Sunday, 30 December 2012

Culburra, NSW

Sunday morning here in Culburra which is a holiday seaside town 200 km south of Sydney and after a really sunny day yesterday it is cloudy and a bit of rain but also nice and cool. It has been hot here and sun block is sold by the gallon and even I have been forced to use the smelly and sticky stuff. I haven't been on the internet much since we came to Culburra on Christmas Eve. It's even difficult getting a mobile phone signal here and there is no internet anywhere near. I have had to drive to a bowling club a few miles up the road to find a place with a free wi fi connection.

Include are a few photos from Culburra. No buses I afraid, there is a bus service here to Nowra which is the nearest town but the bus stops I have seen don't match up to Stagecoach standards; i.e. a time table on every bus stop (almost) and the bus seems to only run twice a day.

The photos  show the local Woolworths ( not like our late lamented Woolie but a big supermarket chain) which is like Tesco's coming to Brixham, not welcomed by the local shopkeepers but everyone else thinks it's wonderful. The beach is 10 km long and usually mostly deserted and the tree with the plaque is where someone tried to do 200 kph in a 100 kph area.

Hope the weather in the UK isn't too bad. Without  the internet I haven't been getting much news  from England

I'll be back in Sydney in 5 days and will probably spend a couple of days surfing the net until I self destruct. 

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Merry Christmas

I sorry to hear that the UK is taking a bit of a battering, hope it doesn't last and Christmas is nice and sunny right through to the New Year and beyond.

We are of to the seaside for a few days over Christmas, BBQ on the beach for Christmas Dinner.

Merry Christmas to all and a dryer New Year.


Saturday, 22 December 2012

Sydney Bendy Bus


Well the end of the world didn't happen, bit of a shame really. I missed the beginning of the world by 4.5 billion years and now it looks like I will miss the end of the world, but who knows. Some one will come up with an other prediction and the law of averages suggest that eventually some one will get it right.

I've been in Sydney a week now and haven't actually been into town. I was going to go on Thursday but it was too hot, 35C, for walking round and it would have been crowded with Christmas shoppers. I can not get used to the idea that it is Christmas in a few days time. Christmas happens in mid winter not mid summer. Still saves me buying cards and presents for everyone.

Photo is of a bendy bus I took a few weeks ago before I went to New Zealand. Sydney is so full of buses the State Government wants to replace them all with a tram system. Trouble is it would take years to build, disrupt the city and no one thinks it is a good idea except the State Government. And you may have been watching those TV programs dedicated to the men and women of passport control who protect Australia's border, Seems not all had the same level of commitment and were actively engaged in drug and arms smuggling on an industrial scale.

And finally, does the name Tony Abbot mean anything to you? He is the leader of the opposition who recently said one of his colleagues had behave correctly in a recent court case involving sexual harassment by the speaker of Parliament. The judge threw the case out saying it was obviously an attempt to frame the speaker but Tony was abroad and didn't bother the read the judgement. Said he was doing important work for Australia. He has been in the UK and I was wondering if anyone there had noticed.  

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Mt Warning Madness

The photo is taken from the front of my niece's house the mountain you can see is Mount Warning. It's clearly visible from the Ocean and Captain Cook called it that to warn any sailors that might come after him that there was a really big problem ahead; namely  the Great Barrier Reef. You don't get bigger problems than that when you are sailing in unknown waters.

It's the worn down core of an extinct volcano the last erupted 15 million years ago. Then it was 2000 metres tall, now it's down to 1163 metres and there is a path up the side which takes anyone who wants all the way to the  top. So far I have been up that path 5 times but only a hundred metres. It's 720 metres straight up from the car park to the top and the view is spectacular. The local native tribe hold the mountain sacred and do ask people not to climb to the top and as I have mentioned I have so far respected their wishes.

However I foolishly mention to my nephew that the idea of going to the top on Friday morning had crossed my mind so before I could explain that this was just a tentative idea a whole party was being assemble to accompany me, or hopefully carry me. Some people go up in the early hours of the morning. Because it is in the east and it's height it means the summit is the first place in Australia to see the sun rise. I missed the sun rise at East Cape in NZ and I will miss it here. Even I'm not getting out of bed a 2am to watch the sun rise.

I'll let you know how I go on. 

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

a picture for you

From New Zealand I flew into the Gold Coast where my neice Roz lives.
It's a big house out in the country, wireless connection, TV,
electricity but no water supply. So the whole roof of the house is set
up to collect rainwater. OK if it rains but in the last 6 months it's
only rained twice so water was getting low and last week a tanker full
of water was delivered at some expence. I got here on Sunday afternoon
and it hasn't stopped raining since.

Photo was taken in Collengatta which is just over the boarder into
Queensland. It must be a bit of a problem timetabling the buses
because NSW has summer time but Queensland doesn't so you can be going
down one street and it's 14:00 and turn a corner and it's 13:00. This
bus is based in Queensland so I expect it runs on Queensland time.

PS It's stopped raining.


These pictures were sent with Picasa, from Google.
Try it out here:

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Nice Here in New Zealand

I have now been travelling round New Zealand for 5 days. The problem with the credit card and the very nice people at the van hire place has been sorted.

New Zealand is a very nice place, a bit like Australia in many ways but not as dry and burnt. The max speed round here is 100kph (62mph) even on the motorways. The motorways round Auckland are frantic and I would suggest who ever does the direction signs pays a visit to the UK. Probably one of the problems I am having is the strange place names which I find hard to pronounce. You don't get much warning and no second chance. Some of the exits are from lane 3 which is weird. 

I am finding the lack of overtaking places a bit of a bind. I don't really want to hurtle along at 100kph but motorist behind get real close and even when it is possible to overtake seen reluctant to do so and I end up going faster than I would like. I'm here to see the place, not set speed records.

Right now I am in Ohope Beach which is a sand bar 200 metres wide sticking out in to the Bay of Plenty and tomorrow I am heading for Gisbourne stopping the night at Cape East which is as far east as I am likely to get without falling over the International Date Line. On Monday morning I will probably be the first person on Earth to see the sun rise. I hope it does. 

Problems with credit card

Tuesday 27 November

Flew from Sydney to Auckland, arrived on time and phoned the campervan hire company who promised to pick me up in 10 to 12 mins. After 20 mins I got a bit worried and went back in the airport and phoned again. They had picked up the wrong person and asked me to get a cab. Cab driver overcharged me. Welcome to New Zealand. But he did give me a receipt with the company's name on it so the van hire people are going to ring them up and ask for a refund. Next thing after all the paper work was done and I produced my credit card to pay the bill. Now this was a slightly anxious moment due to the fact that when I go to Sydney and went to an ATM to get some cash the card was refused. I phoned the bank back in the UK who informed me that I should have told them I was leaving the EU. It appears the all cards are refused outside the EU for security reason. No one told me. I even went through Santander's website looking for such an instruction. You will find it now following the 3 emails I sent expressing my dissatisfaction in their service. If I hadn't been staying with family I would have been well and truly up the creek without the proverbial paddle. After the first phone call during which I was assured my cards would both work I went down to the local ATM to beg for some cash. Did I get any? Not a chance. I even tried the credit card. So an other phone call. It's tedious because the second person has no idea what you said to the first person, And I wish call centres didn't play music when they put you on hold. At the end of the second call during which I was put on to some one from security who said there was no reason why my cards, when inserted into an ATM any where in Australia or New Zealand shouldn't produce a torrent of cash. Well the debit card did but not the credit card. A 3rd phone call to the UK plus the 2nd of 3 emails delivered an assurance that if the sun were to actually rise tomorrow then my cards would work. Well to be sure I took $20 out using the credit card so the sun will rise tomorrow, it might not shine but it will rise. So landing in New Zealand  I was confident but there was a little 'but' hanging about in the back of my mind. It had every reason to be there because neither card would produce anything except 'Transaction Declined'.

My first idea was to walk back to the airport and see if I could get deported back to Australia. Then the lady from the van hire company lent me her car so I could drive to a nearby ATM and see if I could get some cash. No cash. Looks like no holiday; I had worked all of August to pay for it. 180 boring trips to Cockington and back just so I could drive a campervan round North Island New Zealand. I couldn't ring the bank, it was the middle of the night in the UK.

Then the lady( may she win the lotto and live happily ever after) phoned her boss and explained the situation and boss lady told me to take the van, ring my bank and come back in a few days and pay. New Zealanders are the greatest people in the world. Heading north from Auckland I pulled into a service station to check my map. On the way out I got stopped by the police and breathalysed. Good job I hadn't stopped somewhere for a large double whisky to calm my nerves.

To morrow I will pop in to the van place on my way further south and pop my credit card into the chip and pin thingy. I know it will work because I used it to by some petrol.

far Far Away, just in Time

On Tuesday 20 Nov I caught the train to London and then to the airport to board a flight to my second home, no not a bus depot but Australia. I got there on Thursday and heard that the train line between Devon and the rest of the world had been washed away and that mudslides had even swept through Torquay itself. Not good weather you are having back home. Much warmer here. I have never been here for Christmas before and Christmas decorations in the middle of summer  are a form of jet lag. I've been down to the beach a couple of times but no bbq yet. What I did have to do was ring Santander and ask them why my debit and credit cards weren't working. I was told I should have let them know I was leaving the EU but they promised they would work. Still took 3 phone calls.