DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER.
WEEK 45 2016
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 7
Continuing our New South Wales road trip, we head north from Eden. First stop, the Bega Dairy, which is disappointing. A large group of ‘Bogans’ (not Begans) descend, and swamp the cheese tasting. The historical display is OK, and brings back memories for my wife, Marie, who grew up on dairy farms around the Richmond district of northern NSW. Drive around Cobargo and then view seals and whales from the Blue Pool vantage point at Bermagui. Fish (butterfish and flathead) and chips overlooking the harbor. Drive next to Camel Rock, Tilba Tilba and Central Tilba. Pleasant walk around Central Tilba, including one drink at historic (1895) Dromedery Pub. Barman very dour. Frantic bottling of milk is taking place at ABC Dairy, where we buy cheese, which is far superior to what was on offer at Bega. Marie spots a yachtie we met on Lord Howe Island last year. Check out Mystery Bay, where a skin diver is prowling the waters. Book into Easts Caravan Park, Narooma, the coastal town where we spent our honeymoon in November, 1975. Enjoy Happy Hour drinks at O’Brien’s Pub. A charter boat leaves the estuary and a dog frightens wading birds. Dinner at Sports Club.
In Murwillumbah, a Requiem Mass is held for prominent dairy farmer, Ken McDonald, who died at the age of 90. His daughter, Anne, who married my former brothers’ teammate, Mick Hessian, pre-deceased her dad.
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 8
A cruise to Montague Island leaves the Narooma town wharf. Lots of seals at Wagonga Head, and there are whales out to sea. Walk past the golf club, where the third hole is referred to as ‘Hoges Hole’ because a 1970s Winfield Cigarettes television ad, featuring Paul Hogan, was filmed here. Demolish a dozen beautiful oysters bought from a shed at Forsters Bay, as a women’s rowing crew goes through their warm down routine.
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 9
Morning tea at caravan Park community hall – scones, jam and cream. Chat to Barbara Argent from Western Australia, (born in Casino), whose husband is a Vietnam vet (1969-70). He is in Narooma for an annual catch up with fellow vets. Lunch at Beach Cafe, Tuross Head, (a town recommended by my good mate from Lismore, Doug Kaden), followed by a chocolate milk shake at the Bodalla Dairy. Marie didn’t like their cheese. Back at Narooma, patrons at the Sports Club are fixated with the US election race, with Donald Trump trumping the critics, by being declared president. I chat to a local junior league official, who says the game is strong in Narooma.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 10
It is fascinating reading different assessments of Donald Trump’s win, especially from those who got things so terribly wrong. Of course, it is all the fault of white men of a particular age. At least they had the energy to get to the polling booths. Picnic lunch at Carter Beach, where baits are out for rabbits. Buy local lobster and scallops ($66) at Co-op. ‘Talisman’ fishing boat had just come in.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 11
26 parrots on the deck of our cabin. Leave Narooma for the Hunter Valley. Lunch at a bakery in Milton. Takes four hours to drive through Sydney. So many people on their mobiles in the congested traffic. Get to the Mercure, Polkobin about 6.40 p.m. Dinner in Elements Restaurant is good, but not great. Two drunken women at a nearby table provide the entertainment.
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 12
Watch Four Nations match between Scotland and New Zealand from cold, wet Workington in Cumbria, England. it should have been played somewhere in Scotland, Hawick perhaps. Terrific effort by the Scots to draw 18-18 with the Kiwis, who are suitably embarrassed. Winery tour today – McGuigan, Brokenwood. The latter had experienced a blackout in a storm which struck overnight. Our wine expert lived at Toowong back in the 1980s and worked at Expo 88. Chat to an English couple. He is a fire safety officer form Cumbria, who played rugby union for Fylde. After lunch we hit Meerea Park and Tempus Wineries.
In North Queensland, our eldest won, Damien and his wife, Emma and daughter, Parker attend a wedding on Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsundays, travelling there by helicopter.
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 13
Explore Hunter Valley Gardens. Very disappointing, my wife says. “Not enough love” from gardeners. Back at the Mercure, a coach load of young people has descended on the place. At the pool they have glass containers, many of them smoke, there is loud music and lots of bombing. No-one from Mercure staff does anything. Dinner at nearby Harrigan’s Irish Pub.
Photo: Wedding Day on Whitehaven Beach. Emma Ricketts with daughter, Parker