Blessings in Port Campbell

The city of Melbourne is like New York. If you get bored, there’s something wrong with you. But this is the metropolis, something out of the character of Wendy and me, so we were looking forward to breaking out into the country of Australia. We arrived last night, and several blessings have come about that we are relishing.

The four of us at Port Campbell, Victoria, Australia.

The four of us at Port Campbell, Victoria, Australia.

First, we were upgraded to an SUV. We were good sports — ready and willing to crunch inside an economical money-saving sardine can to head to the ocean — but we were pleasantly surprised other sardines got there before we did. All the remaining rentals were SUVs and luxury cars.

Second, I got to break my first bill while here in Australia. I’ve had $400 AUS trying hard to start a little fire in my pocket, but every time I’ve tried to whip it out and spend it, Alissa’s husband, Assad, has jumped in the line and insisted on paying. Every meal and souvenir (including that sporty Kangaroo hat in the picture above) has been a gift from my son-in-law. But I beat him to the chase during a short toilet stop and ran into the convenience store and bought a cream soda.

Third, the road trip was a true joy. Alissa and I are the drivers. She has her Australian license but has not driven since she moved here seven years ago. It was quite the comedy act as we struggled to drive on the opposite side of the road. We took score, and so far Alissa is winning our “least likely to have a head-on collision” contest. Three-and-a-half hours of driving — by heaven’s grace — we arrived to our destination in one piece.

Fourth, the beautiful Great Ocean Road. We decided to leave a day early to beat some rainy weather in the forcast, but were only able to find one vacancy along the entire shoreline. We hustled and bustled to arrive early enough to enjoy a little of the port before the sun went down: a walk on a pier, a hike up one of the cliffs, and a restaurant dinner with the beautiful view of the port (pictures below). I’m sure we’ll have more to share tomorrow. This is a south-facing shoreline, so the sun was setting in the west and the waves were crashing something fierce. Beautiful!

But THIS Was the Biggest Blessing

The fifth blessing was not planned. We had tried hotels in other towns along the ocean, but the only vacancy on this Australian summer Saturday night was on the edge of town in Port Campbell. Fine by us, we went for it. As we drove in, Assad exclaimed, “I’ve been here before!”

Alissa snapped this picture of Assad and me.

Alissa snapped this picture of Assad and me.

Assad is from Syria, migrated here several years ago. He recalled coffee shops and restaurants like distant memories. On the way down from the cliff he shared with me that he was here in Port Campbell where he made his decision to stay in Australia. He reminisced of his life journey before meeting Alissa.

As a young man, he was drudging around seeing the world, and South Australia was one of many places to see. During his stay, he received a phone call confirming inclusion into the Melbourne Market for his Syrian scarves and table cloths. Before the phone call, he had plans to return to Syria, but he made the decision to stay and start his merchant business in Melbourne.

Wouldn’t you know? That decision was here in Port Campbell, just where we happened to find the only vacancy for our expedition to the ocean. “And here I am now,” Assad shared with us over dinner last night, “with my wife’s parents in the same port I made that life-changing decision.”

This trip to Australia has been magical. Every single day filled with blessings like these.