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Canberra to Emu Plains

...for New Year's Eve in Sydney amongst other things

sunny 30 °C
View Sam Smart in World War II & Back to Oz on SteveJD's travel map.

While our Landcruiser was being serviced, Tilly took us out to Tidbinbilla which is a lovely reserve close to Canberra. Its name comes from an Aboriginal word meaning ‘where boys become men’, referring to initiation ceremonies which were held on Mount Tidbinbilla.

We decided that we would get most benefit from walking around an area called the Sanctuary but on the way we stopped to see the restored ruins of Rock Valley Homestead which had been built in 1895 by George Green and his friend George Hatfield. Green and his wife Mary Anne lived there from 1895 and brought up their seven children there (two were born in the homestead). Although the building was extended from its original size, it must have been a rather cosy existence. Descendants of the family continued to live there until 1967.

Three eastern grey kangaroos

Three eastern grey kangaroos


The Greens' Homestead

The Greens' Homestead

View from the Greens' Homestead

View from the Greens' Homestead

The Greens' Homestead

The Greens' Homestead

The Sanctuary provided a very pleasant walk through attractive woodland surrounding various water features. During our walk we saw a red-bellied black snake (a volunteer ranger pointed it out to us and said there had been five of the snakes basking there until people scared them away!. We also saw skinks, brush-tail rock wallabies, turtles and a variety of bird life. Both on the way there and back, eastern grey kangaroos were numerous and great to see.

Red-bellied black snake

Red-bellied black snake

Red-necked wallaby

Red-necked wallaby


Butterfly

Butterfly

Pretty-face wallaby

Pretty-face wallaby

Long-necked turtles

Long-necked turtles

Cunningham's skink

Cunningham's skink

Tidbinbilla view

Tidbinbilla view

Tidbinbilla panorama

Tidbinbilla panorama

Tidbinbilla wildflower meadow

Tidbinbilla wildflower meadow

Tilly unfortunately had to work, so we took ourselves off to the Australian War Memorial which we enjoyed again. Years ago, we had visited and researched WWI soldiers who had signed an autograph book belonging to a friend of Judith's. The book had belonged to the friend’s aunt or great aunt who had been a nurse at Lewisham Military Hospital where she looked after Aussies and Brits who had been wounded at Gallipoli and on the Western Front.

This time, we found the layout of the displays inside less easy to follow than previously, so we were slightly disappointed. Perhaps it just shows how old we are but previously the Lancaster was easy to access. Now it is in Anzac Hall which is, as far as we could see, in permanent darkness in order for a succession of films to be shown, at least one with appropriate lighting of parts of the Lancaster. This is quite entertaining and I am sure is designed to 'engage' the younger visitor but what about the older visitors who would like to simply see the aircraft in good lighting and, perhaps, sit down in a dark room to watch the films?! It's still a great place but we felt that something had been lost, or perhaps temporarily mislaid? We were impressed by the daily Last Post ceremony, particularly with the involvement of descendants of a soldier whose photograph can be seen by the long pool. The views from the steps are still excellent, looking down the long drive and across the lake to Parliament.

Statue in honour of mine disposal men and their dogs

Statue in honour of mine disposal men and their dogs

Last Post ceremony

Last Post ceremony

View towards Parliament

View towards Parliament

As Tilly still had to slave away, we drove to the Australian National Botanic Gardens where we had a great time wandering around the different areas of planting and enjoying the wildlife which evidently appreciated the plantings. In particular the displays of kangaroo paws were wonderful and were frequented by many very pretty little eastern spinebills. These little birds are, I think, one of the prettiest of the honeyeater family - I just wish they would keep still for more than a second or two! Towards the end of our walk we found a beautiful Macleay's swallowtail butterfly which we realised had become caught up in plant fronds so, after taking a few photos, we gently freed it and let it flutter off.

Eastern spinebill in kangaroo paw flowers

Eastern spinebill in kangaroo paw flowers

View in the gardens

View in the gardens

Bust of Joseph Banks

Bust of Joseph Banks

MacLeay's swallowtail butterfly

MacLeay's swallowtail butterfly

MacLeay's swallowtail butterfly

MacLeay's swallowtail butterfly

On 30 December, we left Tilly (and Tumble) and headed towards Emu Plains (near Penrith), driving along Remembrance Drive on which Rest Areas were named for VC winners with their citations and brief biographies being provided on centrally located information boards. We thought this a rather good idea and were interested to read the amazing citations.

On the way, we stopped at Goulburn for lunch at Trappers’, a well-known eatery and very popular to judge from the queues – quite rightly so, to judge from the food! Just across the road was one of Australia’s ‘big things’, the big Merino! Goulburn was named after Henry Goulburn, Under-Secretary for War and the Colonies - must have been an interesting Ministry!

Further on we came off the highway again to drive through the very attractive towns of Moss Vale and Bowral in order to visit the International Cricket Hall of Fame, formerly the Bradman Museum. Inside there are so many exhibits to look at and many films available to watch to remember the 'good old days' before pyjama cricket - harrumph! I could quite happily have spent the rest of the day there but we had to press on.

Bowral's name probably derives from an Aboriginal word meaning 'high and large'.

Poster of Sir Don Bradman congratulating Richie Benaud

Poster of Sir Don Bradman congratulating Richie Benaud

Scorebook page for 1911 Ashes match

Scorebook page for 1911 Ashes match

Back on the highway we approached our destination but Gladys then took us through some pretty uninspiring scenery to reach Emu Plains. I had originally thought we were booked into Penrith but that town is just across the Nepean River from where we ended up. Emu Plains was originally named Emu Island when the first British explorers saw emus on what they thought was an island in the Nepean River.

I'd love to find out even more about the bloke after whom the river was named. He was Sir Evan Nepean, 1st Baronet. He served in the Royal Navy before, at the age of 29, he was appointed Permanent Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, the first of several senior positions in public service and, perhaps most importantly, he was a close friend of Arthur Phillip of First Fleet fame. In addition to the river, Nepean's name was given to a New South Wales hospital, the Nepean Highway and Nepean Point in Victoria, Nepean Bay in South Australia and Nepean Island in the Norfolk Island territory. Must have been a really good chap - just like one of his descendants, the actor Hugh Grant!

On New Year’s Eve, we had a few things to sort out in Penrith before catching the train into Sydney. (Penrith's name may have originated from a misinterpretation of the word 'Penrhyn' for the 'Lady Penrhyn', the First Fleet ship used to transport women convicts).

We walked from the station through to the Chinese Gardens by Darling Harbour, by way of Paddy’s Markets, a fascinating place although we resisted the urge to buy anything for a change!. The Chinese Gardens are an oasis of peace in the busy city and very pretty and well laid out.

Entrance to Paddy's Markets

Entrance to Paddy's Markets

Girl in Chinese costume

Girl in Chinese costume

View in Chinese Gardens

View in Chinese Gardens

Girl in Chinese costume

Girl in Chinese costume

Waterfall in Chinese Gardens

Waterfall in Chinese Gardens

Waterlily in Chinese Gardens

Waterlily in Chinese Gardens

We then walked through Darling Harbour and decided to carry on through to Darling Island Wharf for our viewpoint for the fireworks. At the Darling Harbour end of the wharf was a rather touching group of statues commemorating the various migrants who have made Australia what it is today.

Our first choice would have been Blues Point or a similar place across the river but we could not find out for sure when the ferries would run afterwards and the wharf proved to be fine. During the afternoon, we were entertained by the preparation for, and execution of, a Channel 10 report, presumably for the early news bulletin. More aptly and longer lasting was the toing and froing of ferries, cruise ships etc., on the river and coming to and from Darling Harbour.

Statue commemorating migrants to Australia

Statue commemorating migrants to Australia

Sydney Harbour Bridge from our viewpoint

Sydney Harbour Bridge from our viewpoint

Sydney ferry

Sydney ferry

Pleasure steamer

Pleasure steamer

A busy harbour scene

A busy harbour scene

Channel 10 reporter

Channel 10 reporter

One of the sailing ship replicas

One of the sailing ship replicas

We enjoyed an early fireworks display at 9.00 p.m. for the children and then the full New Years' Eve display from midnight, although some, particularly from the Harbour Bridge, were partly masked by the smoke which inconveniently happened to drift towards us!. However, we didn’t miss much and we enjoyed the atmosphere of New Year in Sydney, even if the trudge back to the train through the masses of people was a bit of a dampener at the end of a long day!

Illuminated pleasure craft and the Bridge

Illuminated pleasure craft and the Bridge


And the fun begins

And the fun begins

Fireworks across the water from us

Fireworks across the water from us

Fireworks - with hands!

Fireworks - with hands!

Rope-lit boat

Rope-lit boat

Part of the finale

Part of the finale

The first couple of days of 2018, after the fireworks, were generally R & R and dealing with the shock of our friend Len, in Perth, letting us know that he had received an invoice for us for Judith’s hospital trip in Toowoomba - $1,256.80 – for about 1.5km in a paramedic’s car! Luckily, after my fun and games in Perth, we had taken out ambulance cover and, to our amazement, they paid the bill in full – good for Medibank!

Posted by SteveJD 08:02 Archived in Australia

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