Far South Coast of New South Wales - Day One

Saturday, 16 January 2010

I have to be honest and say beach holidays are not my ultimate ‘thing’. My days of epidermal sacrifice are long gone and parading along the beach in a bikini is now impossible thanks to the state of my thighs.

I do like to swim, but not to the tune of fourteen toddlers squealing on the peak of every ripple. Ideally, my perfect swim experience would be in a serene and completely unpopulated lap pool in the mountains of Ubud, with Balinese prayers drifting over the treetops while a gorgeous young man in a white linen shirt stands by with iced tea on a silver tray.

Hmmm. Another fantasy long gone (for now, anyway).

And yes, I know - Reality Fact Check. The fact is, we have two kids aged at the age where squealing at every beach ripple has progressed, even more noisily, to screeching at the crest of a four-foot swell. Or a 30-foot waterslide. Or a family-sized pool with a surface coated in every conceivable pool toy and floatable device. Or a round of mini golf, ten pin bowling, sandcastle-making, shell-hunting, or gelati-gobbling in 25 flavours.

I know this and I appreciate this, but it doesn't make me like beach holidays any more. I can appreciate them for the joy they bring my children, but it doesn't mean I have to like them (the holiday, not the children).

Having spent most of my teen years on the coast of New South Wales living at the surf town of Coffs Harbour, I’ve well and truly 'been there, done that'. Beach holiday activities? My entire life was a beach holiday activity. Not that I’m complaining – but like anything you have too much of, having a little more of it can simply be a little bit too much.

The south coast of New South Wales, although beautiful, was just another beach to me.

We’ve taken the kids to seven different countries and, yes, several of those voyages have involved beaches and pools, but all have been interspersed with Mummy Travel Experiences, to round out the suffocating descent of ennui that occurs on Day Two or Three of ‘sitting by the pool’.

Mummy Travel Experiences are mostly cultural, oftentimes adventurous, but always stimulating. Sure, reading a book by the pool is also stimulating but not when the climax of virtually every chapter is torn to pieces by the poolside requests of a four-year-old – “Mummy, can I have another milkshake/where’s my other floatie/what time’s lunch?”

Yes, I know being able to read by the pool in silence will come much later... doesn't mean I can't pine for it amidst the dive-bombing.

So, now that I've stopped griping - here are some highlights from our trip to the south coast of New South Wales - the Sapphire Coast, so named after its sapphire blue waters... from Canberra to Merimbula via Cooma (and the very tempting turnoff to the Snowy Mountain ski resorts - alas, stricken of snow in this height of summer).

DAY ONE

Only 3 - 3.5 hours from Canberra, the drive to the Sapphire Coast is easy and pleasant, and was virtually traffic-less. The road running alongside the Snowy Mountains or the southern Great Dividing Range, is a breeze to navigate and the countryside around Bega is breathtaking. The town of Bega is lovely; we stopped for a quick bite and were tempted to visit the Bega Cheese Factory for a tour.

The beach at Merimbula, however, was beckoning, and we were soon off. As our apartment in Merimbula was not ready until 3pm (!), we drove around town and found a wonderful foreshore beach on Main Street, which sits on a stunning inlet prone to low tide...

...and lots of amazing sandbars where kids can run free and paddle in the shallow water.


There are also some quaint little jetties which kids can run along, peeking for fish...


...bask in the sun, plop into the water, hunt for spectacular shells, or draw in the flat sand with sticks.





Right next to the beach is a lovely, enormous park with some shade trees, picnic tables, and a kids playground. There are also BBQs and - hallelujah! nearby toilets.


Afterwards, we stopped for coffee just off the main shopping strip (Market Street) at Poppy's Courtyard Café, chatting with the lovely owner, proving these south coast people are a friendly bunch. Alas, she has her café on the market, so one more lovely local is on her way (in her case, back to Europe).

Back at our apartments, we slip-slop-slapped, gathered floatie supplies and headed to the pool where it took me 30 minutes to convince a serious set of sun-lounge hoggers that their 100% UNoccupied lounges (well, other than towels, bags and toys - as towels, bags and toys absolutely must have their own sun-lounges, didn't you know?) that one of those sun-lounges would be better occupied under my butt.

After several cat's-bum-mouth reactions, I snaffled my chair and enjoyed reading a magazine and laughing at the kids as they did this...




Back at our apartment, we set up the table on the balcony for dinner - so that we could appreciate the 'ocean views' we had paid exhorbitantly for, but in fact turned out to be a view of a carpark and very large and ugly, yellow-grassed beach park, with several two-centimetre glimpses of the ocean between a fringe of trees.

Husband wandered to the local chippy for grilled fish and returned with fish 'strips' - two-centimetre-wide pencils of flake at a whopping $5.50 apiece, that were riddled with shark cartilage. Not happy.


Thankfully, Ella cheered me up...


And then something wonderful happened - lorikeets appeared. It was quite magical...






The kids were mesmerised and we quickly ran into the kitchen for some nuts and seeds and fruit to feed them.

A short time later, a cigarette-clutching fisherman's wife appeared from the apartment below and proceeded to throw white bread on the grass for the birds to gobble and so completely screw up their digestive tracts and quite possibly eventually kill them.

Like junk-food-seeking teens, what do you think the birds went for?? Ella peered on poutingly as the birds flew below for their junk food feast, leaving our children downhearted at the end of their magic moment.

Later on, a bunch of hooligans moved into the carpark for a drinking session that sorely test my sleeping skills, and our neighbours decided that the only way to afford closure of any hinged-apparatus was by slamming. And this was an exclusive, expensive resort, too. Mind-boggling.

No wonder I started this holiday in a foul mood. (Lorikeets notwithstanding.)

Far South Coast of New South Wales - Day Two
Far South Coast of New South Wales - Day Three
Far South Coast of New South Wales - Day Four and Five and Six

1 comment:

Posie Patchwork said...

Oh Tania, my love, nooooo . . . so sorry it just wasn't quite what you had hoped for?? I'm a bit spoilt, growing up on Sydney's north shore, famous beaches like Manly, Palm & Whale beach were just an every day Summer holiday thing to fill in the time. We also had a pool so that was my mother's preferred sand free idea of swimming.
Look, my children are all able to swim & now aged 6 to 11, well i just don't tolerate annoying young chidlren, because my children never sequealed at splashing or cried to get attention or spoke too loudly when they were little. They were easy children to love & be around.
As for the cigarette smoking white bread trash in the room below, oh, how incredibly annoying. At least your children accepted disappointment & defeat, mine would have been calling out "bird killer" & read her the riot act on destroying natural eating habits.
Won't even start on the car park gang - we were teenagers, why didn't we think to spend a Saturday night drinking in a car park?? I can't STAND small minded idiots!!
All the best, feel for you & we didn't even go on holiday, stayed here in empty Canberra, it was great. Love Posie

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