When we were in the Philippines being kept awake by the karaoke we'd looked back at our second trip to SE Asia and came to the conclusion that we didn't get as much out of it as we should have - mainly because we hadn't properly researched and planned it.We also looked at our onward journey to New Zealand and South America and came to the conclusion that the latter especially is so huge that it really needs to be thoroughly planned in advance if we are going to enjoy it to the full. And the planning and anticipation is also a big part of the enjoyment for us and for E in particular.It's actually quite hard to research and plan ahead when you're constantly on the move and we enjoyed staying in the Byron Bay apartment so much that we decided to think seriously about stopping in New Zealand for a few months in order to plan South America.
One of the main reasons for stopping at Byron Bay, apart from liking the place that is, was to have another massage from Kim from whom we'd had such excellent massages the last time we were here.And once again we enjoyed one of the best massages ever - both of us felt so relaxed and rejuvenated. (Kim can be contacted on 0422 095 141 in case anyone is in Byron Bay and wants a bloody good remedial massage.) Afterwards, we had planned to have a couple of hours on the beach, but with yet more rain falling it wasn't really beachy weather.Instead, we took the car halfway to the lighthouse and, once the rain had stopped, walked the rest of the way there and on to the most easterly point of mainland Australia.It was as stunning and invigorating as the last time we were here.
After a couple of relaxing days pottering about in Byron Bay we set off south intending to stop for the night at Hawks Nest, which a few folk had said was really attractive. However at 5pm, after driving for about seven hours, we had only got as far as Forster-Tuncurry and Hawks Nest was still an hour and a half away.Forster-Tuncurry is a really bonnie pair of towns set on the coast at either side of the mouth of the river and is very attractive so we decided to stop.The locals suggested the bowling club as a good place to eat, but by the time we got there (at 7.45 pm) the kitchen was closed.However, the woman on reception said that we might get in at the ten pin bowling club next door - if we were quick and got round there before they decided to close up and go home.So off we dashed and although there was only one other person there they were happy enough to feed us. The meal was plain fare but really very good and excellent value for money.As we were eating a few other punters arrived livening the place up a bit so we decided to have a couple of games.We think the last time we'd played ten pin bowling was at Tolworth over twenty years ago with Olive & Dave.We were pretty rusty and had a few zero scores - especially M - but on the other hand she did also get a couple of strikes to make up for it.
Next day we were on the move again on the way south to Sydney, stopping off for a coffee at Hawks Nest (which is in a very attractive setting) before arriving at cousin Jean's in the mid-afternoon. It was amazing, and really rather sad, to think that after all this time this was the last leg of our travels in Australia. But it was great to see firstly Hamish - who was so excited to see us back - then later on Jean and Craig. It was also great to see bruvvie Tam again when he arrived at Jean's on Saturday evening for the farewell party they'd put on for us.It was great to meet up again with loads of people -friends of Jean who have since become friends of ours and we were really pleased that Archie and Helen and Judy and Patrick were able to make it - it was great to see them all. Interestingly, Andrew discovered that he knew Patrick - from their days boarding at St John's College in Sydney. Some times you appreciate just how small a world it is. We had a lovely evening and enjoyed everyone's company and their good wishes.
Next day Jean, Tam, us and Hamish headed off to Pittwater to the doggie friendly beach where Hamish took to the water and afterwards had a shampoo & set. It was then back with Tam to the mountains where we started the difficult task of packing our 3 tea chest cartons being picked up on Monday. However, this final visit turned out to be very sad because Nellie (Charlotte's kelpie - an Australian sheepdog) was in very poor shape and on Tuesday was put to sleep. We first met Nellie when we visited in 1997 and she was a wonderful character and so friendly. We will all miss her.
With our boxes safely in Seven Seas hands it was back to Jean's for some final last minute arrangements. Wednesday saw us off to Watson's Bay with Tam and Don leaving Jean who'd taken the day off work in bed with a bug. Before we caught the ferry, we managed our first glimpse in over 10 years of the impressive but infamous South Head of the Gap which is a notorious suicide spot. Later that evening John and Deb came over with some sushi to see us all and say goodbye (it turned out that we'd all been in KL at the same before Christmas - if only we'd known.....).Then on Friday it was off to the airport after we'd said our sad goodbyes to everyone. We'd had a great time in Australia but don't know when, if ever, we'll be back. We hope we will.
PS to Australia - while at the airport E had his Telstra SIM card still in his phone.Well the phone rang and it was Telstra calling for the very first time to ask if they could help him save money on his calls. After all the haemorrhaging of funds from our Telstra SIM cards etc over the last year or so, E had much pleasure in giving the Telstra rep a suitable response. Bye Australia and especially Telstra!
E M xxxx