of being rehabilitated and closed completely, with a plan to fill with water and form a lake stocked with fish and able to be used for boating,  and swimming. 
Along the walk you could have a close up look at how big those mine trucks are.  

The old pump house was moved from its original position 300 away to preserve it. They raised it on to Teflon pads and slid it along stainless steel plates!!

They left the last of the steel plates in place so we could picture the move. 

You can see the fence of the gold mine up the hill from the pump house and a line of red.  That is a line of poppies placed to remember those who served in WW1. This is a Lions project. In many towns around NZ we saw flags and memorials of ANZAC  and were even asked if Aussies celebrated ANZAC  day too!

We saw flags like this in many places and this stylise
Next stop was a walk at Karangahake which had been recommended by John N. I had had this on my list of things to do this day, but given the lousy weather we may not have bothered if John hadn't told us it was worth it.

The windows gorge walk is so named because of the windows cut into tunnels through the hillside. They were cut to allow the miners to discard useless rubble, but make beautiful viewing spots of this lush green gorge with a stunning river tumbling below.

Looking out of a window

Suspension bridge

Looking at a window from across the gorge

 The rain saved me from taking hundreds of photos.
As with many old mining spots the town, once about 2000 strong, is long gone, leaving a few local houses and cafes, and many old rusty relics -pieces of heavy equipment, old battery buildings, old tunnels and in this case some suspension bridges.

Old tramline

View down from the lookout 

Having effectively used up a good portion of our day again on going not very far, but seeing some interesting places we were quite happy, and wound our way via the river route (very little river view as per usual) to our motel in Thames. 

After checking in we headed out again to take in the town. We found that they have a coastal walk which follows the sea front, winding along the mud flats and mangroves, and including a bird hide constructed with compensation money from the the Rainbow Warrior sinking! To make the walk more interesting the walk has painted decorations, the bollards are rainbow coloured and the croquet club have come on board and painted one of their fences too. It really did lift the dreary grey day. A model railway adds to the local attractions.

We spotted a big white monument up on the hill above town and drove and round to investigate,  winding up a steep, narrow road past many homes with steep narrow driveways. It is the local war memorial. 

Friday, 28 April 2017

New Zealand April 28th- Turangi to Mt Maunganui

Tonight we will stay in the shadow of our new friend, Mt Maunganui.

Obviously I was not flying and need to thank Google images for this photo that gives an idea of what the mountain is like. You can even see some of the tracks!!

We travelled through the morning and were in Tauranga in time to find ourselves some lunch, after stopping for a cuppa along the way. The thermos has come in quite handy and I'm glad we brought it along.
We did have to divert a little near Putaruru when the road we were wanting  was closed due to a washout. Luckily Trev was on the ball and managed to find a good work around that didn't take too much time.

There were lots of logging trucks coming over the range into Tauranga and lots of other trucks on the steep windy road too, due to the fact that it is a busy port. When we got here we saw all the ships loading and unloading and it all made sense.

We travelled through quite a lot of cow country today, with dark dark mud (even at this time of year) and rolling green hills. This many-sided shed was interesting. 

When we got to Tauranga we found a park and went for a walk. I had read that there were some interesting statues here in the park.  There were also lots of kids making use of the warm day and doing what kids do (from varying heights) 

But these statues were the main attraction....The Hairy McClary characters are represented in bronze, and the kids can sit on them, pat them etc.  Apparently the writer, Linley Dodd came from here.

Slinky Malinki

Scarface Claw

Bottomly Potts 

Muffin McClay

Schnitzel Von Krumm (just for you Sue and Daryl)

Hercules Morse

Zachary Quack whispering into his ear!

And everyone's favourite- the hairy one himself. 

Kids were out in force enjoying the spouts in the water playground and lots of people were sitting in the sunshine, chatting, reading and smiling.

Once we had soaked that all in, we drove over the bridge,  checked in to our motel (in a quiet part of town near the Mt. ) and headed off to walk.
Trip advisor had said that the walk to the top was rough and steep with many steps, and that the base walk was lovely with great views. We had agreed to walk the base , but when we got a start on  the path we came to a sign telling us it was closed due to a slip! ...oh well, so much for doing the sensible thing. There was now no choice but to go to the top. The ankle won't be thanking me later tonight. 

If there is a tsunami in the area the plan is to climb the mountain. (The green zones are safe) . Apparently you should not drive in a Tsunami, you should go on foot. You have about 40 minutes from the time of the quake to get yourself to safe ground.  All very reassuring. 

There were a number of hang gliders hanging around in the thermals 

View from the summit

Looking north

My favourite mountain climber

The tracks were a bit complicated and some were closed. Sorry about the reflections. We headed left (clockwise) from the bottom of the screen on the red track. Then on to green and yellow to the summit. Then down via yellow, green and blue.

The harbour looking south looks beautiful and calm, with black sand, but apparently has quite a rip.
The beach on the other side is white sand and surf and quite popular.

We enjoyed our best meal by far at a little spot called Phil's Place next to the marina.  While there, we checked out some of the memorabilia and realised this place belongs to Phil Rudd, bad boy drummer from AC/DC!!