Thursday, 27 February 2014

Shellharbour trip part 1

As Frances had a week off guiding and the weather seemed reasonable we decided to take the camper for a trip to the Illawarra coast.  We wanted to visit the area and still need further practice in putting it up.  It turned out the reasonableness of the weather included strong winds, which made life a little tricky, but we did get it erected in 45 minutes, which was definitely a personal best.  Here it is.
The campground was pretty crowded ..
.. and the site we scored was about the smallest around, but we fitted.  I got a bit panicked that I was blocking the road while setting up, but it seems that everyone has to do that so people don't get agitated.

The other folk we spoke to were very pleasant, and all seemed much more experienced than us.  Many of them had small dogs which gave Tammy much to look, and occasionally sniff, at.

On the drive we were initially amused by the new road safety adverts "Keep your hand off it." followed by a second phrase referring to mobile phones.  Clearly someone in the RTA has a sense of humour (for the benefit of younger, or international, readers the phrase in question references onanism, a favourite topic of semi-risque jokes in Australia).  While the joke was a bit tired after the 20th repetition it was still better than the famous 'Pinkie' ad.

We chose to go via the Hume and Illawarra Highways.  The latter passes through Robertson where we found the price of diesel to be about 4 cents a litre less than anywhere else (even after shopper docket discounts).  This led on to the Macquarie Pass: a most scenic route.

One of the bends (15kph advisory) required a bit of thought and justified the warning signs about "beware of trucks on bends".  Towards the bottom we met a semi-trailer going up and expressed thanks we hadn't met it earlier.  (Our neighbours in the campground were going to head UP the pass with a much bigger van en route to Cowra.  I tried to explain to them about the easier route through Nerriga but it got too complicated: see the departure from Nowra in part 2 for more on this.)

Our first stop - more of an extended pause - was in Albion Park, at the foot of the escarpment.
 Having snapped the War Memorial we concluded that we had 'done' Albion Park and headed towards Shellharbour.  On arrival we were somewhat appalled at the look of the place.  Exactly what the late Pete Seeger had in mind when he sang "Little boxes".  As Frances said it was like Gungahlin with a better view!  It was interesting that although vegetation had been extirpated in the gardens the roads were flanked by high hedges so that the horror of what was inside was not apparent!
The Shellharbour Council was busy putting up signs banning dogs from most everywhere, but apparently it was OK to have a dog on lead on the beach despite what was suggested here.
A coment from Birdline NSW (21 January 2013), referring to Shellharbour Swamp.
"It is terrible that another good habitat is going to be lost for good. Hopefully this single Snipe can have something to say before that happens, and our environment minister will show some guts and actually protect the environment."
I like the sentiment but pity someone whose hopes must be dashed on a daily basis by what passes for Government in NSW.  Let us go and visit the burg and see what occurs!  The Swamp was thoroughly fenced off, with nasty warning signs, but work was still going on to build the unnecessary marina.
Not happy.

So we went off to Port Kembla, home of the steel works.  This was an intensely interesting place.  The works were most impressive- possibly what the brutalist architects were aiming for.
This building seemed have Jeffrey Smart's ideas all over it!
So if your entry is "Uncontrolled" its OK to go in?
I don't know if they still have a blast furnace there but this was an impressive industrial cloud!
We ended up at the outer harbour with a good view of the coast South.
And across the water to the industrial area..
A couple of Crested Terns were chilling on the rocks of the breakwater.
We walked along the breakwater (approximately 1.1km), presuming that the railway lines were installed to allow the deposition of the huge concrete blocks.    This was another area with signs which appeared to prohibit entry, but a local said it was OK and we did see others walking along or fishing.
On the subject of fishing these lads were having a good time at the ramp.  Note the angle of the rod held by the guy in the water.  He landed a rather nice fish shortly after I took this.
I gave obfuscated the faces in case any of the anglers had called in sick or taken leave to bury their granny.  The kite surfer's face cannot be seen, but I suspect from the skill he was showing he spends a lot of time here!  On occasion - I think when he hit a wave - he was getting about 4m up in the air, which I have not seen before.
A nearby hilltop was covered by these objects which turned out to be tetragonal tank traps laid on beaches during the Second Great Unpleasantness.  They would be ineffective if faced with a small dog invasion.
We then visited the RSL to photograph the War Memorial.  I was surprised about the condition of the place: falling to bits and the grass not mown.  
The words on the wall appeared ironic given the background available from the Illawarra Mercury about recent history of the club.  More recently the executive of the RSL sub-branch had been sacked for some silly business,  A great pity as a lot of work had gone into the layout of the memorial.

We proceeded back over the bridge at Windang and took a few snaps of the bus shelters around Shellharbour.

While excellently done they do seem to break the rule that getting locals to decorate such infrastructure keeps the talentless taggers away.

Other infrastructure int he area included  a very pleasant looking pool beside the sea ....
.. while the path - dare one call it a promenade - was well decorated with motifs about marine life.
The small park had good fig trees and a bandstand..
This sign was a bit of a worry.  It wasn't clear if the contamination was from what got washed off the sweaty bodies in the pool of an insufficiently deep discharge from the municipal effluent scheme,

Our fish and chips had no ill effects on us.  But then I suspect the barrmundi wasn't caught locally (although global warming ....).

The design of the pub was very pleasant.  Note the angle of the LH palm tree: the wind was still howling.
I had an ordinary nights sleep with the noise of the wind, waves, and some industrial pump noise.  When I went to check the latter item (mainly to check it wasn't the fridge in the camper having a moment) it seemed to be someone doing something in a grilled area adjacent to the pool.  Possibly this was something to do with the sign up above?

Anyhow, the next morning we walked up the main drag to acquire some baked material for breakfast and found the War Memorial.  Extremely well maintained and interesting.

I Googled the name of the ship mentioned in this memorial and found a very interesting tale.  You may read it yourself -it is well worthwhile - but the most interesting element is that the four dead soldiers were not from the ship, but a detachment of locals sent to assist in the rescue!

So we left Shellharbour and hit the Princes Highway heading for Kiama.
Step this way to part 2!


Mark Grogan said...

That's a gorgeous take of the sights in Shellharbour. It's still one of my favourite areas in Sydney to visit when I have a little time off on the weekends from work. Juts to go and clear my head and take a break from it all.

Flabmeister said...

Thanks Mark. It was a lovely place, just a pity that the caravan park was so crowded (and the developers seem keen on wreaking their usual devastation on the area).