In Eurobodalla Region, Land of many waters....
Trip Start May 01, 2010
58Trip End Oct 03, 2010
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On Monday morning, in warm bright sunshine, we left the lovely Lane Cove National Park to make our way through the Greater Sydney traffic to travel south. We had no farewells, as the brush turkey’s nest was deserted and the kookaburras were silent. We drove through older leafy residential areas including Ryde as we went South West to avoid toll roads and the Sydney city centre. At one traffic light we were fascinated watching hundreds of primary school students, wearing ties and caps, scurrying like ants across the busy road under teacher supervision.
Half an hour later, we passed Sydney Olympic Park. From there, the GPS led us towards Hurstville past older fibro cement houses of Riley Park. After an hour of driving through single storey residential houses, we were surprised to see a few high rise buildings at Hurstville. At Kogarah we at last turned onto the busy Princes Highway, the major coastal road which connects Sydney to Melbourne. A little later we crossed a bridge over a wide expanse of water, the upper reaches of Botany Bay. We had admired the marina nestled in the bay from the train window a few days previously while on our way to Cronulla. At 10am, still in heavy traffic, we suddenly noticed we had just driven passed the vet at Kirrawee where we had met Joanne on Friday. As we approached the next traffic light, it turned red and while we waited, we recognized that it was the junction with the road we had walked up from the railway station.
After one and half hours driving through the traffic of residential areas, we drove between concrete lined embankments decorated with colourful raised concrete birds and dolphins from which opened up the rural suburbs including Engadine and Waterfalls. From there the Princes Highway gradually climbed through similar scenery to that we had driven through when approaching Sydney the week before from up north. The road overlooked blankets of tree tops as we passed one National park after another and soon we had been on the road for over two hours and needed to stop for a short rest break.
At the first convenient turnoff, we found ourselves in the car park of the modern large Southern Gateway Centre (altitude 1148 metres), Bulli Tops Lookout, Illawarra. What a surprise to suddenly see the magnificent views down towards the ocean and sprawling Wollongong, affectionately known by the locals simply as ‘Gong’, in the distance.
At that height and being so open, the cold wind quickly drew us into the warm building. We were so impressed that we could enjoy the incredible vista, while relaxing on comfortable sofas warmed by our coffee, in front of the huge windows. The Princes Highway continued to circuit around and above ‘Gong’ before descending a steep, windy, zigzag road back down towards the coast.
During the rest of the journey this day, we drove through pretty country towns, scenic green cattle pastureland and forest areas. We definitely need to return one day to spend more time exploring picturesque New South Wales. At Kiama, we were back at sea level driving along the holiday beach areas before the road took us inland once more. During the gradual climb we enjoyed fantastic views over the rugged coastline driving towards Nowra.
After our big $14 lunch, we needed the walk along the main street of historical buildings with interesting shops. At the ‘Olde Sweet Shoppe’ we were able to restock our supply of red and black coated Aniseed balls. We couldn’t resist browsing in the ‘Cuckoo Corner’ with its outstanding variety of Black Forest Cuckoo Clocks, Grandfather clocks and many other attractive European items for sale. When we walked in the only other person in the shop was the Italian owner Frank’s German friend whom we will call Fritz. We enjoyed a chat and laugh with them both until the shop filled with other tourists and it was time for us to move on and leave them to sell their wares. Back on the road we drove through expansive green pastures divided by wooden fences into separate enclosures containing cows grazing on the lush grass. We could just as well have been travelling through the countryside in England or Europe especially as we had just seen a shop full of European souvenirs.
Only twenty kilometres further down the Pacific Highway, we crossed the wide Shoalhaven River before driving through the sprawling country town of Nowra, which means Black Cockatoo in the local Aboriginal language. Before reaching our destination for the next couple of days, we passed through the towering gum trees of the Benandarah State Forest on the right side of the road with the Murramarang National Park on the left.
The Batemans Bay Beach Resort was easy to find and parking in our allocated site was a breeze as there were only a few other caravans scattered around the park and we could drive through an adjacent site to right where we wanted to be. Obviously most travellers are still up north where it is warmer or haven’t yet set out on their holidays as the big well equipped park close to the beach is very quiet.
Between the caravan area and the beach is a huge wide tent area occupied by only one lonely tent the whole time we were there. In the morning we spoke to the couple in one of the few caravans, who told us that they are farmers from Goulbourn, NSW, who had just taken three days off for a little holiday at Batemans Bay.
In the morning we slept in and then had a leisurely breakfast in the beautiful sunshine. After completing the necessary chore buying the weekly groceries in a big modern shopping centre, we headed to the Marina. From here we had a good view of the iconic image of the south coast of NSW, the bridge over the Clyde River.
This river, which flows through three large national parks, is one of the few in New South Wales that has never been dammed and also one of the cleanest as there is no industry in the upper regions. We walked along the promenade with the picnic tables and chairs and noticed the locals enjoying takeaway cooked prawns. We were surprised how busy the little seafood takeaway shop was and by the time we had finished our portion of garlic prawns whilst overlooking the picturesque bay, the clouds came in and a cool wind sprung up. We returned to our caravan and the rest of our day was spent preparing our travel pod of Sydney as we had been too busy rushing around to complete it while we were there.