2019 Aus A Tale of the Unexpected Newcastle
A Tale of the Unexpected
An excited atmosphere engulfed us in Newcastle for the first few days of our visit and we soon learned that the third annual Supercars Rally weekend was in the offing, and thoughts of being able to get to our local, ‘The Grainstore’ were dashed when we found the city centre was being sectioned of with substantial barricades designed to keep these Mustang style cars away from us soft fleshed humans. But that was all a few days away yet.
Our friend Greg, who with his wife Jane, we originally met on the Portugal Rally back in ’14 and stayed with earlier this year if you remember, came over from Jilliby to measure up the job of fitting his Watt&sea wave generator to Zoonie’s transom. Their boat, Orion is being sold at present so they can focus on updating their country home to how they would like it.
I met up with Martina (Peter and Martina of Havachat we met in Fiji last year) over a supermarket shop and the next day went with her to the main hospital where she volunteers on the childrens’ ward so I could have a throat check. When I swallowed it seemed there was something blocking the passage and as this had gone on for some weeks I thought it best to have it looked at. All looked normal above the epiglottis and with advice from the Spanish doctor that if any of a list of symptoms she quoted materialised then I should go immediately to the nearest hospital, “’till then and till you next go home, keep sailing!!”
Greg came back with a bracket he had made to facilitate fitting the wave generator and he and Rob laboured away for a few hours. Rob had already laid all the wire through to the control panel mounted in the aft cabin. When the WG is on it gives out a fairly bright green light from its control box flat top which I thought would be quite enough to keep us awake as it rove around the aft cabin like the green sector of a lighthouse, so Rob then made the cutest hat for it from some grey sunbrella fabric crying out for a job. Rob is holding the spare prop in the photo.
The WG turns as Zoonie moves through the water and means we will have plenty of electricity in the making from the sea as long as Zoonie is moving. So when under sail, when the Hydrovane is producing little and at night when the solar panels won’t produce anything we will be making plenty of green, free, power, enough to keep the batteries charged and run the watermaker and run the auto pilot. Greta Thunberg would be proud!
The noisy, highly anticipated weekend arrived and 28,000 folk paid for the tickets priced in many different ways. Numerous apartment blocks were within the cordoned route of the race and we were invited to a party at the home of some friends of Martina and Peter. But non-residents had to pay an entry ticket even if they were just visiting their friends and at $85 each we thought twice and sneaked a few glimpses of the goings on by standing on walls and peaking between the metal fences. Detoured away from our goal, the pub, we found ourselves in the lofty cathedral that was damaged by an earthquake in the year Zoonie was built, 1989. We wandered on and found ourselves back at the pub on the quay and had just sat down on the balcony for a riverview when an Australian Air Force Hornet jet came and gave a bloodcurdling demonstration right in front of us. Then one of the big, tough tug boats came down the river and gave a superb demonstration of its versatility spinning itself around on its axis and leaning over from one side and then to the other with alarming power. All in all an excellent Rally! CCTV footage later showed that two guys climbed through the barriers to sit on a low fence and enjoy the cars passing just a few metres away and someone flew a drone high up to get a better view of the fighter jet!! Enquiries are ongoing.
One day when Peter and Martina were otherwise busy we walked up the river side, away from our much frequented route to the centre. Newcastle has been an industrial city for many years and we passed what is colloquially called ‘Legoland’, attractive small houses and apartments built on what used to be the vast wool sheds you can see in the photo. Wool, coal, steel, grain and livestock have all passed through to the docks and brought wealth to the city. Now it is coal dust, building site grit and smoke smuts that covered the decks of the moored marina vessels and filled the air we breathe. Soon the area shrank to the narrower Throsby Creek with lots of healthy mangroves. Zoonie is moored where there used to be wild honeysuckle banksia trees producing copious honey, the only thing remaining of those plentiful times is the name and one or two young banksia trees.
The four of us went down to the Bowling Club that evening for a nice cheap meal and beer and Martina and I decided that next day we would make some strawberry jam as trays of strawberry seconds were on sale at the local farmers market for an “I must make jam” price.
We bought four trays and all my jam jars from Zoonie were put to good use. Goody, I can now start collecting again! The two of us set up a conveyor belt process and washed and quartered the red beauties, doing the occasional taste check of course while admiring the view of the ocean from the kitchen window. No whales out there that day just white caps. There are drought conditions out here at the moment so there are bans on washing hard surfaces for example cars and windows. So as we were washing ‘soft’ fruits we were ok and the water went on the thirsty few plants Martina has in her driveway corner garden. ‘Waste not want not’ after all.
One day we went for a beach walk with them followed by a home-made ‘cheerful vegan nacho’ supper from the recipe book ‘ohsheglows’ website. As we ate the sky clouded over and we were engulfed in a violent thunderstorm that rumbled and sparked around us as we munched our nachos and tasted vegan cheese sauce for the first time. We hoped that some of the torrential rain would reach inland and quench the fire but no, the rain stayed by the shore and the lightning inland started three more fires. Nature seems to have lost its temper. Martina is at the Blue Mountains as I type and up there only one trail is open due to the fires.