Thursday, June 27, 2013

And We're Off - Part 2

27 June 2013

This is just a random dog painted on the wall of a building in Surry Hills.  Very nice tromp l'oeil painting, although there are a few drips.  I just liked the dog.  

We went out to Mascot (and no, we don't know who the mascot is, or who they're the mascot for) to pick up our camper van - there was some confusion about which van we were supposed to get, the one assigned to us wasn't ready, the one that was ready wasn't the one assigned to us - you know, that kind of thing.  Eventually it was all sorted out and we were given a van - and even though we booked through Mighty, we didn't have a Mighty van, we had a Britz.  Which is actually (usually) a snazzier model - but while this is fairly snazzy, it's also a bit worn - so I suspect we have a snazzy model that has been demoted to bottom-of-the-line status.

Our friendly car rental service lady printed directions from their place to our hotel - and of course, something went wrong.  We somehow ended up at the airport - twice!  So we found a road we knew that went up to where we previously stayed, and somehow managed to get to our hotel from there (with some circling and backtracking and a bit of yelling on both our parts).

All that added to leaving Sydney about 2 hours later than planned.  Ah well, such is the life of Tiki touring rolling luggagers - when the plan is to have no plan, any plans tend to not pan out.

We made our way to the Harbour Bridge to get to the northern suburbs and onward.  

And I realized that travelling across the harbour on the bridge provided amazing photos!  I know that most people take photos looking up at the bridge, from one end or the other.  Or from ferries under the bridge.  But driving across the bridge has its own special views!  Absolutely gorgeous! Sort of like walking under the Eiffel Tower and really looking at all the intricate metal work - that's how the Harbour Bridge looks when you are driving across and under all that lacy steel!!!

We drove.  And we drove.  North, following signs for the Pacific Coast Highway and heading toward Newcastle.  Because it's winter here, it started heading toward sunset at maybe 4 PM.  And a windy, rainy, grey winter at that.  

Our map indicated an information center in the town of Brooklyn.  We took the appropriate exit, followed the signs, went across a bridge to Brooklyn, a tiny town on the end of a spit.  (I should add that eastern coast of Australia is full of spits and bays and harbours, except what we might call a bay or harbour is called a lake here.  Very confusing, since these are not the landlocked bodies of water that we in the US think of as a lake.  No, these are inlets from the ocean, or actually the Tasman Sea.  If the opening to the sea is of a certain width, then the inlet is called a bay or harbour.  If the opening is smaller or narrower then the inlet is called a lake, no matter what the size of the body of water (and I have no clue what the size of the opening would be, I'm just going by what we've seen - bays, harbours, lakes, all connected to the sea).

Anyway - the info center in Brooklyn turned out to be a billboard.  With a map of the town of Brooklyn.  Including the Kangaroo Point boat ramp.  Uh huh, that was it.  We stopped at a service station and I asked about camping - the man said there was nothing available in Brooklyn, but he knew of a place outside Gosford.  So we went back to the highway and headed to Gosford.  And found the info center in Gosford.  Of course, they were closing - but the very nice info man ran inside, found us a map with caravan or holiday parks marked on it - and told us NOT to go to the one outside Gosford, they were told not to send people there.  He recommended Towoon Bay, which is off the Central Coast Highway - which, in the way of most places, is closer to the coast than the Pacific Coast Highway.  After some more driving in circles, we finally received great directions and headed off, in the rain.

We were back on the little spits and narrow bits of land that make up the east coast and create the lakes, bays, harbours.  It was night by now (well, 5 PM but dark) - so we missed the fabulous views and vistas.  We arrived in Towoon Bay, found the caravan park, and booked a site.  Drove a few blocks away for a nice dinner, and drove back to our little site, with an ocean view.  

The rain stopped long enough for the moon to come out, and this is the so-called super moon, when it's closer to the Earth than usual.  It was a giant yellow moon rising over the sea, with the sound of waves crashing and rolling white in the moonlight, and a river of pale yellow light reflecting off the roiling ocean - absolutely gorgeous in a wild and eerie kind of way. 

It was still a windy night, so we chose to not raise the pop top - and it took a while to get our luggage stowed and move things around so we could access the bed.  (The table and chairs for sitting outside have to go up into the cab each night, along with some luggage; and the slats that complete the bed are stowed in the area under the bench that turns into the bed.  It means some item and people juggling.)

Anyway, even though it's taking us a while to figure things out and adjust to life in the camper van (which is much smaller than our big caravan in NZ), we agreed that the bed is quite comfy and roomy.  We had a good night's sleep, and woke up to this beautiful view - quite a surprise since this was our first viewing in the light.

We headed north again, and spent the morning in The Entrance - which is the name of the road, the bridge, the town, and the actual opening to the sea.  Yes, Entrance Road leads to the Entrance Bridge with crosses The Entrance and attaches the town of The Entrance to the no-name on the other side of The Entrance.  Got all that?  The Entrance connects the Tasman Sea to Turragah Lake - one of the saltwater lakes I was describing.

We eventually headed across The Entrance Bridge and northward, stopped in Budgewoi (seriously, that's the name) for grocery shopping.  The lady behind the deli counter asked us WHY were we stopping in Budgewoi - apparently it's kind of the middle of nowhere.  It was a nice supermarket, though, and friendly people - the kind of people we've found all over Australia outside of Sydney - friendly, open, curious about us.  (Sydneysiders are friendly one-on-one - but it's the only place where people honk their horns at pedestrians crossing the street.  Sydney is citified!)

Onward, heading to Newcastle.  By mid-afternoon the rain started again, so we stopped in the town of Belmont.  At least, we think that's where we are.  A bit north of Lake Macquarie, and closer to the coast.  A bit south of Newcastle.  Friendly town, lovely holiday park - there are cabins as well as the powered sites such as we have, but with our own private bathroom and shower!  This is a first!!!!  (New Zealand has very fancy and creative bathrooms all over the country - Australia, by comparison, has sad and boring bathrooms - so having our own private bathroom just next to the van is absolutely thrilling!)

So we're settled in for the night - pop top up so we can walk around, food in the fridge, and a bathroom just outside our door.  Can't ask for much more than that!

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