A combination of jet-lag, incipient cold from either the flight or home, hay fever and driving has curtailed my blogging activity. I also suspect that allergic hay fever – the usual flu-like symptoms, headaches, and sore throat – is visiting me as an unexpected bonus of to travelling to my ‘second summer’ of the year. But, finally, we have stopped for more than one night in the same place, which allows me to add some words. After tracking down the travelling daughter in Melbourne, where she works in the ‘Swan Hotel’ in East Richmond, near the footie stadium and not the sort of a place you would ever find me in my [alleged] (according to children) youth . . . at £8 a pint you definitely wouldn’t have in fact . . .
Prices – at this point it’s worth mentioning that, with the state of the pound as it is and the country going down the Farage, and everything, the prices in Oz are a little eye-watering at the moment. Even in my current state of wallet unlock there are limits. Prices are relative to local wages, so they aren’t crazy nuts for the average Australian . . . or everyone would starve. But it’s back on the bread sticks and water for us, or at least the ‘Carlton Draught’ and home cooked pasta meals for 10 days on the trot – as I keep telling the kids, it’s like my cycling holidays but without the bike . . .
I managed to pick up the hire car and negotiate the ‘left-hand-lane-right-turn-lanes’ that Melbourne is famous for. Then up to the supermarket to stock up on a ‘slab’ or two and some ‘goons’ for the long trip. Then back to the daughter’s hovel to get her on board and onto the highway to head up coast towards Lakes Entrance, which was to be our first waypoint. Now I may be wrong, but Lakes Entrance strikes me as the Australian equivalent of Trecco Bay or Southend, but much more spread out and with much larger and cleaner beaches . . . but still with some excellent bits of tat . . .
The next day we set off along the Princes Highway towards Merimbula, and it was here that we saw our first kangaroos, five of them in fact . . . all flat as bathroom rugs on the highway. We await our first live encounters.
Merimbula, is in New South Wales, on the Sapphire Coast (thank you Lonely Planet). Somewhat to my surprise they still have a Woolworths – the chain still exists in Oz, assuming it is part of the same chain, but they also sell food, which may account for it’s survival. We settled in to Sails Luxury Apartments, and got the first game of contract wist under out belts. Next day was an excursion to Pambula Beach; on the map this looks like any beach close to a town with suburbs, but in Australia it feels like being in the wilderness as soon as you step away from the ‘patrolled area’- the term conjures up (if you are used to Cornish beaches) a highly marshalled and teeming bit of surf with bathers and bodyboarders competing with the dudes (any any other wannabe beach boy) between the designated flags. But reality was a tiny stretch (50 metres long max) of flagged area where all the kids went too swim and bodyboard under the watchful gaze of the lifesavers and parents. The rest of the beach was practically empty except for the odd bather. This may have been because of a very nasty rip-tide . . . or . . .
. . . anyhow, we did go in the sea, but kept close to the patrolled area because I didn’t want to chance an encounter with. . .