Postcard from Illawarra

7 May

We’re now traveling south to Melbourne and have quite a few days to get there. The rule in our packed sedan of five (we are mastering the game of Trunk Jenga, in which you have to fit five suitcases, five backpacks, three skate bags and assorted groceries in a Toyota Camry. We’ve made it work) is that because time is on our side, we’re abiding by the, “If you see something, say something.” Except for us, it’s, “If you see something cool, say something and we’ll stop.”

wpid-img_20150505_111238201.jpgOvercoming Monday’s disappointment, we did get into Nan Tien Temple and spent some time wandering around the temple and pagoda. My buddy Kill C. and I rang the Gratitude Bell. I read some interesting sayings from the Venerable Master Hsing Yun and said a prayer for wealth. I looked at the calligraphy and chanting rooms. I tried to comprehend who all the statues were. I accidentally went into places with my shoes on.

I don’t know much about Buddhism, so I can’t really tell you about the quality of the temple, but for me it was a nice, peaceful stop, my puzzlement about a specific prayer for wealth notwithstanding. I’ll let you know how that works out. Anyway, it was a nice way to calm down before getting into the driver’s seat and driving up an incredibly windy road (make way for trucks around curves) to get to Illawarra Fly Tree Top Walk.

Along with the windy road, we ran into some construction, namely, I made a left turn and had to stop for a “Road Closed” sign that a construction worker was manning. The car that had been in front of us had just made a U-turn and went another way. I roll down the window.

“Where are ya goin’?” asked the construction worker most jovially.

“The Tree Top Walk thingie,” I reply.

“Oh, go on, then. No worries!”

I roll up the window. Immediately, Kill C. says, “A few worries…”

We managed to make it up just fine though–the road was closed for real just after the turnoff to the park, so we did all right for ourselves.

wpid-wp-1430900324684.jpegThe Tree Top Walk is one of these places where you walk along a series of bridges located in the middle of a rain forest. You could zipline through the trees, but we opted for the (cheaper) walk and made our way along a windy path lined with wooden cutouts that on their own were worth the price of admission. Some of the bridges sway, which can be fun if you don’t mind heights. This park also had a big lookout tower something like 35 meters above the forest floor. The view was stunning, the trees were pretty damn impressive (so impressive that some of them were clearly marked as dangerous), and we caught a glimpse of some wildlife that wasn’t necessarily in wooden cutout form. All of it was pretty spectacular.


wpid-wp-1430900340373.jpegContinuing on our journey, we spotted the world famous Robertson’s Pie Shop, which some Aussies had told us about. We hadn’t yet done the pie thing, so we made a sharp turn in and stopped for a second lunch. I wasn’t supposed to eat my entire chicken, leek and camembert pie, but I scarfed it down. Light, flaky crust, delicious filling–totally worth the stop. Later on we drove by the “world’s best pie shop,” but how it could possibly be the best, we didn’t know. We’re sure someone’s just making it up because I can’t imagine a meat pie being much better than what we ate.

One last note from driving: Since we’re American, we’re really stoked about seeing signs for wombat crossings (no wombats spotted–YET) and kangaroo crossings. The last time I was doing a road trip in Australia, we saw all of the signs and none of the animals. This time though, the Australian in our car mentioned that kangaroos tend to come out at dusk. Sure enough, we saw the kangaroo crossing sign, and BAM! Kangaroo spotted! Except that it was roadkill–poor thing had been hit by a car some time ago and was dead on its side. Hitting one of these is like hitting a deer in the States–you’re slamming into 200 kilos of solid animal that will screw up your car royally.

Before we could figure out whether or not that counted as a kangaroo sighting, we did see actual kangaroos in fields hanging out–probably contemplating whether or not to cross the road. Had I been quick enough with my reflexes, I would’ve pulled off the road at a turnoff so we could get out of the car and watch them in the wild. However, we also weren’t in the mood for potentially pissing off any kangaroos either. I haven’t practiced my left hook recently, and I’m sure some kangaroo would more than happily wallop me for merely looking at her joey. Better safe in the car, where we stayed until we got to our next stop: Bateman’s Bay.

One Response to “Postcard from Illawarra”

  1. Wendy May 7, 2015 at 9:37 am #

    Mmmm, Australian meat pies. The meat pie is something I think we need to bring back in America.

    When we were in Tasmania, the road was littered with dead wallabies. It seemed like there was another one every few feet (or “metres,” as the Aussies say). Apparently they’re like squirrels with running out into the road…


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