August 24, part 3

Ballina is a somewhat low-key resort area, with an emphasis on water sports and seafood. As a result, there are dozens of motels. I had to backtrack a little, since I couldn’t read all the signs on my first pass (traffic moves pretty quickly), but it gave me a chance to assess my surroundings.

The All Seasons Motor Lodge is not quite as posh as last night’s lodgings, but then I suspect being in a resort area means you get slightly less bang for your buck. Also, the two previous locations have been in far lovelier settings, surrounded by trees and nature, rather than on a busy commercial street. But all that said, it’s still quite pleasant. As with the other places I’ve stayed, it has all the amenities one might want, including tea-making facilities. I just don’t imagine I’ll awaken to birds in the morning.

I settled in and then to a stroll through town. There are several nice little take-away shops and some pleasant-looking restaurants, several stores and small shops, a couple of car dealerships, and a massive RSL (Returned Servicemen League – like VFW in the U.S.) club that takes up a whole block and is a couple of stories high. It’s the kind of mix one expects in an area that focuses largely on sport fishing.

I stopped at a little open-front market and picked up some bananas, a custard apple (which I’d been told I must try), and an “ashi fruit” – or that’s what it sounded like. The lady running the market had to look it up, but she said it’s supposed to be sort of a cross between an apple and a pear. She was charming, and I chatted with her and a few other shoppers. Then back to the motel.

The restaurant here is not a bargain, but I’m tired and don’t feel like trudging off to see if I can find somewhere cheaper (possibly without success, in a resort area). Besides, so far, the restaurants in the motels where I’ve been booked have been quite good, with nice, fresh food.

And this was no exception. For “entrée” (which, in Australia, as in Britain, means the course that brings you into the meal—the appetizer—rather than, as in the U.S., the main course—and to be perfectly honest, this definition makes more sense) I had a prawn and bug cocktail (bugs here are what Europeans called “slipper lobsters”—a lovely, sweet crustacean). It was an extravagance, but it’s something I haven’t had since my last trip to Australia, so I couldn’t resist. My “main meal” was a whole, fresh red snapper, grilled with lemon-parsley butter. Delicious.
As has been the case so far in each place I’ve stopped, the menu was delightful and the restaurant was nearly empty. I hope this is a seasonal thing, and that warmer weather brings bigger crowds. It would be a pity if these places couldn’t stay in business.

After dinner, I went for a short, moonlit stroll around the block (looks like a full moon, or close to it, tonight). I then headed back to the room for an evening of sorting through documents and preparing for the next part of the trip.

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