Now when I said last time, that I went shopping, I should have mentioned the help I got from the lady in the Visitor Information Office. I asked the most obscure questions and straightaway she had a map in front of me, marking the route to the local Nissan dealer, and the location of the 2 car dismantlers in the town. She even knew that they both had cars around. (In Port Macquarie, the only car dismantler had no cars, only spare parts that he kept in stock from cars he had already dismantled. Now, no car dismantler is going to keep rubber grommets, he'll keep engines, axles, stuff like that, not grommets worth pennies. Even if Nissan charge $5 for a new one....)

So regrettably I have to topple Charlie from his newly assumed top place as best help from a Visitor Information Office!

It had been raining off and on in recent days, today was no different, except the rain was mostly on, rather than off.

I mentioned I was parked in a rest area and that repairs were almost completed. This was mostly due to the help I received from a couple of guys with caravans who were already parked there. They had already been there for 2 days, they said they didn't see much point in moving on whilst it was raining. I needed an electric drill, one of them had one tucked away at the bottom of a box somewhere, but he asked the maintenance engineer for the nearby restaurant complex, who was passing by, he produced an electric drill, so repairs started.

I refixed the sprung part of the pop top at the rear, after I drilled out the holes to take the cavity wall fittings. I drilled holes to take the rear attachment of the pop top, and a couple more to secure the loose part of an awning rail, which I secured with pop rivets.

I'd been hearing a rattle for a long time, coming from the back, which I hadn't been able to trace. It's rather difficult to source rattles like this when you are travelling on your own; it's one of the times it would be handy to have a travelling companion. Anyway, fastening that awning rail cured the rattle.

People can be very helpful.

It rained heavily again during the night but I headed off for Port Stephens were I visited the museum - a super museum - then the Court House Museum and the maritime museum which were OK.

I passed through Newcastle in the pouring rain and took the scenic coast road. I couldn't see much, but it was better than looking at houses and dodging traffic.

I finished up on a camp site at Rathmines next to a lake. It was still pouring with rain, the area designated for camper vans was underwater, so I parked in the adjacent regular car park. There was a handy barbeque, covered, so that was where I cooked dinner. I followed this by a visit to the nearby bowling club for a couple of beers. I've noticed there is a lot of interest in bowls, I seen a good number of clubs and adjacent greens. Of course, this is lawn bowls, nothing to do with 10 pin bowling.

I guess it must have stopped raining for at least a few minutes the next day, I took a couple of photos.

I headed towards Sydney on the old Pacific Highway rather than the newer Newcastle freeway which ran close by.

I'd noticed it was Anzac day but hadn't realised what this was. Seems to be just about the equivalent of the British Remembrance Day, to remember the fallen in the first World War, then also the second. I'd planned to call in at Kavanagh Balloons - the Australian maker of hot air balloons - since I was passing close by, but they were closed, as were all the other businesses on the industrial estate. There's a major balloon meeting in Canberra starting about now, so even if the factory had been open the Kavanaghs would probably be away.

After that I continued down to Sydney. I had touch of trouble finding a way over the harbour, since the tunnel does take cash payments at the toll but I eventually found my way over the bridge,

where they did take cash - $3 - and found my way to the city. I called in briefly at Kings Cross, to find out about the backpackers car market that runs there, and continued on to meet up with Eleanor again.

I sent off an advert on the internet to sell the van, and we went out to dinner at a Thai restaurant.

Best regards

David Barker
Currently in New South Wales, Australia

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