Back down to Sydney today, more friends to visit. Instead of following the Sydney-Newcastle Freeway all the way back, we got off at Mooney Mooney and travelled the almost unused Princess Hwy winding across the cliff faces – in some sections it almost felt like a ‘ghost’ highway.

We eventually made it to Drummoyne after navigating through a mass of Sydney’s no right turn signs, and after a few laps found a park for the van in suburbia.

We tripped into the city for the afternoon to meander around The Rocks, saw the Sapphire Princess docked in the harbour, quite a site to see such a big ship imposing itself on the harbour. We enjoyed an early dinner/really late lunch at Phillip’s Foote cook your own meat restaurant, followed by some light refreshments at some of the local establishments.

Today was spent visiting friends in Newcastle and enjoying the rainy weather Newcastle provided (no really, we did enjoy the rain… sure beats dry and dusty). We visited Strzelecki Lookout and attempted to count the numerous cargo ships docked off the coast… best guess was 14.

We also did a drive by of Warners Bay and also Bar Beach. We filled the rest of the day with shopping. Enjoying an evening meal with our friends.

After a quick pack up this morning we were back on the road by 7:30am – a real record for us. We headed towards the Flagstaff Point Lighthousecoast, instead of heading up the Princess we made our way across to Shellharbour and up the coast line towards Wollongong, we needed a break from the monotonous free way.

We spent an hour or so investigating the light house in Wollongong at Flagstaff Point (Wollongong Head) which was built in 1936 and commenced operation in 1937.

“Flagstaff Hill or Point was named after the flagstaff erected on the headland. Flags where hoisted to inform settlers of shipping movements and to warn incoming ships of sea conditions at the harbour mouth.”

Here we also found this rather large concrete circular hole in the ground which we later discovered to be the remains of a 6Pneumatic Disappearing Gun inch breech loading pneumatic disappearing gun when the point was mounted in 1890 as defence against the threat of possible Russian attack.

Restored Cannon GunsThe site also displayed several cannon guns placed in the area around 1880 which fired a single 31kg ball with a 1600 metre range, these guns where manned by local citizens… I guess these are the locals you try and stay on good terms with for fear of an ‘accidental’ firing.

We then towards Coalcliff to traverse the Sea Cliff Bridge a 655 metre long bridge constructed along side the cliff face over the actual ocean in order replace the existing road which was notorious for rock falls, embankment slipsSea Cliff Bridge and mud/rock slides. The cliff is composed of coal, clay stone and sandstone, with the coal being very weak and eroding rapidly high rainfall and marine erosion.

Sea Cliff Bridge - From A DistanceIn 2003 a large section of the road collapsed and the road was completely closed for 2 and a 1/2 years while the new Sea Cliff Bridge was constructed. The bridge is built out away from the cliff face allowing any new rock falls to pass between the cliff face and roadway down to the ocean. The constructions was completed and road reopening in December 2005.

From here we continued through the Royal National Park to Sydney, navigated our way through the suburbs, under the Sydney Airport and over the Sydney Harbour Bridge – nice fun making all the city drivers give us a wide birth with the caravan in tow. After Sydney we worked our way back onto the Pacific Hwy and arrived in New Castle around 4:00pm – over 8 hours for around 400km.

After a disagreement with a caravan park in Southport (across the river mouth from Newcastle) over their no dog policy really meaning no pets what-so-ever we ended up in a small caravan park at Raymond Terrace for the night (about 30km north of Newcastle).

Well….. we finally left the creature comforts behind in Wodonga today. By the time we got on the road it was about 1:30pm! Our plan was to make it to somewhere around Mittagong for the night. As usual the Hume Highway was very monotonous. Roadworks, trucks, more roadworks and even more roadworks.30012008014.jpg30012008011.jpg

On the way we pulled into Gundagai for a break and had a quick look at the Historic Bridges. Quite interesting really. I don’t recall having been into the actual township before! The following link gives more info on the bridges if you’re interested Gundagai Historic Bridges

We called in at Yass to stock up on some groceries and made it to Berrima at around 8:30 where we called it quits for the day.

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