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During my travels newspaper columns were published weekly in the Dutch daily newspaper
Dutch newspaper Spits

This project has been supported by these great and warmhearted companies:
Netherlands: Paping Buitensport, ODLO, IPtower.nl, AVRO Dutch Broadcasting Org., Travelcare, TunaFish, Book A Tour, StadsRadio Rotterdam; UK: Lazystudent, KissFM, The Sunday Times, The Guardian; Isle of Man: SteamPacket/SeaCat; Ireland: BikeTheBurren; Belgium: Le Temps Perdu, Majer & PartnersAustria: OhmTV.com; Norway: Scanrail Pass, Hurtigruten, Best Western HotelsSouth Africa: eTravel, British Airways Comair, CapeTalk, BazBus Spain: Inter Rail, Train company Renfe; Australia: Channel 9 Television, Bridgeclimb, Harbourjet, SeaFM Central Coast, Moonshadow Cruises, Australian Zoo, Fraser Island Excursions, Hamilton Island Resort, FantaSea Cruises, Greyhound/McCafferty's Express Coaches, Aussie Overlanders, TravelAbout.com.au, Travelworld, Unlimited Internet, Kangaroo Island SeaLink, Acacia Apartments; Malaysia: Aircoast; Canada: VIA rail, Cedar Springs Lodge, BCTV/GlobalTV, St. George Hotel, VICKI GABEREAU talkshow, Ziptrek Ecotours, Whitler Blackcomb Ski Resort, Summit Ski & Snowboard Rental, High Mountain BrewHouse, Cougar Mountain Snowmobiling, Whistler Question Newspaper, Snowshoe Inn, First Air, Nunanet.com, Canadian North Accommodations by the Sea, DRL Coachlines Newfoundland, The National Post and Air North.


Reports

Thursday, 21 March 2002
Newcastle --> Shoal Bay, Central Coast, Australia

She had been cooking and honestly told me she hadn’t cooked in seven months. “Normally it’s just liquorice and white wine all day,” she giggled at me while opening a bottle of Australian bubbles. She proudly showed the empty bottles of today’s consumption and as she was quite tipsy she joined me on the table and served her spicy curry chicken.

Matt pulled my leg this morning to wake me up. After a quick shower, a quick cereal breakfast and a cup of coffee, Hayley, Matt and James took me along to the NewFM radio station. Here I was invited to be a guest at the morning show with The Fatboys Steve & Dave.

Being there, I said goodbye to my hosting students as they had to go to the Uni. I thanked them for the stay and the lift to the studios.

I stayed with Steve and Dave until 10am, when their show was over. It was great to be in their envying environment. They talked to their listeners about my enterprise and came up with the idea of doing morning-radioshows all over the world with something letusbeyourmorningdeejays.com… They were really funny and would really wake you up in the rest of the world (just to relief Newcastle for a while)...

After 10 the promotion manager of NewFM brought me all the way to my next location in Shoal Bay, north up a peninsula, where I am invited to stay for a day at the Santa Catalina Motel.

Once there I met up with the cleaning lady, my hostess wasn’t there yet but I was given the key of the 4-bed-room on the first floor. I dumped my pack and had a little snooze as it was still before midday and I could actually really need it after three days of early radio-stuff.

Around 1pm I met up with Penny Tonkin, who took over the motel seven months ago from Alan Ritchie – who had intentionally invited me on March 30, 2001. Anyway, she was glad to have me over and saw it as such a pleasurably thing to just help somebody out on his world travelling.

She told me how she had travelled through Europe when she was young and when she heard about my plan to start hitchhiking up to Port Macquarie (200 km up north from here) tomorrow, she frightened a little bit.

She called up some friends in the neighbourhood and arranged that I
1) would get a complimentary dolphin watch cruise on the bay tomorrow morning;
2) including an onboard lunch;
3) a free bus ride back to the Pacific Highway.

At least I’d be on the highway tomorrow, getting up north from there would be a lot easier.

She was on the phone for just some fifteen minutes. I thanked her for all her efforts to help me get on the road tomorrow. Penny laughed at me when she realized that she had just arranged all these things for free. “Well, the people here do seem to know you!” she said.

“Ramon, just get at ease at this paradise spot. Do whatever you want; I’ll cook dinner tonight. There is only one thing you have to do when you here,” and she pointed out the window to the 200 metres high [url=www.portstephens.org.au/NaturalBeauty/i1.htm ]Tomaree Mountain[/url]. “You have to get on top.”

I prepared to climb that hill, put on my factor 30-sunscreen and headed off with a bottle of water. And the water was really necessary.

Halfway to the top on small dirt tracks (through spider webs) and climbing the stairs I was sweating like mad. With the sun on my head (it still was 36 degrees Celsius) it felt I was cooking eggs inside.

With my wet head under my arm I arrived on the top. My body must have looked like the Niagara Waterfalls at that moment, but I forgot all about it as I looked out on the Pacific Ocean. I reached the top the Tomaree Mountain and the Tomaree Peninsula, at last.

Not to far away, little islands were scattered in the ocean. On the other side I saw the beauty of Shoal Bay, Salamander Bay and Port Stephens.

Looking down to the northeast from the Tomaree Mountain I saw some beautiful unspoiled and white beaches. When I was down I realized how white beaches could also be an illusion. Nobody wants to go to Zenith beach if the wind blows that hard from the sea. Suddenly the whole romantic idea was gone. Tarzan just has to wait - there will be more beaches on my road – I know already.

This area here, Port Stephens, is a popular holiday destination for those who love fishing, sailing and swimming in a bush land setting.

Once back at the motel again, I washed the sweat off my face and went for a walk along the few shops that Shoal Bay has and ended up on the beach as the sun was disappearing behind grey clouds.

The earliest inhabitants of Port Stephens were the Aborigines of the Worimi Tribe also referred to as a taller, stouter race of people than those Aborigines in Sydney - with a completely different language.
Europeans first noted Port Stephens in May 1770 when Captain James Cook referred to Port Stephens in his log as "an opening forming a bay".

He went on to describe:
"Wind southerly in the day and in the night westerly, a gentle breeze and clear weather. At 4pm past at a distance of one mile a low rocky point which I named Point Stephens... on the north side of this point is an inlet which I called Port Stephens that appears from the masthead to be sheltered from all winds".

In my room again I wrote some reports on the previous days and carried my laptop towards Penny’s living room next door. I connected my laptop on her faxline and showed her how the project all works for me. She couldn’t believe I took “those marvellous photographs”.

She had been cooking and honestly told me she hadn’t cooked in seven months. “Normally it’s just liquorice and white wine all day,” she giggled at me while opening a bottle of Australian bubbles. She proudly showed the empty bottles of today’s consumption and as she was quite tipsy she joined me on the table and served her spicy curry chicken.

Conversations didn’t really go that deep during dinner; as I had to keep Penny’s attention with her own food and she just –hik- talked and –hik- talked…

When I connected her fax-line with my laptop after dinner, I heard a soft bang. I looked around in the living room and didn’t see my hostess. She had disappeared and thought she might be busy in another room.

I published my reports online and checked my emails. A little hour later I cleaned up my stuff and went back to my motel room.

In a blink of an eye I saw how Penny had fallen on her bed. I just hoped her hangover wouldn’t be that big tomorrow morning…

Good night Shoal Bay!

Ramon.