The Rocks Of Sydney

One of the oldest places you’ll find in Sydney is The Rocks, situated almost beneath the Sydney harbour. It is a warren of streets and alleys that border the old warehouses near Circular Key. While much of it has been modernised there is still an old world charm about the place and it is easy to imagine the folks of early Sydney going about their daily business.

I decided to spend some time looking around and my first stop was in the park by the ferry terminal. Here crowds wandered along, many checking out the huge cruise ship that was tied up at the terminal. Signs alluded to an afternoon departure and many of the crowd towed wheeled suitcases as they made their way to the customs checkpoint.

I spotted an elderly gent sitting doing a crosword. The lines of age told a story of character but I didn’t realise when I took the photo that this was Mr Graham Courtney. I discovered, after talking with another busker, that Mr Courtney could be found doing gigs almost every day along the promenade and had been for years. The fact that he is an octogenarian seemed to slow him down not a bit.

What Chord Am I

Along the concourse folk took a few moments to stand and watch the buskers who entertained for whatever donations they were able to encourage from the pockets of the punters. I was intrigued with a suitcase that was sitting unattended on the sidewalk. Not a suspicious item in an obvious way but intriguing because it was set up as a makeshift drum. A young lady sitting nearby told me that her boyfriend was the owner and sure enough a young chap approached and began to tune up his guitar ready for a new set.

 

Sounds Of OperaWhen I asked his girlfriend, Carolin, if he was any good, she replied that he had an unusual style but that, yes, in her opinion, he was very good. I decided to stay and asked if I could take some photos for my blog. Unfortunately, I only had a few spare coin in my wallet as I don’t tend to carry cash at all, but I emptied them out for the privilege of taking a photo.

 

Followers.jpg

We started to talk about the way people disrespect the buskers on the street by taking a photo on their ever handy phone camera without ever bothering to contribute to the entertainment being given by the busker. To me, this is the height of rudeness. These people, would think nothing of spending eighty or more dollars to go to a gig by a famous band, when the gig is right there in front of them.

 

 

Different-Drum.jpg

As it turned out, Jack Dawson was incredibly good. His style was different but the sound addictive. Sitting, as he was, on the old suitcase, thumping out percussion in time to the rhythm of the guitar he soon drew quite a crowd. Jack does a lot of original songs and his CD was available for purchase as well as information to purchase on line.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I thoroughly recommend this too you if you get a chance to listen
Find him on FaceBook at www.facebook.com/JackDawsonMusic/ or online a JackDawsonMusic.com.

From here I wandered further along the concourse and came across another crowd of people taking in yet another display of street talent. This time it was Emma Mohsen, a contortionist with a bit of humour. I first saw her in a very compromised position with Col from London who was lifting her up while she held her legs firmly wrapped around behind her neck

Strange Contortions
Emma Mohseni contortioist with Cole from London
Impossible It Seems
Emma , Col and Sam About to do the impossible

For her next trick, she called on Sam from Sydney to assist. She brought out a narrow frame with a very small glass box at the top. She explained that she intended to fold her body inside and shut the door. After some instructions to her volunteer crew she climbed on the back of Sam and proceeded to do exactly what she had said she would.

In no time she was firmly locked inside the glass structure still exhorting all and sundry to add to her donation box.

Emma has curled herself into an imposibly small glass boxIn no time she was firmly locked inside the glass structure still exhorting all and sundry to add to her donation box.

Moving on passed the wharf I came to the base of  the Sydney Harbour Bridge.  This icon of Sydney was opened way back in 1932 and is the sixth longest arch bridge in the world.  At its highest point it is 134 metres and until as late as 2012 was the widest long-spanning bridge in the world.

Poser
Ehsan and Rashid from Iran take a moment to pose in front of the Sydney Harbour Bridge

This is a place where tourist from all corners of the world stop to take a memory of their time in Sydney.   Ehsan and Rashid from Iran were two such people and I stopped to chat a moment and take a photo on their own camera so that they could both be in it together.

One of the things about travelling is that one can rarely get a photo of everyone in the party without resorting to the dreaded selfie. Offering to take the photo is a great way to strike up a conversation and get to know more about the fellow travellers we share this world with.

 

 

 

 

 

The Opera HouseFrom From here the other icon that sits beside Sydney Cove, The Sydney Opera House can be seen across the water.  The angle here gives one a good view of the famous sails that make up its profile

Factory Walls
The old faceless buildings that were once the warehouses at the Rocks in downtown Sydney still stand strong after almost two centuries

PancakesThe Rocks is as old as Sydney itself, established at the time of the first European settlement. Prior to this was Tallawoladah and the home of the Cadigal people. From the outset of European influence it gained a reputation as a slum and was frequented by convicts and prostitutes pretty much until the 1870’s

Sandstone Walls
The sandstone blocks that were used to build the warehouses and shops at The Rocks are still standing today

The buildings were made of Sandstone and that influence is still apparent to this day.  The style of architecture was fairly drab.  Tall straight and as featureless as a row of factories, they dominated the narrow alleys that criss-crossed the town.High Walls

Tall Sheds, Narrow Alleys

Today, the Rocks has been reinvented as a tourist mecca with the obligatory market stalls that can be found both inside the sandstone buildings as well as under marques along the narrow streets.  Selling all the usual fare that markets the world over do along with a share of Australiana to provide the tourists with a suitable memento of there journeysThe MarketMarket Sails

 

And so my wanderings through the tourist mecca of Sydney came to an end and I attempted to find a bus that would take me to Glebe where I was to meet up with a friend.  Not such an easy task and I soon decided that I would be far quicker to catch an Uber Car which, as has been my experience so far arrived in but a couple of minutes and I was soon on my way. Jack, my driver, had a great chat as we crossed the few kilometres to my destination.  Still new to the job, he had a good knowledge of the city and with his pleasant personality I am sure he will do well in the job.  The car was immaculate and at the end of the ride, Jack took some time to help me find the best place to set down, seeing I was a little unsure of my bearings.  Thank you Jack..

The Naughty Corner

 

Ships leaving Brisbane Port in the early morning Sunrise Heading past Cotton Tree Beach On the Sunshine Coast

 

 

 

It has been more than a year since I took any serious time off work. To remedy this most serious of situations, I have taken some weeks off during which I intend to spend some time in Sydney, the Philippines and hopefully some other Asian countries as well.

The journey for me starts by heading to Sydney where I spent a week with my son, Sean, who lives in the Eastern Bays area.  After spending some time tossing up whether to drive to Sydney or fly, I finally decided that I would take advantage of the extra time a flight would give me and went on line to book a seat.

The cheapest fare I could find was with Webjet and so I commenced the process of securing a ticket.  Now here is where things began to become a little unstuck.  Each time I got to the point of making payment, the screen would freeze and I would have to start again from scratch. After the third attempt, I resorted to calling a consultant.  He was happy to help and finally put through the transaction around $30 more than the online price.  I asked why the difference and he explained that the fare I had online would have been sold out, and this was the next cheapest.

I pondered that for a while and thought I’d try again.  Sure enough, my cheap fare came up. I called my agent back and after some reluctance, he agreed that I should be refunded the difference. The catch…… They would credit my account for my next flight.  Really!!! Why would I use Webjet again? Again with reluctance, they agreed to refund the balance to my account.  So much for always getting the cheapest price when you use Webjet……

So much for my rant.

The day finally arrived when I would begin my next adventure. After a late night packing the last of my gear, I snatched a few hours sleep and woke to track down a ride to the airport.  This problem was solved with UBER. I downloaded the app and within ten minutes I was on my way.

Although it is an international airport, the Sunshine Coast Airport is small enough that it is not necessary to get there too much before departure but I planned on taking time for a coffee before the trip.  Not such a good idea as, as in all airports the cost of coffee was a little on the high side. Still, it was wet and strong and I used it to wash down an omelette.

I arrived at Sydney domestic after the short hour and thirty flight and caught the bus over to International to meet up with Sean who works there.  The rest of my day was spent wandering the Airport which is always a fascinating place to fill in time.

 

And so begins my latest travel adventure

 

Merry Christmas To All

It seems that only yesterday Christmas was still somewhere in the future, to be dealt with at another time. Yet, I woke early this morning and here it was, the usual bleak Christmas sky that seems to accompany any public holiday.

Stumbling from my bed I forewent my usual coffee and hit the road north to treat myself to the best that the coast has to offer. You guessed it…. I am sat in my car with the rain pouring down, by the Noosa River. In front of me is Jetty 17 and of course Old Salt Coffee.

 

I arrived before the crowd and enjoyed a large Flat White while chatting with Rhian as she busied herself getting ready for the rush. At around seven a friend of Rhian’s, Rhianna, arrived to help out with taking orders and dealing with the cash drawer. Just in time as the punters started to roll in shortly after.

 

Today is the first birthday of Old Salt here on the river, Rhian having opened for trade Christmas Day last year, so it is Happy Birthday and Congratulations on a year well spent satisfying the cravings of an addicted following of loyal subjects. I heard a rumour that Old Salty is getting a name today, but more on that later if the rumour is true.

Despite the morning showers, there were plenty of folk out walking either themselves or their dogs with a goodly number stopping off for a morning cuppa. A few arrived by car voicing their gratitude that they had found a coffee shop open on this holiday of holidays. I watched a salubrious Ford Mustang cruise by only to return a short while later having found what he was after……. coffee!!

 

Right now, it seems that the weather has closed in and rain is falling steadily. This appears to have had little effect on those seeking to appease their addiction, sheltering as they wait under the scant eves and sail cloth that is not totally water proof

 

Behind Old Salt Coffee, Jetty 17 has opened for business and already several vessels have been hired by folk wishing a day on the river. Of all the holiday destinations in the world, Noosa has plenty to offer, from the surf beaches, national park walks and of course this beautiful river.

Ode To Old Salt Coffee

(To the rythme of Camp Grenada)

 

Christmas morning, outta coffee
take a ride in my jalopy
Heading north to Noosa River
Where I’ll find a way to cleanse my dirty liver

When I get there…., coffees brewing
It is fresh and…. there is no stewing
No better way to…. ease the liver
Than a cup of Old Salt Coffee by the river

Now the sun’s not…. hit the river
The light showers….. make me shiver
Folks out walking… in the morning
The best part of day is shortly after dawning

The crowds want to….ease their addiction
They are coming….. from all directions
Help is needed… Queue gets longer
Even tho the rain is falling even stronger.

Wait a minute…., it’s stopped raining,
Guys are swimming…., guys are sailing
If you’r doing…. nothing better
Come on down and get your coffee by the river

One Of The Great Australian Walks… Kondalilla Falls National Park

Park Track entranceIn the hinterland behind the Sunshine Coast lies a range of mountains….. Well, hills really, called the Blackall Ranges.  They run from South to North and are dotted with some great walks of all grades.

Today I walked the Kondalilla Falls Circuit track from the top to the bottom and back.  These falls are a part of the Kondalilla National Park and form a part of the Great Australian Walking tracks.

The carpark is really just a large cul-d-sac at the end of the street and from there, one heads down to a grassy area dotted with barbecue facilities and table/chair benches.  There are also toilet facilities here which it is wise to take advantage of as there are non further down.

Bridge Over No WaterFrom the bottom of this area a sealed track take you down a few hundred metres to a small bridge.  This is wheelchair friendly but the bridge is as far as you go.  There are stairs at the other side which would make it difficult

 

 

 

 

 

Here there is a fork in the path.  The left leads down to the top of the falls and is perhaps the easier track to take.  It is also a part of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland Walk track. The right fork, a part of Kondalilla Falls Circuit, also leads to the falls but is perhaps a steeper path, although easy enough to traverse.

The TrackI took the right fork, and would recommend this, as the return journey is easier if you come back the other way.  The track wanders through rain forest and you will see Piccabeen Palms and Bunya Pines growing along the way.  You may also see some examples of Pink Ash trees which grow in some interesting shapes.

There are some spectacular views all along the track down to the falls
There are some spectacular views all along the track down to the falls
This couple take a moment to rest on one of the many benches along the track. This one is set at the top of the steepest part of the track when headingback to the carpark
This couple take a moment to rest on one of the many benches along the track. This one is set at the top of the steepest part of the track when heading back to the carpark

Just above the top of the falls, these two tracks merge before you head down a series of steps to come out at the top of the falls.  Here I met a couple who were resting after the long slog back up the side of the hill from the falls.  We chatted for a while about the effects of climate change on the forest before we each continued our respective journeys

The PoolAt the bottom of the next section is the top of the falls and there is a popular swimming hole, just before the water tumbles over the cliff.  There is space here to eat a picnic lunch or relax in the sun on the flat rocks around the pool.

The Road To The BottomFor many, this is the end of the trail but I headed down the side of the cliff face following the well formed Sunshine Coast Hinterland Walk track to the bottom..  Along the way there is a look out where you can see the whole of the falls although on this day, after a long dry spell, there was no water to be seen tumbling down the cliff face.

The Falls

_-2Peaceful TranquilityAt the bottom, the creek bed is strewn with huge boulders and here and there are small rock pools which are home to the beautiful dragonflies that hunt here.Poise

Fellow Travellers
Fellow travellers cross a bridge just below where I was photographing the dragonflies

Heading on I came to another fork.  It is here that the Kondalilla Circuit branches off and returns via an easier grade to the top of the falls.  There is a saying that what goes up, must come down.  In the this case the reverse applied and, having made my way all the way down from the car park, I now had the climb back up to the top.

The track forks off towards Baroon Pocket Dam to the right. The left path takes you back to the falls
The track forks off towards Baroon Pocket Dam to the right. The left path takes you back to the falls

The route is around 4.7 kms and doing it the way I did, the return journey was just a little easier.  Even so it pays to carry plenty of water as the hard bit is at the end.  I had two water bottles and had just opened my second when I started my climb.  It slipped from my hand and split open on a rock and I watched as it all soaked away into the dry soil.

This massive tree has come down across the track enforcing a climb over the roots to gt back to the track
This massive tree has come down across the track enforcing a climb over the roots to get back to the track

Heaven Set

Giving Ground

A Forest View
There are some stunning views from all along the track
The Pool Again
Back at the pool at the top of the Falls
Well formed steps help the traveller along the way
Well formed steps help the traveller along the way

From the top of the falls there is a section of over 100 stairs and this is perhaps the most punishing part of the trek.  Without water, I was in trouble by the time I reached the top and was thankful that the path had levelled out somewhat for the walk back to the bar-b-que area.  The real kicker for me was the short walk from there to the car park.  I was dehydrated badly and the track seemed almost too steep to tackle.

 

 

A Long way to the End
This massive tree had fallen across the track, The track had been cleared but this trunk is left to nature to return to the soil over time

 

Board Walk
Boardwalks along the way make the track an easier traverse

 

A short drive down the road to Mapleton and I thankfully pulled in to a service station to top up my water levels, the first bottle barely touching the sides as it went down

All said and done, it was a great walk and I recommend it to anyone with an afternoon on their hands and wondering what to do with it.  Just head up the Blackall Range from Nambour or Landsborough and you will find the turn off at Flaxton.