We spent Wednesday morning driving from one garage to another. The chap at the auto electrician recommended by the NRMA saviour was most helpful, however was unable to diagnose the problem there and then. He suggested we get back to him when we return in February and it looks like this might be the best solution. We did call into the Toyota franchise; they were busy until Thursday next week and not very helpful at all. The turn off was probably a good thing anyway; you can guarantee their charges would have been a whole lot more than Dino’s. In the meantime, the cruiser has started each time without incident which make us wonder if we imagined the whole affair!
We spent the latter part of the morning at the Hazelhurst Regional Art Gallery enjoying an exhibition of works by local artists but most of all, the free exhibition of work by Brett Whiteley titled “Brett Whiteley on the Water”. It would appear the inspiration of his work was not some hideous inner turmoil but rather a penchant for hallucinagenic drugs. These finished him off rather prematurely at the youthful age of fifty three, which is a shame because we liked his work immensely. He is, of course, one of Australia’s favourite artistic sons.
The afternoon was spent fiddling about with matters relating to our impending trip when it really would have been better spent doing a good long walk. The weather was just beautiful even if rather blustery.
Yesterday was yet another superb day weather wise and we made the most of our last opportunity to go touring for the year. With lunch packed, yet again, we caught the train into the city, firstly to Central and then on to Circular Quay. Two cruise ships were in the harbour yesterday, the massive Carnival Spirit at Circular Quay and the Pacific Pearl around the corner at Barangaroo. On the quay, we filled time listening to a didgeridoo player and watched the cruise ship tourists posing with “Uncle Max”, an elderly aboriginal chap, wrinkled, painted and wearing nothing but a nappy arrangement, for photos. The didgeridoo player was similarly painted and clothed, however spoke well (in English) and was running quite a professional little tourist attraction; no pressure for tips and CD sales but encouraging none the less.
Soon it was time to catch the ferry to Cockatoo Island, a short trip of no more than ten minutes or so. There was a brisk breeze blowing, I was glad we had packed warmer clothing for ourselves.
Cockatoo Island covers eighteen hectares, and is just 500 metres long and 360 metres wide and makes for an excellent day trip or for those in a hurry, a few hours, so long as you check out the ferry timetable. The island has had a varied history and it is that history, and the fact that it is now open to the public that makes it such an excellent destination. That terminology suggests that one might go spend a day or weekend, even a week there, and so you can if it takes your fancy. There are heritage homes available for holiday rent and numerous safari tents for camping. For ourselves, a couple of hours did the trick.
European history has seen Cockatoo Island a prison, a reformatory, a naval dock-yard and a great ship building and industrial enterprise.
In 1839 the island was established as a prison, as an alternative to the overcrowding of those further up the coast. Convicts excavated the sandstone cliffs and from 1847 constructed Fitzroy Dock.
In 1871 an Industrial School for Girls was opened, and orphaned or homeless boys began receiving some naval training on the Vernon, anchored off-shore. To recognise the change in use, the island was renamed Biloela.
Shipbuilding began on the island in 1870. In 1913 Cockatoo Island became the Naval Dockyard of the Royal Australian Navy. By World War I over 150 dredges, barges and tugs had been built and at the peak of World War I, some 4,000 men were employed on the island.
Naval architects, engine and electrical draughtsmen and tracers worked in the Estimating and Drawings Offices. Full scale moulds were created in the Mould Loft and then sent down to workers below for fabrication. In the Pattern Storage and Joiners Shop, practically all wooden furniture, fittings and linings installed in ships were crafted and constructed by workers on Cockatoo Island.
As World War II approached, the tempo of activity increased and continued for the duration of the war. Merchant ships and luxury liners were converted to troop transports, stores and hospital ships. Cockatoo Island’s contribution to the war effort was enormous.
After World War II, a large labour force continued to build and refit ships and submarines until changing economic conditions led to the closure of the island in 1992.
In 1979, the contract was signed for the construction of the last ship to be built on Cockatoo Island, the HMAS Success, the largest naval vessel built in Australia.
Since 2001 Cockatoo Island has been managed on behalf of the Australian people by the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust.
We decided that we would run with an idea hatched earlier in the day, to call in to the Brett Whiteley Studio situated in Surrey Hills, a fifteen walk from Central railway station. Central is quite a maze if you are trying to target a particular spot outside the station, however we managed to find ourselves outside the Devonshire Street exit without too much difficulty and started on our way. Chris stopped and asked to see the brochure again. Oh dear, we discovered that our cursory examination of the promotional literature had failed to note that the studio is open only from Friday to Sunday. Yesterday was Thursday.
We returned to the station and caught the train back to Miranda, to the camp where we dined on a motley lot of perishable foodstuffs still remaining, after receiving confirmation that our sons and their families were quite safe. They both live and work in West Auckland where a deadly tornado struck this afternoon.
And so here we are today, almost packed and almost ready to move the rig across the park on to storage. We will spend our last night without power and with just a minimum of matters to be attended to tomorrow morning.
We will be gone for a couple of months and I shall add nothing more to this journal until then. And so I will wish you, the reader, a safe and happy holiday season and may the new year, 2013, be a fabulous one, a healthy and happy one, for all of us.