In less than 24 hours we'll be making a 3 day pit stop in Sydney so we can get the car serviced. A few things have fallen off the engine as we expected and the handbrake has not taken too well to my co-pilot forgetting to take it off from time to time as well as some perilous hill start practice in the Flinders. It's also a good chance to catch up with friends and for me to pop into work just in time for the team Christmas night out.
Given I was about a 7 or an 8 out of 10 in the social retardation stakes before the trip I'm quite interested to see how many times I can tragically disgrace myself in these impending social and professional situations.
[Marvellous Mallacoota during a rare bit of clear sky]
This 'opportunity' has got me starting to reflect on how best to condense my experiences over the last 9 weeks into the 30 seconds I reckon I'll generally get before the people asking me about the high/low lights to date either lose interest or let their envy get the better of them.
And to be honest it's incredibly difficult to do without coming up with some banal generalisations or cliches but I'll let you be the judge. Anyway I don't think I'll really get to the heart of it until long after the trip. At this stage though the highlight other than of course experiencing the amazing natural beauty of my adopted homeland and spending heaps of time with VJ has been the time to think without interruption.
What an absolute luxury to just be able to spend hours thinking about stuff. The day before yesterday I was doing some maths questions from an Age liftout and I spent about four hours trying to do a seven bridges puzzle, only to find when I looked at the answer on-line that "There is no solution - it is impossible". It's funny but it really didn't seem like it had been a waste of time. I did alright on the other questions and can't wait to start inflicting these sorts of problems on a classroom. All this free time has also allowed me to clear out of a lot of the rubbish in my head that I'd been busy piling other things on top of over the years. The dreams are not as intense as they were at the start of the trip but without doubt I have made peace with a lot of things and situations I'd forgotten I was ever angry about.
Anyhow, that's about has far as I've got making sense of the last two months. I've got more time to think about it and I'll let you know what it turns into after I've tried to explain it a hundred times in the next few days.
Going back to Sydney does feel very weird though and I'm ever so glad we're travelling for a year and not just 3 months.
The journey up the east coast has been a return to the familiar. This is probably why we've not taken so many photos over the last couple of weeks. Before the trip the furthest south I'd been on the NSW coast was just down from Bateman's Bay. Naturally I'd always wondered what it was like a bit further on, but the very boring answer is, it's the same, just further away from Sydney and closer to Melbourne.
[Cheeky durrie while rugged up at Mallacoota.]
Looking south over Disaster Bay in Ben Boyd National Park.
We camped at the Bittangabee site as the one Damo had recommended was closed and once again our decision to have our tent on the roof was richly rewarded as the storm clouds came in. It just poured and poured for hours and the campsite turned into a swamp.
I recommended we push north more quickly as the bureau were predicting better weather the further north we could get so after a brief stop at Eden to visit the whaling museum we followed the tourist routes up to Narooma. It started pouring just as we pulled into town and didn't stop until the next morning. I pulled up the radar on my phone and we'd managed to pick the wettest place in a 256km radius from Canberra. It wasn't even raining in Eden, so naturally I copped it from VJ. It did mean we could go to the golf club for a counter meal and we also won a cask of Stanley's best claret in the meat raffle.
When the clouds cleared the next morning we found we had the primo real estate at Narooma Surf Beach. There were even hump back whales and calves passing by from time to time. Earlier in the season there are groups of up to 40 going passed here at a time and they tend to go through the channel between the mainland and Montague Island so they're especially close in. (There's also a top golf course so I'll organise a trip back down here with anyone who's interested for next October)
Other than nippers on Sunday and the occasional fisherman, dog walker and personal training class we pretty much had the amazing beach to ourselves. The weather even cleared up enough after a couple of days to make it worthwhile getting up at 5am up for a Tequila Sunrise with some Nescafe.
[Sunrise over Montague Island]
After four nights at Narooma I was pretty keen to pull into Pebbly Beach, where I'd spent an awesome birthday with my folks five or six years ago. Key standouts that time around from memory were sneaking outside for a birthday spliff and then demolishing the birthday cake in one sitting and less enjoyably arriving back in Sydney to find we'd been broken into and the thieves had stolen my stash (kindly replenished by the guys two doors down) and all of mum and dad's cash (luckily covered by their travel insurance). They caught the guy from his finger prints - after about two years I got a call to go into the station and make a statement.
I picked a cheeky camp spot at Pebbly Beach in the overflow car park which gave us the best view in town. Ness didn't sleep very well and wouldn't come down when the campsite manager came for the rent in the morning as she was worried that we'd get into trouble but all was sweet and we stayed on for another night.
[VJ getting up close and personal with some of the local birdlife
We're currently at Green Patch, where it our camping adventures started almost two years ago. That time VJ forgot her clothes and our masks and snorkels (which we realised after I'd paid to hire some fins). This time of course we're a bit more organised.