Final Days in Australia

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It’s hard to believe this is our last day in Aussie Land. As I write this we are eating breakfast in Ulladullah at a lovely little Inn by the beach about 3 hours south of Sydney. Unfortunately, we are feeling the full effects of Autumn and it is cool and cloudy. We will still do a beach walk and generally relax before we head to the airport and continue on to our exploration of the Cook Islands as we head east back across the “space time continuum” toward the United States.

It’s been three days and almost 1200 kilometers since I last wrote. We spent our last day in Melbourne walking and grazing the cafés and restaurants. Besides eating and walking we toured the very ornate Parliment building which is particularly glorious due to all the gold paint. Because Melbourne was the center of a huge gold rush in the early 1850’s there was plenty of gold around to decorate the building; and it isn’t just gold leaf it’s 23 carrot gold paint. The tour guide was quite good and we even met someone else on the tour who was from the states. Her daughter lives in Edmonds and the first place she took her Mom to eat there was Dick’s Drive In! It really is a small world. Her daughter is also a scuba diver and we look forward to sharing our dive experience of the Great Barrier Reef with her.

Thursday morning we woke up, caught up on news back home and headed out for breakfast and walked to pick up our rental car. But before picking out our last Melbourne cafe we took a quick look into the Cathedral and walked the grounds. It was typically grand. But the outside grounds with water elements and statues were unusual and really beautiful. I’m including a picture of one statue where the movement of the nun walking down stairs is remarkable.

There are so many cafés in Melbourne you never have to go to the same one twice and we didn’t. Our last one announced that it had proudly been serving coffee since 1863. The coffee was yummy as well as the omelette.

Picking up the car and driving back to the hotel was a breeze. No Worries! Getting to the freeway out was simple. No Drama! We were on our way up the coast from Melbourne to Sydney on a 3 day road trip.

Within an hour the freeway is gone, replaced by a mostly undivided 2-lane road that goes through farmland, then ranch land, then forests, and you don’t see another stoplight for 2 days (although there are lots of traffic circles in the many small towns along the way). We were really surprised that the main road up the coast between two major cities is first not really on the coast and second more like California’s Highway 1 vs H-101 (and nothing like Interstate 5).

But we still had a blast. There was a bus stop made from a section of very large pipe that was painted green with nice benches inside. There were many mail boxes made out of large farm storage containers that had been painted and fixed up with a hinged front access door. There was a lady at a cafe who looked and sounded just like Daphne’s mother from the TV show Frazier.

As we made our way east, then north we were regularly entertained by the wonderful town and park names. You know there is the funny comedy sketch about the fact that some words just sound funny. Well these are funny! (At least to non-Aussie ears). Go ahead say them out loud.

Day 1

Nar Nar Goon
Bunyip
Warragul
Labertouche
Mt. Ba Ba
Noojee
Buln Buln
Korumburra
Traralgon
Alambee
Yallourth
Wirilda Park
Narkoojee
Cowwarr Weir
Toongabbie
Tinamba
Briagoolong
Den of Nargun
Mierlieou
Bengworden
Nyerimilang Park

Day 2

Nowa Nowa
Wairewa
Croajingolong Park
Karbeethong
Coopracombra
Wallagaraugh
Timbillica
Quaama
Finacune
Bermagui
Trunketabella
Turnlijah
Bimbimbie

There were several other great names but we drove by too fast to remember how to spell them!

Other highlights:

On our way to our first night’s motel, we passed a large flock of Cockatoos in a farm pasture.

Our first night on the drive was spent in a magical little place called Metung. This is a little slice of heaven in the Lakes district where 7 rivers meet the Tasmanian Sea to form brackish lakes behind a 100 kilometer isthmus. We were here during a very quiet time which was marvelous.

We met some lovely people in our short time in Metung and we would like to return. We met one couple who is boating along the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia this summer. I hope we can connect when we are cruising the same coastline this July.

After checking into our hotel we took a long walk, watched the sunset and the many birds and then headed to a remarkable little restaurant, the Metung Galley, where we drank a whole bottle of local wine over our third favorite meal of the trip.

Needless to say we slept well and took a walk before heading out on our long drive up the coast to Ulladulla. We really had no idea how long this drive was going to be as we wove through spectacularly lush country. The drive is made extra long because every extra excursion to the nearby coast off the “main road” takes quite a bit of time. The travel agent tried to warn us, and they were right, we needed another day. But we had a good time, stopped often and finally saw a small mob of Kangaroos at Gypsy Point which is a good thing, because we couldn’t leave Australia without seeing a Kangaroo. You’ll also see the photo of a guy on his motorcycle which his dog in the back in a milk crate wearing sunglasses and clearly enjoy the ride.

Today we woke up and took some walks around Ulladulla before hitting the road. The views are lovely but it was a bit cold today.

The proprietor of the Metung Galley suggested we stop in Mollymook and eat at Rick Stein’s restaurant at Bannisters Hotel. She said it would be Devine, and it was a perfect last meal in Australia. The view was fantastic too. Bannisters also looks like a very good hotel choice for the future.

Our 3 hour drive to the airport was pretty and we saw a large mob of over 100 Kangaroos, a giant flock of cockatoos in a tree near a park and unfortunately a big and very dead wombat on the side of the road. But, the cockatoos were remarkable and took flight in mass when a crow scared them away. Jim posted the video on Facebook.

There were also a few more great names for the funny sounding name game:
Mollymook
Jerrawongalla
Coolangotta
Gerringong
Wollongong

We fly overnight to Roratunga this evening and, after crossing back over the International Date Line, will wake up in the tropics this morning and enjoy a second Saturday. We plan to do some more scuba diving over the next week before flying back to Seattle late on Mothers Day.

We truly have loved Australia and will return. It’s so big, the people are friendly, hardy and generally libertarian. It’s got good food, great coffee, yummy wine, passable whiskey and too much nature to experience in one visit.

It’s all good!

PS — Happy Birthday Nan!

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