Tag Archives: boats

Weekend Coffee Share – 28th January, 2019.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

I hope you’ve had a great week and being the Australia Day long weekend, I’d better offer you a Vegemite sandwich along with our choice of beverage. Please don’t all run for the hills. I won’t force you to eat it!

We have had a busy and interesting week. It was the last full week of the school holidays and so there’s been that desperate urge for the kids to squeeze as much fun as they can out of those shrinking hours, while all the organizational nightmares of “Back to School” (Golly, why hasn’t anyone made a horror movie out of the return to school for the new school year?  Or, perhaps, they have and I just haven’t heard about it. Anyway, for those of you scattered around the globe, the Australian school year starts after the Australia Day long Weekend and that’s what’s wrapping up today. There’s a bit of variation between the schools. However, teachers go back tomorrow, our son on Wednesday and our daughter on Friday. So, come Monday, my New Year begins in earnest and all those best laid plans of mice and mum, need to swing into action…and I definitely need a good breather too! After all, all work and no play makes Mum rather dull and cranky too.

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Last Tuesday, my daughter and I attended Charlie & the Chocolate Factory…the Musical at Sydney’s historic Capitol Theatre. Our dance teacher, Miss Karina Russell, has a lead role and is playing that horridly spoiled brat, Veruca Salt. Miss Karina wears the most incredibly poofy and gorgeously delicious pink tutu, which reminds me of fairy floss and is straight out of a ballet girl’s pure imagination. She also has a double-decker tiara and pointe shoes and she actually does quite a lot of ballet throughout and her dance with the squirrels is simultaneously hilarious, terrifying and… (No spoilers here!) Anyway, we met up with Miss Karina and Willy Wonka played by Mr Paul Slade Smith at Stage Door and that was so much fun. We had the best day.

Above: Meeting up with Miss Karina Russell at Stage Door to get our programs signed after the performance to to say hello.

It was interesting for me to revisit Charlie & the Chocolate Factory and I can see that I’ll be having to read the book yet again so I can shake out what I’ve seen in various versions and get back to what exactly came out of Roald Dahl’s head. You see, while the action is set with the sweetly delicious context of a chocolate factory and I’ve read that it was based on Roald Dahl’s childhood experiences as a chocolate taster at a chocolate factory himself, there is a very dark and almost sadistic side to Willy Wonka and there is no doubt in my mind that this book really delves into the dark side, questioning why bad, greedy people usually win out at the expense of the good. Indeed, I feel Roald Dahl takes matters into his own hands and turns things around, ensuring that Charlie Bucket a boy growing up in grinding poverty but with a great brain triumphs over all the brats. You can read more about that in: Our Visit to Charlie & the Chocolate Factory…the Musical.

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The front doors of the historic Capitol Theatre, Sydney. 

I also wrote about the musical and more specifically about the historic Capitol Theatre for Thursday Doors.

Saturday took us off on a very different trajectory. It was Australia Day and Geoff and our son both took part in the Australia Day Regatta at Gosford Sailing Club. We had a wonderful day and a real highlight was the 11.00am Sail Past where skippers decorated their boats in as much Australia Day gumph as they could muster. It was a lot of fun and while someone else’s son was the obvious winner for the best decorated boat, our son won the Junior Aussie Larrikin Award. Instead of staying in his boat, he was towed along behind on an inflatable donut while his crew member steered and they were actually towed along because their wasn’t enough wind to compensate for the big lump of a teenage boy out the back. I must admit that his father and I were not impressed at the time, but it’s hilarious in hindsight and he was quite a hit. After all, you can’t really expect an entertainer to just sit in their boat counting knots, can you? Moreover, I really have to admit, that he’s very much my boy. I’d love to do something like that even now!

Above: Our son the “Junior Aussie Larrikin” with his Flying 11.

Well, they’re very much the highlights of the last week. I should also mention that it’s been very hot and that the heat could make for a post all on its own. However, I don’t want to become an Aussie whinger so I’ll keep my mouth shut and head for the air-conditioning.

This has been another Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Eclectic Ali.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

Sailing On The Wings of Poesie…

“On a day when the wind is perfect,
the sail just needs to open and the world is full of beauty.
Today is such a day.”

― Rumi

After watching our son sail today, my head is jam-packed with metaphors. Overflowing with adjectives, adverbs and superlatives. Indeed, I’m completely overloaded with words flying in from all directions and creating an almighty traffic jam in my head. Clearly, this is not a good thing, because as any half-decent writer knows, less is more. However, what are we supposed to do when we’re so enchanted by something, an experience, a feeling, an object, that we start spewing out metaphors, adverbs and adjectives like a broken sewerage pipe?

I don’t know. I always overdo it. Indeed, I’m one of the most enthusiastic, upbeat people I know, especially when I’m “sailing” on top of the water, and haven’t hit the deck.

Just to set the scene…The majority of the boats were an Optimus or “Opti”. Another parent described these as “a floating bathtub which uses a towel as a sail”. They’re a great sail boat to start out on because they’re relatively stable, although on the downside, they’re not as fast. Our son was too tall for an Opti and went straight to a Flying 11, which has rather complicated rigging and is a faster, but less stable boat and new recruits are likely to capsize. Indeed, they capsize a lot and usually want to quit!!

However, that’s what I’ll call the technical or business end of sailing, and I was more focused on watching my son and husband work together to get the boat assembled and to actually see Mr sail his boat. However, as much as I aspire to be the perfect Mum, I couldn’t be the passive observer and switch the writer-photographer off. Sailing is a spectacle. It’s an Adrenalin boost. A creative response was inevitable…an occupational hazard.

The skippers assembled on the grass and walked through the muddy bank to launch their boats. I don’t know how many boats were there. However, there were enough to resemble a small fleet and look quite spectacular. Yet, they’re only little and reminded me of hand-made, origami boats. Indeed, I even Googled how to make them when I got home, although I didn’t succeed. That boat didn’t even get a chance to sink!

Getting back to the race… one minute I was watching Geoff help Mr get his boat out, and the next he was gone.The boats had sailed off into the distance and the skippers merged in with the sails. Now, they were nothing more than a patch of white on a blue background.

Yet, I was still watching. Feeling something bubbling up inside but I couldn’t quite channel my thoughts into anything specific.

Sheep…the little white boats now reminded me of sheep… what with being white on the blue background. In hindsight, even I can see this was a bit far-fetched. That I’d inhaled too much magic dust, and my imaginings had gone too far. After all, I doubt whether a sheep can swim, and as for a flock of sheep wading out into the deep, that’s bonkers.  Clearly, I’d had too much sun!

Still, being in serious creative overdrive, I didn’t just stop at sheep analogies. I also thought of dancers in white tutus, which is hardly surprising given that the dance studio is our home away from home. Indeed, sailing reminded me a lot of dancing with sailing being a kind of dance on water. That said, it’s not that graceful when the boom smacks you in the head, or you capsize and you’re wading through the mud to get back.

Hey, did I mention something about clouds? The boats also reminded me of white clouds. However, you’d have to say they’d had a close encounter with a steam roller with a triangular cutting attachment. After all, sails are flat, not round and fluffy.

Okay, I accept the cloud analogy doesn’t fit.

“hark, now hear the sailors cry,
smell the sea, and feel the sky
let your soul & spirit fly, into the mystic…”
― Van Morrison

Anyway, in case you haven’t worked it out already, I was really pleased and relieved to get down to the sailing club today. Like many parents, my husband and I split up on Saturdays. Geoff does the sailing run, while I do the dance run with our daughter. While this set up is very practical, it means I haven’t seen our son sail in his new boat and they haven’t seen our daughter perform her dance solo. Moreover, each of us is missing out entirely on one child’s universe. Or, at best, we’re skimming past the outer reaches. Indeed, my husband and son missed out on half of the annual dance concert, because he had a big day. Indeed, that afternoon’s sail was just as important to him, as her dance concert was to her. That’s where you need the wisdom of Solomon. Alternatively, you could always clone yourself, so you can be in two places at once. Nothing to it!

By the time I pulled up, Geoff and Mr had got the boat out of bed and it was out on the grass waiting to be set up. Setting up the Flying 11 every week, is a bit like wrestling with an Ikea flat-pack with ropes and sails thrown in for added complexity. Geoff and the Mr almost, almost have their routine down pat and make a great team. Getting the boat ready, is a two person job and it took them some time to get the rigging sorted. Moreover, as these boats have sacrificed stability for speed, it’s frequently capsized. It’s a very challenging boat and the sort of thing “which puts hair on your chest”, as my Dad would say. However, this is the price you pay as a young sailor climbing through the ranks and learning the ropes.

“That’s what learning is, after all; not whether we lose the game, but how we lose and how we’ve changed because of it, and what we take away from it that we never had before, to apply to other games. Losing, in a curious way is winning.”

Richard Bach, Jonathon Livingston Seagull

Launching Fury

As luck would have it, the weather was perfect…blue skies, sunshine but not the blazing Summer heat. Probably my favourite bit, was watching all the boats get in the water. It was low tide and they needed to wade out quite a way through the mud to launch. I know there was order in there somewhere, and everyone was respectful of each other’s boats. However, I was struck by the kaleidoscope of little boats of varying classes along with their different shaped sails…a real cacophony. Indeed, I know I’ve overdosed on metaphors already, but they were like a flock of sea gulls.

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If you peer deeply into the centre of the photo, you can see the fleet.

However, all too quickly, the flock had disappeared out of view, and we weren’t really a part of it anymore.We could just make out a cluster of tiny, white sails in the distance. For some reason, it felt very strange knowing Mr was one of them. I guess I’m so used to seeing anonymous yachts sailing past in the distance and it felt weird to know he was on one of them. Moreover, it’s a bit of a stretch to think of our 14 year old son skippering a boat out on the horizon all by himself. He hasn’t ridden a bike in years and is too young to drive a car, even as a learner. Yet, he was out there by himself, not out in the ocean or the open sea, but close enough. That didn’t worry me at all, because the club has a safety boat and it’s a safe area. It was more the extension of his horizons and by proxy, my own that felt uncomfortable. He wasn’t in the small pond anymore.

That’s one of the great things about sailing for kids. They can experience freedom, a degree of speed, independence and nut things out for themselves without adults hovering over their shoulder. So, while it’s not an inherently safe sport, it’s actually not too bad when you compare it to contact sports, wandering around the neigbourhood or even riding his bike.

Now, I’d still like to write a poem about it. Or, if I could, paint what I saw. However, I photographed the race with my phone and plan to get back there for the last two weeks of the season with a real camera. Open my eyes to absorb what I can. Then, I’m going to try to get in a sail myself!! I made great ballast!

Have you ever been sailing? Or, been a sailing parent? How did it go?

xx Rowena

 

 

 

Y- Yachts…The Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.

Welcome to the second last day of the Blogging A-Z April Challenge.

We’ve almost made it to the end of our journey, which is a good thing because the next leg is going to be precarious, pitted against the elements and there are no guarantees we’re going to make it.

That’s because we’re going on the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.

Actually, hold that thought.

We’re not sailing anywhere. Rather, we’re driving from the Don River Railway near Devonport to Constitution Dock in Hobart to check out some yachts.

Don River to Hobart

The Beginnings of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race

While we’re on the way, I thought you might appreciate a brief history of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.

It’s an annual event hosted by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, starting in Sydney, New South Wales on Boxing Day and finishing in Hobart, Tasmania. The race distance is approximately 630 nautical miles (1,170 km).[1] The race is run in co-operation with the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, and is widely considered to be one of the most difficult yacht races in the world.[2] The race was initially planned to be a cruise by Peter Luke and some friends who had formed a club for those who enjoyed cruising as opposed to racing, however when a visiting British Royal Navy Officer, Captain John Illingworth, suggested it be made a race, the event was born. The Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race has grown over the decades, since the inaugural race in 1945, to become one of the top three offshore yacht races in the world, and it now attracts maxi yachts from all around the globe – Wikipaedia.

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Map Showing the Route of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.

I also thought you might enjoy this report on the first race held in 1945, which gives a good insight into the challenges of the race:

THE YACHT RACE. SYDNEY TO HOBART.

Six Complete the Course. HOBART, Jan 3.-

After crossing over 600 miles of ocean and encountering gales and heavy seas. the yacht Ambermerle ran aground in the River Derwent today, about 1½ miles from the finishing line of the Sydney-Hobart race. She was refloated after about half an hour and completed the course to get second place on corrected time by 41 minutes. Other boats which finished today were Kathleen, Horizon and Mistral. Six yachts have now completed the course, those which have not finished being Salt Air and the Wayfarer. They were not sighted yesterday.

The Hobart yacht Winston Churchill, which arrived at Hobart at 6.38 pm yesterday came in second. 17 hours behind the Sydney yacht Rani, which won.The Rani finished at 1.22 am yesterday. The Winston Churchill completed the 635 miles in 176 hours 38 minutes 5 seconds and on corrected time was 29 hours 42 minutes behind the Rani The Winston Churchill’s skipper was Mr P. Coverdale. Horizon, Kathleen, Ambermerle and Mistral, which entered the Derwent this morning, were engaged all day in a battle against a stiff northerly wind which at times reached 50 miles an hour and whipped the water into foam.

When Kathleen rounded Derwent Light at 11 am Horizon was off Crayfish Point, four miles from Hobart and Ambermerle was off Brown’s River, 11 miles from Hobart. Ban for Shelter. Horizon ripped her mainsail and had to run for shelter into D’Entrecasteaux Channel. She was followed by Mistral, which was mak ing little headway. Ambermerle then took the lead, with Kathleen next. When Horizon turned back down the river she gave away what chance she had of getting second, which place she would have filled had she finished before 1 pm. Kathleen made good progress up the river and passed Ambermerle to cross the line third.

Ambermerle, which was under jury rig, with balloon jib and storm tri sail set, appeared to be making slow progress beating along the Sandy Bay shore. She misstayed when going about and ran aground on Red Chapel beach, about 1 miles from the finishing line. She was refloated after about half an hour and continued to the finishing line.

While she was aground she was passed by Horizon. Mr J. Alderton, helmsman of the Ambermerle, said that the trip was practically uneventful until nearing the entrance to the Derwent, when the jib and mainsail were blown out She continued from there under jury rig. The boat behaved well in the storm which struck the yachts on the second day out from Sydney. Ambermerle was hove to for a night off One Tree Point on the south coast of New South Wales and for half a day when off Bermagui.

Missing for Five Days.

The Horizon, which was sighted yesterday after having been reported missing for five days, was cheered as she crossed the finishing line. The skipper, Mr J. Bartlett, of Elizabeth Bay, Sydney, expressed surprise that there should have been any misgivings regarding the safety of the boat. The inability of the Catalina to sight the yacht, he thought, was due to the wide seaward course taken. When the fierce southerly gale scattered the yachts, he said, waves 14 to 15 feet high barred any possibility of progress. The Horizon was hove to for 24 hours. Seas broke over her, but she did not ship any water.

The Kathleen was hove to in a southerly gale off the New South Wales coast on the second day out and was becalmed off Twofold Bay on the third day. She had a good wind across Bass Strait, but was again becalmed off the Tasmanian coast.

West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 – 1954), Friday 4 January 1946, page 8

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Humph…This is not a yacht. Constitution Dock 2005.

Anyway, we’ve now arrived at Constitution Dock. However, it appears there aren’t any yachts in town. I guess that’s what happens when you turn up at the end of April well in Autumn. Indeed, htere weren’t any yachts there on my last two9 visits. So, I hope you like photos of fishing boats!

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This isn’t a yacht either. Yet, another fishing boat parked at Constitution Dock, 2017.


 

This raises another difficulty facing travel writers. While it’s all very well to travel spontaneously without a plan, that doesn’t work when you’re wanting to capture something specific. You need to be there at the right time and if you’re wanting to capture the arrival of the Sydney to Hobart fleet, you need to be there in December after December 27 through to early January. We were in Hobart on the 20th-21st January and as you can see, there wasn’t a yacht in sight.

So, I had to cheat.

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Here’s the former Sydney to Hobart winner Wild Oats something or other moored in Newport, Sydney. Not quite the same as photographing the end of the race or an actual yacht in full sail but at this stage, I’m just looking for a yacht.

Do you enjoy sailing? Our son is a member of the local sailing club and has been racing a small yacht called an Optimus, something I’m sure they picked up at our local Bunnings Hardware store, because it looks just like a bathtub to me. My Dad inspired the sailing bug in the family. He sails a Catalina…a real step up from our Laser.

I hope you’re looking forward to our last stop! Stay tuned!

xx Rowena

 

W- Wineglass Bay, Freycinet National Park, Tasmania.

Welcome to Day 22 of the Blogging A-Z April Challenge.

As you may be aware, we’re Travelling Alphabetically Around Tasmania on Beyond the Flow this year.  Last night, we stayed at Wines for Joanie, and today, we’re driving around 215km South-East to Wineglass Bay in Freycinet National Park.

Map to Wineglass Bay

While I know it sounds rather corny travelling from Wines for Joanie to Wineglass Bay, that’s pure, serendipitous coincidence. How the letters fell out of the cornflakes box. Wineglass Bay is shaped like it’s namesake. That’s all.

Quite frankly, Wineglass Bay and the Freycinet National Park is a must-see on even on the shortest visit to Tasmania. It’s totally beyond stunning and absolutely unforgettable. At the same time, you’ll be wanting decent weather to give it its due and to capture a photo worth posting (the competition is fierce). While there’s nothing like a stunning, expansive view to stretch your insides out and liberate you from life’s stresses and strains, Wineglass Bay has to be one of the best natural views in the world. It simply is what it is.

That said, I’ve been to Tassie about five times and I’ve only been there once. Unfortunately, we didn’t actually make it to Wineglass Bay or to Freycinet National Park on our January trip. I also repeat a previous confession, that I visited Queenstown on my first trip to Tassie and missed the stunning East coast entirely, due to lack of research. I was pretty cheesed off with myself, when I found out what I’d missed.

As I’ve said multiple times before, Tasmania is much, much bigger on the ground than it appears on the map. I don’t know how to explain it, but it’s packed to the rafters with so much to do, see, eat and drink that someone must’ve squished it in. Made it fit.

Wineglass Bay can be so stunning, that it’s easy to forget that this can be a treacherous stretch of sea. That there’s nothing breaking the powerful force of the Pacific Ocean between South America and the Tasmanian coast, and those waves can really become fierce, menacing and the makings of shipwrecks. I don’t believe that I’ve even seen a photo of Wineglass Bay when she’s “in a mood” or “throwing a tanty”. However, just because this alter-ego might not suit the tourist brochures, that doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

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Check out that wind.

Here are just a few headlines I’ve sandwiched together:

SEAMAN DROWNED. FELL OVERBOARD NEAR WINEGLASS BAY. The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 – 1954) Friday 16 January 1925 FISHING BOAT WRECKED. IN WINEGLASS BAY. HOBART, Thursday.  The North West Post (Formby, Tas. : 1887 – 1916) Friday 3 November 1916 p 3 Article…FISHING BOAT ASHORE. STRANDED IN COLE’S BAY. A large fishing; boat on her way from Devonport to Hobart took shelter in Wineglass Bay on Friday, but owing to the easterly -weather she had to leave, and made through the Schouten passage on her way to Hobart. A heavy south-westerly gale towards evening forced her to turn and make for Coles Bay, which was reached early on Saturday morning. Owing to the darkness the boat ran ashore, and was left stranded. The spare gear was removed, and it was expected to refloat the boat during the week-end. Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 – 1954), Thursday 28 December 1933, page 2… STRANDED SHIP The interstate freighter Merino ran aground early yesterday morning near Wineglass Bay, on the East Coast of Tasmania. On board is a £100,000 collection of French paintings, as well as 200 tons o£ general cargo. The 549-ton vessel is not in any immediate danger. Two Hobart tugs, the Maydena and Boyer, are on the spot. Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 – 1954), Friday 26 December 1952, page 1…The fishing smack Lucy Adelaide is a total wreck at Wineglass Bay. Weather Delays Lighthouse Ship North-easterly weather has held up the lighthouse supply ship Cape York at Wineglass Bay, Freycinet Peninsula, and she is now not expected to (berth at Hobart until tomorrow evening.The Cape York has been inspecting the Cape Forestier light house. The vessel probably will start loading stores tomorrow night for her trip around the Tasmanian lighthouses Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 – 1954), Monday 20 September 1954, page 3…

I thought this story of being shipwrecked on Tasmania’s East Coast back in 1935 was so gripping, that I’ve posted it Here

Coles Bay J & G

However, let’s return to Wineglass Bay. Unfortunately, my chronic illness prevents me from walking down to Wineglass Bay. So, today we’re just going to stick to the lookout and visit nearby Coles and Sleepy Bays and you might notice our son has shrunk a little and through some kind of mystical, fairy magic, has become the Little Man again. He’s been missed.

I hope you’ve enjoyed Wineglass Bay and have the opportunity to experience it in person yourself long before you need to write that dreaded bucket list!

xx Rowena

 

 

The Reflective Sailor

Not sure what the reflective sailor’s thinking. If it were me, I’d be thinking about where my next coffee is coming from. Even a 9.00 am start on a Saturday morning seems a bit cruel, especially when we had to leave “the Peninsula” to get there. You just ask anybody who lives on a peninsula what it’s like travelling abroad? We’re all inclined to be rather insular…at least, geographically speaking.

Anyway, on Saturday morning Mum’s Taxi found itself feeling rather confused driving the sailor to his lesson, rather than ducking around the corner to drop our daughter at dancing. I quite enjoyed the change and having time driving along with my son and hanging out at the waterfront. Would’ve loved to go for a sail myself, although can’t sail and would need to hitch a ride. (Sounds like I need to do something about that!!)

Of course, I couldn’t go anywhere near the waterfront without packing my camera and I wasn’t disappointed.

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Moody Skies.

Not only was the sailor a little reflective, dark brooding storm clouds also obliged. Indeed, looking at the photos, you can’t help wondering how I let our son sail out in that weather.

Anyway, of course, he survived.

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Looking after the boat. The kids are taught that the boat looks after you, you look after it. I love the sound of that!

I’m so pleased our son loves sailing. Seems like a great stress release for the “reflective” teenage years. After all, I haven’t forgotten what sailing through the swirling vortex of pubescence was like. I’m sure most of us had moments where we’re surprised we made it through.

Do you sail? Feel free to share links to sailing posts in the comments.

xx Rowena

Day Trip to Brooklyn, Sydney.

After intense winds swept away our sailing plans, we decided to drive home via Brooklyn, on Sydney’s Hawkesbury River. We were there a few weeks ago for a cruise but our connection with Brooklyn goes back even further. Geoff and I seriously considered buying a block of land in Brooklyn when we got engaged…almost 16 years ago. So, when we cam back for this wander around Brooklyn, it was also a case of exploring what might have been…our other life.

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Brooklyn is in the centre of the map.

The railway arrived in 1877, making it less than an hour’s journey from Hornsby. A ferry service then conveyed passengers to Gosford.

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When you first arrive at Brooklyn, you’ll soon notice this stone obelisk commemorating Governor Arthur Phillip’s first expedition of the Hawkesbury River. In March 1788, little more than a month after the arrival of the First Fleet, Governor Arthur Phillip led an expedition which explored the mouth of the Hawkesbury as far as Dangar Island, near Brooklyn. In June the following year, his second expedition reached as far as Wisemans Ferry. It was on this expedition that Phillip identified the river and named it in honour of Lord Hawkesbury, the president of the Board of Trade in Britain.

Fast-forwarding one hundred years, in 1877 the railway came to Brooklyn, although the town wasn’t established until 1884 when the Fagan Brothers subdivided their 100-acre grant. A ferry service conveyed passengers to Gosford, on the other side of the Hawkesbury River, until the Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge was completed in 1889.

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I was receiving subliminal messages telling me I needed hot chips.

However, while they might have sold fish and chips, we had a a few chickens and even a rooster thrown in.

Indeed, the rooster had quite a lot of attitude.

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I also admired this anchor hanging on the wall.

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As we walked around the streets, we stumbled across the old Brooklyn Post Office with its very old mail slot referring to “GR”.

Ferries, fishing boats…the Brooklyn Marina is a great place to poke around and explore. This place is rustic with a capital R with all sorts of nooks and crannies which were paradise for the kids. It was hard work trying to keep them on the track but they weren’t the only ones who wandered off either. Remember, I was there with the Nikon Beast looking through my lens at every step, seeing through 6 x 4. That made for numerous detours and so much fun.

We also found some stunning native flowers:

I also loved this incredibly beautiful gum tree:

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I wonder how old this tree would be and what it has seen. If only trees could talk!!

 

In case you get lost in Brooklyn, this sign could give you some idea of just how far you have to walk home:

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However, you can easily visit Brooklyn by train, alighting at Hawkesbury River Station in  the centre of town. Indeed, if you love a bit of train spotting, Brooklyn is a great place to see the trains up close just don’t brhereeathe in as the trains go past. The stench of burning brakes could seize your lungs. You might also enjoy watching the trains pass over the Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge.

Also, if you’re thinking about visiting Brooklyn , you could enjoy a Hawkesbury River history cruise. We took the cruise a few weeks ago and you can read about it here.

Meanwhile, we’re signing out for our first day of the school holidays.

xx Rowena

 

 

 

 

 

Unraveling the Great Bridge Mystery

While the Sydney Harbour Bridge requires no introduction, Sydney’s Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge barely rates a mention. Yet, this bridge also has its mysteries.

I’ve caught the train over the bridge many times. While I usually have my nose in a book or am furiously scribbling in my notebook, I’ve often wondered about the row of abandoned sandstone pillars poking out of the water like ghostly headstones…a testimony to engineering defeat.

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What went wrong? What is their story? Why are they there?

Yet, that’s where my queries stopped.

That was until we went on a historic Hawkesbury River cruise last weekend and we cruised past the abandoned pylons, underneath the new Hawkesbury River Bridge and found out what happened.

Fortunately, the old bridge was safely replaced  before the crumbling bridge gave way and two crowded steam trains crashed into the Hawkesbury River with a catastrophic loss of life.

The original Hawkesbury River Bridge was an engineering catastrophe doomed from the start. Indeed, it could well have been built by Basil Fawlty from Fawlty Towers Engineering!

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Steam Train Crossing the Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge.

Yet, it was quite a different story when the bridge opened in 1889 to much fanfare and acclaim:

“The 1889 Hawkesbury River Bridge, Long Island Tunnel, Woy Woy Tunnel and the heavy earthworks and tunnels of the Cowan bank were the key engineering works on the Sydney to Newcastle rail link (The Short North). Together they demonstrate a high degree of engineering achievement in building a railway line in difficult and dangerous terrain. The 1889 Hawkesbury River Bridge in particular was a major technical achievement at the time: it was the fourth largest bridge constructed in the world, one of its caissons reached 49m, had the deepest bridge footing in the world and it was the longest bridge in Australia, pushing bridge design and construction techniques to the limit. The bridge was also the first of the American designed truss bridges that were introduced to Australia in the late 1880s and 1890s and thus the first to utilise the American principles of lightweight bracing, pin joints and eye bar tension members. It was the only steel trussed bridge of its type in Australia when it was built and the first major use of steel for bridges with previous examples being built in wrought iron. Its remains are tangible evidence of the change in engineering technology from British to American at this time and the decline of John Whitton’s British based design influence on the NSW railway system. There is enough extant fabric in the remaining abutments, piers and the Long Island tunnel to demonstrate the engineering achievements of the original Hawkesbury River crossing. www.environment.nsw.gov.au/heritageapp/ViewHeritageItemDetails.aspx?ID=4800130

However, cracks soon started to appear in this so-called engineering achievement and the original bridge lasted only 60 years.

So what went wrong?

This newspaper report from 1946 tells the story well.

“A chance discovery a necessitated new bridge—a discovery which probably averted what would have been the worst railway disaster on record.
A railway engineer, reading an American text book, found a statement that the interior of the piers of the Hawkesbury bridge comprised rubble.
The Chief Railway Constructional Engineer (Major-General Fewtrell) pointed out that this did not check with original specifications, which provided for metal casing on the outside and concrete on the inside, so that when the metal rusted the concrete would remain.
But the bridge had already developed an ugly pier crack, and in view of the text book statement no time was lost in scouring Australia for men who had worked on the concrete mixing board. One was found, and the information he supplied worried the engineers. They promptly set a diamond drill to work on the cracked pier. The drill made slow
progress through the stone, but once below the water level it dropped into a soft substance.
SCIENTIFIC tests showed that the steel casing would have crumbled completely away in 1939, and the interior would have quickly washed out.
Below water level the pier was several feet out of alignment on one side.
Once daily, two express trains passed each other on the bridge, often at this pier.
To counter the defect, single-track working was introduced, and speed reduced to walking pace. The new bridge was commenced as soon as possible.”
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Steam trains weight testing the new Hawkesbury River Bridge in 1946.

Thank goodness for that. Moreover, with a flush of national pride, this same newspaper report proudly points out that while the American built bridge only survived for 60 years, the Australian bridge would last 200 years!
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Remaining pylon from the original Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge. Photo: Rowena Curtin.

Work commenced on the new bridge in July 1940 and despite best efforts it was not completed until after the war finished, opening for traffic on 1 July 1946.
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Cruising Under the Current Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge.

Following the opening of the new bridge,the steel spans  were floated off the original bridge, dismantled and transported to other parts of the State and re-assembled to form bridges across various waterways.
Two spans were reserved for the crossing of the Darling River at Bourke and Billabong Creek on the proposed Bourke to Barringun railway, part of the Commonwealth’s project for a north-south inland railway through the back of
Queensland, linking up with a cross-country line to Darwin.
Good to hear the steel spans were put to good use.
Meanwhile, the original sandstone piers are still standing, man-made geological features surveying the Hawkesbury
River flow by.
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