Brad and Mandy Pearce

Brad and Mandy are a couple of '50 somethings' who enjoy travelling and plan to see as much of the world while we still can.
Living in: New South Wales, Australia
  • Day5

    Armidale-Dorrigo-Coffs Harbour

    August 2 in Australia ⋅ ⛅ 9 °C

    A foggy start as we left Armidale this morning travelling along the Waterfall Way. First stop Wollomombi Falls and guess what no water. Dramatic gorge though. Next stop though at Ebor Falls was a different story - upper and lower falls that were flowing nicely. Heading down through to Dorrigo it is obvious they have had a fair bit of rain - quite a contrast to only 50km up the range.

    The Rainforest Centre is very nice and some great walks in the area through lush rainforest. Brad even saw a Regent Bowerbird (we were told that's what it was - we didn't know), a very elusive bird that was unfortunately too quick for him to get a photo. The walk to Crystal Shower Falls and Tristiana Falls required quite a bit of effort - 40mins downhill and almost an hour back up. At the end of the day we had walked over 20000 steps, 13+ km and over 100 floors. No wonder we are tired.

    Well, first road trip is almost over - just a few hours to home calling into a couple of coastal villages we have never been to before. The car went well and we enjoyed exploring a small section of our country.
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  • Day4

    Coonabarabran - Armidale

    August 1 in Australia ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C

    Very cold night in Coonabarabran but by the time we drove to a lookout in the Warrumbungles it was a beautiful morning, perfect for views over the ranges. Many of the walks in the Warrumbungles take several hours so we chose just a short walk, about 1km, and very easy . Great views and very peaceful. Back in 2013 the entire area was severely burnt out but the bush is regenerating itself nicely.

    On the edge of the Warrumbungle National Park is Siding Springs Observatory which has the largest telescope in Australia. There was an extensive information display regarding space and planets and black holes and super novas etc. but really it was all to technical for me.... information overload. For me one of the most interesting displays was a representation of what a litre of milk would weigh on different planets including the sun and moon. On the moon it is very light but on the sun we would not even pick it up.

    This area also has the world's largest virtual solar system display being 1:38million in size. The observatory represents the sun and in several directions there are sign boards representing different planets. Earth was close to the observatory (about 3km), Jupiter was about 30km away near Coonabarabran, while Neptune was at Gilgandra.

    From Coonabarabran we drove to Armidale via Gunnedah and Tamworth. The countryside just seems to be getting drier and drier. In some areas it is down to bare dirt, no grass cover at all.

    Tomorrow we head along the Waterfall Way from Armidale to Coffs Harbourand promises to be a very beautiful drive.
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  • Day3

    Dubbo-Gilgandra-Coonabarabran

    July 31 in Australia ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    Stayed overnight at a great caravan park in Dubbo, had a meal at the local "bowlo" and very impressed with the super friendly country hospitality we have experienced everywhere we went. Visitors to Dubbo usually attend its most famous tourist attraction - The Taronga Western Plains Zoo - but not us as we have been to the zoo many years ago. Instead we went to the Old Dubbo Gaol which was really interesting and a very well done display.

    Heading towards Coonabarabran, we stopped for lunch at Gilgandra near the visitors centre. We poked our head into the visitors centre and discovered an extensive display on the Gilgandra Cooee March - something I had vaguely heard of but didn't know much about it. In 1915 the idea was for a group of young men march from Gilgandra to Sydney, recruiting others for the war effort along the way. They started with 30 men and about 250 men arrived in Sydney. Can you imagine something like that happening today? Didn't actually take any photos of the Cooee March though.

    The plan was to do some sightseeing around the Warrumbungles however we arrived a bit too late in the afternoon and decided to do that exploration in the morning. It's been great just taking our time and making new plans as we go. Countryside in this area is very, very dry - desperately in need of rain. Not much stock around either, in fact the largest mob we saw was a mob of emus at an emu farm. I've never seen so many emus in one spot.
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  • Day2

    Orange-Parkes-Peak Hill

    July 30 in Australia ⋅ ⛅ 10 °C

    It was quite chilly and overcast this morning in Orange. Left our accommodation heading for the Pinnacle lookout at Mt Canobolas. Quite a few steps to the top but rewarded with a great view - would be fantastic on a sunny day. As we moved further north the sun came out and it was quite pleasant.

    Drove towards Parkes, specifically to see the Parkes Radio Telescope. Brad was in his element (anything to do with space or war). We watched a 3D movie regarding telescopes and space etc. which was quite interesting. I was quite intrigued with the whispering dishes - 2 x 3m dishes set about 50m apart. One person whispered into one and the sound travelled clear as a bell to the other person.

    From there we went to Peak Hill for the Gold Mine Experience. Basically an open cut gold mine that we wandered around to various view points. For some reason we seemed to be going uphill a lot.... we certainly got our exercise today.

    The country so far is quite green although not much grass. Even saw a paddock of bright yellow flowers (canola?) that looked magnificent next to the other green crops. Seemed quite early in the season for them to be flowering.
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  • Day1

    Cowra

    July 29 in Australia ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C

    Picked up our new car last Friday and after visiting Dad, then Luke in Queanbeyan we commenced our road trip.

    Heading towards Orange, we passed through Cowra and spent a couple of hours finding out a bit of history of the Cowra breakout. There was a terrific little holographic display in the visitors centre which got us up to speed with the events that happened in the POW camp in 1944. We checked out the World Peace Bell with both of us ringing it - makes a lovely dong. Then we went to the site of the Cowra Breakout where a group of people were making preparations for the upcoming 75th anniversary of the event next weekend. We finished our exploration of Cowra by visiting the Australian and Japanese War Cemeteries.

    Cowra is a nice looking town and there are many other things to look at, notably the popular Japanese Gardens. We didn't go this time because we have already been there and also the day was showery and quite cool. We also did not want to travel too late because there are plenty of kangaroos and wanted to avoid their active time.
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  • Day8

    Conflict Islands

    February 10 in Papua New Guinea ⋅ 🌧 30 °C

    Final entry on this cruise was to Conflict Islands. Unfortunately, once again, our scheduled stop to Kitiva Island was abandoned due to unsuitable conditions for tendering. It was a pity because the locals rely on the tourist dollar and as we could not land they had nobody to sell there wares to.

    Anyway, the Conflict Islands turned out to be my favourite stop. The island was not large and could be walked around in an hour and a half, but the water was crystal clear and that beautiful blue that you associate with tropical islands. The water was really salty which made you really buoyant - floating was a breeze.

    Walking around the island there was lots of coral washed up on the shore and we saw several sea turtles very close to the shore... the island is a turtle conservation area. There is even an "ahem" international airport complete with a soccer field at the end of it.

    We had some PNG Kina (money) that we needed to get rid of and bought a nice timber sculpture. I had also bought a couple of other timber items (scary mask, carved dish inlaid with mother of pearl) . These all had to be declared at customs in Brisbane but they passed through without any issues.

    We had a second day on the island mainly because we had missed out on a couple of stops and we enjoyed another couple of swims and walked around again.

    The cruise back to Brisbane was spent watching movies, going to trivia or going to special interest lectures (actually Brad went to these as they were generally to do with WWII battles. ) I did play a couple of games of Bingo and almost won the Jackpot (about $4200). Just needed number 90 to come out... but it didn't ☹. Oh well, never mind - would have been a nice end to the cruise.
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  • Day6

    Rabaul

    February 8 in Papua New Guinea ⋅ 🌧 28 °C

    Unfortunately our scheduled port at Kiriwina Island had to be aborted because it was a tender port (ship anchored and tender boats taken to shore) and the sea conditions were considered too rough to safely transport the passengers to shore. Safety first is the captain's priority.

    Our stop at Rabaul was quite interesting. It was formally the capital of this region of PNG... that is until 2 volcanos erupted simultaneously in 1994 and buried the town in metres of volcanic ash etc. The tour we elected to do was to the volcanic observatory, via a factory that manufactures coconut oil (we got free samples). After the observatory, where we were relieved to discover that the volcanos were not going to erupt today, we travelled back through the town, past the airport which is now hidden somewhere under the ash, and out to the hot spring where the water is still bubbling as it trickles into the sea. We also visited a local Catholic school and a plane wreckage site at the area that was once an airport. At nearly every stop there were locals (mostly children), singing to us and the song of choice was "She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain". Of course there were always little market stalls selling their wares.

    Rabaul only gets about 10 cruise ships per year and it is a great source of income to them so there is great excitement when a ship comes in with kids often getting the day off school just to see the ship.
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  • Day4

    Alotau - Battle of MIlne Bay

    February 6 in Papua New Guinea ⋅ 🌧 29 °C

    Brad attended the Battle of Milne Bay tour which looked at various locations where events took place during WWII. They visited the Corporal John French Memorial, travelled to the Hiwehiwe Lookout to get a birds eye view of the Battle route as well as some other areas of historical significance. He also went to the place where the Japanese advance was first stopped on land by Australian soldiers.Read more

  • Day4

    Alotau - Cultural festival

    February 6 in Papua New Guinea ⋅ 🌧 31 °C

    Arrived in the picturesque port of Alotau - Milne Bay. We both had different tours booked so while Brad went to the Battle of Milne Bay tour, I attended the Alotau Festival where locals in traditional dress performed dances and singing. There were also plenty of arts and crafts on offer, some rather nice wooden carvings and bowls. There was also a display of boat/ canoe racing which was interesting to look at.Read more

  • Day3

    2 Sea days before PNG

    February 5, Coral Sea ⋅ 🌧 28 °C

    Spent the night at Mitchell's and May's and they were able to drop us off at the port without any hassles. Embarkation went smoothly on the Sea Princess. Our cabin is on the 10th level, quite close to the front of the ship, 3 floors below the buffet and 4 floors (and the length of the ship) above the main dining room. We are attempting to use the stairs rather than the elevators as much as possible... We shall see how that goes. 😁

    First sea day it took me a little while to get my sea legs so light breakfast only but my appetite returned by lunchtime . We spent the morning attending an information session about 2 of the ports and also a film about Captain Cook. Lazy afternoon after lunch watching a couple of movies before going to see a comedian, dress up for formal dinner and then another stage show to complete the day. Sleep and repeat again.

    Second sea day much the same as the first. Went to the info sessions and also walked around the deck 6 times ( 3 laps equals a mile). Have been using the stairs instead of the lifts for the most part and according to the fitbit we have climbed 50+ steps per day. Dragged Brad along to trivia and we managed to get a perfect score, winning the enviable prize of 2 Princess bottle stoppers. (I guess the training has paid off - hey Playdoh😁 - took a photo, your challenge is to guess the question)
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