The 10th and final day of the tour, folks, and Wollongong – perhaps the most famous of ‘Ongs – is where we find ourselves. We bunked down just north of the ‘Gongs city centre on the shore of the pictureseque North Beach, which not so long ago segregated bathing for men and women. There were different changing sheds and bathings times of day for both genders, all of whom were garbed in neck to knee costumes which we doubt had anything at all to do with sun protection!
Thankfully, we three ‘Ong ‘adventure before dementia’ types stuck to our traditional t-shirts and linen pants our entire visit to North Beach.
Our chief blogger (Jen) did find time to be saved by a very fetching bronzed life-saver before exiting the beachside.
There are conflicting Aboriginal meanings for the name Wollongong but ‘song of the sea’ seems to be the most used and others include ‘hard ground near water’, ‘sound of the waves’ and many snakes. One outside bet could be (as in Gerringong, the fearful place) an expression of surprise and fear on sighting a ship in full sail heading for Botany Bay south of Sydney, rendered as “See! The monster comes”.
As we gaze out onto the horizon from North Beach we can see ships too – big tankers this time – so much a feature of the industrial life of Wollongong which started out as a timber town and progressed to become a centre of mining and coal export.
Finally, though, we turned our trusty ‘Ong Tour Tarago for home and headed the 90km back to Sydney. By the time we pulled into our chief blogger’s driveway we had covered 2,640km in 10 days, far surpassing original estimates of 2,000kms by Tour Guide Marg, by whose rough count we covered no less than 38 ‘Ong-named towns/settlements/ map entries/roads/creeks/dams. And that doesn’t include a few ‘Ongs we didn’t get to visit or didn’t remember/know about until after we’d passed through – like Dooralong, Ettalong, Howlong, Wyalong (as distinct from West Wyalong) for example.
And so this is where we leave you, dear readers, but not before we’ve posted a large chunk of the road signage of all the places we visited in the past 10 days, ably snapped by Jen hanging out the passenger side window, trusty iPad in hand, at speeds of between 80-to-100kms per hour. (This may explain why some of these are a bit blurry!) Thanks for joining us on this wild old ride!