Kelly has a few days off so we decided to scoot down to one of our favourite local(ish) destinations, Bermagui.
The name Bermagui (pop 1,500) is probably an adaption of permageua, meaning ‘canoe with paddles’in the language of the original custodians of the land.
It is a quiet little township in the off season. Beautiful coastline and decent coffee. It also has a great dog friendly holiday park (Reflections) that is one of our favourite places to retreat to. Sitting outside Ripley on a sunny winters day with a good book and an ocean view we would put it in our top 5.
On the trip down Kelly steered Ripley through her first driver-seat descent of the Clyde Mountain. The Clyde is a 5 kilometre steep winding affair with a couple of fold-back hairpin bends that she springs on you just to make sure you are paying attention. Not too difficult in a car, but a little more tricky in Ripley who is a wide wobbly girl and tends to be a little too keen to get to the bottom, hairpin bends be damned, if not reigned in.
The road has been greatly improved since I remember driving down it with my family as a young kid. It was a summer adventure back then, oftentimes getting a little car sick during the descent as the back seats swung around this way and that. I remember there were always cars pulled off to the sides either overheating on the ascent or having some form of mechanical problems.
One year we hit a big rock sitting in the middle of the road. I was sitting up front riding shotgun at the time. “Dad!” I exclaimed, “…the ROCK!”
But between oncoming traffic and a tumbling drop through the fern trees, dad didn’t really have any room to manouvoure. For a second I thought we would clear it. But that second ended in an abrupt and grinding impact as ancient and modern metallurgies collided.
We pulled off the road a few bends down and dad and I scuttled out under the car to check the damage. The rock had torn a 5 cm gash in what we assumed was our fuel tank. A constant trickle of petrol splayed out in a rainbow.
“Oh dear”, dad confirmed. “This isn’t good” Only I seem to remember bad words being used.
“Fear not dad!” Turns out I knew exactly what to do. I had only just that week read a story involving a world adventurer who suffered a similar ruptured fuel tank scenario in the middle of Istanbul or Casablanca or some such place, and fixed it using plain old soap.
I told dad who remained sceptical. But the fuel was leaking and we had a cake of soap in the back so what the heck.
Turns out that the soap undergoes some sort of reaction with the petrol forming this firm malleable putty consistency that then sets hard. Perfectly brilliant for plugging the tank.
My dad was gobsmacked at my genius knowledge. Or at least that’s how I remember it.
There were no road rocks this descent (which is just as well as Ripley’s ground clearance is about this much. Kelly took the whole thing in her stride, although I did know she was not messing about in her comfort zone when she asked for the music to be turned off until we got through with it.
After all, if things were to go pear shaped, you just don’t want to be spending your last moments in an out of control motorhome watching eucalyptus trees spinning past the windows whilst listening to Boogie Wonderland.