11th November. Leaving Sydney.

Another wet day.

We needed to check out by 1130 after that there’s a $50 charge.

We also decided to cash all the Travellers Cheques, preferring to carry the cash and run the risk of loosing it rather than keep trying to use the cheques.

Cashing the cheques at the Bank took an age and cost us another $8 for the privilege, plus I helped myself to a sweet from the jar on the counter, which cost me another $2 as they weren’t in fact free.

We also bought a SIM card for the old Nokia phone so we can make local calls, mainly to Georgia. This was an easy process costing $10 and the lady set it all up for us, we did need to show our passports again which seems a bit odd but Hey Ho!

Back at the apartment we found the call to Lloyds Bank using the room phone had cost me $119, more than it would have cost if I’d used my mobile. Thanks Lloyd’s.

The taxi picked us up outside the apartment but the driver wasn’t sure where the Hertz office was even when we gave him the paperwork as it said ‘Airport’ and there is an International and a Domestic Airport, however, both are served by the same Hertz rental office so it was Ok. We had a bit of a scare when they said the credit card didn’t work but a very nice Scottish lady (have I ever said a bad word about the Scots) explained to her colleague that English cards need a pin or they aren’t accepted. It appear that in Australia they expect a credit card to work without a signature or a pin being supplied?

They kindly gave us some written instructions explaining how to get out of the airport and onto the Pacific Highway though this went in the bin almost instantly when it said take a right at the first set of lights. Actually it was the second set but it was at least close.

Working from instinct we found our way through Sydney, over the Sydney Bridge and onto the Pacific Highway without too much trouble.

The Landscape, once we left Sydney was very dull, mile after mile of Eucalyptus trees and scrub, often blackened from recent fires.

Our destination was the Riverside Motel, Karuah which we booked on line using Hotels.com for 3 reasons.

It was reasonably priced

It wasn’t too far to drive on the first day

It was in Port Stephen which the travel books said was a’Must See’

However, Port Stephen doesn’t actually exist. It is an area (mainly consisting of lakes) not a place. Karuah sits on a loop in the road that goes through the town and out again, which is probably the best part of Karuah.

The Motel was fine though with good size rooms, clean and comfortable, good clean showers with hot water and a ‘Guard Bird’ in the car park. This bird has young in a nest in a palm tree right outside our room and swoops within inches of your head screeching like a fool.

There isn’t much in Karuah and what there was was closed on a Monday so eating was a bit limited.

ImageThe wildlife was prolific, with enough birds to keep Bill Oddie off his medication for weeks. We watched a large flock of Parakeets trying to roost though they squabbled like a Tory party conference, each trying to get the best spot. There were some long legged wading birds that mistook the Highway for a river and didn’t seem to have long left in this life, plus we saw our first Wallabies when we drove into Hawks Nest earlier in the day. A nice place, nice beach, no soul.

The local Fish and. Chip shop was open so we had ‘Barramundi’ in breadcrumbs with chips and fresh lemon juice sat outside the room using the air conditioning unit as a table whilst watching the guard bird do his thing.

We were honoured to have such a fine meal as it isn’t available any other day of the week, ‘Bar a Monday’. Boom boom.

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