To truly grasp the vastness of Australia you just have to travel by bus or by car, and you’ll quickly see that despite being an ‘island’, it`s no small place. Eden is a small town located on the east coast of Australia, and fairly close to NSW’s border with Victoria. My reason for exploring this far south was to see my close friend from school years, R. and her family.She had moved ‘Down-under’ about 6 years prior and while we’d seen each other occasionally in Canada, I decided it was most definitely time for me to see the place that she currently called home.
The trip took most of an afternoon and evening to get from Sydney and two different buses. It’s about 3 -3.5 hours to Canberra non-stop, and another 4-4.5 hours to Eden with a break for the driver. There’s also the option of taking the train from Sydney to Canberra, but from there only one bus goes down to Eden and it departs once daily, making several stops along the way at Cooma, Bega, Merimbula, Pambula and finally Eden. I met some nice people on the bus from near Bega, and they pointed out a couple of sights in the dark as we drove down and around the Brown Mountain switchbacks on to Bega. The bus driver, Phil, was a friendly fellow as well, insisting that we move up to the front of the bus when there were only two of us left, and we chatted the remainder of the journey.
My arrival was somewhat exciting, as Y. came to pick me up in the ambulance and had just received a call. I had understood that the house was not far from the bus stop, so I didn’t quite do up my seat belt (slap on my hand, yes), but what I hadn’t realized was the amount of hillside in that town. Which meant that I held on tightly to the edge of my seat as we drove quickly to drop me off at their house and I ended up flying almost in Y.’s lap as we took the turn up the drive-way rather sharply. Oops. From there, it went a little more smoothly and I was soon welcomed by my very pregnant friend and her energetic daughter. They also owned a ‘wheat bag’ so I wasn’t cold at night while my magic bag remained at the bottom of my bag. And better yet, the bed had a large electric blanket in it! Toasty warm!
I spent just over 3 weeks altogether visiting R. and her family, a visit broken up by my travels up north to Cairns and Papua New Guinea. It was such a treat to see R., to play with J. (her 3-year old) and to help out during the last days of her pregnancy /first few days of newborn’s arrival. I felt very welcomed and spoiled with all the different activities we undertook and places we visited together.
The first week, I came up with R. to Bega because she had a doctor’s appt. and we visited the famous Bega Cheese Factory with very tasty ‘Tasty’ cheese (aged white cheddar mmm); I was introduced to the different parks around Eden, including the Lookout park and Corcora Beach (informally named the ‘buckle-up swing park’ by J. who LOVES to spend time on the swings), and to the post office, the dollar store and the Hardwood shop where we bought the scrap boards to use as firewood; I had a very productive baking day with R. ; I met Peppa the Pig and played more games of snap than I have ever played; I went on a trip to the whale museum, the Aquarium in Merimbula and to Potaroo Palace on a cold and windy day to meet some Australian wildlife and feed some Kangaroos. I also tried to pet the emu walking around the zoo – if we could call it a zoo – and he kept running away :P
Small commentary on the whale museum: whaling was really big in Twofold Bay up until it was banned in the 60s (I believe). The whales still remember though and not many are seen in the actual bay though many pass down the coast on their way to Antarctica. They used to hunt down any whale they saw, the blue whales, the humpback whales, the sperm whales (like Moby Dick) and more. Liked the Baleen and the blubber. I was saddened by this practice and I sincerely hope that not too many countries in the world are still chasing after the whales. Definitely impressive to consider the real size of a blue whale when you look at one of its vertebrae or saw the jaws hanging from the ceiling.
The second week began with waffle-making (yay!) and the hospital saga which eventually led to R. giving birth to a handsome, healthy boy in the early hours of Thursday morning. In there I got to spend a few days looking after J. while R. & Y. were at the hospital. I managed to keep J. mostly occupied for the first day but was glad for her weekly visit to preschool the next. She is a very energetic, smart and cheeky child, so one had to keep things moving and engaging. I did teach her a French grace, and she would fondly ask to sing the Donkey song each time we sat down to eat hehe. And she would scold anyone who didn’t put up their ears fast enough.
One day we walk back to the Rotary Park and she received a wooden ‘love heart’ from one of the neighbours who had seen her often at the park with her Mom, and another day we went back to Cocora Beach and while she had the whole beach, she decided to splash in a puddle by the BBQ area. We did turn her into a mermaid in the sand too. R. & Y. introduced me to a neat restaurant called Cranky`s in Merimbula with some very delicious gluten-free and even dairy-free desserts. Lemon polenta cake, blueberry loaf, orange muffins mmm.
R. came home with baby the day after the birth and it was a bit of an adjustment for everyone. But baby L. was very cute! I decided to make another batch of granola before I would leave, and as I picked through some of the nuts in the cupboard to add, I accidentally mistook some peanuts for hazelnuts :S I admit, I wondered that the shape was a bit different and I knew once I had tasted it, that it was not hazelnut. Fortunately, I did not have an allergic reaction. We also made a trip to the variety store for some gifts to take to PNG. And a trip out to Eden’s Cove and Boydtown where there was a nice view of Nullica Bay. I even have a video :)
During the second week, I started watching a documentary film that Y. had saved on PVR for me to watch called ‘Unsere Muetter, Unsere Vaeter’. Otherwise known as Generation War in English, it follows 5 friends during WWII in Germany and is made by German filmmakers offering a much different perspective than might be shown in some of our British or American WWII-themed movies. Based on real people (each of the 5 people we follow in the film were friends in real life in Germany during this time) and they definitely were changed by the war and what they experienced. There were many moments that I just wanted to bawl my eyes out for the suffering of those persecuted by the Nazi regime, including all of these 5 friends, in one way or another. I would highly recommend watching it.
The next day it was off to the airport in Canberra. More on that to come later!