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Travelling or a holiday?

Possibly because I have so many breaks as a teacher – every ten weeks, I have at least two weeks off – or possibly because of the effort needed for a long haul flight; either way I don't see our trip to France as a "holiday".

For me holidays are slow and relaxed, even if we do plenty of active things, whether going away or staying at home. OK, in France we won't have to get up every morning by 6 to be at work by 7.40. But we won't be lazing the days away with a book or five, on the beach. We won't be hanging by our own pool with cocktails and music. Not that we don't do active things on our holidays. Mr S can't sit still for long, hence the annual ski trip, and I have to go for walks. Our ski trip and our road trips are holidays. In the past my favourite holidays were camping by the beach in national parks. Still, while we might be on the move, we have a slow relaxed feel.

Like our trip to London two years ago, in France we will be on the go. This time it will be slightly more challenging given the language and driving challenges. We will be busy.

I want to see everything, eat everything, sit and absorb the local atmosphere. Of different places.

For we may never take this path again!

No matter how beautiful, how beguiling, we may never pass this way again.

No, my trip to France is "a trip", not a holiday. I'm like a woman on a mission.

Travelling in Australia, I'm a little more relaxed, as I know it is more likely that I can pass this way again. I didn't get to do something I wanted to last January at Lake Crackenback (in the photo above) but no worries. I think I will be back next summer.

Actually for most of my breaks, my holidays are about going on trips to somewhere new or seeing a new bit of something I missed (like my Kelly expeditions or stopping off at different places on our road trips north and south) or simply relaxing at home. I never understood the attraction of a holiday home. Why would I want to go to the same place every holiday? Why would I want another home to be responsible for? Mr S likes routine and going to the same place, like the same ski field, and having the same pub counter lunch.

What's your approach when travelling somewhere new? What's your approach to holidays – is it the new or the known that attracts you?

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Once a bustling, noisy place

Mr S loves going to the same place for holidays. I don’t. So three years ago I agreed to go to the same ski resort only if we spent a couple of days exploring Kelly Country. That’s Ned Kelly. 

I had read a host of books on Ned – it was my Summer of Ned. I wanted to retrace Ned’s journey. 

Did I tell you an amazing coincidence? It will only make sense if you know the importance of Room 101 in 1984. The cell Ned was placed in Beechworth Prison was number 101!!! And a sign of the penal attitudes, while most people lived in dirt floor shacks, the prison is huge and imposing. I don’t think most visitors to the prison get it. Anyway that was the winter of 2015.

For the last three winters, I have explored different parts of Kelly country for a few days before we head off to Mr S’s favourite holiday.  This year, despite being bedridden with flu (in a lovely BnB) I managed to get out for a morning drive through Woolshed Valley. 

Fireplace in the lounge room of our lovely BnB


I wanted to go to the Woolshed Valley because it used to be a thriving place of gold diggings, Chinese market gardens, schools, pubs, small holdings. And because it was in this valley that Ned’s lieutenant lived and learnt Chinese from the Chinese gold miners, and apparently adopted their love of opium. 

You have gold diggings and deserted roads, you have bushrangers. You have a large rock, you have a place for a bushranger to hide behind, and jump out at passing coaches. “Bail up!!!”


It was also where Joe Byrne and Dan Kelly shot Aaron Sherritt with the police hiding under the bed in the two room shack. This precipitated the siege. 

It is hard to believe that there were two story hotels, restaurants, pubs and a public bath along this road. Now there are saplings, scrub and bush. There are signs along the road which describe was once was; some pointing out features left in the landscape. I couldn’t see them. 

Sebastopol Flat, a thriving town in the late 1850s


The cold, wet day made it all the more possible to imagine the miserable lives they led in Kelly’s time. Wet. Cold. Without an insulated, centrally heated house. With little furniture and limited clothing.  Just hard work all round. 

While we in the comfort of a heated car with heated seats, Ned and his gang traversed the area by foot and on horse back. 

The ford across the creek. It would flood after rains.


Totally unrelated to Ned’s time, the world’s biggest dredge, or some similar claim to fame, anyway it was damn big is in Eldorado, the village at the start of the road to Beechworth through the Woolshed Valley. It was eerie walking in this industrial relic. Again, it harked to an harder era. 

Seats from an old roller coaster? No, scopes from the dredge.

Not a shed. This is a massive floating dredge. Yes, it floats on the creek.

I told you I didn’t want to ski

We come to the ski fields every year. Actually that’s a slight generalisation. We come to the same ski resort every year. 

I’m over it. Have been for three years. I like to see different places. There’s not really any place new to walk in the village.  And I’m not really a skier. 

I CAN ski. I just don’t really like it. I mean some runs have been great fun but speed and heights are not my thing.  Which kinda rules out sliding down a mountain. 

For the last three years I came under sufferance. Or with caveats. Like, “I’ll come but only if we do a Ned Kelly tour first.” And, “I’ll come if we go on this dirt road to see where Ned’s mate came from.”

So now I’ve exhausted the Kelly places I want to see in winter. And I don’t want to be stuck on the resort for 10 days. Two years ago there wasn’t any snow, so we went walking. Which I really enjoyed. Mr S less so as skiing is One Of His Great Joys. (I don’t get it. He knows all the runs. He’s not seeing anything different.)

Anyway, I thought I should go for a ski. I mean, I’m here. There’s snow. It’s sunny. I shouldn’t just sit and read for the 10 days. And I get a little stir crazy in the tiny (but expensive) unit (which is a fancy word for a room).

It’s easy to stay inside when it’s snowing or the queue’s massive or the visibility is limited. 


I bought a two day lift ticket. You can go up the afternoon before. So I went for a run. Mmm. It was OK. Mr S, as usual, wanted me to do more. Why? Cause you’ve paid for the lift ticket. Nah, that’s enough. My back has been twinging. 

Today was spectacular. How could I stay in the room with a day like this?


 I thought of taking my book up top and reading. No, I will do some green runs. 

And wouldn’t you know it. One of the green runs is actually harder than the blue run next to it. Rocks and grass are exposed but of course you don’t know this until you’ve committed. 

And as I was going slow because I’m a nervous Nelly, I hit a rock and fell. And twisted my knee. 

I managed to right myself and limp home but that’s it. I’m not risking my limbs. I want to be whole for France. 

I asked my son to bring me some snow in a bag so I can ice my knee. (My eldest is spending the season here, working and skiing and drinking beer. Mr S is jealous. He’d love to spend a season in the snow. Do it, I say. But without me.) 

When you send your son to get you some ice, be specific. Or you will get a massive amount.


The next few days I will dedicate to finishing the novel I am reading. And blogging. I am not risking being one of those who are taken off the mountain by skidoo. It’s just not worth it. 

You know I wish I’d stuck to last year being my last ski. Then I could have gone out with pleasant memories and stories of skiing well. Not, I fucked my knee and I’m just too old for this malarkey. 

Long service leave (LSL)

One of the perks of my job is long service leave. In addition to the regular, annual leave, I accrue extra leave, which I was able to access after working for my employer for seven years. 

I thought LSL was just to reward people for staying with one employer for an extended time. And, naively, I thought everyone got it. As in all the western world. Not just everyone who was permanently employed in Australia. 

Turns out it’s pretty unique to Australia. 

I love what Wikipedia says about it; LSL remains one of the great entitlements for working Australians. (My emphasis.)

I think we have to give a big shout out to our union movement who fought for all permanent employees in Australia to get this and who have fought for us to keep this entitlement. 

Apparently LSL may relate to our colonial heritage, with Victorian and South Australian civil servants given the opportunity to sail home to England after 10 years’ service in ‘the colonies’. The extended time being necessary given the long sailing time. They probably had to add perks to get people to SA! Sorry croweaters but let’s face it, no one wanted to go there st the start. 

LSL gradually expanded to other states, after federation. When the NSW Minister for Labour and Industry introduced the legislation after WWII, he said one purpose was to reduce labour turnover. 

Well that’s worked in Mr S and my case. I currently have   Mr S, who’s worked for the one employer longer than me and who has worked more years than me without any breaks of service has.  

We used LSL to travel to London in 2015, (in a nod to the colonial heritage! Lol) We used some LSL for our tenth wedding anniversary when we went on a cruise. I also used some to help my son through his high school final exams. Good mum that I am!

So what’s next? 

This year we are taking four and a half weeks, combined with two weeks of school break, to travel to France! That’ll be five and half weeks of travel with a few extra days at home to get ready! Makes the long haul flight worth the trip. 

My plan is to use LSL every second year for a trip overseas. 

  • 2015 London 
  • 2017 France
  • 2019 ???

Mr S would like to ski in North America and visit places in the US. I’d like to visit Italy and do the Cinque Terre walk. 

But hey, that’s years away. Let’s look to this year’s trip. In coming posts I will share my dreams and plans and organisation. 

Easter adventure – driving south 

The Pacific Highway is a different beast from that of my childhood; even from that of five years ago. 

In my childhood it was a narrow, windy road with tall trees right next to the road. Me S and I were once nearly wiped out by a logging truck that crossed to our side of the road. Another time one washed a wave of water, from rain that covered the road, over us, so we were blinded. On a narrow crest and curve!

Now for much of it, it is two lanes both ways on separated roadways. Safer. But boring. And by bypassing towns, you don’t just come across interesting places to stop. 

Hence our mid trip cuppa was at an awful stop. The first town we passed through was packed. Because it was the first interesting place to stop! And everyone wanted to stop. So, of course, Mr S didn’t want to stop. 

We tried the first roadside rest stop, one that signs from the start of the highway in NSW has advertised as future rest stops. Surely that must indicate the stop must be large, have good facilities and be attractive? OMG. It was so bad, we drove off. 

Mr S had taken over the driving, and he didn’t notice what may have been a suitable place off the road. Or did he just not want to cross the highway? He took the next road side stop on our side of the highway. It was bleak. Mozzies started to attack me. Mozzies the size of flies. Huge buggers! And then it started to rain. I hid in the car. Mr S stayed outside and fed the mozzies. 

Arriving in Bellingen, where we planned to stay for two nights, was like arriving in Nirvana. Lush, green, and sunny. The town was full of hippies and hipsters or weekend hippies. 

Our accommodation, on the main street, was above shops – a masseuse/naturopath, an alternate bookshop and a locally-made Nepalese-inspired clothes shop. Of course! What else would you expec  in a large rustic building in Bellingen! 

With large front and back verandahs, our accommodation was a spacious retreat. Rustic and arty. And it was all ours. Well except for one room off the back verandah which was used by a masseuse or acupuncturist. We couldn’t see but heard the music and smelt the incense. 

Morning view of the misty mountains from my bed.

Mr S, breakfasting in our kitchen

Back verandah

Back verandah dining table. All ours. Looking over the shops. With a spot like this, why would you go to a cafe for breakfast?


The first night we drank and ate in the pub. The food was gross. So the second night we bought the makings of our own antipasto spread and enjoyed the feast in our flat. 

Cauliflower pakora, lentil and pumpkin patties, prosciutto, cherry toms in fig balsamic vinegar, artichokes, semi dried tomatoes and olives, and French bread.

The pub. Nice beer. Meh food.


We spent the day walking around the shops, along the river, around the town. This is cafe paradise, if you’re into cafes. We’re not but we visited one for a chocolate milk shake and another one for a toasted roast pumpkin, creamy feta, spinach and dukkah sandwich. The afternoon was beer and chatting on our verandahS – time spent on both verandahs, enjoying the different views. 

We’d never seen these birds before. A quick internet search, blue-faced honey eaters, described as “pugnacious”. So accurate. They shooed off other birds to eat the scraps from the outdoor tables at the cafe.

Very yummy roast pumpkin, spinach, feta and dukkah toastie

Lots of choices of places to eat. Bellingen, cafe territory.

Mr S walking down steep path, which we walked up by mistake. The chain would be needed if it was raining. I needed it for the way up.

Old emporium.


We visited the town museum, gold coin donation entry. It has a few interesting pieces but is very cluttered and not well laid out or described. The volunteers here are going for quantity. I don’t think they want to throw anything out but really don’t have the space for it. (By the way, the Uralla museum is also run by volunteers, and while having a much bigger space, have realised space between exhibits is as important as the items exhibited. Without the space and labels, it all just becomes stuff.)

We had a five hour trip home. Time for more Dad’s Army and Agatha Christie radio plays. And, of course, a stop for a cuppa. This stop was off the highway. The toilets were built by volunteers from the local community. Not sure about the tables and playground equipment. I can see the spot will be well used by travellers. It was clean, with a playground for kids to play, somewhere to sit, an information display to read. We watched a family exercise their dog in the field you see behind Mr S. The area is removed from the highway noise but only a short way off the highway. Good for those who hate deviating off the route too far. I hope the local community don’t regret building this and that travellers treat it well. 

The sun had a bit of bite. We were grateful for the shade of the shelters. It was about 25°.

Hedge of fuchsia bottlebrushes in flower along the rest area, separating it from the road.


Mr S and I are universal in enjoying our adventures. A friend pointed out to me that I am lucky to have a partner who enjoys the same “adventures” as I do. And she’s right. 

What awaits us next break? It’s snow season, so not much guess work needed. 

Tambourine Mountain

Shush. We’re in hiding, tucked up in Tambourine Mountain. OK, we were tucked up. Our Easter hibernation den. 

On Friday we didn’t venture out. Hung around my mother’s place, talking, reading, blogging, drinking, eating, snoozing. 

On Saturday we snuck out for supplies. What are all these people doing on our mountain? Quick, back to our hidey hole. 

Lorikeets feeding in my mother’s backyard


On Sunday, my cousin and aunt took me to the Botanic Gardens. I haven’t been here for over 16 years. What a difference! The gardens are extensive and beautiful, with interesting and whimsical details. There’s a little section, The Sooty Owl grotto, to entertain kids with lots of hidden owls. 

A working waterwheel. Who’s that looking out the window?

Can you see now? It’s Sooty Owl.

Oh great! Pester power. To build a home for snakes and spiders in your yard!


By the time we left, the car park and surrounding road was full of people stopping in for lunch. Lucky we came relatively early. On most days there are not many people here. 

We then braved the shopping road, Gallery Walk. It’s aimed at tourists with knickknacks, soaps, candles, crafts, wine etc. Amongst the shops is one of my favourite dress shops. I can always find a bright Gold Coasty dress, something different from Sydney stock. And this time the shop did not disappoint. I got two dresses for the price of one – a super Easter special – and a necklace. 

On Monday I took Mr S to the Botanic Gardens. Look who greeted us. We were there early and the birds were in full voice. Though this fellow was quietly watching and hunting. 

Rare to see one right at eye level. Actually I just love everything about rainforests.


Mr S is not a gardener and not normally impressed with gardens. These gardens impressed him!!! 

The wall of green of the rainforest at the boundary of the gardens is so tall. Without ongoing mowing and pruning, the rainforest would reclaim the gardens and lawn. 

Wall of the rainforest. Look at the gums that tower over the other plants.


We then did a short bush walk through the rainforest. You can’t come to Tambourine Mountain and not do a rainforest walk. Listen to this whip bird from our walk! And get a feel for the rainforest. The jungle! Palms and trees and vines! Magic!


A few more shots from the rainforest. So lush!

Fungi working their magic on fallen trees.

You’re looking at a fallen tree, being overtaken by other plants.

Love the buttress roots.

And I love how the white ghost gums stand out. And tower above the canopy, so straight


In the afternoon we visited my aunt at her home. Mr S has teased/bullied her into baking a cake. She makes the most divine cakes and this one was perfect. She hand whips her cream. I don’t know if this is what makes it so silky but it has a different consistency and sheen. My cousin, who had visited her mother, had to go home early as her cows had escaped – best excuse ever. My cousin’s daughter’s anticipated visit did not eventuate as she is still cleaning up after the recent floods. Her town just south of the border went under. Here’s some photos of the flood at her house. 

Flood waters lapping at my second cousin’s verandah.

So you understand the enormity of the floods, my second cousin lives in a Queenslander. For overseas readers, that’s a house on stilts with the residence upstairs, so designed to allow air flow underneath and aid with natural cooling. The flood waters in the Ohio above are actually lapping at her top storey. Here’s her house when the floods just began. Now you can see why everything is so green and the waterfall at Armidale was gushing!

By Tuesday, the worst of the traffic was gone and Mr S and I snuck off the mountain, heading home the Pacific Highway route, one thermos filled with boiling water and one with milk for our cuppa rest break. Would we find a nice spot? 

New England adventure cont.

We don’t have many deciduous trees in Australia. We’re not used to seeing evergreens, especially on mass. So the yellows and reds of deciduous trees are not only beautiful, they’re unexpected. 

With the cold climate of the New England area and the early settlers’ wealth and longing for England, it is no wonder that they planted non-native trees. 

It is slightly early for the trees to be changing but the yellow on the golden poplars was striking. This was our first autumn trip though New England; the autumnal colour was an unplanned bonus.

We saw some beautiful views. Didn’t capture them but luckily for the Internet I found some pics. This was the entrance to a farm from the highway. 


Look at the start of the change to red on the vine of the little church. (It is my photo this time.) I googled it and there some strikingly red shots. We might have to go back one mid autumn!

 

We stopped at Inverell to buy milk for our tea. (Mr S had previously filled out thermos with boiling water at the guesthouse so we could stop for our obligatory cup of tea in a park.) Being the day before Good Friday, the supermarket was busy. Now supermarkets are not the best place to spend time (unless you’re overseas and want to try different foods), especially the day before Good Friday, but we really had to escape and quickly. This was not our sort of place; full of not our sort of people. Interesting buildings, though. 

We drove around town to find a park, we stopped at Jubilee Park. We always stop at parks with tables and benches. And the bench here is exactly why I pack a table cloth. God knows what the stuff was. Quick, hide the gunk! I realised this was not the park I wanted to stop at. There’s one further on the highway with extensive gardens. Oh well, next time!

Jubilee Park rotunda


The town ducks were not interested in my bread scraps, flying away when I tossed some to them. Maybe they were wild migrating ducks?

Ducks on the creek bed

Ducks flying away from me


Or maybe the ducks were just wary of sneaky cats?


The showground was surrounded by a hug fence. Ag shows would have been truely impressive in a time of little other entertainment. Probably still pull a big crowd for different horse shows. Hey, who doesn’t love still the woodchoppers? I captured them at the Sydney Royal Easter Show the week before. 

Woodchopping contest at Easter Show


As we crossed the boarder into Queensland, the Easter traffic picked up. But still nothing compared to the poor buggers just leaving Sydney. 

View from our car on New England Highway in Qld


The steep road up to the top of Tambourine Mountain took us to our Easter hibernation. The holiday makers, among which we don’t count ourselves, can scurry about. We’ll be taking it slow and doing little. 
How to end a road trip? With mum’s home-made, slow-cooked, hearty lentil soup.