THE CENTRAL COAST :: NEW SOUTH WALES
THE CENTRAL COAST OF NSW IS KNOWN AS SYDNEY'S NICEST BEDTOWN, BUT THERE IS SO MUCH MORE TO THE PLACE THAN COMMUTERS. Visit Woy Woy, the former haunt of British comedian Spike Milligan, who once described this as "the only graveyard in the world where the dead live above ground". My parents live up the road at Umina Beach looking across the bay to Lion Island and Palm Beach, the habitat of reclusive Sydney movie stars. Just as in Sydney, there is a snob factor at work at the Central Coast -- generally the more southerly you live, the wealthier (and more socially sophisticated you are). It is worth pointing out again: my parents live near Woy Woy at Umina Beach at the southernmost threshold of the Central Coast, just across the bay from Sydney's Palm Beach. It is a boring as hell neighbourhood but I try to stay here at least once a year. I have lived at the other end of the coast too, up in the wild Wyong Shire, near the infamous caravan park at Tuggerawong. My parents at the time were running the discount grocery store there, and they had their fare share of run-ins with murders and other nefarious crimes.
CATHERINE HILL BAY
THIS IS NOT ONLY ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL AND WILD AND PHOTOGENIC PARTS OF THE CENTRAL COAST, BUT IT IS ALSO A PLACE STEEPED IN THE WORKING CLASS HISTORY OF THE 19th CENTURY. The village is named after the Catherine Hill, a schooner wrecked here in 1867. Coal was discovered and mined by the New Wallsend Company which bought up the land, built a jetty and opened the mine in 1873. Back in those glory days about 1000 tons of coal a week were taken by horse-drawn skips from the mine to a loading chute on the jetty. That has all faded today -- but to my mind, there is nothing more enchanting than ghostruins from the past. Especially anywhere near the coast with its frequent salty gusts, any ruin is priceless. And Catherine Hill Bay is a ruin. Of a very friendly kind.
The last time I was there I took this photo from the nearby Munmorah National Park, which is a fabulous place with a retro Aussie beach holiday vibe. While we were there, watching the crows battle eagles in the sky, we were treated to an inpromptu flyover by Australian Air Force jets from the nearby air base. It seemed to be a particularly popular place for fishermen of all nationalities, and the seas off the rocks looked lethally strong and dangerous. Container ships sat patiently off the shore, waiting for their turn to fill up on minerals at the port north at Newcastle.
The Sydney Morning Herald said thus about Catherine Hill Bay: "Catherine Hill Bay is a quiet old mining village within the City of Lake Macquarie, 119 km north of Sydney via the Newcastle Freeway and the Pacific Highway. Despite the beauty of the bay and its attractive situation in a valley surrounded by high hills and bushland the presence of the rusty iron and lifeless machinery inevitably colours the visitor's perspective of the bay. Certainly Catherine Hill Bay has a very different feel to the gay, busy tourism-based towns of the Central Coast.
"The village is named after the Catherine Hill, a schooner wrecked here in 1867. Coal was discovered and mined by the New Wallsend Company which bought up the land, built a jetty and opened the mine in 1873. The coastal location facilitated shipment and avoided the bar at the entrance to Lake Macquarie. The enterprise employed 70-100 men, whose cottages, still lining the roadside, formed the basis of the nascent township. Approximately 1000 tons of coal a week was taken by horse-drawn skips from the mine to a loading chute on the jetty."
YOU DRIVE NORTH ON THE ENTRANCE ROAD TO GET TO ERINA HEIGHTS. The land originally belonged to William Bean in 1824, who had been granted this stretch of paradise after his arrival in the colony of New South Wales. According to notes from the period, the land here was heavily timbered with "trees of gigantic height". Indeed, some of the tree stumps were so large they could be hollowed out and used as temporary sheds and homes. The area quicly became an important source of hardwood once the Sydney building boom began in the 1860s.
These days, Erina Heights offers visitors an old-world village atmosphere. Beyond the village, you will find remnants of the great hardwood forest that brought prosperity to the place a century ago. Here, among the shadows, is tranquility -- and a reminder of what once was.
Neale Joseph Fine Art Gallery: 1 Old Tuggerah Beach Road, Erina Heights. Phone: 02/4367 3777.
Wildflower Place: 453 The Entrance Rd, Erina Heights. Phone: 02/4365 5510
GOROKAN ("Go Rocking!")
TYPICAL MODERN AUSTRALIAN SUBURBAN SHOPPING CENTRE IN A SLIGHTLY ELEVATED LOCATION NEAR TUGGERAH LAKE, WYONG SHIRE. There is a fish and chips shop there which seems to do a decent trade. The last time I visited with my parents just before Christmas we did pies instead. As is typical in Australia these days, they stuff a lot of things into pies. Even kangaroo meat if you are lucky.
IF YOU TRAVEL AROUND THE NORTHERN REACHES OF THE WYONG SHIRE BY CAR OR BY TRAIN YOU WILL SURELY NOTICE THE TWIN TOWERS OF THE LAKE MUNMORAH POWER STATION, WHICH RISE GREY OVER THE GREYGREEN SCRUB.
Check out these million dollar houses.
THIS IS NOT ONLY ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL AND WILD AND PHOTOGENIC PARTS OF THE CENTRAL COAST, BUT IT IS ALSO A PLACE STEEPED IN THE WORKING CLASS HISTORY
THIS IS NOT REALLY THE CENTRAL COAST PER SE, BUT CLOSE ENOUGH TO VISIT IF YOU ARE COASTSIDE. In the days of the the Awabakal Aborigines who used to live here, this area was called Galgabba. It was said to be an ideal place to live with plenty of sea and fresh water fish, birds and animals to sustain upon.
When the white fellas came they called the area Pelican Flats (can you imagine why?) The present rather more genteel and pretentious name Swansea didn't come about until 1887 following the successful petition work of a local postmaster.
TOUKLEY IS A PLACE IS USED TO WORK, WALK, DREAM, & CONTEMPLATE FOR MYSELF A LIFE IN DISTANT REALMS. Having now reached the distant realms, it is always interesting for me to go back there, and recall past days. As places go, it is a nice place to base yourself, if you want to dream of other worlds. My first Toukley memory:
++-+ FESTIVALS. There are loads of festivals held at Bondi Beach. Last year my visit coincided with the annual Festival of the Winds, held on the second Sunday of September. This is Australia's largest and most exciting kite flying festival, featuring hundreds of kites of all shapes and sizes from local and international makers and flyers. This is just one festival out of many. For a more comprehensive list of Australian festivals and events, click here.
--+- SHOPPING. Street markets are all the rage in Sydney, and Bondi Beach has its share. The Bondi Beach Market is held every Sunday in the grounds of Bondi Beach Public School (phone 02/9398 5486). At nearby Bondi Junction, a market is held from 10am-5pm in the Oxford Street Mall (phone 016/288 907.) There is also a night market held at Roscoe Mall on Campbell Pde, Thrusday-Sunday, from 5pm. The goods here are mainly cotten wear, jewellery and leather.
++-+ NIGHTLIFE. The daylife in Bondi centers around the beach, as it rightly should. One Brit Downunder hinted at the problem when he wrote:
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SOME GENERAL HINTS FOR BACKPACKERS AND WORKING HOLIDAY MAKERS IN AUSTRALIA.
++-+ Australia is part of the Working Holiday Maker (WHM) visa scheme. This program provides opportunities for resourceful, self-reliant and adaptable young people to holiday in Australia and to supplement their funds through incidental employment. The visa allows a stay of up to 12 months from the date of first entry to Australia, regardless of whether or not you spend the whole time in Australia. Currently, Australia welcomes over 85,000 working holiday makers every year!
--+- Canada, the Netherlands, the Republic of Ireland, Japan, Korea, Malta, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Cyprus, Italy, Belgium and France. Only applicants from these countries who are aged between 18 and 30 years and without dependent children are eligible to apply for a Working Holiday visa.
--+- If you have a working holiday visa, or are a student intending to work, you should obtain a tax file number (TFN). You can apply for this in person, or online at the Tax Office's website. If you start work before getting your TFN, you have 28 days to provide it to your employer. When you stop work, ask your employer for a payment summary showing your total income and the amount of tax withheld, as you will need this to complete your compulsory tax return.
++-+Temporary residents are able to access their retirement savings (superannuation) upon permanent departure from Australia. For more information please visit the Australian Taxation Office's website. --+- Backpacker jobs available in Australia include: Waiting in restaurants and bars, labouring and building work, shop assistant and retail jobs, nursing, nanny and cleaning services, office temping, fruit picking, and other farm work such as jackeroo'ing.
++-+ Those looking for work downunder should register with online employment services such as seek.com.au and mycareer.com.au.
Link this one -- the coastal photo ring.