We left the Bairnsdale park at 9.30 am and had a very normal run through Gippsland, with no further interruptions from the smoke alarm.
Had no stops at all. From the freeway turn off at Pakenham to home, via Eastlink and Canterbury Road, took us less than an hour. In fact, we were home, unhitched, parked up and unpacking within the hour. What a difference a freeway makes…
Couey seemed a bit bewildered to be home.
I did some shopping and washed a basketful of dirty clothes, from Bus.
Of course, we were home in time for tomorrow’s pennant bowls, so John headed off to the club for a practice and to check the teams.
This had been a short but varied and enjoyable trip, one for which our Bus was the ideal rig. We had decided, during this trip, that we would have mud flaps fitted to the back of Bus, to help protect the Terios front which was showing some stone chips, and also to put a lockable fuel cap on Bus.
We were ready to leave Tathra at about 9.30am. The morning was grey, overcast and with a light mizzly rain at times.
From sea level, where the caravan parks are, there is a short but very steep and bendy climb up to the headland where the main town is, and the road out of town. I drove the car, solo, up the hill and John drove Bus. Up the top, we found a place to park, and hitched the two together.
Decided to take the Bega road, then cutting through just before that town, across to Highway 1. Going that way avoided the more hilly route and having to go through Merimbula town – never an easy run. It was a good way to go.
As we passed through Eden, I reflected that this was another town we’d transited a number of times, but never stopped at, or explored. Another for the future trips list.
On, back into Victoria.
Stopped at Cann River, where there is ample parking for longer rigs. Went to the bakery there. It was almost lunch time. John bought a pie. All they offered in the non-pastry line was pre-made soggy looking white bread salad sandwiches. Very disappointing in a town that clearly has regular tourist traffic. With stomach still a bit iffy, I decided not to insult it with their sandwich offering.
Refuelled at Orbost. $1.579cpl.
At Nowa, took the route through Bruthen thus avoiding Lakes Entrance.
Near Bruthen, we were startled when the smoke alarm suddenly started sounding, from up the back of Bus. After we bought Bus, had tried to make a battery operated smoke alarm adhere to the roof, like we’d had in the van. But the felted material that lined the roof wouldn’t let the alarm stick to it, so we just had it sitting on the bench top between our beds.
John pulled over and I went looking for the problem. Couldn’t find any reason for it to be going off – there was no fire that I could see. So we set off again, but again it sounded, a few kms further on. Another stop and inspection. All I could think of was that maybe the sun had been shining on it through the back window Or fumes from some roadside spraying we’d passed had upset it? Or maybe exhaust fumes from some trucks we’d been behind on a hill? Whatever – it wasn’t a pleasant occurrence and left us both on edge for the rest of the trip to Bairnsdale, and Couey acting quite neurotically. There is something about that noise that really upsets the more sensitive dog ears.
As we passed through Bruthen – another town never explored – noted that the caravan park there looked pleasant.
Went into the Mitchell Gardens Holiday Park in Bairnsdale, where we were put into a separate section allocated to those travelling with dogs – sites only, no en-suites. It was pleasant enough. $27.90 for the powered site, after discount.
There were lots of holes in the ground around our area. Cicada shells on the nearby trees provided the clue that the holes were where the newly hatched insects had emerged from the ground before heading up into the trees.
We were parked next to another Coaster – a short wheel base one, with a Suzuki Vitara on a trailer. They had set up a little shower/toilet tent by the rig. On the back of their Coaster was a sign “Bussebago”. They had a beautiful collie type dog that they said they’d found as a stray in their travels and adopted.
John didn’t feel like any exercise, but I took Couey for a walk along the excellent path that went along side the Mitchell River, from the park. I could have gone further, but she rebelled after a while and we went back.
As we’d driven into Bairnsdale there had been some really nasty, threatening looking storm clouds building in the distance, but the storm passed to the south.
I was still not feeling great, so made John an omelette for tea and I nibbled on some dry biscuits.
A normal morning, where I got up first and took Couey for her morning “ablutions” in a grassed area adjacent to the park.
Eventually John surfaced and we pottered about.
I went to meet my friends at the bowls club at midday. John had put his name down to play bowls, in preference to socializing, so he headed off to that.
The $10 meal deal was excellent value. I ordered lemon pepper squid, but was feeling increasingly unwell, with a clearly upset stomach, so did not feel like eating much when the meal arrived. Lots of conversation – we had much to catch up on – but I found it hard to concentrate. I wondered if yesterday’s ice cream was the culprit?
We decided against walking our dogs – they had two – on the beach, and decided to go back to their place at Tura Beach. I drove the Terios there.
The new house was very pleasant and they had already made the garden lovely, being great gardeners. The block backed on to the Tura Beach golf course, so they had a beautiful, partly “bushy” outlook to that. They outlined plans to build a deck, roof the back terrace. They had sold their motorhome and said their travelling days were now over.
The two dogs of the establishment were a bit put out by the intruder in their yard, but a truce was declared. Couey was much more interested in staying close to me than exploring their territory anyway.
I left to drive back about 4pm. Got a bit lost trying to find my way back out to the highway through the winding roads of Tura Beach. This relatively newly built locality, just to the north of Merimbula, is really attractive, on undulating terrain, often with a view of the sea or of the large golf course. I could see the attraction of living here.
John was back at Bus when I got back. He had walked back from the club, after bowls finished. He’d had an enjoyable afternoon.
I wished we were here for longer as I’d have liked to spend more time with these friends.
John took the car and drove up to buy some beer at the cellars. He couldn’t get the main credit card to work and eventually had to fish out the back up card. Later, we worked out that he had been trying to enter the wrong PIN number. Senior moment? Given his several attempts, he’d probably stuffed it right up now, and would have to sort it out when we got home.
I made him some soup and salad for tea. I definitely wasn’t eating!
Today’s was a lovely drive, partly within sight of the sea and partly a bit inland. It was all territory we’d covered before. The beachfront caravan park at Narooma looked as pleasant as I remembered, as we trundled past and on up the hill to the Narooma township. Kind of a strange place, with the commercial centre up on the hill, but some homes and the nicest parts down by the inlet.
Decided to take the coast road to Tathra, so turned towards Bermagui, crossing the bridge over the Wallaga Inlet. The road was winding and a bit hilly in places, with glimpses of the ocean.
Our en-suite site at the Tathra Beach Family Park was different to what I was expecting. The park had changed considerably since we were last here, now being privately owned – much development and upgrading. There were two swimming pools! I noted ads for events like special meal nights – like $8 for a baked potato with toppings.
Back in 2008, I had been impressed with the little row of unisex bathroom units near our site. They had disappeared now and, I think, been turned into the row of en-suite sites near the pools, fronting onto the beach. Very nice, but at $60 a night, also much more up market in price.
As we pulled up at the park entrance, to book in, there was a van ahead of us, so I had to wait while that was processed. Then, when we drove around to our site, he was trying to get onto the site before ours. Obviously a new van, and seemingly a couple new to vanning. He made a right meal of backing onto his site. Eventually, we could squeeze past him and drive onto our site, after quickly unhitching the car.
The new guy’s van was really low at the front, on a slightly sloping site, and he had great difficulty getting it off the towball, getting really flustered. He was also trying to uncouple it before undoing the safety chains, which made his task harder. We were fully set up – awning out, table and chairs set up, dog tethered, water and power hooked up, while he was still trying to unhitch his van! Do we miss caravanning? Not at times like that…
Our en-suite was excellent. That, combined with our prime position, made it worth the money. Although, in summer school holiday times, the position may not have been so prime, with heaps of kids in the pools.
After relaxing for a while – and John eventually taking pity on the neighbour and giving him a hand – we went for a walk along the beach. The tide was kind of out, so there was some firm sand to walk on. Couey ventured into the shallows, once John started paddling along in same. However, the sea here behaved differently to what she was previously used to, at Forrest Beach. Not ripples, but waves. She lay down to have a luxuriant roll in the wet sand, and nearly got swamped by an incoming wave. Not impressed, retreated up the beach and stayed well away from the water after that. Unfortunately, there were lots of dead muttonbirds further along the beach, so dog was back on the lead pronto. I am such a spoil sport.
Back at Bus, John had a nap. I left dog with him and walked across the road to the shops, to buy some onions and potatoes, and was tempted into buying an icecream in a cone.
I phoned an old friend – former teaching colleague – who had recently moved to Tura Beach and arranged to meet her and husband for lunch tomorrow. Then read for the rest of the afternoon, had a shower.
Tea was steak with peppercorn sauce, foil wrapped baked potato, salad.
Watched Keating Interviews next part on TV. Such a brilliant program.
Went to bed and to sleep with the sound of the waves breaking on the nearby beach – just the best way to end the day.
Left the park at 10am and fuelled up at the adjacent servo. $1.587 cpl. Before leaving, I’d phoned ahead and booked us into a place for tonight.
Took the road straight to Queanbeyan, missing the Canberra central city. Thence via Bungendore to Braidwood. This section of road was more hilly than I’d remembered, but was alright. On previous stays, we had travelled out as far as Braidwood, but not beyond.
So the trip down the Clyde Mountain to Batemans Bay was new territory. The descent was alright in Bus, with its exhaust brakes. In fact, Bus did beautifully. I noticed that the red light indicating the inertia braking for Terios was on for quite a bit of the way.
I would not have liked to be going down Clyde Mountain with the van. We passed two different 4WD vehicles stopped beside the road, pointing uphill, with bonnets up, presumably cooling off engines. There was also a hot brake smell on a couple of sections. We resolved that, if ever coming up that way with the rig, we would separate the vehicles and drive the Terios independently.
At the base of the range, Nelligen looked really pretty and could be a really pleasant place to stay on a future trip.
We aimed to get to Moruya this afternoon, because our camping friends V and F (who we’d camped with back in September) were staying in a house there, with V’s sister and brother-in-law, whom we’d also worked with at Adels Grove, years ago. I texted V and we were heading into Moruya.
We went into a powered site at the Riverbreeze Tourist Park at Moruya. $27 for the site, after discount. Set up, had lunch. The park was very good. Excellent, modern, large amenities. Prime sites were ones overlooking the river, but they were all full. Ours was spacious, and we were able to keep Terios hooked up to Bus.
The afternoon was sunny, but cool.
I phoned ahead and booked us an en-suite site at Tathra for a couple of nights.
Our friends turned up for afternoon tea – just tea/coffee and biscuits. Today was F’s birthday. We talked for a couple of hours and went for a walk around the park – for their future reference.
After they had gone, John and I were sitting outside, with Couey tethered on her rope so she could reach us, which she likes. I’d put her chew bone on her portable bed, to give her something to do.
A woman from the neighbouring van brought her toddler daughter and asked if she could pat Couey. She knew of the stumpy breed. Dog was very gentle with the child. We had noticed before how good she is around little kids. Then while that was happening and we were chatting with the mum, a moronic older man who was walking past, suddenly brought his smaller fox terrier type of dog across and let it have a sniff of Couey’s bone. Absolutely idiotic thing to do, apart from being very rude. Couey’s reaction was really interesting: as the terrier approached, she put herself between the little girl and the intruding dog, and guarded the kid, rather than defending her bone. After us all being initially dumbfounded, we let the man know, in no uncertain terms, what we thought of him.
We were up early, in order to be at the pool at the Australian Institute of Sport, just after 9am. Found our way there, with GPS help, quite easily.
The boys had a packed sporting day, which seemed to be a norm, rather than something specially arranged for us.
We watched them swim in a couple of events, then hurried off to Ginninderra Lake, where they were supposed to have triathlon events. These had been changed to a kind of biathlon, though, due to algae in the lake. They were to run, then bike, then run again. Both boys had all the right gear, including racing bikes. Not a cheap sport!
The younger boy – aged 8 – tackled the shorter course event – and won. He was really good.
The older boy (10) came about 5th, over double the length of the other.
Then it was a fast move back to the AIS for more swimming events. The boys certainly had stamina!
The younger boy swam the 100 metres backstroke for the first time over that distance and came 2nd in a tight finish. It was a good performance. They had changed swim clubs from when we were last here; the coaches seemed to be much better – have coached Olympic swimmers.
Dog had to stay in the Terios while we were at the pool. Fortunately, it was a cool enough day. Had it been warmer, I would have stayed back at Bus with her. At Lake Gininderra, she was able to come on the lead with us. Triath;lon was clearly a really popular sport – finding somewhere to park wasn’t easy, and we had to walk a long way to the course. So we were exercised too.
We left mid-afternoon, after the boys’ events were all done. Lunch had been overlooked in all the rushing back and forth, so we meandered about the north-eastern suburbs looking for somewhere to buy food. Canberra is such a frustrating place for visitors! Neighbourhood precincts might be fine, with a few service shops tucked away in convenient locations for residents, but they are hell for those who are not partial to going round in circles!
Eventually managed to pick up a couple of rolls and ate them sitting in the car by the shops. Then back to Bus.
John was really happy that some effort seemed to have been made for him to have contact with the boys and participate in aspects of their life. He had certainly now seen a representative sample of their sporting activities.
After the late lunch, tea was soup, followed by bacon and eggs.
Had a relaxed start to the day, then left camp about 11.30, to go visit and lunch with John’s daughter. Her husband had gone to Sydney for the day, to a party, so it was just her and the boys.
We had specified that we only wanted a light lunch – no fuss – so we enjoyed salad rolls and fruit.
The boys were enthusiastic about having John’s attention, and being able to play with Couey. They got her out of the car in order to play ball games on the grass in front of the apartment. I just had to hope she wasn’t tempted to sample Lake Burley Griffin! They would love to have a dog, but the life of overseas postings makes that impossible. Couey had a great time and was happy enough to be tethered out on the little patio while we all went inside again.
The younger grandson had been offered a place in his school’s music stream for Grade 3. He sang for us – an incredibly pure voice – so we could see why the offer was made.
We left mid-afternoon. The boys had homework to do.
Visited the nearby shops for the weekend papers and on the way back went further up the Federal Highway to check out the location of the Queanbeyan exit road, for Monday.
Today was Couey’s third birthday. Does that equate to her 21st in human terms?
It was a pleasant enough day – not too hot for travel.
We left the park just before 10am. Hadn’t hurried the packing up too much.
Took the Up River Road again, on the Victorian side of the river. This eventually took us to the Murray Valley Highway, and hence onto the wonderful Hume Freeway. Had we remained on the NSW side of the river. we’d have had to negotiate the streets of Albury.
There is no doubt that the Hume Freeway is a great route, these days, making travel so much less stressful than it once was.
John forgot about refuelling until we were well underway, and we eventually did so at Tarcutta, by which time the tank was well down. Took 83 litres, in a 90 litre tank! $1.589cpl.
Gave Couey a quick run on the grass behind the servo, while we ate the sandwiches I’d made for lunch, and had a coffee – from my thermos.
Tarcutta was our first stop after leaving Corowa. John had been put onto pills to ease the issues he’d been having due to enlarged prostate, and there was no doubt now that they made a huge difference, compared to what our mornings had been like on the earlier trip this year.
Didn’t stop again until we reached Sutton at 3pm – staying on the highways and definitely not deviating via Gunghalin!
Driving towards Canberra from Yass, there seemed to be an early afternoon exodus from the city – all those public servants taking flex time to get a head start on their weekend…
Our en-suite site at Eaglehawk Holiday park was very suitable. Both having an en-suite and dry weather (although a bit cool and windy) made this a much more enjoyable stay than last time.
The oval in front of our site was great for Couey to do ball chasing. We just had to make sure there was no local wild life around – kangaroos and rabbits.
Noticed that the park was under a flight path for Canberra Airport; rather frequent planes going over. More of the weekend Canberra exodus, I guessed.
John made contact with daughter to say we had arrived in town. Then we relaxed for the rest of the afternoon.
Tea was fish and fries.
While we watched some TV after tea, Couey sat up in the front of the bus, grumbling away at the kangaroos grazing outside. We could see a disturbed night coming up, but once we’d gone to bed and the lights were out, she settled right down to a normal night’s sleep. Can’t figure that dog out, some of the time.
Later in the morning, visited the chocolate factory in Corowa – recommended by the Information Centre man, yesterday. This was housed in an old flour mill. Good to see an old building being re-purposed, and in a way that didn’t try to hide its industrial past.
There were some displays mounted, showing the history of the building and its use. There was also a cafe set up, so we had an early lunch – a ham and cheese croissant at a very reasonable $4.50. Also had coffee, served with chocolate coated liquorice on the side. John was hooked, at that point! We couldn’t leave the old mill without visiting the shop section.
We bought heaps – about $100 worth! John did a lot of tasting! My choices were raspberry chocolate coated liquorice and choc coated coffee beans. John bought choc coated liquorice, ditto macadamia nuts, ditto cranberries, and some rocky road. We bought a box of choc coated macadamias to take to the Canberra family, the same for friend M, and big Freckles lollies for the Canberra boys. We gained two free calico bags for all the goodies too. That was an excellent bit of sightseeing!
Drove back to the Victorian side again. So much easier to do, these days, compared to older times – or even back in the 1960’s that I could remember. Before Federation of the colonies in 1901, there were customs posts set up at crossings between NSW and Victoria, with duties payable on goods crossing between the two. Then later, there was another kind of check – travellers were stopped and queried/inspected for fruit fly – in an attempt to prevent it reaching Victoria. Those I could remember. Few people know that the border was also closed in 1919, to try to slow the spread of the Spanish Flu epidemic.
Now, we just trundled across any bridge we chose, with no impediment.
Today, the Pickled Sisters establishment was open for business. More tasting for John. We bought bottles of each of their three types of olives, a jar of tapenade, a bottle of lovely nutty olive oil, and my choice of a jar of pickled eggplant.
Visited Chambers Rosewood Winery again, and I bought some bottles of wine, in case we needed same for socializing on the rest of the trip – half a dozen bottles of Riesling, and one of their late harvest Riesling.
Back to camp for a lazy rest of the day – but via Woolworths, as John wanted hamburgers for tea. I bought foccacia rolls from a bakery and they were an excellent substitute for the usual hamburger buns.
We did both manage to coax Couey into a pleasant walk along the Murray bank, for some way. If both of us were there, presumably, that dragonfly wouldn’t dare to attack her again…
I woke up to rain, but it cleared through the morning.
I did the usual morning routine with Couey – walk then breakfast, followed by my breakfast. John had a sleep in.
I’d suggested staying in Corowa because it is a well known bowls destination, but John said he really wasn’t interested in trying out the local bowls scene. Surprising…
Mid-morning, we set out to do some exploring and wine tasting. Drove through the Corowa town centre, to get an idea of the layout and shops, then across the Murray on a different bridge from the one we came in on, near the caravan park.
First stop was at Chambers Rosewood winery. This establishment had been an old favourite of mine for something like forty years, though it was a very long time since I’d been here and a degree of modernization was evident. Now, there was a formal tasting and wine sales area, replacing what had previously been a fairly casual experience in a corner of a shed. Unfortunately, gone also was the Old Rum Port that Bill Chambers would produce from under the counter, if asked by those in the know. This port, aged in casks that had held rum, was a delightful drop.
They had quite a range of white, red, and the fortified wines that the Rutherglen area is famed for. We tasted some and ordered a dozen bottles of white wine – six each of two different varieties. They would be delivered after we were home again. We took away with us a bottle each of port and muscat. These styles of fortified wines are the true strength of this vineyard – and also this wine region as a whole.
In Rutherglen went to the Visitor Information Centre, which also doubled as a sales outlet for local produce. I bought a sage and macadamia pesto, a raspberry balsamic, and a bottle of chilli mustard. it was hard to limit purchases to just those items!
There were a couple of local produce outlets that looked to be interesting to visit. The man at the information desk told me, however, that Gooramadda Olives would be open, but the Pickled Sisters would not be open until tomorrow.
Back in the main street, John bought a pastie and a pie from Pipers Bakery. I bought a vegie foccaccia from a different bakery. John thought his goodies were only average, but I liked mine.
The Rutherglen Caravan park and adjacent Lake King were only a block from the town centre. We parked and walked around the lake. It was only about a km. Was a pretty walk. Couey had a little spell of free ranging – John’s idea – and an illicit splosh in the lake – her idea.
The walking path went through the caravan park. This looked alright, but more crowded than where we currently were.
Drove out to the north east, along Gooramadda Road, seeking the olive place of the same name. When we got there, found it only opens at weekends, despite what we’d been told.
Took the unusually named Up River Road, as the Information Centre man had suggested, and back to the caravan park.
The rest of the afternoon was lazy: occasional ball throws for dog. Attempted another walk to the river, but the memory of that dragonfly was obviously still too strong.
Got talking with people camped in the same area of the park, also with a dog. They had, from the state of their camp, been here for a while. Found they had been travelling around Australia for nine months, but had fallen in love with Corowa when they came through here, and so just bought a house. Now, they were camped up waiting to move in. They said the park was absolutely full over the recent Melbourne Cup weekend – with the public holiday for the horse race on the Tuesday, many Melburnians have for years taken an unofficial holiday on the Monday to create a four-day weekend.
Tea was lamb and rosemary sausages, mash and broad beans.