Friday, February 20, 2009

Day 70 - 20 Feb 09

The Big Smoke! Arrived in Melbourne this afternoon and have booked into the Sundowner Caravan Park at Springvale in Melbourne's Outer Eastern suburbs. When I booked in, they gave me a chipcard for the front gate and a key for the amenities rooms, but they should have given me a shoehorn as well. Crikey these sites are tight. I'm back-to-back with another 18-footer and both our tow-hitches are just about in the gutters. Lord knows how they would get a decent size van in here. Still the rates aren't too bad, $24 a night for a powered site less my Top Parks discount.

Spent the whole of yesterday in that noisy Highway rest stop, 'cos I couldn't be bothered moving. Had a lazy day reading and listening to the radio. Packed up this morning and had a quick look at Bairnsdale and Sale. There decent size'd towns, but a town is a town is a town. The countryside has completely changed from a couple of days ago. Not a State Forest or National Park in site. All gentrly rolling farming and grazing country today.

I was going to head south from Sale and do the Wilson's Promontory thing, but the road into Tidal River is still shut because of the bushfires, so that will have to wait for another time, perhaps when I come back from Tasmania.

No photos today, didn't see anything that caught my eye. I'll probably be here in Melbourne for a week or 10 days before heading across to Tassie, so no posts until I get there.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Day 68 - 18 Feb 09

A quiet day today, had a look around at the rest area, but the only thing to see was something called the "Burnt Bridge" but, as the road was closed, that too, will have to wait for a further trip.

Headed into Lakes Entrance in the late morning and took a walk along the arm between the beach and the river to Flagstaff Hill and the entrance to Bass Straight. One of the locals was using the path at the time, so being courteous, I waited until he (or she) had finished his (or her) journey.
The walk (4.8km) was very pleasant, but it was a shame to see the native vegetation being taken over by introduced species. This stand of Morning Glory has complete over-run the native heath.Continued on to Flagstaff hill, which was the original site of the harbour control after the channel was cut. About the only original building still existing is the Rocket Shed, a store for rockets which were fired to alert shipping entering the lakes. Most of the other buildings were all demolished by the Victorian government in the 1970's - pity that such heritage items couldn't have been preserved.From there it was only a short walk to the cut. The tide appeared to be going out as I was there and the area where the tide met the incoming waves was a scene of utter turmoil. I pity anyone caught in the currents there.Walked back along the beach and saw a project which appears to be taking sand from one part of the beach and putting it in another. Seemed rather pointless to me. Seems it would make more sense to take the sand from out in the ocean beyond the surf and bring it on to the beach. Oh well, I guess they know best what's good for us.

The weather was fine but blowing a gale and fairly cool when I came back into town and had a walk along the Esplanade. The wooden sculptures which form a sort of multi-site War Memorial are striking, not only in their simplicity (I don't feel qualified to comment on their artistic merit) but in the consideration of the enormous tree trunks out of which they were carved.There were a lot of fishing boats in port which makes one wonder how good the fishing is these days. I can remember many years ago people saying that the scallop fishing was in trouble then so heaven knows what the situation is today. Must admit that one of the boats tied up gets my vote for being the ugliest boat I've ever seen. A coat of paint wouldn't hurt.

On to Bairnsdale. I have not mentioned it before, but I have a thing about Post Offices. During previous trips, I have seen some magnificent PO's (the one at Wilcannia sticks in my mind) and during this trip, I am trying to take photographs of them as I come to towns. So far I have been pretty disappointed. We don't seem to consider PO's as worth preserving and they are all being replaced by "Post Shops". I have enquired at some as to the location of the original PO and the answer too often is "it was here but they pulled it down" - so sad. I will admit that next door to the PO in Bairnsdale is one of the most interesting Court Houses I have seen - looks like something out of Disneyland.
I have pulled up at a rest area about 33kms from Bairnsdale for the night. Right on the highway, so it may be a noisy night. See you soon.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Day 67 - 17 Feb 09

Finally left Genoa Campsite on Monday 16th Feb. It was still trying to rain, but what the hey. It's probably the longest I've stayed in a free camp but it is a beautiful location and far enough off the main road that the trucks roaring by in the night don't disturb your sleep.
The Genoa River flows right past the campground and there is a good opportunity for walks along the banks and in the stream bed when the water is low.
I headed for Mallacoota Inlet. I've heard about it so often that I had to take a gander. Took a quick side trip into Gypsy Point on the way, but there really isn't much there unless you have a boat, in which case it could be quite interesting.
Arrived in Mallacoota and was astounded by the size of the caravan park, somebody said it was the largest CP in Oz, in fact there doesn't seem to be much there except for the caravan park and a few shops. The weather was still pretty iffy, so the beach wasn't all that attractive but I took a trip around to Bastion Point (had to ask at the service station, no signs in the town) and went for a great walk along the rocks and around the point.
Back to the Highway and off to Cann River. VicRoads seems to be very good at posting signs for little sites that the visitor might want to see. I am in no hurry, so I turned off at a few of these. The first was Genoa Creek Falls, about 20kms from Genoa. Nothing spectacular, but a nice walk through the bush and a good photo op.
The next was a rest area called Drummer Rainforest Walk about 11 kms east of Cann River. Good campsite, plenty of room for 3 or 4 vans. Set up overnight and took the rainforest walk the next morning after packing up. It's only about a 1km loop, but there were so many things to see, that it took me over an hour. There's a box with printed guides at the start of the loop and lots of interpretive signs through the walk. Well worth the time, I'd put it on a "must see" list for this part of East Gippsland.
The signs mention that the rainforest only recovers very slowly from fire, and this area was part of the Ash Wednesday fires in 1983, but it seems to have recovered very well from what I can see.Next stop was another rainforest walk at McKenzie River, 32 kms west of Cann River. Again, lots of interpretive signs but much more sophisticated. All the walk is paved or boardwalk with a couple of swing bridges. Didn't feel as raw and close to nature as the Drummer walk. Some of the biggest tree ferns I've ever seen.
Just past the village of Cabbage Tree, I spotted a turn off featuring "Cabbage Palm Walk", so in I went. It's about 5kms in off the highway, It's a pretty rough dirt track, the walk is only about 10 minutes (if you walk slowly) and there's nothing there. Well, there are 3 or 4 Cabbage Tree palms growing among the eucalypts, but that's pretty much it.
A little bit further on towards Orbost and there's a sign on the left (travelling west) to Mt. Raymond Lookout. Blink and you'll miss it. DON'T MISS IT! ! !. The road is fairly rough and definitely not suitable for large vans (my Jayco off-road wind-up was fine). The view from Mt. Raymond towards Marlo and the mouth of the Snowy River is superb.
On to Orbost and a little shopping, just bread and milk etc. The old causeway across the Snowy River flood plain looked interesting, but I couldn't see an access road so I'll leave that for another trip.

Just west of the village of Nowa Nowa there is a sign pointing off to the right to "Historic Trestle Bridge 5 km". Worth a look. Evidently the highest railway bridge in Victoria and was still in use until 1988.
Headed down the road to Lakes Entrance and found a nice little rest area near Lake Bunga about 11 kms before LE, so I'll set up here for tonight and have a look around in the morning before heading in to LE.

More soon, Happy Travelling.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Day 61 - 11 Feb 09

Left Eden this morning and headed down the coast towards the Victorian border. Took the scenic route via Boydtown and Green Cape. What spectacular scenery along the coastline. I suggest this is a must see, however the roads are fairly rough and the Green Cape road won't take a full-sized van. A camper trailer will be fine provided you've a decent vehicle.

First stop was the old whaling station (bitumen road all the way). Not much left but very pretty.
From there it's just a couple of k's to Boyd's Tower. What an egotist. Cop the name on top of the tower. Evidently he built it as a private lighthouse but was refused permission, so he used it to watch for whales coming in to Twofold bay - just before he went broke. Can't figure out why!
From there down to Green Cape (4wd road) About 19km each way, but if you can, make the trip. The road is a bit rough and there are some tight corners but worth the run. I left the rig at the turnoff to City Rock because the sign said "rough track" but it was no worse than the main track.

Got to the parking area and you have to walk through the melaleuca to get to the cliff edge. It reminded me of the dark woods in the Hobbit.
The sea was a bit rough this day so the waves breaking on the rocks looked great. I can only imagine what it looks like with a really rough sea. City Rock is on the bay side of the cape and yet still gets some good waves.
Next stop was Pulpit Rock. This track really WAS rough and I should have left the van and walked in (1.6km) but managed it without any drama. The advantages of having an off-road van.
Finally the Cape itself. There are tours of the lighthouse available, but not every day. If that's your thing, check before you go.

I've crossed the border from NSW into East Gippland and what is the first thing that happens? IT STARTS TO RAIN. Of course it does, I'm in Victoria. I was going to try to make it to Mallacoota Inlet, but there is a great little rest area at Genoa, so I'll set up there and see how the weather looks.

More Soon

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Day 59 - 11 Feb 09

The forest area at Bodalla was absolutely Marvelous. Strictly speaking, it is only an overnight stop. i.e. 24 hour maximum stay, but I bent the rules a little and stayed for 4 nights. In my own defence, however, so did several other people. I guess if it was crowded I would have moved on, but the opportunity for walks through the forest and so on was too great a temptation.

The first day, I went for a walk down a (signposted) bush track to Lake Mummaga. The trees in the forest, it turns out, were Spotted Gum and Blackbutt. During the walk I came across a 4wd track which looked like it headed towards the ocean so I investigated only to find that a gate had been put across the track and a "No Trespassing" sign put up by the local aboriginal lands council. Now I have the greatest respect for the Aboriginals and their efforts to obtain and retain native title to their traditional lands, but I have to admit I feel a little disappointed when they restrict access to areas which should be open to all Australians (and visitors too, for that matter). If the area was a sacred site, I could understand it, but sometimes I think it is just a "dog in the manger" attitude.

The next day (Monday 2nd Feb) I walked down the 4wd track in the other direction and came to a good gravel road (Brou Lake Road) which led straight down to the ocean at Brou Beach.
The day was a little overcast but it was nice and warm. The town on the point is Dalmeny, which I later visited.

On the Wednesday morning I decided to pack up and headed south. I called in to Dalmeny to get some essentials and then Narooma. I noticed a turn off to Tilba "Heritage Village" and detoured to have a look. It's very nice and being only a couple of clicks off the highway, worth a look, but it isn't really heritage, it's a bit too "touristy" for mine.

Just north of Bermagui, I couldn't resist a side trip to Camel Rock.
Bermagui was nice, some very helpful ladies in the tourist information centre, but to tell the truth, the beauty in this part of the coast is in the areas between towns, rather than the towns themselves. The highway between Bermagui and Eden is simply full of wonderful beaches alternating with picturesque rocky headlands.
From Bermagui I took the coast road down to Tathra and on to Bega, where a visit to the famous cheese factory seems to be obligatory. Strangely enough, in the visitor centre, you can buy all the cheese you could wish, or other "unique" souveniers, but you can't actually tour the cheese factory. Must have something to do with the modern fetish for hygiene.
One thing that did stick out in bega, they have a very impressive church and the most impressive war memorial I have ever seen outside of a capital city.
About 20 clicks south of Bega, on the road to Merimbula is a sign for a rest area at Yellow Pinch Dam. The rest area is nothing special, Toilets, BBQ areas (in a total Fire Ban) and room for about 8 or 10 vehicles, but the opportunities for bushwalking are terrific. Again, this should probably only be a 24 hour stop, but in my own defence, there are no signs limiting a person's stay. Another pair of Grey Nomads I spoke to had been there for 4 days and there was a guy in a van who I suspect may have been a permanent resident.

The dam has restricted acces (no fishing, boating swimming etc.) because it is Merimbulah's water supply.
The next day I took a walk through the bush for about 3 1/2 hours.Pretty up-and-down, but a bit of exercise might turn flab into fab. Lots of old mine workings in the area, all nicely fenced off by Parks and Wildlife I presume. They all seemed to be verical shafts about 10 metres or so deep, so it would seem there wasn't any large scale mining in the area. Found what appeared to be a home-made oven, whether for cooking or for processing gold I couldn't tell.
Managed to get to the top of a ridge and the view through the trees was stupendous. In one direction I could see Merimbulah about 10 Km away and in the other direction farmlands stretching to the Great Dividing Range.
The next day was fiendishly hot, so I just sat around in the shade all day and did nothing. 44 degrees C and the air was so hot and dry it was difficult to breathe. In addition, the radio was full of fire warnings in the local area and during the day you could hear the sounds of the water bombers flying back and forth. It seemed like a good idea to just stay put and suss out the situation for a couple of days.

The washing is starting to pile up so it must be time to spend a day or so in a caravan park. Garden of Eden in the town of Eden seemed like a likely spot. Another Grey Nomad "Xtrail51" was also there so an opportunity for a natter over a bottle of Swan Valley Red. Now I don't want you to think that Eden is boring, but this sign was in the caravan park.
Did the tourist bit while in town and took lots of pics for the album. For a relatively small town, there are some very interesting things to see and Twofold Bay itself is amazingly beautiful.

I have seen a blog by another pair of GN's who have been putting their travel diary in day-by-day and it looks like a good way to do it, so from this point on I may do the same unless I spend a few days in the same spot looking under rocks and pushing sticks into holes. They have also put a link to Google Maps on their blog, showing their travels and if I can figure out how to do it, I will try to do the same.

Well, I guess that should be enough for now - See you soon.