051. Week 8. Back on the mainland…
Woke at 2.30 am. My pyjama jacket around the shoulders and collar are soaked in sweat! Perhaps I have overcome the worst of the upset stomach and bad headache.
Wake again at 7.20am. I feel hungry and so far no headache.
After doing the many things one does to get ready we are on our way by 11am. A stop at a shopping centre to stock up on essentials and a few non-essentials and we are on our way again by 1.30.
Hey! This is great driving country, mostly on Freeway then double dual carriageway then good two lane roads. Until we reach Fish Creek and turn off to “The Prom”. Now it feels like we are back in Tassie. We reach the entrance to “The Prom”. In all advertising by Parks Victoria they say, “fees apply” but never reveal what the fees are – until you arrive at the gate. Just after the gate is a u-Turn facility with a large sign “Vehicle Exit”. I guess this is for all those people who cannot afford or cannot justify paying the fees required. Admittedly this is the dearest fee we have ever encountered and we thought Cradle Mountain was a scandal. $40 a night for a powered site. The park had installed powered sites only six months ago.
I have driven all this way, it is 4pm and I want to have a comfortable night. The sun is shining but in the distance we can see dark clouds over the range. So I hand over two crisp notes of the realm and enter the park. Max speed is 80kph. The scenery improves around every bend until we see signs such as “Squeaky Beach”
or “Lilly Pilly Gulley” and our interest are piqued.
We find our allocated campsite by 4.30pm and set up camp. It is too late to explore but the weather is kind enough to allow us to cook and eat outside. After dinner I am sitting in the dark talking by mobile to my daughter Averyl. I notice a large dark shadow or shape at the bottom of the stair. Hmmm! Did not notice that before! It moved! It was a very large Brush Tailed Possum! I had spilled a few grains of cooked rice and he was cleaning up for me. Then Donnis is digging her fingers into my shoulders too afraid to speak. A larger black shape has just walked passed my feet. It was a very large wombat who has just arrived to have an altercation with the possum about territorial rights! Of course Averyl is getting a running commentary while all this is happening!
During the night several possums and wombats wander through our camp for a photo opportunity. Geez it is hard to photograph these guys. I am trying to hold a torch in one hand and aim a camera with the other, hoping the lens is pointed at the wombat. All this plus they will not hold still.There is no digital TV signal here so we have recorded movies to watch. Day 51. Sunday 3rd May 2009.
Day dawns dark, dismal and a cool breeze off the sea. Coming from Antarctica perhaps?
Today we rug up for a walk.
So many choices.
All with twists and turns and changes of scenery with every elevation. We started off on the walk to Pillar Point and took a detour to Tidal Overlook
and ended up taking the steep back track to Lilly Pilly Loop Track
which took us back via the Tidal River.
All in all, a 5 klm trek. Some parts easy, some a bit more difficult but totally enjoyable.
Halfway, we met a couple coming from the other direction. They were pushing a pram with a toddler inside! What the heck is that all about? They explained the brochure said the track was not suitable for strollers so they just had to try. Later as the track became more difficult we wondered just how they managed, especially when we climbed over a fallen tree.
Our fantasy about a hot cup of soup for lunch became a reality along with toasted buttered dark rye bread.
Late this afternoon we walked to the beach. I am fascinated by the gnarled and twisted, stumpy trees along this coast. I believe they are Mallee trees. Love em!
In the failing light we saw a large grey kangaroo. Much taller than me. I approached within about 10mtrs and took some flash photos.
For dinner I am doing a chicken Massaman Curry.Day 52. Monday 4th May 2009.
The wind has picked up; it has started to rain so we cancel the plans to walk to Pillar Point and break camp instead. A quick drive to Squeaky Beach and within an hour the sun has broken through but the cool persistent wind stays all day.
Late in the afternoon we find what appears to be the turnoff to the planned campsite at Log Crossing. It is getting on dark, the road is narrow, gravel, poorly signposted and when we arrive at a fork in the road decide the 2 tonne limit means we should not proceed any further. So it is back on the highway until we find a CP just a few klms short of Lakes Entrance.
Hmmm! This place is set up for permanent residents with relocatable homes alongside older caravans on concrete stumps. All have been set up with fenced and garden areas. However the CP has four powered sites!
Finding free sites on the beach, even in isolated Wildlife Coast of Victoria is not as easy as I had expected.
Tomorrow we will try again.
As we drove today, a trio of warning lights kept flickering on and off. Some fuses appear to be a bit loose so I push them all back into place.
Day 53. Tuesday 5th May 2009.
Today we travelled a relaxing, respectable 60 klms! A terrible rough gravel road brought us to a Freedom campsite, Glasshouse Beach on the shores of Lake Tyers. The surf beach is some distance off beyond the salt pans and marsh plants and over a sand dune or two. The area is a large football ground sized area, grassed and surrounded by shrubs. My guess is the grass is kept to a lawn level by the kangaroos, wombats and rabbits – judging by the parcels of their calling cards. Down on the salt pans we see their footprints as well. There is an old chimney and blast furnace almost completely overgrown. It seems an enterprising gent established a telegraph glass insulator glass factory in 1908. It was only one of three in the world and the only one completely wood fired.
We have our first – on this trip – campfire tonight.
Some kind person had left enough wood for us to put it all together. We ate next to a lovely warm fire but as with all campfires, only the body parts facing the fire remain warm n cosy. The other parts have to be rotated regularly. The campfire is then allowed to die down while escape to the relative warmth of the bus. Rugged up in a doona we watch a movie.
I understand there is snow on Snowy Mountain tonight and although we are on the coast and flatlands, we are not too far from the Snowy’s.
The warning lights do not re-appear despite the washboard road we travelled over.
Day 54. Wednesday 6th May 2009.
After a very cold night it was wonderful to see a clear blue day. After packing up we travel to Pettemans beach, again on a juddering washboard gravel road. A carpark and four Freedom campsites share a barbecue pit and a single drop toilet. A well made boardwalk crosses what seems to be a small swamp area – dry at the moment – and concrete steps allow access to the top of a sand dune. We find ourselves on 90-Mile Beach. In both directions the sameness of beach stretching away before us. Within 100 mtrs the access point is indistinguishable from the dune scrub as far as we walk. Ours are the only footprints on this part of the coast. The incessant waves and incoming tide begin to wash away some our footprints in the short time we have been walking. Even on this desolate expanse of beach it is amazing to discover the amount of rubbish on the beach including beer cans and the ever popular, dead thong. A few days ago we saw a piece of artwork made entirely of thongs washed up on beaches.
Further along the highway we arrive at the town of Orbost on the Snowy River. The town is off the highway so we decide to have a bit of lunch, a couple of pies – forgettable – at a lovely picnic spot by the river. The river levels are very low at present however there are river level markers indicating in flood, the river has reached 9metres!
Uh Oh! Those warning lights are back! They flicker and stay on for a few moments then turn off then flicker off and on repeatedly.
Instead of seeking out a couple of potential campsites in remote areas we decide to push on to Eden just over the border in NSW. The town is large enough to have a Toyota dealer and I have booked us in to have a look at those warning lights. The man on the phone sounded less than sure he knows what to do with a Coaster bus but tomorrow will tell. At least we are not stuck somewhere isolated, the campground is pleasant and only a short walk to the town centre. We have the opportunity to do a bit of exploring the town on foot.
This was originally a town established only to serve the whaling industry, thankfully now defunct. The local brochures proudly proclaim the whales always pass near town on the annual calving migration. Alas the whales only come into this bay on their return to Antarctica late in September so we will not see the spectacle while we are here.
At 5pm the temperature, although coolish is not so cold as it has been the last few days in Victoria. Weather forecast is for another fine day tomorrow and rain on Friday.
Day 55. Thursday 7th May 2009.
The Toyota man has not called as promised so I call him. “Umm, err, weelll,” he comments. “The auto leckie has not come to work today”. Great. So I check the oil n water. OK. The warning lights have so far not returned. After a coffee and a below par pancake at the harbour we decide to head north, keeping an eye on the warning lights. We stop for a look at Pambula, Merimbula, Tathra and a fish lunch at Bermagui, a less than friendly town. Ilya and Judy live at Narooma. Ilya is an electrician and air con specialist so probably knows a good auto leckie. We phone ahead and leave a message. As there is no reply by 4pm we camp at a Freedom site just a little past Dalmeny at the Bodalla State Forest.
When you travel no more than once a month it is easy to remember all the places visited over the last 12 months. Even two or three years later I can still remember campsites. When you drive and camp almost every day, the locations start to become a little more difficult to remember. Unless I write them down each day details can get lost.
Day 56. Friday 8th May 2009.
We take a 2 klm hike to the nearby lake today. It was cold in the forest last night and I woke at 2am listening to twigs and flowers and whatnot falling out of the monstrously tall trees around us. Although we make it a rule not to park under gum trees, it seems we slipped up last night. Eventually I fall asleep again and wake at 7am with only my nose poking above the doona. I am cosy and warm. Except my nose.
Judy calls. Yes Ilya knows a leckie but maybe it would be better to find one in a bigger town!
The sun is shining so we decide to drive the huge 60 klms to Batemans Bay and pay for a campsite so I can watch the Australia V NZ NFL match tonight. TV reception is poor so the campground hires co-axial cables to campers. That explains why I cannot find any caravans or motorhomes with TV aerials – they are all on cable.
We have organic minestrone soup, toasted rye bread and Tassie Brie for dinner
No warning lights at all but we covered less than 100 klms including some side trips to look at interesting beaches.