Australia - 2005/02/15 to 2005/02/17 - Jervis Bay to Murramarang National Park, Mimosa Rocks National Park

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Parrotts everywhere, rain, fog and car troubles make this section of the trip a mixed experience.

Week 2 - Day 2

Last night the stars were magnificent. I stood out on the beach and gazed at Orion which was upside down. His shoulders were at the bottom and his sword pointed up instead of down as it does in America. I looked for the Southern Cross but did not find it, so perhaps it was behind the trees, as I could see only a portion of the full sky with a quarter moon obscuring some of the nearby stars.

I awoke at dawn to a symphony of bird calls and raucous squawks coming from all the trees. A short walk down the trail revealed a cornucopia of exotic parrotts, crimson rosellas, all shades of parrotts, cockatoos and cockatiels. All these birds that I had only seen in zoos and cages were walking all around the grounds. i saw more birds here than anywhere else on the whole trip. i think they were being fed as I saw seeds scattered about on the ground in unnatural concentrations.
I got out my snorkling gear and headed down to the beach. The surf was maderate, actually light for Australia, but strong for the Atlantic coast of America. The water was quite murky with the roiled up sand of waves pounding the shore so the pictures of fish, the sea urchins, a pair of abalone and a ray were all very poor. I soon tired of this and decided to go for a walk on some of the trails at Jervis Bay.

I drove over to a substantial parking lot on the north end of the penninsula and walked out to Murray's Beach. This was a beautiful beach that was protected from the strong winds and the water here was quite calm. I should have snorkled here in the clear water. Instead I walked the beach and looked at the rock pools and kelp, called Neptune's Necklace for obvious reasons.

The trails here wind through the tall eucalypts which spread their branches out uncommonly wide. The level trails wind through the forest over sandy ground covered with dead leaves from the towering trees.
Back at the Vistor's Center I checked the weather. Looked likea couple days of rainy weather and some wind were headed my way. I tried to fill the water tank but discovered that the hose connector was the wrong size for the spigot. Apparently there are two different sizes for water spigots here in Australia and the van had only one size. I called the rental agency to note that I had not received a duve( bed cover) as listed on the rental agreement and they agreed that it was not listed on the inventory so there would be no problem. I mentioned the water hose conector and they said I could pick up a converter at a hardware store.

Leaving the campground I drove to St. George Bay, a shallow body of water on the south end of Jervis Bay penninsula. There was a short trail walk there among the eucalyptus trees overlooking the bay.

Out on the main roads once more I drove past Ulladulla and followed Prince's Highway down the coast through pretty pasture land, arriving at Muramarang National Park. I stopped at a couple of beaches along the coastal highway, but the day was overcast and spitting rain so it was neither a good beach day nor a good picture day. But I was amazed by what seemed to me as exotic plants that grew like weeds on the roadside, such as these lillies.
I drove down a number of small dirt roads with heavy rutting in them when on a hill. I creeped over some of the deeper ones, hoping that the street van could negotiate them and that I wouldn't get caught in some mud hell hole if the rain really started to come down. In the forest were several large termite hills, their hard columns reaching to head height. I was going for a bush campground out on North head overloking Bateman's Bay. I arrived late in the afternoon without incident to a campground of about 50 sites in which I was the only person. I walked around the camp and saw a big wallaby that bounded quickly into the bush. My first marsupial. I also saw an absolutely monstrous sea eagle that must have had a wind span of 2.5 meters. I walked along the tide pools and found many abalone shells indicating that someone was harvesting them from the rocks off the shore. I walked along trails on the edge of the high cliffs overlooking the unsettled sea.

Week 2 - Day 3

Despite a horrendous start this turned out to be a good day. I awoke before dawn to the patter of light rain on top the pop up roof of the van . I drifted back to sleep until about 7:30 when I got up and out of the van, scaring a wallaby that was grazing in my site. I had some breakfast and then I got ready to leave. I turned the key in the ignition and heard - nothing. Not a slow crank not even any solenoid sounds. What the $%& is this all about. So I thought about it some. Yesterday I had the lights on all day and the windshield wipers too. Maybe I left the lights on - Nope that is not it. Maybe the generator belt was loose and didn't keep the battery charged. I pulled up the cover to the engine which is located under the fron seats in this van. Thank god I owned this very type Toyota vehicle for a couple years and knew where all the clips and releases were to see the engine compartment. The belts were all tight and good.

Okay time to check the battery itself, located behind the drivers seat in the floor bed. Check the terminals, seem OK not very corroded and quite tight. Ok so that is the engine battery, there must also be a battery for the electric refridgerator. I finally locate that under the bed in the back. Ok so lets get out the tools and check the termminals on the main battery and then jump the secondary battery to the first battery. Only one problem - no tools no jumpers. Great. And I am 5 miles down the dirt road with no traffic. Worse than that I parked downhill into the guard rail so I can't even pop the clutch on a rolling start as I am unable to move it even a few inches back up the slight incline. I am screwed.

So I decide to take a walk around the campground loop. On the otherside of the campground is another camper who must have arrived late in the night. It is a 4WD bush vehicle with petrol gerry cans on top, tied down with other gear. No one is stirring. The occupants are asleep inside. I decide it would be impolite to awake them at the 8:00 A.M. with my problem so I go back to the van and wait. Surely they will be up soon. I do not want to miss them when they do get up so I have to hang around. By 9:15 there is still no apparent movement so I knock on the side of the vehicle, explain my problem and ask if they have jumper cables. Thick with sleep they say they do, and one of the two German tourist gets up after about a half hour and brings over a pair of cables. I use these to jump from the house battery to the engine battery. Seems after arriving late last night they were kept up for some hours by oppossums or some other creature scrabling all over their car all night. Whatever it was left a big pile of dung on the hood of their vehicle. The two surfers started in Perth in October and were headed all the way around Australia surfing and living the beach life for six months. They had bought the car in Perth in Western Australia where registration and fees for 4WD vehicles are much easier and less costly. They would sell it again in May at the end of their adventure. I thank the one guy who had so kindly gotten up to loan me the cables and I was off, being careful to not stop the car either intentionally or unintentionally until I could get this problem fixed.

I stopped in Bateman's Bay which is a fairly large town by Aussie standards. I locate a mall with a number of stores in it including a KMart. I stop the car and turn the key back on. Completely dead. I head into KMart and buy a set of jumper cables, a screw driver and an adjustable wrench. I call the 800# for the van company . There is no facility in this town that they are contracted with to provide repairs. They say I can take the vehicle to a mechanic, but not a car dealer, and give them the company name and they will pay for the repair. From the telephone book I locate a mechanic and drive over. The mechanic won't do the work unless I pay for it as they have had troubles before being paid by this company. I look up the next available location for a contracted repair from the manual that came with the van. It is in Morunya less than 20 miles away so I jump the battery again and head down there. I find the little place which is more like a corner gas station mechanic than anything I am used to in the US. After some delay due to replacing the wrong battery - they replaced the house battery and not the engine battery - I am on my way again having wasted half the day fooling with the damn battery.

I am now deep in the heart of the pastureland of coastal New South Wales. I stop near Bega at a small farm shop and buy several cheeses. Milk and cheese are very expensive here compared to the US. Forty dollars buys almost nothing, less than 2 kilos of cheese working out to about $13.00 US per pound. Even though the cheese is expensive the land seems quite cheap. Two hundred fifty acres of sea front property with a great view for over 2 million. Pretty green pastures, blue water and white sand beaches. What is not to like about this place?

Finally the sun comes out as I stop briefly at Mimosa State Park where the lowering sun shone off the orange hued rock. There was a nice beaches at Nelson and Moon Bays. I camped at Aragunnu beach in a grass covered small campground with close by bush. Dinner with spaghetti and noodles with zucchinni and hunks of absolutely wonderfull cheese from Bega. Maybe it wasn't too expensive after all and inspite of the problems with the van I was still having a great time.




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