|Our 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.
|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. |
|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.