This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2004 Travels October

SUNDAY 17 – FRIDAY 22 OCTOBER   NARRAWONG

Truck and van had one more outing in 2004.

We travelled from home to Narrawong, near Portland, in western Victoria, where we stayed for five nights. This was at the suggestion of son, who had booked a cabin at the very pleasant Narrawong Caravan Park, for a week. We could have opted to stay in a cabin also – it would have been much easier! But son felt that if we had the van on a site there, grand daughter would gain a greater understanding of what we did when we were away for months on end travelling. That worked well – she was quite fascinated by how we lived in it. Different to just seeing it parked at home and not in use.

Our stay was constrained by John’s bowls – it was Saturday Pennant season.

We took the Western Ring Road to skirt the central part of Melbourne, on our way to Geelong. From there, it was via Colac and Camperdown to Warrnambool, then along the coast, west to Portland. Being a Sunday, the trip through the urban areas was not too congested. However our return on the Friday, the same way in reverse, meant we were travelling with much more traffic, especially trucks and commercial vehicles. We’d left Narrawong early enough to be home before the afternoon peak hour in Melbourne, but even so, John did not enjoy the driving! His choice – we could have waited and returned on Sunday, but at the cost of bowls!

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Our powered site cost $12 a night.

We had, back in 1998, had a quick look at this park one day, when we cycled here from Portland. Then, we thought it looked a very attractive place to stay – better than where we were at the time – and our experiences this time showed this to be so.

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The park was spacious, bounded by the little Surrey River to one side, and with access to the sea of Portland Bay. There were plenty of trees about – some containing koalas!

The family’s cabin was the standard sort of transportable park cabin, but clean and roomy enough for the two adults and one two-and-a-half year old.

Activities with the family over the time included a visit to Portland, its town centre and to the port facility. Son was born in nearby Hamilton, and lived there until he was seven, so he’d visited Portland a number of times, but decades later had little memory of it.

One day we all took a packed lunch and drove to Bridgewater Bay, beyond Portland. This was a favourite area of mine when I lived at Hamilton. I used to rent a little cottage on the hillside above the broad, sweeping bay, and bring the children down for weekends and some school holidays. Son did have some memories of that place.

We all walked from the beach around to the old boat shed further around the bay. Grand daughter enjoyed poking about in the rock pools there. It was a long way for little legs and she had to be carried most of the way back.

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We spent quite a bit of time just hanging out in the caravan park. Its playground was a great attraction for grand daughter. She was very taken by the Finding Nemo characters painted on the big water tank at the amenities block, and she and I spent time there every day, with her identifying them for me.

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The weather was not quite warm enough for usual beach activities, but we did spend some time walking and paddling there.

Another day we all squeezed into Truck and drove via Nelson to Mt Gambier. With the child seat on the back seat, it was a bit tight in there for the other two back seat passengers! We looked at some of the key sights in Mt Gambier – the Blue Lake, Valley Lake, the Umpherston Sinkhole and gardens. Bought lunch there. Returned via Dartmoor and Heywood.

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Valley Lake at Mt Gambier

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The five days was up too quickly. It was a really enjoyable time away with that part of the family.

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1998 Travels February 10

TUESDAY 10 FEBRUARY     PORTLAND

This morning, the drilling rig has gone – totally disappeared! I feel really cheated not to have seen it go. I wonder if they lay it down flat somehow, or it sails off standing upright?

This caravan park does not get any cleaner or more pleasant! The cleaning of the amenities is very sketchy. The owners’ feral son is quite an unpleasant child of maybe ten years old. He rides his bike around ferociously and with disregard for people. On Saturday night he was actually driving a car around the park – quite dangerous. I think he reflects his father’s attitude to the customers!

We activated the bikes for the first time here and rode east to Narrawong, which was a very enjoyable  ride along back roads with little traffic. Narrawong village looks quite pleasant, and the caravan park there much more pleasant than anything at Portland. It is by the sea and a sandy beach, and abuts the little Surrey River, where it flows into the ocean. John could see little whiting in the Surrey River – he sees them as bait fish! There is a sandbar across the river mouth that is keeping them in there. Next time we are in these parts, we will definitely stay here!

We cycled a total of 22kms – a fair workout.

After lunch, drove into Portland and went around to the docks, where we watched a fishing trawler unloading its catch into boxes of ice in a semi-trailer. Bound for the Melbourne fish markets, one presumes.

Drove out on the Lee Breakwater, past people fishing. They did not seem to be catching anything. The Breakwater is the other arm that encloses the Marina, across from the main pier.

Portland was the place first settled by white men, in Victoria. It started as a camp for seal and whale hunters, from the early 1800’s, some of whom made permanent homes. In 1834, the Henty brothers sailed across from Van Diemans Land (Tasmania), with livestock, looking for good grazing country. Others soon followed and spread out into the fertile plains of the Western District. So Portland was a sea port, from the beginning of our history there. It is an easily accessed,  deep water port and some argue that it should be further developed for cargo shipping, to augment – maybe even eventually replace – Melbourne, where the relatively small Rip could limit access. Who knows?

We drove to have a look around the area where the Alcoa aluminium smelter has been built, in an industrial area out on Point Danger. From memory, there used to be a small airport there? The Alcoa plant looks quite clean and modern – very different to their plant at Point Henry in Geelong, which is old-style industrial grotty.

Came back to camp along Hanlon Parade and the Dutton Way. I remembered that, back in the mid 70’s, part of this road kind of fell into the sea, due to a landslip, and an engineer friend of mine was involved in coming up with a solution to prevent further disappearance of the coastline along here. I guess it worked, because the roads are still there!

The drilling rig is coming back! I could see it from the hill behind the docks, with two attendant tugs. It was moving very slowly, and wallowing. It feels a bit like an old friend has come back! By nightfall, it was back where it used to be and all lit up again.

Tea was steak and mushrooms, with strawberries after.

There was a huge full moon tonight. We could actually see it, so the cloud cover is much reduced.

Phoned my old friends E and A. We are invited to go there for lunch, tea, overnight stay, on Thursday. I look forward to seeing them again.