New favourite place: Roderick Bay, Central Province Reply

 

We first found Roderick Bay some weeks ago after a long walk about which my Dearly Beloved is threatening write some time. It’s such a special place that before we left we booked in with Patrick, Mary and John for a whole weekend. When we finally made it back across, all was as hoped – maybe better.

 

The most obvious spectacular feature of Roderick Bay is the wreck of the World Discoverer. Up close it’s as dominant as you would expect but far more interesting. Small trees are now sprouting out of it and birds are nesting in it. By blocking a part of the bay it creates almost a swimming pool, bounded by magnificent old trees that creep out into the water. Enter this sheltered pool by wading across the sand, or dropping from a rope swing, or throwing yourself off the flying fox that’s strung between the wreck and the shore. (Note: Contrary to advice from a mate who thinks such things should not be promoted, the flying fox does work and is strong. We saw it tested by a full-sized Aussie bloke. But of course it’s dangerous because to get on it you have to climb the rusting wreck. Plus some people have a tendency to squeal in flight, which could get annoying if you’re trying to rest.)

 

The snorkelling’s great. There’s staka coral claiming the wreck plus the family running the guest house is protective of the coral beds all around. Some of the coral is huge but the water is clear and deep enough to save you from worrying about scratching your tender bits as you float above. Plenty of pretty fish, as usual, and my Dearly Beloved saw a sea horse, and that was pretty special. If the sun’s a worry you can even find places to spectate on the sealife in the shade. Highly recommended.

 

For those who aren’t into getting wet there are various walks on offer. The village is apparently only 10 minutes away so we accepted the open invitation to visit on our own. We missed the direct path across the headland, walking instead between the small family settlements along the water’s edge. Noone seemed to mind – just lots of friendly greetings. In some more open stretches we got views of the mighty hill (mountain?) that a guide would gladly take us up but … no, not us, not this time.

 

We didn’t make it round to the village, partly because we were worried about the tide coming in and catching us between a couple of rocky outcrops, partly because it started to rain (though it’s not as if it was cold!), and mainly because the rest house is too comfortable and we were too keen to get back to our books and coffee and swims. Is there anything more soothing than a strong splashy storm over a secure thatch roof?

 

And so to the rest house! It’s one small family settlement hosted by Patrick and wife Mary, with John, Walter and other charming family members on hand to answer questions (John and Patrick speak English) and make sure you’re comfortable and happy. When you pull in at the sandy beach you walk first into what’s probably a dance ground or football yard when there are enough feet around, with shaded benches for spectators around the edges. Next there’s the long open leaf hut/hall where the thermos was always ready for coffee and where Mary served our excellent local-style meals, including yummy lots of vegetables!

 

Past that there are three guest bungalows. The first is not yet plumbed into the ground but otherwise fully welcoming; the third is unfinished; and ours in the middle was just right. Up a few stairs from the garden and on one side was our bathroom with a new clean dunny, shower and handbasin – to be shared with guests from the first bungalow if there are any. At the moment (but I believe not for long) there’s a problem with the dam so the tap wasn’t running but they provided buckets of fresh water for the shower and you could fill another bucket from the sea for flushing.

 

Across from the bathroom was our bedroom with one double and one single, and fresh flowers of course. The bed was comfortable and the mozzie net was generous. Best of all, there were long louvre windows all around to catch every breeze. Maybe even better still, off the bedroom we had our own balcony over the water. Day and evening it was paradoxically noisy with birds and lapping water and occasional distant children but at the same time totally still and peaceful.

 

The family that runs Roderick Bay is keen and committed to making a go of this. The spare tourist dollars they earn go into tourism development, from small improvements like the purchase of a mirror and mats for the bathroom to bigger ones like finishing the other two bungalows so that they can cater for more people at a time and bring down the cost of the boat from Honiara. Very happy to support them in return for such a precious easy escape. I still haven’t succeeded in photographing the flying fish on the way so will gladly be back for another go.

 

Practicalities

Transport: Canoe with OBM from beside the Yacht Club early Saturday morning, takes maybe one and an half hours p(more or less depending on the sea and number in the boat). Come back early Monday morning rather than wasting Sunday. I got home to shower and change and still made it to work by 9:00, perfectly acceptable by Honi standards.

Take:

• Swimmers, obviously, and water toys like snorkel and floaty rings in case you want to lie in the water with your book, plus maybe walking shoes if you’re likely to go wandering.

• There’s only a little solar electricity to provide light in the dining hut in the evening so don’t bother bringing the computer so you can catch up on work. (Haha – as if!) Take a torch for wandering after dark.

• Throw in some mozzie repellent – there’s a mean pleasure to be had watching them fail to get you through the net but you have to get up eventually.

• Be prepared with safe shoes and gloves if there’s any chance you’re going to want to clamber on the wreck.

Cost: $3,400 for a couple including all transfers, meals, accommodation, etc for 7am Saturday to 6am-ish departure Monday 

Contact for further info and bookings: Patrick, ph 7484172 If he doesn’t answer he’s probably out somewhere so send a text message and he’ll get back to you.

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