Trip Start Feb 10, 2008
45Trip End May 13, 2009
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Where I stayed
Cann River Pub
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
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
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 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.