Exploring NSW: Tascott

Our 2010 road trip is drawing to a close ……….

Early December 2010

(Day 15: 295klm / 183 miles)

If we had been at home now, Bill would be all excited about the golf championship which is about to play in Sydney, and maybe some of his mates would be organising a day up there, just as they did the year before, to follow their favourite local and international golf professionals.

Not only are we not home, but there is something terribly wrong with our record of mileage for this day (as above).  It should be only 155 kilometres to our destination – Tascott.

The answer lies in our going around in circles for a good part of the day.  It started right from the get go. With Bill in the navigator’s seat, we managed to drive through the industrial areas of Newcastle, when we should have by-passed this major regional city altogether.

The Hexham Bridge connects Port Stephens to Newcastle  Source: Wikipedia  Author: C Goodwin

The Hexham Bridge connects Port Stephens to Newcastle, Source: Wikipedia, Author: C Goodwin

Bulk Carrier "Nicole" entering Newcastle Harbour Source: Wikipedia Author: Aussie Legend

Bulk Carrier “Nicole” entering Newcastle Harbour
Source: Wikipedia
Author: Aussie Legend

It doesn’t matter – as we come through north Newcastle, we see things to do with loading of ships and coal, and lots of industry and activities that we haven’t seen since we “retired” from our working lives in shipping and logistics. We find it all interesting – others may not. Newcastle is synonymous with steel and coal, and has a busy working harbour, but it is also a place of beautiful beaches and a cosmopolitan cafe culture, so potential tourists should not be put off by our focus on the industrial workings.

Coal loader at Port Waratah Newcastle  Source: Wikipedia  Author: Nomad Tales

Coal loader at Port Waratah Newcastle
Source: Wikipedia, Author: Nomad Tales

Before long we are on the Central Coast of NSW.  We are on very familiar ground now.  It is not far to Sydney.  In fact, many people commute from Sydney to Central Coast every day, even though it is a couple of hours each way. We go past the turn-off to Budgewoi, where two of our grandchildren live.  They will still be in school this early in the day, so we push on to Tascott, named after T. A. Scott. All these years, I thought that Thomas Alison Scott (1777-1881) was a poet.  No such thing, according to Wikipedia and the Australian Dictionary of Biography.  Born in Glasgow, Scotland, and arriving in Australia in 1823, Thomas Scott’s claim to fame was as a pioneer sugar grower.  Live and learn …….  I can only imagine that all this time I had him confused with Sir Walter Scott.

It seems odd I would make this mistake, as I have been coming to Tascott since I was just a little girl.  Back in the 1950s, my uncle and aunt bought a plot of land up here, and set about building their home.  The story goes that they lived in a tent, together with the youngest of their three sons, and erected the house bit by salvaged bit.  Another cousin recounts the story of how whenever he visited, he was commanded to bring with him lengths of lumbar and used nails, all retrieved from demolition sites.  The twist in the tale is that his mode of transport was the train from Sydney, and he had to lug this stuff around, up and down the platforms, and on to the train, avoiding the other passengers.  Apparently, he was also pretty useless at straightening out the used nails.

Hawkesbury River rail bridge  Source: Wikipedia  Author: Tim Stewart

Hawkesbury River rail bridge, Source: Wikipedia, Author: Tim Stewart

Back then, it was the steam train from Sydney, but I don’t remember that part.  What I remember is getting off the train at Woy Woy, a few stops earlier down the track, and running up to the driver to ask him to stop at Tascott, before running back to join my mother and brother in the carriage designated to fit the single length station platform.  We’d hop off with our bags and bundles, then, safely on the Tascott platform, with the train gathering speed as it took off again, I would lean forward to the guard in the rear waggon, and he would snatch our tickets from my out-stretched hand.  A fun start to a fun holiday with my Aunty, repeated every school holiday until I became a teenager.

I cannot recall where I first found this historic photo of Tascott Station Possibly the National Archives Website

I cannot recall where I first found this historic photo of Tascott Station. Possibly the National Archives Website

Woy Woy is famous, (mostly for being named twice) as being the place that Spike Milligan‘s parents moved to, also in the 1950s.  That is Spike Milligan, of Goon Show (e.g. What Time is it Eccles? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-tjHlFPTwVk) and other comedic fame.  He visited his parents regularly, and is reputed to have said some outrageous things about the place. One I dare not repeat here in case I bring down the ire of its residents (but you can look it up – key word: “cemetery”). He is said to have declared Woy Woy a republic, and founded a sister town with itself “Woy. A town twinned with Woy“. When musing on the meaning of its name, he is quoted as saying “Woy. Woy. It’s Aboriginal. Means ‘deep water’. But which Woy means ‘deep’, and which Woy means water?”

Ahhh, my dear Eccles, but I do digress.

Tascott is situated on the western shore of the Brisbane Waters, part of the Hawkesbury River waterways.  The railway line runs near to the house, but one can look beyond that to the beautiful blue waters and bushland.  Oyster leases are prevalent in this area.  In  my childhood, there were only a few houses here, with steep bush peeling away from the back of the block.  My Aunty loved nature, and would take me on long walks through the bush, clambering over rocks and following faint trails. I usually rewarded her by coming home with nettle rash.

Mercifully, my uncle finished the house before he passed away (this is the uncle, whose trail I searched when we were in Bogan Gate earlier on this trip), and my Aunty lived on there happily for many decades.  Now it belongs to her eldest son.  He has been trying to rebuild the house for years now and he is finally getting somewhere.  On this visit, all was in preparation for a new kitchen and it held great promise.  We had a confused lunch sitting on whatever chair or stool was available, and made plans to have dinner out together that evening.

Suddenly we realise that if we dash off straight away, we can get back to Budgewoi in time to meet our grandchildren as they come out of school.  It is 80klms to go up and back, but how can we not see our grandchildren after spending so much time with other friends and relatives?

Grand-daughter #3, aged 8 years

Grand-daughter #3, aged 8 years

They are excited and happy to see us, and rush to show off their classrooms, and then rush home to show us their bedrooms in the latest place their parents are renting. Oh for an ounce of that enthusiasm and energy.

Grandson, aged seven Dont be fooled by the innocent look

Grandson, aged six
Don’t be fooled by the innocent look

Next Destination: Home!

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