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Opal Odyssey is a mixed group led by Carmel H and meets on the third Friday of the month.



* 17th February, 2023 – Cockatoo Island

Come and join us for a Self-guided tour of Cockatoo Island.

Cockatoo Island is the largest harbour Island and listed as a world heritage site.

It was established as a convict prison in 1839 before becoming one of the country’s most important shipyards.

The dockyard was established in 1857 to maintain Royal Navy warships. It later built and repaired military and battle ships and played a key role in sustaining the Royal Australian Navy, it was closed in 1991.

The Island is a large area with upper and lower sites to explore.

But be aware – to visit the upper sites it is steep and has some uneven surfaces, a moderate level of fitness is required.

There is plenty to see on the lower level and has two café’s and a great view of Sydney Harbour. (Can’t book at the café), if you wish you can bring a picnic lunch and enjoy the view.

Getting there: the ferry from Rydalmere takes us direct to Cockatoo Island.

Specific details of the activity will be sent to you once I receive your registration.

RSVP Carmel H by 13th February 2023     

* Report for November - Bundeena

Seventeen Probus members met at Town Hall, some came by bus, train from Riverstone & the Metro. We caught the train from Town Hall station to Cronulla, which was a pleasant trip. Short walk to Cronulla ferry and a

30-minute trip to Bundeena, it was a beautiful day to be out and about.

We all went our separate ways in the little village of Bundeena, some went for a walk along the beach, others had coffee. We all met at the Bundeena Community Services Club on the hill for lunch, it had a beautiful view across the waterways. After lunch we rolled down the hill, caught the ferry and did it all in reverse. Another lovely day with our friends from Probus.

Regards Carmel


* Report for September 2022 - Brooklyn

On Thursday night a group of Probians meet at Kings Tavern for dining out, it was a terrible night, cold & pouring with rain, but the meal was good and of course the company. As it was raining so heavily, I thought another outing, I will have to cancel, but the weather forecast said it would be sunny, and it was clear on Friday to go to Brooklyn.

Some Probians went by car and others meet on the train. 15 members all came together for morning tea.

This time nothing was booked, we strolled along Dangar Road and found a lovely café right on the water edge looking across to the Riverboat postman, with many boats on the Hawkesbury River. We had morning tea and then I booked for lunch as well. We strolled along Dangar Road and did a loop walk back to the Railway station. Walked back to the café for lunch, the food was very nice, it was lovely sitting in the sun enjoying the view. I think everyone enjoyed the day out. Regards Carmel


* Report for August - La Perouse

Some members met at Bella Vista station and caught the bus into the City and others meet at Circular Quay. Twenty-one members caught two buses to La Perouse. Rain drops fell as we travelled in the bus, but by the time we got to La Perouse the sun was shining brightly. We visited the museum which was interesting and then walked to the boatshed, which looked over the Bay, for lunch.

After lunch we caught the bus from La Perouse to Kingsford South Juniors and then onto the light rail which took us back to Town Hall.

I think everyone enjoyed the day.

Carmel H


* Report for July - Paddington Reservoir & Jewish Museum

Some members caught metro, trains to Circular Quay and others came in by themselves. We all gathered at Circular Quay for journey to Paddington by bus, the thirty probians aboard filling the bus. Other members met us there.

Paddington Reservoir Gardens is hidden from the street level, but as you approach and look over the brick wall it is quite a surprise to see this unique construction of columns and water features below. The Paddington Reservoir was completed in 1866 and operated for 20 years. After the reservoir was closed it was used for many different uses, including a garage and service station until 1993. The roof collapsed and was a boarded up for many years. It was then decided to restore the area and make it a feature in the area, 2009 major work was completed, and it is now a heritage listed and award-winning venue for all to enjoy.

As we had time to spare before lunch, we did our own thing, some went looking in shops other looked at the old houses in the area with the lovely wrought iron verandahs.

We all meet back together at the Paddington RSL for lunch, which was very nice, but while inside the RSL the weather had changed, it was now POURING with rain.

Our next stop was the Jewish Museum at Darlinghurst where we had organized a one-hour tour. The Museum was two blocks going back towards Sydney. Some decided to walk, and others caught the bus, both arrived about the same time, but we were all very wet. We were divided into four groups with a guide.

Our guide was quietly spoken, and I found it very hard to hear him, which was such a pity. it’s very well laid out over several levels. As it was raining could not make arrangement to meet, so we made our own way home, all going in different directions. Another enjoyable day with our Probus friends.



* Report for June 2022 - Rose Bay

30 Probus members meet on a beautiful sunny day at Rydalmere Wharf, and 4 more Probus members meet us at Circular Quay wharf.

It was a lovely way to travel into Sydney on the river cat. We had several new Probus members and a few visitors, it was a nice way to meet each other while travelling. I advised members that they needed to walk briskly to wharf 2 to catch our ferry to Rose Bay but we came in on wharf 2 which was a bonus.

Walked along the waterfront for about fifteen minutes to Club Rose Bay for lunch. I did panic a little when the door was closed and no lights were on, I had booked but it wasn’t looking good.  All was ok, the door opened at 12 noon which was a relief to me.

I was told the club had just been taken over by new management, new chef and no staff, but we had good service, good food and of course good company.

I think everyone enjoyed the day together, we did it all in reverse and arrived back at Rydalmere on the 4:13 rivercat.





* Report for March - MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR

Some Probus members met at Rouse Hill Metro station and the rest met at Epping Station.

This was a mystery outing and our first Opal Odyssey outing since May 2021 when we went to Newcastle. We had car outings in November 2021 to Lake Parramatta, and a car outing was planned for February 2022 to Brooklyn, but it rained so that was cancelled.

Being the first outing by public transport for a while I tried to make it a bit interesting and made it a mystery outing.  They weren’t sure where they were going, even on the bus I heard them talking, it might be Avoca or Terrigal they weren’t sure right to the end, so it was a bit of fun.

Twenty-seven Probians caught the train at Epping to Gosford and then bus to Terrigal, we filled the bus, I don’t know what the locals thought they hadn’t seen so many people on the bus before.

And guess what IT DIDN’T RAIN, came over a bit cloudy at times BUT NO RAIN!

Most people had lunch at the Terrigal Life Saving Club which was facing the beach, it was pleasant outlook.

After lunch we went our separate ways, a few Probians walked along the boardwalk, which opened in 2021 it takes you to the bottom of the Skillion, which is a very steep mountain to climb with great views up and down the coast BUT we decided not to walk up today.

Some people went shopping and others happy to sit and enjoy the passing parade and enjoy the view.



* November Report - Lake Parramatta

This was the 5th attempt to visit Lake Parramatta all the other outings were cancelled due to RAIN and on the 19th of November 2021 it didn’t look promising either, but I decided to go anyway, and it did turn out fine and the sun did shine after lunch.

We were able to find a shelter just in case the rain came down, but this did not happen. It was lovely to see eighteen Probus members enjoying the day together. We went for 2 short walks one in the direction of the Dam and the other along the lake, the trees were out in bloom which gave a beautiful show.

We were all happy to sit and chat and pleased we were able to meet up with our friends once again at Probus.

I would like to wish all my Rouse Hill Probus friends a Merry Christmas and a happy and health New Year and let’s hope 2022 will be a good one.

Next year hope to be back doing Opal Odyssey outings.





* May Report - Opal Odyssey outing to Newcastle

Some members meet at Rouse Hill Metro station and the rest of us meet at Epping station. Twenty-five Probians travelled by train to Newcastle, There were plenty of seats, so we could spread out and it was a nice trip taking 2hrs 10 minutes.

This was our 1st Opal Odyssey outing by public transport to Newcastle. The last outing was to Randwick by light rail and bus to Coogee in February 2020.

On Epping station, it started to rain, it rained on and off to Newcastle. At the Newcastle Interchange, we caught the light rail to Newcastle Beach. At this point we were going to separate, one group to Anzac Memorial Walk, short walk, beautiful view up and down the coast. And the other group was going to Newcastle Museum.

But guess what happened, I organized this outing, so you know what happened, it POURED with rain, rain and more rain, so that was the end of the plans. We bought coffee and all caught the light rail back to the museum.

At the museum on the hour, they have a 10-minute show, explaining the workings at BHP (Big Harry’s Place), I thought it was interesting and well done. It is a good museum; plenty of things to look at and reminisce.

In 1915 BHP ventured into steel making and commissioned a steelwork to be opened at Newcastle. It made huge profits during World War 1 making steel for ships, ammunition and guns. It employed generations of steelworkers who remained working for the company all their working lives. It was predominantly men’s work. Many workers speak of their fear and revulsion when first confronted by the heat and dirt of the steelworks and the real dangers faced with working there. This was only balanced by their relief at having a job. But by 1987 the old steel rolling mills were losing money and could no longer be world competitive.

In 1999 the Newcastle Steelworks closed, with the retrenchment of 2000 workers and 1000 contractors. A significant employer, and a part of the local community, was suddenly gone.

Newcastle has improved with many restaurants along the foreshore, Queens Wharf many places to visit.

From there we walked to the Honeysuckle Hotel in the rain. The hotel was on the river, the meal was nice, but we couldn’t enjoy the view.

I think everyone enjoyed the day, despite the weather, we had good company. They won’t forget the outing to Newcastle.

Kind regards, Carmel



*April Report - Georges Head and Clifton Gardens

Eighteen brave Probus members meet at Georges Head on a cold and windy day but no rain fell.

It was such a shame the weather wasn’t better as the views of Sydney Harbour and back to the City were magnificent.

This area has 150 years of military history; the Georges Heights lookout is the former site of the A84 battery, which was set up at Georges Head to protect Sydney Harbour from naval threats. The Georges Head Battery was one of three forts in the area that were built for the purpose of defending the outer harbour. Artillerymen and women were housed in the nearby buildings.

The Government has just approved a $10 million project to restore this area and to include a walking track from Middle Head to Georges Head.

Sydney Harbour National Park is in the process of contacting tours of the tunnels in this area. You could visit this area again on a much better day.

We drove ten minutes down the road to Clifton Gardens Reserve, this is also a beautiful place for a picnic, but not today 16.4.21. It was windy and very cold with no protection from the wind.

Some of the men went for a walk up many steps to Chowder Bay, which was originally a Navy base but now the area is open to the public with a few cafes and restaurants.

Ken, Bob and myself  went for a short bush walk towards Bradley’s Head, but decided to do this another day.

We enjoyed the friendship with plenty of chatter.


Georges Head                                                            Clifton Gardens


Clifton Gardens


Clifton Gardens


Georges Head


* February Report - Lake Parramatta

Cancelled due to rain



 **Outings in 2020

*November Report - Bobbin Head, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park

We were lucky with the weather this time, it didn't rain for a change. The forecast was 38 degrees, but at Bobbin Head there was a nice breeze blowing off the water in front of where we were sitting.

Before lunch 20 Probians went for a short walk along the Mangrove boardwalk, this was a pleasant place and lovely views once we reached the top.




* October Report - Mt Annan Australian Botanic Garden

17 Probians braved the cloudy weather to visit the gardens and were delighted to purchase takeaway coffee to enjoy in our circle of outdoor chairs in the picnic area near the lake.

Of course it then commenced to rain, but we all enjoyed our coffee sitting under our umbrellas as we patiently waited for the shower to pass.

The sun rewarded us and we were able to explore the Connections Garden, a four hectare intensely cultivated space right in the heart of the Garden.

Someone reported a leopard in the Prehistoric Garden but closer inspection revealed Jan, hugging an impressive fig tree. A beautiful display of our Australian native plants was enjoyed by all.

Unfortunately, because of COVID-19, the tours and the PLant Bank were closed, but the gardens are well worth another visit.

Lorna Buchanan

On behalf of Carmel



* September Report - Newington Armory Park & lunch at Bicentennial Park

We left home it was overcast but no rain, on the way to our destination it started to rain. Knowing there was no shelter only wide open space, I thought this isn't looking good, staying positive the rain cleared and it was cold but not wet. We saw a building close by in the grounds of the Armoury which had a verandah and space for 17 Rouse Hill Probians.

This is where we stayed for the next three hours, as that was the parking restrictions. It was dry and in the distance was the Parramatta River. We all had fold-up chairs and our lunch and enjoyed each other's company and decided not to move onto Bicentennial Park, will keep that for another day.

We went for a short walk in the grounds of the Armoury. Some other friends had visited the Armoury before and did the rail tour which sounded interesting, will have to keep that in mind for another day, as it is now closed due to Covid-19. 

Newington Armory Park is a heritage-listed former Royal Australian Navy Armament Depot, now used for tourism purposes.

Newington's history began 124 years ago between 1875 and 1999 when the depot closed.

Formerly used to transport missiles, torpedoes and other WW2 munitions, the Heritage Train at Newington Armoury is today one of Sydney Olympic Park's most popular attractions!

Riding the Rails is a great way of getting to know Newington Armoury. Sit back and enjoy the ride as a tour guide provides on-board commentary while you pass buildings dating back to the 1890s, including explosive storehouses and workshops, cottages and a wharf.


     Riding the rails


     Gate house


* August Report - Fagan Park at Galston

Under Covid-19 restrictions only 20 people in a group are allowed to gather together outside. We had many members on the waiting list interested in going, so I decided to have a second day which will be held on 21st August 2020.

We had 17 Probus members attend. We meet at Carrs Road entrance to Fagan Park.

We found a lovely sunny spot to sit and of course social distanced. It was nice to see some of our members, which we had not seen since our February club meeting, so plenty of chatter to catch up on.



A few people had not been to Fagan Park before, they were very surprised it was such a big area, and it looked so green and the water sparkled in the sun. Fagan Park covers 55 hectares, we walked up to the homestead Netherby Cottage and then to the eco-garden, and visited many of the national gardens on the way.



We walked back to our group and enjoyed a picnic lunch and of course more chatter. Lovely day outside in the sunshine with old friends.

Second Fagan Park outing - Friday 21st August, 2020

Our second group of Probians visited Fagan Park on 21st August on a sunny but windy day and enjoyed exploring the gardens, before joining in a picnic lunch.

Fagan Park consists of 12 hectares of land featuring a collection of themed gardens that began in 1984 as a major Bi-Centennial Project for Hornsby Shire Council. Within one year, the land was cleared, fenced and water supply established by construction of additional dams.

Gardens feature plantings from Australia, Japan, China, The Netherlands, England, Africa, The Mediterranean, North and South America.

February Report - Metro, light rail to Randwick & then bus to Coogee Beach

We meet at different places along the way, some at Rouse Hill Metro, Hills Showground Metro, and at Town Hall QVB building. Thirty-five Probians all coming together at Town Hall Light rail.







We were lucky the light rail tram came into the station with just a few people on board, which gave us all a seat. We travelled to Randwick which was nice to see some suburbs we hadn't travelled through before: Surry Hills, Moore Park, Randwick racecourse, NSW University and then Randwick which is the last stop. Short distance to walk to the bus stop where we all managed to get on a bus to Coogee Beach.

Thirty five of us took up two long tables at the Coogee Bay Hotel for lunch. One of our Probus members had her wedding reception there fifty-six years ago, of course it had changed over the years, but she was happy to re-visit it again.




After lunch we went for a short walk enjoying the views of Coogee Beach. Some Probians caught the bus back to the city and others returned the way we came, bus, light rail, train and Metro.

Everyone said they enjoyed the day and couldn't believe it was $2.50 for a lovely day out with friends plus cost of lunch.


* January Report - Sydney Rowing Club at Abbotsford

This was our first Opal Odyssey day out for the year, with twenty-five Probians arriving at Rydalmere Wharf in the pouring rain. We did not complain as it was great to see the rain coming down after such a long time, it was a lovely sight.

We caught the river cat to Abbotsford and had a shortwalk to Sydney Rowing Club. The Club is in a great position with views overlooking the Parramatta River, even on a wet day it looked good, with boats and ferries travelling up and down the river.






We were seated in the Watergrill restaurant with great views all around us. It was lovely to catch up again with friends from Probus and I think everyone enjoyed the day.


Opal Odyssey outings for 2019


Friday 15th November 2019


Come and join us for a day out to Manly Beach  and lunch at Ivanhoe Hotel in Manly.                                             



This is a popular place to visit and if you wish, we could do a short walk to Shelly Beach orjust sit and enjoy the views around us.

Lunch at Ivanhoe Hotel, where some of us have been before.

Meeting at

Circular Quay Wharf 3 at 1015am (ferry leaves at 10.30)

Hope you can join us




Opal Odyssey to Balmoral Beach 18.10.19

Ten Probians meet at Circular Quay on a beautiful sunny day in Sydney.

We caught the ferry to Taronga Zoo Wharf, then a bus to Balmoral Beach.

Balmoral Beach is a perfect place to relax and enjoy the area around you.  

We strolled along the Esplanade looking towards Middle Harbour and North Head and then walked across the arched concrete bridge to Rocky Point Island and views looking back to Balmoral Beach.

We strolled to a cafe along the Esplanade, at Balmoral Beach, we decided to have lunch at a cafe on the Esplanade, which had very nice meals.

(Did you notice the word "strolled"; it was flat with no hills)

We caught the bus back to Chatswod and Metro back home.

Another lovely day with friends from Probus




Friday 20th September 2019

This is a Mystery tour - no walking required

Getting there:

Meet in York Street at Wynyard - bus stand J at 9.30am

Hope you can join us

Carmel Hart 9624-4305 or 0428 533 359



Wharf Wander tour at The Quarantine Station Friday 16th August 2019

Thirteen Probians meet at Circular Quay catching ferry to Manly and then a very crowded bus to the entrance of Q-Station, where six more members meet at the visitors centre. We caught the shuttle bus down to the wharf area to begin our tour. The wharf Precinct was the first point of call as the ships arrived in Sydney.



Roy our tour guide was very informative and explained the history of the Quarantine Station.

As a condition of entry into Sydney harbour the Masters of all overseas vessels were required to submit their vessel for inspection by quarantine officials. If no trace of the disease was found, and a clean bill of health was presented from the port of departure, then the ship was permitted entry into Port Jackson. However, if disease was suspected the ship, its passengers and crew were sent directly to the Quarantine station for 40 days.

In 1913 a crew member from the SS Zealandia again introduced smallpox into the population of Sydneysiders. An outbreak occurred which was incorrectly diagnosed as chickenpox. By the time smallpox was proclaimed, an epidemic had spread throughout a largely unvaccinated population. During the epidemic 1,402 Sydneysiders were quarantined at the station however, this time in more pleasant circumstances.


After the tour caught the shuttle bus back to the visitors centre, bus to Manly and short walk to Ivanhoe Hotel. I think everyone enjoyed the day.


Friday 19th July, 2019

Birkenhead Point & Drummoyne Sailing Club

 Come and join us as we visit

 Birkenhead Point and lunch at Drummoyne Sailing Club. 

This is in a lovely part of Sydney, where you can shop if you wish too or just sit, have coffee and chat and enjoy the views of our Harbour.

Drummoyne Sailing Club is next door to Birkenhead Point, so I will reserve a table for lunch at the Sailing Club.

There is parking at the club which is at 2 St Georges Crescent Drummoyne.

The club was original founded in 1913 it has spectacular views overlooking Cockatoo Island, Balmain and Woolwich.


10:00am at Town Hall, Cnr George & Druitt Street, at Queen Victoria Statue.

Catching bus to Birkenhead Point, short walk to shops, then walk along water’s edge to Drummoyne sailing club.

 Carmel H

View our website

Opal Odyssey – interest group outing

Friday 16th August 2019  

Quarantine Station Manly

This is in the Harbour National Park at North Head.

Come and explore the Quarantine Station at Manly, this is a very interesting place to visit, doing the ‘ Wharf Wander’ tour, this is a one hour guided history tour, giving a brief overview of the history of the Quarantine Station. This area is steep up & down to the wharf but there are shuttle buses to take us there.

It was opened in 2008 the Q Station is on the site of the former Quarantine Station, From 1830’s to 1984, migrant ships arriving in Sydney with suspected contagious disease stopped inside North head and off-loaded their passengers and crew into quarantine to protect local residents from becoming sick. After 40 days most passengers were released to settle as Australian residents.

My Great Great Grandparents came on a ship in 1855 on the Constitution they came with 9 children and had another daughter on the ship on the way to Australia, they came as free settlers. They didn’t get smallpox themselves but others did, so the ship had to off load all the passengers & crew.

Cost: $15pp pay by EFT code QSTN, final payment by 26th July, 2019 at July club meeting.

Getting there:

Meet Circular Quay wharf 3 at 9:15 (ferry departing at 9:30am). Bus from Manly to entrance of Q Station. Meet at 11:00 a visitor’s centre, shuttle bus down to Wharf area, the tour starts at 11:30.

If going by car plenty of parking. We will all meet at the visitors centre.

After tour bus back to Manly, hope to have lunch at the Ivanhoe Hotel in Manly.


Opal Odyssey to Sydney Hospital 21.6.19

Seventeen Probians meet on a very cold winters morning outside Sydney hospital, our first stop for the day was to the courtyard café for our morning coffee fix.

We meet Caroline and Justine our guides to talk about the very interesting history of our first Sydney hospital which began in 1788.

It was built on the west side of Sydney Cove George Street near the rocks. It was a cluster of buildings far too small for the population.

They soon realized they needed another hospital, but how were they able to fund it. Governor Macquarie came up with a very interesting way. He granted three colonists a short-term contract on importing spirits in exchange for building the new hospital in Macquarie Street, the hospital was nicknamed the ‘Rum hospital’ it opened in 1816 with one large central building and two smaller wings. (left building is now NSW Parliament, the middle building was demolished and replaced, the right wing is now the Mint building).

Caroline Wilkinson has been a volunteer for many years at the hospital, she had a wonderful knowledge of the history of the hospital and Brian one of our members worked at the hospital for many years and so they had many stories to tell us. We visited the chapel which is on the ground of the hospital. I think all the probus members enjoyed the visit.

We all meet back at the courtyard café for lunch, once the sun moved behind the buildings it became very cold, it was time to move on. We visited the State library to view the World Press Photo Exhibition of 2019, but I thought it was very depressing only showed misery in the world. And a quick look at Dead Central which was a display on what lay beneath Central Station in the 19th century of Sydney, need your mobile phone to hear the commentary.

 The Grounds of Alexandria 17th May

Twenty-four Probians meet at York Street Wynyard On Friday 17th May, we caught the train to Green Square Station and walked fifteen minutes to the entrance of The Grounds of Alexandria.

We arrived there at 11am as I was hoping to avoid the lunch time rush, but there were people everywhere, we were very lucky to get a long table in the courtyard where we could all sit together.

In the 1920’s this was an industrial area, which included tanneries, wool washing factories and market gardens, and funny to think it was once a Four’N pie factory. Five years ago, it was used as an industrial concrete car park.

In 2012 The Grounds of Alexandria was created by Ramsey Choker and coffee guru Jack Hanna, they had a vision to turn it into a thriving urban sanctuary. Which is now a café, restaurant, bar, bakery, patisserie, coffee roastery, florist and market garden.

The Grounds of Alexandria has opened an on-site bakery called, ‘The Bakery’.  It boasts an 800-kilogram bread oven imported from Germany. You can dine-in, take-away and even attend baking classes. Handmade loaves are available for sale, but you need to be early to buy any, they go so quick. The loaves are prepared in an open kitchen where you can watch them at work, making many different loaves. There are traditional loaves (fig-and-walnut and olive-and-rosemary).

There are a lot of different sections throughout the grounds, wooden carts selling fruit and vegetables, juices, cakes etc.

A florist which stocks beautiful flowers in all colours of the rainbow.

And for the kids a small animal farm with resident Kevin Bacon the pig, and Goldy Horn the parrot.

They change the themes regularly, when I first visited  the grounds it was decked out for Mother’s Day, when we visited on Friday it was all decked out in Disney Alladen memorabilia, which I believe there is a movie coming out soon.

Everywhere you look there is some kind of historic touch, pick up truck with pumpkins of all shapes and sizes. The toilet is worth a visit, all decked out in stable gear. Old suitcases with lots of coloured material hanging over the cases,

After lunch some of us walked down to the end of Huntley Street and into Sydney Park, this is inner-city area of Sydney.

The park is 41.6 hectares in area. It was formerly a major land fill site, and originally used as a brickmaking site, the brick works have not been used for more than 60 years.

Creeks flow throughout the park which attracts all different types of birds.

St Peters train station is near by or you can catch a bus along Sydney Park Road.

As it turned out to be a hot day, we only walked a short distance into the park, some Probians were happy to sit and chatter and enjoyed the views around them. We all met up again and walked back to The Grounds for a cool drink and rest. Then walked back to Green Square Station, another lovely day out with our friends at Probus.


Opal Odyssey Report  Hydro Majestic at Medlow Bath on Friday 8th March 2019

Forty one Rouse Hill Probians travelled by train and car up to the Hydo Majestic at Medlow Bath.

We all met together outside the Casino Lobby of the Hydro Majestic and taking a journey through time to re discover the elegance and glamour of yesteryear.

We heard the history of two brothers Frances & Mark Foy, Mark establishing this now iconic building on the cliff top overlooking the Megalong Valley which adjoins the World Heritage listed Blue Mountains National Park in Medlow Bath.

The Hydro Majestic was built by Mark Foy, opening its doors for the first time in 1904. He lived a grand life with no expenses spared, putting everything into this beautiful building. He took on many high risk ventures over the years, they say Mark Foy’s presence still lingers.

Over the years many famous guests have visited and stayed overnight. It was said that there is a ghost who roams the corridors..

We did a tour of the casino lobby with its iconic domed roof, Salon Due, the Cat’s Alley, the ballroom and finished in the Pavilion (visitors centre) and cafe.

After the tour of Hydro Majestic we travelled by train and car to Blackheath for lunch at Gardeners Inn on the Great Western Highway, this pub was able to accommodate us all at a more reasonable price.

We all enjoyed our day together; it was such a beautiful place to visit with good friends, beautiful weather and of course food.


 Opal Odyssey trip to Dangar Island on 8th February 2019  

Eighteen Rouse Hill Probians arrived at Brooklyn Wharf by various means of transport, trains and cars.

Caught Brooklyn ferry this is a small private ferry which provides public transport for people living on the island and holiday makers, and day trippers like us, senior fare is $8.20 return. The ferry trip is a leisurely 15 minutes from Brooklyn, calling at Little Wobby Beach on the way, and departing every hour, 7 days a week during the day.

Dangar Island is a small island in the Hawkesbury River just north of Sydney. It has a population of approx 260 people living there and many more during the peak holiday periods. There are no private cars on the island, just many old wheelbarrows to transport your items home, with an occasional golf buggy to carry the bigger items.

The Island has a general store, near the ferry Wharf, where we stopped to have lunch and had plenty of drinks as it was hot and humid. There is also Bowling Club which opens on weekends and other days by request.

After lunch we took a leisurely walk around part of a 3km loop track, we didn’t attempt the steep grade but enjoyed the walk past many beautiful flowers and trees and art work by people who had a great sense of humour. We walked down to the beautiful Hawkesbury River and enjoyed the view.

We walked back to general store and caught the 2:30 ferry back to Brooklyn and then some travelled home by car and train.

It was an interesting place to visit, as someone said it had a hippy vibe about it.

It was enjoyable day with our friends from Rouse Hill Probus.



Opal Odyssey trip to Paddington Reservoir Gardens & Bondi Beach 

11th January 2019



Twenty Rouse Hill Probians gathered together at Queen Victoria building to catch the triple three bus to Paddington Reservoir gardens. The garden is hidden from street level, but as you approach and look over the brick wall it is quite a surprise to see the unique construction of columns and water feature below.

 Paddington Reservoir was the high level reservoir which worked in tandem with the low level reservoir in Crown Street Surrey Hills, both designed in 1857. Work began on Paddington reservoir in 1864 and was completed in 1866, the reservoir operated from 1878 to 1899.  After the reservoir was closed the site was used for many different uses including a garage and service station continuing to operate under various lessees until 1993 when the roof collapsed and it was boarded up.

Walter Read Reserve was established on the roof of the Paddington Reservoir 1953 and adjoining John Thompson Reserve open 1976.

In 2009 major restoration and landscaping was completed on Paddington Reservoir, combining with the other two reserves this has created a beautiful heritage listed and ward winning venue in the City of Sydney’s East. These gardens have been beautifully planned to breathe new life into their old bones.

We enjoyed exploring the Paddington Reservoir area and then walked to a nearby park and sat in the shade until the Paddington RSL opened for lunch. We all enjoyed our $10 lunch special at the RSL.

Now moving onto Bondi Beach for cool drink and may be dessert, we were lucky to catch a bus straight way to Bondi Beach on bus 333.

Arriving at Bondi Beach it was a beautiful sunny day with a light breeze blowing.

It took Barbara 47 years to get to Bondi and a few other Probians hadn’t been there for many years also.

Many tourists visiting this beautiful area, on the beach or doing the coastal walk it is a great place to visit.

The sky was looking a little grey and as it was predicted to rain in the afternoon, we decided to catch a bus back the City. We all said our good bye’s and everyone said they had enjoyed their day together, having fun, friendship and of course food.

Opal Odyssey tour of Government House & Botanical Gardens on 9th November, 2018

Seventeen Probians meet at Circular Quay Wharf and caught lift upto the Cahill Express Way then short walk to Government House.

We were meet by a tour guide Allan at the Porte-cochere or covered carriage way and entered Government House.  Allan had a wonderful knowledge of the history of Government House.

The 1st Governor of NSW was Arthur Phillip in 1788, and the 1st Government house was in Bridge Street, Sydney.

In 1815 Governor Macquarie commissioned Francis Greenway to design stables and servants block for staff at Bridge Street, Sydney (now the Conservatorium of Music building) he spent all the money on this project there wasn’t any money left for a new Government house. 

After years of delay and budget overruns, the house was completed in 1845. Over the years the building has been extended, refurbished and modernized to suit the tastes and needs of successive Governors.

Today the House holds a significant collection of Portraits, furniture, decorative arts and memorabilia.


In the main hall portraits of all the Governors of NSW, the 37th Dame Marie Bashir 2001 to 2014 and 38th David Hurley 2014 to the present time.

No photos were allowed to be taken inside, but if you go into google images and type “back room tour of government house Sydney”, you will see all the rooms in Government House that we were shown. The tour was excellent. The grounds of Government House are set on land that was put aside by Governor Phillip in 1792 and originally included the whole of Bennelong Point, the present Botanical Gardens and Domain and the lower parts of Macquarie and Phillip Streets.  The Western side of the garden which is the oldest part, the evergreen trees were planted 1836-1845 big beautiful trees still there today. The House was supported by dairy cows, pigs and chickens, the only animal that service the house today are bees. Most changes to the garden were initiated by post Governors and their wives.  We walked around

the garden; roses were dedicated to different groups and past governors. Of course fantastic view of Sydney Harbour, the Opera House and boats passing by.

We left Government House and walked through the Botanical Gardens to Calyx. This building opened in June 2016. This area houses Australia’s largest green wall standing 6m high and 50m wide. 

With the exhibitions changing on a regular basis.

The exhibition now on display is called

 “Plants with Bite’, Plants with Bite tells the story of the captivating and bizarre world of carnivorous plants. As fascinating as they are horrifying, these plants are truly a miracle of evolution. Sun, soil and sky – this is all most plants need to survive. Yet carnivorous plants can thrive in inhospitable environments by luring, trapping, killing and digesting insects.

lunch time for us, time to move on to Botantical Gardens cafe, where we all enjoyed our time together. Some of us continued to walk around the beautiful Botantical Gardens on a lovely sunny day in Sydney.

October Opal Odyssey 

October Opal Odyssey day out to Dangar Island  on 12th October 2018 was cancelled due to bad weather, will include this trip again sometime next year.