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Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Novotel Auckland Airport, New Zealand

Super convenient location!

This was the more expensive airport hotel (out of two) possibly due to its location right outside the International Terminal. I had an early morning flight so it was worth paying the extra money for the convenience of being next to the terminal.

Fantastic location, walk out of the International Terminal and there it is infront of you. 

It's rated as a 4 star hotel so has the amenities that reflect that rating. The room was spacious, it had a mini bar, there were bathrobes, tea and coffee making facilities. There is a restaurant and bar and a business computer that can be used to print off travel documents. There's also a fitness centre for those who want to exercise before or after a flight!

The minibar with a glass door, making it harder to resist the lure of what was inside! The bathroom is behind the frosted glass, so it does get some natural light.

There was a large walk in shower.

Optional Extras

The hotel boasts sound proof windows and I can attest that it's very quiet considering planes are taking off and landing nearby.

Although the hotel was expensive, it was worth being so close to the International Terminal, perfect if you're coming in from a late night flight or like me leaving on an early one.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Port Willunga, South Australia

And the historic township of Willunga

Remains of the Port Willunga jetty, the second one, built in 1868. Port Willunga was a working port during the early days of the colony of South Australia. The area now is a popular beach with only a few remnants of its historic past.

The beach at Port Willunga with the Star of Greece restaurant on top of the cliff. The restaurant is named after the ship the Star of Greece, it was blown onto the nearby reef during a heavy storm. The ship took on water and sunk, apparently the wreck can sometimes be seen at low tide. Due to the heavy seas and distance from Port Adelaide, the attempts to rescue the sailors failed and they drowned, it was the largest maritime loss of life in the colony. The restaurant itself is a hugely popular foodie destination, with the added attraction of the view across the gulf.

Looking down the coast, the limestone cliffs of the Fleurieu peninsula.

These caves were carved into the cliff face by fishermen to house their boats. I didn't know that before I saw them and was just puzzled by them. They looked very 'Star Wars' universe to me, really out of place in an Australian beach. Once home I researched them and discovered what they were used for, they only date back to the early to mid 20th century. Nowadays they're used like beach huts, people spend the day camped in them. Talking about being fascinated by these caves at work one day, a colleague told me she had been to a wedding reception held in the caves! She then proceeded to show me pictures, it was stunning, lighting was strung up in the cave, you've got the sunset views and a truly memorable wedding reception!

A few kilometres inland is the town of Willunga. For South Australia it's quite a historic town as it was founded in 1839, less than 3 years after the first white settlers arrived in December 1836. It was established as a farming community and now is part of the Southern Vales wine district. It's a pleasant spot to visit and have lunch when holidaying in the area or just a day trip from Adelaide.

The Willunga Hotel, now all one complex but originally the building closest to the camera was a store with the residence above it. Currently there are footpath renovations going on so lots of speed restrictions and bunting around the main street!

Now a restaurant, this had been the Methodist church, the 1839 name acknowledges the foundation of the town in 1839.

Willunga had been the major town in the area and this was the Courthouse and police station. It's been restored by the National Trust and run as a local history museum.

Across from the Courthouse had been the Telegraph station, the buildings are now a private home.

As well as vineyards, the area around Willunga is famous for its almond trees. Each year, the last week of July is the Almond Blossom Festival, it's a gorgeous time to visit as the trees are covered in pink and white blossoms and it all makes for a wonderful scene. (Closest you can get in South Australia to the Japanese Hanami! The picnics under the cherry blossoms.)

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Bluff Hill Lookout, Napier New Zealand

Also Clive Square

It was worth the scary drive up the steep narrow road to get to the lookout. Fabulous views over Hawkes Bay, and the port of Napier, for those who are interested in industrial ports!

Hawkes Bay.

The Napier Port is directly below the lookout, which I thought kind of spoiled the view as you needed to look across the bay and not down. I tried not to get too much of the port in my photos! But then I heard a different opinion from someone who found watching the activity at the port really interesting and thought it added to the experience of visiting the lookout. So it seems the lookout has something for nature lovers and urban industrial lovers!

Clive Square

Came across this pretty little park, have now done some research into its story. It was originally mapped out in 1854 and the idea behind it was that it would be the equivalent of an English country green. Napier's first cricket and football matches were played on the green. Later it was enclosed with a white picket fence. (So, so English country garden!!)

After the 1931 destroyed the commercial centre of the town, the square became known as 'Tin Town' as galvanised iron temporary buildings were placed there, they were the banks and stores that had been destroyed during the earthquake and were needed to keep the town economy going. Tin Town lasted for the 2 years of the rebuilding process and then the square was again restored and upgraded.

The Square's fountain. It's Edwardian and placed in the square in 1904, in memory of E.R. Blythe a major promoter of the square. 

I continue to rave about Napier as it was definitely my favourite town in New Zealand. Even this fountain represents what I loved about the town, it's beautifully restored, it's an ornate artefact of a bygone era, but maintained and cared for. There's such a dedication to preserve history in the town, I didn't seen any faded or peeling paint, no historic building on the verge of collapse. Instead I saw old buildings being cared for and put to use, it's not a theme park Art Deco museum but a living town. 

One last old building next to Clive Square.

Trinity Methodist Church, the only city centre church in Napier to predate the 1931 earthquake. It was built in 1876 and a lovely example of a wooden church. 

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Kadina, South Australia

The largest of the Copper Coast towns

Driving in from Adelaide, Kadina is the first of the Copper Coast towns that you come to. Like the other towns, it owes its existence to the mining of copper from the nearby copper mines. Once the mines were closed, and ones close to Kadina stayed operating until 1938, much later than the Moonta mines, it became a service town for the local area.

The Royal Exchange Hotel, it is the second hotel on this spot, the current hotel was built in 1874 and it got its prefix 'royal' when Queen Victoria's grandson the Duke of Clarence stayed there in 1880. The hotel is a beautiful example of an Australian country pub with its long verandahs

Like all good country towns, Kadina has a number of old style pubs.
The Wombat Hotel, possibly named for that wombat the dug up the copper at Moonta mines?! Originally the established as Wombat House in 1861, a boarding house for men.

The Kadina Hotel, I noticed that all three pubs have an enclosed outdoor area, not something I had seen in many pubs. For safety perhaps, so children don't run out onto the road? Or anyone else going on the road as there's also roadside barriers.

Copper made the town quite prosperous so there are some nice examples of colonial architecture in the centre of the town.

This lovely building is the bus station!

The Town Hall, it's opposite Victoria Square. (Same as in Adelaide!)

The rotunda in Victoria Square, it was built in 1897. The money for its construction was raised by having a bicycle race, a fair and private donations. (Helpful Heritage Walk pamphlet information!) The square has a large modern playground which is popular with families.

This delightful old building I thought had originally been a private house for a wealthy owner. But as with most South Australian country towns, any kind of substantial building in the town centre, it had been a bank. Now a real estate office.

Old time movie house, still the Kadina cinema.

And nearby a coffee shop.

Kadina is very much a service town, coming into the town there are car yards, huge farm machinery yards, agricultural businesses and offices. The town centre has some nice colonial buildings and interesting pubs, but I found it very quiet! I drove through on a Saturday afternoon and was surprised to see all the shops and cafes shut. I wondered if they still had half day Saturday trading which stopped in Adelaide many, many years ago.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Moonta Mines, South Australia

Living South Australian history

The discovery of copper in the colony of South Australia in the mid 1800s saved the colony from financial distress. (bankruptcy!) and brought prosperity to the rural areas around the mines. Moonta Mines was the settlement that grew around the copper mine, once the mine closed down the village lost most of its population and now is a historic site. I went along and visited it during a stay on the Copper Coast.

A model of Moonta Mines from its time as a mining town, remnants remain today, the large chimney, the school building and the railway line.

The Moonta Mines museum has an excellent and informative exhibition on the area, although it seems a bit strange to have a taxidermy wombat at the beginning of the exhibition, it's a very important part of the mines story. Without a certain wombat, copper might not have been discovered. The area had been a pastoral station and a shepherd saw a wombat hole where the wombat had dug out some copper. A mining claim was registered in Adelaide the mining commenced.

The miners who came out to work at the mines predominantly came from Cornwall. They brought along their familiar items and foods, Moonta and surrounding towns are the home of the Cornish pasty in Australia!

A replica mine tunnel in the museum, it really all is a very well done exhibition, great for children to understand the mining era in Moonta.

Once the ore was processed it was transported to Wallaroo to the smelters there and then exported.

At its height Moonta Mines was the second largest town in South Australia (after the capital city of Adelaide) and had a resident population of 5,000. The museum displays include replica shop frontages of the era that was found in the town.

Worldwide copper prices started to drop in the 1880s and the mining finally came to an end in 1923, with no mines to work in, people then began to leave the area in search of work elsewhere.

The Moonta Mine Museum can be found in the building that had been the Moonta Mines Model school, which only closed down in 1968. Something that I found somewhat surprising as it stayed open for over 40 years after the closure of the mine. The National Trust run the museum (free entry for National Trust members!) and I thought the exhibition was terrific, there are a number of rooms, including one set up like an old schoolroom complete with cane!

Next to the museum is the remains of the reservoir, constructed to provide clean water for the township.
And the Moonta Mines railway station where National Trust volunteers operate a little train that takes you around part of the township.

Across the road from the museum is a heritage sweet shop, housed in the building that had been the postoffice. The post office closed long ago, but there's still a postbox infront of it incase you want to post a letter! The Sweet Shop was doing a roaring trade the day I was there and so I didn't want to take a photo as there were far too many people!

A short distance from the museum are other parts of the mines story.
Richman's Enginehouse, this was one of three at Moonta Mines. It crushed and concentrated the ore once it was taken out of the mines and the ore was then sent onto the smelters. It was built between 1867 and 1869, and operated until the mines closed in 1923.

Right next to the enginehouse is a tailing heap. (The tailings being the bits left over from excavating the ore) There's a walkway up the tailings and it provides a really good view of the surrounding area from the top.

In a different direction from the enginehouse are the remains of the pumping station.
The Hughes pumping station and round Cornish chimney. (Thanks to visiting South Australian historic sites, I now know a lot about historic industrial chimneys!!) The pumping station was built between late 1863 and early 1865 and it pumped out water from the underground mines. 

Moonta Mines isn't a completely abandoned settlement, there are still inhabited cottages to be found, there was a small cluster that I found around the old Methodist church.

The Methodist (now Uniting Church) at Moonta Mines.
The church was built in 1865 at the peak of the mining boom and could seat 750, a gallery was added in 1871 and the seating was increased to 1200! It gives an indication as to how many people lived nearby to attend the church services.The church still holds services every Sunday and it's open for visitors to come and see as well.

The National Trust also have restored an old miners cottage, which unfortunately shut just as I got there so I only managed to wander around the garden. The cottage was built on a third of an acre which was the amount allocated to miners to build a residence, it has mud bricks, additional rooms made from wattle and daub as well as rammed earth. It was very labour intensive to build and so it's quite low, as the National Trust information says "Just as well, the Cornish miners were short in stature!"
The outside of the cottage was given a yearly coating of lime wash to keep the cottage waterproof. The stick fence around the cottage was to keep the children in and the goats out!

Moonta Mines is well worth visiting on a trip to the Copper Coast, it's all very well done so a great way to learn about another era and some South Australian history. I drove around, but there are also walking trails for those who like to hike and take in the surrounding countryside at a slower pace.