November 2003

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In the Blue Mountains: Inge and Manfred on "Three Sisters Number One"

Visitors from a former life. Or: Manfred and Inge in Australia. A long time ago, Peter had worked at the Mathematisches Institut of the University of Karlsruhe. His PhD supervisor plus partner tour Australia in October-November. What they hadn't taken into account when they had planned their trip: Sydney was in Rugby fever, and there wasn't a single hotel room left available. We offer them a place to stay, including BBQ, and accompany them to the Blue Mountains. A favourite quotation of Manfred is: "Visitors are like fish: After three days, they start smelling." This statement is now proven to be wrong.

Sun set at Bine's Hens Night on Milk Beach

Bine's Hens Night. Bine and Eric change their family status. As custom wants it, before the the big day, the girl is taken out by friends (Hen's Night) while the boy is taken out to night clubs and topless bars by his respective friends (Buck's Night). On November 13, we invite Bine and Eric over to a "completely normal BBQ", and as always, Bine prepares a salad for it. Funny to watch how naive Bine remains, even when Peter is not back home at our place, but Irina and Erica instead. She is still unsuspecting when we go down to the sailing club, and only at the very moment when we hop onto the putt-putts of Gary and Nick, she is realizing that she has just been kidnapped... On our way to Milk Beach, we pick up Jutta, Sandra, and Carole along the way in order to spend a night on the harbour with 7 girls, 2 boats, and 2 guys (our drivers). We land on the beach, barefootly make a shuttle between boats and beach, spread our rugs, pour champagne into glasses, fetch snacks and salads. Irina's portable BBQ produces beautiful steaks for a sunset over the CBD. After darkness, we do some skinny dipping, then alcohol...Bine, we all wish you all the best for your future, and that you'll keep this evening in your memories.

A children's birthday party for adults...

Maya's first birthday. Or: When adults do a child's birthday party. Officially, the 16 November is a childrens' party, with the limitation that the birthday child doesn't yet fully understand it. Irina and Matthias call their friends to a beach party on Clifton Gardens. After the initial invasion of the hot buffet (including BBQ, of course) we are not allowed any rest: Matthias distributes old rugs, spoons, cooked eggs, and balloons and reminds us that a child's birthday requires child-like games. Ohhh Matthias, how long is it that we last bounced and jumped so much... :-)

Total freedom on the way south

The Great Trip South: Cronulla to Currarong in a sea kayak. See also our Photo gallery: Paddle from Cronulla to Currarong and the Special Report The Great Trip South. On November 18-20, Claudia and Kevin in a Mirage 730, and Harry and Andrew in their respective Mirage 580s head southbound. Start of the adventure is Cronulla, a southerly suburb of Sydney. It rains, is greyish and calm. The weather forecast promises a southerly wind (head wind) 15-20 knots for the first day, northerly winds (tail winds) 15-25 knots for the next two days, after that again a southerly change with thunderstorm. Four people in three kayaks alone on the Pacific. We have merely left the bay that the headwind kicks in. After 13 km, a sheltered beach shows up, Wattamola in the Royal National Park. Andrew had slowed down considerably in the head wind, we have another stretch of 20 km sheer cliffs to negotiate, and the wind and sea directions given, all following beaches will be unlandable. Hence the decision to stay in Wattamola. On the second day, we have the promised tail wind, furthermore sun shine: ideal conditions to make good for the distance lost on the first day. 8 hours on the water without going ashore anywhere (side remark: each reader might consider what practical implications this involves). We paddle along the Royal National Park and reach the suburbia of Wollongong, let some islands behind and finally reach our goal Shoalhaven after 55 km. The big adventure within our adventure only starts on the third and last day: The passage from Black Head (off Geroa) to Currarong. The compass course across this bay takes us away from the coast line, directly onto the (subjectively) open sea. For almost 4 hours we don't see any land, steer with the compass and check with the GPS. The wind direction changes, our subjective perception tries to persuade us that we changed our course?!? When we are 6 km off coast, a fishing trawler crosses our path, we pull in a bit harder in order to pass in front of it – we are not eager to test what teeth follow the trawler... After 60 km day's total we land in Currarong, set up camp, and have a shower :-) We have tasted the absolute freedom.

Jörg and Claudia on North Head

Witness at marriage visiting over – Jörg in Sydney. It was long since promised, now Jörg has managed to realize his plans. Conferences in Brisbane and Perth lead him to our continent, and he can afford an extra 6 days for Sydney. He knows Sydney from prior visits, thus we skip the usual program of the CBD and the city center from his touristic program and take him out into the nature instead: A Bushwalk with subsequent lazyness at Flint & Steel Beach in Ku-Ring-Gai National Park is one of our trips. The beach belongs to ourselves. A wild wallaby hops quite close to us, and a kookaburra watches us curiously down on us. In Germany, Jörg had got the order to greet a kookaburra: Done.