Day 34, Melbourne, Australia – Merimbula(Sunday)
By the time Sunday rolled around I was eager to be moving on to see more relatives. I got up and showered. While showering I noticed peculiar crotch height holes between the shower dividers. Obviously they could be there innocently or not, I decided not to make a big deal about it, but to comment to the clerk and the suggestions box. I had a hearty breakfast of Greek yoghurt and jam and was off to catch a train.
I needed to catch two different trams to get me down to The Flinders Street Station. Once there it took me a few minutes to find the ticket counter, which is inside near the intersection of Flinders Street and Swanson Street. The gentleman took my online reservation receipt and gave me a ticket, this was the second train ride of my journey, and I went to find the platforms. Unfortunately the entrance area I was in had ticket checking machines for small tickets like a subway system, I glanced around and saw no signs indicating where I should go then went back and asked where the platforms were. I needed only to go around several commercial stalls to an area that had the same machines, but their gates were all open.
I also could not find a monitor listing which train was at which platform so I had to walk down the main hallway reading the sign on each track. The second time through I found additional tracks on the southern end and found my platform. At this point I was getting worried because all of my small delays were adding up, but once on the platform I realized the train was running late and all was well, at least for me. I have yet to miss a train and while I do flirt with disaster on occasion I hope to keep it that way.
I settled into my seat and began to read. Since it was a Sunday and I was well rested I decided to make progress on JP II’s Theology of the body, which is a long text on sexuality and the human body in Catholicism.
Part way through I realized that my only opportunity to buy lunch would be on the train, so I purchased a coffee and a wrap. We also passed a very small town names Stratford with an even smaller river named Avon passing through it. As one would guess the trackside was covered in Shakespeare motifs and I was told the region’s annual festival for that authors is held in the town.
I transferred over to a bus in Bairnsdale and son found myself nodding off, which was not necessarily convenient or comfortable as the road wound quite tightly through forested hills.
Finally I recognized the Pambula golf course and the bridge into Merimbula. Pam was waiting outside the bus. Since they thought the bus might have arrived early (it was in fact like the train late) George had gone off to see if I had already made my way to their home. We caught up to George half way there. Pam is my Father’s first cousin, making her my first cousin one removed (1C1R). They were originally from England, but moved to Australia a long time ago and have a large family there. They originally managed tourism properties in Merimbula seasonally, the eventually came to run one themselves and then retired there. Merimbula is a popular vacation spot for people living in Melbourne.
Day 35, Merimbula, Australia (Monday)
I got up and breakfast was already laid out for me by my hosts. They had a morning Jazz club meeting, so I had some time to work on my CV. I wandered through the kitchen during their back porch meeting and was spotted by one of the meeting attendees, who calmly informed my hosts that either they had an intruder or they had failed to introduce their guest, so I had to go out to be introduced and try some wonderful baking that had been brought. After the meeting we had a cold cut sandwich lunch and Pam and George went off for a Historical Society meeting, so I went back to my computer to try and figure out bookings for the next leg of my journey. In order to get some internet I went to the bowling club, which was a blend of social club, restaurant, and casino. I met them back at their house and then went off with Pam for some actual bowling, standing in for someone on her league. I didn’t do very well, but enjoyed the game. After that I played dominoes with Pam and George on their back porch and had an amazing streak of beginners luck.
Day 36, Merimbula , Australia (Tuesday)
Tuesday I was taken on a tour of the parks south of Merimbula. It is a really lovely place. We stopped at Aslings beach, several small parks, and Ben Boyd National Park. At the national park we reached a point where George stopped looking puzzled. He was certain that there was another path which led down to the ocean that broke off from the main path where we were. I could see no signs of a path ever existing. Sure enough he started trekking off the path, me not far behind, and he found the missing trail. They had put a lot of work into hiding the once well maintained path, but the further we got from the main path,my he clearer the trail was, until we hit the first official warning that the path was closed. We passed around it to find another barrier about 5 m further along that gave the clear impression of “No, we’re serious, the ground is unstable ahead and you can get yourself killed.”
At that we turned back and met Pam at the car park. We stopped for a picnic lunch, found more abandoned trails that led to scenic views, visited Pambula beach, bought some local oysters, stopped one place for inexpensive fruit and another for inexpensive milk, though both places had both, and got back to their house for some lamb curry.
Later in the evening George broke out old travel videos of their visits to New Zealand and England. It was good to get some travel advice.
Day 37, Merimbula, Australia (Wednesday)
On Wednesday I slept in until 8 and again the makings of breakfast were laid out for me when I went downstairs. We went to hike the Merimbula and I was struck at the strong pace set by these Aussie pensioners who were easily old enough to be my grandparents, but put me through my paces.
I stopped at a local camping store one we hit the town to ask if they had permethrin, which is an amazing clothing treatment to repel mosquitoes. The store clerk insisted that while they normally had it, it wasn’t in stock. At least I knew it was sold in Australia. We had lunch and I had a nap.
I then tried to catch up on some Journaling, though still a month behind. After making a modicum of progress I went to walk to the wharf, which was a fair trek. George gave me directions to a nature trail, that while I knew I didn’t have to time to take, I knew I would try anyway.
I kept up a good walking pace, found the aboriginal hiking trail that led me to Bar Beach. There was a cafe that proudly announced on the sign that is was open from X am, but had no indication of closing time. It was clearly already closed for the day. A lot of businesses in the area had the same trait of announcing an opening time, but no closing time. I dodged some ladies jogging on the nature path, made it to the quiet and pretty viewpoint of Fisherman’s lookout, and made it to the wharf.
I was almost at a jog myself on the way back and made it to their door just as dinner was being served. I was late, but my timing was good. After dinner we left for the square dancing club meeting Pam and George ran. I had never been square dancing before but was able to demonstrate that my claim to be a fast learner was true. Several members lamented that they wanted to keep me.
When we broke the equipment down, cleaned up the dozen beetles that had flown in while we were dancing, and got home, Pam and George put a Wild Croatia documentary on the TV and took out a lovely Muscat.
Day 38, Merimbula, Australia (Thursday)
On my fifth day in Merimbula I got up around 8:15, used my host’s laundry machine and went on a hike to see the Merimbula Classic, a surfing a kite boarding competition. There were a lot of kite boarders at the beach. I am regularly amazed how kite boarders manage the right of way and don’t get tangled together.
I met Pam and George at the historical society, where they were volunteering, and they took me to visit the lookouts on either side of Middle Beach. The beach itself is tucked between two cliffs, so the chances of stumbling upon it are quite low. One of the lookouts involved quite a long hike, on which we saw many birds, another akidna, and heard but didn’t see the elusive sweep bird. At the end of the trail was a very nice viewing platform.
After a quick stop at the house we walked to a BYOB Chinese restaurant. George brought a bottle of wine and I had my goodbye dinner as I was leaving in the morning the next day. The night was capped off with another round of dominoes.