A Travellerspoint blog

Day 29 and 30 - Port Fairy

semi-overcast 16 °C
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On the drive from Port Campbell to Port Fairy we visited a few more coastal parks and admired the scenery.  As you can see from the photos, the limestone stacks aren't confined just to the 12 Apostles, they are common along the southern coastline.  We felt these in the Bay of Islands were just as spectacular.

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We also stopped in at Tower Hill Game Reserve, a lake and park inside the cone of an old volcano that's overdue to erupt. These volcanoes are responsible for the basaltic rock and rich soil that is around Port Fairy, in contrast to the limestone in Port Campbell.

At one of our stops the wind was sooo strong that we were able to lean into it at silly angles without falling. Speaking of the wind, there's nothing pleasant about being downwind of a Shearwater (Mutton bird) rookery!

There are 10s of 1000s of them during nesting season on a little island at Port Fairy.  The adults departed in April, the youngin's departed in early May, some as late as May 9th, so we just missed them.  Having had that many birds, in a fairly confined space, eating and doing what comes after that, just weeks before...  Well, I'll leave the rest to your fertile (pun intended) imaginations.

That aside, our walk around the streets, through the Saturday markets of about a dozen stalls, along the banks of the Moyne river, through the docks and out to the lighthouse was really nice.  We had to briefly shelter from a small shower of rain by standing behind a magnificent Norfolk Island Pine tree in (a garden bed in) the botanic gardens but we were blessed with lots of sunny moments.

Parallel parking on the Moyne River

Parallel parking on the Moyne River


'Red Door' for Karen's birthday

'Red Door' for Karen's birthday

The historic buildings, including the Merrijig Inn, Victoria's oldest, are interesting.  The B&Bs along the river are attractive, and the cafes and restaurants know how to do good distinctive foods.  Over the two days that we've been here we've enjoyed some delicious cakes and slices, hot and iced chocolates, sorbets, slow cooked pork, garlic prawns, barramundi, steak, much of it locally grown and made.  It was a nice way to spend Karen's birthday weekend...and a pleasant change from camp cooking.

Posted by pkd064 22:38 Archived in Australia Tagged landscapes buildings ocean karen may vic Comments (1)

We have a featured photo!


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One of our photos has been selected by Travellers Point for their Australian album. We're pretty chuffed about that. It's this one...

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We felt it had nice colour, light and shade and wasn't too bad for an unapped, unaltered iPhone photo. Apparently they think it's nice too. You can see it in their album at http://www.travellerspoint.com/photos/gallery/features/countries/Australia/ and it's currently on their main photography page too, though I expect this page updates regularly http://www.travellerspoint.com/photography.cfm

Posted by pkd064 16:20 Archived in Australia Tagged april featured tas Comments (0)

Day 28 - Port Campbell

sunny 18 °C
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Port Campbell, though only small, has a lovely location at a point where the ocean reaches the shore at a break between the towering cliffs that otherwise dominate the local coastline.  Fortunately, from a sight seeing and walking perspective, that cliff break is small so you have the comforts of town but don't have to go far away to explore.

Our private caravan park

Our private caravan park


Port Campbell headland

Port Campbell headland

Today we were blessed with a warm, largely cloudless day.  At one point we were in shorts and Ts.  We started with a short walk along the Discovery Walk above Port Campbell and then, because the weather was so clear, we drove east to revisit the 12 Apostles, albeit from a different angle.  We went down Gibsons Steps, a spot a little further east, so that we could see the closest of the Apostles from sea level.  Once we got down to the bottom, we found that the view of the limestone cliff was as interesting as the Apostles themselves.  

You could really see the different layers and textures and, when we realised that this particular section of cliff was shorter than the tall trees that we zip lined through in Tassie it gave us a new perspective on that experience. Multiply these cliffs by 4 and a bit and we've got our Marion's Lookout climb at Dove Lake near Cradle Mt.

Perry at the base of the cliff

Perry at the base of the cliff


Karen climbing Gibsons Steps

Karen climbing Gibsons Steps

We returned to town, browsed the shops, and then dropped in to the visitor information centre to ask about seeing the Little (formerly Fairy) Penguins.  We found there were two places with colonies nearby, a quite large one back at the 12 Apostles and a much smaller one west of us near another limestone feature called London Bridge.  We chose the smaller colony in the hope that there'd be fewer people there and so that we could also see London Bridge.

When we arrived, there were several buses, numerous cars and lots of people at the viewing platforms happily snapping photos of the Bridge.  Things soon looked up though, after the sun set and it started to get cold people began to leave.  Soon there was just one other couple.

About 25 minutes after sun down, but before last light, the penguins suddenly popped out of the surf and started to hurry up the beach in a tight huddle of about 20 birds.  Some stragglers arrived later in ones and twos but returned to the water until they could combine in a group large enough to venture up the beach - safety in numbers!

It was a lovely experience and well worth the long wait in the cold evening air.

Posted by pkd064 21:38 Archived in Australia Tagged landscapes beaches animals may vic Comments (0)

Day 27 - Drive

overcast 18 °C
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This day wasn't about the destination nor was it about the scenery, although that was spectacular. It was about the drive.  

We could have taken the GPS recommended A300 toward Geelong and then continued on the B100 through Torquay, passed Bells Beach (an iconic surfing destination), Anglesea, Lorne, Kennett River (another great surfing destination according to a fellow camper in Ballarat) and on to Apollo Bay.  It's all very picturesque...but we did that drive in January 2009 when Emily and Blake were working at the Australian Open.

Instead we took the road less travelled, down the back roads through little country towns like Magpie, Corindhap, Cressy, passed massive Lake Martin which is attached to the even larger Lake Corangamite - the body of water that you are most likely to notice on any map of country Victoria.  We continued through Colac and onward to Apollo Bay where we had a great lunch.

Then the fun really began.  As you head westward out of Apollo Bay toward Port Campbell, one of the first road signs that you see is a familiar yellow and black winding road sign.  What's unusual though is that it's a winding road for the next SIXTY kilometres.  That brought a smile to my face.

There are limited over-taking opportunities but, luckily, we got around a people mover and 4wd at the first of those outside of Apollo Bay and got to enjoy most of the run through the Great Otway National Park.  As we got closer to Glenaire we were slowed briefly by rain and by an older driver in a little Hyundai who was good enough to pull over and let us pass when she could.  Another driver wasn't as courteous but we got him on the low land and enjoyed the rest of the trip to the 12 Apostles and then on to Port Campbell at our own pace. The little Mazda isn't a motorbike but it's still lots of fun - zoom zoom!

...and of course we saw some scenery but more of that in the next day's post.

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Posted by pkd064 15:41 Archived in Australia Tagged may vic Comments (0)

Day 26 - Six(ty) feet under

sunny 17 °C
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We woke early because of noises from a nearby train shunting to and fro and from a rowdy 4 wheel drive of another camper.  I'm a reluctant user of shared showers / toilet facilities at the best of times so an amenities block in a caravan park, in Victoria, in May, before sunrise wasn't appealing.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was modern, spotlessly clean and heated.  We later found the camp kitchen, TV room etc to be of equally high standard.  Full marks for the Big4 Ballarat Goldfields Holiday Park.

The park is great and it's close to the gold precinct but it's a long way from the CBD.  Karen and I wanted a walk after our relaxed weekend though so we wandered into town and found the RACV shop to get some discount tickets to Sovereign Hill.  Then we walked past the Uni of Ballarat's CBD campus...chalk that up to a bit of professional curiosity...back to Sovereign Hill.  With just under 5km already beneath our boots, we entered the Hill and walked around for the rest of the day looking at all the sights.  

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Looking down on Sovereign Hill

Looking down on Sovereign Hill

Coach ride

Coach ride

Perry on the tower, Sovereign Hill

Perry on the tower, Sovereign Hill

$160,000 gold ingot

$160,000 gold ingot

Waiting for the mine tour

Waiting for the mine tour

It is just great.  So historic, so well recreated, so varied...and so much for Karen's fear of confined spaces and being under-ground.  We did a 40 minute under-ground mine tour that began with a descent that had us in complete darkness for 90 seconds.  Later, 60 feet under-ground in a poorly lit small chamber, we listened to the guide tell us of the many ways that the early gold miners died in the mines.  I think it's fair to say that was Karen's least favourite part of our trip so far.

60 feet underground

60 feet underground

Our tickets included entry to the Gold Museum and the Sovereign Hill night time sound and light show.  Although the museum was interesting, I wouldn't visit it again.  

The sound and light show was excellent.  It started in a building that wasn't day time accessible,   used a small part of the complex that we had seen during the day and then they took us to another area of the Hill that I'd never have guessed was there.  It had a massive set and that's where we heard the majority of the story of the Eureka Stockade.  I won't reveal anything more though so it doesn't ruin it if you go.

I have to admit though that I fell asleep.  That won't surprise some of our friends.  The use of cameras was forbidden so Karen couldn't capture the moment :)

Posted by pkd064 23:24 Archived in Australia Tagged me attraction karen may vic perry Comments (4)

Days 23 to 25 - Sunshine Coast

sunny
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Our Melbourne motel was just a few km from the airport so, on Saturday morning, it was just a quick run to the airport long term parking, a short shuttle bus ride to the terminal, Karen's usual security check for drugs & explosives (that face that means "talk to me" in caravan parks gives a different message to airport security) and then we were on the plane and in the air.  One big positive for air travel...after days of overcast weather you can see sunshine when you are at 35,000 feet.

The family did a special dinner for Karen as an early birthday & mother's day celebration.  Yes, as the picture shows, Karen's 48 this Saturday.  Don't tell her that I told you!

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We had a lovely weekend seeing family and friends but, all too soon, we were in Melbourne again, had collected the car, driven on to Ballarat, had (a rare) dinner (out) at the local Hogs Breath Cafe and were soon back in our little tent anticipating the following day.

Posted by pkd064 23:21 Archived in Australia Tagged karen may vic qld Comments (0)

Day 22 - Wilson's Promontory

rain 12 °C
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We woke on Friday morning to the sound of heavy rain and a weather map that showed rain all the way from Yanakie to the tip of the Promontory but it looked like we'd get a short break later in the morning.  So, after breakfast (pancakes mmmmmm) and a quick Scrabble game, we set out.

Another item on the bucket list was getting to the southern most point of mainland Australia.  Unfortunately major flooding in March 2011 meant that many roads and tracks were still closed.  The only remaining path was a 48km (round trip) multi-day hike from Tidal River.  We weren't prepared, in terms of fitness or equipment, to do that but, as we went as far south as weather, time and our legs allowed, we came across many school kids who were on their way back from a 5 day endurance hike.  They seemed in good spirits, despite the size of their backpacks and the lousy weather that they must have had.  Good on them and their teachers.

We did an 8km round trip around Mt Oberon and over a couple of headlands.  The track was turning northward again and we wouldn't do any better for quite a few kms so we stopped.  We got as far as 39 degrees 3 minutes 7 seconds south or just under 5 minutes of latitude short of the 39d 8m 4s at the most southerly point.  In terms that we'd all understand, that's about 9km as the mutton bird flies (you don't see many crows on the Prom).  9km of latitude vs another 40km of walking in squally weather on a continent that's over 3100km from north to south...that's an acceptable compromise but I'd really like to finish that hike some day, perhaps with the kids and grandkids.

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Who is she pretending to be?

Who is she pretending to be?


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Looking toward the south

Looking toward the south

Speaking of the grandkids, Nanny's having withdrawal symptoms, so we drove into Melbourne, found somewhere swanky to stay (mind you almost any motel looks posh after our tent and cabins) and, in the morning, we'll fly into the Sunshine Coast for a couple of days with the family.

Posted by pkd064 20:59 Archived in Australia Tagged landscapes may vic Comments (0)

Day 20 and 21 - Into Victoria

rain 13 °C
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The caravan park owners kindly let us have a late checkout which gave us ample time to dry and pack our tent etc.  Then we were, belatedly, off to Lakes Entrance across the Victorian border.  

I must mention one of the first differences that we noticed between NSW and Victorian roads.  NSW road signs go on and on about the dangers of speeding.  In Victoria they repeatedly warn you about fatigue, micro-sleeps, being tired etc.  Though they were annoying, the NSW signs just prompted me to use cruise control.  Victoria's signs, ironically, just made me start to yawn.  Anyone who knows me well, knows that's not a good sign...

Although Lakes Entrance was a pretty place with a series of interesting sculptures in the main street and a mix of waterfront and hilly terrain, for us it was just a stop on the way to the next wilderness destination.  So, after having an evening meal in the local RSL and a sleep in a room right in front of a scenic lookout, we were on the road again.

As we do each day, we checked the weather report to see what was ahead of us.  Some snowfalls in the southern highlands, and rain and local hail elsewhere, particularly in our path through the west and south of Gippsland.  We love our little car, so, when the clouds looked most threatening, we headed into Traralgon and found a shopping centre with undercover parking, had a little break and bought our groceries for the next few days.  Once the bureau's radar map showed a large enough gap for us to head south east and skirt the remaining nastiness, we set off for Yanakie.

Never heard of Yanakie?  We hadn't either but it was the closest town that we could find accommodation in near our real destination, Wilsons Promontory.  When we got to Yanakie the weather was miserable but the caravan park owner gave us a free upgrade to a cabin with ensuite so that we wouldn't have to walk to the amenities.  Nice bloke.

We had about an hour and a half of day light remaining so we jumped back in the car and headed to the "Prom" as the locals call it.  From the entrance of the national park to Tidal River, the major visitor's centre, camp area and start of any of the tracks is about a 30km drive through winding hilly terrain with some spectacular views.

We happened upon some big chooks on the way in, and other wild life, but still haven't managed to see a wombat despite many signs warning us about them in both Tassie and Victoria.

Emus and kangaroos in Wilson's Promontory NP

Emus and kangaroos in Wilson's Promontory NP

There's an amazing variety of terrain in the Promontory.  Massive dunes, heath land, dense forest, mountains, incredibly wide valleys or plateaus, pretty bays and nearby islands.  We saw a few sights and got some photos in the dying afternoon light but this was really just a preview of where we hoped to do some hiking the following day, weather permitting.

Posted by pkd064 20:52 Archived in Australia Tagged landscapes may vic Comments (2)

Amended blog entries

I've had access to a normal PC so have been able to add some new media to previous entries. The changes include the following:-

Day 2 - Something's Missing! now has a link to a panorama of Shelly's Beach
Day 4 and 5 - Rain, rain, go away has a link to the sound of the pounding rain on our tent in Port Macquarie
Day 6 and 7 - Hunter Valley, Sydney, Hobart links to a panorama of the beautiful Audrey Wilkinson vineyard
Day 10 and 11 - Autumn Leaves has photos of our zip line adventure through the trees. Yellow is definitely not our colour!
Day 12 - Dove Lake, Cradle Mountain links to the movie of the Marion's Lookout climb
Day 15 - Back to Hobart now has the sounds of Lake St Clair

The photo gallery also has additional pictures that haven't appeared in any blog entries and, as always, the map at the top of the page shows each of our destinations to date. Enjoy.

Posted by pkd064 23:27 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Day 18 and 19 - Eden

overcast 17 °C
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Tent site selection fail!  Who knew, when we pitched our tent in the last light of Monday afternoon, that we were due east of a big tree.  It was hours after sunrise on Tuesday morning before we got any sunshine...not what you want when you need to warm up or dry the tent.

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We were originally going to drive on to Lakes Entrance on Tuesday but the weather report showed it as cold, wet and windy.  We chose to stay on in Eden and spent the early morning lazing in the sun listening to the distinctive pinging of the Bellbirds, watching the Sulphur Crested Cockatoos, Galahs and Lorikeets feed and talking to our fellow travellers.  Karen has one of those "talk to me faces" and no amount of scowling on my part could keep them away.  Mind you, on those rare occasions when I look at my steadily growing beard and receding hair I fear I might be a GNIT...a grey nomad in training.  Perhaps I should go back to work before the transformation is complete?

We also moved our tent.

Later we went in to Eden's town centre so Karen could visit the Post Office and browse the shops and I went to the local museum which, although small, revealed lots of interesting facts about Eden's logging and whaling history including something that made Eden's whaling practices unique.  

Logging chainsaws

Logging chainsaws

A local pod of killer whales, Orcas, would heard Baleen whales into the bay and then their leader, Old Tom, would go and fetch the whalers by jumping about in the waves near the whaling station.   Then he'd lead the whalers, sometimes pulling impatiently on their harpoon lines, to where the potential victims were.  The whalers would kill the Baleen whales, attach ropes and floats to them, and then leave the carcass in the bay overnight so that the Orcas could have their reward...the delicious lips and tongues of the whales.  

I'll leave those who are interested in the rest of the story about Old Tom to read it in the picture below his skeleton.  "Skeleton?" you ask.  No, they didn't kill Tom.  He died of natural causes, they found his carcass and then preserved his skeleton.

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Posted by pkd064 21:59 Archived in Australia Tagged museums may nsw Comments (0)

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