Travelling around Australia in a motorhome. A story of our travels starting from NSW then through Queensland, across to Northern Territory and Western Australia, then to South Australia, Victoria and finally across the seas to Tasmania. We have enjoyed everywhere we have visited and look forward to setting off again in our motorhome.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Diamond Creek 15 April 2007

Last day in Melbourne was spent leisurely getting ready to go. It took longer than we thought, as we re-sorted the car that we had emptied to transport Katie and Carl. Job well done! We finally SQEEZED out of Trudy and Ian’s driveway with a bit of trouble getting over the dip in the gutter! We picnicked on the verge for a break with biscuits and drinks with all the car bits on the grass! Funny sight!
We left about 4pm and headed east to the Yarra Valley. After a relatively easy exit we were settled by 5pm out of Diamond Creek on a lay-by with only the occasional evening traffic, the birds and the bush. It was quiet until early morning!

Last Melbourne dinner

Bag lady's squat in Bennets Lane

Monday, April 16, 2007

Melbourne 5 – 12 April 2007

Travelled to Melbourne along the Western Ring Road on Easter Eve! Luckily the drive was pretty straight forward. Not sure it would have been as easy in Sydney! We SQUEEZED down the side of Heather’s cousin Trudy’s house to camp for 10 days.
We enjoyed seeing Melbourne over an Easter as it was obviously quieter. The weather remained exceptional for the whole time with no clouds, rain or wind and lots of balmy sun and warm days! We were able to visit parks, galleries and stop anywhere. We really enjoyed walking around the elaborate arcades vibrant with history, colour and people. There are so many hidden secrets in Melbourne and everyday we go in we find more fascinating places. We went to the famous Bennett’s Lane Jazz Club to hear Michelle Nicole sing. We were surprised how small it was. We enjoyed Victoria Markets which was much like the old Paddy’s Market in Sydney before it got stuffed up. Visited St Kilda Beach and eventually felt hot enough to seek out shade! Then went to see Sandra, Heather’s aunty, for a lovely lunch. Chatted about family history for ages. Checked out the Tasmanian Spirit moored at the docks with our Tasmanian dream in focus. Took time out to wander the Southbank and enjoy the big gas performances outside the Casino.
Katie and Carl came back from their Easter camp and we have been seeing them regularly in the city visiting restaurants, bars and coffee shops. We have had a wonderful time and the weather just never stopped being perfect. Though the last few evenings are nearly cold! The wonderful buildings that have been preserved are really magnificent and, with such gorgeous weather, it’s easy to linger and take it all in. The trees and wide streets, the simple city grid, trams everywhere make Melbourne a special city. People seem to have so much to do above ground and everyone is out and about. We are getting about in the car a lot and Heather has caught the trams a little!
The funny hook turns and negotiating corners set out for trams are a bit disconcerting for Peter! He now thinks Perth drivers aren’t too bad after contending with Melbourne drivers – their basic problem is lack of manners - drivers commonly run red lights, play dodgems with the trams and there are signs everywhere about not cueing across intersections as they block them regularly.
Enjoying chatting with Trudy and Ian and getting to know the kids! Also have done a little bit of research on Heather’s G. Grandfather, Gerard Wight, an architect in the early 1900’s. We found a lovely building, Melbourne Bank that he co-designed. After seeing the photo of it we were very disappointed to find it completely wrapped in plastic and scaffolding! Could not see anything! Maybe it will be wonderful when unwrapped. Also found a lovely pub he designed in Fitzroy that is now a carpet shop. There maybe a bit more to find yet.
Last day in Melbourne, we picked up Kt and Carl and went to Herring Island in the middle of the Yarra where there are a number of outdoor sculptures and a gallery. . We had fun catching a small punt boat across the Yarra.
After a picnic lunch we visited Como House, one of the original heritage houses in Melbourne with Katie and Carl. Finished the night with a lovely vegetarian dinner at Trudy and Ian’s.

The mean streets of Melbourne

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Melbourne skyline with the mighty Yarra

Geelong 4 April 2007

Geelong surprised us being a more sophisticated city than expected, with a number of charming buildings, galleries, theatres and a vibrant shopping centre. In the afternoon we visited two heritage homes both built in the 1850s but vastly different. The first has been restored with grand Victorian furniture from the period. The second was left to the National Trust, including all its contents. It was interesting as it was a Victorian house refurbished in 1930’s. We finished the day by visiting Geelong Grammar School. Heather’s great grandfather was one of the original architects. We found documents to confirm this in Geelong and intend to do some more research in Melbourne.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Geelong Grammer Chapel

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Torquay, 3 April 2007

Moved along the coast to Anglesea and spent time on the river edge and taking a walk on the beach! Felt like we had gone to an English beach with people sitting out in their parkers with their wind shelters up, whilst they towelled down their frozen blue children. A very strange feeling of urbanisation is with us now and the big wide lands seem to be over. There is quite a feeling of loss - better not unpack our motor home too quickly!
Enjoyed a few hours around the main areas in Torquay that seems to be very modernised with lots of townhouses going up. Moved a short distance out of town and parked in nice farmland near Grasstree Park Nature Reserve. We were amazed that we found a free camp as we keep thinking that it just getting too close to Melbourne.

Aireys Inlet 2 April 2007

Spent the next day on the beach side in Lorne doing blog and emails! Grey and boring weather all day! The evening and night were spent at a high lookout over a long beach. The full moon rose early and cast a silver glow over the ocean and the rolling waves. It turned into one of our top spots.

Yes - another sunset!

Lorne 1 April 2007

Left the caravan park late after a big hot breakfast cook up and enjoyed a few meal breaks on the water with Katie and Carl. The road was narrow and windy! More than we imagined! Surprised they let you drive our sort of vehicle on it! They left us in the late afternoon and we drove back out of town to a great lay-by with a stream, the beach, kangaroos, horses and no traffic after dark. Who would drive down that road at night?

Katie, Carl and Heather at Apollo Bay

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Apollo Bay 31 March 2007

Drove across to the coast through more rugged mountains covered with tall gum trees on a road only leading downwards! For the first time it reminded us of the east coast. The hills gave way to rich flood plains with lowing dairy cattle – very picturesque! Arrived in Apollo Bay, an attractive town arching around a sandy bay and surrounded
by nearly green hills! Set up camp and eagerly awaited for Katie and Carl to arrive to spend the night and weekend together. We had a lovely time with them eating our usual assortment of visitor food which includes lots of no, no’s! We settled down to share a special bottle of wine that Neil gave us for this trip. The quality was lost on no one and we struggled with the follow on wine! It was fantastic Neil! Think we have learnt what’s what about wine now we have visited all the wineries!

Twelve Apostles

Loch Ard Beach

Great Ocean Road, (Lavers Hill) 30 March 2007

Reached the Great Ocean Road at last! Able to view some spectacular scenery accompanied by gale force winds and intermittent rain. Fantastic waves pounded the coast as a result of this change in weather and we agreed that this only added to the spectacle. The waves and winds have eroded the limestone cliffs into amazing shapes. They cut the limestone away at the base of the cliff, leaving caverns and arches, which eventually collapse and then form rock outcrops marooned in the ocean. Had a lunch break at Port Campbell right on the edge of the water in town, but eventually moved around the corner as Jimmy was being severely buffeted by the wind. Drove onto the climax of Loch Ard and the 12 Apostles. Though the rain was gone, the wind and waves had not subsided! These last two lookouts were thronging with tourists, as opposed to the other quieter lookouts we had visited before. We moved along the road through steep windy mountains that only lead upwards. We enjoyed the forests and the views and wondered when we would ever be able to pull off the road. There were no lay-bys in these steep places. Luckily Lavers Hill, a small village in the middle of the mountains, had a perfect spot to stop at the cross-roads. Boy was it cold! Reminded us why we went north for winter! Had a rare meal out at a café, opposite our parking spot that overlooked a grand valley.

Walking in the wind

Koroit CBD

Monday, April 02, 2007

Nullawarre 29 March 2007

Drove inland to see a really interesting town, Koroit, which was once a predominantly Irish settlement and there is still evident of this background with numerous churches and pubs. We took time out to have hot chocolates and cake in an Irish cake shop. Top of the range! The town was extremely pretty and green sitting on a rim of an old volcano with views sweeping into the floor of the old volcano.
Landed in Warrnambool which is a largest town along the coast. Had a wander around the town in the rain re-learning to use umbrellas as it “warmed” us up for Melbourne weather. Umbrellas up! Umbrellas down! Umbrellas up! So exhausting! While it has become a cliché, the weather was constantly changing every 10 minutes – sunny and dry, wet and cold, sunny and dry. Drove on to a small village, Nullawarre and stopped near the park on a wet cold night snug in our home with electric on standby!

Port Fairy main street

Port Fairy 28 March 2007

Awoke to a cold, windy and wet day. Off to Portland again and ventured out in rain and rotten dirt roads to see the Gannets rookeries. It was lovely but too far to appreciate. We saw the thousands of birds out on the island through binoculars and a few who flew close by in a spectacular manner. Onto Port Fairy which is a delightful village, full of historical houses. Still wet and grey but we are starting to accept it without liking it! We thought we might like to go to the Port Fairy Folk Festival, however we got a bit turned off when we discovered that just one campsite had 4,500 people in it. Not sure if we would get any sleep at night! Very hippy! We might be passed that stage now! Moved out of town to a quiet lay-by.

Portland Gardens

Portland 27 March 2007

Drove onto Portland, which surprised us by being an attractive town overlooking a harbour. Had a enjoyable day jumping around and recalling how to use an umbrella again - showers on and off all day like Melbourne weather! Moved out of town to Cape Bridgewater and camped on the waters edge yet again. We were surprised to be looking at another very unusual geological feature. This time it was a cylindrical sandstone tubes that looked like hollowed tree trunks caused by a chemical reaction of water, lime and sand. It is called a petrified forest indicating the confusion that people had about the causes of the hollow tubes. It spread over the cliff for about a square km and yet again intrigued us.

Nelson 26 March 2007

Had another walk around Mt Gambier in the morning – there is definitely an autumn feeling in the air, but it is still very pleasant. Lots of things to see and made a leisurely exit to Nelson and suddenly found ourselves in Victoria without even noticing. We got a shock as a sign flashed by – “Welcome to Victoria”. With a big truck tail-gating us we couldn’t stop! NO BORDER SHOT! We also have to contend with time change from previous day plus state border change. Will be up 1 ½ hours earlier tomorrow. Now back to Eastern time!
Nelson is a small village on the coast that seems sleepy and pretty. Spent all afternoon on the river and moved on to a quiet spot out of town for the night.

Portland Harbour

Mt Gambier 25 March 2007

Travelled down to Mt Gambier veering off the road for a farm garage sale at a beautiful 1860’s stone house with a1920’s extension! Worth the stop to see the house. Mt Gambier is quite busy and the main centre for the South-East district. It is famous for the sink holes and lakes formed from limestone, including the most legendary Blue Lake. Over a few days in November it transforms its colour to vivid blue that makes the sky seem pale and stays that way until late March, when it slips slowly back to a wintry grey colour – we are lucky to see it when it was such an amazing blue. Another remarkable sight we saw was the Umpherston Sinkhole which has been transformed into a beautiful sunken garden dating back to the 1880’s.
Stayed in a small caravan park on the outskirts of town which was very peaceful.

Mt Gambier

Tantanoola 24 March 2007

While still overcast, the rain had cleared as we toured Millicent. This is a pretty little town which was having a small festival that only the locals could fully appreciate.
Stopped the night at Tantanoola, a small village surrounded by pine forests for a very quiet Saturday night.

Millicent 23 March 2007

Woke up to see sand being whipped up strong winds and sweeping across the campsite. It was hot and the humidity suggested rain. Drove onto Kingston SE, a rather likable town, with a long history and big wide streets and watched the change of weather with gathering dark clouds.
Moved on to the next town Robe, in steady rain necessitating umbrella retrieval for our street exploration! Everyone started to look very happy and all comments were about rain, as it hadn’t really rained for two months! Robe is an old coastal fishing village that was a port and the first settlement in SA. It was a real Kiama feel with pounding waves, a blow hole and lookouts on the rocks being pounded by rain and waves! Enjoyed lunch and suddenly felt cold and wintry! Change can be so quick!
Drove on in the rain and stopped for the night at a pretty sheltered lay-by outside of Millicent. It was strange to be cold and listen to rain all night.