Monday, January 26, 2015

Australia Day Gothic

2015-01-26 17.06.25 Enmore Park was alive with all sorts of groups celebrating Australia Day. One group stole Munson’s attention for pictures and a group howl.
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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Vale Puck

Puck's last frisbeeOne of Munson’s comrades from Sydney Park was diagnosed with kidney failure this week. Will brought him up to Sydney for the afternoon to say goodbye to everyone. The last time we saw them was four months ago on Sharkey’s Beach, and there was no suggestion of a problem.

I’ve thrown frisbees for Puck hundreds of times over the last seven or eight years, and will never forget his stubborn reluctance to drop the frisbee once he’d retrieved it, despite his insistence that I be available to throw it again.

For several years he wore a harness, and I worked out that if I lifted him about a metre off the ground, his grip on the frisbee would loosen enough to extract it from his grip.

He was a good mate to both Bondi and Munson and I’ll miss him.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Storm Boy

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Munson has been aching for a swim after being spoiled with multiple daily dips in lake, ocean and watering hole during our recent road trip.

A storm has been building on the western edge of the city so I figured that Silver Beach on Botany Bay would give me a good vantage point while indulging Munson. That indulgence allowed me the opportunity to catch a lightning stroke behind him as he lolled unperturbed on one of the ramps, more interested in the pelicans paddling around the shores. 


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It was all pretty quiet where we were, the action was all at least ten kilometres away – but look at those fabulous clouds!
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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Chiengora vs alpaca

I had a quick errand up into the Blue Mountains this morning to buy a used mandola. My lovely old mandolin is a little bit small for my hands, and I thought that a bigger instrument might be easier to learn on.

We stopped briefly in Leura to pick up some salted licorice at the sweet store. for Gustav. Munson was more taken by the stuffed alpaca across the road.


Friday, October 31, 2014

Roadtrip 10: Full circle

The Husky next doorOur overnight stay in Forster was at a small pet-welcoming motel which had a shaded area outside the door where Munson could dry off after a swim. His companion was a demure reddish husky staying next door.  After their initial nose-kissing meeting all she wanted to do was watch Munson from a distance.

Today was our last day on the road. There was no rush, but I didn’t want to hit Friday peak hour traffic in Sydney. Rather than head back to the highway I plotted a lazy scenic route along The Lakes Way via Smiths Lake and Myall Lake. However as it turned out the route was mostly bland suburban sprawl with even the narrow spit between Wallis Lake and the ocean not affording more than an occasional glimpse of water.

Some eleven years ago when I had returned to Sydney after my time in Seattle, I’d thought about settling somewhere up the coast where Bondi and his brother Dougal might have quick access to beaches or lakes. A friend suggested Smiths Lake might be a cosmopolitan oasis. I drove us through there in search of coffee, and in particular for a boatshed cafe I’d seen advertised. Once we’d track that down the results were mixed: the location was very pretty but the coffee was undrinkable.
Smiths Lake
From there we travelled on to Newcastle, an hour or so spent there to give Gustav an idea of what it was like and then onto the freeway and home by mid-afternoon. I’m not sure why we didn’t take any photos after Smith Lake: I guess we were just running tired and focused on getting back home.
map - Forster to Sydney via Newcastle 327km
So there we are at the end of my first long road-trip in Australia in over a decade, and Gustav and Munson’s first exposure to a small part of Australia’s great outdoors. It was fun for me to recapture some childhood memories, but honestly I would be hard-pressed to repeat such an exercise without a specific purpose. Australia is too big and sparsely populated to generate the sort of interest you get in even a short spin on European roads. I’m sure it would be the same driving around middle-America or regional Canada. As I pointed out at the beginning of the trip, this state alone  is larger than France. Our home in the Gers, set in Western Europe’s most sparsely populated region is positively buzzing compared to most of NSW. It’s really hard to make regional tourism work here – especially away from the coast – when the distances are so great, and the differences so small. It is also much harder to travel with a dog here – apart from the accommodation issues; the risks from snakes, ticks and bullrouts; the absence of public transport options – many of Australia’s great natural sights are inside National Parks, and as such closed off to dogs. 

I suspect most of our future travel further afield in Australia will be sans Munson, for all the reasons above. I’m lucky enough to have seen a good deal of this country: every state and regional areas in all but Western Australia. It’s also important that if travelling with a dog, that it is satisfying for them as well. My years travelling in Europe with each of Bondi and Munson were shaped around making it fulfilling for all.

Flickr slideshow