The map best describes my 10 day stay. I rode the bus to Erina Fair Mall one day; riding back just as the school bell rang. Students ride public buses in Australia; so I was delighted when the headmistress led them on, made sure they found seats and wished them a good afternoon. Several got off at my stop....the corner near my brother's house...and there he was, waiting with his neighbors for us to arrive!
Another day, we all took a Central Coast Ferry to Woy Woy for mid-morning coffee. My sister-in-law is an artist; remembering the pictures I snapped here and there from the boat and presenting me with her paintings of the images when I left. Each community has a unique vibe and Woy Woy's is an alternative, sustainable, homemade and handmade, all-inclusive kind of town. I wasn't disappointed in my daily dose of decaf Vienna and scone!
|Saratoga Boat Shed|
It was brelly weather many days; but I walked the wet sand at Terrigal and Avoca Beaches anyway. Barramundi fish and chips at seaside cafes along the shores of the South Pacific were the best. Back in Saratoga, I watched for hours as the lorikeets, cockatoos and other feathered friends ate, bathed and visited. The welcoming country life and family routine was perfect.
Early morning and we're off to the remote little village of Bellbrook in the Maclean River Valley. The kids loved playing on the rocks and my niece pointed out photos of ancestors in the old hotel. There's still a primary school for locals and the general store where we had lemonade.
|Maclean River Valley|
After ten days; the teary goodbyes began. It was time to move on. My Aussie rellies drove me to the Gosford rail station. I wanted to continue using my Opal Card...the transit card for all NSW residents and visitors. Initial coast is $15 which gives you rides on ferries, buses and trains. It can be easily topped off at kiosks around the state. I had plenty left on mine and got an express computer train back down to Sydney. My luggage was less of a struggle now that I'd shipped a box home with souvenirs and books....my biggest weakness. I loved the purple interior and smooth ride along the water for much of the trip. Central Station is as 'grand central' as you can get and it took lots of asking 'which way out" before I found my way to the street. On my own but never alone is how I looked at it. Not only did friendly locals point and give directions, a cute little teenager led me straight to the exit.
Missing my family as I write this; recalling so many funny, laugh-out-loud moments with my talented sister-in-law, quiet evenings on the veranda with gin and tonics, the different foods I tried....to their delight. ("Joanie is so picky" is universal!) I'm grateful for the time spent living the life my brother lives; catching up after 14 years and meeting more family all over coastal New South Wales. I have another niece in Perth, in Western Australia....next time, mon cherie!
|View from the jetty down the road from my brother's home|