Bleary eyed, the morning after Margie and Ben’s beautiful wedding celebration, we headed to a post wedding breakfast of egg and bacon rolls, hair of the dog champagne and orange which greatly satisfied our hangovers.
We said our goodbyes, and got on the road, meeting Mike and Kathy (Dan’s parents) to begin our adventure down South to make it down to Kangaroo Island for Christmas.
We came upon a very cute road side store picking up some onions and garlic and putting our coins in the honesty box.
Our first stop was at our favourite camping spot in the world- Mimosa Rocks National Park. This divine spot on the New South Wales coast is between Bermagui and Tathra and is where our dream and inspiration began of driving around Australia. The spot is on a headland amongst banksia scrub nestled beside two beaches with a pristine estuary behind.
We shared the site with a few campers, a flock of glossy black cockatoos feeding on seeds of the casuarinas and sweet doe-eyed swamp wallabies feeding on the native grasses at dawn and dusk.
It was lovely to catch up with Em, Rob, Jarvis and Francesca who used to live next to us in Castlecrag and have now moved down to an idyllic property at Bermagui with a beautiful citrus orchard, lots of chooks which provide the local cafes with fresh eggs and some sheep.
The area is very famous for delicious creamy Sydney rock oysters which we swear are the best of the best. The oyster leases at Wapengo are the first certified organic oyster farm due to sustainable farming methods.
We had a terrific few days at Mimosa Rocks NP- Mike, Dan and I went snorkeling for abalone amongst the leathery bull kelp while Kathy kept watch to see if there were any unusual dark shadows. We sipped on G&Ts, and sparkling white to accompany our succulent oysters and cooked up fish in the camp fire and abalone in a pan which we sliced up and snacked on.
HOW WE COOK ABALONE
Not for the faint hearted, but easy, delicious and no tenderising needed, this is how Tetsuya told us how to cook them
1. Place the abalone straight from the sea in a pan shell side up with a little oil
2. Cook for 10mins
3. Take out of pan and run knife around the flesh and the flesh should pop out easily, then clean away from the guts
4. Finely slice abalone and finish with a squeeze of lemon or lime
5. EAT just as is or can be place over buckwheat soba noodles dressed with soy, ginger and lime
If you are ever passing through Eden (near the boarder of NSW and VIC) remember to stop at the wharf and to buy fresh mussels from the boat- they are as fresh as you can get and are A M A Z I N G!
We hugged the coastline and entered Victoria making our way down to Wilsons Prom the most Southern most point on mainland Australia. The afternoon we arrived was warm and steamy and we dove in to the cool water of Bass Strait with no hesitation. The winding road gave spectacular vistas of the wonderfully grand landscape. Huge granite mountains surrounded the beaches, orange lichen grew on the granite boulders creating beautiful colour contrast with the aqua coloured water and the squeaky white sand at aptly named ‘Squeaky beach’. Delicate fairy wrens hopped around the campsite and wombats wombled around at dusk; one almost crawled into bed with Kathy for a goodnight cuddle.
We came upon a sweet little town near Wilsons Prom called Fish creek. We stopped in for a fantastic coffee at a lovely store called 9acres which is a coffe bar, bookshop and foodstore. Check them out: www.9acres.com.au They had enormous free range eggs, bulk whole foods and delicious biodynamic rainfed rice grown in NSW. In the community hall nextdoor locals were setting up for their Christmas concert and Dan gave them a helping hand moving stage chairs. The old ducks were most happy!
The thought of driving through Melbourne with pre-Christmas traffic was not very appealing so we drove to the Mornington Peninsula driving straight onto a car ferry to start our journey along the Great Ocean Road. We drove through Barwon Heads where our much loved ABC show ‘Seachange’ was set. As we sang the Seachange theme song we continued to Anglesea to bunk for the night. Dinner at a boring looking local Italian restaurant, ‘Locanda del Mare’ over shot expectations being truly delicious. Never judge a restaurant by its facade! The rest of the Great Ocean Road was driven in the freezing cold rain, pulling over, and getting out of the car for a short time with the rain falling from the ominous black clouds with the wild sea thrashing before us. We picked up some fresh berries from local markets which kept our taste buds happy and spirits high in the horrible weather before our last stop along the Great Ocean Road- Port Fairy.
Port Fairy is like a little time vortex- lines of charming stone cottages, a fabulous antique shop and the oldest licensed inn in Victoria. We escaped the cold weather and had a lovely evening meal at Merrijig Inn who change their menu daily taking inspiration from the seasons and use locally sourced produce, some from their own garden out the back- What a special treat! www.merrijiginn.com
The Sky started to lighten up as we crossed the border of South Australia and entered the lobstery grounds of Beachport , Robe and Kingstone SE where lobsters are plentiful. Of course they have ‘The Big Lobster’ where you buy fresh lobster sandwiches at the service station.
The landscape felt and looked a lot dryer in South Australia especially as we drove along the Coorong (where the Murray River mouth is located), the huge chain of salty lagoons were hot and desolate in areas. Sand dune vegetation backs on to vibrant salt marsh vegetation and the intense smell of decomposing seaweed filled the air and stuck to the back of our sinuses. Then there was the memory of watching the film Storm Boy (set in the Coorong) which brought back memories of Mr Percival and the lonely life living in the remote and harsh environment.
Then BANG WOBBLE WOBBLE!! What was that? SHIT! We blew a tyre outside of Port Elliot. The tyre was changed quick enough and then we were enroute to Cape Jervis to get on the Ferry to Kangaroo Island.
We embarked the car ferry as the sun was rising and watched a southern right whale wave good morning to us with his flipper while a mother and baby dolphin played in the bow wave of the ferry. It was Christmas Eve, we headed down to the Kingscote wharf where Dan caught scallops for the festive lunch the next day. My parent’s arrived (Janice and Bruce) and Dan’s brother Josh arrived from Sydney and for a few days over Christmas we stayed at a house at Island Beach- which was luxury.
While we were staying at Island Beach we explored the surrounding area fishing at dusk at American River and checking out the local wineries. My faviourite winery was Chapman River Wines run by the vibrant owners Diana and Bruce who converted an old aircraft hanger into a eclectic bohemian paradise. Their savoury platters with local cheeses, produce and smoked lamb were out of this world, especially with a glass of their ‘happiness’ wine.
After Island Beach we headed to the Hanson Bay cabins, which had the most amazing position on the headland overlooking Hanson Bay. When we arrived the weather was wild and The Southern Ocean was heaving. When the weather settled down Hanson Bay was the most spectacular clear and aqua bay where we swam and snorkeled. We walked along the headland amongst the low lying cushion bushes and then looked down into the clear water from the cliff’s edge watching the waves pushing the seaweed back and forth on the rock platforms.
The limestone rock caves and geology of the island was very intriguing and we visited the Kelly Hill Caves admiring the array of stalactites, stalagmites. The caves were discovered in the 1880s when a horse named Kelly fell into them through a hole, which is a funny story.
A local gave us some tips on maroning in the creeks and we were overly successful catching an abundance of maron in the pots using dog biscuits in a stocking as bait. Maron are a pest species on the island so you have to keep them if you catch them as they have escaped from the local maron farm. With our freshly caught maron we created delicious meals. A maron pasta for New Years Eve with gathered wild rocket and split and barbequed maron another evening.
At dusk the sunsets were spectaclar, pinks, purples and oranges filled the sky as we watched Tamar (small wallabies only on Kangaroo Island) hop around and feed on the pig face. When Dan and Josh were going to check the maron pots one evening they saw a koala running up the embankment of the road and then into a tree and became very aggressive as they approached the grumpy character and growled at them.
We explored the Flinders Chase National Park where we saw remarkable rocks which reminded me a little bit of Wilsons prom with sculptural granite boulders covered in orange lichen creating elegant forms. We then headed along the boardwalk amongst the pig face to Admirals Arch to watch the seals playing and rolling around in the rock pools. The views, beauty, nature and environment around us was dreamy. What a special place you are Kangaroo Island.
That is all for now. We will keep updating you where we are and what we have been up to! Keep following us at huntergathererdiaries.com!