Sydney and Kingscliff

Well six more months have passed since the last one so it’s time for another blog! Welcome to 2022.

Fortress Tasmania Dec 2021

For this years end of year break Jenni and I had originally planned another epic road trip from Tasmania up through Victoria, NSW and onwards to Queensland and, of course, back again. We were going to be staying with friends and family, camping a little and attending a few birthday parties and other grand get togethers along the way.

Sydney after the Coronapocalypse

However, due to the impending coronageddon in those states we decided on a few changes to the plan. For a start we decided that trying to cross any state border was going to make it nearly impossible for us to get back into fortress Tasmania. Tasmania had specific rules for visitors from each state and every time we added another state to our travel list the requirements for safe return increased exponentially. Therefore we decided we would visit NSW only. Secondly we flew and didn’t drive, for obviously the same reason.

Hobart to Sydney 19th Dec

Hobart airport was packed with twice as many people arriving as leaving. Tasmania had opened it’s borders to visitors only 4 days prior to our departure. It looked like a lot of families were taking advantage of the dropping of the virtual drawbridge.

We’d only booked a one way ticket as we like some flexibility on the return leg. As it turned out this was a good decision. Flight was uneventful and we were soon on the tarmac in Sydney. Temperature was 11c when we left Hobart and 27c when we arrived in Sydney. Ye ha! Bring it on.

On this first part of the trip we’d be staying at our friend Carol and Greg’s house. On the day we arrived they were hosting their annual Friend’s Lunch and we were due to arrive when it would be in full swing. It didn’t take long for us to catch up. Carol and Greg have an amazing bunch of friends and they are a blast to be with.

Friends Lunch

Missy the cat

One of the reasons we were staying at Carol and Greg’s place was to look after Missy while they went off on a short break for Carol’s birthday. Missy is a beautiful creature, quite aloof and doesn’t make friends quickly, but we’d looked after her before so hoped she remembered us.

I think we’ve bonded a little

We’d planned to spend the 4 days that Carol and Greg were away reading and relaxing by the pool. Some of our clients were still working so we had to keep an eye on the service desk. We did get a few tickets logged so didn’t get to spend a lot of time by the pool but it would be churlish to complain. The weather was amazing and we did get a few swims in.

Well maybe I did get to relax a bit more than I let on.

We also relaxed a bit at night as Missy demanded we did.

She didn’t like to miss an episode of Great British Bake Off.

However my pet pool cleaner also demanded attention from time to time so it wasn’t all relaxation

It’s alive

Carol’s Birthday

The day before Christmas Day / Carol’s Birthday and the guys returned from their holidays. Jenni was going to make something fabulous for dinner and I was dispatched to get some nice flowers for the table. The colour choice instructions “less pink and more fuchsia” didn’t really mean anything to me so I bought the big bunch of “pink” ones that were still available.

Happy birthday Carol

Seemed to work out ok.

As we were staying a few days we organised a walk around the coast from Bundeena to Marley Beach, about 10K return. It was part of the Royal National Park and was quite spectacular.

The start (and end) of the walk

So on a windy morning we set off for our hike.

On our way
Taking a breather
The scenery was pretty amazing
However it was a little windy.
This interesting fella warned about the dangers of being a dick near the cliffs.
Maybe you can spot the dick in this picture who didn’t get the memo
Jenni and Carol descend to Marley’s Beach
A photo by Greg of me taking the previous photo
It took an unfeasibly large number of pictures to get this one of us altogether on Marley’s beach, specifically due to me feckin up the camera timer settings.
For example
Greg took this brilliant pic on his phone of the girls on Marley’s Beach. I may hang up my camera now. I think “On Marley’s Beach” is a great title for an album and this pic this would make a great cover.

After a stroll around the beach we headed back. We were planning Fish and Chips in Bundeena so the walk back was a lot quicker then the walk out. We did see a snake.

It was either just trying to mind its own business or plotting a kill strike
Or it had just had a meal and was wishing I’d feck off.

We stopped for a few posed pics along the way
Jenni and Carol looking windswept and amazing
And this is why I prefer being on the other side of the camera

Turned out the fish and chip shop was closed so we drove home and Jenni and I prepped for our trip to Kingscliff to see Jenni’s Dad John and Step mum Ingrid for his birthday.

RATs

A Rapid Antigen Test -Test kit

At this point in time the entry criteria for Tasmania included a negative PCR test withing 72 hours of travel. Also at this point in time PCR test results were taking at a minimum 120 hours to get a result. As it stood we were NEVER getting back to Tasmania. However, Tasmania changed its entry rules on the day we were due to travel to Kingscliff and changed the “PCR Negative within 72 hours” to a negative Rapid Antigen Test or RAT. For those who have been asleep since 2019 a RAT test is one you can do on yourself. Good result, so all we needed to do was buy some test kits and we were home and dry. Using the term “RAT test” is an example of RAS syndrome or Redundant Acronym Syndrome syndrome where the last word of the acronym is used in the sentence immediately after using acronym. Also for clarity RAS Syndrome is also an example of RAS syndrome but deliberately so. We decided to get ourselves some test kits on our way up to Kingscliff. Oh what fun that turned out to be.

Kempsey

Although we could drive to Kingscliff in a, admittedly very long, day we chose to stop in Kempsey. Kempsey was chosen as it was almost halfway between Sydney and Kingscliff. That’s about all we have to say about Kempsey.

Kingscliff via Crescent Head and Hat Head.

In the morning before we drove to Kingscliff we checked all the pharmacies in Kempsey for RAT Kits and they had sold out. Plenty of time not to worry. We took the opportunity to explore two of the coastal towns nearby, Crescent Head and Hat Head.

They were both different and interesting in their own way. Hat Head was small and full of mad and dedicated surfers. We’d arrived early and the place was already packed. Crescent Head was slightly bigger and full of mad and dedicated surfers, also packed. We also checked the pharmacies in both Hat Head and Crescent Head and they had sold out. Plenty of time, not to worry.

We stopped on the way to Kingscliff at Macksville for lunch. Macksville is a sizable town and also had a few pharmacies. We took the opportunity to check all of them and they all had sold out of test kits. The situation was not looking good again for getting back to Tasmania. Our fall back plan was that Jenni’s Dad had a couple spare but we’d ideally like to have tested ourselves before we met them to ensure we were ok and weren’t going to pass anything on. After stopping and checking a couple more pharmacies on the way up we realised there were none to be had. When we arrived, unchecked, in Kingscliff we hoped our Covid avoidance procedures were adequate to prevent our infection. They were, as it turned out.

Look out Kingscliff, I’ve arrived.

Primarily we were in Kingscliff to celebrate John’s birthday which lands on the 31st December. John had booked us a table at Twin Towns for lunch.

Jenni, Ingrid and John at Twin Towns restaurant

For those of you unaware, Twin Towns is a massive casino/hotel/entertainment complex at Tweed Heads right on the border of New South Wales and Queensland, on the NSW side. We saw queues of cars going through police checkpoints just outside the hotel trying to cross the NSW/QLD border. John also told us about the hoards of people meandering across the massive covered walkway from the hotel to the beaches on the Queensland side, looking down on the checkpoints as they crossed, uninterrupted.

The lobster special was pretty good

All in all it was a very special lunch. Happy birthday John.

I know we have mentioned it before but John and Ingrid live in a beautiful part of the world beside a lake. We all sat at sunset having a drink and watching the fish jump. I tried but I doubt I will ever get a picture of a fish jumping.

Jenni and I did go for a 3 kms walk around the lake. We saw things and I took photos of some of them. These are some of the things we saw that I took photos of.

Friendly lizard spotted us
Not so friendly lizard ran away
Cormorant catching fish. Imagine, if you can, a fish jumping in the background. This is about as close to that shot as will every get.
Black swan cygnets soaking up the sun
Bold Moorhens scarpering around
Wild Ibis in the skies and on the lake
Art shot of a flower, shouldn’t have bothered.

We also did an 11km walk around Kingscliff and along the beach.

I know it only says 7km but I didn’t start the tracking app till we were part way round

Before we left we had a great time with John and Ingrid’s neighbours who presented John with a birthday cake. We all stopped drinking long enough to clap as he blew out the candles and cut the cake.

Happy 58th Birthday John, they had the numbers the wrong way round. Great photobomb Jenni BTW.

Back to Sydney

With a cheery wave and a “see you soon” we left John and Ingrid’s idyllic spot and began our drive back to Sydney. We’d cancelled our Kempsey booking and rebooked in Macksfield for our overnight stop on the way. We planned to stop off at a place called South West Rocks before checking in. I am so glad we did, it is a stunning location. We will return.

South West Rocks

The hotel in Macksville was really quite good, the room was vast and very clean. We had dinner at the Star Hotel. The food was great. I’d recommend Macksfield over Kempsey any day.

We got back to Sydney early the next day. Greg cooked Paella for us.

Pretty good looking Paella Greg.

We are so spoiled with great food.

It was about this time we got a ping from the NSW check in app telling us someone with Covid had been in Twin Towns same time as us. Best get the RAT tests done then.

When we told Greg about the Twin Towns Covid Checking App ping he showed us his Covid App screen and about 80% of the places he had visited recently had a red mark on them indicating a Covid hotspot or that someone with Covid had been there. It was then we realised Covid is everywhere, pointless trying to identify hotspots. They all were potentially.

We did our RAT tests before filling in our Tasmania entry forms and they came up negative for both of us. So far so good.

This is my test result. Took the picture for evidence. The Tassie entry form did not ask for it and I was wondering how they would ask us to prove we had a negative test. More on that later.

Carol and Greg drove us to the airport the next day and we boarded the plane without any newsworthy incident. After landing at Fortress Tasmania I was keen to see how well they were protecting the borders and how they might get us to conform we had had a RAT test and a negative result.

As it happened the outcome was simple, the entry police didn’t ask, didn’t care. They took our word for it and waved us through. We also didn’t care as we were back in Tasmania.

We picked the car up and drove home, thankful for all the luck and covid risk assessments that had kept us clean so far.

Back on the block

When we arrived back on the block we were greeted with the most beautiful sight of a covering of wildflowers all over.

Wild flowers had taken over the block.

Of course we immediately got the lawnmower out and cut them down. Building starts on the new house in a few weeks so it won’t look like this for long. I’ll be sad to see it change from the wild place it is to a construction site but its a short term thing. Jenni will make it beautiful again.

And so I leave this blog at this point.

Have fun and see you next time.

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