This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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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 4


The weather looked, this morning, as if it was beginning to clear. It was still pretty cloudy, but the rain had definitely lessened.

John received an email from son-in-law. He would be at Durras, painting the place, from 8-15 June. Daughter would be driving down for the weekend of 13-15th, to collect him, with the boys along with her. So, that would be a chance for John to see them, albeit rather briefly. Maybe we would not have to go to Canberra after all.

John’s plan became to stay here until next Monday, move to Merimbula on Tuesday for the bowls, then move to Durras on Saturday, until Monday, then start heading for home on the Tuesday. On that Monday, we could drive up to Bungendore to visit the wood gallery there. He said that he could play bowls here this Saturday, and we could both play in a mixed pairs game on Monday. The prospect did not thrill me!

Since it was not raining, we decided, after lunch, that we would drive back to Gillards Beach and go for a walk on the beach there.

Gillards beach

We could see more of the countryside, on the drive, today, as it was clearer. Today, there were kangaroos grazing around the campground, not at all disturbed by us turning up. We hadn’t seen them yesterday – guess they were smart enough to be sheltering somewhere then!

This Mimosa Rocks National Park was named for a ship – The Mimosa – which was wrecked on the rocks along here in 1863. Just one of the hundreds of shipwrecks along the dangerous coastline of Australia.

We had a fairly long, very pleasant walk along the beach. I was able to take some photos, without worrying that my camera would be drowned! It was a really enjoyable couple of hours – much better.

A little beach cliff forming from wave action at high tides

There were interesting low cliffs jutting out at intervals, forming various bays along the coast, and places where the rocks poked up from the sand. With the still grey skies as a backdrop, it looked quite dramatic.

Rock formations at Gillards Beach – sedimentary? Volcanic?
Unusual erosion in the rock

In the evening, son phoned, just to catch up and tell us all was well at home. I suspected he was probably enjoying having the house to himself for a while.

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2008 Travels June 3


Rain set in through the night, as forecast. It continued to rain, steadily, throughout the day.

John decided – and I heartily agreed – to stay put here and see out the rain, that was forecast to continue, over the next few days. In my view, a very sensible decision! Despite our extensive past travels, we really had not done a great deal of travel in the wet – and the idea did not appeal.

I went to the office and extended our stay until next Saturday morning – and we were given a free 7th day for it! Bonus.

It seemed possible now, that in order for John to see his grandsons at all on this trip, we may have to go up to Canberra, and then home via the Hume Highway. Neither of these were particularly appealing travel legs.

Right now, this was not being the pleasant, coastal trip I’d envisaged! Very little about it had gone as John wished. But his daughter had warned him, before we left home, that the Durras house was being renovated, and that would be affecting their use of it.

We bunkered down in the van, through the rain.

As we were now staying longer, during a bit of a break in the rain, we went out and put up the awning roof. That gave some shelter to the doorway, as we came and went to the bathroom.

We realized leaks had developed, over both the kitchen window and the one at the head end of the bed – again. Not good at all, leaks being the bane of any caravanner’s existence, and something this van had been a bit prone to ever since the stuffed up solar panel installation, years ago. In this case, there were probably a couple of areas around the window seals that needed silicone applying.

We were not very comfortable, with damp clothes after forays to the amenities, putting up the awning, and with wet feet!

After lunch, John decided we would go for a drive to Mimosa Rocks National Park, to the north of the Mogareeka Inlet. Really? I had mentioned that I would like to visit the odd National Park, on this trip, but hadn’t meant it to be in this sort of weather, though.

So we drove north, across the bridge over the inlet, and up a winding hill road, then through country that was a mix of forest with pockets of farmland. And with tendrils of mist curling around the slopes.

After about 10kms of this, turned onto a dirt track that took us towards the coast – in teeming rain, with low visibility – to Gillards Beach campground.

This appeared to be a fairly large bush campground, that would be quite an attractive place to stay, in decent weather. It would be very popular in summer holidays, I thought. Now, it was totally deserted. In different weather, it could be a pleasant place to stay a few days with the van – when there was enough sun to have the solar panels charge the batteries.

A sentinel overlooking Gillards Beach

Today, it was too wet to do anything there, except drive slowly around the campground tracks, and briefly get out of Truck to look out over the beach and the rather wild sea. It was also far too wet to risk drowning my camera in the deluge – these photos were taken on a subsequent visit.

Kangaroos grazing on something on Gillards Beach

We did not spend very long there, then retraced our route – taking it very carefully on the dirt surface, which was a bit slick in parts – and so back to camp.

Rain over the ocean

In our absence, some clown had parked his big van partly on our site, so we had no room to park Truck by our van. In an almost empty campground, with freedom to choose his site, he had to snuggle up close to us! He came out and apologized, as if that somehow exonerated him. But it did not change his intrusion – it is hard to believe the crassness of some people. Or their inability to park a caravan correctly.

Despite the adverse conditions – and the result of leaving our site unattended – it had done us good to get away from the van for a while and have something else to focus on.

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2008 Travels June 2


It was another cool but fine day.

John decided to stay on here for another day.

I walked up to the top shops, to buy a paper from the newsagent. The walking path up the steep hill was definitely a workout!

We went and did some more bowls practice in the morning.

After an early lunch, drove into Bega – just because this was a place where I had never stopped to have a look around. It was a pleasant drive, much of it on the fertile plains of the Bega River – great dairying country around here.

Dairying country around Bega

Bega itself was a typical farming region service town. John managed to find a shop that sold the brake adjusting tool he wanted, so that was a win. I was able to do a small supermarket shop for food.

We visited the combined Cheese Factory and Information Centre. Having grown up on a farm, milking cows, separating cream and making our own butter, I was not interested in explanations about the dairy industry! However, I was very interested in sampling some of the range of cheeses – and buying some. We really were a pushover where cheese sales were concerned!

Then we had to go and buy some nice rustic bread, in order to have a peasant style bread and cheese tea tonight. Yum.

In the late afternoon, back at camp, John’s son in law phoned again, to inform him that the family would not be going down to Durras next weekend, either. I was not surprised.

John became very miserable, trying to work out what to do next, and where to go. I made a couple of suggestions,  but he did not like my ideas. He decided that we would move on north, tomorrow – but not sure how far. The forecast is for lousy weather setting in up there, so I was not thrilled about the idea. We decided to sleep on it and see what tomorrow brought.

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2008 Travels June 1


Day 1 of winter. It was a fine day, but rather cloudy and quite cool.

We both went and practiced bowls, in the morning. I was quite pleased with my session – on grass, and after several weeks without playing.

After lunch, we walked along the beach, to the Inlet mouth, then came back along the cycle path.

The beach sand was very soft, so walking on it was not easy. By the time we got back to the van, my suspect back was aching. I decided to take a daily Celebrex anti-inflammatory, until after the big bowls tournament was over, just in case. I carried a supply of anti-inflammatories when travelling, for “back attacks”, ever since 1993 when trying to carry on with a trip, without medication after the back began complaining, saw me ambulanced to Queenstown Hospital, in western Tasmania. I wouldn’t wish a ruptured disc on my worst enemy!

John was unsure of his plans, after here, and conscious that he had heard no more from daughter. We had only paid for two nights here, so could move on tomorrow. He was not very happy. It did feel to me like being in a bit of a limbo.

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2008 Travels May 31


We took our time this morning, getting up and getting ready to move on. With such a short distance to go, there was no point in hurrying. We were not expecting there would be much pressure on site availability, at this time of year, but still did not want to arrive too early.

Lowering clouds over Merimbula

Took the non-highway route, through the centre of town, and up past Tura Beach. It was a good road and, once out of hilly Merimbula, easy driving.

At Tathra, there was the really steep, bendy, but short, drop down from the Tathra village centre, up on its headland, down to the beach level where the caravan parks are. Stopped at the top, put Truck into low range and low gear, and ground our way down.

Booked into the Tathra Beach Caravan park – the one with direct frontage to the beach. I was a bit surprised at the cost – $28 a night – almost as much as the Big 4 park across the road. I wasn’t sure if it was a Council owned park, or not.

We opted for a site not close to other campers, of which there were few. Set up for a couple of days’ stay.

Not far from us was a row of little individual bathroom units, each room containing toilet,  hand basin and shower. These were not gender specific. I find such arrangements much preferable to the large communal blocks that are the norm, and wish more parks would adopt this idea.

In the afternoon, John went off to play bowls at the Tathra club, which was just across the road. Men only, so I had a lovely, free afternoon! I walked as far as the mouth of Mogareeka Inlet, along the sealed bike path that paralleled the road. It was a 4 km walk, altogether, and most enjoyable. Lots of titree and banksia scrub alongside the road, and on the large house blocks, ensured there was plenty of birdlife to look at.

I had driven Truck up to the shops, before lunch, and bought Saturday papers, so spent some time reading those.

I made a pineapple salad for tea, to accompany cooked sausages.

John came home with the news that he had organized for us to practice bowls, over at the club, tomorrow. If I must……

At night, we could hear the waves breaking on the beach – lovely sound to go to sleep by.