Prior to leaving Sydney there were a few developments ( some good, some – well, certainly disconcerting, if not exactly bad ) with regard to future travel plans in our van beyond 2023 ( precious little of which remains – where did this year go ? ). Our Carnet ( the “visa” for our vehicle effectively ) is expiring in December and an extension request had been submitted to AAA in October – this, fortunately, was approved so we are now good to keep it here until December, 2024 ( if we wanted that is – we actually plan to ship it out early in 2024 but that at least gives us peace of mind in the event of any shipping delay ). On the not so good news front, it’s becoming obvious that shipping out may not be as easy as we had hoped and as a consequence of that ( you guessed it ) also somewhat more expensive than we’d hoped. More on that as we get more detailed pricing to hand but for now we need to keep our plans, shall we just say, “flexible” !

Popped into the port of Port Kembla ( effectively Sydney’s port ) to check on current port delays. We were assured that “things are improving” 🤔. Here’s hoping…….
Carnet ( vehicle “visa” ) has been renewed till December, 2024. Nice to have that approved.

The plan heading south in NSW was to stick pretty close to the coast and after a leisurely drive through Stanwell Tops, Port Kembla and Kiama we caught up with long time school friend, Sonya, who is blessed to be living in Gerringong, a town which must surely be one of the real gems of the South Coast. It’s a great little community, greener than Ireland ( currently anyway ! ) and with amazing beaches, wineries, farms as well as a host of hip little local eateries and cafes – a sort of, southern Byron Bay without the crowds. Loved our time there and also got to catch up with relatives, Elaine and Barry. Easy to see why they all love this town!

Been playing with a few apps that animate travel routes. Helps give a perspective to the route taken.

View of Stanwell Tops from Baldy Hill Lookout.
Kiama Blowhole – this was our third visit and we have yet to see any water coming out of the blowhole !

Snuck in a quick visit with relatives Barry, Elaine and Michelle while in Gerringong.
Werri Beach, Gerringong
View of the stunning green countryside from the Gerringong hills.

Sonya, daughter Lauren, and her boyfriend Brandon checking out the rig.
“Someone” got a 60th birthday treat from Sonya !
Enjoyed sharing the morning walk and coffee routine with Sonya.
“The Famous Donut Van” in Berry.

Just south of Gerringong is the Jervis  Bay area, hugely popular with summer holidaymakers and already getting busy with the summer “season” still over a month away. There were two places we wanted to check out – Hyams Beach, famed for its pristine white sand, and, just a little further south, Bendalong beach, known for the huge manta rays that swim right up to the beach. Neither disappointed – but if you want to feel something really creepy, allow a giant manta ray to swim up beside you in shallow water and rub against your leg. Harmless, we were assured !!

Hyam’s Beach, famed for its white sand, but……..
….the water was too cold for Lois.
I didn’t get much further….!
A huge manta ray at Bendalong Beach, south of Nowra.

As we went further south the weather held for a few days, then sadly it started to deteriorate – cooler, cloudier and at times rainy, dimming our enthusiasm for further hikes and and any more swimming. Still, we managed to pick out a few gaps in the drizzle and at least get some exploring done in the communities of Batemans Bay, Moruya, Narooma, Tathra and Merimbula ( generally idyllic places, just not when we were there this particular time ☹️). Eden, a major whaling centre back in the day, is effectively the last town of any size before one crosses to Victoria but the rain made any serious exploration a challenge leaving us to content ourselves with a ( rather wet ) view from the town lookout. Fortunately, the weather was better inland.

Camped up, Murramarang National Park.
We occasionally get visitors…..!
Decidedly overcast while camping at the National Park, (but the wallabies kept us company).
Just south of Batemans Bay.
Parked up at the Moruya Bowling Club. One of the nicest pub/club camps in Oz. Flat, grassy, close to town and great meals at the club..!

View from Eden lookout, once a major whaling centre. Sadly, right about here the weather turned against us.

Next week we move inland to explore the Snowy Mountains area and Canberra – the nation’s capital.

Till then,