Bucolic Bundeena

Trip Start Oct 12, 2010
Trip End Mar 24, 2011

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Where I stayed
Sue & Kev's place

Flag of Australia  , New South Wales,
Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I heard on the news a couple of nights ago that Sydney, Australia has experienced the wettest March in 27 years - I figure that is a good way to acclimatize me for heading back to springtime in Canada so before leaving Australia, I headed back to get my feet wet again (and the rest of me to boot).

This time around in Sydney, I stayed with the lovely Sue and Kevin about 45 minutes outside of the city in a village in the Royal National Park.  They live in a small but beautiful artists' enclave called Bundeena which is in an idyllic setting surrounded by golden beaches as well as forested areas and hiking trails.  There is a teeny little centre of town with an IGA that also doubles as the local liquor store, a couple of very nice cafes (coffee is considered an art here in Australia) and a little post office.  It is really cute and although I only got to see it in the rain on this trip, I'm sure it is postcard perfect on sunny days!

Sue and Kevin were amazing hosts - we went out for a lovely meal at their local RSL (like a Canadian Legion but very popular community centres here in Australia) on Friday night.  The place was hopping due to the St. Patrick's Day celebrations with green beer flowing and a crazy alternative little bar band that played frenetic gypsy-sounding instrumental music all night that had little to nothing to do with St. Patrick's Day - I definitely did not pick up on the sentimental strains of 'Danny Boy' while they were sawing at their fiddles and doing a Nirvana impression on the lead guitar.  It really rocked the local seniors sitting up near the stage :)

Saturday was a quiet day at home, doing some reading and watching a little TV while the rain flooded out roads in the National Park.  I went for a walk along the beach with Kevin in the afternoon during a brief break in the deluge and there were neat areas with Aboriginal rock carvings, hiking trails and then we scrambled around the rocks around the point of the beach and saw hidden plaques underneath rock overhangs and watched the waves crashing just off the point churning up pretty teal blue water (indicating a reef nearby). 

Sunday granted a little reprieve from the rain for a few hours in the afternoon and it was a good chance to hop on the tiny little ferry that went from Bundeena beach over to the cute little town of Cronulla.  Watching the fishing boat sized yellow and green ferry bobbing and almost flipping over on the high waves as it approached Bundeena didn't instill a lot of confidence about the impending ride, but it turned out not to be 'The Perfect Storm' as I feared it would be.  Cronulla was a cute little town with a main pedestrian mall with lots of shops and restaurants.  The local beach was really lovely - the waves were high and there were surfers and gliders everywhere enjoying the break in the weather.

Yesterday was a mixed bag of rain and cloud but Sue was an intrepid tour guide who spent the day showing us around the beautiful coastline in the park as well as little towns, coffee shops and pubs.  We drove the ark (well, we could have taken an ark) to a coffee shop and dashed through the curtains of rain and puddles to sit back in a nice coffee shop to enjoy strong coffees and delicious pastries such as raspberry muffins and pear and raspberry bread - mmmmm.  We later stopped at a pub which is located on a cliff overlooking the ocean - it is a very beautiful location but we had to use our imagination to envision the typical view of blue skies and crashing waves as there was only a thick sheet of white mist on this day.  Regardless, it seemed like a good spot to have a beer and some snacks to fortify ourselves for some further sightseeing :)  We stopped for Australian meat pies and more pastries in Engadine and then took a walk through sweet little Sutherland as well, peeking into shops and restaurant windows. 

Sue and Kevin made sure we were well-fed with such a great variety of meals shared around their warm and welcoming kitchen table.  Kudos to Kevin for an incredible meal of pot roast with all the fixings (including a massive Yorkshire pudding that was to die for) - fantastic.  Sue stepped up with some local fish and we even mocked up some 'shrimp on the barbie' just to complete the Aussie food experience!  It was so good to finish up the Australian leg of my journey with such a delightful visit with wonderful new friends who now feel much more like family. 

Although I was originally scheduled to move on to Egypt for the next stage of my tour, I decided to cancel that particular trip due to the recent tension and instability in the Middle East and to use a travel credit with my tour company at another time.  I debated booking travel elsewhere in Europe but several things and people have been on my mind back home in Canada and I strongly feel like it is time to come home for a little while.  My fantastic travel agent worked her magic and so I am scheduled to do a couple of very long days flying but will be home sweet home in a couple of days to digest all that I've seen and done in the past 5 1/2 months and to think about what to do and where to go next.  It's been quite a trip and the blog is not quite finished yet so stay tuned for a couple more entries as I wrap things up and set my course for home!

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