Our Tasmanian adventure – part 2

Thursday morning we had a leisurely start before driving through the mountainous roads to Cradle Mountain.

We had already pre-purchased our National Parks Permit so we drove up to the barrier but it refused to let us through – hmmm – so we did a U-turn and returned back down the road to the Centre. Showed them the ticket to find out that entrance to the park is by shuttle bus only. A signpost to that effect would have helped! So we got our bus tickets, parked the car, and headed out. We particularly wanted to spot wombats in the wild and we had heard that Ronny Creek was a hotspot for them. How do you tell when wombats are around?!? Well, you check out the poop laying around – their faeces are cubed. We started wandering along the fixed boardwalk and, within 10 minutes, we spotted a wombat on the hill above us. Woo hoo! Very excited we continued to walk and then came across one chomping on the wild grass next to the path. We stood and watched him for a little while – he was completely indifferent to our presence – before then turning back towards the bus stop. On the way back we saw another one. Really fantastic to see these great creatures in the wild.

Back on the bus we headed to Dove Lake where we checked out the views across to Cradle Mountain. We continued to enjoy the scenery of Dove Lake but didn’t venture further as the Dove Lake Circuit is a 2-3 hour walk which is much more than I can manage sadly.

We then returned on the bus to our car and drove up the road to our hotel – the Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge. The Lodge itself was quite impressive and we received a great welcome at reception. We picked up our cabin key and drove the car round. OMG this looks like a wooden shack and, first impressions on opening the front door, didn’t dispel the concern. But, of course, this was just the ‘mud room’ to remove your outdoor clothing etc. We then opened the inner door to be met by absolute luxury – a huge king bed with crisp linen sheets, a gas fire fitted into the wall with log effect managed by a remote control and that’s not to mention the coffee machine, mini bar, day bed, comfy chairs and views over the lake…. Wow could stay here for a while!

Having settled in we went for a couple of more walks in the immediate vicinity. The Enchanted walk gave us views of rainforest, a small waterfall and lots of wombat poo but no critters which we then followed with the Waterfall walk which gave us a lovely cute wallaby and a bigger waterfall. I couldn’t make the steps so stayed about half way so Richard went down on his own to check it out….

Back to the lodge we got ourselves cleaned up and and got ready to go out for the evening as we were heading to the Tasmanian Devil conservation area to watch the night feeding. As we drove through the car park we came across another wombat just doing his thing – all that exploring to find one and here he is just outside our cabin LOL.

The Devil conservation centre was very informative and we saw lots of devils as they chased each other around and made some horrendous noises as they had constant spats. Definitely see why they got their name. At 5.30 pm our guide came out and we started the feeding – this put off a few people because they were fed with dismembered critters (not road kill) – whilst we learnt about why the devils are critically endangered. They don’t have many predators but, unfortunately, there is a type of cancer that has been spreading and killing them off. Unfortunately a lot are lost to road kill too – we can attest to that fact – and, if they are infected and other devils feed on the carcass they can also become infected. So there are great efforts to breed the devils and re-introduce them into disease free areas. Really interesting tour and we were treated to seeing some quolls too who are also being bred in this facility. This centre has no central funding so relies on visitors to continue with their work.

Back to the lodge we had dinner in the on-site Bistro which was really good. We then headed into the guest lounge to sit in front of a real wood fire with a bottle of Tasmanian Sauvignon Blanc.

We were thoroughly enjoying the moment until suddenly I spotted something crawling across the carpet. Thought it was just a slug until Richard realised it was a leech and that my ankle was bleeding. OMG completely freaked out! The damn thing had been sucking my blood and had only detached because he was full up. He was quickly despatched to hell in the fire but my ankle wouldn’t stop bleeding so we had to ask the hotel for some antiseptic and plasters. Yuck! Drama over, we finished the wine and headed to our room to enjoy the luxurious bed and we definitely needed the heat of that gas fire during the night….

Saturday morning it was raining, hard. We had heard it during the night pounding on our cabin roof. Oh well, guess we had been lucky so far with the weather. By the time we had finished our hotel breakfast it was torrential so we checked out and started the drive to Launceston. This was pretty tricky in the rain up and over mountains on pretty slippery greasy roads so we were pretty relieved when we finally arrived at our next hotel in Launceston, the Grand Chancellor.

Being too early to check in, we dropped our bags off, got a secure car parking ticket for later on and then, in between showers, we headed to Cataract Gorge.

Tasmania was once ruptured by earthquakes as violent as the earth has ever seen when the surrounding hills were torn and fractured. The South Esk River followed the depression formed at the time widening and deepened the gorge as it eroded the shattered rocks. There is a chairlift which spans some 457m with the central span of 308m believed to be the greatest single span of any chairlift in the world. Between showers we parked up the car and bought return tickets. We clambered onto the chairlift and enjoyed the spectacular views. OMG how amazing is this! Fantastic…. Arriving at the other side we wandered the grounds, checked out the peacocks, the huge trees, beautiful gardens and then dropped down onto the boardwalk which was constructed in the 1890s along the cliff face. We had a snack at the on-site cafe, saw a wedding going on in the interpretation centre, and then headed back to the chair lift in between heavy showers.

Back at the car the heavens opened – phew that was lucky! We returned to the hotel and checked in. This was another historic building with a pretty dated interior but was clean and comfy so we had no complaints. We decided we really fancied a Chinese so checked out the reviews, made reservations for the best one, and then rested up for a few hours.

Heading out a few hours later, as the walk to the Chinese was about 30 minutes or so, we had left early to visit a historic British pub on the way. As we wandered away from our hotel the area seemed to deteriorate slightly and we certainly didn’t fancy the pub when we got there. So we continued straight on to the restaurant and, thankfully, they were able to accommodate us earlier than planned. The decor was pretty ornate but sadly the ambience and food were just average. Never mind, you can’t win them all!

After dinner we returned to the CBD in a taxi and headed to a new place called Bar 2. It was absolutely tiny, boutique and pretty expensive and the guy said we could have one drink as he was planning on shutting up, unless he had more ‘walk ins’. So we just had a single glass of wine before walking around the corner to the Royal Oak Hotel, which was actually quite a nice pub, where we enjoyed a final drink before heading back to the hotel for the night. Had been a fun but long and tiring day.

And that concludes Our Tasmanian adventure – part 2. Come back soon for the next instalment.

Bye for now, Jan

Our Tasmanian adventure – part 1

Sunday (8 May) was Mother’s Day here in Australia so Hayley was awakened with gifts from the boys whilst I prepared a large late breakfast for everyone to enjoy. Feeling very full, around noon, we said ‘goodbye for now’ and drove down to Sydney. The traffic was pretty heavy but the extensive underground tunnel / toll system enabled us to make it to Sydney airport in a good time. We navigated our way to the international airport car rental returns car park and found a Hertz space – but the booth was unoccupied. Not wanting to just drop keys into a box we took photos of the ‘full tank’ and the mileage done then walked into the terminal to deposit the keys at the rental desk. All done we then headed to the Rydges Hotel which is literally just across the road from the terminal. At this point we were glad we only had a small amount of luggage to drag with us LOL. We checked into the hotel, got ourselves sorted, and then headed to Smithy’s Bar for some dinner before having an early night.

Monday morning we made a very early start and was on the courtesy bus to the domestic terminal by 7am in preparation for a 10am departure to Hobart. We were only supposed to be there an hour before the flight but we thought we’d rather have breakfast once we had checked in and got through security. On arrival we were met by absolute chaos. First we had to join the queue to get to the self-service check-in desks to get boarding passes and baggage labels. After shuffling along we finally made the front of the queue, printed off our tags, and secured them to our bags. Then we had to join another queue to get to the bag drop off desks. More shuffling along amongst a pretty irritated group of people.

Bags dropped off we then joined the security line which was also long. Eventually we were through – woo hoo – and had a chance to grab a quick cuppa and breakfast bite to eat before boarding our flight to Hobart. And, of course, after all the queuing the flight was delayed by over an hour but, hey ho, guess this is the new ‘normal’ of flying anywhere. It certainly wasn’t much fun!

Finally on the plane we took off and, after a couple of hours, we saw our first sight of Tasmania. The first European to land on the shores was the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman in 1642 and the island became known as Van Diemen’s Land until 1856 when it was changed and became known as Tasmania. Due south of Tasmania, across the infamous Southern Ocean, is the Earth’s southernmost continent of Antartica. Really can’t quite believe we are here!

We landed into Hobart on a brilliant clear day with blue skies but pretty chilly. We found our pre-arranged car and were taken direct to our hotel The Vibe. Despite the documentation saying a 2pm check-in, the hotel confirmed it was actually 3pm. So rather than waste any more of the day we dropped our bags off and went for a wander.

First stop was the harbour and docks area – particularly Victoria Dock which is the home of Hobart’s commercial fishing fleet and has a selection of cafes, bars, galleries and boutique stores along with some interesting statues. So was a nice place to spend a few hours and was surprised to see the number of fishing boats that were using traditional fishing baskets. We were also very tempted by the small seaplane doing 30 minute tours over the area but, unfortunately, was not tempted by the price LOL!

Heading back we admired the mix of historic and modern architecture – and the odd quirky item – before we returned to our hotel and finally checked in.

After resting up for a little while, we headed out to the historic Salamanca Place where we found a bar called The Den for a few drinks followed by a lovely Italian dinner at The Maldini restaurant. What a great start to our trip!

Tuesday morning we had hoped to go to visit the iconic MONA (Museum of Old and Modern Art) but, unfortunately, its opening hours had been reduced for the winter and was now only open at the weekends. Oh well, never mind. Instead, we found a nearby cafe for breakfast where we did a bit of research online and came across a hop-on / hop-off double decker bus tour to see the city. Perfect! So we booked online and then headed down to the bus stop on the waterfront to start our day out.

We enjoyed the sights and sounds of such iconic places at Battery Point, the modern marina near the casino, and beyond with many of the properties looking very ‘English’.

We hopped off the bus at the The Cascade Brewery. This is Australia’s oldest brewery but, unfortunately, no guided tours were available so we just enjoyed a few local cheeses washed down with some tasters of their brews. Their lager was actually really quite nice!

Moving on we took the Hobart Rivulet Walking Track to the Cascades Female Factory which was a penal colony for women.

We walked the site and watched some re-enactments on a really informative video. The conditions the women were held in were pretty shocking with many of them also enslaved to local houses as housemaids and returned to the prison each night. The saddest fact was that those who got pregnant (in a women’s only prison remember!!!) had their children forcibly removed from them immediately after birth to be given to local ‘free’ families. We also learned that, although convicts (including men, women and children alike) were sent from the UK to the colonies for the smallest crimes – such as stealing a loaf of bread or pick-pocketing – transportation was not the penalty for a first offence so these were all repeat offenders. Increased transportations, in part, resulted from less death sentences being handed down by the courts which strained the jail system so the numbers of convicts being cruelly despatched on a nightmare boat trip to the bottom of the world increased. Was sobering to find out more about this part of our country’s history. All quite shocking really…. There was, in some penal colonies, an element of rehabilitation with the prisoners being taught how to read and write and perhaps a trade such as carpentry giving them a better chance of staying out of jail on their release. But that was the exception rather than the norm and has to be considered against the backdrop of inhumane torture and food deprivation. Those released back into society having served their sentences were largely dumped back onto the unfamiliar streets with no money nor accommodation so often turned to crime to support themselves and the downward spiral continued.

After this visit, we wandered back to The Cascades Brewery to pick up the bus to find out that there had been a bad road crash so the schedule was significantly impacted – so we had another brew while we waited. Back to the City we hopped off in the shopping district and picked up a few things we needed, including a pair of secateurs…seriously LOL! No, actually, what had happened was that one of our suitcase padlocks had broken in the locked position so Richard couldn’t access his clothes. So we needed to break it open and we couldn’t find any pliers – no hardware stores were within walking distance – so we bought secateurs as the only local option. We also had to buy another padlock to replace it. Mission accomplished we returned to the hotel and managed to break open the suitcase so we got ourselves cleaned up and headed back to the waterfront for dinner and enjoyed a lovely meal in Lower Deck Mures on Victoria Dock before having a final pontoonie at the historic Hope and Anchor Pub before an early night.

Wednesday morning we headed back to the local cafe for breakfast and then walked to the car rental pick up office. Not really happy when they gave us an MG3 as we had found this model to be a bit basic previously but, sadly, we didn’t find out until it was too late so we just went with it. At least it was small and would be easy to navigate the winding and mountainous roads on this beautiful island. We drove back to the hotel, checked out, admired the view from our room for the last time, picked up our bags and headed off.

First stop was to Mount Wellington where we were lucky enough to be able to admire the amazing views despite the very cold wind…. Richard climbed to the highest point he could… We were so lucky with the weather – absolutely fantastic spot!

Leaving Mount Wellington behind we then drove towards Strahan – through mountains, chicanes, hydro-electric power stations, copper mines, feeling very at home with the names of the small towns and rivers as we navigated the five hour drive. We took it easy and thoroughly enjoyed the sights along the way although saddened by the amount of road kill of indigenous animals such as wallabies, Tasmanian devils and wombats….

Arriving at Strahan Village, we checked into our hotel room which was within a lovely historic old building. The room was comfy and clean although was a bit shabby chic. We then wandered the old town, found out where to pick up our river cruise the following morning, and had a couple of drinks in Hamar’s Bar and Bistro while we waited for a table to become available in the restaurant next door. Eventually we were paged so we had a simple meal before heading back to our room for an early night.

Thursday morning, up very early, we had breakfast at The Coffee Shack and then picked up our tickets for the cruise aboard the Spirit of the Wild catamaran up the Gordon River.

We boarded – allocated seats for the whole trip – and we left the dock heading first out towards the Southern Ocean.

The conditions were very cold but the sea state was serene with not much wind so we were able to stand outside on the bow as we navigated through the narrow channel at Hell’s Gate and out from Macquarie Harbour into the Southern Ocean marvelling at the 3km long training wall to stop the entrance silting up which is an engineering marvel of the 1890s. OMG never thought we would do this so definitely another tick on the bucket list. Bearing in mind this was a very light wind and low swell day, check out the breaking waves… Can’t imagine the horror of trying to make your way through this narrow entrance in a large tall sailing ship in bad weather, guess you can easily understand why they called it the entrance to Hell! Certainly there was significant loss of life from a number of shipwrecks here….

We stayed outside on the bow for far too long – getting really cold – but we didn’t want to give up any of this experience! Once we had passed safely back through Hell’s Gate into the Harbour we took our seats and warmed ourselves up with a hot chocolate… We then headed up the Gordon River during which we did a quick visit to the bridge to chat to the captain.

The captain then turned off the boat’s diesel engines and we moved silently under generator power into the UNESCO Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area learning about the history of this area.

We then disembarked for a Nature Walk at Heritage Landing and did a boardwalk through the forest admiring the local flora and fauna. Amazing how mushrooms grow on the old wet tree trunks.

Leaving the rainforest behind we had a buffet lunch on board before we disembarked for a walking tour on Sarah Island which was Australia’s first convict settlement at the bottom of the world This was guided and was really interesting although not a lot of the buildings remain it was clear to see how brutal and inhospitable this place (which doesn’t even have a natural water source) would have been for both the convicts and soldiers alike. Sarah Island was primarily for convicts who re-offended in Australia after their original sentences had been served and, under the watchful eye of a shipbuilder, they were eventually utilised to build a large number of sailing ships out of local pine to service the colony.

We then returned back to Strahan Village and visited the Huon pine shop which had some spectacular pieces of workmanship but, sadly, nothing that would fit in our luggage LOL. During our boat trip we had found out about a play called The Ship That Never Was which tells the dramatic and hilarious true story about the last Great Escape from Sarah Island in 1834. These convicts did actually steal the last ship before it was quite finished and, with hand pumps to keep the bilge dry as the boards had not been properly sealed, managed to sail all the way from Australia to Chile through the Southern Ocean (against the trade winds and current) where, eventually, they were recaptured and returned to Australia. An amazing feat!

We purchased a couple of tickets and after a warming cup of soup in our hotel room we headed out to the open amphitheatre for the performance. We weren’t expecting much, to be honest, but thought it would be a good way to spend a few hours. Well, we were blown away by the whole performance, including audience participation, where Richard was responsible for the often required rousing chorus of ‘What Do You Do with a Drunken Sailor’ during the performance. Absolutely hysterical and so much fun – would definitely recommend this to anyone who visits Strahan in the future.

After the play we headed back to Hamar’s Bar and Bistro for dinner before having another early night. Goodnight Strahan, what a great day!

And that is as good a place to finish the first part of our amazing Tasmanian adventure. The second instalment will follow soon.

Bye for now, Jan

Family reunion in NSW

Tuesday (3 May) the weather was inclement so we had a lazy day indoors while the family were at school and work so, trying to help out a bit, I prepared the family dinner for the evening. Having eaten we had a quiet night in.

Wednesday morning we awoke to a nice day so Richard and I headed out to Soldiers Beach to have a look out for humpback whales as they have started their annual northerly migration. Sadly none were spotted but we enjoyed just watching the water, the surfers and the kids having a surfing lesson. Lots of fun was obviously had by all.

Moving on we headed around the coast to Avoca Beach. We were surprised by how busy this beautiful spot was but then realised that teachers, employed in state schools in NSW, were on strike so the kids were enjoying an unexpected day off LOL. We watched some intrepid kids jumping off the rocks into the water – they were clearly having a lot of fun too. And check out these youngsters heading out to sea in their kayaks to go fishing – they start them young here! Eventually, having walked for a while, we had a late lunch out on the waterfront before heading back to Green Point.

Back at home we welcomed the family back from work / school (the boys were not impressed that their teachers didn’t strike LOL) and had a movie night in.

Thursday was a bit of a rainy day so we stayed at home sorting out more of our belongings in the garage – still puzzling over what to do with the dive gear – and sorted out clothes in preparation for our holiday to Tasmania. We also did some admin and chased up the Hope Island hire car company as they had not refunded our bond – they said that our card had been declined (really, for a credit not a debit?!?) so we supplied another card and this went through. Phew! And that was about it for the day apart from a bit of shopping and cooking the family dinner again…

Friday we awoke to another lovely sunny day – although a bit chilly in the shade – and headed out towards Terrigal. As we walked down the drive we realised that there was a kookaburra sitting on the postbox. He wasn’t bothered by us at all so we sat and watched him for a little while before he flew away. Just lovely to see him…

On the way to Terrigal we visited another laundry in Kincumber to get our fleeces and winter clothes refreshed in time for our trip down south.

On arrival we wandered the board walk followed by the promenade and stopped for a drink overlooking the bay just enjoying the views plus some lovely pelicans. Checking the horizon it was obvious that the sea was running really hard so we checked out the swell to find it was 4m which would make pretty feisty conditions out there, so didn’t miss our sea-going days at this point LOL. Was a really lovely day.

In the evening we had a fun time after dinner watching Adam – who was playing with his new hoverboard. It was so funny – Budd didn’t know what to make of it so backed off when Adam approached him – then peeped round the corner and chased him until Adam chased him back and then Budd run off again. Absolutely hysterical! Here is the young man having fun….

Saturday morning we did some packing in preparation for our departure tomorrow for Sydney airport whilst the family took Budd out for a long walk. Here he is enjoying the view out over the water.

On their return we all headed out to the nearby Japanese botanical gardens for a look around – fed the koi carp and tried not to feed the very greedy ducks; enjoyed the serenity of the place; encouraged a bit of silliness; and admired the local art and pottery exhibited before having a bite to eat in the on-site cafe. And Richard definitely made the best choice with his huge piece of cake LOL. Was a really nice way to spend a few hours with the family.

Back home now and the kids are reconnecting with their friends online, Richard has washed our hire car, and Hayley and Jamie are on a clearing out spree! Tonight is take away and movie night so looking forward to our last family night here in Green Point before we leave here tomorrow to go to Sydney Airport; return the hire car; and check into the nearby Rydges hotel. Monday morning we fly to Tasmania. Woo hoo – I am very excited about this trip. We will be gone for 12 days and with a pretty full-on itinerary I’m not proposing to blog while we are away, although might tease with the odd photo on FaceBook LOL. So this will be it for a little while – more blogs to follow on our return to New South Wales.

Take care everybody and see you all very soon!


Queensland to New South Wales

Sunday (24 April) we headed out with Sandra and Nigel for a drive up to Tamborine Mountain. Was a bit chilly but we enjoyed a stroll down the Gallery Walk and took a quick peep inside the local brewery – was a bit surprised by some of the colours of the liqueurs in the fancy bottles. Think some of them looked more like bath salts than alcohol LOL.

We then continued up the hill to the local hostelry called Fortitude and enjoyed a local craft brew whilst listening to the live music.

On the way back we did stop hoping for a scenic view but the dodgy weather had other ideas. Despite the weather, though, we had a really nice day. On return to Hope Island we had a quiet night in and perhaps a few drinks LOL.

Monday we all headed over to the lock up and did some more sorting including some tough decisions to dump stuff. Sandra and Nigel were really great to help us out with this. We then returned to their apartment and unpacked and stowed everything before chilling out for a little while.

Later on we headed along the waterfront to have lunch with Helen and Lester. So funny, we had been to their property before in their car, but never realised that it was just round the corner from where we were staying. So we walked there….on a rainy, overcast sort of day, chatted to some parakeets on the path, said hello to SV Joule on her pontoon before enjoying fantastic food and company.

They have a dream apartment and I love the fact that they are able to look down on their boat from their balcony. Just proves Island Packets have nice lines whatever angle you look at them from LOL.

Was so nice to see them for a final time and we really hope they will come and visit us in the UK before too long so we can return their kindness and hospitality.

Eventually we returned along the boardwalk for another quiet night in with Sandra and Nigel.

Tuesday morning we were up pretty early and drove to downtown Brisbane. We had to collect another hire car as the current one was for Queensland use only so we needed to get a one-way vehicle to finally drop off in Sydney. So up the motorway we went and it was pretty busy – have to say Australian driving habits leave a lot to be desired, particularly their tendency to undertake at high speeds! Eventually we found the Ace/Hertz office and went to pick up our vehicle. We had originally booked an intermediate vehicle but had already realised that it might not be quite big enough, so were quite pleased to be offered an upgrade to a Suburu Outback for a very small additional daily charge. The car has NSW plates so think we are probably doing them a favour in relocating this car back to Sydney, so that probably explains the very good deal they offered us.

We then drove in convoy back to Hope Island and returned the local car. Afterwards we headed to The Boatworks to say our final farewells to the staff and some of the tradies. We had been treated really well by everyone and it felt like saying goodbye to family – particularly in the office where hugs were the order of the day. So chocolates delivered we were finally on our way….

Back to the lock up for a final sort out and then home to Sandra and Nigel for our last night together. We decided to have a Chinese takeaway which was great although, of course, we did slightly over-order! And then it was time to say goodnight.

Wednesday morning we said our farewells to Sandra and Nigel. Not sure when we will see them again either in Australia or in the UK so it was quite emotional. They had been so kind to us putting a roof over our heads whilst we sorted the boat sale and now it was time to leave Queensland for the last time. But we were going away with a celebratory bottle of bubbles and a Bon Voyage card. A lovely touch, thank you both.

Slightly tearful we headed around the corner to the lock up and proceeded to pack the car. OMG it was a good job we got the bigger vehicle – it was full to the roof! We then started our drive to Armidale. This trip we had decided to follow the ‘hinterland’ route rather than down the coast road so we had a six hour drive ahead of us. The scenery was beautiful and it was so high up in The Tablelands (otherwise known as New England) my ears popped on the drive up into the mountains.

However, one of the towns we went through was Lismore, which had been devastated by the recent floods not once but twice. All the shops, the petrol stations, the malls, the large supermarkets, the car dealerships etc were closed and sealed off with tape while they assessed the damage. Lots and lots of personal belongings littered the verges outside homes that had clearly been inundated by the water with many looking abandoned. This awful aftermath was terrible to see and we saw lots of people just wandering about looking quite desperate having lost everything. Was a very sobering experience. The picture below is from a news agency, we didn’t feel it right to snap away in the circumstances.

Carrying on, the roads were pretty clear of traffic so were able to just meander our way through the chicanes and simply enjoy the scenery. We had lots of roadwork-related traffic hold ups with most of the construction appeared to be flood-related damage. Lots of pretty serious roadslips in evidence. Clearly we were in beef country as the majority of the homesteads had grazing cattle and not the normal Brahman-infused breeds we had got used to in Queensland but more usual ones such as Hereford and Aberdeen Angus. Guess these breeds worked better in the cooler climate here. Thoroughly enjoyed our drive down although, unfortunately, the rain continued to follow us!

We arrived into Armidale and found The Tattersalls Hotel. Well, we thought we had. Expecting an art-deco building we found an older colonial style property so parked up and I tried to find the entrance….well, the place was locked up and virtually derelict! What?!? Here is a photo of the property dated back to 1924.

A tad concerned we rang the number on the booking form to find out that the actual car park was just down the road (150m) and the hotel access was pedestrian only. Anyway, we continued down the road and there was the guest car park behind the hotel which looked pretty smart. Phew!

We parked up and took our valuables and small overnight bags into the hotel (leaving the car full of the rest of it) and checked in. We had been upgraded to a family room – so a much larger room than expected with a fantastic huge rainfall shower – so very nice thank you very much! We sorted ourselves out and relaxed for a little bit before heading out into the pedestrianised street that our hotel frontage was actually located on. We went literally just down the pavement a few yards and ended up in a hostelry sitting in front of a lovely open fire. But this public bar was like something out of the 1950s and clearly hadn’t been cleaned since LOL. Seriously it was pretty rough so we decided to drink up and moved on.

We continued walking and ended up at Charlie’s Last Stand which was a small wine bar. We enjoyed some smoked trout pate (bizarrely served with crisps) and a nice sauvignon blanc before heading back to our hotel. This sleepy town was pretty deserted and it was only around 8pm. At the hotel we went into the ‘Ladies Lounge’ which is in keeping with its Art Deco renovation. Great staff and, again, we sat in front of a nice fire enjoying a lovely glass of wine before retiring upstairs for the night. OMG the bed was absolutely amazing with fabulous crisp linen – definitely getting used to this land-lubber life again quite easily!

Thursday morning we enjoyed a complimentary continental breakfast which we weren’t expecting – guess it must have come with the upgraded room?!? Definitely not complaining. Afterwards, we were heading out to visit the waterfalls at Wollomombi which are in the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park, New England. We had chosen these waterfalls to visit because they are the highest in Australia with the water cascading 220m down into the gorge below – plus, of course, we needed easy access to the lookout without a long bushwalk to get to the views. This place ticked all the boxes and we thoroughly enjoyed being the only people at the lookout. Fantastic!

Leaving the falls behind we headed towards Dangers Falls but the trek down to the viewing area was too much for me, so I waited at the car for Richard to return. Looks pretty nice.

We then headed towards the historic town of Hillgrove which is an old gold mining town situated on a granite plateau 1,000m above sea level. There are a few old properties here although most were just ruins but delighted to find a great little church intact. We were surprised, however, to find a working gold mine at the end of one lane – obviously we had to turn around at this point. Leaving the gold mine behind we realised that lots of the accommodation in the town was transient with lots of cabins etc which probably houses the current workers.

Moving on we drove back towards Uralla (on the other side of Armidale) and had a wander around this historic settlement town – which, is now famous, for being the resting place of a notorious bushman bandit ‘Thunderbolt’ who was killed by a policeman during his final robbery and was laid to rest in this small town. And here he is in all his glory – we couldn’t really understand why they had a statue to a baddie in the town – but guess it keeps the tourists coming?!? Anyway, some nice architecture and some great artisan pies to try from The Pie Mechanic. Even the motorcycle parking was stylish…

Afterwards we headed back towards Armidale – stopping off at an Aboriginal centre and enjoyed looking at some great artifacts and paintings, but sadly no photography was allowed indoors.

Back at Armidale we did a little walking tour of the town. This has quite a lot of pioneer-type original properties plus Art Deco architecture side by side. We had hoped to visit the Catholic Cathedral but there was a funeral going on so this wasn’t possible. There were lots of churches lining Church Street covering all sorts of different denominations. Now pretty tired from a full-on day out we returned to the hotel and enjoyed resting up for a while.

Then we got ourselves spruced up and headed to the hotel restaurant – which is award winning – and were very happy to be allocated a large booth. The menu was extensive and we certainly made the most of it – absolutely fabulous food, couldn’t believe the standard, and think it may well have been the best restaurant meal we have had in Australia. We retired to the Ladies Lounge again for our cheeseboard and enjoyed a Tasmanian Sauvignon Blanc to round off the evening. Wow what a wonderful start to our road trip.

Friday morning, after another complimentary breakfast, we drove across the Hinterland again. We eventually started to come down in altitude and the roads straightened up and suddenly we are motorway driving again. But still beautiful until we hit the congestion of the coast road again and we were very pleased with our decision to travel this route. Had been very interesting to see ‘small town’ Australia.

Eventually we arrived into Green Point (where my nephew and his family live) and Budd the giant Groodle was so excited to see Richard again. Was so funny – he virtually pounced on him – and then sat with him on the sofa for the rest of the night. Not much room for the rest of us LOL. It was lovely to catch up with the family again….

Saturday morning it was raining, again! Obviously we have brought the weather with us LOL. We did a bit of shopping and later on decided to stay put relaxing when the family headed to the large mall in Erina. We kept the animals company and just chilled out on the sofa in front of the TV – which is quite a treat having not had one for so many years – and recovered from our journey. In the evening we had a takeaway and started to watch a movie but I couldn’t keep my eyes open so had an early night in the end.

Sunday and the sun came out – the family headed off to Terrigal – and we stayed behind to start sorting through our belongings in the garage. We did quite a lot before calling it a day – including some laundry – and we have now donated all our towels and blankets to the family. We also advertised our dive equipment on the Sydney sites as we had failed to sell them before leaving the Gold Coast. Everyone wants a bargain here in Australia and, despite the very cheap price we are offering them, we really haven’t had a sniff. Looks like they may be coming home with us after all….

In the afternoon both Hayley and Jamie were busy with work and the boys were playing computer games online with their friends so we just chilled – watched some English football – and Hayley and I cooked a full English roast dinner for the family. So at 6pm we had our dinner and it was very tasty, if I say so myself LOL. Here is the family after we had cleared up after dinner and no Budd isn’t being strangled, he just wouldn’t keep his head in the right direction LOL.

Monday morning it was back to work / school for the family. So we left them to their own devices, not wanting to disrupt their daily routine, and had a bit of a lay in. The laundry I had left out overnight was still really wet so, as it was already drizzling with rain again, we headed to the nearest laundromat. This was a bit of a fail as, despite its advertisement, it was a commercial venture. So we continued on to another one and finally found a self-service operation and finished the job. We then returned to the house, had a family dinner, and a quiet night in.

We are very excited about the time we have left here in Australia and am enjoying the family reunion – so great to see them all again. So that wraps up this blog. Decided it was time for another Tasmanian creature which we are hoping to see in the wild next week! So I give you a beautiful wombat – not so cute if you check out the claws LOL. Interesting fact about these marsupials is that they have a backward-facing pouch which means that the mother does not have soil impacting on their young when in the pouch. Enjoy and see you all soon!

Bye for now


A life changing decision

Friday and Saturday were pretty lazy days with a bit of cleaning and laundry thrown in followed by quiet nights on board catching up on some Netflix content. We did, however, have dinner out one night and enjoyed a fabulous sunset along the way too.

Sunday we had a leisurely start before heading over late afternoon to Sandra and Nigel’s for a typical English roast dinner. Great food, fab company and even a lovely little parakeet on the tree watching us chatting on the balcony. Was absolutely lovely.

Monday morning we packed a bag and headed north to Hemmant to visit with Ed and Yvonne (SV Steelee). Wow, what an amazing home – so close to Brisbane but in the middle of the country. Huge outside deck overlooking beautiful countryside and paddocks. Yvonne put on a great grazing spread lunch for us and we just chatted and caught up. Was so lovely to see them again.

Later on we rested up before enjoying the most amazing BBQ dinner on the deck under a full moon. We even got presents….completely unexpected….to remind us of Australia when we got home. Such amazing generosity.

Tuesday morning we had a great breakfast – OMG not going to eat again for at least a week LOL – before saying our sad farewells. It had been such an amazing visit. We drove back to Morphie and just rested up the rest of the day.

Wednesday we had another leisurely day before meeting up with Ernest and Eddie in the evening and had a farewell dinner at the local Thai. Lovely food and great fun!

Thursday morning and we headed to the Boatworks to sign some documents in front of a Justice of the Peace. What?!? Why?!? OK so it is now time for the big reveal. You might have noticed from recent blogs, as well as lots and lots of socialising, we have spent quite a lot of time just relaxing. Well, actually, in reality we have been mega busy because we had – after many months of soul searching – put Morpheus up for sale. We had imported her into the country (paying import duty and GST to the Australian Government) so she could legally stay here indefinitely. This process resulted in a document called ‘Authority to Deal’ which is a customs declaration that confirms we have permission to sell the boat in Australia so we had decided to test the market.

So the next question is why? Well, we have owned Morphie since she came brand new out of the factory in 2008 and started cruising in 2012 crossing oceans, experiencing lots of unique destinations and cultures having made it half way around the world. We have had amazing experiences and don’t regret any of it. However, Richard’s heart attack in 2020 gave us both a shock and, to be honest, we simply don’t want to head offshore to third world countries where medical assistance in another emergency would not be readily available. Richard is absolutely fine and has recovered amazingly well but these random curve balls do make you think.

Of course the global Covid pandemic has left us “trapped” in Australia for over two years now. We have absolutely loved our time here and recognise that we were very lucky to have avoided the significant lockdowns at home or, like some of our friends, ended up being locked out of the country with our boat abandoned overseas. Looking forward, even though international borders have reopened, there remains significant challenges in continuing with a cruising lifestyle. And, of course, on top of that my hip is causing some mobility issues. To leave Morphie here in Australia in storage is not inexpensive with large monthly bills and we would probably be gone for almost 12 months while I get fixed up. So, decision made, we decided to test the market because going home unencumbered was definitely a relatively attractive proposition.

Boat brokers are pretty expensive here in Australia – 7.7% of value being the norm – so we decided to try to sell the boat ourselves although we did actually engage a broker to do the legals plus supply the escrow account which gave confidence to any potential purchaser that we wouldn’t do a runner with their deposit. We wrote an advert, cleared the contents of the boat to a local lockup, tidied up and took photos. We then published the advert and received some initial calls…. We had a couple of viewers – one hippy ‘influencer’ couple followed by a serious contender. However, he was talked out of it by his wife as they had just had grandchildren and she wanted to spend time with them…. And then it went quiet. We decided to reduce the price to stimulate some interest and this worked – Island Packets are not particularly well known here in Australian and are expensive when compared to what else is available on the market. Discerning sailors will know why but the newbies don’t… So we expected a bit of uphill struggle.

But, unlike many international sellers, we weren’t desperate to sell and, if it didn’t work out, we were very happy to keep Morpheus. Anyway, long story short, we advertised on the 5 February, we got a serious offer and banked a 10% deposit. We did a sea trial followed by a survey which Morphie passed with flying colours…. And, this week, on Thursday 21 April the sale went through. OMG can’t quite believe it. It has been incredibly emotional to say goodbye but we also know that the new owners will love her and cherish her going forward.

So we have temporarily moved in to Sandra and Nigel’s apartment here on Hope Island. Friday was a manic day of clearing out all our belongings and I admit to being very emotional most of the day. But, we broke into our day by continuing to socialise and had a very tasty lunch out on Friday with Lester and Helen (SV Joule). Afterwards we returned to Morphie and said our very sad and emotional goodbyes before heading to Sandra and Nigels where I admit we probably drank way too much!

Saturday we headed over to Morphie and met with the new owners again and did a final handover. And here they are looking very excited and happy with their purchase. This time I managed to walk away without too many tears….

Saturday night we headed out to George’s Paragon restaurant in Sanctuary Cove for dinner. Fantastic food – as always – and a great fun evening despite the problems with getting taxis to and from LOL.

Anyway, we are going to stay in the area for a few more days before we then start heading south to New South Wales to visit with my nephew and his family again. And, of course, there is also our touring holiday to Tasmania too which we are really looking forward to. So yes we are coming home and we are coming home for good! We need to get ourselves fixed up and then we can plan the next adventures! It will be a huge difference for us and we know we will definitely miss our cruising lifestyle but we are really excited to be going home, moving back into our house and, last but not least, catching up with all our family and friends.

Bye for now


Another social week in Queensland

Tuesday (5 April) we had a lazy day on board before being joined by Lester and Helen for the “buy one get one free” burger night combined with musical bingo at the Blue Water Grill and Bar. It’s a bit of a naff concept but surprisingly it was a lot of fun. Sadly no prizes won LOL.

Wednesday morning we had a bit of a tidy up followed by coffee out in the local cafe here in Hope Island before doing a bit of shopping and returning to Morphie. And that was about it for the day with a quiet night on board catching up with some Netflix content.

Thursday I did a bit more shopping (and cooking) and around 5pm we welcomed Helen and Lester (SV Joule) and Clive and Anne (SV Ishara) on board for sundowners. Thankfully the rain held off and we had a nice time sitting in the cockpit chatting.

Friday morning I headed out really early to the local hairdressers for a cut and colour – what a treat having been mostly colouring my hair myself during our travels – while Richard started clearing out cupboards in his usual ‘love it or launch it’ routine. Thankfully he didn’t actually physically throw anything out until I got back as he wanted to check and, yes just for once, I agreed with all his suggestions. Must be getting soft in my old age LOL.

During the afternoon we popped over to see Ernest on SV Crossbones just to check he was OK – he had been a bit poorly after his recent trip to New South Wales – and were pleased to find him on good form. Not wanting to risk anything infectious we stayed on the dock while he chatted to us from his boat cockpit. Whilst we were there, surprisingly, along came a nosy dolphin to give us all a boost. Didn’t expect to see one this far up the river so was a really nice treat but, sadly, no photos to show for it!

Saturday morning we did more general tidying up and the heavens opened yet again.

Thankfully, by the afternoon, it had cleared up a bit and Sandra and Nigel came onboard. Was a bit chilly so we sat down below and toasted Nigel’s birthday before heading out to dinner – was another lovely evening full of laughs and perhaps a bit of wine LOL. Here is the birthday boy looking very happy with himself before he tucked into his large plate of ribs!

Sunday wasn’t a very nice day so we just lazed around doing a bit of admin work on board.

Monday morning we spent a few hours just clearing and doing the laundry up until around noon when Lester came by to give us a lift to the nearby car rental place here on Hope Island. Yay, we have wheels again! We picked up our hire car – a relatively new Hyundai Elantra – and headed out to the mall for a bit of shopping stopping off at The Galley in The Boatworks for a coffee on the way. Was nice to catch up with David and the gang again…..

Tuesday we packed up a small overnight bag, said our farewells to Morphie, and took a drive north to Manly where we checked into the Manly Cove Marina Motel for the night. Wasn’t anything special but we thoroughly enjoyed the air conditioning, the TV followed by a leisurely soak in the bath. Oh what bliss!!!

Later on we headed across to the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron for drinks and dinner with Tom and Diane (SV Avalon) and we had a fun time catching up. Couldn’t believe how fast the evening went, actually!

After a really good nights sleep in a huge comfy bed that didn’t move we enjoyed great showers before heading off again – this time to Raby Bay – where we met Steve (SV Tamanu) plus Andrew and Lynne (SV Mischief) for breakfast in a cafe sitting overlooking Raby Bay marina. Was great to catch up with everyone again and the food was lovely too which is always a bonus!

If you are wondering, we are on a bit of a ‘see you later’ tour as we have decided, now that the borders have reopened, to do a bit of sightseeing in Australia before going home early June (just in time for summer) so we are not sure when our paths will cross again.

After saying our farewells, we then drove slowly back towards the Gold Coast where we popped in to see Tim (SV NavyDayz) for a cuppa and to see how he was getting on with his project – he is restoring an old sunken steel yacht and hopes to take veterans with PTSD out sailing at some point in the future. Well, rain and some further medical issues, have delayed progress but it was good to catch up with Tim and his son Thomas again.

Heading back towards the marina later in the evening, I didn’t feel like cooking so we headed to the Hope Island Marketplace to check out their food offerings. We came across the Canton Road Chinese kitchen and decided to give it a try so got a take away. We returned to Morphie – now in the pouring rain – and enjoyed what was probably the best Chinese we had eaten in Australia. Really good, yum!!

This morning, Thursday, the rain has stopped and the air temperature is much cooler so we are just planning a relaxing day on board to recover from the last few days of socialising.

Before leaving Australia, along with some other small trips, we have also just booked a self-drive car tour to Tasmania in May so really looking forward to that.

So our plans are just to continue being social and seeing as many people as we can before returning home. We have been very lucky to have met such wonderful, kind people who have looked out for us whilst we have been Covid pandemic refugees. But, that said, we are also very excited about seeing all our family and friends again having been in Australia for over two years now.

So continuing the Australian cutie theme, thought that for this blog I should share some baby Tasmanian devils to give you a glimpse of what we’ll be seeing in the flesh very soon (fingers crossed).

Bye for now,


Another week in Hope Island Marina

Wednesday evening (30 March) we headed out to dinner with Ernest at Blue Water Bar and Grill having enjoyed a beautiful sunset over the marina first. The guys both chose a pasta dish each and enjoyed them but I did catch the envious glances at my steak and guinness pie dinner LOL. Was a fun evening.

Thursday we dropped dink into the river and reinstated the outboard. Then we headed up the river to The Boatworks where we had a couple of things to pick up at the chandlery and made the most of our time there by also popping by to see Maryanne and Kyle on SV Begonia plus Lynne and Andrew on SV Mischief. Both these couples were heading back out soon so it may be the last we see of them for a while – it was really good to catch up. As we returned to Morphie we enjoyed checking out the luxurious properties on the waterfront as we slowly motored through the canal network. Of course, completely forgot to take photos of our reunions so you’ll have to make do with photos of their boats!

We then returned to Morphie for a quiet afternoon / evening on board watching the thunderstorms build all around us. Thankfully they were not too close but the rain came down with a vengeance.

And, of course, it didn’t stop raining all night or all day Friday either. So we just stayed on board keeping dry, relaxing, reading and watching movies….

Saturday morning it was still cloudy but at least the rain had stopped. We did some laundry and a bit of shopping before Lester and Helen came by to take us out. We ended up in Coolangatta having a fish and chip lunch which was a nice treat. We then returned for a quiet night back onboard.

Sunday it was cloudy and rainy again so we had a lazy morning. By about 3pm we were feeling a bit stir crazy so we headed to the Blue Water Bar and Grill to listen to the live music. The guy’s taste in music wasn’t ours particularly with a definite leaning towards country (which is very popular here in Australia). But we enjoyed the few hours off the boat before returning for another night down below out of the rain.

Monday it was pouring down, again, sigh….. Richard headed out with Lester to get some more screws (just to add to the hundreds we already have on board LOL) plus some petrol. I stayed on board and listened to the biblical rain lashing the coach roof. Come on, give us a break, this is getting really tedious…. In the afternoon we had organised sundowners with SV Ishara but, sadly, weather cancelled those plans! So another night on board and, for the first time in a while, it was quite chilly so we ended up snuggled up in our joggers…

Tuesday it continued to rain…the marina water levels rose rapidly until it then flooded across the pathways…and houses opposite us had water lapping up their garden steps. There was a lot of debris in the water too from flooding further up the river system. So we just hunkered down again.

Wednesday was more of the same with lots of rain and terrible scenes of flooding in both Queensland and New South Wales. Sadly it also hit many of the same communities as previously and there was, once again, loss of life. Our hearts went out to everyone affected.

Thursday we dried out a bit and headed off to the ‘Bowlo’ (the Paradise Point Bowling Club) with Helen and Lester for a few hours. We were treated to a spectacular sunset as we parked up and headed inside for our roast dinner – the weekly roast offering is such good value we can’t turn down this invitation LOL (although it was beef and pork night).

Friday I did the laundry whilst Richard spot cleaned and waxed the topsides where they had got dirty in the rain. Walking up the pathway we were both shocked by how much debris there was in the river and the marina certainly had their work cut out. We did a bit of a clean up and spring clean before relaxing for a quiet night in.

Saturday morning and it was a lovely day so we made the most of it and headed out for a little sail up and down the river system. Was good to get back out there even if only for a few hours although we could have done without the required emergency anchoring procedure when, for some reason, the engine conked out! This meant anchoring in the channel so we ended up being subjected to huge wakes and wash from motorboats who deliberately came too close – certainly made life a bit uncomfortable for a while. Not sure what exactly happened as the fuel filter was completely clean and the power supply was fine so probably down to a bit of dirt in the fuel – but we managed to restart quite quickly and get back underway, enjoying a downwind run back as the wind direction had switched to a northerly.

Sunday we had a lazy day on board before heading out in the evening for a lovely Thai meal sitting on the rail overlooking the marina as the sun went down. Was a bit naughty but very nice!

Today Monday I’m blogging whilst Richard is pottering around doing some small boat jobs – like starting and checking the generator; fixing one of the gas struts in the freezer; cleaning out the shower sump pump etc. There is rain in the air again…sigh…so that will probably be it for the day.

So that wraps this blog up – life is quite relaxed here in the marina and we are enjoying access to the facilities although do miss the serenity of being at anchor in an isolated anchorage. But with land access we get the opportunity to socialise, so making the most of it right now! Today to sign off I share with you the fairy penguin, the cutest and smallest of the 17 penguin species who grow up to 41cm and weigh in up to 1kg. They are found in Tasmania and gives you a hint of another Australian adventure we might be considering before we come home….


Bye for now


Being social in Hope Island Marina

Monday morning (14 March) we headed over to A pier to meet Ernest on SV Crossbones where he made us tea and force fed us TimTams LOL. I returned to Morphie while Richard and Ernest headed out to the Gold Coast City Marina on a mission to buy some good quality varnishing brushes.

While Richard was away I removed the three dorades and started rubbing down the red paint which had started to peel and flake.

When Richard came back he did some varnish keepers on the rail. We then relaxed while waiting for them to dry before I removed the tape and reinstated the dorades back onto the coach roof. Jobs finished for the day we then had a quiet night on board.

Tuesday morning Richard undertook some sewing repairs whilst I cleaned the saloon fans. Then I cleaned the stainless dorades before removing the tape off the varnish keepers. Boat jobs done yay! In the afternoon we took ourselves off to the tiny Hope Island shopping mall and used the free wifi to do some Netflix downloads. And that was it for the day.

Wednesday I went shopping whilst Richard tidied up – then we chilled out and relaxed – before welcoming Ernest on board for a Mrs Mac’s curry night. It was a fun evening and, of course, I forgot to take photos….sigh…..

Thursday we didn’t do much either, just relaxing after all those weeks of hard physical graft. I did a bit of shopping and then in the evening we welcomed Barb and Russell (SV Happy Hour) on board for sundowners. Was lovely to catch up with them again although didn’t realise Russell was quite so evil until he beat us all playing Uno Flip LOL. Was a lot of fun.

Friday was a laundry and cleaning day. In the evening we met Maryanne and Kyle (SV Begonia) and had a Thai dinner sitting on the rail overlooking the marina. Was great to finally catch up with them properly.

Saturday we had a lazy start and then we were picked up by Maryanne and Kyle and driven out to the Mount Nathan Winery – which is family owned and run. We had a lot of fun with the tastings and to my real surprise I really enjoyed their blueberry honey wine. It is really a liquor so we didn’t buy any of that, just a nice bottle of Sauvignon Blanc plus a bottle of bubbles to come away with.

After the tasting session, which was very entertaining, we headed out to sit on the outside deck quaffing wine and eating cheese whilst admiring the gorgeous views into the valley. We chatted, watched the birds, and just thoroughly chilled. It was a really really nice way to spend the afternoon and it was lovely of Maryanne and Kyle to ask us to join then – particularly as they were driving LOL.

After a late start on Sunday we met Sandra and Nigel at the Blue Water restaurant and enjoyed a really good meal – I had the amazing ribs, just can’t get enough of those! There was live music and the young woman had a good voice which was enthusiastically clapped and cheered on by supporters so was a bit loud at times but certainly plenty of good people watching opportunities and a great atmosphere. After a leisurely lunch we headed back to Morphie and enjoyed the rest of the evening together.

Monday was spent relaxing until we headed up the dock to have sundowners with Clive and Ann on SV Ishara. Ishara is a Little Harbour 50 – another American-built boat – which is absolutely beautiful. If we were in the market we would definitely be interested in her as she is up for sale. Have never seen one of these before and OMG just simply amazing! We enjoyed sitting in their cockpit as the sun went down before returning to Morphie for a quiet night in.

Tuesday we did some errands and some paperwork that needed looking at and, again, Ernest very kindly drove us around. On return we just chilled for the rest of the day before heading back to the Blue Water bar and grill for our dinner. The sunset was absolutely spectacular with really calm flat water in the marina. We didn’t realise it was “two for one night” on both food and drink so that was even better. As we finished our dinner a guy turns up and starts to introduce a musical bingo evening. Free to enter and fun to play – a bit like “name that tune” but having to mark them off on printed bingo cards. Luckily the music was based in the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s so we had a chance to recognise most of them LOL. And, of course, we didn’t win anything….

Today, Wednesday, not much going on although we are meeting Ernest for dinner tonight so looking forward to that. Tomorrow the excitement is building as we plan to return to the Boatworks (by dinghy up the river) to pick up some pieces at the chandlery so will take the opportunity to see some friends and just generally swan around LOL.

Oh yes and because we have had some settled weather of late, today, we find that the damn Australian weather is about to bite us again. The East Coast has been warned of another extended rain bomb coming our way – just what people need after the devastation caused from the last floods! Fingers crossed that it isn’t as bad as predicted….

So that wraps up this blog. At the minute, at home, some friends are dealing with the most shocking and devastating situation, so please just look after yourselves and each other. We love you all and send lots of hugs. So on that somber note, it is time for your Australian cutie to make you smile – this one is a pufferfish and one of my favourites to see when diving. How can you not love this really cute little face?!?

Bye for now, Jan

Leaving The Boatworks for Hope Island Marina

Friday (4 March) we received an unexpected call from the office to say that a UTE was available, having put ourselves on the waiting list for a weekend courtesy vehicle previously. So at 4pm we went along to pick it up. We then headed out to the shops quickly before returning to the liveaboard BBQ area for the evening.

Saturday morning Richard headed out to the chandlery at the Gold Coast City Marina (next door to the Boatworks) as he wanted some boot tape for the mast and the on-site chandlery didn’t have it. He also did a run to Bunnings…. While he was out I headed to the new Hair Works Barber and Massage place adjacent to Garage 25 and had the most amazing massage – after all the physical hard work we had been doing this was a great boost to my back and neck!

Later on we taped up the mast boot – we had ordered a custom sunbrella one when we had the rigging done but this had failed to materialise – so we had told the guys not to bother. So we cleaned up the original boot, cleaned out the drain hole, and then taped it up. And it looked pretty good so we were happy with the result. Afterwards we did a general tidy up and then had a quiet movie night in.

Sunday morning we met up with Kyle and Maryanne (SV Begonia) who we had originally met crossing the Pacific in 2017 and had been bumping into them ever since (not literally!). But this season we had missed them by days / hours on numerous occasions so made the effort to catch up over breakfast at The Galley….and very nice it was too. Of course I completely forgot to take any photos of our reunion but did manage to get a picture of this beautiful Mercedes in the car park LOL.

We quickly returned to Morphie to get changed and waited for Lester and Helen (SV Joule) to pick us up to take us to The Southport Yacht Club for the inaugural Down Under Island Packet Yacht Owners’ mini-vous lunch.

Attendees from back to front: Keith and Robyn (SV Segwun), Lester and Helen (SV Joule), us then Lee (SV Nautilee) plus her esteemed guest Rob Mundle, OAM. Rob is a well-known sailor here in Australia and his media background as a television and newspaper journalist has led him being recognised as ‘the voice of sailing’ in Australia. He is also a well known author of sailing books – in fact, Richard is currently reading his narrative on the 54th Sydney to Hobart Race right now….

Oh yes, we even had a raffle with the prizes kindly donated by Hayden and Radeen in the USA….and we even won a t-shirt! Thanks to Lester and Helen for organising – was great fun.

Arriving back on Morphie the heavens opened and we had a huge thunderstorm so sat tight for a while. Then the skies cleared somewhat, we were treated to a lovely rainbow, and we quickly got ready and headed to the BBQ area to meet Russell and Barb (SV Happy Hour) as it was our last night at The Boatworks. We had a great evening together watching the spectacular lightning show as storms continued to come through the area.

Monday morning we cleared the dock, got the cans back onboard, and returned our keys to the office and said our farewells to The Boatworks. We then moved to Hope Island Marina – literally 20 minutes down the Coomera river – and pulled into F10 dock where Ernest was waiting to catch our lines. We got ourselves tied up and headed to the office to check in and pick up our pontoon access keys before heading out to the attached shopping centre to grab a coffee with Ernest. We then did some shopping and returned to Morphie having first checked out the rather basic bathroom / laundry facilities. Definitely going to miss the Boatworks ensuites! Richard then reinstated the cans on the rail and we spent the rest of the day relaxing.

Tuesday morning I did a final sand and varnish of the sole in the forepeak before locking the master cabin door so we couldn’t walk on the floor by mistake! Richard cleaned, waxed and polished the cockpit while I did some modifications to some of my peek-a-boo blinds as a couple of them had come adrift in the very hot and humid conditions. Fingers crossed this will work. Whilst Richard continue to work hard in the cockpit I took myself off shopping to Coles for today’s dinner. As the supermarket is literally on the doorstep here we don’t see the need to have the freezer running as we can purchase fresh meat, fruit, vegetables and bread on a daily basis. We had another quiet night on board and slept in the stern cabin again overnight to avoid the varnish fumes….

Wednesday was another hot and humid day and I was delighted to see that the floor repairs were good so removed the tape and job done! I then took myself off shopping again whilst Richard installed a new fresh water pump to the fresh water head conversion. The conversion kit from salt water to fresh water had worked with fresh water now coming into the toilet but the flow wasn’t really strong enough so Richard added this to assist. This actually worked – woo hoo – good job! I was also pleased that my peek-a-boo changes had also survived the hot and sticky night so I quickly went round and adjusted all the others to match. Always feels so good when problems get resolved…

Thursday morning we did a spring clean / changed the beds etc. Later on Lester and Helen, picked us up to take us to the Paradise Point Bowling Club which had a roast dinner offering that evening. Had never been to a Green Bowling Club before – and certainly not one of that size – so was quite an interesting place. The roast beef was absolutely delicious, included a Yorkshire pudding, and we even had desert and a coffee too. Was a lovely evening with friends.

Friday morning we met up with Ernest and his friend Joe, who was visiting from Sydney. We all headed – in the rain – to the Westfield Coomera where Ernest had a specsavers appointment and we needed to go to the Commonwealth Bank. Jobs done we met up again and headed back to Garage 25 where Ernest and Joe wandered around the car museum before joining us to have a coffee. We then returned to Morphie via the shops for some provisions and spent the rest of the day on board relaxing.

Saturday morning I headed out early to do the laundry while Richard did some varnish keepers on the rail. He then did some spot cleaning of the stainless steel whilst I got on with sorting out some paperwork. The heat had dropped, thankfully, during the day and so our movie night on board was much more comfortable down below.

This morning, Sunday, and the weather is threatening rain so I’m blogging down below while Richard is cleaning and servicing the stern swim ladder as it is quite rusty. And that will probably be it for the day.

We are definitely coming home this year but, at this moment in time, we are just not sure when that will be. We miss you all and send lots of love and hugs. So today’s interesting and colourful Australian critter is a blue ringed octopus that lives in shallow coral reefs and rock pools. Normally pale yellow the blue rings appear as a warning when it feels threatened. Although not aggressive it carries enough posoin in its body to kill 25 adults within minutes. So a beautiful sea creature that definitely comes with a look but don’t touch warning!


A wet and wild week in Coomera, Queensland

Thursday (24 February) it rained cats and dogs for most of the day so we just took shelter down below although, in a quick break, the riggers turned up to tension the new standing rigging and replace the steaming light. Apart from that bit of excitement, we had a pretty lazy day keeping dry. Later on Russell and Barb came over for sundowners which was fun although they got a big soggy on the walk back to their boat!

Friday and it was raining again….sigh…. Further north there was news of bad flooding and we started to receive serious weather alerts for our area. Hmmm…. We had booked a courtesy car for three hours in the afternoon so we braved the elements and headed out shopping to Bunnings (of course) plus a trip to Coles etc before returning to Morphie. In the evening we headed up to the liveaboard area and joined in with the rest of the cruisers enjoying the complimentary meat on the BBQ from the Boatworks. Was another fun evening.

Saturday morning and it was still raining, the weather system had moved closer to us and the local news was horrendous. Most of the day it was white-out conditions in the river. So we just stayed below for the day.

Sunday the boat was really damp down below – not from leaks but from condensation caused by the boat being shut down with no air circulating – so we got the heater out from its cubby hole and had it running on full blast. We didn’t need the additional heat but it certainly helped dry the boat out somewhat! Watching the footage from the Brisbane River was un-believeable and distressing especially as reports came in about loss of lives; the main south / north motorway had been breached in many places so remained closed stranding people all over the place; and many towns were completely inundated and cut off. Just absolutely shocking.

Monday morning we were laying in bed when we heard a knock on the hull – around 7.30 ish. We had listened to the rain on the coach roof and having checked that the pilings, which hold the floating docks in position, still had some height left (they did at around 2m) we didn’t feel inclined to get up early. But it was Russell who had kindly waded down to warn us that the river was flooding! OMG we quickly got up, locked the boat up, and climbed up onto the walkway and then proceeded down into the flood water to wade across to get into the car park. It felt quite dodgy because, at this stage, the water was still rising and there was no way of telling where the river ended and the footpath started. Once safely back on terra firma we walked around the Boatworks and checked out the flooding…and this was before high tide! We found out later that the only damage here had been a houseboat which had broken free and had hit one of the Boatworks docks – sinking the houseboat and damaging the dock as it was pinned beneath….

Now off the boat, we decided to have a leisurely breakfast at The Galley, keeping an eye on Morphie tied securely to her berth, whilst we waited for the water to subside. The river was moving really fast and there was lots and lots of detritus floating down the river…. Luckily we were tucked into a berth that was relatively protected from the worst of the flow. Later on, once we could see the edge of the river again, we waded back to Morphie and settled back on board. Funnily enough, by now, the sun had come out and the wind had dropped off significantly. So we took the opportunity to play with the main sail now that the new standing rigging had been expertly tuned. And, yay, it all worked smoothly. I pulled the main out and refurled it on my own – then Richard had a go. We were both very happy that this issue had been resolved. Phew!

Oh yes and during the afternoon a wedding party turned up – by now the tide had gone down, the paths were clear of water and had been hosed clean of all the river mud – just in time. Didn’t get a photo of the bride and groom but check out their fancy wedding car!

Richard had, by now, decided to attack the fresh water head conversion again – he was not completely happy with it and having now found a specialist marine plumbers who had supplied some superior fittings he had decided to take it all apart again. This meant that the whole boat will be in chaos again so I decided to take myself off to the cruisers lounge to do more laundry and caught up with the local TV news. Absolutely awful scenes and terrifying stories being reported….. Just very grateful and thankful that both Morphie and ourselves were unharmed in all this mayhem. Later on we headed to the BBQ area again and, as we left the boat, the heavens opened. Please, no more, we have had enough! But it didn’t stop us having a nice social evening despite getting soggy on the walk there and back LOL.

Tuesday morning I tackled the forepeak sole again as it needed further coats of varnish whilst Richard continued to work on the plumbing. At 1pm we had a courtesy car booked and noticed that they were all parked up around 12.30pm so cheekily picked ours up early. We had to go to Centrelink to get our Medicare cards renewed – not something that can be done online for tourists eligible under the reciprocal health arrangement. Well, this office in Southport is always mega busy and we just hoped we could get back within the three hour car slot! We parked up, walked in to find only one person in front of us in the queue – but lots of people sitting around waiting to be called for an interview. So we weren’t sure what would happen but, as it turned out, the completed form I submitted was correct (having done this in advance), the guy checked our visas and we were done in about 10 minutes! Unbelievable. Just have to wait the two or three weeks for the renewal to be processed now. As we are on a bridging visa with no end date right now not sure how long they will renew it for – so it is a bit of a guessing game.

So, having more spare time than we thought we would have, we headed back to Bunnings (sigh, not again….) and then to Oxenford to do some shopping. Back on board we had a quiet movie night down below and, finally, the rain stopped.

Wednesday morning we awoke to a hot and sunny day. Yay! The riggers came by and fixed the steaming light (again) that was being temperamental and so, finally, job finished we paid their bill. We then concentrated on the topsides and cleaned, waxed and polished them. Was physical hard work but pleased to get this finished – the “To Do” list is definitely declining now LOL. And doesn’t she look shiny?!?

During the night we had more rain and thunderstorms with severe thunderstorm warnings issued early in the morning. Here we go again! Welcome to sunny Australia LOL.

Thursday morning, the river was full of debris and, because the flood current had abated somewhat this was being carried into the marina berths with the flow of the incoming tide so poor Morphie was sitting in very nasty water surrounded by lots of flotsam and jetsam. Oh well, what can you do?!?

The water levels in the river started rising with all this new rainfall but, thankfully, did not flood again. Phew! In the afternoon I left Richard working on the non-skid areas of the coach roof whilst I popped out shopping for a few days supplies. We had tried to get a courtesy car for the weekend but ended up on a wait list so thought I should get food in just in case. In the evening we headed to the liveaboard area for a BBQ and had another social evening. Seems like the place to be after a day of boat jobs LOL.

This morning, Friday, and I’ve just put another coat of varnish on the forepeak sole whilst Richard has worked hard waxing and protecting the anti-skid on the topsides. Luckily we have another dry day but, you won’t believe this, just north of us they find themselves clearing up from the floods but are now struggling in a heatwave. The weather here is just plain crazy! Anyway, that’s about it for the day. Tonight we are heading to the BBQ area again for another social evening with fellow cruisers.

It has been quite a dramatic and challenging week but thankful we made it through OK. This ‘rain bomb’ was apparently a ‘once in a decade’ event and trust us to be here for it. Sending our love and hugs to everyone at home. So it’s time for more weird Australia critters – these are called Cotton Harlequin bugs and are a pest to both the cotton industry and to gardeners more widely. They exude a pungent defensive fluid when threatened which repels birds but is one Australian critter that actually isn’t a danger to humans LOL. Not sure what I would think about meeting them in the flesh, but think they are actually rather pretty with their metallic armour….