This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


2008 Travels June 16-18


On Monday, after a very leisurely start to the day, drove across the bridge – an experience in itself – to the shopping centre. There, we walked around, getting an idea of what shops there were.

I was hoping to find somewhere good to buy fresh local seafood, but nothing like a fishermans’ co-op was evident – or a fishing fleet, for that matter.

After lunch, John went off to play bowls at the local club. I got him to drop me off by the Information Centre, so I could have a browse in there and pick up information about possible local destinations, now we had a new schedule to plan.

Then I walked through the back of the shopping area, to the main street, and then made my way back to the van, walking over the bridge. It turned out to be a very pleasant walk, despite its urban nature.

Batemans Bay was named, way back in 1770, by Captain Cook, for a member of his crew.

I extended our stay here for another two nights, and paid another $68.

John had only an average time at bowls, but at least it gave him something external to think about.

Batemans Bay outlook

Tuesday’s activity was to go driving – up the range, as far as Braidwood.

The drive was an interesting one. Our previous visit to that area, as far as Bungendore,  had seen us approach from the Canberra side and return that way. This trip up – and down – the Clyde Mountain, was certainly one that I was pleased we were not doing with the van on the back!

An initially somewhat hilly section, after we turned off Highway 1, onto the Kings Highway towards Canberra, gave way to the very pretty valley of the Nelligen Creek. The road crossed the Clyde River and then followed the Nelligen Valley for some way. The little village of Nelligen looked quite lovely, and we noted that it had an attractive looking caravan park, for future reference.

Then it was up, and up, the Great Dividing Range and Clyde Mountain. The steepest section was 5kms long and I thought that vehicles would regularly overheat going up this part in summer. Whilst John’s Canberra family might love their new coastal retreat, I suspected that the regular weekend 180km each way commute there, up and down this highway, would become quite tedious. Not a road one could relax at all on, and it would be worse in the late afternoon, with wildlife like kangaroos and wombats venturing on to the road. The benefits of the weekend relaxing would be negated by the tensions of the drive home, methinks.

The Braidwood township was old and historic, the area having been first settled by Europeans in the 1820’s. A lot of old buildings still remained, giving an interesting streetscape.

I had for some time, wanted to have a browse at the rather renown quilt shop here. Quilting, or patchwork, was something on my “try one day” list, when I had more time at home, because I did not see it as being a portable hobby compatible with a small caravan. The shop was fascinating and awe inspiring. I came away not at all sure that I had the abilities to make such brilliant creations. Need to think some more about that!

We continued on to Bungendore, another historic village, visited before, from a Canberra base. John wanted to further check out the excellent wood wares gallery and shop – to see if they might be prepared to stock some of his timber creations. We wandered about in there for some time. Some of the items they had in stock were just awesome – so beautiful and creative. In the end, John was so impressed by the quality and uniqueness of the gallery contents that he decided not to ask about his products!

We also looked at the goods in the nearby leather goods shop. Again, produced by craftsmen with great love for the work they did.

Bought lunch – a pie for John and sandwiches for me.

Then we drove – carefully – back down the winding highway, to camp.

On Wednesday morning, we went back to the shopping area for a few supplies and another wander about.

Then went driving, along the road that hugged the coast, for some way. It took us through a series of strung-out housing enclaves that were like suburbs of Bateman’s Bay. After some kms of this, at Broulee, we turned around and went back the way we’d come. I did not, overall, find Batemans Bay particularly impressive, either as a holiday destination in its own right, or a potential retirement location.

The intriguingly named Tollgate Islands, just off Batemans Bay

I couldn’t think of anything else I really wanted to do at Batemans Bay, so we spent the rest of the day back at camp. It was too chilly and breezy to sit outside the van, so I read indoors, and John mucked about on his laptop.

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2008 Travels June 15


After breakfast in the van, John spent some time mixing with the two boys – to whom he was, effectively, a stranger. They talked about fishing, of which they had not done much, and surfing, about which John knows nothing! The younger lad was still getting used to conversing totally in English – in Brussels French had been his “first” language. The five-year old was effortlessly biligual. I wondered how many languages he would end up speaking by the time he was grown up, given step-daughter’s regular overseas posts.

The resident lawnmowers at Durras

Mid morning, the family left to drive back to Canberra, because the elder boy had a birthday party to go to. We did not know about that until yesterday, and John was put out about this, though he did not say anything to them.  No mention was made of any plans to return to the beach house in the next few weeks.

House at Durras

So – our visit, for which we had been waiting about for, for over two weeks, in the cold and damp, lasted less than 24 hours! Not really an experience that left us feeling like valued family……especially disappointing, even demeaning, for John. I felt so sorry for him.

We had not unhitched van and Truck, yesterday, so departing was easy. We drove back to Batemans Bay, which had looked interesting as we came though it yesterday.

Went into Easts Riverside Holiday Park – a Big 4 one. After discount, paid $68 for two nights on a powered site.

Set up, had lunch, then went for a short drive to suss out the town and its shops – most of which seemed to be shut today.

The park was quite pleasant. It had an outlook across the large Clyde River, to the town, and out towards the open ocean as well. The turn off to the park was just before the long bridge that spanned the Clyde River inlet here. The bridge looked like one produced from the old time Meccano set, and was quite pretty at night, with the various lights on it. In the bridge centre was a lifting section that allowed larger vessels to pass under because the bridge itself was quite low. I wondered how often the traffic on the highway got held up for a passing boat?

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2008 Travels June 14


We hadn’t managed any preliminary packing up, so had it all to do this morning.

John put Truck into low range for the very steep, but short pull up the hill to the Tathra village at the top. We stopped there so I could get the Saturday papers.

Then it was a fairly slow trip north, from Bega, as the highway was hilly and winding for much of the way. We passed through south coast towns that we would, hopefully, come back to visit on the way home, or on later trips – Narooma, Moruya, Batemans Bay.

It was early afternoon when we found the Durras house. After some discussion with family, the van was backed into the neighbour’s driveway – this had been previously checked out by the family as ok, because said neighbour was not going to be there. It got us off the road, and onto a relatively flat area. We were also able to use the outdoor toilet at that place.

The location was very interesting – north of Batemans Bay, and then through National Park between the highway and the coast. The little enclave of Durras had frontage to both the ocean and Durras Lake and was surrounded on the other sides by National Park. This made it a small, tightly held area that had no room for further expansion.

Outlook at Durras Beach

However, scenic as it was, John and I thought that, at the height of summer, it would feel quite a vulnerable place, to us, with only the one narrow and winding road out, though forest.

The family’s house was on a short street that ran downhill to the ocean, and only about five houses back from the beach. Across the road was a large caravan park. The place had no front fences, but a large mob of kangaroos roamed freely and kept all the local grass mown!

Unfortunately, the kangaroos harboured plenty of ticks, and the place was infested with the ticks. John’s daughter told us that she had to closely inspect the two boys every night and regularly removed ticks from them, that they just picked up in the normal course of their play.

After the van was backed in, we got to inspect the property. It would be able to be made quite functional as a beach house, we thought, with quite a bit of work and money spent. It had just been painted, in order to stablilize the asbestos sheeting that was its main construction material.

It was really all about location, being just under three hours’ drive from home in Canberra, with the beach offering fishing, swimming and surfing for the males of the family. The surfing was especially important, apparently, as son in law used to be a surfer dude, and had plans for his sons to follow the tradition.

Durras Beach

We went for a long walk on the beach with John’s daughter and the boys, after John had given the lads the fishing gear he had bought for them, in Melbourne. There was no opportunity through the day to try out the gear with them, though. It did not seem that they had ever done any fishing, so – hopefully – having the kid-suitable rods might motivate some attempts.

Durras Lake

We ate tea with the family – spag bol.

After witnessing the nightly tick inspection, I gave step-daughter the special tweezers from my first aid kit, that had a magnifying glass attached. I thought she had a great need of these, here!

Later, back in the van, I found that I had picked up a tick that was on my hair – just from brushing against a tree near the van! Unbelievable! Luckily, I felt it moving and was able to brush it off before it had a chance to lodge properly and dig in.

I definitely would not like to live here – or even stay for any length of time.

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2008 Travels June 9-13


After an early lunch, on Monday, we went to play Pairs bowls at the Tathra club.

We drew against a very elderly pair of men, who looked like they could hardly totter along the green, let alone deliver bowls that would reach the other end! I thought we were going to have an embarrassingly easy game. As we walked out to play, one of the men remarked, in a slow, laconic drawl “Pennant players, are yous?” ……..They then proceeded to comprehensively demolish us! So much for assumptions……

On Tuesday, we decided that, rather than pack up today and move south to Merimbula, for the three days of bowls, then return back this way again, we would be better served by staying here and commuting to Merimbula in the mornings for the games.

We spent a couple of hours exploring the back roads and residential areas of Tathra. We drove very slowly through the hilly section, behind the beach, admiring some of the houses that would have brilliant views. I did have to admit to John that it wouldn’t be a bad place to live – IF one was looking to relocate from Melbourne to southern NSW.

One of the steep, tight corners on the way down to sea level at Tathra (Google)

From Wednesday to Friday, we had to get up early each day, in order to be in Merimbula by the appointed time for the bowls. Each day, I packed our lunches to take with us.

The drive there was a pleasant one, and took less than half an hour. Even though we were back and forth over the same road, it did not become boring. There was an interesting mix of bushland and cleared farming land, some of which was more hobby farm style, with large modern homes on. It was always late afternoon by the time we were returning to Tathra, and thus we kept a very careful watch out for kangaroos by the road.

This annual tournament was a very large one, attracting bowlers from far and wide and offering substantial prize money. In the world of lawn bowls, that meant very strong competition – well out of our league! We knew that – John just wanted the experience of playing here.

We were playing in the fours event, teamed up with assorted strangers to make up the four, none of whom were very good. I guessed that was really why they needed to rope us in to make up the numbers.

We had a rather mixed set of results, none good enough to put us anywhere near winning anything for our bowling.

Some of the other visiting players were from our home club in Melbourne. We had a bit of a chat with them, at one stage, but they were not John’s favourite people so we did not socialize much.

On Friday – the 13th, not usually an auspicious day for me –  there was the draw of a big raffle, for which tickets had been sold throughout the tournament. To my amazement, I won the second prize – a bowls bag, to be selected by me from the golf and bowls shop at Tura Beach, a resort type settlement just north of Merimbula. After the presentations to the bowls winners, and the raffle draw, we had to race off, to get to the shop before it shut, to collect my prize, as we did not plan on being back this way. Just made it, and I was very pleased with what I was able to select – about $120 worth! I had never had a new bowls bag – had been using my father’s very antiquated one. It made the whole experience worthwhile for me.

Friday fish and chips again for tea, from the local shop.

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2008 Travels June 8


The day was fine, with a mix of cloud and blue sky. Although it was still quite cool, it was definitely a day for some more exploring.

Took a packed lunch, and drove back south again, to the Bournda National Park.

This time, took a different route in to the coast, the Bournda Road, to the south of Wallagoot Lake. This took us as far as a camping ground near the southern side of Wallagoot Lake. From there, we followed a walking track to Hobart Beach, on the Lake, where we stopped to eat our packed lunch, and admire the outlook across the lake.

Waves breaking outside the entrance to Wallagoot Lake

Then a track took us across to the beach.

Rocky outcrops along the track to the beach

Again, the walk through the bushland was an enjoyable one, as was the long walk we did, to the south, on the beach.

Back to camp, to potter about for the rest of the afternoon.

With the midwinter short days and early dusk, we really did not want to be out much beyond about 4pm. It really became cold, quite quickly, after this time.

Bournda National Park

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2007 Travels June 7


In the morning, I drove up to the top shops, for the papers. The steep walk up the hill, which I’d done a few times during the week, just seemed a bit too challenging today.

John went off to bowls.

I read the papers, and walked along the cycle path to the inlet and back. Along the way, I was pondering the makeup of Tathra’s population – to what extent it was a holiday and retirement place for farmers from further inland, whether it was a bit of a dormitory village for workers from Bega and Merimbula, how many of its older inhabitants had come from further afield to settle here by the sea?

Cooked a roast chicken dinner in the electric frypan.

One of the nicest aspects about staying here was the background noise of the ocean.

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2008 Travels June 6


The weather was not quite as pleasant today – more cloud, less sun, and chillier – so we went driving.

Took the road north, towards Bermagui, for maybe 25 or 30kms. The way was hilly and winding, with pockets of cleared farmland tucked into the forest. These farms seemed quite isolated and we decided they were not places we would want to be living in bushfire weather.

We turned back, as far as Tanja, which was more of a locality on the map than a tangible place. From there, we took the Doctor George Mountain road, back towards Bega. This was a gravel track that John remembered taking, back when he used to come to Tathra with his then family, for holidays. The road surface was good gravel. The road was a rather narrow one, that wound around the forested mountain, in places almost doubling back on itself. Occasionally we could catch glimpses of cleared valleys through the trees, with some houses, once out of the National Park section. It was not really scenic, in the sense of gaining expansive views, but was attractive  enough. We were almost into Bega before the real open farmlands began again.

It was a pleasant drive through forest and on the winding section of the mountain.

The rather curious name of this mountain relates back to the pioneering period of the NSW South Coast. There were three brothers – the Imlays – all medical men, who became explorers, whalers and pastoralists in the region. The one unmarried brother, George Imlay, in 1846, who the records say had contracted an incurable disease, committed suicide by shooting himself, in the bush at the top of the mountain near Bega that now bears the name of Doctor George. Given the times, one can only wonder at the nature of said incurable disease…..

Eventually we emerged onto the flat plains around Bega, and drove on into that town, where I shopped for some groceries.

Then, back to camp.

Bought fish and chips for tea, from the local shop. Very nice.

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2008 Travels June 5


The now dry weather enabled us to go driving and walking again, today.

Our target was the Bournda National Park, like the Mimosa Rocks National Park, another long and narrow coastal reserve, this one to the south of Tathra.


We took the Merimbula road, south from Tathra, then the Wallagoot Lake road east, to that lake, in the Bournda National Park. From the car park at the end of the track, we followed a walking track through the scrub, to the beach and lake.

Wallagoot Lake

This section of Bournda National Park was an interesting contrast to Gillards Beach, being flatter and having the lake inlet, compared to the cliffs that backed Gillards Beach. It was a really pretty area, with banksia dominated coastal scrub.

I loved the reflections of the cloud banks in the waters of Wallagoot Lake, and the overall light effects on the lake.

The beach was excellent for walking on.

On the return to camp, we took a detour along Wallagoot Lane, through the farming country, and emerged onto the road to Bega, where we turned right to go back to Tathra.

It had been another pleasant day.