We were all up fairly early, with the result that we left the park about 9.30am.
As we left the town behind, I texted a friend in Drouin, who was expecting us to call in for morning tea, to let him know we should be there about 11am.
We made good time to Drouin, despite encountering some roadworks. Driving the Princes Highway through this fertile, farming part of Gippsland is always pleasant, with the blue ranges in view to the north.
C was not technologically comfortable, and had not updated his GPS for some time. That was witnessed by the fact that the estate where my friend lived did not appear on C’s GPS. T had lived there for some eight years by now! So we came off the freeway and then waited in the main street of Drouin for them to catch us up, after I had texted directions from the freeway to where we were. They’d had to make a comfort stop in Yarragon, so were about ten minutes behind us. That gave time for a short walk for the dog.
Made our way in convoy to T’s place. The others had never been there, and it was a while since I’d visited. We received a house and garden tour – the garden had really become established since my last visit. His assorted citrus trees were now fruit bearing.
After a pleasant morning tea and chat, we left at 1.30pm, heading for home.
The traffic on the freeway heading towards Melbourne was really heavy. Much more than I’d expected. Part of the rationale for returning home today had been to avoid the traffic build up of tomorrow, when people would be getting a flying start on the Easter break.
The bulk of the traffic encountered between Drouin and the Eastlink exit was trucks and delivery vehicles. With our increasingly heavy reliance on road freight, rather than the rail alternative, poor old Melbourne was rapidly becoming clogged up, it seemed. It had become an endless cycle of building more and bigger freeways to ease traffic congestion, thereby encouraging more use of said freeways, leading to even greater congestion….ad nauseum.
The Eastlink traffic was less, with more cars and fewer trucks. We came off at Canterbury Road and then had the usual stop/start run home – due to proliferating traffic lights.
A big panel in our front fence had blown down. Probably in the same wild weather we had last Friday. No damage to anything – just a fix-up job for John. Back to reality!
Our flat tenant, who’d been keeping an eye on the garden watering needs, had picked a lot of figs from our back yard tree, and left a big container of same on the front veranda for me. Fortunately I got to them before Couey did – she loves figs! Now I would have to think of something to do with them. No room in the freezer because it was full of tomato products. Would have to dehydrate them. Back to my reality!
There were still quite a few fallen and bird pecked figs lying about on the ground beneath the tree. Party for Couey.
Easy and quick unpack. A week’s worth of washing to do.
We would need to get both Bus and Terios serviced again, before the next jaunt. Might need some new tyres soon, too.
The weather looked much more promising today, which was our last one here, so was the last chance to do the drive to the coast that I wanted to do. I had never been to Seaspray, Golden Beach and beyond – the Ninety Mile Beach. M and C wanted to come too.
We took the road back to Longford and then on to Seaspray, through farming country that was really attractive and interesting. If I was decades younger, and interested in a tree change, think I would find this area really appealing.
Seaspray was a bit bigger than I’d expected, in terms of the number of houses there. Most of them were holiday homes rather than permanently occupied. There was a General Store and a Surf Life Saving Club with a very modern building.
Passed a fair sized caravan park, with grassed sites, but no trees for shade or shelter. If one could be sure that it was not going to be too hot or windy, it would be a good place to stay, being right by the beach.
Took dog down a long set of wooden steps, onto the beach which, as befits its name, disappeared into the distance. It was sandy and wide – very different from the coast of Corner Inlet. Here, of course, the frontage was to Bass Strait and the ocean. Beautiful.
We walked a little way back towards the west, then let dog free. She cavorted about, but was very wary of the breaking waves, not risking getting caught.
We came to where a creek outlet appeared blocked by the beach sand, creating a large still pondage. Then there were no dog inhibitions – a flying dive in!
Dog sort of water
The water was quite deep and we gave her a good diving and swimming workout, chasing sticks.
Drove east, following Shoreline Drive, towards Golden Beach. Went through The Honeysuckles, a small area of houses, just before the road began to follow the narrow strip of land that was between Lake Reeve (the western-most of the Gippsland Lakes) and the coast.
Along this section, there were designated camping bays in the coastal scrub. We saw very few campers, though, but suspected that it would become busy in the next few days – Easter – and would be positively crowded in the Xmas holidays. There was obviously a booking system – National Parks, I presumed.
Then we came to another small area of houses, on our right – Glomar Beach. This was not on my map, but appeared on the GPS. We did a little drive around its streets. It seemed to be maybe three blocks of houses, parallel to the coast, and strung out for about a km. Some fairly substantial houses had been built here, and some seemed permanently occupied.
Glomar Beach road
Further on, the GPS showed a sub-division to our left, on the Lake Reeve side of the spit, and even across a couple of causeways, on an island in the Lake. There were several gravel, partly overgrown tracks, going off to the left.
John decided to follow one that the GPS indicated would take us over a causeway.
Track disappearing enticingly into the distance
After seeing very little traffic at all, we suddenly encountered a large 4WD motorhome trying to turn out of the track we were going to take – an OKA sort of thing. Had to back up to let him past.
We followed that track for a bit over a km, until it really narrowed, just across a causeway. John walked a bit further to check it out, but decided that turning back was a good idea. C, who was following us, already had a heap of light brush scratches down the sides of his almost new XTrail and was not happy. We did multi-point turns on the causeway with both vehicles, then made our way back to the bitumen, which was clearly C’s preferred mileau.
The point of no continuing…
I had, a while ago, read of some controversy about land ownership and development along the Ninety Mile Beach, where some people who had bought land would never be allowed to build on it – having essentially been conned by developers. I wondered if this area of non-developed estate subdivision was related to this?
Lake Reeve from track, looking west
Some research later turned this up – copied from the Wellington Shire Council:
The Ninety Mile Beach subdivision is a 25 kilometre strip of ocean foreshore and sand terrain between Bass Strait and Lake Reeve. It was subdivided into about 11,800 small urban sized lots from 1955 to 1969. It is in an area from Paradise Beach in the north east to The Honeysuckles in the south west.
The land was first subdivided without planning controls. The developer only provided a main sealed road along the coast (Shoreline Drive) and very little of the promised facilities or services were ever built. Only the main settlements of Golden and Paradise Beaches and The Honeysuckles are now serviced with electricity and no reticulated water or sewerage was provided. The lots were sold by development companies using vigorous marketing campaigns to thousands of people and in many cases to new migrants to Australia.
Some dwellings were built without services on the primary sand dunes and on flood prone land. The development along the Ninety Mile Beach became a State Government issue and from the mid 1970’s further development was prevented while they carried out detailed studies.
In 1978 the Shire of Rosedale and the State Government sent letters to landowners to advise that their land was in one of the following categories:
Development Land – Suitable for low density housing
Beach Dune Land – Unstable soil and not suitable for development
Land affected by flooding by Lake Reeve – Unsuitable for development.
From 1979 strict restructure and tenement controls limited or prohibited development.
More recent studies between 2003 and 2008 found that development should be reduced further for environmental reasons.
Where we had explored was clearly in the never-to-be-built-on zone. I felt some sympathy for those who had bought in good faith (but maybe with little research) and now held worthless land. They are able to transfer their land back to Council ownership, but with no compensation, apart from the cost of the transfer.
Lake Reeve from track causeway, looking east
Closer to Golden Beach, some of the camping bays were dog permitted. I wondered if there were paralysis scrub ticks along there?
Golden Beach was another small settlement, a mix of holiday houses and permanent homes, some very substantial and attractive. There were a lot of “For Sale” signs. I wondered if this was merely people trying to sell while still “summer attractive”, or whether there were more planning type issues here? These are the type of low-lying coastal areas that could be impinged-upon if forecast sea-level rises occur.
The very shallow Lake Reeve was close by, here. Would there be lots of mosquitoes in these parts when it was warmer?
There was a General Store/Café. We drove further along the land spit, along Shoreline Drive, for a short way. The name suggested possible sea views, but in reality we just passed through more of the coastal scrub. Golden Beach merged into Paradise Beach, and the sealed road merged to gravel. Here, we turned around – mindful 0f C’s frame of mind – and drove back to an area of park in Golden Beach, to have our picnic lunch at the shelter/picnic/BBQ facilities there. It was pleasant, eating our sandwiches in the sun.
Ninety Mile Beach at Golden Beach
Walked to a lookout over the beach, but did not go down the stairs and onto the sand beach. Thought it would be similar to the beach at Seaspray, and now we had dry dog, preferred to keep it that way.
We did not intend to go on to Loch Sport – the other village in these parts, and as far as one can drive along this part of the coast. M had been there last year and reported that it was a bit of a maze of holiday places, camp grounds and the like, and not anything special to see.
So we took the direct Golden Beach to Longford road, back – across a proper lake Reeve causeway this time – and on a sealed road!
Lake Reeve from Golden Beach causeway
Passed a Restricted Area that was a firing range/bombing range for the RAAF, which has a base near Sale. In his Airforce Cadet days of yore, John spent some time at the Sale Base, so he had a little reminisce.
It was a pleasant day’s outing, and an enjoyable last full day of the trip. C may not have quite agreed, though!
The morning did not look all that great, weather-wise. Certainly not a day for the beach. So John and I decided to stay around town. John wanted to visit Dick Smiths for some new headphones to be kept permanently in Bus. He uses these when Couey sets up her barking when we stop at a park and I go to book in, or before we set off.
The others had some shopping they wanted to do so we went our respective ways.
In Dick Smith, bought a new phone and answering machine, for home. Ours no longer worked and the closing down sale price was good. Then M and C arrived at the shop. M was looking at new mobile phones. Hers was an old one that was not holding charge for long and for which batteries were no longer made.
Refuelled the Terios, then headed for the Regional Art Gallery. This proved hard to find, being temporarily housed elsewhere. Eventually, with the assistance of a nice lady from the Library, we found our way in. Had just missed the exhibition of VCE works of local students, which would have been interesting, but I was intrigued by the textile art displays. I could recognize the creativity and amount of work that had gone into making these, but there is a little part of me that does not see the point. Why not just paint a picture or take a photo? As one who makes quilts from geometric shapes, I know this is not really logical, but still… I think I am a Philistine as far as the creative arts are concerned.
John found the woodwork pieces that were on display of interest, and got chatting with another viewer, about these.
After the Gallery, retrieved dog from the car and walked around the Port of Sale, where there were a number of small boats tied up. The waterfront area here has been made really pleasant. Dog was very interested in the water – and kept on a very firm lead!
Port of Sale
Then, as it had begun to rain, it was off to the main shopping street, so John could get a bread roll for his lunch. He encountered our friend D, from Yarram, there – and then I saw J, so we stopped for a chat.
Back to Bus for lunch. M and C went off to explore the Hollands Landing area to the east. John had to put some work in on the Bowls Club web site, so we had an “in” afternoon. I did some quilt work, and read.
When M and C got back, they said it had really not been an interesting drive, or place to visit, and we had not missed anything.
The usual late afternoon session, followed by steak for tea. It was the Foster butcher’s steak – tender and tasty.
A nice, calm, uneventful pack up and departure. I like those kind…
Refuelled Bus in Yarram. $1.089cpl. We had injected some funds into this small country town, one way and the other.
I realized, while John was filling the tank, that the day was a lot hotter than I’d thought it would be, and did a quick change into shorts – thanking whoever it was who’d had the Bus windows heavily tinted.
The country between Yarram and Sale was just varied enough to be interesting.
As we drove into Sale, saw there was a big market happening.
I suddenly realized that I did not actually know the name of the caravan park that we’d booked into, as M had made this booking. I thought it was on the highway on the west side of town, near a creek. The first park we came to seemed to fit, but the name did not ring any bells. John pulled into the entrance and went in and asked the lady on reception if there was a booking for us? No. Then, as we could not back the rig, the lady very nicely raised the boom gate so we could drive in, around and out again.
While this was going on, I urgently texted M to ask where the hell we were supposed to be going? Though they had left Yarram at a similar time to us, they had detoured to a couple of side spots, like Woodside, on the way. Then, before I got a reply, it occurred to me that both bookings might be in her name, so we stopped outside the park and John went back in. Yes, this time, from the very patient lady.
Reply from M – she couldn’t remember the name and had no paperwork with her. I replied with our outcome. Really well organized, weren’t we? Just a little hassle from travelling with others…
Our en-suite site at the Sale Motor Village cost $40 a night. Again, it was drive-through. A big site, with a slab, Very good. Bathroom was clean, glass enclosed shower, some bench space – and very efficient heating. I liked that, at night, the interior light was on a sensor that came on as soon as the door was opened. The park was fairly large, with some permanent residents. It appeared quite full, at first glance, but we eventually realized that some of the vans muct belong to people who work away – maybe on the rigs in Bass Strait?
The park was on a loop of Flooding Creek and had a very large grassy area at one end that was unpowered camping – and also a good place to walk dog.
The others arrived and were happy with their cabin. And happy that we’d done the somewhat embarrassing work of asking if we belonged.
As soon as set up was done, we went to the markets. As it was almost midday, most stalls were packing up, but I bought some vegetables. A leather goods stall was a bit slower finishing up than the others and I spied the type of moccasin slipper that is hard to get at home, plus a pair of proper moccasins, so bought both of those. John bought a belt – to be permanently kept in Bus – another item he always forgets to bring.
John spied a smallgoods seller and bought some salami type sausage and some smaller “beer” snack sausages. Very smelly smallgoods. He’d been told by the vendor not to keep them in the fridge so they smelled out one of the Bus cupboards for the rest of the trip. M also bought some items at the same stall. Not my scene… Later, John was commenting about “local smallgoods” and how good it was to buy local. I pointed out that the label said made in Adelaide.
After a quick lunch at camp, we all drove out to the historic Swing Bridge, a few kms out of town, where the Latrobe and Thompson Rivers join. This has been restored and is opened at 3pm on Saturdays and Sundays.
The Swing Bridge
The little old original wooden Lakes boat, the Rubeena, now electric powered, does cruises on the river and had one that arrived at the Swing Bridge in time for the opening, so we were able to watch that puttering along the river. It had a full complement of passengers too.
A different sort of cruise
The Swing Bridge dates from the 1880’s and the era of coastal and Lakes shipping, when goods were brought through the Gippsland Lakes system and up river, to near Sale. Once a road was made from Sale to Longford, a bridge over the river was needed. About this time, too, the Sale Canal was dug to make a waterway that went the couple of kms from the river to the centre of Sale.
The highway now uses a newer bridge, so the Swing Bridge is for walkers only. There is a walking/cycling trail that comes from Sale out along the river and through the wetlands, to the bridge. Found myself hoping I was fitter next time we come here – it looked an appealing walk.
The Swing Bridge is really unusual, in that it swivels open on a turntable that is offset somewhat to one side of centre, in the river. So, when it is open, there is this long span, sitting parallel to the bank.
Swing Bridge moved to allow navigation on the river
When built, it was manually operated, but now is motorized. The two men who came to do the opening – very casually and without any commentary whatsoever – set up a portable generator that did the work. It was a rather slow process, but interesting.
Swing Bridge swinging to open the river
In old days, a red lamp warned that the bridge was open. You wouldn’t want to be colour blind.
The Swing Bridge swung…
The bridge is National Trust classified and is the oldest surviving swing bridge in Australia.
Once the handful of people who had watched the opening had dispersed, we let Couey off the lead for a ball chase on the grass beside the river. At one stage, she appeared to turn towards the river – and four voices all screamed out “NO”, really loudly. It worked.
Then the day was mostly gone. Had happy hour at Bus and then retired to our respective abodes.
Our dinner was zucchini frittata that I’d bought, frozen, from home, and reheated in the electric frypan. An easy meal.
The morning was cool and grey, with a few early showers.
While John was sleeping in, I went to the shops and bought the Saturday papers.
John was uncertain whether bowls would go ahead on the wet grass greens. We could not really make plans for the afternoon until he knew. So M and C went off driving, to explore up in the Strzelecki Ranges and visit the Tarra Bulga National Park. That’s what I’d wanted to do!
After an early lunch, John drove off to bowls, with the agreement that, if I wanted to go exploring, I would walk there and get the car. He didn’t want to have to carry his bowl bag if he didn’t need to.
I thought about taking myself and dog off for a drive, but by myself and in the chill, it wasn’t all that appealing. So I read the papers, checked my emails and the like, without venturing out into the cold, apart from to walk Couey a couple of times.
We had invited J and D to come to happy hour this afternoon, but had decided this morning that it was too cold and damp to sit outside. So I’d phoned J and arranged to meet them at the Sports/Country Club for dinner instead. The caravan park man had told us this place put on a good meal.
John arrived back at Bus from bowls – on foot. He had assumed that I would have been to collect the car, so hadn’t even looked for it. He and Couey walked back to the Sports Club to collect it. John had enjoyed the bowls game.
M and C arrived back from their outing, which had turned out to be more adventurous than intended. Up in the hills, signposts were not plentiful, logging tracks were, and there was lots of vegetation down on the roads. They had managed to get to the National Park Visitor Centre and do the walk to the Suspension Bridge, but plans to return to Yarram via Tarra Valley went astray. They found themselves having to take different tracks to avoid fallen trees, clear some off tracks, and ending up not knowing where the hell they were. At one stage, they came upon a sign showing they were well on the way to Mirboo North! Eventually they found a way back – without ever getting to Tarra Valley.
Wonder what adventures I might have had, if I’d gone out driving?
The3 bistro menu at the Country Club was surprisingly extensive and the dining room was deservedly well patronized. Some of us ordered entrees as well as mains. I thought a starter of Turkish bread and dips was tempting. There was a beetroot dip and a slightly spicy capsicum one, a little bowl of olive oil and balsamic. The bread had been very thinly sliced and lightly fried in olive oil. Different but very good. Then my main course arrived: salt and pepper calamari. It was a large bowl with a great number of calamari rings arranged around a central salad, with a thick tartare sauce drizzled over the calamari. I shouldn’t have had that starter! The calamari was absolutely delicious and so tender.
John had a seafood platter for one – a real assortment of seafoods and so large that he could not finish it. Rare for a plate of food to defeat him! The others all had calamari too, except for C, whose plate of scallops featured twelve huge ones. Very yummy, apparently. The bar served draught apple cider on tap, which John tried and loved.
In all, a wonderful meal and a great night with friends.
In the early hours of the morning, it began to rain and the temperature dropped. The rain sounded quite heavy, at times. We had put the awning out with a slant to one side, so did not have to get up and go out in the rain to adjust it so water wouldn’t pool in it.
By the time we got up, the ground outside was quite sloshy, with big pools of water around where it was running off the awning. It certainly had come down steadily. The site had no slab and we had not put down the annexe matting, so began to spread wet grass and dirt into Bus, as we moved around.
I managed to find a break in the rain, to take Couey for a short walk.
We had been invited to J and D’s place for morning tea, so drove there, mid morning. At this stage, the rain had eased right off and before we left, John was able to put down the annexe matting. M had visited Adels when we were there, so she knew J and D too, and she and C came with us.
Had an enjoyable couple of hours. J had made scones and a delectable date loaf. There was much talk of Adels – the developments that had occurred since we were last there in 2006, and reminiscing about our joint times there. That had been the first few years of the development of the place under new owners, from a tiny camping area to a tourist operation offering a variety of accommodation and tour options. There had clearly been much change, but some things stay the same – like the difficulty in getting good seasonal staff, especially cooks!
Our main goal for today was to explore nearby historic Port Albert. It was not the most encouraging of days for it, with the sky dark grey as we drove the 15kms or so there.
Parked at the jetty area and gave Couey a ball chase session on the grassed area there, that was far enough away from the water to let her stay focussed on the ball.
Park at Port Albert
There was a cluster of old buildings at the jetty area. One small one housed the rocket and shipwreck rescue equipment that too often had needed to be used, in this area of shifting channels and sandbars, and generally treacherous coast.
Corner Inlet at Port Albert
About thirty five years ago, I had visited Port Albert briefly, on a short tour of the area with a couple of friends. We stayed overnight at the hotel, which I remembered as having a rather rickety upstairs verandah, and a most uncomfortable bed. The old wooden pub was no more, having burned down a couple of years ago. Sounds like there may have been a bit of a story behind that event! It had been one of the oldest licensed premises in Victoria, dating from the 1840’s. Now there was just empty land where it used to be.
We were determined to have a meal of fish and chips from the establishment by the jetty – reputed to serve an excellent feed, featuring the local product. The choice of fish was between whiting and flake. My meal of flake, a potato cake and chips was so yummy. John enjoyed his whiting, fried dim sims and potato cakes. He forgot to order chips, so ate some of mine.
We sat at a picnic table by the jetty side, where there were various boats moored.
The ever-present seagulls watched us carefully, but kept their distance because of the dog. Unfortunately, I could not say the same of an annoying Jack Russell terrier, belonging to a man who was across the road, yarning to another man in a car, and letting his dog cross the road to try to provoke Couey into an argument. It got one – from us – and after raised voices trying to shoo it away, the owner eventually called it back. Moron!
Drizzle had set in by the time we finished eating and we adjourned to the Maritime Museum, housed in a stately old former bank building. I can be quite critical of what are touted as museums in a lot of country towns, but this one was truly impressive. It had managed to confine itself to material that really was “maritime” and focussed on the sea-related history of the area, as a means of also conveying general historic information.
So, for example, the display of the rocket rescue equipment and breeches buoy served to explain how these items were used to effect rescues from wrecked ships. The breeches buoy looked for all the world like an old-fashioned version of the current kids’ swimming pool toy, where they sit inside an inflatable ring, with legs hanging down from the seat into the pool!
The museum houses print collections that are used by family history researchers who had ancestors in these parts. A collation had been done, of every person who moved through the port and who was mentioned in the assorted historical records of the time.
I spent some time watching a video/film documentary featuring a regular supply ship out of Port Albert to the lighthouse staff on one of the nearby Bass Strait islands. With footage made at the time, it showed a way of life that is now gone, with the automation of such lights.
We spent a couple of hours browsing the many displays, without noticing the passing time. Then realized that it was now blowing a gale outside and bucketing down rain. I wondered how our awning was faring, if this wind was reaching up as far as Yarram.
The weather was far too awful for any more exploring of the township, so we drove back to camp.
The section straight out of Port Albert was through an avenue of trees and it was quite scary driving, with lots of light tree debris coming down, and us wondering if a big limb or whole tree was about to follow it. It was a relief to get into the more open country.
Our site was so well sheltered that the awning was fine, but John did tie it down, to make sure.
We retreated to Bus, and M and C to their cabin. I got out the little fan heater. What a contrast, in 24 hours!
Not exactly a major relocation today – just up the road, really. Good thing, because it was hot and very humid.
Whilst we were getting ready to move on, John learned a major life lesson – do not put thumb where awning arms are going to close! I have no idea how he got said digit jammed, as he had not waited for me to help lower the awning. I do know that there is a huge amount of tension on those arms. I tried to lever it a bit open with a screwdriver, so he could pull thumb out, but had to go get a heavy tent peg and gradually work that down the little gap, whilst levering as well, until I’d enlarged the gap enough for him to get thumb out. He was in a lot of pain while I was doing this. The skin was broken, and he was bleeding. Bandaid applied. Lucky not to break it – or chop it off altogether. I wondered if anyone had ever managed to do that? Hope he learned the lesson to wait for me to help, in the future. Much easier with two people. And safer.
Was 10.15 when we left the park.
The driver felt fit enough to detour to Port Welshpool. From 1998 to 2002, a summer fast speed catamaran ferry operated from here to Tasmania. It was rather unfortunately named the Devil Cat and gained a reputation to match – for very rough trips and major sea sickness for passengers. That reputation probably, as much as its distance from Melbourne, accounted for its demise.
In Port Welshpool, there appeared to be a number of accommodation places that had been set up in the expectation of increased business from the ferry service, but were now languishing, with several for sale. Ditto houses.
We stopped and looked at the Long Jetty, as we came into the village. This was, as name suggested, a jetty that extended a long way out, to a deeper channel. It was the old jetty, in the days when this place was a thriving port. It was now closed, due to fire damage. One hoped it could be restored – a walk right out to its end would be rather lovely.
Next stop was the current jetty area – one that extends widthwise, rather than outwards. We walked around this – with dog very firmly on lead. Saw what used to be the ferry cat terminal, now closed off. There were some fishing boats moored, as well as recreational boats.
It was a pleasant little village, with a general store. It probably gets much busier in the summer holiday period, but would still be a comparatively quiet place for a break by the sea.
None of these Corner Inlet villages have any decent beach areas, due to the nature of the inlet.
Couey was very interested in the edge of the jetty and peering down at the sea below. I had a strong suspicion that had she been loose, there would have been a high dive into the water. For once, John didn’t suggest she be let loose!
Backtracked to where we had turned off the highway at Welshpool township, and continued on to Yarram though green farmland – dairy cow country in these parts. It was a pleasant drive, uneventful, apart from being passed by a speeding ambulance, sirens and lights going. As he came up behind us, John slowed and pulled right over to the side, so the ambulance did not have to slow at all – this section of road did not offer clear views for passing otherwise. We then noted, though, that the caravan ahead did not slow or pull over at all, and the ambulance got held up behind him for a few kms. What is it with some drivers that they must be so incredibly ignorant and selfish?
Had booked an en-suite site at the Yarram Rosebank Tourist park. $36 a night. We were able to drive through the site behind us, which made it much easier, then unhitch the car. Had to wait for our bathroom cleaning to be finished – it was only midday when we arrived.
M and C were pleased with their cabin. It was larger than the one at Toora had been.
The caravan park was based around what appeared to be an old restored homestead – rather intriguing from the outside. Reception was in part of that.
There was an under cover area for sitting around a fire pit, a good playground area, and we were told when checking in that we could give Couey a run on the grassy area at the front of the park. This is always a plus for us. Our bathroom was clean, with a big shower area. We were quite happy with it. Bushes to the sides made our site quite private.
After set up, we all went for a walk along the main street, admiring the several substantial old buildings. At a novelty shop, M bought some small water pistols, to use to deter Couey from jumping up on them at happy hours.
Back in the late nineteenth century, nearby Port Albert was the main port for these parts, in the days before railways and good roads. Yarram developed from the 1850’s and became the main service centre for the area. Today, it was an attractive small town, although the number of houses for sale suggested a declining population. Some of the houses for sale that we walked past, were beautiful looking old places, well kept up, on large blocks.
Walked the length of the shopping area and then back on the other side of the road. There was a fair range of shops in the town. Visited an art gallery, housed in the former court house – a solid, brick building. There was an exhibition of works in oils by a local artist; his urban scenes were not subject matter I liked, but he’d managed to make them appear almost three dimensional, so I admired the technique. I quite liked one painting of a Greek island village – but our walls at home were already too full!
The men were very strong willed today, and resisted the pull of the bakery, in favour of own-made lunches back at camp.
I found the walk rather hard. Lower back and shoulders were all hurting as I walked. Wondered if Couey’s pulling on the lead had somehow injured the shoulder and upper back. Didn’t realize it at the time, but this was the first manifestation of spinal problems that were to continue and slowly reduce my walking range over the next few years. Rather cruel, that.
On the way back, John called in at the sports complex, almost opposite the park, to find out about bowls – and booked himself in for a game on Saturday. Had I been asked, my preference would have been for doing some sightseeing!
The humidity was really draining, and after our late lunch we both had naps, with the air-con going in Bus. It was rare for me to feel like an afternoon nap! C had a sleep too, and M did crosswords.
It was cooling down by the time we met up again for happy hour.
Our tea was the lamb fillet I’d bought in Foster. Very nice and very tender.
During the afternoon I had phoned a friend who lives locally, left a message, and she called me back after they returned from a day out fishing for whiting. Years ago, we had all worked a couple of tourist seasons together, up north at the magical Adels Grove. So I was looking forward to catching up with J and D again. They had worked and visited there for periods, most years, and so were more up to date with the people and developments.
It was an uncomfortable night for sleeping – even a sheet was too much cover in the heat.
Usual morning routine: I got up about 8am, walked dog, fed dog, had my breakfast, waited for John to surface. M and C appeared and sat chatting with me – and we all waited for John to get going!
Decided we’d visit Foster. This was a place we’d driven through a number of times, on the way to the Prom, but not stopped at. Took both cars – the back seat of Terios really was not big enough for dog and people, and we certainly wouldn’t expose C’s rather new vehicle to Couey.
Went to the Foster Information Centre and collected some material. Outside it was an area that highlighted the gold mining period in the area, from the 1870’s. I’d had no idea that there had been so many mines around Foster, or that they yielded so much gold. It seems to have been overshadowed by the emphasis on the Ballarat and Bendigo goldfields, in particular.
Red dots show old mine locations around Foster town
There were walks we could have done around some of the mine areas, but they seemed to cover very hilly ground and the men were not feeling up to it.
Instead, we went for a walk across to the attractive park opposite the Info Centre. This stretches along Stockyard Creek, which formed a very pretty pond in the park.
RV parking area opposite Info Centre – bad luck about the car parked in it.
We started to follow a path alongside the creek. I had Couey on the lead and she tried a couple of times to pull me towards the creek. John and C needed to rest, so went back to where there were seats, while M and I walked on a way. As we turned around and headed back, John called to me to let Couey loose, so she could run between us and get in a gallop. Says John: “It will be alright, she always comes when I call her…” She did run to him, when called, but then pulled a right hand turn and made for the pond area, totally ignoring John’s calls. She did a very athletic running jump into the pond and came up wearing water lilies and a blissful expression. We definitely have mismatch between a fast-learning dog and slow-learning master!
I hadn’t bought my camera on the walk. Pity – a shot of Couey in the pond would have been priceless.
Needed to do a good long stroll, then, along the main street, in order to get dog dry enough for the car. So we meandered along, looking at the shops. John bought a light weight sun hat, having forgotten to pack his. Ditto his toothpaste, so I got him some. There was a butcher advertising local, grass-fed meat; it looked good, so I bought some lamb fillet and some steak. The prices were reasonable, too. M and John each bought a carton of beer cans. John had planned to not drink beer on this trip, in the interests of his waist line, but now changed his mind.
Walking back from depositing the beer in the car, John noticed a man standing outside a bakery, obviously really enjoying the pastie he was devouring. There was nothing for it but for him and C to buy themselves a pastie lunch! However, apart from cakes and pastries, the bakery only offered a very limited range of pre-made sandwiches – all in white bread. The men did not want to wait around while I went to try to find a better alternative , so I settled, reluctantly, for a pack of cheese sandwiches. M doesn’t eat lunch.
I really liked Foster. Definitely possible for a return visit.
The area around Toora
We drove the few kms to Port Franklin where there was a very pleasant park area in a loop of the Franklin River. Here we sat and ate the lunches we’d bought in Foster. The men pronounced the square pasties excellent. I left most of my sandwiches – they were awful. John had bought a four pack of some foreign beer, in Foster, and we each had one of those with lunch. I didn’t like it much.
We gave Couey a ball chase run in the park, then went for a wander.
There were a number of boats moored in the small tidal river. Seemed there were still fishermen operating out of Port Franklin out into Corner Inlet.
The inlet at Port Franklin
Took a boardwalk that went out through the scrub and mangrove mud flats, thinking we might see some interesting birds.
What is that saying about repeating an action and expecting a different outcome from the last time? John insisted dog be let off the lead, saying she would stay on the boardwalk, no worries. Of course, the moment he let her loose, she did a great leap off the boardwalk, into deep mangrove mud. Guess to her it didn’t look any different to brown coloured water. She sank to her chest with a look of puzzlement at finding herself unable to swim. In other circumstances it would have been funny. Eventually she managed to plough her way back to where she could clamber back up to us, smelling horribly swampy and all over thick mud. She really had to battle to get out. John said he didn’t think she would do that. Honestly …I despair. So he got to put a very muddy, extremely smelly dog on the lead and walk with her!
The mangrove walk was not particularly interesting. The tide was out. There were few birds.
Back at the park, we tried to wash the worst of the muck off dog at a tap, getting a bit muddy ourselves, in the process. M and C watched from a safe distance. I was not happy. It is a good thing that the back seat of my car is covered with a couple of old rugs and (mostly) waterproof seat protectors. Couldn’t do much about the swampy smell though.
Returned to Toora along back roads through pleasant farming country. There, took the steep road up the hill to Silcocks Lookout, where there were good views over the flat coastal plain, to Corner Inlet, with the hills of the Prom beyond. Could pick out Port Franklin, where we had been.
From Silcocks Lookout, across Corner Inlet to Wilsons Promontory
Counted twelve windfarm towers.
Windfarm towers on the hills
Then went on to Agnes Falls, which I had not heard of before this trip. They are “the longest single span falls in Victoria” – 59 metres high. From the car park, a track went down to viewing areas.
Going down to Agnes Falls
A little cement weir was, years ago, built across the top of the falls, as the river is part of a local water supply system.
There was a small flow going over the falls, down into a surprisingly deep gorge. It would be quite spectacular after a period of heavy rain.
Alongside the path, and the gorge itself, were blue gum trees, their smooth trunks an unusual chocolate colour.
Chocolate coloured eucalypts
As we trudged back up the path to the cars, a cheeky grey fantail kept us company, flitting through the bushes. The men found the trek back rather hard, even though it was a pretty gradual incline. They both have issues with lung damage.
The deep gorge
The picnic area by the car park would be a very pleasant place to have lunch.
Retraced our route back to Toora.
From the lookout, had seen a large white building in the town and drove through the streets to see if we could find it and see what it was. Discovered that it was an old milk/butter factory – in fact, the oldest in Victoria, that had been closed down by its previous owners. In recent times, under new owners and after a rather shaky start, it had ramped up again, producing infant milk powder for export to China. The Victorian Government had invested money in the project. Bet the businesses in town had been pleased about that.
Back to camp. Dog had an appointment with a long, cold, hosing down. Didn’t impress her one bit but she smelled too swampy to be in Bus without a good wash. Note to self – given dog’s affinity for dirty water, pack some dog shampoo in Bus before next trip!
Happy hour at Bus, followed by a light tea – just a tin of soup.
John went for a shower before bed. He didn’t bother to read the instructions about getting the hot water to run hot, that were prominently posted on the bathroom wall, so had a cold shower.
There did not remain much packing to do this morning. Only the last-minute fridge items, and the things like laptops and camera that we do not like to leave overnight in Bus when we are not in it. I made some wraps to take for our lunch.
John backed Bus out of onto our narrow road and then pulled into the side so we could hitch up the car. It is not the easiest place to get Bus out of. In the process, he ran the front off side along the drainage grate at the edge of our nature strip.
Terios hitched, house closed up, dog on board – and we were away, at 10.30am.
Straight away, I noticed an unusual noise – kind of whup-whup-whup – that seemed to change as our speed changed. Then the TPMS gadget started its loud beeping noise, indicating a flat tyre on passenger side front wheel of Bus. But it was not driving like we had a problem. Had to go a couple of kms before there was a place we could park Bus on level ground, out of the way of traffic – in a park carpark area. By the time we got there, the display was indicating the driver’s side front tyre also had a problem.
The issue on the passenger side was immediately obvious – the TPMS cap monitor was gone. John thought that maybe his encounter with the grate had knocked it off. We unhitched the Terios and he drove that back home to search the street for it – those units are expensive!
While he was gone, I had a good look round Bus but could not see anything wrong that might account for the repetitive noise we’d heard. I also took dog for a good long walk. It was quite hot and she was more interested in finding water to drink, than walking.
Eventually John was back. He could not find the missing cap. Then, he noticed that the top had sheared off the driver’s side one. That had been nowhere near the grate, so he was not impressed. He put the old, standard valve caps back on the two front wheels. Then he drove Bus around the flat area, while I watched and listened to try to pick up the noise source. No use.
We discussed me taking car and dog back home and him taking Bus to Toyota or truck tyre place to try to get a fix, but then he decided to drive up the road a way, to see if he could work it out. Came back and said he thought it might be the TPMS monitors on the long inner back wheel valve extensions, flexing and hitting the wheel rim. So he replaced those with the standard caps and went for another test drive. No more noise. Whilst that was a relief, it was annoying that we had the problem at all. I did not judge it a good idea to remind John that I’d previously told him that forum advice had been to get rigid metal valve extensions on the back wheels, for TPMS!
Hitched up car and set off again, after a delay of nearly two hours.
The TPMS system was still doing readouts for the Terios’ wheels, at least, and the two outer back wheels of Bus. Need to get it all sorted when we were home again.
Took Eastlink and then the Monash freeway, and proceeded to Pakenham, KooWeeRup, Foster, to Toora. It was very windy – the worst winds we had yet encountered in Bus, so was hard work for the driver. Would have been really nasty towing a van.
The urban spread of Melbourne seems relentless, gobbling up what was farm land to the south east. Vegie growing country. I wondered when planners would start to realize that, whilst a rapidly growing city needs houses, it also needs food – and a lot of the most productive land was going under. The same was happening to Melbourne’s south west too.
Approaching KooWeeRup, saw a sign to that town, and took that turn, though the GPS had remained silent. It looked right on my paper map, which was not all that old, but turned out to pre-date the bypass that now goes straight to the South Gippsland Highway. Wonder how long that had been there? We took the long way round, for sure.
Predictably, M and C had arrived at the Toora Caravan Park a couple of hours before us, and texted that it was windy! We knew that already. As we approached Toora, saw wind farm towers on the hills behind – that figured!
We had been allocated a drive-through en-suite site that was quite roomy. It cost us $40 a night. The en-suite was clean and a good size. I liked that there was a glass screen instead of the dreaded clingy shower curtain. But it only extended down one side, so water did splash out and wet a lot of the floor. A mop was provided!
Very nice site at Toora
The park was on a hill side, so we had some views across in the direction of the Prom. The park was very well equipped for a family holiday – heated indoor pool and spa, tennis court, jumping pillow, several BBQ areas. It was certainly a place we would be happy to stay at again.
M and C were likewise quite happy with their cabin.
After setting up, had a very late lunch, and relaxed for the little of the afternoon that was left.
John took dog for a walk across the highway and down some streets. Clearly, she was not impressed by the traffic encountered because, for the rest of the stay, she refused to go anywhere near the front gate, but would happily walk around the rest of the park. On my late afternoon walk with her, there were some rabbits grazing at the back of the park – which dog resolutely ignored. However, she made a great effort to reach a fallen pine cone, which she then carried for the rest of the walk. Strange creature.
The four of us enjoyed a pleasant happy hour at the Bus.
Our tea was pre-cooked chicken marylands. Quite enough, by themselves, after the late lunch.
Through the night could hear some noise from the wind turbines on the hill behind the park, but it was not unpleasant or intrusive.
Friend M and I decided that a short trip through South Gippsland would blow the cobwebs – literally – out of Bus.
With the worst of summer over, the garden could be left in the care of our flat tenant, who would water whatever needed it, if there were hot days. In return, she could harvest as much as she wanted from the vegie patch.
There was a little window of time between the mass exodus events of the March long weekend and Easter – neither times that we wanted to be sharing the roads and holiday venues, now that we had the retirees’ luxury of choice about such matters.
We would take Bus and Terios. M and her friend C would stay in cabins, as he had been ill before Xmas, so “roughing it” in her Troopy camper was not a good idea. Thus, we decided to depart from usual practice and book the accommodation ahead of time, so they could be sure of getting cabins.
We, of course, were limited to parks that were dog friendly.
It was intended that our first night’s stay would be with friends at their Woolamai holiday house – a visit that was long overdue. We meant to, then, book two nights at Toora, but between us got the dates mixed up and ended up making online bookings for a day earlier than we wanted. This is what happens when you get two bossy, organizing types trying to work together!
OK. It was easier to scratch Woolamai from the plans, than try to change the booking online. So we ended up arranging two nights at Toora, three at Yarram, and tacked on our “spare” night to make three nights at Sale.
Not a long trip, but it should be a pleasant break that would enable us to catch up with some friends along the way, and visit some places not seen before. Yes – any number of such did exist, close to home! We had driven to Wilsons Promontory many times, over the years, but not explored any more of South Gippsland.
It would also, for John and me, be an experiment in travelling with others. We had done plenty of trips before with M, who we found a very compatible co-traveller, but not with the extra person. As a rule, we preferred not to travel with others, as it can complicate the experience and lead to having to make compromises that lessen our trip enjoyment. For M, it was a chance to do a little travel with C, before she headed off for more remote parts later in the year. After last year’s “adventures”, C had declared there would be no more “remote” travel for him – defining remote as more than 100kms from a hospital!
I wanted to visit and stay at the caravan park at Tarra Valley, that really caters well for doggy guests, with fenced sites and exercise areas and the like. But John vetoed that one on the grounds of uncertainty about TV and internet access. Indulgence for dog would be deprivation for him!
It just remained to cook, process, freeze, dehydrate, the last of the bumper summer crops of tomatoes, zucchini, beans, cucumbers, rhubarb, figs. A last minute discovery of lots of ripe passionfruit hiding on the ground under the vines, quickly got frozen in ice cube trays.