22 January 2008

Travel: Australia, Part 3 - Palm Beach

After the cricket match and a game of Marco Polo in the pool, we loaded up the family truckster and headed for the beach. This meant putting towels, blankets, surboards, sports gear, clothes, and everything but the kitchen sink and Lenny and Leon in the car, including eight people.

The drive to Palm Beach, located 40 kilometres north of Sydney, is beautiful. The divided highway gives way to a winding two lane road high above the inlets and coves that lead towards the sea. Palm Beach is a quieter, more isolated stretch compared to Bondi, but it is stunning. It sits in a cove, surrounded by hills and cliffs. It has a more laid back feel to it, except that the surf that day was brutal. It was perfect for a little surfing (for Joseph) or body surfing (for Eric and Jeff). In fact, it was almost too much, as one left the water out of breath and dizzy after one too many spin cycles.

Sport plays a big part of Aussie life, and it is no different for expats. If we weren't surfing or swimming, we were playing paddle ball, rugby, or beach cricket (see previous post). It is all action, all the time.

Which is good, since - like all good Aussies - our return home included a stop for refreshments. The Newport Arms Hotel Beer Garden and Bistro, down the road towards home, boasts Australia's largest beer garden. It overlooks a scenic inlet, has dozens of picnic tables, a grassy area in front of a big screen television playing surf videos, and plenty of food and beer. The place was packed on a Sunday night, and it was another example of how Aussies really enjoy themselves. Everyone was laid back, having a bite to eat or a pint of a very tasty, very cold beverage, and enjoying a perfect summer day. We ate the biggest prawns I have ever seen and washed them down with local grog such as Toohey's New.

What a perfect ending to a perfect day! (Along the theme of perfect, all of this was preluded by a viewing of the New England Patriots' victory over the Giants, for a perfect 16-0 regular season record.) I had been in Australia less than 48 hours, and I couldn't wait to move there! And I had still had two more days, including New Year's Eve, to enjoy.

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