Tag Archives: Hawkesbury River

Why Get Your Paws Wet?

Try telling this dog it’s not the Captain of the ship, Master of its domain?!! As I watched the boat powering through the river with the dog proudly standing at the helm, how could I let the moment pass by?

As a casual observer, I never had the opportunity to find out whether this dog was an avid swimmer and water dog or a land lover who couldn’t think of getting its precious paws wet.

However, after my recent post A Different Type of Rescue Dog where a Newfoundland Dog threw its anxious visitor far into the river to stop its yapping and get it where it wanted to go, this dog really caught my eye. He didn’t need to swim. He had a boat. No doubt a boat it considered its own.

How does your dog manage around water? Do they love swimming or perhaps they’re more into dry land. Let your stories flow!

xx Rowena

This photo was taken at Brooklyn on the Hawkesbury River, Sydney.

Photo: Rowena Newton.

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

 

 

 

 

 

Paralympics Weekend Coffee Share.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee  Share!

This weekend, I won’t be asking you to join me on the couch watching the Paralympics because I have a nasty cough and my son and I are staging our very own coughfest. Indeed, last night my cough suddenly deteriorated and I was relieved to have antibiotics on hand to fight it off immediately. I’m not back on deck yet but have perked up.

 

Being a person living with chronic health and disability issues, the Paralympics have a personal resonance for me. It’s encouraging to see other disabled people overcome their own hurdles to become athletes. I have experienced this myself in my own small way when I’ve taken on skiing, playing the violin and more recently ballet and have been amazed at how much I could do. Sure, I’m not flash but I’m getting out there and having a go. Moreover, I’ve achieved so much more than I ever thought possible. This is no doubt because I sell myself short and think I can’t do something. Moreover, I need to keep an open mind, remembering that just because I can’t do one thing, it doesn’t mean I can’t do something else or I could possibly be able to do something a different way. You could say that this involves applying my creativity and that creativity can also be about problem solving.

My big news this week, is that Beyond the Flow finally reached 50,000 views. I’ve absolutely stoked and have posted a photographic retrospective here.

Meanwhile, we went on a history cruise along the Hawkesbury River to celebrate Father’s Day last weekend. If you’d like to experience a taste of touring along this soothing river, you can click here 

The cruise took us under the Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge and we heard about the demise of the original bridge, which only lasted 60 years. All that remains of this original bridge is a row of stately sandstone pylons…a testimony to engineering error.

After the cruise, we headed up to my parents’ place for afternoon tea and dinner.

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Wednesday night, we attended my daughter’s school musical and absolutely loved it. While she loves the performing arts and has had a few performances this year, the school school was part of this and every class put on their own act. I really like this kind of inclusive performance and strongly believe that singing, dancing and any form of musical of expressive dance, are for everyone. My daughter’s class represented the 80’s dancing to Footloose.

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Make-up is now becoming an essential part of these performance for our daughter. Mum barely wears lipstick and yet she had very tastefully brushed on eye  shadow in rainbow colours and it looks like the soft feathers of a bird. She did a great job and helped the other girls with their makeup. This seems to be quite important to her and a means of self-expression and being creative. One of the young assistants at our local pharmacy was very helpful, which I greatly appreciated. She is learning to apply it tastefully without looking like a clown, which has to be a bonus!

In addition to watching the Paralympics today, we also watched Ghostbusters I & II. That was such a trip down memory lane remembering video nights back in the day and running around your friends asking: “Who you going to call? Ghostbusters!” (with an Australian accent, of course!)

On that note, I’m heading back to bed. I’m napping a fair bit at the moment and it’s now very late.

How has your week been? I hope you’ve had a great one.

The Weekend Coffee Share is hosted by Part Time Monster.  You can join this week’s Coffee Share on her blog or by clicking on the Linkup Linky.

xx Rowena

Hawkesbury River Ferry Cruise.

Last Sunday, our family went on a history cruise along Sydney’s Hawkesbury River (Deerubbun) with the kids’ Scout troop.

However, before our journey proceeds any further, I thought I’d better provide you with a map of the Hawkesbury River. Not that I’m any good at reading maps, but I thought you might like to know where we are…especially if you’re not from around here. (By the way,as we live North of the Hawkesbury River, I really should be posting the map “upside down”…I mean, the right way up.

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Our Hawkesbury River Cruise set out from Brooklyn, which is just above the M1 sign on the map. While I’ve previously posted about  the Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge and its role in defending Sydney during WWII, this is more of a pictorial overview of the trip.

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Geoff as we left Brooklyn.

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Fishing Boats, Brooklyn.

From Brooklyn, we headed east towards Broken Bay and Palm Beach, which some of you might know as “Summer Bay” from  Australian drama Home & Away.

As I said, I don’t have a great sense of direction.  Yet, I do remember us chugging past the Sport & Recreation Camp at Milson Bay and round to Juno Point, where I photographed this very statuesque gum tree leaning out over the river.

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Like so many of its kind, this gum tree is growing in very harsh conditions, seemingly straight out of the rocks.  Gum trees are so tenacious holding in all sort of conditions but then they can sudden fall over, easily becoming “widow-makers”.

Then, we made our way into Broken Bay via checking out the defenses at West Head, which is really known more as a scenic lookout than an army base.

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WWII Gun emplacement at West Head, along the Hawkesbury River.

We returned to Brooklyn, heading upstream towards Wiseman’s Ferry and Windsor. This meant going past what remains of the original Hawkesbury River Bridge, a hauntingly beautiful row of sandstone piers, an epitaph to engineering doom.

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We also  travelled underneath the replacement Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge, which seemed reminiscent of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and was also an engineering marvel back in its day.

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A close-up of the New Hawkesbury River Bridge. These girders remind me of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

The Bridge provided some outstanding photo opportunities, particularly as I love seeing the familiar through an unfamiliar lens or perspective. The local train from Woy Woy to Sydney passes over this bridge so we know it well from the train window. You also see the bridge in the  distance driving to Sydney. So, the Hawkesbury River Bridge is a very familiar sight…just not looking up at it from the river. That was a buzz.

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Quite a change from the old steam trains. This is a  modern OSCAR train (Outer Suburban Carriage)

However, there’s much more to cruising along the Hawkesbury River than engineering structures.

There were clouds.

At least, there were clouds as we were cruising along last Saturday. Not just any ordinary clouds either.There was a sky full of photogenic clouds…fluffy tufts of pure white cotton wool pasted on a bright blue sky with perfect cloud outlines. I couldn’t have done a better job myself…not that I’m in the cloud-making business.

Do you like watching clouds?

While cloud gazing might be considered a little “fluffy”, I find it quite mesmerising and have gone to great lengths to photograph  clouds in what could be described as suicidal weather conditions. Yet, in better weather, appreciating clouds reflects a joie de vivre...a soul committed to carpe diem seize the day. After all, the phrase is “seize the day” and NOT “seize the mobile phone”!!

Hey, you tell me? What isn’t there to love about this sky full of clouds?

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Cloud River.

Another highlight of the cruise was checking out the wreckage of the HMAS Parramatta.

Named after the Parramatta River, HMAS Parramatta, was a River-class torpedo-boat destroyer of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). Ordered in 1909 for the Commonwealth Naval Forces (the predecessor of the RAN), Parramatta was the first ship launched for the Australian navy.

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From 1914 to 1917, HMAS Parramatta was involved in wartime patrols in the Pacific and South East Asian regions, before she and her sister ships were transferred to the Mediterranean for anti-submarine operations. She returned to Australia in 1919, and was placed in reserve. Apart from a brief period of full commission during the visit of the Prince of Wales, Parramatta remained in reserve commission until 1928. She was fully decommissioned in 1928, stripped of parts, and sold for use as prisoner accommodation on the Hawkesbury River. After changing hands several times, the hull ran aground during gale conditions in 1933, and was left to rust. In 1973, the bow and stern sections were salvaged, and converted into memorials and the remainder can be seen here. Further information HMAS Parramatta.

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Our son enjoying a bit of speed.

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Creating Waves.

Wow! As you can see, we had a wonderful time…although it really just felt like an entree and I really want to see more…especially the sunset. Sunsets viewed as the train crosses over the Hawkesbury Railway Bridge are a knockout but it would be even better viewed from the water.  I can definitely feel a sunset trip along the Hawkesbury River coming up.

Bring it on!

Meanwhile, if you’d like to follow in our wake, you can reach Central Coast Ferries: here.

xx Rowena

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What a fabulous day!

An Unsung Wartime Hero.

Last weekend, while on our history tour of the Hawkesbury River, we had a crash course on Australia’s WWII military defenses along the Hawkesbury River, which  were set up to protect Australia from an imminent Japanese invasion. Aside, from protecting Sydney, these defences also aimed to protect the strategic Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge, which provided an essential transport link between North and South.

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Strangely, I had no idea that this bridge, which is now nothing but a row of sandstone pylons protruding out of the Hawkesbury River, played such an important role in our war time defense. Nor did I know that a series of defenses had been set up to defend the bridge and to per-empt an attack on Sydney from the North.  All of this was seemingly dumped in the bottom drawer, that infamous file of no return. However, fortunately, those files are being salvaged before living memory was lost and efforts are now being made to capture and pass on this piece of Australia’s history.

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Characteristic scenery along the Hawkesbury. It hardly looks strategic.

Through hindsight, it’s hard to appreciate the role this sleepy river winding through the bush, played in our National defense. After all, there was no Japanese invasion of Australia.  A couple of midget subs might have entered Sydney Harbour, but they were blown up. Darwin was bombed, but this has been minimalised over time.  Indeed, most Australians would have no idea of the full extent of Japanese attacks on Australian soil.

Yet, when you read newspapers of the day, there wasn’t so much a perceived risk of Japanese invasion, but an expectation…especially after the Fall of Singapore.

My grandparents were courting during 1942. My grandmother was living in Brisbane and my grandfather was living in Dalby, in Western Queensland. Their fears felt very real and it seemed like the Japanese would invade any day. Queenslanders  were definitely living on the edge and bomb shelters had been built throughout Queensland schools.So, we’re not just talking about irrational fears.

Returning to the Hawkesbury River and this sleepy expanse of National Park, this region was actually critical to the war effort. If the Japanese had bombed the Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge, there would have been no direct North-South rail link. The alternate route would have entailed travelling an additional 400 miles— via: Lithgow—Dubbo—Werris Creek.This would have seriously affected troop movements and the transport of war supplies. This threat wasn’t too far fetched either. When the Japanese submarines were sunk in Sydney Harbour, the captain of one actually had a map of the Hawkesbury River.

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Defenses were constructed along the Hawkesbury River, including a gun battery at West Head. From the West Head Lookout, you can see where a fleet of five Japanese submarines surfaced in the darkness of night at the mouth of Broken Bay in 1942. Three of the vessels were carrying a trio of midget submarines, which were later launched to attack Sydney.

In addition to the threat of a Japanese attack on the Hawkesbury River Bridge, it’s precarious state of crumbling decay was also a critical strategic concern.As I mentioned  in my previous post, one of the pylons had cracked and the bridge was highly unstable. Speed restrictions of 15 miles an hour were placed on trains going over the old bridge, posing a great handicap to the movement of large wartime traffic on the northern line. In 1945, a further speed reduction to 4 miles an hour and the prohibition of the application of brakes resulted in a 7 minute crossing time for all trains. The replacement bridge wasn’t opened until 1946, after the war was over so all this time, trains were creeping over the bridge one at a time limping along.

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Trains pressure testing the new bridge in 1946.

So, it really is quite amazing that the bridge survived the war but, of course, bridges don’t win any medals…especially when they’re so far from the front line. But when you realise this was the rusty safety pin holding so much of the Australian war effort together, it deserves a bit of respect…as does whoever it was who kept it going behind the scenes. No medals for them either.

By the way, those cracked and crumbling piers from the original Hawkesbury River Bridge are still standing, although the steel trusses are long gone.

Meanwhile, there have been reports that the piers on the new bridge are unsafe. When divers inspected the bridge in 2013, they found major problems with one of the piers. “The downstream pile has a LARGE amount of concrete missing with LOTS of exposed rio bar [reinforcing bar] … concrete continues to flake off and crumble,” said the report, obtained by the state opposition using freedom of information laws (source: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/sydney-to-central-coast-rail-bridge-at-hawkesbury-river-crumbling-at-base-20150913-gjlftk.html)

Let’s hope the government can get its act together faster this time. I can’t see hundreds and thousands of commuters into Sydney being thrilled when they can walk faster across the bridge than the train.

Do you have any similar stories you would like to share? I am seriously amazed by how little I really know about my own neck of the woods and how much I have to explore here without needing to travel overseas. Given the budget, that’s naturally quite a relief!

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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A Pelican’s Modern Convenience.

This pelican seems to be taking the easy way out.

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I wonder if pelicans can read…

Too much hard work, it’s given up fishing and is waiting for fish co-op to open.

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The Lazy Bird waits for the Fish.

Geoff spotted this pelican outside the Hawkesbury River Fish Co-Op in Brooklyn, Sydney.

xx Rowena