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)|
|Japanese Gardens Cowra |
|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|