Memento of Wollongong

After lashing out on a Subway feast, I returned to my room to find the crazy man was gone. In his place was a normal, backpacker-age guy on a big road trip. I opened my laptop, attached my earphones and watched an episode of Extras. Normal transmission had resumed.

*Note; if you’ve seen the movie Memento, you’ll know how to read this post. If not, have fun – it’s feature length, with all kinds of twists and turns!

The heavy second section of Redsands.

Finally arriving at Redsands 3 hours later, I jumped off the rocks and paddled out. There was only a handful of people out and there were good vibes in the water with plenty of waves to go around. I let most of the bomb sets go to the local guys, but was the last man standing during one of the sets of the day and had no choice but to paddle. I dropped in deep and could see the water boiling off the reef. Spray blasted me from the strong wind as I raced along in the barrel. The last part shut down, and I fought through the foam. Popping out, I shook my head to clear my vision, only to see I was about to get axed by the next section of the wave, onto basically bare reef. I was hit hard, but luckily avoided any bodily harm. Hungry and a bit cold, I cruised on in and went back to the car.

Hurrying back to the carpark, I pulled on my wetsuit and started putting on sunscreen. Then I realised my surf crate was a little empty. I’d left my fins at Jordan’s place the day before. A quick phone call to Jords and I was back into my clothes, back into the car and back on the highway down past Nowra to collect a spare key and rescue my fins. I felt a little numb; after the night I’d just spent in Wollongong, I kind of wished I’d just stayed with Jords anyway!

It's from the day before, but it's a nice picture anyway.

My alarm was redundant; I was woken up by a horrendous combination of snoring, grunting and whistling every half hour. FCG had a repertoire to match any DJ. At 7am, I gave up trying to sleep and drove down the coast to check Redsands. There were about 20 standups out at the soft little peak around the corner, but only one bodyboarder enjoying fun little runners across the main reef.

Excusing myself, I sidled back to room 104, where our other room-mate, a middle aged South American fellow, was playing some kind of noisy, repetitive computer game on his laptop. I jumped into bed and got out my iPod, played a couple of games of guitar hero and listening to The Decemberists until I was sleepy. I set my alarm and pretended to sleep just as FCG arrived from the lobby.

After getting off the phone to my parents, he’d returned. I was trying to watch the footy and FCG persisted in engaging me in conversation. This time, rather than harping on about religion, I had the sketchy details of a reptilian Illuminati Nazi UN world government conspiracy, encompassing most US celebrities, outlined to me. I laughed (politely) at the most insane parts, but that just made him earnestly offer to show me a DVD about the truth behind 9/11. Gently declining, I wondered if there were any subjects of conversation we could engage in that wouldn’t make me think he was a nutcase. I failed to come up with one.

Bedraggled and wet... life on the South Coast!

There was a documentary on the Discovery channel, so I quickly changed the topic, and David Attenborough’s name came up. “Ah, yes, he’s an evolutionist. He thinks the Earth is millions of years old. I don’t agree with that.” I mentioned that I was a scientist, which prompted the trump question, delivered with a smug smile and born-again certainty; “So, you think we came from apes?” I mumbled something about the question being so wrong it wasn’t worth answering, but was slightly too creeped out to make an issue of it. On cue, my phone trilled: Dad to the rescue. I wandered out into the night to take the call and FCG left to get dinner.

Wollongong by night...

Reading the paper in the lobby, an earnest looking, small-eyed, overweight fellow sat down opposite me and said hi. After engaging minor pleasantries, I went back to reading the paper. Then he said, out of the blue and somewhat quietly, “I’m a Christian.” I half-smiled, not sure if he was serious, as he started to flick channels on the TV. He got talking about various sporting codes, which was kind of normal until he told me that NRL star Jarrad Hayne is a Mormon, which means he’s going to burn in hellfire. Then he looked at me and said, “You’re in 104, right? I’m sleeping under you!” At that point, I mentally labelled him Fundamentalist Crazy Guy, or FCG for short. You can insert your own F and C words if you like.

Cursing, I squinted through the rain at the street sign. I had no idea where I was – Wollongong isn’t a big city, but at night in pouring rain, it’s not easy to locate a building. It’s even harder when you don’t know where the building is, what it looks like or what it’s called. I drove around in the vicinity of the dot on the map I’d seen earlier for about half an hour, gave up, and found a McDonalds to use their Wi-Fi. Google had the answer and I was soon checking in and finding my bed.

The drizzle was just hitting the coastline again as I arrived in Kiama. I found the backpacker hotel I’d seen on the internet. Strangely, the sign was gone from the front of the building. A few moments of investigation revealed the reality that the place had been closed for some time. Hurrying back to the car, pulling my spray jacket close, I resigned myself to driving up to Wollongong, where I knew there was a Youth Hostel – at the very least, I’d seen a dot on the map indicating as much.

Kiama on a gorgeous sunny day... it can happen!

“You call this a few showers?” I grumbled, looking out the window. I’d decided to head up the coast with the hope of getting a wave out of the wind. A Google search indicated I had two options: a backpacker hostel in Kiama, or in Wollongong. I really wanted to be halfway between the two, but there were no other options, and I wasn’t going to try to set up a tent in howling winds and rain. A mental map in my head, I grabbed my wetsuit and towel from the washing line, started the trusty Corolla and left Callalla Bay.

We arrived back from the morning’s surf, had a bite to eat and sat down to watch Blades of Glory as the rain closed in. Normal transmission on a cool South Coast day.

Categories: Problems, Road Trip | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “Memento of Wollongong

  1. hahahahahahahahaha.. Sorry but picturing you in a room with a creationist/christian/FCG just made me laugh ^^

    Had quite a similar experience in a backpacker in Sweden :)

    Keep on the good stories ! :)

  2. Chris

    Oh wow Dave! Your very own FCG. I had a lot of fun with the initials. You must stop being so polite…or are you afraid an FCG might smother you with a pillow on the Lord’s say so?

    • That was the main reason I didn’t fire up about evolution etc. When you are going to be sleeping the night right next to your mentally challenged adversary it is wise not to stir them up too much…


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