Yesterday was hot and sunny and so we made the excuse to spend time away from the house with a drive down to Jervis Bay.
The freeway to Wollongong is a familiar one from countless drives to the university and back, but nonetheless spectacular, especially as you peer over the edge of the escarpment and down to the city far below. During the steep, but broad, section down Mount Ousley the slopes are lined by a temperate rainforest that conveys a sense of an epically exotic tropical locale.
You exit the city, past the Buddhist Nan Tien pagoda and temple. We visited the scenic grounds a couple of weeks earlier and, days before, had continued south-east of the temple and past the huge industrial estate of the steelworks to Lake Illawarra.
The steelworks are hidden from the motorway by the temple’s hills. To the west of us is the Illawarra Escarpment, a giant bush covered range topped with sheer walls of sandstone. Beneath this is green agricultural land, dairy farms and horse studs.
It is easy to imagine some sort of fantasy adventure in these lands. The routes up and across the escarpment consist of steep and twisting roads and hidden villages, before you emerge into the cool and rolling countryside of the Southern Highlands.
That was not our journey this time, though we have done it in the past.
The new Albion Park bypass is now open. The airport is now to our left heading south, the distant sight of the Qantas 747 at the HARS museum triggering memories of journeys over distant seas.
The road sweeps across the grassy hills with views down to the Pacific Ocean far below. I recall riding the train along that route, watching people hike along the rocky headlands between the beaches.
We bypass Berry, that lovely, but heavily touristed town with its doughnut van and shops of pretty homewares and crafts that I admire but always wish were something more.
Around Nowra, roadworks and returning traffic lead to a huge northwards traffic jam. Our own direction is slow, but moving. Then we are free, but very hungry, as we take the turn off towards Jervis Bay.
As we enter the town we pass a fairground with rides lying empty, but threatening a colourful spectacle of light and movement come nightfall. What a sight that must be, a sleepy town come alive with the magic (could it be sinister?) of the carnival!
The village of Huskisson is busy with tourists, but eventually, thanks to the kindness of a departiing driver, we find somewhere to park.
The town is named after the first person to be killed by a train, Stephenson’s Rocket. It is quite a tale and you should look it up.
There are queues outside the eateries and a nervousness about the numbers of people in the time of a pandemic. It is not until we have walked the length of the main street that we finally stop to eat. The meals take over half an hour to arrive.
Sated, we wander the foreshore, watching the standing waves caused by the tidal water flowing out from the creek striking the incoming waves from the strong winds across the bay. The creek separates the town from the long sandy beach. Mored in it are dolphin viewing charters and leisure boats. A anvil-topped storm cloud towers over the western horizon.
We walk back to the south to another beach, strong with the smell of seaweed. While I rest my sore foot, the others walk while other beachgoers play in the sand or swim in their skimpy costumes. I sit and let the breeze flow over me, breathe in seaweed scent and listen to the waves.
Our stay is only short, really just an excuse for a drive, and, after some ice cream, we head back to the car.
On our ride home I gaze out towards the west as storm cells ride across the escarpment and over the Southern Highlands. It is a drama that only serves to enhance the fantastical imaginary stories that I am telling myself about the scenery outside.
But the storms stay away, and so, with weary heads, we arrive home and back to our ordinary lives, only one day to go before work returns.