Sydney Harbour Paddle – Saturday 21st April

Something a little different from camping.  When we were travelling I used a RedPaddle inflatable paddle board; the way it packs down is ideal for travel, but it is not the fastest for going any distance (I’ve also wondered about sharks, one nibble and would it take off like an escaped balloon…)

Who would have known BIC, the company which makes biros, also makes paddle boards.  Not me until I saw one for sale, ex demo, from their offices in Manly.  Its an Ace-Tec Wing, 12ft 6 inches long by 30 inches wide; not so easy to travel with but designed for touring.  Its got a few surface marks but is in fine working order.

The idea is to do a bit of exploring around the harbour, and perhaps go through the heads to Bondi.  Also, at Seal Rocks to paddle north to Sand Bar (and Frothy Coffee boatshed) or around the headland to Lighthouse beach.

As a first run out the plan was to head out from Rose Bay, paddle to the heads, and then back.  It was meant to be the week before, but a howling southerly doesn’t make for a pleasant paddle.

A bit of preparation the night before, down to Decathlon to pick up a buoyancy aide (or life vest, or pfd or no doubt many other names).  OK, it is not compulsory, on a paddle board, to wear one; but it’s a long swim to shore from the middle of the harbour, and even longer from halfway down the cliffs to Bondi.  Better safe than etc.

Its very relaxing out on the water in the morning.  It seems many people think the same way, judging by the number of surf skis heading towards Manly; presumably for a coffee before paddling back.  Now there’s an idea for another day.

There are several beaches on the way to South Head from Rose Bay.  Some of the better known are Shark Beach, followed by Parsley Bay, Watsons Bay and Camp Cove.  The last one is Lady Jane, but that’s a nudist beach so definitely no photos, eeew!  The pictures below are Shark Beach, the last one Camp Cove

Out at the heads, looking south, you can see the lighthouse on the South Head then the cliffs marching down the cost.  Back towards the city the view stretches from South Head across Middle Harbour to North Head, with Manly Ferries passing by.

All told it was a 3hr trip, with a few pauses for photos or a snack, with a fine view of the Opera House and Bridge to finish.

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Jindabyne – Thursday 29th March to Monday 2nd April

Long weekends, for many years the attraction of Sydney when everyone else went way was too good.  Get a seat at the coffee shop, parking at the beach, no traffic, heaven.

But now my annual leave count at work is 4 weeks, unfortunately its time to join the great exodus, to throw ourselves into the tide of cars and hope to avoid being beached in a jam miles from home.

So, nothing like heading out for the busiest weekend of the year.  We’d been good boy scouts and booked almost a year in advance, so no problem with accommodation.

Jindabyne Holiday Park is on the shore of Lake Jindabyne, in the middle of town.  Its also a 2 minute walk from the shops, so pretty much a perfect location.

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Being on the lake it can be windy, normally coming off the mountains and across the lake so whilst the lakeside sites have the awesome view they can be a touch exposed.  Also, whilst not a problem for us and the trailer, if you have a huge van you might find the sites a little narrow.

Thursday 29th March

A day of two halves.  An early start and 5hr drive to get there, but worth it to avoid the traffic Thu night / Fri morning.  If you are driving down that way, a great stop is Some Café at Collector.  If you didn’t know about it you’d speed right past, there is nothing but a basic sign on the side of the motorway.

However, it is well worth a stop.  Fantastic cakes, great coffee and I recommend the toasted sandwich.  A bonus is the parking is easy, plenty of space and room to turn if you need to.

Heading through Cooma, there were an increasing number of Land Rovers, of all shapes and sizes.  It seems we had bumped into to the 70th anniversary Land Rover meet.  In the end I did not drive back on Saturday to see it, but the photos on AULRO look amazing, the parade down the main street on Sunday must have been awesome.  Great to see Daniel (Mulgo) in the photos with his rooftop conversions.

Not much else to record; we set up camp and chilled out, wonderful.

Friday 30th March

The great thing about arriving the day before is you can relax and have a coffee, watch the world go by, and wait for friends to arrive.  We were eagerly awaiting Fifty Toes (plenty of posts with them from our big lap), also Jason and Ali and their girls.  The race was on.

Fifty Toes were an easy head over the line, a 4am start to get ahead of the rush.  A valiant effort from Jason & Ali, still managed to avoid the traffic with a an extra hour or so of shuteye.

The rest of Friday was the pursuit of switching off, disconnecting from the routine and enjoying the slowdown.

Saturday 31st April

The plan for the day was to walk up Kosciuszko, Australia’s highest mountain at 2,228 metres.  It seemed the rest of Australia has the same idea.  Last time we were here we parked in the middle of the resort, this time we were down past Friday Flat.

It made for rather long queue for the lift tickets, but the chap with the basket full of chocolate eggs made sure the kids (and some of the older “kids”) were happy…

There’s a couple of choices for climbing Kosciuszko out of Thredbo, you can walk from the village which adds 3hrs and 800 or so metres, or you can take the chairlift to 2000m and walk from there.  Its still a 6km return walk, but without so much climbing.

Unlike with skis there is no sliding forward from the chair, a brisk walk will do, but a run is so much more fun!

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Today it was like the M25 in rush hour (or Parramatta road if you aren’t from the UK).

As the path crosses delicate alpine areas, it is pretty much a boardwalk all the way.  The work involved in getting all the materials up there to make the path must have been incredible.  It would be awesome to do the walk when the first snows are down and the path hovers above the snow.

Along the way the views are special, in a bleak type of moorland way.  Kind of like the upper parts of Snowdonia, or the Lake District.

Reaching the top it was like an Aldi ski day.  The line to get a photo the peak was 20 deep. No matter, the achievement was in getting there.


Sunday 1st April

Here comes the Easter Bunny!

No walking today, more local activities.  We had planned to take a tour of Gaden trout hatchery; unfortunately the wind was so strong (glad we weren’t up the mountain!) that the tour was cancelled, apparently the danger of being blown into the ponds was too high.

Blue skies and silver linings and all that, a few bags of fish pellets later and we were by the river next to the hatchery.  If you leave the office and walk upstream until you reach the fence, there is a pool in the river.  Fishing is banned in this stretch, so the trout have the perfect position – no fishing and people feeding them; they are huge.  Chucking pellets in and watching the fish swirl is great fun.

Lunch was the Wild Brumby Distillery.  Most probably drive straight past it on the way to or from Thredbo.  Its popular, when I booked 3mths before they were already booked out from 12 to 2pm.  Its worth stopping in; personally I didn’t enjoy the schnapps so much but the food and location was awesome.

Only one photo of lunch, we were too busy eating.  If you are hungry, try the Pfandel, its not for salad dodgers or vegetarians…

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We took 15, and they catered wonderfully.  At the end of the restaurant was a table large enough for all of us.  Scattered around the gardens were plenty of things to amuse the kids, and keep the cameras clicking (do they do that any more?)

A wonderful feature of the Holiday Park is the pizza oven.  I have serious envy, the garden is crying out for one.  Each night they fired it up for BYO pizza, sadly we didn’t make our own bases, I got them from Woolworths, but you cant beat that wood fired taste regardless

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Monday 2nd April

Ah the journey home, on a long weekend, the easter weekend…..

All I can say is next year we are leaving early on Friday and heading back on Tuesday.

Turon Gates – Friday 23rd to Sun 25th Mar

If you have been reading these posts for a while you might recognise this place; I’ve written about it a few times before.  With its combination of relaxed camping plus great horse riding, all in a pretty setting, it’s a place to visit more than once, or twice…..

To recap, Turon Gates is on the bank of the Turon River about 20 minutes from the village of Capertee and 3 hours from Sydney.  Only the last section is unsealed, and a 4wd is probably only needed if towing something heavy or the weather is bad.

Charlotte had been studying hard, so this was her reward.  A weekend with just the two of us, and horse riding both days for her.

Being the weekend before Easter it was quiet, just us and one other group in the back paddock.  We set up right next to the river; just swags this time.

After the noise at Yadboro over Australia day, it was heaven to be able to sit and just listen to the wind in the trees, or the sheep grazing along the banks of the river, or the kangaroos hopping across each morning, or the geese paddling past.

Charlotte had 2 hours of riding booked each morning, and on the Saturday we planned to also complete the Devils Climb walk.  This is a loop walk which should take around 3-4 hours; its hard but not as bad as the Castle at Yadboro.  However, it remains to be done.  After her ride, she spent the rest of a happy day looking after the horses

That’s about the sum of the weekend, it is a very easy place to just relax