25 September 2007

On the road again…..

Wow it gets daylight so early in Cowra! We had the sun peeping through the curtains at 5.30am! Wayne was up and off before 6am with camera at the ready to take photos of the station and the view across the valley. With the sun on the frosty fields the pictures are stunning.

An hour later he was back and we were all waiting for breakfast before we hit the road. The boys could hardly wait to get to Bathurst – Mt. Panorama here we come! The Mt. Panorama circuit is much more interesting in person. Television really doesn't do the hills and curves any justice.

As we drove around the track we had a running commentary from Wayne. “We camped up there in 1987”, “this is the bend that Dick Johnson missed. He went straight over the edge”, “these concrete barriers haven't always been here, loads of cars would drive off the road” and so on all the way around.

I feel sorry for the residents. For most of the year they have peace and incredible views but I'm not sure that they are worth the three weeks of mayhem, madness and incredible noise that is Bathurst.

Next stop Lithgow with all its history. More photos of bridges and a visit to the rail museum. The highlight of our visit to Lithgow was finding some old diesel locos hidden away in a paddock on the Bells Line of Road. Allan and Wayne were in heaven!

We had lunch at Clarence at the Zig Zag Railway (of course!), picnicking in the sun. No steam trains running today, the train was being pulled by a rail motor. Pity, I love steam trains. We were talking a few days ago about how in the not to distant future young people and children won't know what a full size steam train is. They'll be able to see scaled down models (there are plenty around, Diamond Valley Railway, Wagga Wagga Society of Model Engineers etc) and ride on the back of them, but they won't see the majesty and feel the power of those huge steam locomotives.

From Clarence we went back across to Mt. Victoria and on to Katoomba. Echo Point is the place to see the Three Sisters. It was chockers with tourists and we were more than happy to blend in with the camera carrying crowds, lining up to take pictures of everyone with the main attraction in the background. Parking there is the killer - $3.50 an hour! We made sure we only stayed the hour, doing the short walk and avoiding the information centre and gift shop all together. Looking out off the point it was easy to see why the mountains were given their name. They really did look blue through the haze. I'm just not sure if it was from the eucalypts or if it was pollution! I'm hoping it was the eucaplypts.

Wayne gave the kids another history lesson as we made our way down the mountain. Wentworth Falls, Lawson, Blaxland and Springwood, the first settlement in the mountains. I'm not sure if it's because we're living in Victoria or not, but they didn't really know much about the history of the mountains and their exploration at all. Thomas is a bit of a history buff and he lapped it up, loving that Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson defied the thinking of the day and followed the ridges rather than the valleys and succeeded where others had failed.

It was a very easy day travelling wise, with lots of stops and plenty of sightseeing but I was very happy to reach Sydney and be able to sit down in a comfy chair with a cuppa. Tomorrow will be here soon enough.

24 September 2007

On the road

It's 5am and the alarm has gone off – ALREADY! It feels like I've just gone to bed. Wayne has jumped up and into the shower and the kids have all thrown themselves out of bed (I know because I heard the thumps as they hit the floor). Why can't they get up this quickly on a school day?

We are off on our holiday this morning. Up the Hume Highway, stopping at Glenrowan (this is a tradition, we stop here and have our breakfast), then onto Albury, Wagga Wagga, Junee, Young and overnight in Cowra.

We had a small break with tradition and decided to stop at the Golden Arches for breakfast. Hmm… It was a nice treat for the kids but I think we all prefer our own picnic breakfast. The queues were long and we had to wait for half our order,while the other half went cold. Not to worry, we were all making jokes about it and it was a good break and a chance to stretch those legs.

I haven't been along the Hume since the Albury bypass opened – what a joy to not have to stop and start at all those traffic lights. The only thing I'm going to miss is the stop at the park to watch the paddle steamer. Turning off at Gerogery, we followed the Olympic Highway (I'm old enough to remember when it was the Olympic Way) through to Wagga. We giggled over the sign stating 107kms to Wagga – we didn't know it had moved!

Of course all along this particular route we had followed the train line much to Wayne and Allan's delight. Every now and then we stopped so they could jump out and take a photo. Thank goodness for digital cameras, between them they took 143 photos! Lunch in Cootamundra, at the station of course, while they waited for the down-line XPT. The train was running 40 minutes late so we had a very lazy picnic in the sun and the wind. It was blowing such a gale the picnic basket blew over and milk and coffee went everywhere! Fortunately we keep a couple of old towels in the boot of the car, they came in very handy to mop up the mess.

A petrol stop made me very glad that we live in suburbia these days. At 135.9c per litre my heart bleeds for country motorists, especially when they have no choice but to travel such long distances. We continued on our journey, through Young, the cherry capital of New South Wales, and I thoroughly enjoyed the hill sides covered in cherry blossom. It was so pretty and a sure sign of spring time. And yes, we did get some photos.

Finally, much to Hannah's relief we arrived in Cowra. What a lovely town and there is so much for visitors to do. The Steam Museum kept the boys happy for an hour, and the Japanese gardens are amazing and well worth the visit but we had the most fun at the Fun Museum. This museum incorporates Railway, War and local memorabilia and it is so interesting. We were given a sheet with 32 things to find around the museum and it was the best thing for keeping the kids interested in the displays. They had to find things like an Irish teaspoon, a Kangaroo butter churn, a model of a steam train made from charcoal as well as other things and they had to search the information on the exhibits to get the answers. Even I had fun on this treasure hunt and it was educational to boot!

We can also recommend a visit to the Country Music Museum (you should have seen the looks on the kids' faces when I told them we were going there!). Even if you're not a country music fan (we're not particularly) it is interesting and quite interactive too.

Tthe Alabaster motel, the only one we could find with a family room that actually slept 5. was our overnight accommodation. I wonder who decided that families were limited to 4 members? It was lovely, spotlessly clean and the cheapest we could find too. It was booked it before we left on wotif.com.au and saved $34 off the rack rate. made me very happy and it was so easy.

We all fell into bed exhausted at 9 o'clock. Day one of our holiday was great!

14 September 2007

Back to winter

It is absolutely freezing here this afternoon. Gusty winds, showers (yay!) and dark, brooding skies all encouraged me to bring in some wood and light the fire. It's so cold I've made some hot chocolate mix ready for when the kids get home from school. Hannah has swimming this afternoon so she will be cold and damp and looking for something to warm her up. A hot chocolate and then into the shower will do wonders for her. Luckily this is a bulk mix because my boys love hot chocolate and they'll have two each. Thank goodness it's cheap and easy to make. Hannah has a camp next weekend too so I've bagged some up for her to take with her. I'll make some marshamallows for her to take too. Funnily enough these are cheap and easy to make as well.

I love living the Cheapskates way. There are so many things that are easy to make at home, from scratch that are much, much cheaper than buying them. This week I've made pizzas, bread, steak and mushroom and apple pies, yoghurt, seasoned wedges, double choc chip muffins and shortbread. Goodness when I see that list I feel exhausted but it was really easy to do and didn't take long. With two children that have allergies and food intolerances reading food labels is a priority in our home. I love that by spending time cooking instead of shopping I know exactly what my family are eating.

Sunday we will be celebrating Thomas' birthday with the family and I'm hoping for a nice warm day because I've planned a bbq. When I did the shopping last month I made up a bbq pack and put it at the back of the freezer just for the party. There's a reason I planned a bbq :) Somehow cooking it all inside just won't be the same, especially as it will be me doing the cooking and not Wayne!