Tags: travel

Grae is the new black

Gone Fishing.

Yesterday, I went fishing with my father.

I wore thongs! I wore board-shorts! (I still wore my arts student glasses)

We were aiming to catch some [ flathead ] in an estuary just north of Jervis Bay - about [ 200ks ] south of Sydney.

Much to my father's disgust, I spent an hour on the interweb researching and printing out the most effective methods of catching flathead, including when to fish for them (when the tide is going out).

I'll show you where Jervis Bay is
Below is a little map of Australia, featuring bays, including Mr. Jervis'*

Sydney is home to Botany Bay, just above Jervis Bay on the map there. Jervis Bay is only interesting, due to the fact that it's the port for Australia's landlocked capital city - Canberra. It's actually counted as being part of Canberra, despite being 200 kilometres east. Bureaucracy is weird.

Fishing hole snapshots
Here are a few photos of where we fished. Excuse the budget digicam. It's embarassing.

The location was excellently remote and quiet.

My seat, my rod *cough*, my book about grids, my chance to get a tanned chest.

My seat's view of the tidal estuary.

A fern native only to Jervis Bay - related to the prehistoric [ Wollemi Pine ] which was recently discovered alive and well in a still-undisclosed canyon near Sydney.

The only thing anyone caught all day was this little guy - called Paris - that I trapped in the shallows (just so I could say we caught something).

I deliberately avoided providing a sense of scale in the photo of Paris, because... it hurts my hunter-gatherer pride. We did get a few strong bites from a flathead, but we ran out of their favourite snack (a bait fish called pilchard - a little larger than a sardine) before we hooked one. We had to settle for a take-away Thai dinner. It was a relaxing way to spend a Sunday afternoon - even if we didn't catch anything - we still had fun competing to see who could cast the farthest.

I put Paris back in the water just after I caught him. I didn't want to say I went on a fishing trip with my father and all I caught was crabs. I fed him and his family of 10 or 15 scraps of our bait for the rest of the afternoon. One of the crabs, maybe Paris' cousin Nicole, snuck up on my father as he was standing in the shallows wearing sandals, just before dad's toes got nibbled I warned him.

But clearly, my army of trained crabs nears readiness...

Five minutes in Photoshop took [ this map ] - to the one above. How awesomely quick and effective are adjustment layers?
Grae is the new black

Weather or knot

Wollongong is a city about 30 minutes south of Sydney. That means it's on the east coast of Australia, about 2/3rds of the way down. It stretches about 30-40 kilometres along the coast, squeezed between the Tasman Sea on one side, and long sheer cliff walls on the other - known as The Illawara Escarpment (part of the continental shelf).

About 300, to 400 thousand people live in the general area, 20 to 30 thousand of them commute north to Sydney for work each day. It's larger than several Australian capital cities. Among the residents of Wollongong are my parents, my three grandparents, my sister and her family, my father's (still) identical twin, his family, and a few other liquorice allsorted relatives.

Cities are cities, after visiting a hundred or more, they can start to feel a bit the same.

So here are 4 things I've noticed about Wollongong.
  • The weather stays mostly the same all day. It changes during the night. If it's sunny and warm in the morning, it'll be the same in the afternoon. It's quite different to the four-seasons-in-one-day of Melbourne

  • It's very blue collar. There is a steelworks in the middle of the city the size of three or four regular suburbs, with smokestacks and chimneys belching pollution and fire over the city. When there's an onshore wind, it smooshes the pollution between the cliffs and the city, leaving a thick smog blanketing the city. When the wind is offshore, and the pollution is blown out to sea, the beaches, cities, and rainforests look gorgeous

  • The beaches are amazing - there are waves, and the water is warm - they're an integral part of life for most people here - although, few of them pronounce the 'g's on the ends of their words

  • If you want to head inland, you'll have to drive up one of several twisty mountain passes that snake up through the cliffs and onto the table lands - grab yourself a sporty car or motorbike - because those mountain passes are some of the most highly regarded sets of corners outside of a racetrack anywhere in Australia
There's a bunch of trivia about the place on the [ Tourism Wollongong website ] including a feature on the recently opened [ Sea Cliff bridge ], an impressive feat of engineering designed to bypass an unstable area of cliffs.

So there you have it, Wollongong in a nutshell. Now you know, and knowledge is power!

The beaches are pretty ace - rock pools jutting out into the ocean next to the headlands - hundreds of people of all different types walking along the sand day and night, fishing, surfing, swimming, making sandcastles, or taking the dog for a walk. It's a pretty relaxed - if slightly 'aussie' - place.