Oz Report – Part 8 – Narooma and Tilba

Tuesday.

Today was our one day in Narooma before heading south again. Originally we were going to Montague Island – a four hour tour to see seals and other wildlife – but owing to the expense and under-subscription of the tour and the fact that we were too early for whale-watching season, we decided to do other things instead. Mrs Elbeno took a run down by the ocean, and afterwards we kicked the day off with a nice breakfast at a place called Pelicans on a small marina in Narooma.

A Pelican

They did particularly good hot chocolate (with two marshmallows each). After breakfast we went down to Surfbeach, a local beauty spot which was deserted.

Narooma: Surfbeach

After enjoying the wind and waves on the rocks for a while, mini-Elbeno got bored so we got back in the car and drove a little way south to Umbarra Cultural Centre. It is astonishing to think that Indigenous Australian culture is around 60,000 years old. This makes it the oldest (extant) culture on earth. Imagine ancient Romans and Greeks still being around today – not too much of a stretch. Ancient Egyptians? Still possible. The people who made the Lascaux cave paintings? Quite a bit tougher. Now multiply that far back by about 4, and you have an approximate date for beginnings of the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander cultures.

I talked to the lady running the centre – her mother was Aboriginal and was forced to marry a white man in the 50s under the White Australia policy, she said. She was quite bitter as she told me about this and how the Aboriginal peoples had been in that area for millennia, worshipping the land, before being subjected to “terrorism” by the colonial peoples who assumed they had no religion and no culture. Clearly Australia is just beginning to come to terms with its past.

Mini-Elbeno was being difficult, so to give him a chance to fall asleep, we drove to Central Tilba. We spent the afternoon pottering about the historic town and visiting the various shops. I bought a sorely-needed new belt and wondered about a kangaroo-skin wallet, but didn’t take the plunge. I must get some kind of wallet for mini-E, or bequeath my current one to him and get a new one, because he’s mad about it.

We returned to Narooma in the late afternoon and watched the sun westering over the harbour, and the waves coming in to the inlet.

Narooma Harbour

Narooma Inlet

We had the leftovers of the last night’s Chinese takeaway (quite acceptable) for dinner and watched the sunset from our motel room.

Narooma Sunset

But that’s not all! That night we were in for another treat – a total lunar eclipse, which approached totality at about quarter to eight. Being in Narooma, with crystal clear weather, and far from any light pollution, the night sky was just incredible. Of course, we didn’t recognise much of the southern hemisphere sky, except the Southern Cross (Crux) and a star that was so bright that I figured it was probably Jupiter. But the moon turned an orangy red, and for the first time in my life, I recognised the milky way clearly. One of these days I must get myself a telescope, and drive out into the desert to immerse myself in astronomy.

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