Australia Trip 2019

 

Since our trip to Australia in 2010 I have met some of my old mates over there via Facebook. It is funny you can be out of touch and when you speak to each other it is like continuing and time does not exists.

 

Pat Grant got in touch-I forget how he found me, I am not sure if it was Facebook or some other way. When we got on Skype it was just like we had never been out of touch.

 

Last year was quite cold in the early part of the year and I was moaning a lot about the weather, so my wife Heather said I do not want you to go but you need to catch up with those mates and try to see them again.

 

I did not want to leave Heather behind but I can travel better than she can and it would not be as good for her as she does not know everyone that I will see. I know she would be welcome as the Australians are the most hospitable people on the earth.

 

I spent a bit of time talking to people to see when it would be good for me to see them, and then the next thing was how would be the best way to see them as there is quite a bit of distance from one to the other.

 

A little time passed and I thought the way I would do it was to fly to Melbourne and try to see some of my friends there and hire a car to go to NSW and see some friends I knew when I was in Sydney. They live in Eden about half way between Melbourne and Sydney near to the coast.

 

I got in touch with Glen in Queensland and told him what I wanted to do-he said I could come and stay with him during the trip and it was Glen who came up with the idea to go to Brisbane first. He also said I could use his motorcycle the GS1200 in the photo below. He also owns the Indian similar to the one behind it but a different colour.

 

It was a surprise for me to have such an offer and I had to think about it for a couple of days as it was such a great offer and I could not think of a better way to meet up with mates.

 

Once I decided how I was going to do the trip I contacted my people in Australia and got their details and organised when we could meet.

 

I thought I was going to travel by motorcycle but had my reservations as to whether the bike would be suitable for me.

 

 

In May 2018 I went on line and applied for a visa which was very easy and got sorted in no time.

 

We got in touch with the people who organised our Australia trip in 2010 and they were able to help, and soon it was all booked and paid for.

 

It is now January 2019 and only a short time before I make the trip. I have been in touch with most of my people and all things seem to be set for me to visit them.

 

This was a write up that was put into our local magazine and I hope to get another after the trip to update people on how it went.

 

 

 

TIt was Monday 28th January and it was about 4 in the morning when I got to Norwich airport to pick up my 6.30 flight to Amsterdam. The time had come for me to say goodbye to my wife which was quite daunting as we had not been apart for any length of time since we were married. The flight was a bit delayed as sometimes it is but it had frost checks to be made.

The flight was a quick one to Amsterdam-around 50 minutes, it was quite a walk to the Singapore Airways section and the flight was on time. It took 11 hours to get to Singapore a change of plane and a further 7 hours to arrive in Brisbane at around 5 oclock in the afternoon Tuesday 29th January.

 

There was a little time used to get my bags and go through customs etc, Glen was waiting for me which was really good as I was getting a bit tired.

On the way to his house we spent quite a bit of time talking and he said to me if the bike does not work out there is a plan B and he said they have a sports car that is not being used which I could use that if all else fails It is a Mazda MX5.

We got back to Caloundra and it was good to see Glens wife Robyn and son there. Their other son lives near Brisbane and was not about. We had a beer and a good talk and Glen said we can sort out what we will do the next day.

 

I went to bed and during the night woke up and had further thoughts about using the car-I had an aching leg from the flight and thought that riding a bike there would be chance I could have other aches if I was to do big distances.

 

I got up the next day and said to Glen I think the car would be better to do the trip than the bike but I would have really liked to use it. We went into the garage and took a look at the bike and my suspicions were correct as the bike was too tall for me. I got on it and could not reach the ground.

 

This is the Mazda MX5 I used with Glen and myself.

 

The next day Thursday I decided to meet up with my first mate who lived in Forster, almost 500 miles down the coast. It was a slow drive through Brisbane due to the heavy traffic-the roads had been made so much better and driving was a lot easier than the UK roads. I arrived in Forster about 3 pm. It is a bit north of Newcastle, has a very nice beach and does not appear to be too commercialised yet-quite a peaceful place to live.

It was good to see Myke again. I had worked with him in the 80s. We caught up by talking about old times and things that happened after I left the mine where we both worked.

 

 

MX5 Myke and myself.

 

Myke and his wife Judie with me.

 

Myke was doing other things on Friday 1st February. At 9.30 am I left Forster to make my way to Eden and there was around another 500 miles to drive to get there.

 

This gives an idea of the trip to Eden

 

I went to meet Ray and Ena. I had worked with Ray when I lived in Sydney in the early 70s and 1976 was the last time I had seen them. I rang Enabefore I left Forster and she said where she would be till 8pm.

I arrived in Eden just after 8pm and she was still waiting for me. At this point I was quite tired and she said she lived further out of Eden and would take about 20 minutes, so I followed her to their place. Ray was at home and it was good to see him again.

 

 

This is Ray and Enaís house.

 

 

Ray and Enaís property is a large one between others with rolling hills and trees etc-it is a lovely place but quite isolated. Ray has a large shed which gives him a place to work-anything mechanical is what he likes and people bring him things to repair and if they no longer want things Ray keeps them.

 

Ray in his workshop/shed.

 

This is Rays 1947 Fordson tractor.

 

While I was there their daughter and son in law came for a BBQ and that was nice as I never knew they had a daughter-we had lost contact with each other before then.

 

Myself and Ena.

 

I spent the weekend with them and enjoyed every minute talking about old times and things in general. I had to leave the next day as I was running a tight schedule to see everybody.

 

I left England on the Monday, travelled to Australia and clocked about 1000 miles by car by the time I stopped on Friday at Eden. That is real travelling especially when you are 70 years old the next month.

I spent the next 2 days with Ena and Ray, Ena showed me around Eden which is a lovely place but may change as they are doing work to help the fishing industry there.

 

It was now Monday morning the 4th of February and it was time to leave as my mate Pat was on his days off from work, He lives in Scone which is North West of Sydney and a bit over 500 miles to get there.

 

 

I worked with Pat in the 80s on a Diatomite mine when it was under construction.

 

I arrived in Scone at Pats about 6.30 in the evening and he took me and his wife and children for a meal which was really nice. It was dark and quite warm as we left the club-we went back to his home and they fixed me up with a bed and we all crashed for the night.

 

Pat in 1982†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††

 

Pat in 2019

 

The next day we went around the area to see the sights-it was quite dry and looked very isolated in places. I must admit I like that sort of place where it has not been damaged in any way.

 

 

It is quite isolated but quite a peaceful place to be.

 

The next day Pat wanted to go to Tamworth as his VW van has an ignition switch problem and he wanted it to be replaced. We left fairly early and he drove the van and I drove his Toyota Camry I think it was.

Pat contacted the person that owns the land at Barraba where the old mine is and we were given permission to go to the gate but no further and we could see the old place at a distance.

 


 

The mine is the white sheds etc in the distance.

 

 

 

Mykeand myself these photo at the mine in 1982 also the photos below.

 

 

 

 

Barraba from the lookout

 

Pat took me to see the old asbestos mine that had already closed by the time I got there in the 80s-it was really interesting and I saw more of that area in the 3 hours we were there than the months when I worked there.

 

The asbestos mine take at a distance from the road

 

That was really something we enjoyed to seeing and also to see Barraba again was really good-it had changed but not a real lot.

 

Central Hotel Barraba where I stayed while I worked there in 1982

 

Now known as the Playhouse Hotel in Barraba 2019

 

We travelled back to Tamworth which is the Country and Western town in Australia, we went to the lookout and looked over the place.

 

 

 

Pat and myself at the lookout at Tamworth.

 

Pat said we should go to the Golden Guitar which was where a lot of stars played and there were signed guitars that they left which were on the walls. It had a souvenir shop which had some really nice things to buy. I had been through Tamworth before but never had a real lot of time to see it properly.

 

 

We went back to Pats place and talked about what we had done that day and what we had seen,

 

The next day was quite unusual as we had nothing planned. Pat said he needed a haircut and also needed to see the doctor-he was gone for a while and came back with some brochures and in them were Warbirds in Scone. They had some various planes including 2 Spitfires and a Hurricane. I said do they do tours? Sharon Pats wife rang the place and they said we could come and would be given a tour. We asked how much they charged and all we needed to do was to give a donation. It was a really good visit and they were getting the planes up to scratch for a display they were planning in the future.

 

 

The top photo is the Hurricane and the 2 below are of the 2 Spitfires being worked on.

 

Pat had to work the next day and it was my time to make a move again. I intended to go up the New England Highway to Lismore where my friend Linda was looking after her mother who was elderly and not well.

Pat rang from work to tell me there was a crash and the road was closed.

 

I decided the best way was to go back to the coast and make my way towards Lismore. It was longer but I would not get stopped.

I got nearer to Lismore when I rang Linda and she told me her mother was not wanting visitors and we decided to meet near Ballina. She told me to meet at Shaws Bay at the entrance of Richmond River. It would have been easy to find but the GPS on the car gave problems and I had to ask people-in the end I got there.

 

 

I understand why Linda likes the area as is has a lovely view as you move round the coast to where she was. I got out of the car and it was not hard to find her-we spent quite a bit of time talking as we used to in the past and it did not seem all that time since I had seen her.

 

Myself and Linda

 

It was getting dark by the time we finished talking and we said our cheerios. I tried to get the GPS on the car working again but did not have much luck. I ended up driving through the night with a few stops for something to eat and drink.

I got back to Caloundra in the early hours of the morning and had a sleep in the car. Then I looked on the ipad as I could use it at Glens and Glen came to the door-I felt a bit guilty as it was still a bit early and I had woken him up. I had clocked around 3500 kms which is a bit over 2000 miles in the car.

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car is back in its old place again.

 

Over the weekend I spent a bit of time with Glen with his big Scalextric track and he showed me how well the cars went-he has organised meetings there.

 

Here are Glenís family from left to right Sam, Glen, Anthony and Robyn sitting.

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On the Sunday we went to Aussie World and met up with Mark as he lives in Brisbane. He is the son of Ray and Ena who live in Eden and it was good to see him after over 40 years-he was small then,

 

Glen and Mark getting to know each other.

 

While we were there these lovely old cars turned up.

 

Mark checking the cars out.

 

Tuesday I left Queensland and flew out from Brisbane to Melbourne and spent some time walking and finding my way around. I think it was a good opportunity to do that as I had only spent a short time there in the past.

I had not been long in Melbourne before I contacted my friend Erica and we had a talk on the phone. We wanted to meet up and Erica and her husband Eric kindly took me out for a meal-it was very nice to meet that way and talk about the old times when I lived at her grandmas place in Sydney. Erica and Linda are sisters and we had lots of time talking in the past, it was really great to catch up.

 

Eric myself and Erica.

 

Flinders Street Station a lovely station.

 

This gives an idea of the length of Flinders Street Station.

 

These green trams No35 are original ones and are the free to use.

 

I had to go to visit the monument of Edith Cavell as she is buried at the Cathedral in Norwich where I live.

 

This monument is in Melbourne off St Kilda Road near Kings Domain.

 

There are things on each side of the memorial but thus is her last message.

 

This is Edith Cavellís grave in Norwich.

 

This is Edith Cavells memorial in Norwich outside the cathedral walls.

 

Saturday 16th February I left the hotel and made my way back to Melbourne airport for my return to the UK-it was a bit of a wait for the plane and a long but good flight back.

 

Waiting for the plane in Melbourne Airport.

 

 

Still over Australia and tracking the flight.

 

 

The flight from Amsterdam was quite quick to arrive in Norwich.

I got my bags without a problem, I text my wife and she picked me up in the car park..