The Spirit is In the Land

I’m finding it hard to leave.

I feel like I just got to Australia and gotten back into the groove of life at La Perouse, and I’m being ripped away, back to a life of work, responsibility, and (this time of year, at least) cold weather. It will be good to see my friends and family again, but I feel that it is only taking place as a trade for other friends and family.

The last few days have been a buzz of activities, occasionally interrupted but the creeping sadness of good-byes. We explored the southern head of the entrance to Sydney Harbor, made a huge gumbo pot using some file powder I brought from home (there is no file powder in Australia, or decent BBQ sauce, for that matter), enjoyed a wonderful send-off feed at Auntie Lois’s, and tip-toed through tearful good-byes on our way to the airport today.

Just when I thought I could put the sadness behind me for a little while, I came across an art installation bridge in my airport terminal, featuring a traditional farewell in the Dhurawal language, done by some folks from the local Aboriginal community, where we’ve been spending most of our time. Now, I’m enjoying a $6 VB, looking out at a 747, and wondering about the meaning of it all.

See you on the other side of the pond.

Little Bay to Maroubra Beach

Yesterday, I walked from Little Bay to Maroubra Beach, along Sydney’s south coast. I didn’t bring a camera or phone with me, so no pictures, but I did see some amazing sights, and I was able to travel through some areas I’d never been through before when I lived here.

Along the way, I counted 5 rusting engine blocks that had been dumped into the sea and were resting on rocks below the cliffs, including one very old-looking straight 6. Hopping the rocks south of Malabar, I came across a collection of petrafied shells being revealed from their sandstone encasement.

In my “I really don’t have a deathwish” part of this trip, I actually (and accidentally) walked behind the target area of a live target range just south of Maroubra. I was a little lost in the scrub when I heard some pops and emerged to see the red flags at the corners of the rifle range. I ducked back in the scrub and found another way north.

Maroubra Beach, one of my favorites in Sydney, was pretty full when I strolled onto the sand, and the surfers were out in force, with some decent summer waves and a gentle off-shore breeze.

Circular Quey to Parramatta and Back

Larry and I headed into the center of Sydney yesterday, looking for some enlightenment and adventure.

The first stop was the Australian Museum, beside historic Hyde Park, in downtown Sydney. There, we saw very cool skeleton exhibits, some interesting 1920s movies and photography from New Guinea, and a relatively out-dated look at Aboriginal Australians. Among the artifacts on display was a boomerang made in La Perouse marked “Artist Unknown,” even though a 20-minute bus trip with the artifact to talk to the local community here would likely positively identify it as a Timbery-made tourist item.

We then hopped the ferry to Parramatta, which is upstream on the Parramatta River and the furthest place you can go by ferry from Circular Quey. The trip was similar to what I remember from 7 years ago, except the ferry was much hotter when we left Sydney Harbor, and there was no breeze. The trip back to the city on the air-conditioned train was a relief.

Read the Blog of Larry

For a more detailed version of what we have been doing in Australia, be sure to check out Larry Lambert’s blog.

He has a lot more patience for blogging via an iPhone than I do, and his perspective is a valuable one for anyone seeking a more complete picture of our trip.

He also took this photo of me with my new best (metal) friend in Goulburn.

From Wine to Beer in Goulburn

After visiting the wineries northeast of Yass, we arrived in Goulburn a little “wined out.” So for a slight change of pace, we checked out the Old Goulburn Brewery in the hope of a wee bit of ale.

The brewery claims to be the oldest in Australia, and it definitely looks the part. The importance of beer to Aussies cannot be overstated, and it has been this way for a very long time. One of the first steam engines to arrive in Australia was put to work helping to brew beer in Goulburn.

The self-tour was a little underwhelming, but the ale tasting at the end was worth it. Here I am, standing at the bar, enjoying a schooner of the good stuff.

More Wineries

We visited several wineries on our way back to Sydney from Cooma. All of them were interesting, in one way or another.

One place used an old, one-room schoolhouse as its cellar door, which ironically was where the local Temperance Society used to meet in the 1920s. (Photo below.)

At another place, we met the winemaker, who was an Italian immigrant who came to Sydney in the 1950s with his brother, operated a tailor shop with him until the 80s, and then picked up winemaking, partially because it reminded him of his grandmother and the old country.

We are having a lot of fun exploring the Southern Tablelands region of NSW.

Visiting Canberra Wineries

After returning to Cooma for the night, we headed north through Canberra toward some frankly amazing wineries.

The first one we rolled up to contained a rural restaurant, smokehouse, and cellar door, all in one. Poachers Pantry, the food half of the business, features smoked kangaroo, duck, emu, and chicken, while the winery, Wily Trout, offers some excellent reds, particularly the Merlot.

We enjoyed a wonderful lunch in their garden, under a cloudless sky, beneath umbrellas, cooled by soft breezes.

Circling Kosciuszko

We spent the first day of 2009 circling the highest mountain in Australia, Mount Kosciuszko, via the Alpine Way. With stops in Jindabyne, Threadbo, Tom Groggio, as well as countless overlooks and curiosities, we really gained an appreciation for the Snowy Mountains and the interior area of the south coast of New South Wales.

This shot, taken from Scammels Lookout, shows the Snowy Mountain range from the west.