The quickest route to drive from Tura Beach to Nick’s place at Northmead would be via the road from Bega toward Canberra and then along the Hume Highway and the motorways. We had decided on the slower scenic route along the coast, finishing with the Seacliff Bridge north of Wollongong. Driving time was estimated at around 6 hours so we figured that with time added for stops a 9:00 am departure would get us there sometime after Nick had finished work for the day.
We woke about 7:00 and by the time we were dressed and upstairs Philip was hard at work in the kitchen making breakfast of Eggs Benedict with bacon and juice. We enjoyed that with coffee and ocean view on the front deck. Breakfast conversation ranged over several topics, mostly family related.
By 9:00 am our car was packed and we were saying last goodbyes. Majella drove out of Tura Beach and up the Princes Highway. At Bega we were tempted by the sign to the cheese heritage centre. Fortunately it was close to the highway so we lost little time discovering that it was closed.
In the course of our driving today we passed through several areas that were devastated in the black summer fires. All we showing signs of regrowth but they were far from restored to anything approaching the condition of other areas we saw that had escaped the fires. The recent rains brought their own challenges but will have helped with the moisture needed for growth. Open areas of grass were lush green and streams were running.
Majella stopped at a rest area a little way north of Moruya for coffee and a driver change. I took some time to read the signage that offered some local history, acknowledging the local First Nations. There were what I thought must be a couple of anachronisms if it was intended to reflect traditional culture. Describing the rest area as a ‘Billy tea stop’ and cooking fish on the beach using iron or steel grills could only refer to time after Europeans arrived.
I drove on to Kiama where we stopped around 2:00 pm to view the blowhole and grab toasties for lunch. The sea was relatively calm and the tide was low so the blowhole was not at its most impressive but it managed a few sizeable surges. Majella often recounts her traumatic childhood experience when her family camped on a headland at Kiama and their tent was dropped by a southerly buster. She sheltered in the car with her mother and the other kids while her father and grandfather lay on the collapsed tent to stop it being blown away.
Majella drove on from there. We drove around the edge of Wollongong and then back to the coastline to follow the road to Sea Cliff Bridge, which we had seen in television commercials for cars. At that point the road is on piers above the ocean rather than cut into the tall cliffs it runs beside.
As we approached we were looking for a place where we might get a view of it other than when we were driving on it. I spotted a large blue sign announcing Sea Cliff Bridge parking and Majella pulled in. There was no view of the bridge from the parking lot but there was a small park on a headland across the road that we thought must have the view. We walked over to see but there was no view other than of the ocean and headlands up and down the coast so we returned to the car.
As we were about to get in and drive on Majella noticed a roughly painted sign nailed to a tree. It pointed into the scrub and announced ‘Lookout be careful’. We walked into the bush on a narrow path made by feet rather than any construction tools. It meandered for about a kilometre, mostly along the fence that secured the railway line but sometimes wandering away and up or down small hills. At one point there was a deviation to avoid water flowing down from the cliffs above the railway. That involved hopping across stepping stones and sleepers.
Eventually we found ourselves in an open space above the road with a view to the bridge we had come to see. There were no safety features like rails or even a clear warning about the drop. When we arrived there were four Chinese students from University of Sydney enjoying the view. One kindly took our photo and as we left another was launching a drone for their photos.
On the way back to the car we took the route that did not avoid the water. I found enough things to step on to keep my shoes out of it but Majella was more adventurous and got some muddy water on her thongs and feet.
Once back at the car we set our destination for Nick’s place in Northmead. He had messaged as we approached Wollongong asking about our ETA. I’d replied that we were at Wollongong and might be 2 hours. Now I was able to give a more accurate estimate of 5:42 pm. Nick replied that he had to pick Sophie up at 6:00 pm.
Traffic was not too bad most of the way but was heavier as we approached Parramatta and beyond that. We arrived at Nick’s about 5 minutes later than estimated. He had already gone to fetch Sophie and taken the boys with him so there was no response when Majella rang his unit so we waited outside until they returned.
After some time relaxing we all walked up to KFC and picked up a selection of burgers and other goodies for dinner. We took those back and ate them on the patio at Nick’s place. Later Harry made cinnamon scrolls and we enjoyed one of those before heading off to our hotel for the night.