2002-08 (AUGUST, 2002)

Surfer's Paradise - Queensland, Australia

This weekend Andrea & I braved Friday evening air travel during a QANTAS strike and flew Virgin Blue to Surfer's Paradise, a beach resort on the south-eastern coast of Queensland. We stayed with my parents who had hired an apartment there for two weeks.

We awoke to the sound of crashing surf early on Saturday morning, but had a fairly leisurely start to the day. We didn't venture down to the beach until late morning. We plonked ourselves down and nattered for a while before Dad & I went off for a spot of body-surfing. The wave height had been decreasing during the week, so by Saturday the waves were quite small - we still got some good rides in, though! The white sand, blue sky and sunshine was a glorious combination. We returned to the hotel mid-afternoon and didn't venture forth again until the evening. We went into the main part of town and found a pub in which to watch the final Bledisloe Cup game (an annual NZ vs Oz Rugby series). There's nothing like sitting in an all-Aussie pub when they win in the last few seconds, I can tell you. We had dinner there (Dad had two dinners, in fact), but didn't stay long after the end of the game.

On Sunday morning our priority was coordinating a change of accommodation (for some reason Mum & Dad had not been able to get two weeks back to back in the same hotel). Andy & I walked along the beach to their new hotel whilst Ma & Pa moved their belongings in the car. We met up for a late breakfast and then had a quick look around the shops. Andy bought some white cotton pyjamas. We returned to the new hotel (significantly nicer than the first one) and blobbed out there for the rest of the afternoon. Mum & Dad dropped us back to the airport for our early evening flight back to Sydney. It was bloody good to see them both (the first time since Christmas). Sweet.

City2Surf - Sydney, Australia

Despite crippling myself training to run this event, this weekend we walked from the centre of the city out to Bondi beach (a distance of just on 14km) with 60,000 other people. Our little group consisted of myself, Andy, Jayne, Catherine, Judy & Chris and their five-month-old baby girl, Anna. The unseasonably warm winter's day made for a splendid walk (we were glad that we weren't running in that heat, I can tell you). An hour or so in we stopped at Rose Bay in order to feed the wee one, and there made the happy discovery of a sausage sizzle. By the time we got going again we were most definitely "the back of the pack". Chris made us all pick up the pace and we were soon over-taking people again. Heartbreak Hill was the only bit that made us puff, but the view was spectacular (and all the more pleasant for the lack of cars). We strolled into Bondi bedlam a little over 3 hours after starting out and immediately retired to the PwC fixture on the roof of the Bondi Hotel. We pigged out for an hour and then made for the beach, where we met up with Dave, Paul and Jenny. We sat and nattered until the crowds had largely departed and then made our way home by bus. A great day all round - we even got a medallion to prove we had done it.

Camping In Dharug National Park - NSW, Australia

This weekend Andy and I thought we'd go for a bit of a 'trial' camping weekend to check all our equipment that we hadn't used since the beginning of the year. I even remembered to bring a load of things that I normally forget, e.g. a tea towel and a pot scrub. I did, however, forget to bring any matches - that kind of summed up the weekend, actually.

We selected Dharug National Park, on the north bank of the Hawkesbury River, just north of Sydney, as our destination. We had hired a car for the weekend and had collected it on the Friday night in preparation for an early start on Saturday morning. This 'early start' didn't quite happen, but we were on our way out of the city by 10:00. It took an hour to get clear of the sprawl of Sydney and then another half-an-hour to get to Wiseman's Ferry, the crossing point on the south bank of the Hawkesbury. Here we met our friend Judy and her five-month-old daughter, Anna, who had driven up for the day. We all had brunch in a wee café in Wiseman's Ferry before electing to cross the Hawkesbury on the western ferry.

We disembarked on the west bank of the Mogo River, a tributary to the mighty Hawkesbury, and pootled north on a mixture of sealed and unsealed roads. We arrived into St Albans in time for lunch, but none of us were hungry yet (we'd only just had breakfast!). We instead had a shandy in the sunshine outside the very quaint St Albans Public House. After a good stroll around the village (a pub, a café and a craft shop) and river bank, we made our way south along the eastern bank of the Mogo River. By the time we had got back to the river ferry (the eastern ferry this time), the clouds had rolled in and a few spats of rain had been felt - not great omens for a night in a tent, but hey.

We bid farewell to Judy and re-crossed the river on the eastern ferry. Our camp site for the night was at Mill Creek, about 6km south-east of the ferry. We were mildly surprised to find half-a-dozen other camp sites already set up (this is still Winter after all), but had no problem finding ourselves a space complete with its own fire pit. We had the tent set up in no time (I saved time by not pegging out the fly sheet - something required, for example, to ensure your tent remains waterproof should there be any rain). Blissfully ignorant of the deluge that was only a couple of hours away, we cooked our dinner on our gas stove (after borrowing some matches) and then befriended a German couple who had already got their fire going (i.e., they had already done all the fetching and carrying of the firewood). The evening air was colder than we expected, and although we had beasty sleeping bags, we were a bit light on the sitting-around-outside-in-the-night-air clothing. We turned in just before 22:00 with a dry sky above us - it didn't stay that way for long.

The rest of the night was spent retreating from the sides of the tent and cursing the fact that I hadn't pegged the fly out properly. I, of course, rationalised away the idea of actually getting outside and fixing the problem - "our only raincoat was in the car", "it might stop soon", etc. - you know how it goes. By morning our sleeping bags were still dry, but not a lot else was. Our plan for the day had been to attempt a moderately challenging walk in the mountains, but the thought of scrabbling around in the sodden, muddy bush with only one raincoat between us took the edge off our enthusiasm. We bundled all our stuff into the boot of the car and headed back to Wiseman's Ferry for a warm breakfast and a think. Even though the rain had eased off by the time we had finished breakfast, we had already talked ourselves out of the walk, so we headed home instead. A 'trial' of a camping weekend, indeed. We think we should rent ourselves out to drought stricken areas - we just have to put a tent in the boot of the car and the clouds start rolling in. ;-)