Tarra-Bulga NP

Our travels over the Victorian Alps brought us to Bairnsdale, in the middle of the Gippsland region (well, the western edge of eastern Gippsland….). The question now was, where to go next? We’d always planned to go east along and up the coastline, but did we have time for some backtracking westwards into the central/southern (and perhaps even western) Gippsland regions first?

Yes, we’ve noticed that time is getting away on us. I’m sure family is going to be thrilled to hear that we’re planning to be back in Brisbane for Christmas (what would Christmas be like without us??)! That’s in about two weeks time (less as I actually write/post this)!! The boys really want to be there (you know, play with cousins, get presents and the like….), and it isn’t that often that families get together like they do at Christmas so it is a great way for us all to catch up.

Despite the limited time remaining in this travelling holiday, we decided to do a quick detour into the central/southern Gippsland region. We spent Tues night at one of the Golden Beach campgrounds that form part of the Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park. Not sure how Golden Beach got its name, but I suspect it is a grandiose interpretation of the yellow sanded beach! Unfortunately the surf was no good, and a pretty heavy invasion of seaweed would have discouraged any water entry regardless. Still, a nice spot to spend the night.

Golden Beach

Golden Beach



It was tempting to detour just a little further west, and visit Wilsons Promontory NP, and perhaps even Phillip Island. However Nicole and I have visited both places previously, and the now looming deadline of being back for Christmas caused us to decided against doing so.

We did however detour slightly further, to visit Tarra-Bulga National park which we’d been told is a must see. The whole Gippsland area is pretty & green, so it was no surprise to find that we were entering a lovely moist green rainforest type environment. We came in through the south, and the lower reaches of Tarra Valley road heading in were beautiful. The narrow road and surrounding hillsides were lined with tree ferns, sometimes with only just enough room for the motorhome to drive between the fern fronds. Please excuse the quality of these pics; taken thru the windscreen from a moving vehicle….

Ferns lining Tarra Valley Road

Ferns lining Tarra Valley Road

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Victorian Alps

It was a beautiful yet familiar view, heading east from Wangaratta towards the Victorian Alps. Though we’ve done this drive many times before, it is always beautiful and something to look forward to. Fresh white snow covered peaks in the winter, beautiful orange coloured landscapes in the autumn, fresh soft green leaves in the spring and majestic mountains in the summer!

Our first destination was Beechworth, nestled on the edge of the range. It is a pretty little historic town. There are two main attractions in Beechworth that readers may have heard of – the Beechworth Bakery is very well known, and Beechworth Honey is a big brand that can be bought in many supermarkets. There is also a lolly shop with all sorts of lollies lining the walls; from floor to ceiling!

Beechworth Honey have a shop in town where you can sample and buy their many different flavours/sources of honey. They also screen a series of educational videos where you learn about honey production. I didn’t realise how active beekeepers must be in the overall honey production process. It isn’t a matter of just setting up some hives and leaving them there for the spring/summer. The hives are regularly moved around to where the flowers are (moving must be done during the night), and are constantly monitored and tapped for honey when ready. Almond trees are the first to flower after winter, but the range of plant types they move the hives to is huge – all sorts of native and non-native plants, legumes and trees.

Honey based drinks

Honey based drinks

the many different honey flavours/sources

the many different honey flavours/sources

In the image above, the jars of honey are grouped according to the type of honey (source of the honey). There are over 20 different flavours/sources, and they each have there own specific colour, flavour etc. They have just opened up a second building in town, the Beechworth Honey Discovery centre. Here you can also learn about honey and honey production, but the main feature is the cafe with a ‘Bee Menu’ of food specifically selected to showcase honey.

Beechworth Bakery is one of the best and well known bakeries in Australia. When we’ve been travelling around different parts of Aus, the many bakeries we’ve visited are invariably compared to Beechworths! Continue reading

Catching Up with Friends; Melbourne to Moama!

Having lived in Melbourne for a couple of years, even if over a decade ago, we didn’t feel the need to spend time exploring the city again. It was time to take a break from the travelling tourist type approach and do something a little different. Instead of exploring the sights, sounds, activities and tastes of Melbourne and North East Victoria, the next few days were to be primarily focused around reminiscing the past and catching up with friends whom we haven’t seen for many years. Of course we did end up doing some tourist type stuff too…

Our multi day trip down the Great Ocean Road finished up at Anglesea, from where we did an unbroken drive right across to the eastern side of Melbourne, to our previous home town area of Berwick. We showed the boys both houses that we (Mum and Dad and Jonathan) had lived in. Albrecht Ave looks quite different now – it was a new estate (and new house) when we moved there, but now feels like an established area with largish trees and the like! Berwick used to be on the outer edge of Melbourne, and though it still has a bit of a country feel to it in places, there are certainly more housing estates and shopping centres than there used to be.

Beaconsfield is a touch further out than Berwick, and still has that rural feel too it. There we caught up with friends Ray, Julianne, Nathan and Alyssa. It was lovely to spend the evening with them, and for the boys to get to know each other again. Jonathan and Nathan were born in the same hospital, just 3 days apart, though I suspect they don’t remember that original friendship!

Thursday we headed north to the Wangaratta area, but rather than take the freeways, we took the much slower but more scenic route up through Emerald, Monbulk, Lilydale, Yarra Glen, Yea and Benalla. We were reminded how beautiful it is through there, along the edge of the Dandenong Ranges.

From around the Emerald area. Ignore blurriness due to moving vehicle...

From around the Emerald area. Ignore blurriness due to moving vehicle…


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The Great Ocean Road

Having detoured over to Ballarat to visit Sovereign Hill, we zig-zagged back to Warrnambool near the western end of the Great Ocean Road (which isn’t that far from the bottom end of the Grampains!). It was a nice drive through a mostly green countryside, with an overnight stay at the beautiful Lake Elingamite campground. Here is the lake in the morning, from up high on the hill.

Lake Elingamire

Lake Elingamire

At Warrnambool I picked up my new drivers license (as was sent off for on the Yorke Peninusula), and not a day too soon – the same day my previous one expired! We took the opportunity of being in a major town, to do some shopping, laundry and the like, before heading east to the Great Ocean Road (Sat 29/11/2014).

The interesting limestone coastal cliff features of the GOR (Great Ocean Road) are at the western end of this 243km long road. These features include well known tourist attractions such as The Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge, London Bridge, and more. But first here are some of the less well known features, coming up to the town of Port Campbell – the first major town on the GOR, and our first overnight stopping point.

The Bay of Islands


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Sovereign Hill, Ballarat

Nicole and I were a little unsure about visiting Sovereign Hill, as it was a bit out of our way, not particularly cheap, and we’d already visited a number of gold and mining related places. However we are very pleased we did end up making the trip – it was definitely worth it. We all really enjoyed both Sovereign Hill, and the ‘Blood On The Southern Cross’ sound and light spectacular that night. We had to come back for a second day to see things we didn’t get to in the first!

For those who aren’t familiar with it, Sovereign Hill is a not-for-profit tourist attraction located in Ballarat, which was the location of one of the biggest gold rushes in the world (the biggest nuggets ever found came from here). Sovereign Hill is a very well done replication of Ballarat from the 1850’s. I’m not talking a tiny model here, I’m meaning full streets re-created in the same style and construction techniques that were used back then. There are hotels, a post office, drapery, blacksmith, candle factory, metal spinning shops, horse carriage manufacturing, candy manufacture, even a 9 pin bowling alley (wooden balls and pins!) and a whole lot more. Then there is the diggings area, with the diggers tents, various equipment, and of course the gold panning creek.

small section of the main street of Sovereign Hill

small section of the main street of Sovereign Hill

Not only are the buildings constructed to the period, but the internal furnishes, decorations and functional equipment are too. The staff, who are dressed in clothes from that period, actually do many tasks as they would have back then. These are functional shops – the blacksmithing shop actually has a blacksmith in it making things out of metal, using a fire and great big old manually operated leather air bellows!!! Daniel really liked the blacksmith shop. In another building/factory they actually manufacture horse carriages using the old equipment – we did a tour viewing the manufacture of a wooden wheel (wheelwrighting). There are a couple of huge boilers – actual ones from the era, running on timber, that produce steam to power much of the mills, and equipment used on site.

Blacksmith

Blacksmith. No, it’s not my cousin Pierce…


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Grampians National Park

It’s just a few hours from the SA/Victorian border to the Grampians. We had camped Saturday night a little out of Mt Gambier, just on the SA side of the border. Sunday, some interesting looking shops in towns on the drive over to the Grampians (such as Coleraine) were closed, including another chocolate factory… We stopped for a look at Wannon Falls (not the Grampians NP yet), which would be nice in full flow, but there was only a trickle.

looking back over Coleraine

looking back over Coleraine

Wannon Falls

Wannon Falls

below the falls

below the falls

above the falls

above the falls

Driving into the small town of Dunkeld, Mount Sturgeon and Mount Abrupt are the obvious peaks looking over the town from the very bottom end of the Grampians NP.

Mt Sturgeon and Mt Abrupt

Mt Sturgeon and Mt Abrupt

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Limestone Coast

Our trip down the Limestone Coast, which refers to the most easterly section of South Australia’s coastline, began in quite rainy and overcast weather. We crossed the Murray River at Wellington, by ferry, as described in the previous post on the Fleureiu Peninsula (pics at bottom of that post).

From Wellington, we took the coastal route down the Princes Hwy. We passed close by Lake Albert at the town of Meningie, a nice green town positioned right on the lake. Lake Albert and the nearby Alexandra Lake are huge, and in sunny weather conditions I suspect the lake and the township of Meningie would be really beautiful. However, it all looked rather grey in the rain….

It didn’t get much better. The coastline most of the way down to Kingston SE, was grey, boring uninteresting scrub, oh and smelly. Yes, in places it absolutely stunk, thanks to rotting seaweed lining the shore. If I’m not giving a very nice impression of that drive, would it help if I added that it was pouring rain, my throat and sinuses were aching, and my head throbbing? It certainly wasn’t the most enjoyable section of road of the holiday for me…..

We stopped for the night at Kingston SE, at a free campground right near the foreshore. Another town that is keen to have people come and stay in the area! Kingston looked OK coming in, and nice the next day (Fri) – there was blue sky, and my aches and pains had subsided a bit (Thurs turned out to be the worst day)! Here are some views from the Jetty, and there are beaches just further south with no seaweed!

I guess the 'seaweed coastline' doesn't sound as attractive? Wouldn't be fair either, as there are nice sandy beaches just a little further south!

I guess the ‘seaweed coastline’ doesn’t sound as attractive? Wouldn’t be fair either, as there are nice sandy beaches just a little further south!

looking back to Kingston SE

looking back to Kingston SE

out on the jetty, watching a dolphin

out on the jetty, watching a dolphin

Naracoorte was our next destination, to see the World Heritage listed limestone caves just south of the town. We headed inland to get there, through the nice green countryside. The cave tours aren’t real cheap, but we ended doing a tour of the Wet Cave (self guided), and the Wonambi Fossil Centre display, that arvo. For Saturday morning we booked into the Victoria Fossil Cave tour (I think this must have been my main birthday present!), spending the night at the campground there at the NP.

The Victoria Fossil Cave tour was taken by an older guy who did a real good job. It is a huge cave – there are kilometres of it, but visitors only get to see a small portion. In this cave tour you get to see some nice/interesting limestone cave features – such as crystal stalactites and stalacmites, crystal slabs, crystal curtains (also called shawls, or bacon!). These are similar features to what we saw over at Yanchep NP, just north of Perth.

beautiful crystal features in the Victoria Fossil Cave

beautiful crystal features in the Victoria Fossil Cave

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Fleureiu Peninsula

Having commented about SA seeming like one big wheat farm in the Yorke Peninsula post, I am pleased to advise I was wrong! The landscape found on the Fleureiu Peninsuala is quite different from that found on the Yorke and Eyre Peninsula’s. If you’re wondering how to pronounce the name, then you’re not alone!! However, wikipedia does have the pronunciation (FLOO-ree-oh), or you could just do what one of the info centre ladies on the Eyre Peninsuala does and call it the Flu Whatever Peninsula…. Kind of fitting too given I left the peninsula with the beginnings of the flu…

I won’t continue with that preamble any longer, as I’m doing an injustice to what is a beautiful area. It is a lovely countryside of rolling hills and beautiful coastline. The green grass – quite green in the valleys but browner in the more exposed areas – feeds herds of cattle or [less commonly] sheep or has been formed into neat bales of hay still scattered over the fields. Being SA there are of course vineyards dotted around the place, and the occasional horse stud too.

Following our visit to Hahndorf, we spent Monday night at a dead end road, up high on a hill, just out of Meadows. Our target for the day was Victor Harbor, to catch up with Amanda, Ben and Noah, but rather than take the direct route we detoured over to Yankalilla and travelled down the coastline.

First stop on the coast was Second Valley which is a beautiful little cove. There was a group of school kids (maybe G12) there kayaking and building rafts and the like.

second valley

second valley

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Adelaide

The festival capital of Australia, is what Adelaide calls itself. Well, we had a good time, with our festive activities focusing on getting together with family, and enjoying some fine local foods.

Our entry to Adelaide was through the Barossa Valley, Friday 14/11. A beautiful region, full of scenic vineyards currently displaying fresh growth leaves, wineries with grand fancy entrances & buildings, and manicured gardens. It’s not hard to see where some of the profits from those expensive bottles of wine ends up! A quick stop in both the towns of Tanunda and Nuriootpa where we sampled their wares such as sweets and cheeses (and drove through others such as Angaston & Williamstown). Still looking forward to eating the Barossa Triple Cream, and Lemon and Oregano Halloumi cheeses!

looking out over the Barossa Valley

looking out over the Barossa Valley


Coming down the hill from the main Barossa valley lookout (on the scenic drive), it is clear that one of the Tour Down Under stages goes through here – I recognised the hill climb after seeing the ‘go Cadel go’ paintings on the bitumen!

Our stay in Adelaide was based at Paracombe, in the Adelaide hills. Continue reading

Yorke Peninsula

I’m beginning to get the impression that SA is mostly a big wheat farm! That might be a slight exaggeration though…..and an indication we haven’t seen enough of it yet!

We arrived at the Yorke Peninsuala Wed arvo (12/11/14) for a quick trip – leaving Fri for Adelaide. We began by heading across the top to Wallaroo, and down the west coast. There was something weird about the town of Wallaroo, and it didn’t take long to work out what it was. A high percentage of houses have these tall towers beside them, about 2 – 3 houses in height, with TV aerials at the top! I didn’t take any photos, but the gave the suburb a very industrial look!

We stopped Wed night in the town of Maitland, and didn’t leave till late Thurs morning. Not because it is an exciting place, nor did we have vehicle troubles, but we figured it would be a good location to sort out my drivers license stuff. No, I’m not loosing it or anything like that…. it is up for renewal at the end of November. Unfortunately my current one is from an older era, so they can’t just send a replacement. Instead I had to go through this rigmarole of printing and filling in forms, declarations as to why I wasn’t in QLD, get proper photos done, and then get it all witnessed and signed by a JP and send it all off with a money order to QLD! I originally planned on doing this in Adelaide, but walking down the main street of Maitland Thurs morning, we realised I could probably do it all here a lot easier – the township, and everything I needed, is within a 200m stretch of road! Ended up having to shop around a little for a JP, but found one without too much difficulty (council office). So that’s that task all done and dusted! Nicole wasn’t keen on doing all the driving back to QLD!!

A quick stop and look at Port Victoria on the way down the west coast.

Port Victoria

Port Victoria

Innes National Park was our goal, though we only spent one night there – at Pondalowie Campground. Another nice national park, not dissimilar to Port Lincoln NP, which is only one peninsula across (to the west). We did a number of walks and had a good look around.

heading into Innes NP

heading into Innes NP

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