Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Views South of Sydney

I've now put up a batch more photos from our October holiday up on Flickr, this time covering the 15th-19th of October. On the 15th of the month, we arrived by train in Sydney, picked up a hire car, and went to visit my brother David and his wife Shirley south of the city, in the area which turned out to be describable as the Illawarra/Wollongong region. The next day, Dave and Shirley showed us around some of the local sights, and we caught up with their family.

The serious sightseeing started on the 17th, when Dave and Shirley contrived to show us some serious views in the Southern Highlands. We took in the Illawarra Fly, an amazing treetop walkway with views across the forest and the coastal plains to the coast, the stunning scenery at Fitzroy Falls, where a river has carved a canyon out of the edge of the highland plateau, and yet more views at Cambewarra Lookout, where what looks like a pleasant rural tearoom garden (okay, with palm trees) suddenly plunges over the side of a mountain, with a view across to the Pacific. To wrap up, we went down to that ocean, specifically for a short visit to Seven Mile Beach.

Then, on the 18th, we got back down to the coast again, pausing in Shellharbour (and photographing some pelicans) and then looking round Bass Point, which is basically an attractive sea-shore park (with protected nurse sharks off shore, apparently), and a war grave/memorial. Then, after a pause to take in the Kingsford Smith Monument and the view down the coast at Gerroa, we had an excellent lunch at Coolangatta Winery. On the way back, we saw Blowhole Point at Kiama, and especially the blowhole itself - a striking natural formation where the sea drives in through a covered channel eroded in the rocks, then erupts upwards (though the day was calm enough that we didn't get soaked by it). We got pictures of that and of the helicopter that came past overhead, but unfortunately the whale that was swimming past that day was visible only at a considerable distance.

Finally, on the 19th, we were scheduled to head back to Sydney, so we drove up the coast a ways in convoy with Dave and Shirley. This took us over the striking Sea Cliff Bridge, up onto Bald Hill (scene of Australia's earliest aviation experiments, courtesy of Lawrence Hargrave), further up for a stop at Governor Game Lookout, and then into the Royal National Park, where we said our goodbyes at the Hacking River.

And then we drove onto Sydney. It had been a great few days with a lot more striking sights than we'd perhaps expected; the scenery in that part of the world turns out to be stunning. But there was more to come.

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