Well, right now actually Will & Nicky down under!! Yes, here we are – we finally made it. What’s more it’s time to say “G’day” to Bondi Bob the campervan who has been carefully cared for by said Will & Nicky whilst we have been unable to get across to world to see them all since our aborted plans in 2020.
Anyway here we are and what a busy first 10 days or so it has been too. Lots of family and friends time and massive excitement to be here for the impending arrival of Matilda/Bruce next month!! Nicky is looking so well – can hardly see she’s pregnant to be honest – and it’s great to see the preparations underway. After lots of trip-readiness shopping, bank admin, becoming familiar with Bob, it was good to have some family and friends time – and what a stunning bunch of friends they are too. Although we’d not seen many of them since the wedding in 2019, it was so easy to step back into the conversation flow and great to see a number of new arrivals too adding to this fabulous group.
Another incredible new friend was Wally. Now, we had signed up for a high speed whale watching trip out from Circular Quay and, to be honest although the trip on the rib (with 2 mahoosive 450hp engines!) was exciting enough, I was less than convinced that there were any bleddy whales to be had – it was rapidly turning into the where’s Skippy episode from the last trip. Anywho, 8 miles out (yes, really) on thankfully fiesty but not too choppy seas, it was time for a game of Where’s Wally the Whale and my money was on ‘anywhere but here’. Good job I’m not a gambler as suddenly, ‘there she blows!’ and there were 5 humpback whales in the near distance! Captain Blake was soon on the gas to get closer and what a treat. However, Wally had more up his sleeve as one juvenile decided he as interested in us as we were in him and the next hour we were treated to an up-close-and-personal experience of him circling the rib and mugging us. Don’t worry folks, by mugging I mean lifting his head right out of the water so we can see his handsome mug and he can see us – WOW! what a treat it was. Magical and we all felt really priviledged to have witness such a magnificient creature.
On the road again
Well after such a fun-filled and exciting first week it was time to leave the lovelies to go back to work (hee hee) and hit the road in Bob. Compared to our last trip and large RV, Bob was small but beautifully formed. Actually, the long wheel base made a massive difference and there is loads of room to put stuff – just as well…. To be fair we had managed to bring quite a bit of stuff for the mother-to-be and baby and whisky for Will (fair) and a campervan drive away awning – I kid you not – so it was actually rather nice to be downsizing for a bit. We realised that becoming familiar with Bob would clearly take time but it has been much easier than we anticipated – I suppose having changed to Taff the camper back at home will have helped – but we didn’t realise what we would be up against over the first week…. more on that in a minute.
Bicycles loaded well and were great – nice and light – stuff all in cupboards where I could mostly remember where it was and all the important stuff like the loo, awning, carpets (yes) chairs, tables and after a good shop at Tent World (I thought I’d never get Tim out of the place), new sleeping bags, liners, and all manner of other camping paraphernalia, we had a quick stop at the supermarket for supplies and the Liquorland for even more important supplies and we were off! First stop Blackheath in the Blue Mountains.
A tale of two tales
Blackheath is well placed for exploring the Blue Mountains and for more serious hikers like Will & Nicky there are miles and miles of bush trekking to be had. For us though we were happy to do a moderate amble out from the Blue Mountains Heritage Centre along the Fairfax Heritage Trail to Govett’s leap. View were stunning from the lookouts and I was interested to find out more about the Govett’s leap thing. There’s a statue in Blackheath itself of a guy on a horse. Looking into it a bit more, it seems that this life size sculpture indeed depicts Willim Romaine Govett who was an early government surveyor (yawn, why have a statue to that?) However, not as straight forward and respectable as he seems as Govett was also a bushranger and myth has it that he rode his horse off the cliff to certain death rather than be captured by the pursuing police hence Govett’s leap Much more exciting. Sadly, though, there is no further detail of why he was escaping the police, or even what his horse was called, but more about that as a surveyor, he discovered the point in 1831. I’m not having that though – definitely a cover up and I will spend my energies on making up a reason for his escape and leap over the cliff rather than picture the unveiling of the status by the Minister for Lands and 100 more boring types keen on cover up.
Now, although winter here, it was a respectable 20+ degrees in Sydney so imagine our surprise to be told on arrival at out first campsite that snow was expected. Don’t be daft we replied, this is Australia. However, temperatures started to drop and by night time, it had started to rain….. “It’ll soon pass” said I in true British, stiff upper lip stylie. But it didn’t and what’s more it turned to snow and by morning there was a good couple of inches of the stuff and ice on the INSIDE of the windows!! Luckily we had bought blankets and a heater so we were warm enough and really rather cosy. It was beautiful out and about though and actually quite a treat to see the snow. Fellow campers (all Aussies) were loving it – mostly because they were from areas such as Queensland where this would never be seen. What this has meant, though, is that our first week in Bob has been without the roof up (too cold/windy), without the awning out (too windy) and without the awning tent annexe out (same reasons as before) so we have living, sleeping and eating just inside the van. Now, for those who know Tim, I’ll leave you to have a quiet moment of reflection and contemplation on my behalf…..
The only way is up
Well, up and across actually. We left Blackheath to head for Orange and the delights of wine country (I’m worth it). Two delightful wineries were given the Shaw test – Philip Shaw (sadly no relation) and Heifer Station. The tasting experience at the former was very lovely and the wines very nice (red is rather wasted on me and Tim stuck to the beer) but I have to say that the Heifer Station winery really hit the spot. Most of you know my love of Nancarrow as a venue (wedding venue for W&N in 2019 if you don’t) and this place was very Nancarrow-esque in my view. Beautifully set out, lovely barn buildings and the most lovely people. Chewy (yes the bloke doing the tasting not the character from Star Wars) was a delight and the wines were just great. Cold climate wines are drier and more crisp so suit me just fine – marvellous – and Tim even got to taste some local beers – one of which was where the guy grew the hops, brewed the beer and sold them all on site. Great stuff.
The mode of travel for our adventure to Heifer Station was by bicycle and although the scenery was really delightful, the hills were brutal!! The bikes were great though (even if we did miss our electric bikes on the hills) and all-in-all a great outing with less pain on the return journey for some reason??
So there we have it, our first 10 days or so and already in the groove. There have been mutiple other gems such as cafe breakfasts in Bondi, cafes generally en route selling the most amazing coffee – they really get it right over here – and lovely people. Bodes well for the trip me thinks. Watch this space!!