Saturday 12th April
Lauren and I had plans for Saturday; well Lauren did, I was just going with the flow! It was to be a simple day. Into Sydney getting off the train at Museum and then a 20 minute walk to Paddington market. After that down to The Rocks, round the street markets, into the Discovery Museum and then home. Perfect.
On Saturday it rained. Not just a little shower, but a full on monsoon style downpour. It poured, then stopped, then poured again.
Our day started later than intended but we got the train into Museum as planned and then started the walk up Oxford Street. Then it poured! We sheltered and then started walking again when the rain eased. Then it poured! We did this three or four times, getting about a third of the way between station and market before we decided enough was enough. We were both soaked and although there had been shelter this far, there didn’t seem to be much available along the next section. It was also an open air market so there was a good chance the stall holders may also have given the day up as a bad idea.
So we turned round and headed for The Rocks and the street markets. As is often the case when you change your plans due to the weather, the rain stopped and the sun came out. For a while at least. Unfortunately the storms of the previous night had resulted in the market being cancelled. Things were not going well! That said, they were about to improve considerably as it was lunchtime and The Swagmans Café was open and serving the extremely good food we had tasted previously.
After lunch we took a quick dash to the The Rocks Discovery Museum before getting too soaked. The next couple of hours were spent reading more about the history of the area from the very early Aboriginal people through the convict times to the present day. Housed in a restored 1850s sandstone warehouse and tucked out of sight between rows of shops and café’s, it is well worth searching out.
As we left the museum the rain had stopped so we took a walk round some of the residential streets in The Rocks (see my previous post) and up over Observatory Hill. Something which struck us as odd while we were walking was the number of wedding parties that were moving around the area; we must have seen five or six; although there was no sign of the weddings themselves. It seems that the key group would come up on to the hill so they could have photo’s taken with the spectacular views behind them.
I also took the opportunity to stop and have a chat to a couple of the wedding car drivers one of whom had a Vanden Plas Princess. My Grandad had worked for Vanden Plas for many years and so there is always an interest for me in seeing these amazing, coach built and hand constructed, vehicles on the road – and in this case, so very far from home. This stunning example is owned and operated by Wedding Cars of Distinction from who’s website I have borrowed this image.
As the rain returned again we decided to head back to the hotel, go and pick up some groceries from Woolworths and plan the next days road trip.
Sunday 13th April
An early start today for our second road trip. The plan was to head north to Newcastle and then go inland to Hunters Valley before meandering back to the hotel. Where possible we intended to avoid motorways and keep to the coast roads.
Our first stop out of the city was Sunshine Bay which we pulled into off the Old Pacific Highway primarily because Lauren liked the name. The views out over the water were magnificent, something we became increasingly used to the more we travelled. From here we stuck very much to the smaller roads for some time.
At Woy Woy there was a small craft market taking place so we stopped and spent a good hour looking round. This is a lovely small town which really seemed to come out and support the community market as well as the local café’s and bars. It is situated next to a river leading out to the cove.
Our next stop was Avoca Beach, lunch and a walk along the magnificent sandy beach. The panorama below just gives a taste of the place.
We saw the signs for Norah Head Lighthouse and as they, along with castles, are my favourite buildings we just had to go and have a look. What we weren’t prepared for is the beach which was so different from Avoca.
Although large parts were sandy, there were also amazing rock formations which stretched out into the sea. As the waves came in they crashed against the rocks sending water cascading in land. As with all the beaches we visited the waves are generally strong and high, hence the amount of surfing seen in this part of the world, and as such they can send water high into the sky as they meet the solid rocks.
It was while watching one series of waves that I missed those coming in behind me until it was too late! Needless to say I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening slowly drying out as all down one side I was soaked to the skin.
The rest of the journey north to Newcastle, through Swansea and Cardiff to name just a couple of the places from home, was on fairly main roads.
Just before Newcastle we went through Gateshead which I would guess provides some indication where the first settlers of this area may have come from.
From Newcastle we header into Hunters valley to a small town called Wollombi. By this time it was getting dark so rather than spending any great amount of time exploring we headed back toward Sydney.
Another great day exploring NSW but no kangaroos in sight today. One more big road trip planned into the Blue Mountains so maybe we will have more luck then.