A Travellerspoint blog

Dubbo - Western Plains Zoo

sunny 36 °C

I was somewhat surprised how busy Dubbo as after leaving the New England Highway, traffic virtually disappeared.
Friday was spent walking the CBD while the Nav was being service, needless to say I was just a little jaded by the end of the day.

Today, Saturday, we spent at the Western Plains Zoo. What a fantastic facility it is too. The circuit is 6KM and you have the choice of walking, driving your own car, hiring a bike, or hiring an electric buggy. We chose to drive.

Around the circuit are several picnic areas with free BBQ’s 2 kiosks, and plenty to see.

Today was stinking hot here so many of the animals were out of sight in the shade so we will go back again tomorrow and hopefully see what we missed today.

The range of animals is surprising and the enclosures are amazing. One thing about this is although all enclosures are fenced, they are not obvious and in many instances you don’t see them until you are right on them.

Entry is $36 ($32 concession) but gives 2 consecutive days entry. Buy tickets online and save up to 20%. Initially I balked at $32 each but when realise it’s for 2 days, and after seeing the place, it is money well spent.

The entry complex has a gift shop and large cafe with alfresco dining. Having lunch there tomorrow. It can be a great family/group outing. An excellent place to take the grandies during the school holidays JEFF.

Highly recommended.

I have some great panoramic pics from the new camera too. I took 311 pics here.

Posted by BobnJo-Elsbury 00:37 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Last Days in the Hunter Region

sunny 26 °C

A drive out to Stockton to see Newcastle from “the other side” was worthwhile. Being so close to the bulk carriers leaving and entering port was a treat. It highlights the narrow harbour entry which highlights the size of these ships. The last time I saw bulk tankers was Port Headland in the early 70’s.

Sandy Hollow is a great place to relax and take a drive through some wonderful country. After leaving the New England Highway the environment changed dramatically. One of the great things was so little traffic.

A drive along the Goulburn River to Bylong was fantastic. So lush and green, tight windy roads at Cox’ Gap, and the entry/exit to the Cox Gap railway tunnel were a highlight. It’s no wonder truck traffic is virtually non existent.

Also, this is the area where coal mining is planned (Obeid), as far as I’m concerned it would be criminal to destroy this pristine area.

Posted by BobnJo-Elsbury 00:16 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Fighter World - Newcastle

RAAF Williamtown

semi-overcast 26 °C

This is a very interesting exhibition with quite an array of aircraft and equipment.

The display is housed in two hangars, and a reasonably priced cafe is on site. I recommend the bangers and chips. Unfortunately, being a Sunday, no FA-18's were flying, or visible. Anyway, photography of the defence area is taboo of course.

The range of aircraft includes the A77 Gloster Meteor through to the Mirage, with a MIG also on display. Visitors can also sit in cockpits from two of the aircraft. Engines and weapons used on these aircraft is also on display.

The observation deck provides the best viewing platform in Australia for aircraft take-offs and landings.

It's definitely worth a visit.

Posted by BobnJo-Elsbury 11:45 Archived in Australia Comments (0)


Fort Scratchley

semi-overcast 32 °C

Went here yesterday and had the tunnels guided tour. 90 minutes of interesting commentary. Well worth the visit.

About the fort.

The headland known as Fort Scratchley has long been associated with the history of Newcastle. Two natural features dominated early history: its height offered a prominent lookout; and seams of coal were readily accessible around its base. Both are understood to have been used by local Aborigines.
The discovery of the coal seams by European explorers from Sydney led to the site becoming the first European coal mine in Australia, and probably the first mine of any kind in the country. Mining began on Braithwaite's Head using convict labour during the first European settlements of 1801 and 1804. In time, coal mining became an economic mainstay of Newcastle and the Hunter Valley.
In 1813 a coal-fired navigation beacon was set up on Beacon Hill and continued until 1857. A flagstaff and signal station were also erected during this period, and these subsequently became the Harbour Master’s residence. These structures were demolished later to make way for construction of the Fort.
The strategic importance of a hilltop overlooking the harbour was recognised as early as 1804, and by 1828 an earthen battery was constructed and equipped with seven guns. In 1876, with fears of Russian attack, the British Government sent Major General Sir William Jervois and Lieutenant Colonel Peter Scratchley to advise on naval defences. Under the direction of Jervois and Scratchley, Colonial Architect James Barnet oversaw construction of the Fort. It was designed around a battery of three guns facing eastward in an arc to the ocean, with other guns covering the harbour to north and west. The gun emplacements were cut into the top of the hill to present a low profile to attack.
The new guns were in position by 1882, and construction of accommodation for the troops followed, with the Commandant's cottage and barracks buildings completed in 1886. Other small detached buildings were also built at this time and in 1892 the dry moat and perimeter wall were completed. Mines laid in the harbour channel could be exploded from a control pit at Fort Scratchley.
The guns and their enclosures were changed several times during the 20th century as military technology developed. They were used on several occasions during each of the world wars to halt unauthorised shipping movements through the harbour mouth. On the night of 7-8 June 1942 the Battery's 6-inch guns fired two salvoes at a Japanese submarine that bombarded Newcastle with about two dozen shells, becoming the only coastal fortification to fire on an enemy Naval vessel.
The area outside the Fort walls has also been continuously occupied, including many buildings related to navigation or the military. Some of these remained even after the Fort was constructed, such as an assistant Harbour Master Cottage directly outside the main Fort gates and nine pilots' cottages along Nobbys Road. Various military buildings stood outside the Fort’s walls along both sides of the entry road. Only the Master Gunner's Cottage and Transport Garage remain in this area.
In 1950 a works depot was constructed for the Department of Housing and Works on the level area below the Fort along Nobbys Road. Prior to their demolition, these buildings were used by the State Emergency Service.
The guns at Fort Scratchley were decommissioned in 1962 and the Fort closed in 1972. It was vacant until 1977 when the City of Newcastle (Council) entered into a lease with the Commonwealth over the site. Under Council's control the site became home to the Newcastle Regional Maritime Museum in 1977 and the Military Museum/Fort Scratchley Historical Society in 1982. Both of these groups took an active role in conserving the site and interpreting its history to visitors.
The outer site continued to be used as recreation space by local residents with picnic tables and children’s playground also being used by visitors. The inner Fort was opened to the public with the Maritime Museum and guided tours of the tunnels operated by the Fort Scratchley Historical Society adding to the visitor experience.
In January 2004, Council and the Australian Government executed an agreement whereby the Government would restore Fort Scratchley Historic Site, then transfer ownership to the Council. The Fort was closed to the public in April 2004. Restoration works were completed in 2008 enabling the transfer of the site to Council on 29 June 2008.

Posted by BobnJo-Elsbury 23:57 Archived in Australia Comments (0)


overcast 29 °C

The drive from Tamworth to Newcastle was enjoyable as far as Scone. Overcast sky, and not too hot. Pity rain is has been short because it is a very scenic route but without good rain for so long, somewhat brown in places.

After Scone the drive became more and more stressful. Narrow roads and lots of trucks coming through the mining areas, and signage not so helpful for tourists like us. Local knowledge certainly helps.

One thing which has been highlighted in recent travels is just how out of date Google Maps is, but also GPS maps. I recently updated all of the maps to 2012 versions but roads which have obviously been built several years ago are still not shown and the same with interchanges.

Using the GPS as a general guide in conjunction with a live competent navigator (if you happen to have one with you) is ideal.

Newcastle I find confusing in that roads run in all directions, and are rough.

Today is sight seeing day, RAAF Fighter Museum for one.

Posted by BobnJo-Elsbury 12:31 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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