This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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2004 Travels October


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 6


Were up at 7am, in an attempt to depart at a more reasonable hour. We had to pack up everything this morning, not having had a chance to get a start on it yesterday. We did well and were away at 10am. Hitching up the van was brilliantly easy – I am getting much more relaxed about this now. John is becoming brilliant at moving Truck the small distances I need, to align the Treg fitting on Truck with the poly carbonate block on the van – and I mean SMALL distances, like millimetres!

It was a straightforward trip to Portland. We were only passed by one big truck; yesterday we saw lots of them on this road. Some were logging trucks, others we thought might be carrying woodchips to the port.

There did not seem to be a great deal of choice for caravan parks in Portland. I opted for the only one near the sea – the Henty Bay Caravan Park. This had a 3 star rating in our RACV Caravan Park Guide book.  It is about 3 kms from the centre of the town, but has an outlook over Portland Bay. We looked at their bush camping sites, hoping for something as nice as Nelson, but found these a bit too secluded, especially as there was a rather seedy atmosphere to the place in general, and some run down permanent vans tucked away in some of the bushy sites. So we are totally out in the open, but still amongst permanent on site vans. The powered site cost $14 a night.

The park is just alright, but seems rather run down. There is no sandy beach frontage here – just a low rock sea wall and then the water. We can hear the sea, clearly, which will be lovely to go to sleep to. The amenities seem ok, but access is up a long central corridor – rather cavernous and gloomy.

After setting up, we drove into town. First stop was the Post Office, where we collected our next mail bag from home. When opened, back at camp, it contained my new Visa card, but most importantly, the cheque  for John’s long service leave entitlement – nearly $39,000. Yippee! He was thrilled about the amount. Just a few days ago we were mentally juggling the money in our accounts, working out how we were going to pay the house rates and Truck registration. We can’t go wild with it, but at least we now have some savings as a buffer against the unforeseen.

We did  some grocery shopping.

We drove to both the town’s bowls clubs so John could check out events coming up.

By late afternoon, rain was setting in and it was getting colder.

Bought fish and chips for dinner – had to drive into Portland to get them. We thought $12.10 was rather expensive – and in a seaside town!

There is a huge oil or gas drilling rig out in the bay. It took me a while to work out what it was, and that it must be able to be moved around, because they are not actually drilling for anything right in Portland Bay. At night, it is lit up like a Xmas tree. There are a couple of other ships in the bay, too – maybe waiting to load wheat or alumina from the Alcoa smelter.

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Drilling rig in Portland Bay – and a very threatening sky

That corridor in the amenities block is really spooky at night. I don’t like it. Do not feel secure.