Sunday, 9 July 2017

Finishing at the Great Lakes

So I am now back home and offer a little about the last day at Topi and the drive back.

We decided on a quiet last day with no outings planned, other than a longish dog-walk in the morning.  This was to go down Barbie Rd, travelling a bit further than we had on Monday.  The walk tothe start of Topi Rd was uneventful as was the stretch on Wattlely Hill Rd, although spotting a flowering Glycine clandestina suggested that Spring was well within view here.
That has led me to compare the weather at Forster with Carwoola.  (I have used Forster as that is where I can get temperature data from the BoM.)  Here is a chart of temperature extremes by month.
For both maximums and minimums Forster is less variable than Carwoola, although the difference is far more marked for maxima.  I suspect that Topi, although only 12km inland and 22m higher, was about halfway between these values - based largely on the amount of frost we found on the morning dog walks.  So with that in mind, a more moderate temperature regime and day length having turned the corner could well be getting things to contemplate extending the species.  (I note also that the amount of vocalisation by the Pied Butcherbirds in particular suggested they had something amorous in their mind.)

We extended the walk along Barbies Rd finding a small (~30cm) long dark former snake on the road.  From consulting my biggest reptile reference I have concluded it is a Black-bellied Marsh Snake (Hemiaspis signata) since size, colouration and habitat all match.
Many of the large trees on Barbies Rd were in flower leading to a lot of calling by Noisy Friarbirds and Rainbow Lorikeets.  I suspect there were other species mixed up there as well, but the foliage and blossom were so dense it was pretty well impossible to see what was occurring.
I took this image back on Wattley Hill Rd as I was impressed with the way someone (not me, but I do agree) has scratched out the reference to bikes.  The military air-heads make quite enough noise without weekend bogans getting in on the act.
I went for a further explore of the property hoping to find some more easily accessible orchids or to track down a pigeon I had sort of heard calling a couple of times (with a possible ID of Bar-shouldered Dove).  Neither of these were successful.  I did notice quite a lot of Lantana growing around the place and just beginning to flower.
 The big trees here are (I think) mainly Angophora sp. and Eucalyptus grandis.  While not as big as The Grandis (tallest tree in NSW located halfway to Bulahdelah) their tall straight white trunks are very impressive as they seem to get to about 20m before any branches come off.
In the afternoon we decided to drive to the beach at Seal Rocks for a short walk and a last fix of sand. While the surfers beach is canophobic (presumably because of the nearby campground) the next beach (Boat Beach) is an on-leash area.  We had a pleasant stroll there and I was most impressed by the colour on the softer parts of this Silver Gull: it is easy to see why the New Zealanders call it the Red-legged Gull.

 A pelican posed nicely.
 The rocks between the two beaches looked nice with a sunset happening behind them.
This motorhome appeared to be the haunt of a French family doing a world tour.  The lines of icons from the front door to the back wheel are national flags: they seem to have covered most of South and Central America before Australia (although I presume they didn't use this vehicle over there).
So the next morning we packed (which took a surprising amount of time) and set off for Toronto where we planned to visit a friend from Carwoola who had moved there about a year ago.

This all worked well including crossing the Hunter River ...
... until we got to a major intersection with very few street names of any description and none that featured on our directions.  I think the problem was that my looking at maps had suggested at this point we came to a sharp right hand bend, but what was actually there was a t-intersection.  So I took a guess, which was wrong, and we went about 10 minutes out of our way.   Once we were able to stop and consult the maps on my phone we were able to find our way back to the site of the problem  and thence to our destination.

Their house is in a fantastic location on the shore of Lake Macquarie with "absolute Lake frontage".  After a most enjoyable period of catching up we headed off with details of how to get back to the M1 which we managed to achieve with no difficulty.  For once it was my way and the highway and we rumbled on, and despite the surprisingly heavy traffic the average fuel consumption continued to show below 9l/100km.  I should note that we filled up at the Metro station in Pacific Palms (112.9 c/l) and greatly enjoyed driving past all the places in Sydney asking upwards of 130 c/l.

Getting to the end of the motorway I totally misread the signs - desperately wanting to avoid Parramatta -  and was heading towards the City when Frances pointed out the significance of the word "Canberra"on the signs.  Oops - nearly OOOPS - and onto Pennant Hills Rd.  More rumbling until - remembering a time when I missed the right turn on to the M2 I came close to turning right an intersection early which would have taken us to Windsor.  Oops - nearly OOOPS - and thank you very much to the nice blond lady who flashed her lights to let me get back to where I wanted to go.

No more excitements - just a mild bit of annoyance that there were roadworks on Tarago Rd which meant we got stuck behind a ute, which was going to Plains Rd so we followed it for about 40kms.  We got home at 5:45, well dark, with a temperature of 8C.  After doing 650km since filling up we still had about 1/3rd of a tank of diesel.

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