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Published: March 2nd 2010
We sadly left NZ for our long expected reunion with Peter Stark. You may have remembered that Peter was an Australian exchange student who lived with Ginny’s family in Appleton when she was 11. We last saw Peter in 1996 when he came to Wisconsin for his 30th high school reunion and of course we threatened to come visit. Well, part of this trip was to carry out that perfunctory comment that you say when guests depart. Peter had a privileged upbringing in Sydney, but we suspected he chose a different lifestyle since he told us he was a weed sprayer in Sofala. We Googled “ Sofala” and learned it was an old Gold Mining town that at its height in the 1890’s was over 50,000 strong that had shrunk to only 40 citizens - and Peter and his wife, Terry, lived outside on their own track of 400 acres of Australian bush. So we were not sure what to expect.
Peter met us at the Sydney airport and we drove nearly 4 hours to meet Terry. He warned us that as we drove up the track (driveway) we might meet kangaroos - and we did. This of course set
our critter alert up - for over the next several days we saw a wide variety parrots, wallabies, snakes, spiders - which were intriguing and creepy. See pictures. Clearly, Peter and Terry live a simple life in their simple home surrounded by their faithful dogs and cats. Each morning an amazing array of exotic birds visit for breakfast. The next day we toured their beloved property in a bouncy 4WD excursion to see the dozens of abandoned gold mines on their property. We unearthed old tools, horse shoes, and found a deadly venomous brown snake trapped at the bottom of an old well. We reached the summit of their property to see for miles. We searched for their sheep and found them - including one’s skeleton - oops! Peter pulled out his vintage WW II British 303 rifle so Roy could shoot up a bunch of stumps and other suspicious villains.
Sofala the town - was a relic. Only a couple of operational businesses. The 1862 hotel had great beers. The Sofala Café served us a truly surprising gourmet sirloin and trout dinner. Oh yes, we had sheep brains tar tare as an hors d'oeuvre. It was delicious and
did not taste like chicken. We also traveled to a gorgeous vineyard town of Mudgee. This entire time with them reminded us that there are so many lifestyles and parts of the world we cannot even fathom.
Peter had also set time for us to visit Sydney, his childhood home, Bondi and Manly beaches and more. We stayed at a friend’s flat and arrived in time to do the Harbour Bridge Climb. Yes, you are geared up to hike up the pinnacle of the Sydney icon - we did so at late afternoon to catch the sunset and came down after 3 hours in dark with headlamps. You are not allowed to take anything with you, like a camera - so it can’t fall - so look at our pictures from the harbor of other bridge climbers as we looked up. This 3 hour adventure challenged your 1000 step stamina and fear of heights as you "walked the plank" high above traffic, trains and water below. Naturally your guide reminds you of the 15 workers who died during bridge construction. It was a remarkable experience with unbelievable views of Sydney. They do take pictures of you that we did
naturally buy. Peter also called on one of his college friends - John Green and his artist wife, Jenny, to take us out in the harbor in their 44 ft. Carver for a cruise and “picnic” - of oysters, salmon, prawns, salad and local chardonnay…the good life, to say the least!
NOTE - WE POSTED EXTRA PICTURES IF YOU ARE INTERESTED. YOU WILL HAVE TO SEE BOTTOM OF THIS BLOG PAGE AND CHECK/CLICK NEXT PICTURE PAGE TO VIEW.
We sadly said goodbye to Peter as we flew north to Queensland and our stay in the Rainforest and then the Great Barrier Reef.
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