We rose early on Saturday to meet Gwilly who very kindly took us fishing at the beach. We had dressed for a Canadian fishing trip, which we quickly found out is not quite appropriate! Fishing at the beach on the ocean it is impossible not to get wet – we just waded right in anyway – nothing the washing machine could not deal with.
Apart from the attire, the first noticable difference was the fishing rods which are much longer so as to cast out further. We could have managed that no problem were it not for the fact that the seaweed had come in shore this week. Naturally, the fish weren’t biting where the beach was clear, so we had to move to the weeds. Avoiding getting snagged was a real challenge – we lost only a small amount of tackle and Gwilly your patience was much appreciated.
The second difference was the bait. As per the photo, maggots are the bait of choice (which are perpetually raised using the fish heads from the last catch as breeding ground – works quite effectively). We did try worms also. They are not the same as our earth worms – these ones had legs and looked like a cross between an earthworm and a centipede.
As you can see, my first catch here in Aus, was not so impressive. Despite the common conception that everything is bigger down under, my first fish didn’t fill the prophecy. But larger ones followed (and this little fellow got to live for bigger days). We ended up with a reasonable haul considering our skill level (thanks to Gwilly primarily). Mike and I each managed to catch a garfish (the ones with the long snout like a mini-marlin). Despite his efforts, Kyle had no luck unfortunately. Gwilly very graciously gave us the haul to take home and taste (and you may notice that there was one herring in the bunch also). It was one of the ‘local’ experiences that are making our exchange very memorable and distinct from a regular vacation.
On Sunday I actually found a recipe on the internet and cooked up the bunch – which turned out quite tasty – although Mike & Kyle both struggled with the bones (nothing new there).
Later in the day on Saturday, we headed down to the waterfront for Crabfest.
Mike stopped by the skatepark to check out the competition. Some impressive tricks, especially given that the kids are local. The first aid van was right next to the park – but at least for our visit it was only on standby. The skate/bike parks are well used here. The skateboarders and bikers of all ages seem to share the park very peacefully and there is usually an impressive bunch of tricks being performed.
We hooked up with Richard & Phillipa and checked out the Crabfest parade. The aboriginal float was quite good, but I have to admit that another stuck in my memory the most. I am not quite sure what it was supposed to be, but it was a giant animated robot which looked the alien from the Predator. It was eating a giant crab. Running along side the float was a guy handing out chicken hats. The had a chicken body on top of your head with legs hanging down around your ears. Despite my best efforts, I could not convince Kyle to grab me one, and my own efforts to run the float down failed. Ah well, it probably would not fit in my luggage at any rate.
We headed along the booths with the rest of the crowds.
Lots of the crab dishes were already sold out by 5pm – the talk of low catch volumes appeared to be true. Saving most of our appetite (we did have a small snack), we hit a restaurant – Hans – for dinner. We also had our traditional St. Patrick’s day drink in memory of Dada (Mike’s Irish grandfathers birthday). The restaurand was very good value oriental food. We managed to consume enough food and drink to take us to fireworks time.
We sauntered down to the docks to have a front row seat for the show. The evening was perfect to sit outside – not even any bugs.
The fireworks were not disappointing. They were labelled ‘Ballet on Water’ – and we found out why. There were actually fireworks launched which landed on the water and after dancing on the water for a while they launched into their own display. There were two launch points from the shores and at times action was everywhere – on the water and in multiple points in the sky all at once.
I also found the colours were quite noticable – both the brilliant colours you have come to expect, but also subtle pastel colours which were still vibrant.
The grand finale was so bright that some of Mikes shots don’t do it justice since they are totally white – but hopefully this one gives you a sense of their brilliance.
We closed off the night by heading back to Richard and Phillipa’s sitting out on the deck watching natures fireworks (lightning show) and we were even treated to a very brief rain shower (lasted perhaps 10 minutes!) as we headed home.
Yet another great day with great company from start to finish.