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Monday, April 25, 2011

April 21 - 25th , 2011 – Pittwater and Newcastle friends and fun!

Palm Beach – it’s not just in Florida – in Pittwater is just one of dozens of amazing anchorages in this part of Pittwater. We grabbed a mooring ball and awaited the arrival of our friends from Sydney the next morning. When they all arrived we found a happy surprise…Tuppenny was among them. After introductions to the gang they announced that we would be actually spending the night at America Bay! So off we sailed around the head back to the Hawksbury River side of Broken Bay. That night was to be a potluck dinner aboard two of the yachts that were rafted to a buoy. Since we’d had no idea there was an actual agenda and this was news to us, I contributed the dinner I had already prepared for Frank and I: skewered lamb souvlaki with homemade tzakiki and green beans sautéed with garlic and almond slivers. We used the lamb as appetizers for the group.  We feasted on a multitude of goodies and finished up with someone’s birthday cake (another surprise for us – but great fun!), then sat around chatting, until late into the night. What a great bunch this Middle Harbour Yacht Club is.

The next day, we all moved over to Cottage Point for breakfast and then the group dispersed so that everyone could do their own thing. Heather and Mark came aboard for the night with us and we returned to America Bay for the night. Early Sunday morning they all left for Sydney. Russell phoned to say that Jan and Tom were back in town and that they were coming over on Tomkat for a visit and to Spend Sunday night. Frank and I were exhausted and had planned a very early departure for Newcastle but looked forward to seeing Jan and Tom, so we found our second wind.  They arrived with a couple of friends on board and an absolute heap of food and drinks, rafted up to us and once again we feasted and visited into the wee hours.

As promised, we awoke at 5 AM on Monday, Anzac Day, gently cast off from Tomkat and whispered goodbye to Kate and Russell who had awaken to see us off.  We enjoyed a fabulous day of sailing up to Newcastle, arriving with the incoming tide as planned. Newcastle is another of Australia’s hidden secrets. Whoever plans a trip to Australia that includes Newcastle? Unless you travel by yacht you probably would not give it a lot of thought. Originally for us it was just another stop along the way to break up the trip along the coast.

The second largest city in New South Wales (NSW), Newcastle is one of the largest shipping ports in Australia and is currently the largest coal-exporting harbor in the world. Its Aboriginal name is Muloobimba. It has a richly colonial and violent history, including convicts used as laborers, suffering and hard times, but as with many of these fascinating cities this history lends to the charm and attraction of its modern self. 

Our first order of business (always) was to hit the grocery store. As we were checking out I wished the young cashier, “Happy Anzac Day!” and expressed my condolences that he had to work on this big holiday. He replied, “Oh, no worries, I’m not complaining because I’m making $53/hour today!” Uh, no wonder our grocery cost so darn much in this country! I’m thinking of getting a job at Coles, myself!  Back at the marina Frank washed down the boat while I trotted off to the laundry room. We didn’t do much the first night, other than bundle up against the cold drizzle and head to the yacht club for dinner. Tomorrow our Newcastle adventures would begin.

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