Friday, January 17, 2014

Cockatoo Island Adventure

Today we got up really early (remember we are on holidays and anytime before 7 is really early for us) and drove down to J's place.

From there we caught the river cat to Cockatoo Island.  River travel is such a lovely way to travel and I envy the people who can do it everyday although I was a bit upset at all the lovely old buildings and houses that have been destroyed on the river to build really really ugly apartments.  But as J said, she agreed with me but if someone offered her one of those ugly apartments on the river she wouldn't knock it back.

The weather here and all up the eastern states is meltingly hot so it was nice to be on the water where there was a constant breeze.

 This is actually not at Cockatoo Island.  This is a place called Rivendell which is across the river from the ferry wharf near J's.

It is part of the Dept of Education and Communities and is a child, adolescent and Family unit.

It originally was a convalescent hospital.

My grandfather was a gardener on this estate in the first half of the 20th century which is my connection and one of the reasons I took this picture.

The name Rivendell of course comes from J.R. Tolkien's book "The Hobbit" and is a place to rest and recuperate - a sanctuary for those on difficult journeys.

Anyway the ferry ride took about 25 mins and as always river travel is so interesting.  The mullet were jumping and the day was absolutely stunning.

When we arrived we decided that the convict precinct would be interesting.  We walked through the Dog Leg tunnel, cut out of solid Sydney sandstone, to the other side of the island and then climbed a lot of steps, the Southern stairs,  up the cliff face to the Ship Design Precinct.  Great views when I finally recovered my breath and nerve.

This was the Sutherland Dock.  When it was built it was the largest graving dock in the world.  Of course this is no longer in use which upset M at bit.  Such a wonderful facility that is no longer being used except of course we got to go there.  We started walking along the top of the cliff but couldn't get too far because the volunteers had warned us that the seagulls were still nesting there and there were babies.  Of course rather than upset them we looked for another route around that building.

 This is in the convict precinct.  The island was used as a gaol in the 18th century.  This is the mess hall looking across what I think was the prisoners exercise yard or maybe it was just a courtyard.

This is what is left of the guardhouse where the soldiers lived.  It was being set up for a wedding hopefully a bit later in the day because the sun was relentless even with the cool breeze.  Those small openings that are on either side of the fireplace are actually slits where they could fire their rifles through should they need to fall back and stockade themselves in the quarters.  It overlooked the cells but we couldn't get there because once again baby seagulls thwarted us but that was okay because there was so much else to see.

These were the solitary confinement cells and have only recently been recovered by an archeological dig.  They were apparently filled with water.

Anyway I have so many photos but this could rather turn out to be like a slide night of olden times.  We also visited the Industrial Precinct and have plans to return and explore further and will probably use the guided tour and I probably also should take notes as my memory is definitely not as good as it was.

 My goodness I am looking forward to retirement.

We had an amazing time.  Very little of the island is actually off limits.  We went there during the week so crowding wasn't a problem and had lunch residing over one of the most magnificent views in the world.

Home now with every cooling device we have turned on. M is watching the cricket with his eyes closed.  Was thinking that I would go to the gym this afternoon but have revised those plans and think maybe just a quiet drink on the deck and a chat to my sister will be a much more civilised way to end the day.

Happy Friday everyone!

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