Friday, April 15, 2011

Road Trip Trial Run

Well it's been a week since the intrepid man with poofy hair arrived and we've been busy.  Over the past 2 days we did a 'dry run' for the big road trip next week and decided to pootle off to the Blue Mountains then on to Cowra. This is the town most famous for a bloody breakout at a POW camp there  during the second world war, one that featured in a co-write we did some time ago 'Pearl, Harbour', one I'm hopelessly optimistic I may eventually turn into a novel. 

There's no rushing 'he with the hair' so we had a rather late start, dropped some stuff off at a friend's in Kurrajong and arrived in time for a vegemite sandwich and home made cookies before heading off to Katoomba for a look-see at the Blue Mountains. The jury is still out on whether Vegemite is a food but there will be more on culinary stuff later. 

Once arriving at Katoomba, there were aspirations to descend the 860 steps on the Giant Stairway which leads to a forest walk along the Megalong valley but, inadequate footwear (him) and gammy knee (me) saw that effort postponed for another day. So we admired the view, wondered down a dirt road to Shipley Valley for what can only be described as an amazing view only to be told that 'looks like some places in the US'. OK so sightseeing isn't the way to go right now. 

We tried desperately to find a pub open for lunch at 3pm but to no avail, seems that Wednesday's is shut early day so we drove on to Bathurst, again through some of the prettiest scenery in NSW. Starving by the time we arrived, we had a steak (this time he paid and left a huge tip after being told by the waitress that it wasn't necessary - he didn't believe me!) Then Jeff takes the wheel and puts the windscreen wipers on instead of indicators, drives slow in the fast lane but finally gets the hang of doing things on the wrong side of the road and we push on the extra hour and a half to Cowra.

Now I'm not being too alarmist at this point but did notice that every hotel/motel in Bathurst appeared to be "No Vacancy" and we hadn't booked anything in Cowra so I'm beginning to worry that we'll be spending the night at a roadside rest stop in the car and visions of tourist slaughter run through my brain! Sure enough, the first hotel in Cowra has a vacancy sign but . . . no rooms . . yes folks this is Australia, we're too lazy to even turn off the vacancy sign.  Apparently some 'Mining Convention' has seen normally available motels fill to the brim. Fortunately, a budget motel down the road is called by the obliging proprietor and we secure a family room for the price of a normal one. Cheap, not so cheerful but a decent shower and crash worthy, and much to my chagrin, their digital TV works better than mine!

In the morning, after Lamingtons and coffee for breakfast (more on food later) we headed out to the Japanese Gardens, a commemorative garden to reinforce the 'goodwill' between the Japs and the Aussies and a kind of apology for killing 250 of them who tried to escape in April 1944. Pretty nice actually although being autumn, not at their best but still cool.  We also wondered out to the site of the Camp which was huge, quite comfortable for inmates at the time but ultimately humiliating for the Japanese, many of who changed their name to avoid the shame of being captured. The Italians were even allowed out into the wider community to assist on local farms but not the Japs, they weren't to be trusted and remained interred for the duration of the war.  There's not much left of the original camp other than a mown strip and a few foundations but it certainly helped to put our story characters into perspective - shame it wasn't paid research!

Then on to the Japanese War Cemetery to pay a few respects before heading back.

As I'm gunning along with cruise control set on 100, we pass the "Cowra Fun Museum". A dear old thing at the Visitor Information Centre had previously recommended it as they had some artifacts from the old camp site so, yeh, did a u-turn and went into what can only be described as a huge shed containing a shit load of junk. Interesting junk. Cobwebbed and unexplained junk.  Still, had I not gone, I wouldn't have realised that the original headstones belonging to the two soldiers killed during the breakout were actually there. At the time they were buried, they hadn't been awarded the King George Cross so the original stones were eventually replaced with the King George Cross carved in place of the original simple Calvary cross.

A quick lunch at historic Carcoar, More like Stepford or some Stephen King abandoned village where vampires lie waiting for sunset or creepy people peer out from lace covered windows. The place was a ghost town apart from a small cafe where he who eats everything tackled his first Aussie Meat Pie and Sauce. Thumbs up apparently. Although the American version of a milk shake is what we call a Thick Shake. Ah the lovely losses in translation. More about food later. 

He drove home and I can safely say has totally mastered the wrong side of the road.  Mastery of my camera however is pending. I have a load of shots of dusty windows and rooftops as we wizz past in the car.

Looking over the Grose Valley at Govett's Leap

Shipley Valley (Looks like Hawaii apparently)

Shipley Plateau
Japanese Gardens Cowra
Reluctant but I nabbed him!
Thank you to the touring couple behind me who made him pose for the pic Mwahahahahaha!

One of 26 POW Camps in Aust. during WW2

What was once the main drag at the POW Camp, Cowra

Japanese War Cemetery

Cowra Fun Museum (oh really?)

Well they're having fun
Meat Pie and Sauce (Usually eaten with fingers but we were in a cafe)

Carcoor - lights were on but nobody home

Got the knack - wipers left/indicators right
For the intrepid one's take on things, pop over to Irreverent Irrelevance. 


Jill from Killeny Glen said...

What an adventure you two are having! That meat pie looks delicious and it has me wondering if Aussie's serve everything up with fries like they do here in the states. (Gets a little old.)

The photo of the Japanese Gardens Cowra is AMAZING. POSTCARD PERFECT.

Betsy said...

Oh, fun! And so nice to know Jeff's face isn't really blue! lol!

PattiKen said...

Aren't you in danger of exceeding your limit of four?

The Japanese Gardens are beautiful.

And how could anything that is fat-free, low carb, fairly low sodium, high in B vitamins and folate NOT be a food?

Ocean Girl said...

Sounds like the most fun adventure and Australia is such a beautiful country. And he's kinda good looking (smiles).

kj said...

oh oh oh hells.

this is fantastic. what a week, what a trip. i am LOVING reading what you two are doing. very well planned if i do say on your behalf.

i cannot wait to read jeff's description. does he know you and i are real deal friends? :^)

i enjoyed this too much to even comment on the gorgeous scenery.


Kath Lockett said...

What a hostess you are Baino! I've never been to any of those places but feel as though I was invited along for the ride.

I now feel like a pie and chips.....

Anonymous said...

He looks young. You don't.

nick said...

Having been to Katoomba and the Blue Mountains, I have to agree with Mr Hair that they're not that spectacular, just quite pretty. I suspect the really stunning places are well off the normal tourist trails and call for a 1000-mile round trip. Through crocodile-infested swamps.

Bimbimbie said...

Hope the NSW tourist board appreciate your mighty international efforts Baino*!*

i beati said...

???????I think I like this guy

Kate Hanley said...

I didn't realize this reading Jeff's posts but it must have been pretty cool visiting all those sites with him since you both wrote Pearl Harbor together. I do hope you guys expand that story, there's a lot there. The trip sounds fun and adventurous, looking forward to more posts.

Roy said...

Hmmmmmm... Our definitions of "fun" seem to be different; if I found a barn full of junk I'd be in seventh heaven. Think of all the treasures, often exquisitely photogenic treasures, hidden in there! Heh, heh.

As for Vegemite... (((shudder)))

River said...

I have hair envy. The Jeffster has lovely tresses.

Nice roaming around with you two.

Janice said...

I am so enjoying your pictures of your adventuring. What fun.

ashleigh said...

I think I've been to the Japanese Gardens at Cowra, and that shed full of crap - a long time ago. Your photos look eerily familiar.

Now... if you are going through Lithgow, you could have gone to the old World War 2 Shale Oil refinery at Glen Davis. A fair drive over ordinary roads... but great for industrial ruins. (And an oil refinery built from bricks instead of stainless steel - interesting stuff).

Mim said...

I love reading both blogs and descriptions of your travels. Its like having two conversations - but your pictures are better!

Tom said...

fantastic stuff, especially the gardens

Carolina said...

You do realize that you can expect lots of blogfriends to visit you now, don't you? You could open a guesthouse and leave the 'no vacancies' sign out for ever. Stunning scenery. Interesting museum. Very interesting museum actually. I like quirky places like that, even if they make me feel slightly unsettled ;-)

Gledwood said...

did the man's hair kind of look bouffanted like a mini margaret thatcher?

i like those japanese gardens, quite magnificent

Jay said...

Oooh - I remember Lamingtons from NZ! They were delicious, and also BIG! I also have to say that we have thick shakes here in England too. Not usually as cold as they do them in the US, unless you go to McD's.

The Cowra Fun Museum does look fun! I'd love to wander around it's cobwebbed halls!