Australian Interlude

Trip Start Feb 10, 2008
Trip End May 13, 2009

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Cann River Pub

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Saturday, February 9, 2008

Arriving back in Australia was just like what I expected - the light, the space, the trees, the quiet, etc but it's still a surprise after all that time in Europe. You can understand how many immigrants and refugees see it as a haven and a place of opportunity in comparison to where they have come from or what they have been through.
I arrived at 6.30 the morning of the Federal election, and virtually the first thing I did after getting home to my father's house was to go out with him to vote. I won't take full credit for it but obviously I had some influence as John Howard and his government were voted out convincingly.
The first couple of weeks it all felt a bit surreal being back with family and friends and in places I know so well. I also felt a little restless so I decided to drive along the east coast of Victoria, then north to visit my friend, Pi Wei, who I met together with her friend JJ in Buenos Aires in March last year. So about mid-December I set off along the Princes Highway - the first day I drove to Marlo, where the once-mighty Snowy River flows into the sea, then over a rough, dusty, winding dirt road through the forest for 40 kms, past Mt Everard, to Point Hicks, which is where Captain Cook first sighted the Australian mainland. That night I stayed at an old-fashioned Cann River pub. Next day I climbed Mt Genoa near Mallacoota Inlet, and drove on to Bermagui, where there is an excellent ice-cream shop making proper Italian gelati and stayed in a nice pub with lovely sea views. The final day I continued on up the coast and met Pi Wei in Kiama, where I had a great swim in the sea-baths. For my non-Australian readers - in many places on the coast in NSW a swimming pool has been built into the rocks - this particular day it was quite exciting with big waves crashing over the low sea-wall and sweeping you into the pool. I spent a few pleasant days in Wollongong gardening, walking on the beach, going to hear Pi Wei's brother and his bluegrass band, etc, then moved up to Sydney and spent a few days there, before driving back to Melbourne via the Hume Highway. Unfortunately I lost my camera in Sydney (this is the second I've lost), so there aren't any photos of this trip.
After Christmas with my family I attended Buenos Aires at the Beach, a tango festival held early in the new year run by Ady & Andrew at Anglesea (guest teacher this year was Milena Plebs), a beachside town about 1.5 hours west of Melbourne. On the last day of the festival, there was a dinner at the local pub, more dancing, then the hard core went to the front bar to mix with the locals, playing billiards to a background of loud disco music and hip hop, etc, till very late(last year there was a funny experience when one of the locals - a beefy, drunk woman grabbed one of the teachers (who shall remain unnamed) to dance with him and a few seconds later they were rolling around on the floor). After this as I was walking back to the motel a car full of tango people turned up and told me to get in, so I squashed in (I think there were 9 in the car) and we drove further up the coast to the beach house of Pam & Richard, where a number of us lay around on mattresses consuming an unneccesary amount of more hard liquor and massaging each other's feet, and Ady, obviously while under the influence, invited me to come and vist them in Adelaide.
As you all know by now if you invite me or give me your email address I am very likely to turn up, so at the end of January I decided to drive along the west coast of Victoria and up to Adelaide.
It was more than 30 years since I have driven the full distance along this coast and it was spectacular. I first stopped at Port Campbell, where there are the famous 12 Apostles. The whole coastline is very rugged and many sailing ships sank there in the 19th century. There are fantastic sea cliffs cut by gorges, fresh-water springs flowing into the sea, endless sandy beaches and many other interesting things (see the pictures).
The next night I stayed in Mount Gambier, a town built around an extinct volcano, which is filled with the famous Blue Lake. The headline on the front page of the local newspaper, The Border Watch, was 'Corellas attack the local sports ground' and on the radio I heard a man phone in on talkback and say 'the only good Corella is a dead one' - apparently there was an invasion of Corellas, a type of cockatoo, and they had been digging up the sports ground with their beaks - this is the sort of thing which is big news in these small towns. The area nearby is sitting in a thick slab of very porous white limestone, and there are many sink holes. These are deep holes in the ground filled with cold, crystal-clear water from the many underground rivers and caverns. It is very popular with divers but very dangerous - the water is extremely clear and there is a lack of buoyancy so it's hard for the diver to know which way is up. Before diving there was regulated many people got lost underwater and drowned.
One of the highlights was buying a freshly-boiled rock lobster (the coastline here is the centre of the Southern Rock Lobster fishing industry), a lemon, and a Cooper's Sparkling Ale, driving down to a wild and deserted beach, then ripping the head off the lobster, pulling it apart with my hands, squeezing the lemon juice over and guzzling it with the beer dripping on to my naked torso.
I continued up to the old fishing port of Robe, then drove along an area called The Coorong. This is a large inlet (I think it's around 130 kms long), bounded on one side by sand dunes which protect it from the sea and full of bird and sea life, and low scrub and salt lakes on the other side.
I spent a lovely few days in Adelaide - Ady and Andrew took me rock-climbing (first time for me in over 30 years), then off for a drink to a historic hotel, swim at Willunga beach, then dinner at a rustic pizza restaurant, where we ate very good pizzas and washed them down with excellent wines, a Pinot Noir from Victoria and a Bordeaux 2000 I had brought back from France.
On the Sunday there was a birthday party for Bruno held in a restaurant in the city (with much singing and dancing) and this was followed by a pool party at Steve and Joan's until late into the night. After this very relaxing interlude :)I returned to Melbourne and began to get ready for my trip back to Europe.
The day before I flew out I went to Bob and Antigone's lovely wedding. The whole thing was organised with the assistance of friends - painting the hall, bringing food, playing music and singing (many friends are musicians), etc. They used the Greek custom of the bride and groom each wearing a crown of flowers, which were linked together by a sash during the service. I'm sorry I don't have the photos to do it justice, but it was definitely one of the best wedding's I've been to.
I got home about 2 in the morning, packed my suitcase and backpack until 4, then woke up about 6.30 to finish packing and wait for my son and daughter to arrive at 7.30 to take me to the airport for my flight to Tokyo.
I spent around 10 weeks back in Australia - it was great to catch up with family and friends, I was able to rest a lot and catch up on my sleep deficit (I don't know what my father thought of me sleeping in most days until 10 or 11, doing nothing much during the day, then going out around 10 at night and not getting home until early in the morning), I enjoyed rediscovering the Australian countryside and coastline and swimming and body-surfing. I was sorry to leave again but I still have this very strong urge to continue on and see many parts of Europe I didn't get to last year, so off I go again.
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antigone on

From the very happily married Antigone
Hi Everard. It was great to see you while you were here, and fabulous that you delayed your return to travel long enough to make it to our wedding! What a blast the whole day was for me!! - such a great party with so many beautiful friends and family. Thanks for being there, and for pinning your last Aussie notes onto my dress! Looking forward to many more of your travel updates. Much love, and have heaps of fun, Antigone xx

valeriavine on

bon voyage
Love the photos of Australia makes me want to go there! I'm planning a trip to Melb in March but alas you shall not be there. It seems Melbourne is the place for nuptials as I too am attending a wedding as well as doing some dance workshops with Daghdha Dance Company ....that's if I pass the bloody audition. he he... My newest venture is trying to create a little tango community in the 'Gong. My May trip to Italy has been postponed to general busy-ness. My Robertson garden that you saw, went totally ape-shit and produced sunflowers with heads the size of dinner Cheese platters. I am ever so proud of them. Ummmmmm I think that's all for now. Looking forward to further international posts. Till again again other time....x

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