When we started our trip we had a week of a heatwave, followed by months of rain. Our final weeks looked to be shaping up just the same, as far as the rain was concerned that was. We had a few nice days in Melbourne, and one or two in Inverloch but apart from that, it had been miserable.
It was putting a bit of a dampener on the end of our trip, especially since the next place we were going to visit, I’d been looking forward to for ages.
I met a bloke at Ningaloo Reef who was on his third consecutive lap of Australia. When I asked if there was anywhere he was looking forward to visiting again, he said there was only one place he stopped at the first time, that made the list on the second lap – and it was Eden. He was planning on going there third time around too.
That, combined with the fact I’d heard that it was beautiful, and the very name itself – well, it was going to be a perfect place to spend some of the last days of the trip. Except for the fact that it was bloody raining. Urgh.
Anyhoo. Eden was lovely. So was its next door neighbour Merimbula, and the next little spot along, Tathra. The entire southern coast of NSW turned out to be an absolute delight, and eventually, the sun came out! Yippee!
In addition to being a naturally beautiful place however, Eden has a rather unique, and interesting history.
The waters off the coast happen to be extremely deep, and full of plankton, making it one of the few places where migrating whales hang around to feed, before continuing their journey to the Antarctic. So a hundred years ago it was the perfect place to be a whaler.
Nothing amazing about that, however, for decades the whalers were actually helped in their job, by packs of Killer Whales…
First of all, the Orcas would herd groups of Humpback Whales into the large bay surrounding Eden. Once a perimeter had been established, one of them would swim over to alert the whalers. They piled into their boats and were lead straight to their quarry.
Old Tom was the leader of the pack, and sometimes he would even grab a rope from the boats, and pull them if they weren’t moving quick enough. After the whalers had made the kill, the Orcas ate the lips and tongue, and left the rest for the men in the boats. Amazing!
It’s the only place in the world where this relationship has ever known to have existed. It’s hours from Sydney, and I’ve never even heard of it before. How does that happen?!
Anyhoo, we went to the museum on one of the rainy days, and they have Old Tom’s skeleton as the main feature as you walk in the door. What a story. You couldn’t make that kind of shit up. No one would believe you.
Our next stop up the coast was Batemans Bay. About three hours to Sydney from here, and still, a place that we’d never been to. It was a bit more built up, but nice enough, and sat on the estuary of the River Clyde.
By now the weather had stopped mucking around, and turned the sunshine back on so it was time to go fishing. Katie had been dying to get out there again for ages, but the weather had been against us.
I found a peaceful little shack on the river that rented out boats, so Katie and I wandered in to see if we could arrange a tinny for a couple of hours.
Turns out the old fella working there was from Glasgow. He was a bit crotchety, quite droll but nice. Very Glaswegian, and his name was Harry! I could not, believe it.
The River Clyde and an old bugger of a Glaswegian called Harry. I can’t help but feel like there’s something in that. A little sign from my Dad. A wee smile from above. You never know…
We had a nice time in and around Batemans Bay. The fishing was great, although we didn’t catch anything, and Mogo Zoo was a nice afternoon. Erin stayed at home while I took the girls to check out the rare white lions, a variety of monkeys, giraffe, rhino and a family of snow leopards. Taronga eat your heart out.
The place we were staying at, however, was less than perfect.
A horrible little caravan park where you’re packed in cheek to jowl, permanents all round, hardly any campers at all. Don’t know how we ended up there really, but hey, we spent most of our time out of the campsite anyway.
We were set up next to the kids play park, which was handy, and also next to a little cabin, which as it turns out, was not. Erin bumped her chair against it one night, and the fella inside came out all upset about the noise. By then Erin was inside the tent, so I apologised, said it was a mistake and he went back in grumbling.
We made a serious effort to keep the kids on the down low after that, but in the end, it was me who provoked another reaction. Returning home after a day out, we started packing up as we were leaving the next morning.
It was about 7:30pm, kids’ bedtime but still day light. Early enough. Then he walks out and stands about a foot in front of me. Brow furrowed, legs planted and head thrust forward.
“How many time do you have to open and close that bloody car door!”
As soon as he’d squared up to me, I knew exactly where this was going. So I’d sized him up, and thought, well, if it comes to it I think I can take this guy. Every fibre in my being was preparing to fight. Although that’s the last thing I wanted to do.
“Eh? I’m packing up mate!”
“I’m sitting in here trying to get a little piece and quiet, and your opening and closing that bloody door!”
“Well we’ll be out of here tomorrow, so you won’t have to worry about it anymore.”
“Do you think I’m being unreasonable here? Are you a bit bloody strange, or are you just ignorant?!”
Now. This is one of those times where you have a decision to make, about where you want the story to go. Breathe. Breathe. The adrenalin was coursing through me. And I was angry. Fortunately, though, you don’t grow up in Glasgow without learning how to deal with the odd nut job. It’s a fine art.
Option 1. “Oh I didn’t mean to upset you. Sorry about that, I’ll keep the noise down.”
The nutter can smell weakness though, and there’s a chance he’ll attack, or continue to pester the shit out of you. So, you need a stronger approach than that.
Option 2. “Ah well actually, I do think you’re being unreasonable. And I’d appreciate you getting the fuck out of my face, fuck face.”
On the other hand, you don’t want to provoke him into a fight, because, well, he’s a nutter! You have to placate, whilst demonstrating strength and a willingness to fight, if needs be.
Option 3. “It doesn’t matter does it? I’m finished now, so I won’t be opening the car door anymore, and we’re out of here tomorrow, so you’ll never ever see us again.”
I delivered option three, with the right level of eye staring and shoulder squaring, and the nutter returned to his lair. Phew! Thank god for Glasgow. I paced around for ages trying to unload the adrenalin so I could actually sleep, which I did, eventually, right next to an empty bottle of wine. Just in case I needed a chib. Translation for the non-Glaswegians – a chib = a weapon.
Jesus. Anyhoo. Only one total nutcase on a trip round the whole country, not so bad.