Day three in Australia begins with rain outside and Magnolia running a fever. We stop for oysters on our way out of town, since we had been foiled in our earlier effort. These Clyde River oysters were the perfect balance of briny and sweet, and had come right out of the river just hours before. We made a pledge to eat as many fresh local oysters as possible. Bonus: they were not crazy expensive.
We stopped at Mystery Bay, just south of Narooma, where in 1880 a ship carrying a gold-field surveyor and his crew washed ashore not long after its departure, completely empty of supplies, and with four holes in the hull that appeared to have been made from the inside. For us, it was a sweet spot for a picnic and a quick dip in the crystal clear water. The girls did not join us in the swim, though. We’ve all been reading Bill Bryson’s book, Down Under, which includes in it’s first chapters a litany of all the deadly creatures living in Australia and its waters, so they choose the relative safety of the swing set.
The drive was full of signs for kangaroo crossings, and the eucalyptus forests are home to koalas. We passed the Genoa River, which is said to be home to platypus. But we have yet to see any of those things. We were thrilled, though, to hang out with these pelicans for a while.
Spent the night in the town of Lakes Entrance. According to Aboriginal legend, the lakes were formed by a mystical spit take, when a frog who had swallowed the ocean was surprised by an eel who was standing upright. I think I need to read more Aboriginal legends.
We stopped by several motels before we found one with wifi. The very pleasant Comfort Inn Emmanuel fit the bill, and had a cute googie style that I forgot to photograph.
Before we left in the morning, we crossed the footbridge over to Ninety Mile Beach. Yes. Ninety Mile Beach. We were about to declare it the greatest beach ever, when we almost stepped on a tiny bluebottle jellyfish. And then another. And another. Bluebottle stings are notoriously painful, and can leave permanent scars. We decided to put our shoes back on and head back to the car.
Before going to our friend Nicole’s house near Melbourne, we thought we’d aim for one more beach along the way. Or, sort of along the way. Or, “a four-hour detour to a total sh*thole on the most dangerous road in all of Australia,” as Nicole would call it. She tried to talk us out of it, but I could tell that the more she discouraged us, the more John dug in his heels. This place he had read a paragraph about in a tourist office publication this morning was now an essential must-do on our trip.
I’m happy to say that it was a very cool place. The Bununrong Marine National Park had an amazing rocky beach with tide pools full of sea life we’d never seen before, surrounded by dramatic sandstone cliffs. We even saw some penguin-like birds.
But indeed we did see our first cool Australian critter – a wombat – sadly dead on the side of the road. Those things are huge! I always thought they were like large guinea pigs, but this was closer in size to a small bear. Even legs up and clearly dead, it was adorable, and reminded me of Mr. Danders, the misunderstood guinea pig in Cul de Sac. I did not photograph it, but here’s a photo of a wombat by Phil Whitehouse for your viewing pleasure.