Thursday, January 24, 2013

Loving Summer Holiday Traditions

For the last week the boys and I have been hanging out on the New South Wales South Coast, soaking up the sun, sea and sand at Merimbula. Since our inaugural trip to the coast in 2004, when Henry rather infamously broke his leg at seventeen months and Max discovered first hand why blue bottle jellyfish are best avoided, we’ve had eight trips over here.

The great “pack up” that leads up to this annual trip is something I prefer to ignore until the last possible moment; I detest packing. The upside of this, is the boys have all become adept at packing their own clothes, fishing rods and boogie boards from an early age. Typically I can be found throwing things into the Trusty Nissan around midnight on the night before we leave and promising myself that “next time I will be more organised and start packing earlier”.

There is no easy short cut to Merimbula from Barham but part of our family’s beach holiday habit is an overnight stopover at Sandy and Dave Litchfield’s property at Nimmitabel. A night at Sandy and Dave’s (along with Cloudy the little fluffy dog and Lenny the even fluffier and now somewhat matted and ancient cat) is a highlight and synonymous with going to Merimbula and makes the 770km journey a lot easier for all of us.

Last Tuesday, I woke the boys at 4.50am with the unrealistic view of embarking on our 680km trip to Nimmitabel by 5am… still we were on the road by 5.30am. Packing I may hate but driving is something I enjoy (so long as it’s not through city traffic), as we motored out of Barham on the Moulamein Road, I started to feel relaxed and that our holiday had begun.

The beauty of getting on the road early for a long trip is you can get half the day’s driving over with by the time you stop for a late-ish breakfast. Wagga Wagga is our breakfast stop and we arrived before 9.30am to indulge in our annual Scottish breakfast at McDonalds. I must say the menu of the Golden Arches global empire has improved over the years (either that or my nutritional conscience regarding mass produced fast food has slipped) and this year I thoroughly enjoyed my “Boston Deli Bagel” of bacon, egg, tomato, cheese and avocado.

From Wagga Wagga is seemed an easy, albeit slow, drive along the Snowy Mountains Highway, past Blowering Dam and through the Great Dividing Range to Nimmitabel. After saying goodbye to Sandy and Dave the following morning, we travelled the final 90km, down Brown Mountain to Merimbula and the little cottage above Bar Beach, kindly lent to us by cousin Vicky.

For a week we have swum; spent hours catching waves at Main Beach with our boogie boards (who would have thought hydrodynamic foam could be so much fun?!); buried ourselves in sand; fished; eaten a substantial quantity of delicious, plump Sydney Rock Oysters from the award winning Stirling Oysters of Merimbula Lake (owned by friend and former Hay district resident, Stirling Cullenward); Sam and Henry played touch footy on the beach in hotly contested Riverina versus Monaro matches; snorkelled around the rocks near Bar Beach; jumped off the Merimbula Wharf (well, Max did); enjoyed early morning walks along Middle Beach and caught up with old friends.

Heading to the beach for a week in January has built up over the years to become a summertime tradition for our family and even if we were never to come again, I hope these carefree coastal memories stay with the boys for a lifetime.

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