Monday, August 21, 2006

Mainland Escapade

After traveling so much over the past 18 months one would have thought that we would be happy to just stay home and enjoy the tranquility of Tasmania and our beachside home. But our desire to see our family in Adelaide, Melbourne and Kiama was too strong and we really wanted to have time with them. It would also give us the opportunity to catch up with lots of friends.

On this occasion we chose to travel by Spirit of Tasmania to Melbourne taking our car. This was just as well as by the time we were to leave, Carol had developed what appeared to be a severe ear infection, and thus air travel would be absolutely out of the question. It was bad enough for us to check with her doctor on the morning of our departure to see whether it was wise for us to proceed. Considering we were going by ship, she gave us her blessing and encouragement and so off we tootled. We boarded the Spirit at 7pm after having visited brother-in-law Maurice. Once again, the sea was most kind and we had a very smooth and comfortable journey across Bass Strait.

Our original plan was to have time with granddaughter Georgie on our way to Adelaide, but the death of her father's uncle saw her in Tasmania instead. This meant re-arranging our itinerary and we expected to see Georgie on the way back. After leaving the docks in Melbourne we drove to Bendigo and spent some good quality time with my oldest brother John and June his wife and lovely daughter Allyson. John had just been discharged from hospital and so it was good to see them and to encourage them. We had a great time together.

On our way to Adelaide we had the delightful opportunity to call in on Chris & Christine, fellow travelers on our China tour in May, and stayed with them for the night:After giving Carol some medical guidelines to try and clear her earsChris took me for a most enjoyable walk around the parks in the Adelaide foothills where they live.It was good to catch up and to share some of our life's experience and we look forward to welcoming them to Hobart one of these fine days.

It was now off to Gawler and check on Mark, Cal, Sarah & James - no Jess who is in Vanuatu, of course. We did miss Jess, but had three great days with the family, chatting, drinking good wine at Peter Lehman where the spring blossoms were on full display:And having picnics etc. It is a pity that a bit of water prevents us from seeing one another more frequently. And I am sorry, Mark & Cal, that we did not take more photos on this visit. But just the following two for you to feast on, showing how Mark is telling his dad how to take self-time photos on his camera (he hadn't done those for yonks)This is how it is done dad:
From Adelaide we set our sights on Wollongong, some 1400 kilometers to the East. It was a long drive and with Carol's hearing at impossible levels, I did all the driving. We drove the distance in two days and stopped some 800 kilometers from Gawler at Naranderra. From there to Wollongong, stopping off at one of our favourite places - The Dog on the Tuckerbox. Great little spot but not much visited these days because of a new Service Centre nearby. With a couple of links with Tassie, Carol felt we should show the doggy on the Blog. The original memorial was opened by the only Tasmanian Prime Minister, Joseph Lyons, the other link is a little more tenuous - one of the songs about the dog, 'On the road to Gundagai', was written by Jack O'Hagan and Carol's father met him in Launceston in the late 1930s. So here it is together with a short description why it is there:And finally....back in the beautiful Illawarra where this fantastic coast line greets the visitor:No wonder we love this place and it took little to persuade Max to drive me to Bald Hill where the views are world class. Here is a reminder for those who know this bit of coastline, and an appetizer for those who really should visit the Illawarra:It was really good to go to Kiama and see Vicki, Philip, Jason, Michael & Jacqueline. We hadn't seen the boys for quite some time and we enjoyed touching base with them, including good in-depth dialogue with Jason. Our ongoing joy is to pray for these fine young people who we dearly love and miss now that we live in Tassie. As always, Philip made sure that we celebrated our time together with the most excellent food and some rather extraordinary you check the labels on the bottles you are not dreaming when you see a Grand Hermitage 1986 and a Penfold 1991 Bin 707. No wonder we are all smiles as they are very fine wines indeed! Cheers...Oh yes, that included Vickiand CarolWe won't boast about the other two classics that we enjoyed that evening except to show you that food, wine and happy re-unions are a desirable experience!The Sunday was special for both of us as we returned to share in worship with our good friends at Woonona Baptists. This family of God has been a balm and encouragement for us for a number of years. Karen always has the ability to lead us in worship right to the throne of God. Something not to be missed!Nor did we want to miss on this delightful scene of three generations with Jean and Kay admiring this gorgeous creation. There is so much to be grateful for.Plus of course an admiring cousin had to be included:While Carol enjoyed meeting up again with those who go to the Friday Craft classes, I enjoyed ten-pin bowling again with more former mates. Perhaps it as well I didn't take any photos of that occasion even though I did not disgrace myself.

Another visit to Stanwell Park and Bald Hill was very tempting and this time the girls joined in:One thing that has certainly changed since we lived here is the newly constructed ocean bridge around Coalcliff. This certainly makes driving over this stretch of road much safer. You will see it in the next picture:And to make it more interesting, we even walked on it for a bit:On our way back, we were thrilled to see lots of people gathering to watch a whale and its calf near the shore.Just wished we could have got closer, but it was an awesome to see this massive but passive creature WITH its young!! Wow!! It was a fitting end to a wonderful return visit to the Illawarra that concluded with the evening shot at Sandon Point.When we left the Illawarra, we chose to not stay in Melbourne because Carol was quite distressed by now, finding it very hard to converse with people. So we went straight to the ferry terminal and were able to secure a cabin to get us across the Strait to be home the following morning. We were really sorry to miss seeing Georgie and Amy, particularly Georgie, as Amy will be in Hobart this coming weekend. Carol especially was glad to be home and she has already visited a specialist here to assist getting over the present discomfort.