Canberra to Coast & Back in a Weekend
It’s not that far from capitol city Canberra, Australia, to the coast, and makes for a lovely 2 day getaway. With friends Amanda & Maurice, we popped our way in & out of shops in several quaint little Australian towns on our way to the coast at Wollongong. It’s fun to look, even thought I don’t have extra money to spend, space in my backpack, or a home to bring anything back to. But someday I may, and in the meantime, it’s nice to know I can be happy & have a good time without all of the extra baggage.
We stayed at a university run budget hotel, in a small but clean room, only $114 Australian (about $94 US dollars), split between the 3 of us. No wifi here, so I couldn’t check email or messages until we got back to Canberra the next night, but it doesn’t hurt to be untethered from all of that once in a while. When I got back and reconnected, I was surprised at how many messages I’d received asking if I was okay, and where I was, since it had been 2 whole days since I’d posted on Facebook!
We walked all along the waterfront, past the evening swimmers & surfers playing in the waves, up by the lighthouse, tall white pillar of light, through the green full of fun loving folks enjoying the first Friday of the month carnival of food trucks peddling everything from Balinese cuisine to Chinese dumplings, fairy floss, prawns on the Barbie to kangaroo & crocodile. We ate dumplings on the grass while listening to Bob Marley’s ‘Stand up for your Rights” from a busker’s speakers.
We dined outside at a Mediterranean cafe, a huge platter of hummus, baba ganoush, grape leaves, tabouli, falafel & Greek salad. Maurice & I crossed the street to the bottle store, as the restaurant was BYO, and bought some decent Shiraz. All so fun, dining outdoors with nice, interesting people!
The next morning we got up early & walked the beach – at 8am it was already 80 degrees, but breezy & beautiful.
Lots of people enjoying the shore, all ages, all shapes & sizes. We got a bit of exercise along the edge of the water, our feet sinking into the soft sand, the waves playing tag with us. Took bunches of pictures as the early morning light was so good, then walked back to the other end, away from all the no swimming signs that warned of riptide & drowning, to a safer but still wave filled spot with a lifeguard. I was only going to wade, the water was cold & I didn’t feel like getting all salty & crusty & having to take another shower. But Amanda said she’d done the same thing all her life until she was 50, being a wallflower on the perimeter watching the fun & finally went in & discovered how awesome it was. So I joined her & we had a blast! Once you got in, the water was so refreshing you didn’t want to get out!! We let the big waves lift us up & shove us back towards shore. Maurice forgot his swimmers (bathing suit) so he waited patiently on the beach amongst the bikini clad sun worshippers. As we left, we saw half a dozen para gliders coming in for a landing, tandem.
Leaving Wollongong we drove to Shelly Beach (different one than near Manly & Sydney) to check out sand that seemed to stretch on & on, with little inlets where we saw a rather large jellyfish and several very large Pelicans, who somewhat warily let us get our pictures taken with them.
After that, we hit a string of little villages –
Kiama, Gerringong, Berry. We saw lovely cliff top views of the ocean, parks & shops & a blowhole, & ate hot doughnuts, Australian Lamington cake & gelato, and picked up goodies for our picnic later, including cheese and some fig & red wine compote. We stopped at an old Schoolhouse cheese factory/restaurant, then drove through scenic Kangaroo Valley, where we didn’t see any kangaroos, but saw lots of cows!
We ended up at Morton National Park, with a highlight of beautiful Fitzroy Falls, after a bit of a bushwalk, and ate a very tasty picnic of cheese & crackers with fig sauce, mixed nuts, grapes and the leftover Shiraz from last night. The temp was perfect, and there were hardly any people there as it was heading into evening & the shop & restrooms were closed. Lovely spot full of crazy cool flowers & trees, waterfalls & supposedly platypus, although they remained hidden.
A couple hour drive past a glowing sunset brought us home to Canberra. A very affordable weekend getaway when divided by 3.