First thing in the morning I drove to the next Canberra lookout on my list, the Telsar tower.

I was too early for the tower to be open so had to hang around for half an hour or so. When it finally opened, at 9 am, I climbed up (in the lift) and there was a superb view.

I walked around and around the deck, admiring the view for over an hour. At just before 9.15 I noticed a couple walking back to the car park who had entered when I did. They must have spent less than 5 minutes on the deck. I can't understand that.

I talked with a man who was in Canberra because his son was competing in the paraplegic athletic championships, it may have been the disabled championships. Doesn't matter. He was as fascinated with the views as I was, and taking lots of photos.

Here's a view taken from the next viewpoint I went to. You can see the waterspout. I camped next to the lake you can (just) see left of the waterspout.

I went back to the war memorial, to continue my visit.

Ah. On the way I had a catastrophe. I diverted to a shopping mall to buy bread, and locked the keys in the van. I asked some passing security men if they had any ideas. They said, phone the NRMA. They are, or are supposed to be, a vehicle help organisation. Now I'd seen current membership papers for the NRMA in the van. I phoned. What's the vehicle registration number she asks. I told her. What's your membership number she asks. I don't know I said, it's on the membership documents, locked in the van. What's your name she asks. I told her. That's not the name we have on the documents she says. I know I say. So what is the name on the documents she asks. I DON'T KNOW I SAY. IT'S ON THE DOCUMENTS LOCKED IN THE VAN. Sorry she says, I can't help you. !!!!!!! I talk to the supervisor. Sorry he says, we need to know the name of the member before we can help you. You can join yourself he says, it will cost you $300, I can take your credit card details over the phone right now.

Actually, without upsetting anyone, I could write down what I said, but I forget. I remember I was not too happy. And that, my American friends, is an example of English understatement.

I had the idea of getting a windscreen company out, removing one of the side windows, and then putting it back. After unlocking the door, of course.

I wandered over to the liquor store. I asked the young man there, do you have any ideas? You bet he says. He got out a notice saying back in 5 minutes, and stuck it on the door. The he called at the adjacent take-away, borrowed a knife and a coat hanger (why does a take-away have a coat hanger I wondered?) and started fiddling with the coat hanger down the side window. There's a bar down there he says, you have to catch it and pull it up.

He went back to the liquor store and I fiddled and fiddled. Finally I bent the coat hanger into a loop, and by going through the side of the window, managed to catch the button and pull it up hence unlocking the door. I have now re-installed my American system. I have a spare key attached to one of the belt loops on my jeans. I'm unlikely to be wandering around outside with the van locked when I am not wearing my jeans.

After leaving the war memorial I headed north and stopped for the night in a busy little rest area by a small river. I borrowed a set of steps from a neighbour and started on some fabric repairs to my pop top.

I WILL remember to take a photo of the pop top in action. Trouble is, I only pop it when I'm stopping for the night, and I'm usually in a hurry to cook dinner before it's dark, and in the morning, well, in the morning I'm lucky if I remember to put my pants on.

In the morning I headed north, to Abercrombie caves. On the way I had a pleasant chat with the gentleman doing his 3 hours a month voluntary stint in the information office, and called in at the sock factory.

Like the broom factory of a few days ago, there were a bunch of machines that appear to have been invented at the dawn of the industrial revolution. Fascinating to watch them in action.

My part time information officer had assured me that their socks never wore out so I thought hard about buying some but decided no. You see, some years ago I got fed up of having so many odd socks that now I always buy exactly the same socks, design and colour. So now if I have an odd sock it doesn't really matter, I can just wait until I have another odd one, or one wears out.

But you know, here is another example where Murphy's law springs into action. "If anything can go wrong, it will go wrong in the worst possible way" . Since now it is no big deal if I were to lose a sock, I never, ever, have an odd sock. In just the same way, as soon as I started taking a spare envelope with me to balloon meets, I never, ever, wrecked the first one.

After the sock city, it was on to Abercrombie Caves, after about 15 km of bumpy, gravel road.

Here are a couple of views from the route.

You know, I think Australia has the worst roads I have ever found. Today, as I write, I drove through the Hunter Valley, all very swish, very super, with awful roads. One part, where I should have taken a photo to show you, was all patches. Bumpy patches. I mean, all patches. There was no sign of the original surface, it had been patched, patched, patched, then patched again, a few more times.

Abercrombie caves. I missed the guided tour by 15 minutes. I took the self guided tour. Here's a cave entrance. It was more like a tunnel, really, the exit at the other end was similar.

There was no one else booked for the next tour, so that was out.

I think this was a shot of the route after the caves.

And this was a train. I took the photo because the chap in the white van in the distance was taking a photo so I took one too, to occupy myself while I was downloading emails.

Then I went on to a superb camp site, on top of mount Panorama, overlooking Bathurst.

I only had one neighbour, a local garbage truck driver, with long white beard and $75,000 camper van, come up here to pass the evening away whilst his partner was away elsewhere. We chatted so long I missed my intended photo of the sunset. I was too late.

Here is Bathurst at night.

Best regards

David Barker
Currently in Australia, exploring New South Wales

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