BootsnAll Travel Network

The Big Merino

These past 6 days have absolutely flown by and melded together. Today is January 5th, Thursday. Denika, Jane and I are driving south at the moment down the coast of New South Wales. The weather is crap right now, very misty and rainy, but they really need the rain so I feel bad complaining. It’s really strange weather and geography here, the ground is very dry, almost dust-like, but there are tropical trees that you would find in a rain forest. I yelled out in shock as a white cockatoo flew past our car, which I didn’t realize were wild here, as are parrots and other like birds. We haven’t seen too much wildlife though, which surprises me. I’m so used to seeing deer or at least some kind of gross roadkill whenever you drive past woods and forest at home, but the Austalian fauna are so shy, that they stay away from the roads. Many are also nocturnal, and that is when they tend to get hit by cars, much like our possum and raccoons.

We are currently in a small coastal town called Batemans Bay. It reminds me alot of Wisconsin Dells, a weekend retreat for the city folk from Canberra and Sydney. We drove down yesterday from the Blue Mountains. Unfortunately, the air was so foggy that we couldn’t see the house across the road, let alone any wonderful vistas across the valley, so we didn’t get to do the spine-tingling cable car or other touristy attractions. Hopefully I will end up in Sydney again at some point and do that. We ended up going to the Jenolan Caves, which is about 140km southwest of Sydney. There are huge underground caves and caverns, and we went on a 2 hour tour of the biggest one, The River Cave. It has an awesome underground river flowing through it, hence the name. It was also a bit scary, we had to climb up and down some vertical ladders and there were some big drops, high stairs and such. Our guide showed us a date that a certain explorer had discovered one of the caves, and pointed out is was Sept 11th, such and such year. He was trying to make us go hmm, but all it did was us go “whatever.” On our way back to the coast, we stopped at a small town called Goulburn to get some gas, and discovered it had a three story tall big Merino sheep. Oz has apparently adopted America’s obsession with the biggest “thing;” biggest pineapple, biggest kangaroo, biggest sheep. We stopped to ask for directions to it, and Jane and Denika made me get out and ask, as they were too embarrassed as Australians to want to see this big sheep. Of course the woman on the street looked at me like I was crazy, like why would this crazy American girl seriously come all this way to see this big stupid sheep. I’m sure she went straight home and said, “Funniest thing happened while I walking the dogs, this American girl got out of her car to ask me where the big Merino was.” I probably made her night. We of course all took our pictures in front of the big Merino sheep.

Denika’s lovely parents drove in to Sydney from their sheep station to surprise her at the airport on the 30th. Unfortunately, since she missed her connection, she didn’t arrive until the 31st. We met her parents and hung out with them until about 4pm. By then, it was too late to go downtown to find a spot to catch the fireworks, as it would’ve been too crowded. Plus, Denika was flat out exhausted from traveling and I don’t think she would’ve survived a crazy wild scene. So we find a spot on Rushcutters Bay right next to our apartment. There was a nice view of the bridge and harbour and we were able to see everything. In Sydney, they do a 9pm Family fireworks, and then do another big one at midnight. The area we were at had alot of young people, but also alot of families, so it was crowded and a happy atmosphere, but not rowdy which was fine by me. So we went out there about 6pm with some drinks and snacks and just hung out and talked. It was just so nice to sit outside on NYE, in warm weather with a gin and tonic.

THe following day we didn’t do much of anything. It was record heat in Sydney, 44 degrees, the hottest day since 1939. We walked a bit downtown and had some beers, but the heat just really wiped us out, and we ended up staying in that night, drinking some off label Sauvignon Blanc and talking on our balcony. I unfortunately didn’t take a picture of our flat, the term cozy is really hyping it up. On January 2nd, we walked across Sydney Harbour Bridge. It was much cooler weather, about 25C. We found our way to the Sydney Fish Market, which is the second biggest behind Tokyo and had a huge platter of different fried fish and seafood. It was supposed to feed two people for AUS$28, but three of us shared it and didn’t even remotely finish it. Denika left us to go home and nap as she was still jetlagged, and Jane, Melissa and I went to Oxford Street. It’s a large gay and lesbian neighborhood, and so of course, a great shopping area. We wandered around there a bit, and worked our way home. Melissa needed to catch her flight back to Melbourne. That night, we met up with two of Denika’s friends from London, Marcin and Dan, who she worked with at her pub job when she first moved to the UK. We went out for German food and some nice hefeweizen and played some pool. They were extremely nice, happy guys, what I can only describe as what we would think of typical Australians. They are planning a big trip to the States this April and May, so if anyone wants to take over my job as Chicago tour guide for the year and host some cute Aussies, let me know.

We are continuing down the coastal Highway 1 to Melbourne. We will stop somewhere tonight along the way and hopefully go horseback riding on the beach somewhere tomorrow, as we all love horses. We hope to make it to Melbourne by early Friday afternoon. Saturday Jane invited us to a toga party at a friend of hers. Toga party + Australia = mayhem I’m sure, or at least hoping.


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